Category Archives: Blog

Cinnamon: not just for your muffin top

CinnamonIt’s great on a Chelsea bun, on your cappuccino, and even in your mashed butternut. But did you know that cinnamon is far more than just a great flavouring agent? In fact, it’s been used as a medicine for centuries. And science backs it up.

According to Joe Leech, Master of Science graduate and health professional, adding cinnamon to your diet boosts your health by:

  • Protecting the body with its high antioxidant levels
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Reducing bad cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure
  • Dramatically reducing insulin resistance
  • Fighting diabetes
  • Improving the effects of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  • Protecting against cancer
  • Reducing infection and fighting tooth decay and bad breath thanks to antifungal and antibacterial properties
  • Fighting HIV-1; the main type of HIV virus in humans

There’s no doubt cinnamon is a powerhouse of goodness. And, at the end of winter, what better way to consume it than in this German Glühwein? Red wine has anti-aging properties, didn’t you know?

Why you should eat garlic every day

garlic-2390990_640The universe was on our side when it made garlic. It tastes fantastic, wards off vampires, and it’s good for you? We won with this bulb. 

According to Helen Nichols at well-beingsecrets.com, garlic’s been used as a medicine for centuries. And while it doesn’t serve as a major source of nutrients, its oligosaccharides, arginine-rich proteins, and other micronutrients like selenium and flavonoids, play a synergistic role with other fruits and vegetables, supporting optimum health.

Specifically, Helen says scientific research has found that garlic:

  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Slows cell degeneration and aging
  • Helps to prevent multiple cancers
  • Inhibits the development of chemically induced tumours
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Has an adverse effect on the common cold
  • Stops the spread of infection when used topically
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Has antibacterial effects
  • Fights plaque build-up on your teeth
  • Protects against some forms of sun damage
  • Protects the brain from memory loss, increasing memory retention
  • Reduces stress
  • Might increase life expectancy
  • May increase athletic ability
  • Helps to detox the body
  • May increase oestrogen levels in menopausal women
  • Promotes calcium absorption and bone health
  • Stabilises blood sugar levels
  • Could support weight loss

Garlic truly is a wonder food. With all these perks and great culinary value, we should all eat it every day. If nothing else, at least eating more of it saves you from everyone else’s garlic breath. 

#winning

Exercise is love.

5712669523_300d605eb2_bWhen did exercise go from health and wellbeing to just about weight loss? About being thinner, firmer, ‘sexier’?

Moving your body is beautiful. It’s a celebration of the incredible things it can do – not a punishment for the chocolate cake you ate yesterday. 

Keeping your body healthy is important because it feels good; shaming yourself into it is never the goal. In the society we live in, many of us are guilty of this. And it’s time to stop. Because, as Sarah Ogden Trotta, author at Everyday Feminism says:

‘Having a body is not bad; it’s impossible to have too much body; [you are] allowed to take up space’. 

These are 3 of the things that helped her change her exercise routine from an act of shame to one of self-love:

1.    She accepted her body

Most of the time, you don’t accept your tummy like it is now… you accept it for what it might be one day. And that makes exercise pretty sucky. Because instead of enjoying your work out in the moment, you’re just waiting for ‘results’. 

By accepting her body as it is, Sarah no longer runs so she can buy a smaller pair of jeans. Instead, she says ‘I am proud of the movement I engaged in, that I completed something that was hard, and that I feel pride in my accomplishment.’ 

It’s a challenging process. But, by being aware of her thoughts, sitting with them, and allowing them to unravel, it gets easier.

2.    She bought clothes that fit

Because yoga pants and other exercise gear are supposed to feel like second skin. Not spandex that’s so tight it squeezes out a muffin top and rides down your bum when you bend over. No. You need to feel supported, comfortable, and confident to work out properly. So, find a brand that suits your body.

3.    She found her tribe

If you don’t look like a supermodel, chances are you’ll never feel comfortable exercising in a room full of people who do. You want to train with really fit fat people, winded thin people, and those who can hold a plank forever. A place for everyone (you know, like Body Divine), because, like Sarah says:

‘Fitness must be for everyone who wants it – no exceptions.’

Bottom line? Your body is magnificent and it deserves to be celebrated. Come honour it with us.

Show some respect: The right way to talk to yourself

27716823425_d981d97e97_zThey say that the way you speak to your children becomes their inner voice. But what if your own inner voice is total cow? Many of us are guilty of berating ourselves when we’re down, or have failed in some way. But the fact that it’s common doesn’t make it healthy. Nor is it any good at helping you be a better person. 

But how do you change something so entrenched in who you are? 

Your two minds

Buddhists say you have two minds: one that thinks and one that observes. If you’ve ever meditated, you’re probably familiar with the struggle of quietening the jabber in your head. That jabber is your thinking mind. The one who tries to quieten your thoughts is your observing mind. And it’s through understanding this partnership that you’re best able to improve your inner self-talk.

Talking to yourself

The negative talker in your head is often your thinking mind, while your observing mind can be more open to objectivity. Train your observing mind to see your thinking mind as another person who needs love and guidance just as your child/ren would. Then use this perception to look at the positive in every situation.

For instance: don’t say ‘I don’t want chaos in my life’ – say ‘I want order’. Stop yourself from saying ‘I’m so stupid, I won’t amount to anything’ – say, ‘I’m growing, and stumbling along the way is a part of how I learn. I am becoming a better person every day.’ Cut yourself some slack and be grateful for the good in your life. After all – you attract what you put out.

Positive, not false

If the realist in you is squirming at the thought of ‘positive thinking’, remember that looking at the positive side of the coin isn’t deception or wearing rose-tinted glasses. In fact, expecting yourself not to make mistakes is deceptive.

According to Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources in the US, ‘Positive self-talk is about recognising the truth in situations and in yourself. To expect perfection in yourself or anyone else is unrealistic. To expect no difficulties in life, whether through your actions or circumstances, is also unrealistic. ‘

Being honest with yourself is important, but only if you’re balanced and kind. You listen to yourself more than anyone else in the world – make sure you’re a good mentor.

Strength training for women – it’s not taboo

exercise-841167_640Strength training isn’t just for men anymore. In fact, it’s probably one of the most effective ways to train if you want that nice, toned look… Without bulking up like a weight lifter.

Surprised? It turns out there are many startling facts about how weight training affects weight loss in women. According to nerdfitness.com, these are seven of the biggest ones:

  1. You won’t get bulky from picking up heavy things – you will tone beautifully.
  2. Targeted exercise won’t change where fat is lost – rather do whole-body training.
  3. Strength training burns fat more efficiently than cardio.
  4. Everybody reacts to diet and training differently – find something that works for you.
  5. There’s no reason men and women should train differently.
  6. Eating less isn’t the most effective weight-loss strategy – eating the right foods is.
  7. Post-menopause is the perfect time to strength train.

Ultimately, the best way to train is the way that makes you happy. But, if it’s fat-loss you’re after, strength training (like the training we offer in our Pilates classes) often comes out tops.

Forgive yourself, according to science

494333914_1280x720You’re not always the best version of yourself. With stress, bad days, complex relationships, and ignorance, sometimes you kind of… suck. And that’s okay. We all do sometimes. But the guilt and shame that comes with it can eat away at you.

Self-forgiveness isn’t the simple task it’s often made out to be on self-help blogs though. According to psychological studies, forgiving yourself can even serve as a crutch, helping to relieve your anguish without actually making amends.

So how do you forgive yourself the healthy way? According to Greater Good Magazine, it’s achieved by following these four steps:

1.    Don’t get rid of guilt

It’s normal and healthy to feel bad about something you did wrong. Within reason. Listen to it, accept it, and don’t diminish or magnify it.

2.    Own up to your faults

Forgiveness means there must be something to forgive. Accept when you’ve done wrong and own it. You may not always be perfect, but your best self is at least honest about it.

3.    Make amends

The best forgiveness is the kind you’ve earned. Ask the other person what you can do to make amends, or if this isn’t feasible, do something (like charity work) to redeem yourself.

4.    Foster empathy

Self-forgiveness shouldn’t mean losing empathy for the victim. Doing the right thing means showing compassion for both of you. Always.

Relationships can be complicated. So, sometimes it isn’t as easy as saying you’re sorry and being forgiven. However you decide approach it, stay honest and focus on the positive.

Good luck!

Lose fat, not muscle.

pexels-photoLosing weight comes down to caloric deficit: eating fewer calories than you burn. Nothing new there. But did you know that when you lose weight, it isn’t always just fat that you lose? Often, your body burns your gorgeous muscles too… making you lighter, but not necessarily firmer, or even healthier.

How do you prevent this? This is what aworkoutroutine.com recommends:

1.    Eat enough protein.

2.    Maintain your strength levels.

3.    Reduce your weight training volume and/or intensity.

4.    Get your pre- and post-workout nutrition right.

5.    Don’t cut too many calories.

6.    Incorporate calorie/carb/nutrient cycling.

7.    Take diet breaks when needed.

8.    Avoid excessive amounts of cardio. Or don’t do it at all.

Fascinating, right? We thought so too. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. It turns out there’s a whole world of biological stuff going on with every action you take. Read more here.

Does muscle speed up your metabolism?

130129-F-JA000-001Muscle burns more energy than fat, right? Everybody knows that. It’s the goal when losing weight: build more muscle and, consequently, speed up your metabolism. But, what if we told you that while this is technically true, the difference is dismal? Yep.

The metabolic rate of muscle

You might find articles online that say the resting metabolic rate of muscle is as much as 50 to 100 calories a day per pound of fat. But this is not true. Studies have found no conclusive evidence of this. In fact, the evidence referred to here and here suggest that one pound of muscle burns as little as six calories a day at rest, while the same amount of fat burns two to four.

Muscle’s recovering metabolism

Muscle doesn’t necessarily burn more energy than fat. But, studies show that the metabolic rate of recovering muscle after moderate exercise (the energy your body consumes to repair damaged muscle and replenish glucose and fat stores) is high. What does this mean? It means you should train well and regularly.

The ultimate calorie burner

No matter what fad comes along, the results are always the same: the best way to lose weight and build strength is through diet and exercise. So, move! Regularly. And include resistance training in your regime (like the kind we do in our Pilates classes) to keep your muscles working. There is no quick fix to staying healthy.

Exercise and breastfeeding

pexels-photo-235243In a final tribute to mothers’ month, we’re starting at the beginning of motherhood: breastfeeding. Specifically, is it safe to exercise while breastfeeding? And are there certain exercises to avoid? Here’s the science of it:

It won’t harm supply.

Studies have shown that exercise doesn’t affect your milk supply… unless:

1.    Your body isn’t accustomed to the exercise you’re doing, or;

2.    You exercise to the extreme.

In other words: If you exercised regularly before you started breastfeeding, it shouldn’t be a problem to continue. But don’t overdo it. If you didn’t exercise much before, ease into it.

What to look out for

Studies have found that exhaustive exercise can affect the IgA levels in your milk (the antibodies that protect your baby from infections) for about an hour. This is a concern if you’re doing this kind of exercise often, but shouldn’t be a problem a few times a week.

Other studies have also shown that strenuous exercise increases the lactic acid levels in your milk for an hour or two – making your milk taste sour. The nutritional value will still be fine, but your baby may not like the taste. Moderate training, on the other hand, is fine.

Beyond this, demanding upper-body training also increases your chances of plugged milk ducts; a painful experience that could lead to mastitis.

Our exercise tips

During pregnancy and for a few weeks after childbirth, your body produces a hormone called relaxin. This relaxes your joints and ligaments and softens and widens your cervix. But it may also increase your chances of injury during exercise.

This, and the research mentioned above, speaks to the value of starting slowly and sticking to moderate exercise when breastfeeding. Pilates is ideal, because it’s low-impact and it’s the perfect exercise for getting your muscles back into shape after having moved around (and possibly cut, if you had a C-section) in childbirth and pregnancy.

Bottom line? Pilates is a winning exercise while breastfeeding. It’s science.

Part 2: The risks and treatment of post-natal depression

HelpMe02Welcome to the second part of our two-part series on post-natal depression. In this post, we’ll look at the complications associated with PND, who’s most at risk, and the treatments that are available.

The impact on family

If left untreated, PND can affect the whole family. For moms and dads, it increases both of their chances of getting depression in the future. PND also impacts on the important mother-child bonding that happens early in the child’s life, increasing the child’s chances of emotional, behavioural and even language-development problems in the future.

Who’s most at risk?

According to postpartumprogress.com, parents with a higher risk of getting PND are those:

  • With a history of mental illness, like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder
  • With a family history of mental illness
  • Who’ve had a traumatic or complicated pregnancy or birth
  • With a history of abuse
  • Who had a traumatic childhood
  • Who suffer from stress
  • Who lack social support

If you’re pregnant and you believe you are at risk of getting PND, keep your doctor and family informed so they can monitor you and offer you the support you need, if needed.

The treatment options

According to babycentre.co.uk, there are several treatment paths for PND, including talking therapies (support groups, counselling, or psychotherapy) and antidepressants. People respond differently to these though, so keep trying, even if the first attempt at formal treatment isn’t effective.

To get the most out of these treatments, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and weight, get adequate exercise, find support (either from family, friends, or a moms’ group in your area), and, as Baby Centre puts it: be kind to yourself.

Think you’ve got PND? Speak to a professional about it; like the Post-Natal Depression Support Association or even just your GP. What you’re going through shouldn’t be dismissed or ignored. It’s serious and dangerous, and there’s no healthy reason for you to endure it.