lifestyle

2018 Wellness Trends

2018 Wellness trends

Here we are at the end of January and there have been plenty of new trends in the health and wellbeing field. Industry experts predict that 2018 will see moringa (a “super” anti-inflammatory green) replace turmeric, collagen overtake protein powders and “nootropic” (brain boosters/cognitive enhancers) supplements climb the top of the popularity list.

Other trends include the focus on gut health, supporting your mitochondria (cell power houses) produce more energy and sleep optimisation. But I’m not going to discuss these here because these trends may work for some people but they may not for others. This happens because of our biochemical individuality – we are all unique in terms of genetics, current health status and environmental & lifestyle factors.

With that in mind, I have picked a couple of trends I found interesting and could perhaps be applied to most of us. Let’s take a look:

2018 Trends - Tech

I’m really happy to see that disconnecting from social media and technology is deemed to be one of the top wellness trends for 2018. According to top wellness websites Mindbodygreen and Well+Good this year more and more of us will turn away from social media platforms and tech gadgets in a bid to reduce stress and break away from harmful addictions. As technology and apps improve their designs and features to keep us hooked, we aim to retaliate by returning to the real world and stimulating our brains with real interactions and fostering new communities.

As more and more evidence suggests smart tech is to blame for stress, anxiety, depression (and even rising teenage suicide rates), we have become determined to break free from tech chains and companies & entrepreneurs are taking notice. Catering to this trend are a growing number of co-working spaces, phone-free social clubs, wi-fi free cafes & hotels and “analogue” travel destinations (Check out Villa Stephanie in Baden-Baden, Germany —which blocks all WiFi signals from your room by embedding copper plates in the walls — the Mandarin Hotel Las Vegas’ ‘digital wellness escape” where phones are left at the front desk and glamping startup Hipcamp for totally off-the-grid places).

But we are not completely turning our backs to technology – rather we’re choosing when and how we use it (#we’vegotthepower – literally). Sleep-tech innovation now enables us to rest our weary bodies on smart mattresses which can track your sleep cycles, adjust room temperature and wake you up only when you are in a stage of light sleep. And if you don’t want to part with your existing mattress you have a choice of sleep trackers, apps and gadgets like Apple watch. Another helpful tech category that has recently emerged is femtech – female health apps (from cycle mapping to fertility and conception apps, there’s something for every woman).

2018 Trends - Self-care

Part of the motivation for these changes in technology use and demand are due to our increasing awareness for mental and spiritual wellbeing. The rise of “self-care” marks a new direction for the yoga/meditation/mindfulness trend. More and more people are looking to engage in a slower pace of life. We are just beginning to accept that it is ok to not have a thousand goals on your list / not exercise everyday / not sacrifice sleep / not put yourself last. Scheduling daily or weekly me-time is gaining popularity because it gives us time to recover, get some peace of mind and be fully charged and ready to help and support those who need us.

Mindfulness industry
From Mindbodygreen.com

Meditation and mindfulness are welcoming a lot of new kids on the block – knitting, journaling, colouring,  home bath ritual products, taking the time to sit and enjoy our food or even just having lazy mornings in bed! Oh and there’s this new thing called breathwork which is not new really, but instead derives from the way yogis use breath to further their practice. It is becoming popular because, unlike meditation, it does not require you to be in a calm mental state. In fact, you can use specific patterns of breathing to calm down or boost your energy and thus improve your mental wellbeing.

Breathwork
From Mindbodygreen.com

Related to the rise in self-care is the increasing demand for affordable, natural, “green” beauty products. Big corporations like Target, Procter & Gamble and Unilever are finally giving a lot more prominence to chemical-free products (perhaps in the hopes to cash in on consumer’s demand?) and improving transparency on label info.

2018 Trends - Green Beauty

It’s not just about cleaner, organic products though – we want our products to be high performing. Not only are we looking for products which match the efficacy of non-natural products but we want them to nourish and protect our skin from the sun and pollution. Enter “skin-barrier-supporting” and “microbiome-enhancing” serums which promise to build our skin’s defence against environmental toxins and improve its function. These products use ingredients such as lipids, ceramides, adaptogens, and even live bacteria to help our skin adapt to our environment.

Ultimately what these trends show us is two things – 1. we, as consumers, have the power to change entire industries and 2. investing time in our wellbeing is an important (and growing) aspect of health.

The most important thing you should keep in mind when making any health related decisions is that you are unique and only you can tell what works for you.

lifestyle, Motivation, Reblog

Reblog: How To Work 10+ Hours A Day And Live A Healthy Lifestyle

Did you know that 62%* of people around the world are in paid employment ? Out of those, 1.3 billion** are in full-time (i.e. 9+ hour working days). That is 1 in 4 adults worldwide.

And did you know that about 2 billion out of a global population of 7 billion fall into the overweight & obese categories?

worklife-balance_50290d829fca9_w1500

Clearly there is a link here between employment type and individual lifestyles. It is no news that leading a busy & stressful life will wreak havoc on your health and weight.

But it doesn’t have to be so. We all have the power to change and steer our lifestyles (& health), if we only knew.

That is why I am extremely happy when I come across articles such as Heidi Jones‘ tips on how to lead a balanced and healthy lifestyle in today’s fast-paced world:

As a driven, hard-working and successful individual it is natural to want to be successful in every way at living a healthy lifestyle, by not starting and waiting for the perfect situation you are creating a ‘get-out of failing’ zone for yourself, “if it isn’t perfect then there is no point in doing it.”

Setting realistic expectations are the small stepping stones to creating the dream life you desire.

What it is not, is lowering your expectations – it’s making them actionable and achievable.

You may not be able to do everything you want, but what you can do is make changes that bring in elements to living the lifestyle you want.

Read the full article (and amazing tips) here.

*62.8% of global working-age population in employment as per the latest World Employment & Social Outlook report

** Source: Gallup article, 2014

Fitness, lifestyle

The Pros & Cons of Competing in Bodybuilding

Competing in bodybuilding, whichever category it is, has it’s positives and negatives.

Of course the further up the ranks you go, the harder it gets but the rewards get bigger too!

For those of you not familiar with the world of bodybuilding, here’s an example of the categories you usually find in competitions (yes it’s not all about the big boys!):

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As you can see there are varying degrees of muscle mass in each category. Yet each one has to work extremely hard both in the gym and in the kitchen! Growing muscle, no matter how big or small requires a strict diet and consistent training.

So let’s take a look at what you stand to gain, should you choose to enter a bodybuilding competition:

  • You will learn a lot about your body, how it reacts to certain foods and styles of training. This knowledge can easily be transferred to a lifelong healthy lifestyle, minus the extremities of competing. You will know which foods affect you negatively and how to manipulate your training to maintain your shape and still enjoy a few treats.
  • You will push yourself mentally and physically. Following a strenuous training routine for 3-6 months before a competition will challenge you a lot. You will discover your limits and try to push past them. You will learn what your strengths and weaknesses are and you will work on them.
  • Your confidence will get a major boost. Who knows, you may even start liking what you see in the mirror!
  • You will meet new people, go to new places and have new experiences. All of these will help you grow as a person and develop a different perspective in life.
  • And finally a bit of a controversial one: you may discover who your true friends are. Committing to a competition means committing a significant chunk of your life towards achieving a fitness goal. Your new lifestyle may no longer fit with that of your current social circle. Will your friends understand and accommodate your needs (and may be even try new things together with you!) or will they avoid you and mock you?

fitness-image

But all these good things don’t come without a price… literally:

  • It is an expensive sport. Every competition comes with a hefty bill and your new-found fitness lifestyle can significantly bump up your monthly expenses. Also, you can easily get sucked into the false need for new things: you’ll think you need more / new supplements, clothes, protein shakers, etc… The only way to manage this is to reallocate money from other parts of your life (e.g. eat more homemade meals instead of eating out, travel less, and by reconsidering other unnecessary expenses).
  • It can be damaging to your physical health. Ironically, the sport that should showcase the ultimate health & fitness can have detrimental effects to your health if not done properly or if done for a very long period of time. Staying at a very low body fat is unnatural and can unlock a chain of health problems, especially when it comes to hormones. Ignoring cravings and following a cheat meal protocol encourages binge eating a lot of junk food (which you would normally not do if you allow yourself treats on a regular basis). The “muscle building diet” is an acidic diet high in animal products and artificial sweeteners (protein powders & bars) which can cause damage to the digestive system if not balanced out with healthy greens.
  • Your mental health can suffer too. Constantly restricting what foods go into your mouth can trigger many mental health problems such as depression, lethargy, eating disorders, self-hate  and guilt, food phobia (or rather should I say fear of gaining weight and fat from eating), and so on. On the other hand, not everyone is good at being disciplined and committed. If that is not your cup of tea, then the journey to a competition will stir up some negative emotions in you. Self-blame and not feeling good enough are just a few examples. It can get boring at times or you may develop a fear of missing out on your social life… yep the issues are many!
  • The bodybuilding lifestyle is not a sustainable lifestyle. You can’t train and lift heavy weights forever. You can’t deprive your body of carbs forever. You can’t deny your mind delicious treats. An injury or a health problem can easily put you out of the gym and may be even leave you unable to eat the necessary proteins to sustain your muscles. Therefore, it is important to follow a lifestyle and diet that you can sustain as you progress through life. A wide variety of healthy foods and moderate, enjoyable exercise will keep you going for a long time.

So is it good or bad? It depends on every individual. The way I see it is that competing once or twice is a good way to kickstart your journey into health and fitness. After that, it’s upto you to find your true fitness passion!

Fitness, lifestyle, Nutrition

Debunking Popular Health & Fitness Myths – Part 1

By Adrianna McDonald

MYTH #1 DO SIT UPS TO LOSE BELLY FAT

Sit ups are definitely great for strengthening your abdominal muscles and lower back, but they won’t melt the body fat from your abdominal area even if you do 100 a day. If your waist is a problem look into your diet as the truth is “Abs are made in the kitchen” combined with a great workout routine. The less body fat you have the more visible your abs will be. The magic lays in between the energy in and the energy out.

stretch4

MYTH #2 – YOU SHOULDN’T EAT CARBS AT NIGHT

If your daily calories meet the requirements for the day, and your diet throughout the day is balanced, it won’t matter much when you eat them. Your resting metabolic rate doesn’t change much when you are asleep. Weight training during the day can increase your sleeping metabolic rate, resulting in greater fat oxidation while you are dreaming of a perfect beach body. Focus more on quality of carbs and the daily intake of both calories and carbs.

MYTH #3 LOW FAT AND LOW SUGAR ARE HEALTHIER OPTIONS

A lot of products labelled fat-free, sugar-free, diet, low sodium and low carb are selling very fast these days! People blindly believe that these products are healthy and can be eaten without limits. The truth is often these products which are “free” of something are full of other replacement ingredients: artificial sweeteners, salt, MSG, artificial flavors and crazy additives. These highly processed foods create increased hunger, less satisfaction from eating and consistent cravings thus making you eat more.

MYTH #4 EGG YOLKS WILL GIVE YOU A HEART ATTACK

Egg yolks are seen as the bad boys in eggs and are often removed from most dieters’ menus. I still see people asking for egg-white omelets. The poor youlkies got a bad rep for increasing cholesterol levels, promoting heart disease, and wreaking havoc on your waistline. But you should know that they come with nutritional benefits and taste better. One whole egg contains around 7 grams of complete protein, and it is a great source of heart-healthy omega-3s, B vitamins, and choline. Unless you are eating 20 eggs a day there is no need to remove the yolk.

MYTH #5 CARDIO IS BEST FOR WEIGHT LOSS

This is still by far the most popular myth amongst many women who are scared to lift some weights as they don’t want to turn into “HULK”. Unfortunately cardio on it’s own burns away fat and muscle, leaving you with a “floppy “ body. Combining strength training with a healthy diet will give you better results. Weight training builds lean muscle mass, which increases your metabolism and burns more fat in shorter time, and continues to burn fat while you are resting.

image

Fitness, lifestyle, Motivation

My First Interview as a Fitness Competitor :)

So You Wanna Look Like A Fitness Model? Find out what it takes in DFF’s exclusive interview with pro body builder Miranda!

“Most people think of bodybuilding as a sport for massive men. The truth is in the name itself – “body” and “building”. The sport is about building an aesthetically pleasing body, and anyone can do that!” – Miranda

Aesthetics is often the goal when people first begin their fitness journey, and there’s a sport dedicated to just that, Body Building. The DFF team hung out with Miranda, the 2016 UK BFF winner, pro body builder and blog author. In her interview she gives insights into her diet and training, as well as the lifestyle changes that have helped her achieve her goals. Think you have what it takes? Read on to find out more.

You can also keep up with Miranda’s Journey on her website inspiredbymiranda.com and on social meda @InspiredbyMiranda

bikini_o168_04-17-16_054

 

Read the full interview to find out my training & diet schedule on the link below:

http://dubaifitfoodie.com/wanna-look-like-fitness-model-find-2016-uk-bff-winner-eats-trains-exclusive-interview-plus/

lifestyle

Kim on Why Sleep is Vital to Muscle Recovery

By Kim Barnard

Not many people know that during a workout you are actually breaking down your muscles. In particular, when you do strength training or lift weights, the muscle fibers are broken down and will tear. It is the repairing of these small tears that creates stronger muscles.

Sleep is the most important time for your body to recover as it has a profound effect on muscle growth and physical well being. Enough sleep aids mental health, hormonal balance and muscular recovery.

The recommended amount of sleep is seven to nine hours however this is based upon an individual’s lifestyle, exercise and genetics. Research suggests that sleep deprivation increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol as well as causing a decrease in the production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. Basically, sleep deprivation means lower energy levels!

While you sleep your energy consumption is lowered allowing you to convert the food you consume during the day in order to efficiently build muscle. During sleep the growth hormone is produced and protein synthesis occurs, improving muscular recovery and regeneration. The growth hormone is usually secreted during early sleep when the deepest stage of sleep occurs.

There are five stages to the sleep cycle. These stages progress from stage one to the rapid eye movement (REM) stage and then start again. A complete cycle will take an average of 90 to 110 minutes. The first sleep cycle has a relatively short REM stage. The longer periods of deep sleep later in the night have longer REM periods and shorter deep sleep time.

Sleep stages

Stage One: tends to be light sleep where you will drift in and out of sleep and be easily awoken. During this stage, your eyes and muscle activity slows down.

Stage Two: during this stage your eye movement ceases and the brain waves slow down. There will be occasional bursts of rapid brain waves during this stage.

Stage Three and Four: during stage three extremely slow brain waves called delta waves are interspersed with shorter, fast waves. When sleep moves into stage four it is almost exclusively delta waves. Delta sleep is the deepest point of sleep and therefore the hardest point to wake a sleeper.

REM Sleep Stage: The most active stage of sleep, known as REM, accounts for 20-25% of a night’s sleep. This is the time when dreams can occur. The majority of people experience three to five REM cycles during a night’s sleep.

Young children can spend almost 50% of their time in REM sleep whereas adults can spend about 20% in REM. Older adults will spend progressively less time in this stage.

During the REM stage, your breathing, heart rate and brain activity will quicken. This is the stage at which the body restores organs, bones and tissue, replenishes immune cells and circulates the growth hormone.

Therefore, when you don’t have enough sleep you will not complete the sleep stages required for muscle repair and recovery. So if you’re getting less than the recommended amount of sleep then the chances are that you’re not benefiting from all that hard work at the gym.

Fitness, lifestyle

Travel Workout Kit – What to Pack

Summer is in full swing and if you haven’t gone on holiday already, you most likely are planning to go somewhere soon!

Whether going for a few days or for a few weeks, vacations shouldn’t be used as an excuse to slack off and cause a lot of damage to your health. They do, however, allow for an opportunity to switch things up a bit – different exercises, different locations, different sources of nutrients.

As I’m getting ready for a long holiday, I’ve had to have a good think of what to take to help me stay in shape and not lose all the hard work’s results from the past few months.

Here’s what I’m taking:

Resistance bands 

 

 

Luckily most places have dumbbells and some barbells, however to be on the safe side and to add variety I am taking these bands with me.

Clothes

travel pack 2.jpg

Comfort always comes first 😉

Shoes

travel pack4 .jpg

The opportunity to exercise outdoors means I need to have shoes with the right support to avoid strains and injuries.

And a few extras….

 

travel pack 6

Not sure how sore I will get, but need to keep my muscles flexible by rolling and stretching 🙂

Stay tuned for more holiday tips 😉

lifestyle

Dodging the Stress Bullets

Recently I listened to part of Pedram Shojai’s New York Times best selling book – The Urban Monk: Eastern Wisdom and Modern Hacks to Stop Time and Find Success, Happiness, and Peace.

It was quite interesting and a good reminder to live in the moment and make the best of it.

We often think that with success comes happiness & peace and that to achieve success you need to work hard. Sounds logical, but one important thing we miss out is that stress can sabotage all three – success, happiness and peace.

And that is why he begins his book by painting a very real picture of life in the modern western world and what we can do reduce our stress levels. You can hear his insights and tips below:

 

 

And if you don’t have the time to listen to the whole podcast, here are my key takeouts from this podcast:

  • In modern times our stress response is linked to financial and employment factors, i.e. we respond to work and money problems the same way we would respond to a life threatening situation such as a lion attack.
  • However, unlike animals, we humans are often unable to let go of the stresses, move on with our lives and live in the present.
  • Instead we hold on to stress and keep on reliving those stressful situations.
  • Our environment also has a huge impact on our stress levels
  • Clean diet, good sleep, full spectrum movement, quiet time and having a healthy mindset are the main components of a stress-free life.
  • We can reduce stress by taking a few important decisions:
    • Eliminate the ‘mental virus’ of need. Modern society pressures and expectations make us believe that we need to spend money on a lot of things (most of which we don’t really need).
    • Take the say ‘you are what you eat’ to the next level. Just as we need to choose carefully what we put in our mouths, we need to choose carefully what we let in our environment (e.g. sometimes even watching the news can get you stressed!)
    • Learn to listen. We are constantly bombarded with data – even the wind hitting your face reflects as noise in your brain. Peace is an inside game and we need to learn to calm the chatter in our brain. If you learn to be less reactive to all this noise, you learn to be less reactive to your impulses. This leads to the point below.
    • Use meditation as a preventative tool. Don’t wait until you are stressed to do something about it. Daily meditation can help strengthen the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain which helps us stay cool under pressure and makes it easier to navigate stressful situations.
    • Remember that we are all mortal. When your life is at stake are you going to care about all the little things that are stressing you? Stress has made us forget what it feels like to be vibrantly alive, not just existing… surviving. Do something that scares you every day. There’s nothing like feeling alive to reset your stress levels.

“If the small stuff is getting you down, do greater things.”

lifestyle, Motivation

5 Ways To Battle Fatigue

thumb_IMG_5255_1024Today we live in a fast-paced world full of stress and anxiety and sadly it has become all too common to feel tired all the time. In fact, the situation is so dire that chronic fatigue syndrome is now an officially recognised illness.

If ever there was a better time to take a step back and reclaim our health, it is now. Here are some tips from personal experience which have helped me feel more energised:

Sleep

This is a no brainer. We have heard it time and time again –  you need to sleep more. But don’t feel bad if you can’t reach your daily target of 8 hours, you’re not the only one. Thanks to technology the outside world has a constant window to our homes and bedrooms sucking away precious sleep minutes. The solution? Try to stick to a certain bedtime window (e.g. 10pm-11pm) and avoid to stay up beyond that. Switch off electronics and read a book. Take afternoon naps. And remember we are all different – some people are okay with 6 hours of sleep whereas as others need as much as 9 hours!

Coffee

Don’t be afraid of the dangers of overdosing on coffee – as long as you stick to 2 cups of coffee a day (and are not indulging in other caffeine sources such as sodas & chocolates) you should be safe. In fact, a cup of coffee a day is said to have plenty of benefits including reducing your risk of diabetes and liver disease, increasing fat burning, and even reducing the chances of developing depression! It is important to note that it takes 15-30 minutes for the caffeine in coffee to kick in and it can stay in your bloodstream for up to 6 hours. So no coffee after 3-4pm! But you can have a cup of coffee in the early afternoon (2pm), and go straight for a short nap (20 mins) – when you wake up not only will have the coffee kicked in but you would feel refreshed from that extra bit of sleep.

Water

Even mild dehydration can make you feel exhausted, so don’t forget to drink up! When you are not getting enough water, your tissues and cells aren’t getting enough water making them less able to produce energy.

“Water is the most valuable life support product for our health, right up there with oxygen. Water and oxygen are the only two things in life that without for just a short period of time we would die.” – DrAxe.com

Now if that wasn’t reason enough to get you sipping! Make sure to drink an extra glass of water for each cup of coffee and don’t count sugary drinks as they can dehydrate you too.

Drink water

Exercise

Well if none of the above can wake you up, a good dose of exercise definitely will! Not only does it boost serotonin levels but it also improve blood circulation, enabling the blood cells to carry more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles which in turn improves their ability to produce more energy. Regular exercise also helps your heart and cardiovascular system function more efficiently. Yup, nothing like that post-workout rush of energy!

Rhodiola (herbal supplement)

I also take rhodiola rosea (also called Arctic or Golden Root) on extremely busy days. It is a herb which grows in Siberia and is known as an excellent stress adaptogen. Basically the chemical compounds in this plant help it resist environmental stressors and consuming those compounds helps us better withstand stress too. Therefore, rhodiola reduces the amount of stress your body experiences when under pressure. It also boosts your energy, helps burn fat (through the stimulation of a hormone called lipase) and can improve your memory, mood and other brain functions.

But these are just a few of my tips. Share yours in the comments below!

Fitness, lifestyle

No Pain, No Gain? Tackling Muscle Soreness & Injury

Anyone who has exercised a single time in their lives is familiar with the muscle ache that comes the day after an intense workout.

Even though I have been working out for years and started doing some serious weight-lifting over a year ago, I still do get sore every time my workout intensity/routine/weight changes (yes, it happens to the best of us :p). 

Why does it happen?

So why do we get sore? Putting your muscles under tension during exercise causes tiny cuts in muscle fibers which then prompt the body to rebuild those muscles, making them bigger & stronger.  Soreness post-workout is a natural sign that your muscles are benefitting from your hard work. It is still debatable whether this is due to the build up of toxins & lactic acid in the muscles which can cause inflammation, knots & stiffness in the affected area. Other possible causes are connective tissue damage, muscle spasms & realease of enzymes.



Soreness vs. Injury

Muscle ache or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) usually starts 12 to 24 hours post workout and can last 3 to 5 days. Here’s how I usually feel:

  • Day of workout – tired, beginning to feel the muscles tighten
  • Day 1 post-workout – wake up with mild to severe muscle ache
  • Day 2 post-workout – wake up & struggle to get out of bed 😀 (basically very painful DOMS)
  • Day 3 post-workout – the pain starts to subside and the affected area can return to normal full range of motion
  • Day 4 post-workout – back to normal in most cases

On the other hand, if you experience sharp pain, either during workout, with certain everyday movements or constantly, you may have injured yourself. Swelling that does not go down for more than 10 days, especially around joints, is another symptom you should be weary of. 


What can you do

There are a number of ways you can help your body recover. First and foremost do make sure you are not injured, keeping in mind that DOMS can be very painful too but is not a health risk. Then have a look at the list below, these are just a few tips from my experience:

  • In the first 24 hours post-workout make sure to rest & use ice if there is any mild swelling;
  • Use heat to relieve tension and stiffness in the days following the workout – tiger balm creams & patches, hot baths and hot water bottles can be of great help;
  • Make sure to stretch & foam roll prior to your next workout, you can also use a small ball (e.g. Tennis ball) to dig deeper around the affected area;
  • Don’t stop exercising, but also don’t work out the part which is aching – focus on other muscles instead;
  • Certain nutrients & supplements can help too: magnesium is well known for reducing muscle ache, whereas ginger & turmeric can help reduce inflammation.

Finally, remember that the more you workout the more your body gets used to the stress & tensions of exercise and the less pain you will experience in the days after your workout.