Holiday Tips Part 3 – The Importance of R&R

R&R – rest & recreation… How much of that do we get in our daily lives? If you, like most people, are just “living for the weekend”, then a holiday is the perfect chance to catch up on some much needed sleep or relax your mind by staying active and pursuing a hobby.

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” – Danny Kaye

Unlike weekends, a holiday gives you more time and more opportunities to do a variety of physical activities and invigorate your mind by discovering new places (or doing new things in old places!).

So here are a few things to keep in mind when on a holiday:

1. It’s your opportunity to get quality sleep – don’t waste it! Plan your activities in a way that you get to rest and sleep sufficiently (with the exception of travel days which are always a bit tiring).

2. To help you sleep even better stay active! Walking tours, water sports, cycling, trekking… There is always some kind of physical activity you can partake in wherever you are.

3. Give your mind a break. Try to turn off all the things that usually worry you in your daily life. Focus on enjoying the moment. Look around you, what do you see, feel, smell? Enjoying the present will relax your mind and give it a chance to recover from all the stress.


And finally… Travel more often! You will discover things about yourself, about the world and about others!

“Traveling is one of the easiest ways to become aware of the magic that weaves all of creation together through serendipity and synchronicity with perfect timing.” – Adam Siddiq

Serendipity: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for. Synchronicity: coincidence of events that appear meaningfully related but do not seem to be causally connected. From



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.

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:


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!


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.


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.” –

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


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!