Categorized as: Exercise and Fitness

Cortisol and Stress

The ‘fight-or-flight’ stress response was designed to help us to flee immediate danger. Stress is not something we can reach out and touch. It’s our emotional response to a given situation. Things that some find stressful, others may not. We are all conditioned to respond to situations differently. The good news is that you created this conditioning, so you can also change it!

Under stressful conditions, cortisol is released, providing the body with glucose by tapping into stores via the liver. This energy can help an individual fight or flee a stressor and, in the short term, it’s not harmful. However, elevated cortisol over the long term consistently produces excess glucose, leading to an increase in blood sugar and insulin levels.

Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight ‘emergency’ situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear. Necessary if faced with imminent danger in the short term, but highly detrimental if exposed to this level of cortisol in the long term.


How to lower cortisol levels

Exercise: particularly high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the most effective ways of reducing stress and systemic cortisol levels. Ironically, it’s usually the first thing we drop from our schedule when we’re stressed. MAKE time to be physically active, EVERYDAY.

Nutrition and blood sugar stability: The most significant ‘side effect’ of improving blood sugar stability is a feeling of calm. This newfound calmness is definitely attributable to the physiological changes in your body. It’s reinforced by a feeling of self-confidence in finally gaining an understanding of your body, instead of fighting a losing battle against it.

 Mindfulness: As they say, life is what happens when you put your phone down!

In our fast-paced world, it’s important to practise being ‘present’ and continuing to remind yourself to do so.

Great expectations: In general terms, the greater the distance between your expectations and reality, the greater the perceived stress! Whether it’s family, a friend, a colleague or your workplace in general, if you continue to have an unrealistic expectation of others, you will continually feel disappointed and frustrated. Stressed! Change your expectations and your frustration will be greatly reduced. You may even feel pleasantly surprised when your expectations are exceeded!

Putting things into perspective: When you are confronted with stressful situations, it can be helpful to put things into perspective. Think about the worst-case scenario if the situation escalates to the extreme. Often, you will find that the potential consequences would not be as negative as you may have initially thought and often, it’s unlikely to escalate to this level anyway. If you’re unable to do this ‘in the heat of the moment’, use this as a reflective tool when the emotion has subsided. It may help you in similar situations in the future.

Make the habit of keeping a ‘stress diary’ your new daily activity. If you experience a stressful episode, write down the source of stress, your reaction to it and, at the end of the day, reflect on a possible alternative reaction the next time something similar occurs. Becoming aware of your behavioral patterns and putting things into perspective will often reduce your stress levels.

When weight training goes wrong…

Document2Have you ever wondered why it is that some people exercise their butt off, yet never seem to change shape? Unfortunate genetics, right? Wrong!

The bottom line is: everyone has the same skeletal structure, ingeniously manoeuvered by an intricate network of muscles. Lying over this is a layer of stored energy, or body fat. The extent to which you choose to develop your muscle tissue (or allow it to deteriorate) and the degree of excess body fat you allow to accumulate is completely up to you. Saddlebag thighs and love handles cannot be blamed on poor old mum, grandma or a distant uncle on your father’s side! Of course, we all have certain genetic traits that may make fat loss or muscle gain a little easier for some, or more difficult for others, but generally, great bodies are not born, they are made … as are those which are out of shape!

Information overload…

These days you can’t swing a cat in a gym without hitting an ‘expert’! Unfortunately, there are more widespread, contradictory opinions amongst the experts than there are diet books, so whom should we choose to believe? How much of what we do is a necessary part of getting into shape, and how much is urban myth? Most diet and exercise veterans are still trying to piece it together, so I can certainly sympathise with the disillusioned novice enthusiast.

So where are we going wrong?

To make significant changes to our shape and general condition, we must change our body composition by adding lean muscle tissue and losing stored body fat. Contrary to popular belief, developing muscle does not necessarily mean increasing muscle size, but rather increasing the density of the fibres within that muscle, improving tone and shape.

Despite the growing number of exercise enthusiasts, I’ve always found that those individuals actually making significant gains are so rare that it is disturbing. The sheer frustration of witnessing this phenomenon over the past 20 years continues to inspire me to write books and work 1:1 with private clients.

If you feel like you’ve been working hard, yet your body shape is not changes as you’d like it to, or it is changing shape in a less than desirable way, perhaps you’ll find the answer in the list of common exercise faux pas below:

Overdeveloped upper traps: This common phenomenon results in sloping shoulders, a thick neck, poor posture and likely, headaches. Your trapezius muscle (or traps) is a diamond shaped muscle spanning from the base of your scull to the middle of your back. The upper traps often become dominant if you have poor scapula (shoulder blade) stability, poor technique, you are training too heavy for your capability, choosing the wrong exercises or, all of the above. This muscle ‘shrugs’ your shoulders up towards your ears. Once your upper traps become dominant, it’s very difficult to reverse and can ruin your symmetry and posture. It’s a particularly unattractive muscle for women to overdevelop. The most common exercises which can cause this issue: shrugs, (incorrect) deadlifts, (incorrect) deltoid raises, (incorrect) lat pulldowns or rows.

Thick waist: Whilst excess stored body fat is the most common cause of a thickening waistline, overdevelopment of obliques and erector spinae (lower back) muscles can also contribute and are particularly noticeable in lean individuals with unsuitable training regimes/technique. Compound movements, such as heavy deadlifts and weighted oblique work are common culprits. To make your waist look smaller and improve your symmetry, development of your lats (lattisimus dorsi) will have a positive impact on your overall proportion. Again, correct technique is rare, but crucial.

Poor posture: It’s common to focus your training on the muscles that are most visible (front) and neglect your ‘posterior chain’ of muscles. We also spend much of our day reaching forward (driving, sitting at a desk, reading, etc.), so strengthening the posterior chain of muscles and stretching/releasing anterior muscles (chest, shoulders) plays a crucial role in developing and maintaining good posture and avoiding injuries.

Underdeveloped glutes: Poor squatting and lunging technique, often exacerbated by inflexible hamstrings and tight hip flexors, will often result in poor recruitment of your glute muscles and potential lower back and knee injuries. Your glutes are powerful muscles and, when trained correctly, reduce injury risk and improve overall aesthetics.

Poor overall symmetry: Some of the most commonly neglected muscle groups are lats, rear shoulders, lower traps, hamstrings and calves, all of which contribute significantly to a symmetrically proportioned body.

Out-training a poor diet: For those of you who feel you need to be ‘smashed’ by your trainer in order to feel you either get ‘value’ from your session or you feel the need to work off your poor eating habits, think again. Engaging in smart, mindful, focused and planned training will see you gain more results, faster and with far less risk of injury and simply pushing your body with poor technique through inappropriate exercises, all in the name of ‘sweat’! I call this the new phenomena of the ‘Instagram workout’. It’s gathering momentum amongst some, both in the form of 1:1 training and group class cult followings. Experience tells me that many of these regimes will end in tears – both in poorly developed physiques and inevitable injuries – not dissimilar to the ‘aerobic’ movement of the ‘80’s!

All of the above can be overcome and/or corrected by a reputable, experienced trainer.

Bottom line? Train smart .. avoid injuries … get results!

Body composition: what is it and why is it so important?


Why is it useful to measure your body composition?
Body composition is the term used to describe the different components that make up our total body weight. It’s the ratio between our stored body fat and lean body weight (muscle, bone, organs … everything other than fat) that determines our health, tone, shape, performance, strength, metabolic rate and overall appearance. Our lean body weight (LBW) is metabolically active and fat (adipose) tissue is not.
Weight on the scales
Bathroom scales provide a measure of total weight, but don’t determine what that weight is composed of. Based only on scale weight, a 90 kilo athlete with less than 10% body fat may be considered obese by a typical weight chart. This also includes Body Mass Index (BMI) measures for the same reason. While BMI combined with waist circumference gives some indication of our physical condition, it is not as accurate as body composition.
Hydrostatic Weighing
What is it?
This is a method that involves immersing a person underwater in a large tank of water and works on the principle of displacement. LBW is more dense than water and fat tissue is less dense than water, therefore an individual with more body fat will weigh less under water and be more buoyant.

Hydrostatic weighing has long been considered a highly accurate measure of body composition.

It’s highly inaccessible, inconvenient and many more sophisticated methods are now being developed which are superseding this method.

Skinfold/Caliper Measurements

What is it?
The skin is pinched in various sites of the body using calipers to determine the thickness of sub
cutaneous (beneath the skin) body fat. Several formulas exist to calculate the sum of these measurements, incorporating our weight, height and age to estimate an overall body fat percentage.

Accessible and inexpensive. When performed by a trained and skilled professional they are up to 98% accurate.

Difficult to determine the body fat of an individual who is extremely overweight.
Accuracy takes skill and training and is commonly compromised by unskilled operators.
Bioelectrical Impedance
Bioelectrical Impedance is now a commonly used method. It sends a weak electrical current through the body. Electricity is carried by water and there is less water in fat tissue than in LBW, so it uses impedance/resistance of the current to differentiate the two. Methods range from scales you stand on to electrodes placed on the skin and handheld devices. The more accurate machines measure the entire body rather than simply standing on scales. The scales with feet electrodes only will send the current up one leg and down the other, only ‘guestimating’ you from the waist up.
Accessible, accurate, no human intervention/error, relatively inexpensive.
The readings can be affected by hydration levels so measurements should be taken under similar conditions each time for the most accuracy.
Ideal Body Weight and Percent Body Fat
A ‘healthy range’ of body fat for men is between 8 and 20 per cent, whilst for women it ranges between 20 and 30 per cent. ‘Healthy range’ means that for every per cent over or below this range, your risk of disease increases.
Over-fat has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and several forms of cancer, whilst under-fat (particularly in women) may increase the risk of hormonal disturbances, impaired immune function and osteoporosis.
There are two parts to reducing your body fat percentage:
1. reduce overall stored body fat
2. increase lean muscle tissue
To reach the lower end of the desired range, you must have adequate LBW to support such fat loss. Any attempt to reduce body fat using extreme measures not only leads to decreased performance, but is also likely to lead to severe health complications, such as nutrient deficiencies, infertility and injuries.
Is Body Composition Genetic?
Some aspects of where you store your body fat is genetic, however, whether you choose to store excess body fat is up to you! Your genetics are the bullet in the gun … your lifestyle is the trigger!
We lose around 3% LBW per decade after the age of 30 – that is, if we don’t exercise. In this case your body fat percentage will be increasing as you age, even if your weight doesn’t change. I often hear people use their age as justification for weighing more, but in fact we should weigh less as we age due to loss of muscle and bone density. Food for thought…



  • There is a constant battle going on in your gut between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria
  • The ‘good guys’ are known as probiotics and they feed on prebiotics
  • The better your gut flora, the better your immune system, nutrient absorption, waste excretion, body fat percentage, mental health, bone density, digestive health, blood sugar, lactose tolerance, cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Healthy gut flora lowers your risk of many diseases, including colon cancer & osteoporosis, plus it changes the metabolism of dietary carcinogens
  • Your gut microbial community regulates expression of genes that affect fat deposition and fatty acid oxidation. Poor gut bacteria exacerbates inflammatory & auto-immune conditions
  • Negative influences on gut flora include diet, stress, age, antibiotics
  • For 50+ years we have known that the administration of antibacterial agents promotes the growth of farm animals to accelerate weight gain.
  • These changes in the composition of microbiota lead to an increased capacity to extract calories from otherwise indigestible constituents of food consumed
  • Prebiotics are plant foods that pass through the gut undigested until they reach the colon
  • They ferment in the colon & become an important fuel source for good bacteria
  • Some foods containing prebiotics: garlic, asparagus, onions, leeks, artichokes, banana, cabbage, snow peas, beetroot, peas, nectarines, grapefruit, cashews, oats, pistachios
  • Food intolerances: eg: lactase enzyme is a by-product of prebiotic fermentation!
  • We each have around 1.3kgs of bacteria in our gut
  • Fibre – nurtures good microbes/gut bacteria
  • Mental illness/depression/anxiety are linked to gut health
  • Your gut is the biggest sensory organ, sending information to the brain
Prebiotics are a special form of dietary fibre Probiotics are live bacteria in dairy and supplement form. There are hundreds of species of probiotics
Prebiotic supplements are not affected by heat, cold, acid or time Probiotic bacteria must be kept alive. They may be destroyed by heat, stomach acid or poor storage
Prebiotics provide a wide range of health benefits Probiotics provide a wide range of health benefits
Prebiotics nourish the ‘good’ bacteria that we already have in our gut Probiotic supplements must contain more than 5 strains of bacteria to be effective. They must compete with over 1000 species already in our gut
Prebiotics may be helpful in many chronic digestive disorders amongst other health benefits Certain probiotic species have shown to be helpful in several digestive disorders amongst other health benefits

The (not so obvious) benefits of exercise…


In my experience, one of the most common reasons we’re motivated to exercise is aesthetics. Yep – shed a few kilos of fat, tone-up those flabby areas, fit into our ‘skinny jeans’ or look good on that beach holiday. While it can be a positive thing to have a goal, the downside of this kind of superficial/external motivation is that it’s more of a whim than a long term need. At the end of the day, is it really enough to make you change your entire lifestyle to achieve?

Whilst caught up in the frenzy of numbers on the bathroom scales and the profile of our belly in the mirror, sometimes we miss the other far more important benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular, consistent exercise. I’ve known many individuals throw their arms up in the air in despair, claiming not to be getting any benefit at all from exercising, simply because the scales are not moving as quickly as they’d like. At times like these, it’s important to be aware of the many benefits of exercise and view the aesthetic results for what they are … a pleasant bonus!

The evidence is overwhelming: A body needs physical activity to stay lean and healthy

Fat burning: the effects of exercise are not as simplistic as ‘calories in vs calories burned’. You cannot out-run or out-train a poor or excessive diet. However, there are many physiological benefits activated by regular exercise, all of which assist your body in burning fat more effectively…

Increases insulin sensitivity: Muscles are the engines in your body that burn calories and make you move. And just like any engine that burns fuel to make it go (such as a car burning petrol), muscles need fuel too. That fuel is fat and carbohydrate (glucose). During exercise, the demand for fuel increases and the body responds accordingly. Glucose stored in the muscle is burned very quickly.  At about the same time, glucose stored in the liver is released into the bloodstream (like fast fuel injection). Fat is released from special cells called adipocytes (fat storage cells). This fat along with glucose makes its way through the bloodstream to the muscles to be used for fuel. Once the fuel reaches the muscle, it must enter through special pathways so that the muscles can use it for energy.

On the wall of every muscle cell are special receptors, like doors, that allow glucose to pass from the bloodstream to the muscle. These doors do not open unless they are ‘unlocked’ by insulin. The good news is that exercise has an insulin-like effect, making insulin work better in your body. During exercise, the doors swing open easily, allowing more glucose to enter the muscle to be burned up for energy.

Sometimes blood glucose continues to drop after exercise. That is because the glucose in the muscle that was used at the beginning of exercise needs to be replaced. The muscles, all revved up from exercise, continue to take glucose from the bloodstream to replace what was lost.

Increased Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR):

Our BMR is the calories we burn at rest. If you lay still for 24 hours, you burn a certain number of calories a day to keep your heart beating and sustain life. This BMR is generally around 75% of the total calories we use in a day, so it’s pretty significant. It is determined largely by our lean body weight (muscle tissue). The more muscle (density, tone, strength), the higher your BMR. Conversely, should you feel your exercise regime is ‘not working’ and become inconsistent, you risk a rapid loss in lean muscle tissue and a consequent decrease in BMR. Whilst you may remain the same ‘weight’, or even lose weight, you’re actually getting fatter as your body composition changes in the wrong direction (Less muscle, more fat).

The EPOC effect: Following high intensity interval training the body enters a state known as ‘excess post-exercise oxygen consumption’, or EPOC. After you finish your workout, your body will be working overtime for up to 24 hours in order to restore your body back to its resting state. This means you will be burning energy/kilojoules at a much higher rate, even whilst sedentary.

Protection against disease: regular exercise can reduce our risk of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, certain cancers (colon, breast), type-2 diabetes and depression.

Joint health and inflammation

Joints require motion to stay healthy. Inactivity causes joints to stiffen and the adjoining tissue to weaken. Building strength and ‘tone’ in muscles surrounding our joints allows that ‘tension’ in our muscles to pull pressure away from the joints, resulting in less compression and friction. Conversely, allowing muscles to deteriorate can lead to permanent joint damage over time.

Bone health and balance

Weight-bearing exercise is very beneficial for bones in people of all ages. This approach applies tension to muscle and bone, and the body responds to this stress by increasing bone density, in young adults by as much as 2 – 8% a year. Careful weight training can also be very beneficial for elderly people, particularly women. In addition to improving bone density, weight-bearing exercise reduces the risk of fractures by improving muscle strength and balance, thus helping to prevent falls.

Back pain

People who do not exercise regularly face an increased risk for low back pain, especially during times when they suddenly have to perform stressful, unfamiliar activities. These activities may include lifting children, gardening, digging, or moving heavy items.

Lack of exercise leads to the following conditions that may threaten the back:

  • Hamstring inflexibility may alter the pivot point in general movement, causing you to compensate by bending from your lower back rather than your hips. This repetitive strain can lead to pressure on discs and consequent injury.
  • Tightness through the hip flexor muscles (from sitting for prolonged periods) can also contribute to lower back pain and eventual disc damage.
  • General muscle inflexibility can restrict the back’s ability to move, rotate, and bend, forcing unnecessary pressure on surrounding joints.
  • Weak core muscles can increase the strain on the back and can cause an abnormal tilt of the pelvis (hip bones).
  • Weak back muscles may increase the load on the spine and the risk of disk compression.
  • Carrying excessive body fat puts more weight on the spine and increases pressure on the vertebrae and discs.

Effect of Exercise on Cancer

A number of studies have indicated that regular exercise may reduce the risk of breast, colon, and possibly prostate cancers.

Studies confirm that exercise significantly reduces the risk of colon cancer (by up to 50%). Exercise also decreases the risk of breast cancer in pre and post-menopausal women by up to 30%.

Low intensity exercise has a protective effect against colon cancer, according to studies, including the Nurses Health Study and the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II. People with colon cancer who exercise may reduce their risk of a recurrence.

Exercise also has a beneficial effect on people receiving treatment for cancer. Aerobic and resistance training can reduce fatigue in patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer. Fatigue is a common side effect of such treatments.

Effects on the Gastrointestinal Tract

Moderate regular exercise may reduce the risk for some intestinal disorders. These disorders include ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and diverticulosis. Older people who exercise moderately may have a lower risk for severe gastrointestinal bleeding.

Effects on Neurological Diseases and Mental Decline

Studies have shown that regular exercise helps reduce one’s risk for memory loss. Epidemiologic studies have found an association between increased exercise and slower rate of functional decline in older adults.

People with existing neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, should be encouraged to exercise. Specialized exercise programs that improve mobility are particularly valuable for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Patients with neurological disorders who exercise experience less stiffness, as well as reduction in, and even reversal of, muscle wasting. In addition, the psychological benefits of exercise are extremely important in managing these disorders.

Effects on Emotional Disorders

Some research has suggested that exercise may have antidepressant effects. Although there is little evidence that exercise can correct major depression, a number of studies have suggested benefits in mild to moderate depression in adults. Research findings include:

  • Just 30 minutes of brisk exercise three times a week was as effective as medication in relieving symptoms, and reducing relapse, in many patients with mild-to-moderate depression.
  • Teenagers who are active in sports have a greater sense of well-being than their sedentary peers. The more vigorously they exercise, the better their emotional health.
  • Physical inactivity is strongly linked to depression in children 8 – 12 years of age.
  • Exercise decreases some of the most troublesome emotional symptoms of menopause. Women who exercise during menopause showed less anxiety, stress, and depression than inactive women with menopause did.

Exercise’s Effects on Diabetes:

Moderate aerobic exercise can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.

Exercise has positive benefits for those who have diabetes. It can lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and strengthen the heart. Strength training, which increases muscle and reduces fat, may be particularly helpful for people with diabetes.

In conclusion…the next time you become frustrated with your lack of ‘results’ on the scales, remember all of the above health benefits of exercise and remember to take a long term, holistic approach. Exercise (and diet!) is not something we do for a short stint to reshape our backside, it needs to become part of our general body maintenance. You don’t necessarily ‘see’ a result from brushing your teeth everyday, but you continue to do it as you know it is a significant part of care and maintenance. Regular exercise is no different.


To green juice or not to green juice?


While juicing has been around for eons, the latest craze has now gravitated towards the even ‘healthier’ pressed, whole juice. The concept makes some sense – stop extracting the pure sugar from your favourite plant foods (forsaking fibre and flooding your system with sugar) and opt for a pureed version of the whole food … complete with all the ‘goodies’.
Pressed (whole) juice is now the beverage of the moment. Celebrities drink it. So do fitness fanatics, yoga disciples and vegans. They’re guzzling raw vegetable drinks to “cleanse” their bodies, consume more veggies and shed unwanted kilos. On the surface, it seems that firing up your Nutribullet is the easiest way to consume copious amounts of fresh vegetables and fruit. It makes for a fast breakfast, lunch on-the-run or snack, and it’s healthy. Right?

Well, maybe not. Let’s take a look at the facts…

Problem #1

One of the major issues with any form of juicing (whole or otherwise), is that you are condensing the volume of fibrous plant foods, allowing consumption in quantities beyond your natural capacity. If you piled the hefty contents of your Nutribullet onto a plate prior to blending, it’s unlikely you’d manage to consume it all in its whole state before your stomach sent a signal to your brain that you’ve had your fill. With the absence of chewing your food and the consequent gradual release of saliva and associated enzymes, much of the digestive process, which nature has perfected, is lost.

Digestion of carbohydrates (including all veggies & fruit) begins in your mouth when mixed with saliva. If you do not chew your food, saliva doesn’t have an opportunity to do its job. Saliva contains special enzymes and antibacterial properties. Saliva contains the enzyme amylase, which breaks down starch into simpler, digestible sugars such as maltose and dextrin.  About 30 percent of starch digestion takes place in your mouth and these enzymes also play a role in protecting teeth from decay. Saliva also contains a potent form of the enzyme lipase which is essential for fat digestion.

Problem #2
The high vitamin K content in a spinach/kale smoothie, for example, can be life-threatening if you take blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin. Such anticoagulants often are prescribed after a stroke, deep vein thrombosis or other circulatory conditions. Kale, spinach, turnip greens, collards, Swiss chard and parsley contain enough vitamin K per cup to lower the drugs’ anti-clotting activity.

If you’re one of the many millions of people taking cholesterol-lowering statins, stay away from grapefruit. The citrus fruit blocks an intestinal enzyme that controls absorption of some statin drugs. You’ll also face a higher risk of muscle and joint pain, muscle breakdown, liver damage and kidney failure if you drink grapefruit juice, or eat the fruit, while taking statins. Grapefruit also can interfere with drugs for high blood pressure, anxiety, allergies and other ailments.
If you have kidney problems, beware of fruit and vegetable juices with high amounts of potassium, such as bananas and kale. Four cups of chopped kale can be lethal if your kidneys are weak due to high blood pressure, severe infection, an enlarged prostate, certain drugs or pregnancy complications.

Green juice & thyroid function:
Kale, bok choy, cauliflower, collards and spinach are rich in the substance thiocyanate, which in very high concentrations, can interfere with adequate iodine nutrition. The thyroid needs iodine to produce thyroid hormone, and thus exposure to very high amounts of thiocyanate can potentially result in hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) and compensatory growth of the thyroid (goiter). Your thyroid function is responsible for your metabolism, so a reduced production can result in numerous health issues, including excess fat gain. The risks may be exacerbated in individuals who are already iodine deficient, and these may include those with restricted diets, such as vegetarians and vegans.

Australia is known to have very low levels of iodine in our soil, hence the reason much of our salt is now ‘iodised’ and ‘iodised salt’ is now compulsory in commercial bread production.  Adequate iodine nutrition is particularly important in women of child-bearing age and their children, given the importance of iodine and normal thyroid function on the developing brain in young infants.

Eating whole greens in their usual amounts will not be a significant contributor toward thyroid disorders.
Problem #3

Juice cleanses don’t work!
We clean out our houses, our lint filters and cars. So why not our insides? That’s the reasoning behind juice cleanses, which are intended to rid your body of ‘toxins’. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – FORGET IT! The practice is a waste of your time and money, not to mention potentially detrimental to your health. Your body is not like the filter in your clothes dryer. It doesn’t need ‘cleansing.’ Our bodies have their own elaborate, complex and very efficient detoxification system, known as the liver, intestines and kidneys.  It’s physiologically incorrect to think the body can’t detox on its own … or that an elaborate regime of starvation plus juice will do the job for you!

In the process of ‘detoxing’, you’re actually starving your body of essential nutrients, potentially causing loss of bone, tooth decay from the sugary juices and loss of valuable lean muscle tissue, not to mention the additional stress of being hungry and the headaches (often touted as the effect of rampant toxins!) caused by the blood sugar rollercoaster. Which, by the way, stimulates further fat storage!

Problem #4
Juices can be calorie bombs!
If you’re downing up to 2 litres of juice a day to lose weight – which many fasts recommend – stop! Juicing for days to lose weight can be potentially harmful. That’s because you’re losing out on important nutrients.  And don’t expect to get slimmer. In fact, you might gain weight, because you’re consuming more calories than you realise – mostly from naturally occurring sugar in the fruits and vegetables. Some juices and smoothies are more caloric than a meal. Consume too many, and you can end up with a few thousand calories of juice a day and still be unsatisfied.
Problem #5

You’re depriving yourself of protein.
Juice (pressed or otherwise) is not a meal replacement. A 70kg person needs a minimum of 70 grams of protein daily to repair cells and create new ones. Protein also preserves and builds lean body mass, stabilises blood sugar and create satiety, which supports health and even burns calories. Fruits and vegetables [alone] are not a great source.

PROCRASTINATION: the art of keeping up with yesterday and avoiding today!

procrastination-1 procrastination-flowchart-2

We’ve all done it – some more than others…

Contrary to what we tell ourselves, “putting it off” doesn’t exist. It simply remains undone. If you’re a person who lives one way, yet proclaims to live another way in the future, I’m afraid you’re simply trying to justify not getting things done.

If you spend your time complaining about how much you have to do (aka procrastination) you have no present time to get things done. What a perfect excuse! This flimsy justification for not living in the present moment causes further self-doubt and self-delusion, moving you further away from being strong and capable and propels you towards being a victim … full of hope and wishes. Fairytale stuff!

Accompanying procrastination is the inevitable neurotic behaviour, along with useless, negative emotions such as guilt and anxiety. These emotions consume more time and energy than just getting it done in the first place.

Lying to yourself keeps you from having to admit you’re not a doer. The bottom line is, if it’s important enough to be on your list of activities, roll up your sleeves and get started!

3 common neurotic phrases:

“I hope it will work out”

“I wish things were better”

“Maybe it will be ok”

Sound familiar?

As long as you use the above you can absolve yourself of responsibility and continue to rationalise doing nothing.  Things rarely improve on their own. If they do improve, it’s because you’ve made the choice to do something constructive.

The critic

People who are not ‘doers’ are often ‘critics.’ It’s much easier to be a critic as being a doer require effort, risk and adaption to change! It’s always easier to talk about how someone else had performed than to turn around and look in the mirror. By being a critic you can feel important at the expense of others – using others performance as stepping stone to elevate yourself in your own mind. This way, you can avoid having to fail, coming face to face with self-doubt.

Procrastination is also a great way to justify sloppy or poor performance by saying you simply didn’t have time. Or even better … you may be able to manipulate others into doing it for you!

The doer

Doers have no time to criticise others – they’re too busy doing! They spend their time helping others who are not so talented rather than serving as their critic.

Boredom doesn’t exist for the doer. Procrastination creates boredom in the present moment. The choice is always yours.

Examples of typical procrastination:

  • Remaining stuck in a job where you feel unable to grow
  • Hanging onto a relationship that’s gone sour
  • Refusing to address/work on relationship difficulties
  • Not tackling addictions, saying “I’ll quit when I’m ready”
  • Putting off menial tasks
  • Avoiding confrontation
  • Being afraid to change
  • Deciding to start your diet next week, tomorrow
  • Using tiredness as an excuse
  • Getting sick when you are faced with a difficult situation
  • I don’t have time to do it
  • Constantly looking forward to that dream trip
  • Being a critic to camouflage your own refusal to do things
  • Refusing to get a physical check-up so you don’t have to deal with illness
  • Planning but never putting into action a regular exercise program
  • Living your entire life for your children and always putting off your own happiness


  1. Make a decision to live 5 mins at a time instead of always thinking long term. Use each 5 mins to complete tasks and get things done
  2. Simply begin a project you’ve been putting off
  3. Ask yourself, what’s the worst thing that could happen if I take action now?
  4. Make a designated time slot in your diary to complete tasks you’ve been putting off
  5. Procrastinating is substituting the now with anxiety about the future – ask yourself what you are trying to avoid in the current moment by procrastinating
  6. Quit smoking NOW, start your diet THIS MOMENT….do one push up NOW. Immediate action is how you tackle the problem
  7. Ask yourself – are you doing now what you’d choose to do if you only had 6 months to live?
  8. Decide not to be tired until the MOMENT BEFORE YOU GET INTO BED
  9. Eliminate the words hope, wish and maybe and replace with “I am going to do the following things to ensure I feel better”
  10. And finally … BE A DOER – NOT A WISHER, HOPER OR CRITIC!

Secrets of success

Just a short post today about some startling statistics that confirm what I have been saying on this blog. The US National Weight Control Registry tracks over 5000 individuals who have lost more than 13kg and kept it off long term, improving their health & quality of life. Below are a few of the common traits of each participant:

98% modified their food intake

78% eat breakfast

75% are weighed/weigh themselves at least once a week

62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week

90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day

Did you know…

  • It takes 20 minutes of brisk walking to burn off 1 x skinny latte
  • Every ‘standard’ glass of wine takes 20 minutes of walking to burn off
  • We lose around 5% of muscle each decade after the age of 30 (if we don’t do regular strength training)
  • Your metabolism drops by 140kjs for every kilogram of muscle lost
  • 95% of people regain their weight after ‘going off’ a diet
  • 75% of your calories are burned by your basal metabolism

You cannot out-run or out-train a poor diet!

Core: what is it and how can you improve yours?

CoreFitnessWhile core training has become a bit of a fitness buzz word in recent years, many are still unsure of exactly which muscles are involved in our core stability and how to activate them. Hopefully this information will help to provide some clarity.

While most think of core as a tight six-pack or toned abs, but the most obvious abdominal muscles only form a small part of the core, which is actually group of muscles that stabilise the spine and pelvis. Therefore, a core-strengthening exercise program needs to include all of these muscles to be effective. When well-conditioned, core muscles help to distribute the stresses of weight-bearing, as well as improving our balance and posture and reducing our risk of injury.

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Tight neck & shoulders? Aching lower back? Do you sit for hours a day? Do you play a sport or train regularly? Read on…prehab may be just what the doctor ordered…

What is it?

KP1_38782Prehab is a customised and ever-evolving exercise program designed to match your lifestyle, physical condition and goals for change and/or maintenance. It provides body-specific focused exercises and activities to best suit an individuals needs.

Used to keep high-level athletes in optimum physical condition for decades, incorporating prehab into your training regime is just as important for those of low to moderate fitness levels, if not more so. The philosophy is essentially to prevent injuries and to keep you fit to train and fit to sit! The development of postural issues, specific muscle weakness/tightness and pressure on joints is exacerbated by day-to-day life. Prolonged working hours, sitting (car, plane, desk, sofa), poor ergonomics in our work environment, stress and recreational sports/exercise can all play a role in causing a multitude of imbalances. Injuries often occur as a result of many years of repetitive strain. You’ll often hear someone say they bent down to tie a shoe lace and ‘put their back out’. The shoe lace is not the cause – it was likely the 10 years of sitting at a desk for 8-10 hours a day leading up to this event.

The development and execution of an effective program can be complex. The practice of prehab and its success relies greatly on an individuals ability to commit to prevention. The development of the program needs to be progressive and regularly re-evaluated to tweak and change with the individuals needs.

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