Meet your Microbiome.
This was the title of the Stool & Faecal Microbial Analysis Masterclass I went to recently with Dr Jason Hawrelak. Not a topic for everyone – but the geeky scientist in me LOVES learning about our bugs and all they do for us. It’s a hot topic, so thought I’d share a few highlights.
Jason is at the forefront of researching this topic i.e. gut health. His approach to supporting this incredible mutually beneficial relationship makes sense to me. Interestingly he poses that most microbes have a part to play in our wellbeing, even pathogens such as parasites.
When our microbes are in balance the body is in harmony and our bodily systems function more optimally, naturally supporting our well-being.
For example he cited, 70% of European children carry parasites, yet from all accounts are ‘healthy”.
Here’s a brief recap of the day:
Our microbiome i.e. our human microbes is a vital, and becoming a greatly appreciated, human organ. It weighs 1-2kg and exceeds the liver in the number of biochemical reactions it’s involved in!
A brief summary of what they miraculously do;
There’s bound to be more…
fyi I wrote this post with more info. in 2016, ‘Is our Microbiome guiding our evolution’?
And in the photo below is a summary of his slide showing many of the diseases associated with a microbial imbalance i.e. Gastrointestinal (GI) Dysbiosis.
He also shared how dysbiosis is diagnosed, ‘primarily by a patients’ medical and diet history’ and with stool analysis.
Throughout the day we also learnt:
6 key takeaways that were reinforced:
Simply put, each one of the above points relates to either food or lifestyle choices.
To be truly healthy there is no escaping the need to be enjoying good food and a health promoting lifestyle. A lifestyle that naturally feeds a healthy microbiome without having to think twice about it.
It’s a simple message that unfortunately can be far more complex to make happen or understand as it involves nourishing not only our body / microbiome but our mind and soul.
And as we discovered in A Gentle Cleanse, it IS possible to feel better, clearer and more energised within just a few days.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how my programs simplify wellbeing and create a healthier lifestyle for you and your family. Or book in a time for us to have a quick chat here. It’s free.
As a child I remember being woken in the middle of the night with my little brother in pain from ‘growing pains’. Mum feverishly applying the Dencorub trying to give him relief from the discomfort. Now I’m a mother of an active boy, I’ve experienced the same wake up calls and felt the same desperation, trying to comfort him (and especially as it’s usually in the middle of the night, when much needed sleep beckons).
In this post I share what growing pains are, what causes them and some natural remedies to help alleviate them.
What are growing pains?
Not every child gets growing pains, however approximately 40 – 60% of children do. Typically they occur at night in children’s legs, between the ages of 3 – 12 years old. The pain can be in the upper part of the legs, the calves (back of the legs below knees) or behind the knees in both or one leg, usually both.
They happen at night as the body naturally goes into repair and build mode. The pain is most likely to come and go and not occur every night.
What causes them?
While it’s still unclear of the exact cause, the research I’ve done points toward nutrient deficiencies. For example, a study of children experiencing growing pains (and no other conditions) showed that only 6% had normal vitamin D levels. The best source of vitamin D and the one most easily metabolised (used) by our bodies is sunshine. Other supplemental sources we use is a fermented cod liver oil.
Personally, my son would experience them after an active day of physical exercise. This isn’t the case for all kids though.
Rubbing magnesium oil into my son’s legs helped to give him instant relief. Magnesium is known as the “nerve mineral” and is a nutrient we can quickly become deficient in. It helps relax the muscles and the nervous system.
I’ve also used magnesium with a soothing essential oil blend to help relieve the pain.
The common belief is that children’s bones are growing faster than the muscles and tendons, however bones grow slowly and usually there’s no damage seen in the child’s bones or muscles. Growing pains often respond to simple treatments – helping dispel the belief it’s associated with “growing pains”.
Natural remedies that help replenish deficiencies and relax the body:
Something else to consider.
Are there mal-absorption issues? Is there anything that might be slowing down or preventing the absorption of nutrients in your child, e.g. gut flora (microbiome) imbalances, toxicity overload or compromised detoxification pathways?
If the pain persists visit your health practitioner for a full check up.
‘‘Cravings are an invitation to create the next best version of ourselves”
The body is amazing. It knows when to go to sleep, wake up, go to the bathroom, maintain our temperature and tighten the eyes when the light gets bright. It knows the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth. The heart never misses a beat. Our lungs are always breathing. The body is a super-computer that never makes mistakes. So is your craving or that sweet tooth just a common desire for sweetness or excess? OR is it actually an invitation for something else?
Many people view cravings as weakness, but really they are important messages meant to assist us in maintaining balance.
When you experience a craving, deconstruct it. Ask yourself, what does my body want and why?
Let’s take a closer look at cravings and ten primary causes:
What about pregnancy cravings?
Even more so. Cravings during pregnancy can indicate imbalance in any one of the above points.
The most important thing is when a craving comes along – take time to slow down or stop, and listen to what your body is telling you. Be aware of the choices you’re making and what’s really driving them. It’s only when you are aware that you can understand what it is your body needs and is best for you as an individual… And it’s probably not going to be a bucket of hot chips or a block of milk chocolate.
Our cravings are an invitation to create the next best version of ourselves.
What is it you’re really craving? Is it time to accept the invitation for a stronger, healthier, happier you?
‘‘Action is the foundational key to all success’‘
~ Pablo Picasso
A friend and business compatriot, who I admire greatly, recently asked me to share my 3 biggest lessons for the past year with her online membership.
My first thoughts went to the 3 things that’ve helped me evolve and grow as a better person and parent and how that could help her members?
However, after pondering her question it dawned on me that these 3 things wouldn’t have happened unless I’d taken action.
And THAT is the hard part – taking action, pushing ourselves forward, learning and growing.
It’s not always easy…
My 3 biggest lessons from 2017:
1. Take action (be courageous).
Taking action meant having to step outside my comfort zone – which takes courage. It’s so much easier to do nothing, but that’s not where change and growth happens.
I listened to a great podcast on the Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields and Caroline Adams Miller, Author of ‘The Road to Grit’. She quoted research that showed, people who go out of their comfort zones most days are happier! Now that’s an incentive.
So what helps us to actually take action? It’s a strong connection with our WHY our deep desires.
WHY exercise more? WHY eat better? or WHY lose weight?
Often we are forced to take action – there’s no alternative. Or as Fi Redding from the Happiness Hunter says, ‘it’s either desperation or desire’ that motivates us.
Let’s make it desire rather than desperation in 2018.
2. Be aware + be kind on me.
Leaving my comfort zone is tough. It’s easier when I’m aware of my thoughts and can be kind on myself.
If you’ve stopped to take a moment to listen to the stories you tell yourself, you’ll know what I mean. I think I can confidently say I am my harshest critic. But it’s hard to close the door or no longer listen / hear that person when they’re in my head!
A few things that’ve helped me be kinder to me this year and I hope help you:
♥︎ I read ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael Singer. A brilliant read with great tools to help quieten the negative mind chatter.
♥︎ Early mornings. To give myself time to meditate, journal and be aware of the thoughts that can keep me safe and comfortable, but un-evolved. Mornings are a magical time of day and my day undoubtedly goes better getting up early. It helps us be more in control of our day, right upfront.
♥︎ Exercise most days, preferably outside. Running, walking, yoga and pilates. This has probably made the biggest difference of all. We are molecules in motion, movement helps our mind, our mood, our hormones, our sleep, our day and so much more. It’s true that sitting just might be the new smoking and our biology needs to connect with nature and the great outdoors.
♥︎ The Happiness Hunter has helped me greatly in learning how to be aware of my thoughts and be kinder to me.
3. Gather a support crew.
Lastly and importantly, getting support from others, having them beside me, guiding me out of my comfort zone. My support crew.
Mankind is defined as a collective. We are tribal, social beings. We aren’t designed to do this ‘gig of life’ flying solo plus it’s more fun together.
Gather your support crew to make change happen and your desires will come to life.
I joined a running club this year, Aspire to Run. How I joined shows how this can all come together.
My neighbour mentioned the group to me and suggested I go along with her to a session. But of course all the stories came up, ‘you’re too unfit’, ‘you won’t be able to do it’, ‘you’ve got stuff on’, ‘it’s too late to get up early’ etc etc. This went on for months! One night she sent me a text and said something like, ‘running tomorrow can pick you up on the way past’, again I was about to say ‘no’ when I mentioned it to my hubby who said, ‘Do it, you’ll love it’. So I did and haven’t looked back. If only I’d done it sooner! But I learnt the lessons. I took action, which took courage, I had to be aware of my self sabotaging thoughts and be kind on myself, ‘it’s okay to be unfit, you’ll get stronger’, I changed the commentary in my mind and most importantly – I had support.
I wouldn’t still be doing it without the camaraderie and support of the fantastic bunch that is Aspire to Run. And I am super grateful to my amazing hubby and gorgeous neighbour.
These 3 things are a formula I now know work for me. It’s also how I launched and ran my new online program this year, Our Happy Children. (running again in March next year)! I used these 3 steps and THE most important ingredient of all was getting the support I needed which came by working closely with business coach / mentor, Cristina Londono at Wallnut Studio, assistant, Kylie McKinnon-Smith and Anne Clark, First Step Virtual Assistant. Again, it wouldn’t have been the great success it was without these incredible women beside me.
So to help make next year one of your best yet, whether it’s health, family, work or finances, I hope these 3 tips can help you make the changes you know you need to make.
What small or big action are you going to begin with?
‘It’s not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts’
~ Adlai Stevenson
When I first meet many clients, a common complaint I hear is, ‘I just feel exhausted’!
With the festive season around the corner, and for many of us, a stressful time ahead. Let’s fire up our precious energy, make the most of every day and avoid racing into the holidays shattered…
Energy is a great barometer of our wellbeing, but what actually creates energy within us?
It lies within almost every cell in our body. It’s our mitochondria.
Our Mitochondria and what we need to know.
For those who aren’t so familiar… Mitochondria reside inside almost every cell in our body. They are vital for our good health and our energy. Infact they are our primary energy source.
They help turn our food and oxygen into cellular energy which we use for everything e.g. walking, breathing, pumping our blood, even thinking.
Our mitochondria are needed for a wide range of other functions e.g. balancing our hormones, our metabolism and the efficient use of minerals in our cells.
So for our bodies to be healthy and energetic it comes down to having strong mitochondria and lots of them, producing good energy.
New mitochondria grow all the time and simple lifestyle changes can stimulate the growth of mitochondria and our energy. Yet as we age, they can decline in their activity.
Which brings me to some fascinating new research. A particular type of exercise activates not only our genes, but our mitochondria too – no matter our age! It’s great news.
Activate your mitochondria & your energy.
In brief, the study covered 4 different types of exercise i.e. no exercise (couch potato), walking, resistance and High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) across two age groups. Under the age of 30 and over the age of 60. Unsurprisingly the research showed that activation of genes and mitochondria occurred in both age groups with all forms of exercise, although not the inactive group.
Interestingly, the greatest activation occurred with the HITT exercise and in the over 60 age group, with over 400 genes activated over a 12 week period! Then in the under 30 age group there was an activation of over 240 genes! So no matter what the age it’s significant, but especially for the older age group! from the article Published in Cell Metabolism, Vol. 25 Issue 3, 7th March, 2017.
To feel more energetic, it’s imperative to keep YOU and your mitochondria moving.
It doesn’t need to be as strenuous as HIIT (yet), it can be anything, preferably outside. Walking is a perfect place to start. It’s what got me moving. I started following The Happiness Hunter and then we started a walk here in Perth! Even if it’s a quick walk around the block, it matters and it makes a difference – whatever your age or stage in life.
And a couple more fascinating facts about our mitochondria:
1. Originally they’re thought to have derived from bacteria! Highlighting again the vital, intimate and critical evolutionary relationship we have with bacteria. (Refer to previous post ‘Is our microbiome guiding our evolution’? ~ 07/16)
2. All mitochondrial DNA during reproduction are inherited from our female side i.e. rather than the DNA coming from both male and female, mitochondria are only accepted from feminine DNA. Giving rise to the theory of a ‘Mitochondrial Eve’, a woman from whom all people inherit their mitochondrial DNA (our energy source) from one generation to the next.
The science is unclear as to what this actually means but what it does show is the fundamental importance of our Mitochondria and that perhaps it was one of the first cells in our bodies to kick off our evolution as we know it today AND why our energy is an important barometer of our well- being.
The above information is from my ebook, ‘7 simple steps to regain your energy…’ It shares simple lifestyle tips to activate your energy. It’s free to download on my website.
And this is a post I shared a little while ago that might help too, ‘4 simple things I did to get my mojo back’.
What kind of movement can YOU do to get more of your mitochondria energised and moving?
I first heard about ‘The Mental Load’ only recently from a friend. It’s a term that resonated with me. Then I received an email, ‘We need to talk about the mental load’ from my “Business Chicks” networking forum. I googled it and was surprised to find a lot of commentary on it. It’s a ‘thing’.
After I wrote this I shared it with my hubby and the kids. It created a very animated discussion and I actually ended up adding a few things, with thanks to our male family members.
The mental load can affect all of us, disrupting our wellbeing and depleting our energy and happiness in the process – if we allow it.
In this post I share my thoughts on this familiar and heavy topic. Yet does it need to be? Perhaps not. We have a choice, so bare with me while I share the background, a perspective that’s not being talked about and 15 simple ways to lift the mental load.
First up – what is it?
This is an excerpt from the article I read, ‘Understanding the mental load, what it is and how to get it under control’ by Leah Ruppanner on the ABC News site, http://www.abc.net.au/news/health
“The mental load is ‘all the mental work, the organising, list-making and planning, that you do to manage your life, and that of those dependent on you. Most of us carry some form of mental load, about our work, household responsibilities, financial obligations and personal life; but what makes up that burden and how it’s distributed within households is not always equal.
The mental load includes the planning work required to ensure the children make it to Bollywood dancing, the refrigerator is stocked for dinner and the smoke detector battery gets replaced. It’s incessant, gnawing and exhausting, and disproportionately falls to women”.
The term came to light earlier this year when a French cartoonist by the name of Emma gave form to the concept in her cartoon “You should have asked”, (which went viral).
The written advice I read focuses on letting go or outsourcing house and family duties e.g. dividing the ‘to do’ list, deferring responsibilities to house members, allowing men to step in and do ‘things’ there way, as well as for us to care less, worry less. A simplified summary.
The mental load is real. Yet does it need to be? Perhaps not. We have a choice, bare with me while I share some background and explain.
As we discussed in the car …
Men carry the mental load too and it’s a heavy load but with a singular focus, whereas for women it’s multi layered and faceted. Lots more thinking and pondering, it’s simpler for men. And assuming there is a partner and the chance to share the load with them. Which may not be the case. Making the load more difficult to lighten for many.
• For women the mental load is coupled with an emotional load. Something men tend to carry far less e.g. worrying over the childrens’ wellbeing, when they get sick or IF they get sick. Worrying if we’re mothering right or doing enough for the kids? Worrying if we’ll be able to get back into a career? Worrying we’re not doing enough at work? And so on… Exhausting in itself.
• For women these loads are especially heavy in the early years of transitioning into motherhood. When can experience a sense of loss of independence coupled with a gnawing doubt over if we will ever return to a successful career. All while immersing ourselves in self-doubt as to how to mother, what our babies and children need to thrive and surviving on little sleep if any. On top of this is coming to terms with a new sense of self and place in the world with very little, if any, support.
• The health consequences. If this load for men and women is left unattended it can trigger dis-ease, stress and burnout, autoimmunity, a lack of productivity, feelings of de-motivation and unhappiness and commonly for women post-natal depression, post-natal depletion or even, chronic illness.
While many of us have worked out how to lift the mental and emotional load, which is fantastic and I hope freeing! For others it’s not so easy and you’re not alone. Personally, it’s something I’ve been working on a lot in the past year and a half. Before I get to that though let’s understand why women are more susceptible.
My recent reading suggests;
• We take more on, and with an attitude of ‘if we don’t do it, who will’?? (See below for some answers)…
• we are conditioned as children to be the ones responsible for the housework and managing the home, given dolls and vacuum cleaners to play with etc…
• we are expected to stay home with young children and, while we are home, we might as well put on a load of washing and tend to home duties etc… ” It’s on our minds.
Yet I reckon there are bigger societal pressures at play and they’re not being talked about.
1. The digital age. We inherit and role model behaviour from our Mothers who did it all and it was certainly busy for them too, however they weren’t raising families in the digital age. An age that has sped up communication and life, astronomically. In general, at the same time our communities and extended families have shrunk. There is less support for us while we are working longer hours outside the home and our children are more active outside the home. Understandably, we have a LOT more on our mind.
And importantly, the war…
2. The world wars. The wars that removed men from our lives. Leaving women to quickly enter the workplace, often fulltime. It was something we’d been longing for, but it came at a cost. All of a sudden we were carrying the responsibility for finances, child rearing and managing the home. A lot to bare.
When the war finished women had stepped into the shoes of men and at the same time discovered a financial freedom they hadn’t known personally or professionally. The financial gains were important to maintain, however, what I see is that after the war women maintained their dual roles that were traditionally split. At the same time when men did return home, there was the emotional and mental scarring of war, which probably meant women had to continue their dual roles to support their men through this incredibly difficult time.
It was a pivotal time in our history that might also help explain some of the heavy mental load we carry today. A load we’ve inherited and role modeled from our incredibly strong and capable female ancestors.
But times are very different.
It’s time to lighten the load and stop ‘soldiering’ on.
It starts with me.
It’s up to me as an individual to take responsibility for dismantling my mental load and to show my children how to do it or to not carry it in the first place. No-one else can do this. Just me.
Here are a few things helping me lift the mental load. If you can relate, I hope it helps you too;
1. Awareness. Stopping and taking time to slow down and be aware of how I’m feeling. What am I thinking that’s causing those feelings? If we’re busy running through our ‘to do’ lists it’s difficult to have this awareness. Taking time to stop and take a couple of deep breathes, meditation, a morning routine and The Happiness Hunter Bootcamp has helped.
2. Spring cleaning and decluttering. A cluttered home and environment adds to our mental clutter. De-cluttering frees mind space, boost energy and works wonders. A month ago I had a BIG clean up of the kids craft area. It was on my mind – then gone. I also had a lot of work coming up. I knew I had to clear that area to clear my mind and be as productive as I could be. Check out Fiona Reddings recent video on de-cluttering and Lisa Corduffs upcoming de-clutter challenge. It’s time for a spring clean!
3. Taking a leaf out of the same book my husband is reading! Taking it one (or a couple) of things at a time, trying not to multi task.
4. Embracing my femininity and the incredible energy that comes with that. Qualities that came to the fore when I had our children. It’s a natural uplifting energy that’s powerful in its ability to nurture, nourish and heal if we allow it.
5. Natures medicine. Spending time outside everyday and being present to the miracle and wonder of Mother Nature. It helps put life into perspective. It’s calming and grounding.
6. Enlisting a support team. I’m not designed to do this alone. I’m continually learning how to quiet my mind from my amazing coaches and mentors. Asking for help where I need it, (the hardest thing I’ve learnt to do). It’s very hard and not as much fun doing it alone.
7. Energy medicine. Helps release old self sabotaging beliefs and stuck emotions that can trigger dis-ease. I use kinesiology, chiropractic and other modalities that help immensely. Regular exercise, meditating and a beautiful early morning routine also helps my energy and lift my mental load.
8. Above all else, being kind to myself. Showing self-compassion, including meditating, walking, regular exercise, prioritising these and the things I love to do and make me happy.
Other things that have helped;
9. Lowering expectations of what I expect others to do.
10. Sharing the load. Communicating with my hubby about how I’m feeling, what I’m juggling.
11. Journalling. Writing it all down, prioritising, delegating and dismissing as much as I can.
12. Freeing the guilt. Making new choices guilt free, as hard as it is. Guilt is often an inherited belief we need to let go.
13. Saying ‘no thank you’. To invitations that we can say no to or we don’t want to do or have time to do.
14. Less worrying about doing it all. Trying one of these ideas listed here instead. (and how does worrying help anyway)?
15. Outsourcing where possible. Cleaning, home deliveries, child-care, coaches and mentors. What can someone else do or help you with.
As women the mental load we carry about our families wellbeing is one of the heaviest. It was for me. It’s why when I work with individuals I invite husbands and partners to join us in our sessions and vice versa. It shares and lightens the mental (mother) load a little. It shifts the responsibility to shared responsibility and places everyone on the same page, working as a team. It’s important and it accelerates results. It’s strategies like this I share in my short coure, ‘Our Happy Children’ and mentoring programs.
As my friend said, something has to give and most commonly it’s looking after ourselves either with healthy food, exercise or sleep. But does something have to give? Perhaps trying a few of the ideas above first, just might help. And if not please seek professional help or coaching. Life is a gift to short to be weighed down mentally and emotionally.
The mental load is tiring, stressful and occupies expensive real estate in our minds. It comes at a cost to our health, our relationships, our sense of purpose and our inner happiness.
Yet, dare I say it, it offers a wonderful opportunity for personal evolution… if we allow it.
Now I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on the mental load?
‘When we give ourselves compassion, we open our hearts in a way that can transform our lives’
~ Kristin Neff
In recent years there’s been lots of talk on ‘self love’ or ‘self care’. It’s an important practice to help restore emotional wellbeing. It’s something, especially as Mothers and being busy, we easily neglect, and to be honest, something I’ve found difficult to grasp.
Until self compassion came along.
I recently went to a talk on self compassion. The presenter, Amy Finlay Jones, is an academic with personal insights into self compassion after suffering a chronic illness in her youth.
She shared the more self compassionate we are, the more emotionally well we are. The more self compassionate we are the better we manage stress and the more resilient we are to stress.
Managing stress (emotional and neurological wellbeing) is one of the 3 pillars in my approach to wellness. I was intrigued to learn the strong connection between high stress and low self compassion and vice versa.
Stress is a close companion of dis-ease.
It’s easy to conclude the more self compassionate we are the happier and healthier we are.
Amy shared that self compassion is actually more important than a current hot topic in the wellness world… Mindfulness. Here’s why;
Self compassion is defined as, ‘extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering’ i.e. it’s like extending the same care and concern towards ourselves – that we would to a close friend. To feel compassion for another or for ourselves (rather than mere pity), means that we realise that feeling of suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience i.e. we are not alone. This in itself can give a feeling of relief and a lightening of the mental (mother)load.
This really came home to me. The way I talk to myself sometimes actually a lot of the time, is not the way I would talk to a close friend – ever! ‘Can’t’, ‘Won’t’, ‘Lazy’ ‘Stupid’ etc etc… Rarely a kind word. I’d never say that to a close friend, so why do I say it to myself? I’m sure you can relate. Then imagine how that makes me FEEL?
I’m reminded of Fi Redding, The Happiness Hunter who talks a lot about awareness – and for good reason.
First, we need awareness.
With awareness we are present enough to hear what the voice in our heads is telling us i.e. what we’re creating within ourselves and our lives everyday. Which is then when mindfulness, meditation, walking etc comes into play. The perfect tools to help us become aware of the conversation in our minds and to therefore consciously upgrade it.
Take a moment to check-in with how you’re talking to yourself? Are you being kind or beating yourself up? If you’re like me, and for most of us, I suspect it’s the latter. You’re not alone. Most of us verbally ‘beat ourselves up’ and it’s actually an evolutionary survival mechanism we’ve developed to protect ourselves. However in our busy modern lives this mechanism no longer serves us and if we don’t act on it, can actually sabotage our emotional wellbeing and our happiness.
Personally I’ve found it’s easy to be happy when I’m kinder to me. It starts with me and – it’s an inside job.
11 simple ways to cultivate awareness of thoughts and self compassion;
Do what you know brings you back into the present moment. Whatever works – practice more of it. Notice how you FEEL in those moments? What’s that little voice saying and orchestrating? And allow yourself to feel feelings (not brushing them aside and moving onto the next thing). Be kind.
What about our children?
The talk I went to was in regard to cultivating self compassion in our kids as a way to safeguard their mental / emotional health. They’re less likely to relate to the first 5 ideas above, however what we can do is;
It’s not rocket science, however it’s hard and it needs practice.
We are human beings. Not human doings.
With it’s similarity to kin, I wanted to know the origin of the word kind. The word “kind” is one of the oldest in the English language. It originally meant “nature.” Kindness is our nature. It is innate. It is … natures medicine. I love that.
The psychologist Blair Justice wrote,
“Letting ourselves feel that sense of wonder that surrounds us every single minute is what elevates our hearts beyond a mechanical pump and turns them into instruments of love and kindness.