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The Hard Truth

Today I just sat and drank a cup of coffee.

You may say “wow, I wish I had that kind of time.”.

The hard truth is that YOU DO. We tend to fill up our day with a million tasks and our “to-do” list never ends. We have learnt that if you’re not perpetually in an occupied space, then you are not working hard enough. You believe that you are lazy. To be productive means to be the person in the room who just never stops.

The other hard truth is that in this way we are not working to our potential. We begin to write an email, and stop to make some coffee, while answering a text and become distracted by a co-worker who wants to arrange a meeting. The result is that the email is hardly as coherent as you envisioned, the coffee is far too weak, the text is never sent and wait, when is that meeting again?

We are not only costing ourselves mindfulness and end the day wondering where the time went. We are not only giving a quarter of our potential to every task we attend to. The simple truth is that we are filling our minds, exhausting our souls, and not really achieving anything on the level that we wish to. If we want to be the best we have to give our best. If we want to connect meaningfully with people, we cannot be writing a text and thinking of that email at the same time as we talk to them.

So it is time to stop. Stop believing the hype that to be successful means never having time to even eat. Stop multitasking –  why would you do two tasks with half your attention instead of one task with full attention. Do one thing, and do it well. Have coffee, and taste it. Have a conversation and really connect. Do everything – from small tasks to big – with INtention and ATtention.

It’s not about having the time to do important things, but to rather make the time. If a task is a priority, we will always find the time. So adjust your perspective and make “intentional, focused time to do tasks well” your priority.

Lots of light and love x

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How to Pursue Happiness

As humans, much of our life is centered around happiness. The United States Declaration of Independence serves to protect “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. With the rising rates of depression, divorce and anxiety in our world, it seems that we are missing the mark when it comes to happiness. Or, is it that maybe we haven’t defined happiness correctly?

The Motion of our Life

The Dalai Lama once stated that the “motion of our life is towards happiness”. This suggests that even Buddhism believes that happiness is a central component of life. The difference is that Eastern views state that there are two different types of happiness.

1. Hedonism

This is the kind of happiness that one can get from the world. This would involve material objects – the kind of happiness attached to “things”. When the “thing” is gone, so is our happiness. This happiness drives our desire to earn, attain and upgrade.

A certain level of hedonism is necessary in life. We tend to become used to certain comforts depending on our past and perhaps what we were raised with. The problem comes in when we attain the minimum level required for us to be happy, but then we keep pushing to get more, and more, and more. The objects we have begin to define us and to even own us, and we no longer can differentiate between a want and a need.

2. Eudemonia

The literal translation of this word is “Human Flourishing”. It is genuine happiness or “ananda” – “bliss”. It is a happiness that is separate from fleeting emotions. It is a deep contentment and a sense of equanimity (to be at peace regardless of your circumstances).

This type of happiness goes beyond owning and acquiring physical objects.  It is the happiness that comes from within. You can achieve this happiness with the peace of mind that you are doing your best to live an ethical life.

How to pursue happiness

In essence, our life is moved by desire. We make choices and decisions to act in a certain direction based on these desires. The problem is that not every single desire that we have is worth following! This is where discernment comes in and we need the wisdom to follow that which serves our higher purpose, and not our momentary, fickle wants. This is what we call conative intelligence – being wise about where we put our energy, and the cultivation of intelligent intention. We ultimately need to define our goals, and make decisions that move us in the direction of those goals.

Lokha Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

“May all beings all over be happy and well”. This is a well-known Buddhist mantra. Monks will often walk in a circle and repeatedly chant this mantra. The reason they do this is because they are aligning all aspects of their being toward their goal – the body, speech and mind is focused. Their body is focused as they walk in circles and align their energy. Their speech is focused as they repeat the mantra. Their mind is focused as they are not mindlessly thinking about their dinner later in the day.

So, the question that needs to be asked:

Is what you do with your body, speech and mind in line with where you want to go in your life?

Lots of light and love xx

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Let’s Figure This Yoga Thing Out

Is yoga a bunch of people in funny orange robes? Is yoga when girls put themselves in really flexible positions on beaches and in waterfalls? yoga seems to have blown up in recent years, so let’s dive a bit deeper into what it is exactly…

Yoga has many components to the philosophy and theory. From a distance, it can seem overwhelming and mostly, very, very strange. Seeing the practice of chanting and mantras may cause people to be put off by the practice of yoga and the yogic life.

This is really unfortunate, as the yoga philosophy holds so much for those who embrace it. It is the embodiment of love, the practice of compassion towards others, and the eternal seeking of one’s purpose and meaning while embracing pure bliss and joy in life. It is amazing to continually practice to live in the moment, enjoy the breeze, cherish the flowers, while also understanding that all things are temporary and will perish, only to give way to more beautiful life later on in the journey.

One element of the yoga practice, and probably the most widely known and used by the western world is that of the physical practice of asanas or postures. There are a few different types of asana classes that are offered, so let’s delve into the meaning of each of them.

Hatha Yoga

“Ha” means “sun” and “tha” means moon.

This asana practice is all about balance. The postures will combine masculine and feminine energy to create balance in the body. There is a contrast between light and dark, high energy and surrender, static and flow. These contrasts create harmony in the practice and within your own self. The strong poses will be matched with more gentle ones, and you, consequently, will be shown your weaknesses and your strengths.

Hatha yoga can involve many postures and they don’t necessarily need to flow. The poses are held for a longer period of time than during a practice such as Vinyasa.

Vinyasa Yoga

This asana practice involves working each movement according to the breath. The instructor will tell you to take a specific amount of breaths during a pose (“Hold this posture for 4 breaths!”). The actual “vinyasa” flow involves 3 asanas – Chattaranga into Upward Facing Dog, and then back into Downward Facing Dog. From this vinyasa flow you will then jump or step into another pose, such as a Warrior or Pigeon etc. In this practice you will then see those three key asanas come up A LOT.

Vinyasa yoga is thus more demanding on the body and is a lot more of a faster pace than many of the other physical asana practices.

Ashtanga Yoga

This is known to be the more stricter form of the asana practices. This practice will use the same series of movements for each of the classes. The emphasis is on correct form and flow and there is not much room for creativity. This is quite a masculine practice.

Yin Yoga

This practice counters Ashtanga in that it is the more feminine of the asana practices. This practice involves a lot of seated postures. Props and pillows are used as the body folds into an asana and then just surrenders. Postures can be held anywhere from 1 minute to 20 minutes!

There are a few other styles of the asana practices and it is important to find the one that suits your body. If you lean towards many masculine sports such as running or weights, maybe create more balance in your life with a more feminine asana practice such as Yin Yoga? We all need the balance of yin and yang in our lives and in our bodies, so ask yourself, where are you finding yours?

Have a great day. Lots of light and love xx

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My Bali Experience

I recently went to Bali for 30 days. I went to do a yoga teacher training course. It was totally not what I expected!

For many years I have wanted to train to become a yoga teacher. I’ve often gone between different options trying to decide what the best choice would be. I wanted the best possible training as I know that the yoga teacher market is pretty saturated. I decided that I didn’t just want a normal, weekend training close to home. I then stumbled across an advert for yoga teacher training in Bali, and I was sold.

I have always been aware that yoga is not just pretty looking poses and flexible girls. I know that yoga has philosophy and theology, and is essentially a way of life. I decided that by jetting off to Bali, I would be able to immerse myself in the yogic way of life and that that was probably the best way of learning how to live and teach yoga.

Looking back, I can honestly say that I was totally not ready for what I was in for. Not only did the two hours of yoga absolutely exhaust me, but we also took part in a half hour meditation practice and a half hour pranayama practice each morning. We also had many hours of lectures daily, learning the yoga poses, anatomy and the yogic philosophy and history. The days were very tiring and seemed endless. By the second week, I was crying to come home!

Not only was the experience physically and mentally challenging, but the teachers would push us emotionally as well. We delved deep into our lives, what our purpose is, where we are headed, our fears,  our authentic happiness. We had sharing circles where we shared many tears. We laughed together and formed bonds with people who we will now never forget. We became a family in a foreign place where we didn’t know the schedule and we forced to give up our control – surrender to the process.

 I can really truly say that this was the most life-changing experience I have ever had. I thought that I knew myself, that I had worked through past traumas and anxieties. The reality is that you do not know what you do not know! Our minds and bodies protect us from our own pain as much as possible. Eventually the fear exhibits in physical injury – for example, hip pain. We then make excuses and say that we have overworked it, or that “it is this cold weather!”. It is amazing how we protect ourselves from seeing the truth! Every physical symptom is an expression of an underlying, unresolved emotion or need. It takes a lot of self-awareness to discover what darkness we have within us.

I am far from the end of my self-discovery journey, but I am grateful to have started down the path. I am now a yoga teacher, and I am excited to share my knowledge. Yoga emphasizes balance in one’s life, and we all need a little bit more of that.

I am grateful to Samasti Yoga school for the incredible teaching and experience that I received. I would definitely recommend this training to anyone looking to dive a little deeper into who they are, what their purpose is, and how to live an authentically happy life.

I look forward to sharing more of what I have learnt on this blog.

Lots of light and love xx

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6 Ways To Be Mindful Right Now

It is easy to take a moment to be mindful when it’s 6am, there is no distraction and you can sit quietly for 10 minutes. It is a whole lot harder to live out mindfulness through the day, when there are phone calls, emails and uninterrupted noise. We need to find a way to go through our work days while experiencing them and ultimately enjoy our lives.

Mindfulness in Reality

There are a few ways we can pause throughout the day and enjoy small moments. They may be quick and seem to be meaningless, but we often end the day wondering where the time went. If we pause, we give ourselves a chance to reflect on how our body is feeling and be in the moment.

1. Count your breaths
Take a few deep, conscious breaths and count them as you breathe in and out. Hold the breath in for longer each time. Experience the feeling of the air in your nose, throat and lungs, and the feeling of calm.
2. Mindful drink
This can be anything that you are drinking. Sit and enjoy the feeling of the hot or cold liquid in your mouth. Really taste it and smell it. A great drink to kickstart the day is water, lemon and cayenne pepper. This will also really wake up your senses!
3. Do one thing at a time
Multitasking is a myth. We can either do one thing well, or many things badly! To truly concentrate, we cannot overload the mind. Choose one thing at a time, focus on it, and do it well. This is especially true when it comes to eating – make sure you are not distracted and doing other things.
4. Deep listening
Stop and listen to all the sounds around you in the present moment. What feelings or thoughts are evoked with these noises? Consciously take time to let these noises, feelings and thoughts go.
5. Mindful walk
Take a walk somewhere and notice how it makes you feel. The pressure on your feet, the things you see, the sounds you hear. This is great if you have the opportunity to take your shoes off and really connect with the earth.
6. Body scan

Start with the top of your head and consciously move your attention down your body. Ask how your head is feeling, how your shoulders are feeling, your stomach down to your feet. If there is tension or pain, don’t try and change it – just accept the feeling and let it go. This isn’t about judgement but about being aware of our bodies.

Reconnect

These are simple ways to reconnect our attention with the current moment. Time often runs away with us and we need small things to anchor ourselves and appreciate the day.

Lots of light and love x

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5 Steps to Manifest your Ideal Life

We all have a dream of an ideal life. Our home, our job, our holiday destinations. There seem to be people living around us who achieve these things all the time, so there has to be a way to make our dreams a reality? Perhaps learning the practice of manifestation is the way to do this.

The Practice of Manifestation

Last Monday I wrote an article to delve into what manifestation is. You can read it here:

Essentially, manifestation is about changing your mindset and thoughts to put yourself in a space to achieve your dreams. You won’t be noticed at work for performance if you are continuously in a negative space. You won’t be invited along to join weekend festivities if you are doubting your friendships and anxious over being left out. A romantic interest won’t stick around if you’re always insecure about them breaking up with you. Thoughts have the power to make your mood, your outlook and ultimately your way of life.

The Steps

It is our choice and responsibility to use this power of thought positively and advantageously. Here are 5 simple steps to follow to start turning your ideal life into your reality.

1. Know what you want in your life.
This is the reason why mindfulness is so important – you need to be in a reflective, introspective space. You need to know who you are, what you want, and why you want those things. Ask yourself what benefit your desires have for your life.  You need to connect with your intention and believe that you can make this manifestation happen in your life.

2. Eliminate anything from your life that will stop you achieving your goal.
Often people know what they want, but they don’t believe that they can attain it. Doubt sets in and thoughts turn negative, which changes our mindset, attitude and even the company we keep. When people tell us it is not realistic, we believe them – because that was what we already believed unconsciously. This is where we need to be relentless.
Eliminate negative mindsets – you can get what you want because you deserve to and you will work for it.
Eliminate toxic people – let them be scared and live protected lives, but we refuse to live small.
Eliminate impatience – these things come when they come. We cannot control the timing. Don’t become despondent, just work on attitude and do what you can. If it is meant to be, it will come when it can.

3. Visualize what you want to manifest
Many mindfulness techniques use the practice of visualization. When it comes to visualizing our goals, it is best to take a full sensory approach. This means that you will use all your senses when you imagine achieving what you have set for yourself. See it – how do you look in your new work role. Really see everything from your clothes to your smile. Feel it – feel the pride and joy of achievement and become overwhelmed with emotion. Smell it, taste it. Really make it a reality in your mind. Find a quiet space daily and commit to doing this properly. Living this reality will change how you think and act and you will become that person – the achiever of dreams.

4. Take action to make it happen
Through the first 5 steps, you will begin to take notice of the opportunities in your life that get you to your goal. Take the opportunities and do your best with them. As you begin to become the person that achieves the goals you want, you will take on a different perspective of your life. Your friends may change, your hobbies may change, your weekends might look extremely different. This can be a hard process, but we have to maintain discipline. The person we are becoming is stronger and more resilient. You will thank yourself later for the sacrifices you have made.

5. Recognize and be grateful
This process, while simple to understand, is not easy in practice. If you set your intention to lose 10kgs, and have a great time visualizing what it feels like, the practical work is definitely not a great time. You may stop going for lavish dinners with friends, take up running over weekends, and you will continually have to push yourself mentally. The person that you become will be different – they have to be because they are in now possession of your dreams.

Go Get It

So at the end, recognise what you have been through. Appreciate how hard the process was. And believe that you can do it all over again. At the end of the day, achieving greatness does not finish. There is always a next level and a change to make. Just stop along the way and love yourself and the journey.

Have a great day.
Lots of light and love xx

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Ways To Stay Healthy While Traveling

Airplane food, jet lag, holiday mentality – there are so many stumbling blocks when it comes to staying healthy while traveling. Whether you travel for work or leisure, keeping on track with your wellness goals is possible when you’re away from home. It may take more prep and more discipline, but there won’t be the pain of regret on the trip home!


Staying healthy while traveling does not need to ruin your holiday. There are a few simple ways to adjust your choices in order to make staying well a little easier. Remember to stick to the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the time you’re choosing healthier, better options, and 20% of the time you allow yourself to relax a little bit.
• Pack walking shoes and try walk everywhere – when traveling around, try walking places instead of taking trains and taxis. Comfortable shoes will encourage you to walk more often.
• Track your steps – a fitness device or a step counter is a great encouragement to choose to walk more often.
• Try a local exercise class – this is a great way to further immerse yourself in the culture of the place you’re in. Meet some new people and work up a sweat!
• Drink plenty of water while this one is always important, it is crucial when traveling. Make sure to research if the water is safe to drink, otherwise
take along a water bottle to refill with filtered water. Dehydration worsens the symptoms of jet lag so make sure to keep sipping.
• Have a healthy breakfast – this is another one that is important all the time, and especially when you are traveling. Having a healthy breakfast will help to stabilize the blood sugar levels for the day. It will also ensure that you don’t have cravings and feel excessive hunger later in the day.
• Have greens at most meals – by adding some veggies into dinner, you provide your body with a great source of nutrients while also filling yourself up. Veggies also help to keep the blood sugar levels balanced. They will give you the right energy for your travels.
• Pack snacks – if you are traveling to places where the food is unfamiliar, it is often great to bring along snacks that your are familiar with. This helps to adjust mentally and physically.
• Less alcohol – this is important when trying to get through jet lag. It is also important to avoid alcohol if you’re planning to wake up and seize the morning with sightseeing activities.
• Try everything – when traveling to new places, it is great to try out the cuisines. This is the way to be properly immersed in the culture. Because overeating can be a problem, it is necessary to be careful with portion sizes. Eat enough food to adequately have enjoyed it and tasted it, and avoid being
overly full.
• Treat yourself – it is travel after all! Don’t miss out on experiences – just make wise decisions where you can.

Travel is a part of life, especially if it is a part of your work. It is important to find ways to adjust your travel to fit in with your wellness goals. Take note of where temptions are, what works and what doesn’t!


Have a great day.
Lots of light and love xx

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Tips For A Strong Metabolism

Metabolism is the process by which food is converted into energy which the body uses. A stronger metabolism means that the body is converting food faster. In Ayurveda, this is referred to as our digestive fire, or Agni, and there are a few ways to stoke the flame.

A strong fire

When our digestive system is in balance, we see how our skin glows, our body feels great and we exprerience a feeling of all-round wellness. By working to create an optimal working digestive system, we also gain mental clarity and heightened energy levels. It is important to remember that a healthy digestive systems relies on good nutrition, exercise and sufficient hydration. There are a few tips to boost the digestive fire that we can take note of.

Metabolism boosting ideas

Start the day with lemon water – drinking a cup of water with a squeeze of lemon with kickstart metabolism and wake up the digestive system.
Ginger – this is definitely a fire starter, and Ayurvedic advice suggests eating a slice of ginger with lemon and salt 15 minutes before a meal. This is a bit tough in my personal opinion, so I would rather suggest drinking grated ginger and lemon in a glass of water.
Eat while the sun is shining – try not to eat heavy meals at night. Soups and stews are easier to digest, and herbal teas help the digestive system to wind down before bedtime.
Milk – this is one food that commonly trips up the digestive system. Milk is easiest to digest when hot and/or spiced. Adding cinnamon with help with digestion.
Spice it up – adding certain spices – turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, fennel, black pepper – will help with the digestion of meals.
Try not to graze – smaller meals throughout the day have shown to be beneficial to metabolism. It is still important to try and have 2-3 hours in between meals in order to allow your digestive system to rest.
Go for a walk – preferably out in the sun. You want to heat up your body and your digestive fire!
Sip hot water – this helps to loosen the lymphatic system when done throughout the day. You can also add these spices to hot water to boost digestion even more:
1/4 tsp. cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds.

One Small Step

It is important to remember that boosting digestion is just one part of a healthy balance. Nutrition, exercise, relationships, work and mindset all impact wellness. We need to work on all the aspects of our lives to truly see change and growth.

Have a great day.
Lots of light and love xx

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Change your Thinking, Change your Life

Have you ever noticed that on the days when you feel angry upset, you tend to attract negative people and situations into your day? The converse also seems to be true in that people who are positive and happy tend to get all the luck. We often bring the situations around us into our lives through our thoughts, feeling and mindset.

Manifestation and Mindfulness

The practice of manifestation is closely linked to mindfulness. When we are in a space of mindfulness, we take control of our thoughts and feelings and direct our attitude to be more gracious and grateful. Mindfulness tends to put us in a better stature of mind because we focus the positive instead of subconsciously ruminating over the negative.

Manifestation is similar in the sense that through this practice, we focus our attention consciously and specifically. In essence, we do this everyday without being aware of it. If we want a job, we think about it and visualize having the job. The problem is that when we are unaware, we also worry over the chance that we may not get the job. We then bring in that anxiety and “what if” which will change what we bring into our life.

How do we use manifestation?

With manifestation, we use our thoughts and feelings to change the energy around us and bring what we want into our lives. We visualize the job we want, and then become mindful of the people we entertain and the conversations we partake in. We work harder on the areas of our lives that we can change. We form and shape our life to become that which supports the exact thing that we want. Then we manifest our dream job, relationship, holiday – whatever!

This is not about being super spiritual. This is about being super mindful of how we think and what the actions we take in our lives as a consequence of our thoughts. Spirituality is great and does have its place, of course, but what is important is that you do not need to be spiritual to change your thinking and change your life.

You have the power

Now that we have an understanding of mindfulness and manifestation, there are steps we can put in place to make these practices effective. In this way we can change our situations to make our lives exactly what we want them to be. You are in control of your mind, your thoughts and ultimately, your life.

Have a great day.
Lots of light and love xx

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Boost Your Mood Food

Sometimes when are feeling down, we are tempted to indulge in sweets, chocolates and macaroni cheese. While these comfort foods may help temporarily, they often leave us feeling even worse in the long run. It is important to understand how to use food to pick us up and keep us up in a healthy way.

The best pick-me-ups

Here are some foods that can boost your mood:

Fish
Many kinds of seafood contains omega 3 fatty acids. These oils are essential for your brain to function optimally and to reduce anxiety. Salmon, mackerel and trout are good sources.

Dark chocolate
Chocolate with 70% or more of cocoa has shown to have incredible health benefits. Limit yourself when eating dark chocolate, and you may reap the benefits of endorphins and boost serotonin levels. You are also getting in some antioxidants, lowering blood pressure and increasing blood flow.

Mussels
Mussels provide vitamin B12, which is important because if we lack this vitamin it can lead to depression and fatigue. They also contain zinc, selenium and iodine which regulates the thyroid and mood.

Berries

Antioxidants are great for brain health, and berries have tons of antioxidants. A cup a day will improve gut health and won’t lead to a sugar spike – leaving your with a consistent mood.

Oats

Oats are low GI which means that they slowly release energy and your sugar levels, and mood, stay stable. Oats also contain selenium which are well known for boosting mood.

Water

Water affects all bodily functions and even slight dehydration will cause fatigue. This affects your ability to concentrate and your mood.

These are some simple, healthy ways to boost your mood. Remember that a consistently healthy diet over a long period of time is the best way to maintain a positive mood.

Have a great day

Lots of light and love xx

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Healing Herbs – Turmeric

 Recently there has been a surge of interest around turmeric and the health benefits of this spice. It is now common to see turmeric lattes or turmeric-infused smoothies on cafe menus. Is this just a fad, or is there something special about turmeric?

It is certainly not a fad!

There are certain spices in Ayurvedic medicine that are held in high regard for their amazing health benefits. Turmeric is one of the most popular of these spices. It is seen as sacred in the Hindu religion and is used during wedding ceremonies. It is also often used in a face mask to beautify the skin. Let’s look at why turmeric is so good for the body.

Health benefits

  • It is a natural anti-inflammatory – turmeric is great for exercise-induced inflammation and can help with sore muscles. It can also boost recovery and performance in athletes. Arthritis is caused by inflammation in the body, and curcumin (the healing substance in turmeric) is good for treating arthritis and inflammation. 
  • It increases the body’s capacity for antioxidants – curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and protects the body from free radicals. 
  • It improves brain functioning and lowers the risk of disease in the brain – curcumin increase the levels of hormones in the brain. This leads to growth of neurons which leads to improved cognitive health. 
  •  It controls diabetes – turmeric assists in your body’s ability to control glucose. When supplemented with diabetes medicines, this is a powerful combination to moderate insulin levels. 
  • It lowers cholesterol – by simply sprinkling your food with this spice, turmeric can help with cholesterol levels. This is essential to reduce the risk of heart disease and other serious health issues. 

These are just some of the incredible benefits of turmeric. Adding the spice to your food, using supplements or having it in a tea are all great ways to reap the rewards of turmeric. 

There is one small catch

Turmeric can only work if it is absorbed properly. Curcumin is not readily absorbed by the body, however by adding a pinch of black pepper to turmeric, you can increase absorption by 2000%! Coconut milk and ghee also increase absorption and this is why these ingredients are usually all combined in turmeric tea. 

Have some fun with new recipes that include turmeric!

Lots of light and love xx

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6 Tips for Healthy Digestion

In our journey to optimize overall health we need to be aware of all of the systems in our body. Ayurveda speaks a lot about having balance in our digestive system to ensure wellbeing. There are a few important ideas around digestion that we should consider.

Metabolism

Ayurvedic knowledge outlines different mind-body types which have either a strong digestive fire, or a weaker one. More commonly this is known as metabolism, and many things can improve or slow down metabolism. Those with a faster metabolism can generally get away with eating a bit more, eating treats occasionally, and eating at erratic times more so than those with a slower metabolism.

Ayurvedic advice suggests that we should concentrate on enjoyment, balance and quality of meals in order to improve our digestive system functioning. There is a connection between the mind and the gut and therefore we should not feel stressed while we eat.

Digestion tips

There are a few simple ways we can help out the digestive system before each meal.

  • Eat when you are hungry. Meal times are often dictated by the time of day. We are sometimes not hungry at breakfast time, yet we will force food down in order to avoid hunger later on. It is perfectly okay to skip meals when you are not hungry, as this will give your digestive system time to rest. There is a lot of advice around eating a smaller meal for dinner earlier in the evening so that you are hungry in the morning. You also do not need to feel stuffed to finish eating. Chinese medicine suggests that you should still be 30% hungry after a meal!
  • Look at your food. Before you eat, look at and smell your food in order to prepare your body to eat. This will trigger your body to start producing saliva and enzymes to properly digest your food. Allow your mouth time to reproduce more saliva between mouthfuls. 
  • Make eating a celebration. Consider how to place the meal on the table and  make sure it looks attractive. Not only does this allow you to have a mindful moment, but it also creates an anticipatory feeling and a feeling of pleasure. Feeling pleasure will make for an optimised digestion process. On the other hand, feeling negative emotions will also hinder digestion.
  • Avoid cold liquids with your food. Cold food and ice water is believed to douse the digestive fire, according to Ayurvedic principles. Your body temperature is naturally warm, and thus cold food and water disrupt the energy flow. Your body has to first work to warm up the body and the digestive system again before it is able to process the food. 
  • Eat with chopsticks or smaller bowls. This technique allows you to eat more slowly and have smaller portions. We often will dish up too much food ad then feel guilty if we don’t finish it. It is a good habit to rather take less food and then get a second helping if you are truly still hungry. Try and chew more often as well as this will help the food to digest better. 
  • Create a peaceful environment and mindset before eating. When we are in a stressed state, the muscles tend to tense up. This requires our blood to flow into the muscles. If we are stressed while we are eating then the blood is not readily available in the digestive system. Rather eat when you are more balanced, or try to do some breathing and mindfulness techniques before meals.

If you are looking to optimise your nutrition, it is wise to look at your digestion habits at the same time. While our nutrition choices are important, it is also important to make sure your body has the best possible chance to absorb the nutrients that it needs.

Have a great day.

Lots of light and love xx

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How to Boost Melatonin for Better Sleep

Good quality sleep is the foundation to health. Eating well, exercising optimally and general wellbeing are all affected by sleep. Melatonin is a critical chemical in the sleep cycle and it is important to understand how to increase melatonin levels and “zzz” quality.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a chemical produced in the brain that makes us sleep. It is in charge of regulating the circadian rhythm to manage when you fall asleep and wake up. When your body is in rhythm, it will begin to produce melatonin when it is getting dark outside. Melatonin increases immunity and manages blood pressure and cortisol levels. This is why it is super important to stabilise melatonin levels. 

How to increase melatonin levels for better quality sleep

1. Have a routine around sleep. It is important to go to bed at the same time every night. In this way, your body will start to produce melatonin a few hours before bed. You also need to keep a consistent wake up time as your body will also learn when to stop producing melatonin. Waking up will be a lot easier and you won’t feel like you are under water for the first hour of the day. 

2. Ensure that your room is dark. Melatonin production is optimised when your bedroom is completely dark. Artificial light disrupts melatonin, so lights from the TV, alarm clock and cellphone should be put far away. 

3. Watch what you eat before bed. Ayurvedic advice suggests that we stop eating after 7pm to ensure optimal rest. We also need to be careful of what we eat and drink before bed. Caffeine can affect sleep if consumed within 10 hours of bedtime! Sugar and alcohol also affect sleep quality. 

4. Expose yourself to light during the day. Getting sunshine in the day time will reinforce your circadian rhythm and allow you to produce more melatonin at night.

Get the snooze

When you are getting enough good quality sleep your mood will be consistent, you will feel more energised and focused, you will be able to control food cravings and you will all round look great. We cannot optimise our being if we are dragging ourselves from one task to the next. When life is crazy, it is easy to compromise sleep to get a few more hours in the day, but don’t make this compromise. Rather get the sleep and be ten times more efficient the next day, and for all your days.

Have a great day.

Lots of light and love xx

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The Misconception of Meditation

The term “meditation” is heard more and more these days and is becoming a popular practice. While this term was often used in the past to describe the lifestyle of monks, it is now not uncommon to hear that co-workers and friends are meditating on a daily basis. Because of the spiritual association and the degree of practice that true meditation requires, we have to ask ourselves: When we sit cross-legged in silence with candles for 10 minutes trying to focus on the presence, is this really meditation?

No, this isn’t meditation

Well, not really. The true practice of meditation requires one to sit in rather uncomfortable postures for significant lengths of time. This kind of meditation involves many practices such as pondering life’s purpose and prayer.

Mindfulness – the practice that modern day society is more familiar with – is just one form of meditation. This, however, does not detract from how powerful mindfulness is. Mindfulness is the awareness of your current state and surroundings in the present moment. Mindfulness is an important practice to develop and is much more accessible to our modern lives than true meditation.

So, what does mindfulness do?

Mindfulness has several benefits:

  • It lowers stress levels. In our fast-paced society, we live in a constant state of stress. In this state, we are in flight or fight mode. If we act like a hammer, then everything that we see will look like a nail. The cortisol levels (stress hormone) are high and we create stressors in our minds when we are in defense mode. When we practice mindfulness, we are able to break that pattern of flight or fight mode. We stop the constant stream of thoughts in our mind and are reminded that there is more to life.
  • We recognise our pain.  Often when we feel stressed, there is often an underlying, deeper cause to that stress. There are times where we can balance multiple things and juggle tasks effortlessly, and at other times small, insignificant troubles will set us off! It is important to look at everything in your life and reflect on why situations are affecting you in different ways. Perhaps you are training too hard at gym which is making work pressure feel unbearable. Maybe relationship problems are making daily tasks seem too overwhelming. Take time to notice where your pain is actually coming from.
  • It improves our focus. Our mind can often feel scattered and can jump from one thought to the next. When we practice mindfulness, we are able to start becoming aware that we are not our mind, and our mind is not in control of us. Thoughts can be poisonous and when left to run wild, we can ruminate ourselves into being angry and upset. Learn to catch your thoughts and stop them in their tracks. Focus on one task and steer your thoughts where you want them to be.

Let’s do mindfulness right

We live in a world where busyness is seen as success. It is important to see that those who are in control of their thoughts and their mind are those who are powerful. Be aware of your body, your surroundings and your mind. Don’t let your life pass you by while you are living from one stressed thought to the next.

Have a great day.

Lots of light and love xx

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How to Optimise your Sleep

We have all heard that sleep is extremely important for wellness and health. It is also important, however, to understand that it isn’t about sleep quantity necessarily, but rather about sleep quality. There are a few ways to optimize our sleep quality.

Firstly, how do we know if we are not getting optimal sleep?


• Your mind is foggy and you cannnot concentrate
• You feel unhappy – sleep affects hormone regulation, which in turn affects mood.
• You get sick often – when our bodies aren’t rested, inflammation will increase. This leaves us highly vulnerable to viruses.
• You struggle with your weight – when we feel tired, our body will crave food as a source of energy regardless of hunger levels.
• Your motivation to exercise decreases – it is hard to get to gym when we are feeling exhausted. Insufficient sleep leads to a depressed central nervous system and the body will not be able to train as effectively.

Secondly, how do we optimize our sleep quality?

  1. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
    It is important to remember that all of our bodily functions from sleep to digestion work in cycles. The best time to wake up is before 6am because your body goes into the Kapha, or “water” cycle after 6am. Waking up after 6am leaves you feeling groggy. If you keep to a consistent wake up time, your body will become used to rousing itself at that time. Your body will learn when to start and stop producing melatonin so that you wake up feeling more alert.
  2. Get yourself into some sunlight.
    Sunlight will reinforce to your mind and body that it is daytime and time to be alert. Cortisol levels rise in a natural and healthy way. Sunlight also reinforces your melatonin production cycle.
  3. Get moving right away.
    Hitting the snooze button increases sleep inertia and make it harder to get out of bed. Try to get your feet on the floor as soon as possible.
  4. Caffeine and exercise.
    Limit caffeinated drinks and intensive exercise later in the day as it affects deep sleep.
  5. Limit screen time before bed.
    Artificial light such as light from cell phones and screens will affect melatonin production and you won’t be able to fall asleep as easily.
  6. De-stress.
    A warm bath, meditation or journaling can calm the mind and body to prepare for sleep.

It is important to understand that the first step in wellness should be to get sufficient sleep. Nutrition and exercise are both affected by our sleep quality, making it the foundation to good health! It can be easy to push our bed time to a later time for work or some tv, but we need to understand the implications that this has on overall health.

It is not easy, but it is simple: Get sleep. Get focused. Then work on everything else!

Have a great day.
Lots of light and love xx

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Try This Amazing Eating Challenge

Paleo. Keto. Atkins. There are so many diet and meal plans out there that it is hard not to get completely overwhelmed. Studies have shown that there is one thing you can do, regardless of your eating plan, that will create a healthier way of eating.

The Psychology of Eating Mindfully

When we look at our eating plan, the first thing we consider is what we eat. The second thing we look at is when we eat. While these two factors are extremely important when considering our wellness, the most important factor is something we often overlook. Eating mindfully is the single most important habit that drives transformation.

The Wins Behind Eating Mindfully

  1. Eating slowly will allow you to eat less and not feel deprived.
    Studies have shown that people who take twenty minutes more to eat a meal can end up eating around 60 calories less. This is because it can take a while for your body to process that you are actually full. Leptin, the hormone that causes you to feel satiated, needs time to be released. If you are already eating a second helping before this process takes place, you will end up over eating.
  2. Eating slowly will help with digestion.
    Eating quickly will leave you feeling bloated and will cause indigestion. This is because you are taking bigger bites and chewing less. When food isn’t broken down properly, it will also not be able to absorb optimal nutrition, vitamins and minerals.
  3. Eating slowly will help you to listen to your body.
    We usually rely on the time of the day to know when to eat a meal. “Lunchtime” is often not determined by our hunger levels. The amount that we eat is also not often determined by the fact that we feel full. When we start eating more mindfully, we will begin to pick up on our body’s signals that it is full. When we eat intuitively, we also will begin to understand what hunger really feels like as well. In this way, we learn how to trust our body.
  4. Eating slowly allows us to feel in control.
    One of the main reasons that diet plans and meal plans don’t work is that our control is taken away from us. When we are told what and how to eat, we feel powerless. If we actively eat more slowly then we are taking the control back into our own hands. Regardless of what we are eating, if we are eating slowly then we decide when we are full and how much we will eat. Our hunger no longer controls us.

Some tips on how to eat more mindfully:

• Breathe while you eat. In between bites, take a few moments to stop and breathe.
• Add just one more minute. Start by slowly extending the amount of time it takes you to eat. Start with one minute at a time.
• Try not to eat while driving, or while on social media, or over the kitchen sink! Try to make every meal a mini celebration. Savour the time and make sure it is distraction-free.
• Eat food that really needs to be chewed. Notice which foods take the longest to break down.
• Do something between bites. You can maybe try putting your utensils down, or try sipping water (warm water is best).

Eating slowly and mindfully is a practice. Each meal will be an opportunity to get better at it. This is a really wonderful habit to adopt as you will truly cherish moments in the present.

Have a wonderful day.
Lots of light and love xx

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One Simple Thing

If you are ever tempted to give up on a goal, ask yourself: how badly do you want it?

When 10 more push-ups seem too hard: How badly do you want to get strong?

When cooking a healthy meal seems too much: how badly do you want to be well?

When studying a bit more is too exhausting: how badly do you want a good result?

Stop. Visualise your win. How badly do you want it?

Have a great day.

Lots of light and love xx

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How to Hardwire Happiness

We often start off our day with a feeling of positivity and optimism. As the day goes by, however, we may start to become irritated with people and situations around us. It is important to not allow small inconveniences to take over our entire day. Here are some tips to have better, happier days.

The mind’s blueprint

In a study by Dr Rick Hanson, the neurologist shows how the human mind is wired towards negativity. If we go through the day and have five good things happen, three everyday experiences and one bad experience, we will probably go to bed in the evening being irritated and down about the negative experience that we had.

Why is it that our brains are wired this way? A possible theory is that our brains are naturally in defense mode due to our primitive blueprint. Back in the days of hunting and gathering, it would be important to dwell on threatening experiences such as a saber-tooth tiger attack. We would need to learn from the experience and learn the patterns of a tiger’s behaviour in order to avoid such an experience in the future.

Fortunately for us, we do not have to be as hyper-aware of such dangers in present society. We have media and information available to be knowledgeable, but it is still possible, and necessary, to enjoy the smaller experiences in life.

So how do we change the way our minds work? How do we stop focusing on the negative aspects of our day?

Let’s rewire

There are a few ways that we can change the way our brain thinks:

  • Catch your thoughts – If we spend a lot of time ruminating on negative experiences, our brain will wire this way. Neural pathways are strengthened as we continuously think in a certain direction. If we automatically default to think about negative experiences, it will become a habit. If we choose to focus on postitive experiences, new pathways will form and we will be more likely to think in a more optimistic way.
  • Focus on the positive moments in your day for 20-30 seconds. This is where mindfulness comes in – notice beautiful things in your day and really appreciate them. Think about them throughout the day and be grateful for them before you sleep at night.
  • When people compliment you or thank you, don’t brush it off. We often will be congratulated and will say “oh, it was nothing really!”. We are complimented and say “no, I actually didn’t even wash my hair! I really don’t look great!”. Instead of being bashful, rather say something like “thank you. I really receive what you are saying.”. This will allow you to take it in and appreciate it.
  • During the day, really feel your emotions. If something is fun, laugh. If it is sad, feel the sadness. Cry if you need to. Expressing emotions will allow you to really feel them. It will also allow you to let them out. Your mind may not need to hold onto thoughts if they have been properly experienced and expressed.
  • Meditation – this will help us to be aware of our thoughts. We have to catch ourselves when we are ruminating and change that behavior. Meditation reminds us that we are not our thoughts. We can control our thoughts. Endless streams of negative thinking will affect our mood and this is not okay. You are in charge of your thoughts – change the way that you are thinking and have a happier day. It really is that simple.

Happiness is a choice

We are only as happy as we allow ourselves to be. Change your thinking, change your pathways, change your life! Let’s hardwire happiness into our heads.

Have a great day

Lots of light and love xx

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How to Set the “Right” Goals

We are often highly motivated at the beginning of the week when we are setting goals for ourselves. It seems easy to write out a list to design the most incredible version of ourself possible. As the week goes on, however, we sometimes lose that motivation and put off our goals to the next week. The most crucial consideration here is: are we setting the right goals?

The signs of the right goals

There are a few ways to know if the goals we have set are appropriate:

  • The right goals set realistic expectations. At the end of the day, only you know yourself. Is the goal you have set achievable? More importantly, is it achievable in the time frame you have set for yourself? Its great to aim high and push yourself, but it is also demotivating when we simply cannot achieve to that level. Rather, take the goal down a notch and break the larger goal into smaller pieces. This will avoid overwhelm and you will be more committed.
  • The right goals will allow you to feel in charge and autonomous in your own life. If goals are set by others, we often feel accountable to them for a while. However, we need to motivate ourselves in the long run. In this way, we will see sustainable change.
  • The right goals will set you up for long-term inspiration. If we follow exercise or eating plans that do not feel good or are too much preparation, they will not be sustainable. You need to be working with routines that make sense to you and that you can maintain over a long period of time.
  • The right goals are based on your own intrinsic motivation. This means that the goals you set have meaning for you. You know the reasons behind why you want to achieve what you want to achieve. Your goals are not set to make other people proud or happy – they are for your own progress!
  • The right goals lead to action. When you really want to realize your goals, you will do what you can to make it happen. Set goals that inspire you and get to work NOW!

The steps

So take an honest look at your goals and make sure they are realistic.

Consider what skills you will need to achieve your goals and get to work on those skills.

Look at the outcomes of your goals and turn them into behavioural changes that you can make.

Focus on what you can do, instead of what not to do.

Lastly, enjoy and celebrate the wonderful process of growth you experience.

Have a great day.

Lots of light and love xx

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A Loving-Kindness Practice

Hi everybody!

Today I want to talk about the practice of Loving-Kindness Meditation. This is a simple practice of thinking loving thoughts towards others, which has incredible benefits. This practice has shown to increase our own happiness, as well as feelings of love, joy, gratitude, self-acceptance and positive relations with others.  

Start by practicing for 5 minutes at first, and then build up to 10, 15 minutes as your mind becomes more adapted to the process.

You can sit in your normal meditation pose with your eyes open or closed. For each minute, you are going to choose someone to think about using the list below. With the thought of the person in your mind you repeat the phrases “May [name] be safe, May [name] be happy, May [name] be healthy, May [name] live with ease”, until the minute is over. You then move on to the next person and think about them while repeating the phrases.

Examples of the people you can think about:

  • A benefactor (someone who naturally inspires loving thoughts)
  • Yourself
  • Someone you know who is having a hard time
  • A familiar face
  • A difficult person
  • All beings, everywhere

You can choose to think about the same set of people every time, or you can think of different people. Thinking of the same people may allow you to feel deeper feelings for those people.

For a more in-depth look into LKM, please see Sharon Salzburg’s video:

Have you be safe, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease! Lots of light and love xx

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The Mentalities that are Holding us Back

Everyone these days seems to be doing the most intense, cross-fit-like exercise. They are able to run a half marathon before the sun rises and then drink a zero-calorie, zero-taste health smoothie and be good until noon. With the health and fitness standards being this absurd, how do we push harder to keep up?

The answer? We don’t try to keep up.

I was listening to a podcast (The Model Health Show with Shawn Stevenson) where they mentioned a quote that really resonated with me. The quote states that “suffering does not equal health”. I feel like this is something that really needs to be spoken about and promoted.

Food and diets

So much of the diet culture these days involves plans where the calories are far too low and the food leaves much to be desired. Following a diet that is leaving you hungry and craving specific foods is a red flag. Firstly, if you are consistently hungry, you will not follow through on the meal plan for long. Hunger erodes away at your willpower, and you eventually will end up binging on every possible food you can find. Secondly, if you are craving food, this is a sign that there is an imbalance in your diet – you are either not eating enough of a certain taste or a certain food group. Hunger and cravings make you suffer, and this does not equate to being healthy.

It is also very important to find foods that you enjoy eating. An eating plan will only be successful if it is sustainable. It will only be sustainable if you are feeling good about what you eating. A kale smoothie for breakfast may be very healthy, but you won’t be a healthy person if you are gagging it down every morning. Try out different healthy foods and find what works for your body, and more importantly, what you enjoy eating.

Exercise

We also need to take part in exercise that we enjoy. If we hate every step of our morning run, it is going to tear us apart mentally and emotionally. We will feel tired and unmotivated, instead of rejuvenated and well as we are supposed to feel when we are healthy. Try different yoga classes, cycling, kick-boxing or swimming and keep doing the one that you find enjoyable. Suffering through exercise will only lead to you loathing fitness.

Rest

The last aspect I want to mention is the important one: rest. In the competitive, fast-paced world we live in, we tend to believe the mindset that faster and harder is better. While an occasional intensive workout is great for your body, it is also important to slow down, relax and recover. If your workouts are continually taking absolutely everything out of you, they will, again, not be sustainable and you will be suffering. Your body will break down if you are always pushing to the absolute limits. Taking a mindful walk or a relaxed slow-paced yoga class may be what your health needs.

Your journey is unique to you

Remember that health is holistic. This means that it is great when your body is fit and you’re eating healthy food, but it also means that your mind must be in a good place as well. You do not need to be in a mind-space of suffering and if you are, then you are not well. Reassess your goals and your fitness plan, and know that suffering does not equal health.

Lots of light and love xx

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The Number One Food to Avoid

Sugar has become a major health problem in our society. It is an added ingredient in almost every food package in the shops these days and it can be very hard to avoid. Here are some of the things I have learnt while eliminating sugar from my diet.

It is not easy

Eliminating sugar from your diet is one of the most crucial steps in becoming well. Sugar creates inflammation in the body which contributes to a host of illnesses and diseases. It makes us feel tired and unwell, and only once we give up sugar does it become clear how badly it affects us!

The first time that I managed to stop eating sugar, I felt an incredible amount of mental clarity. My communication skills were better, my memory improved and I no longer felt the grogginess we experience when we hit a sugar dip. Now I find that if I indulge in a sugary treat, I wake up with flu-like symptoms in the morning, I feel tired and sluggish – almost like a sugar hangover.

Now, I’m a bit of a fitness freak and I take my health seriously but I can tell you one thing. Giving up sugar IS NOT EASY. I can drink a kale smoothie, I can do the salad lunches, I can even go for a 10km run. But giving up sugar? That has been the hardest part of my fitness journey.

It is, however, not impossible

Here are a few tips that I have learnt in my journey:

  1. The most important step is to learn how your body needs to eat. There are a ton of diet plans and meal plans out there, but ultimately your body is unique. You need to figure out how many carbs, proteins and veggies you need in a day, and what types of food work best for your body. You will learn this through listening to your body. I figured out my eating plan through a specialized program that I designed. Through I series of “experiments” I worked out what I need to eat to perform optimally and thrive.
  2. Eat a variety of foods – if you are lacking in certain foods or tastes, your body will begin to crave in order to make up for these. If you cut of sweetness completely, your body will crave sugar. You need to eat some form of carbs ( complex carbs like brown rice), otherwise your body will crave simple carbs  – sugary treats!
  3. Cut out sodas – I wrote an article about what to drink instead of sodas here: https://crystalimmersion.net/2019/07/03/a-simple-health-boost/
  4. Eat healthier forms of dessert – greek yoghurt with honey is great. Adding cinnamon will also balance your blood sugar levels. Dried dates are also good because they are sweet and not too unhealthy (in moderation).
  5. Use sugar-free sauces like mustard and pesto. Sugar-free tomato sauce is also good.
  6. Read labels – if sugar is one of the first 3 ingredients in the list, you know that there is a lot of sugar added.
  7. Use natural sweeteners – when I first tried to cut my sugar down, I tried not to use sweeteners. This was a huge mistake – I was trying to break a habit without replacing it with something equally or more rewarding. It simply was just not going to work. You have to find a way to replace the sweet taste – whether it is with stevia in your coffee  or honey in your tea. I also tried out a lot of different chocolates that use natural sweeteners until I found one I really like.
  8. Get enough sleep – when we are tired, it is a lot harder to maintain our wellness goals. We will crave sugar because we think it will give us energy, and we give into the temptation easily because we are tired. Help yourself out, be strong, get sleep.

It is worth it

At the end of the day, this is your journey and your body. You will find what works for you as you persevere. Make sure you track how you feel when you try new ways to substitute sweetness into your diet. Note what works for your body and what doesn’t, and always try new things.

Good luck in beating the sugar monster – it is one of the hardest challenges in nutrition! I have quite a bit of experience in this area and am willing to help anyone who would like more individualized guidance. Pop me an email and we can work together towards optimization.

Have a great day. Lots of light and love xx

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A Little Note on Neurons

We all have habits and behaviours that do not serve us. If we are able to understand how our brain works, and how habits are reinforced, we can then look at ways to change these habits.

Our Brain

Have you ever been hiking? The paths that we tend to take when we hike are usually quite clear and well-marked. When hiking, we don’t usually just go smashing through the long grass with no foreseeable route.

This is very similar to how our brain works. When we think or behave a certain way, our brain forms pathways for our neurons. When we continuously think or behave in that way, the pathways become well-defined. An example of this is if we have dessert after dinner a couple of nights a week. Over time, the neural pathways that link your thoughts of dinner and dessert will become stronger. Eventually it is an automatic behaviour to get up and get dessert – the hiking trail is now clear and even has some signs pointing you along the path. This is how habits are formed and reinforced.

Changing our ways – putting this into practice

The good news is that it is possible to change these neural pathways. Initially it will be very hard to not walk on the same pathway. Going to get dessert after dinner for the first night will be very challenging. Deciding to not have dessert, or to rather have a healthy fruit, will form a new pathway. Again, this is like trudging through the long grass on a hiking trail that is not yet defined. Walk it a couple of times, however, and you will start finding it easier to push through.

Visualisation and meditation are great ways to strengthen these pathways as well. When you are visualising your success, your neurons fire down the same pathways as if you were actually doing the action. Studies have found that golfers who have spent time visualising how to correctly swing their club have shown actual physical improvement in their game. Meditation also increases the ability to think creatively and in a flexible way. When we are avoiding bad habits, it is often necessary to replace them with good habits. Being able to come up with creative and flexible ways to avoid and replace habits will more likely lead to success.

It takes about 3 to 6 months to create a new habit and to follow through in an efficient way – depending on the individual and the chosen habit. Repetition is super important when forming habits as the neural pathway is reinforced every time the thought or behaviour takes place. Keep at it and work on your goals daily. Be persistent. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to a bad habit “just this once”. It is important to understand that if you slip up, the neural pathway that was fading away will now be reinforced and become active again.

Time to get real

So what is the habit that you want to change? Start creating new neural pathways. Walk the hard hiking trail until it becomes clear. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Train your brain and remember that you are in control.

Have a geat day.

Lots of light and love xx

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What Happens when we Truly Feel

Hi Everyone!

Part of my morning routine is a 10 minute meditation session. I can pretty much only manage 10 minutes at this point in my journey because I really struggle to quieten my mind for any longer than that. Our minds can often be like a river, where our thoughts flow from one idea to the next and will not stop unless you actively practice to stop.

We are more than our minds

It is important for us to learn that we are not our minds. Our minds process what we see and hear, and our minds interpret how we are feeling. However, those are simple perceptions of the world and they are ultimately not the real thing. What we process as a bird’s song is our perception of it. The feeling of love is often our thoughts around it – it is important to stop our minds every now and then and feel the bodily sensation of love.

We live so much in our heads that our thoughts become our reality and we miss out on the real taste of coffee, the smell of a new morning, the feeling of gratitude when we receive something amazing. This is one reason why mindfulness is so powerful – we become aware of what is actually around us, instead of relying on our mind’s labels for those things.

Let’s change it

So today, start practicing living outside of your mind. We have come to believe that the mind is an ever-moving, unstoppable machine and this is simply just not true. We live in our bodies and the mind is one component of that. Learn to control the mind and make it quiet so that you can focus on feeling and living.

Our minds have been given a lot of control and the idea that this is normal and natural needs to change. Life is not the collection of linguistic labels that our brain throws out – “this blanket is warm”, “This apple is sweet” – No, life is the real, active and conscious feeling of these things.

You are not your mind, and YOU are in control.

Have a great day!

Lots of light and love x

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The Secret to Real Success

We often set goals and aim to become better. When we achieve these goals, we can often be disappointed in that other people may not recognise how well we have done. There needs to be a shift in how we see our success.

In the past two weeks I have spoken a lot about setting goals and shifting your mindset. The main take-aways from the articles have been:

The last step is focusing on “mastery goals” rather than “performance goals”. When we set performance goals they are usually associated with external validation. This means that we experience rewards through the good feeling that comes with recognition from others. If we set a goal to do well in a test just to make our parents proud, that would be a performance goal. Trying to do well in a competition for recognition from fans is another example.

Performance goals are similar to outcome goals in the sense that they are limited by external circumstances. The weather may affect a race and make you run slower. The flu may affect your grades in a test. Your children may get sick and you may not be able to train as hard as others for a competition.

When we rely on external validation from others, we put our happiness in their hands. Their level of approval will also affect how we see our achievement. If we are really proud and share an experience with someone who we really want to impress, and they show minimal admiration? We will immediately feel less enthusiastic about our win.

This is why shifting our focus to mastery goals is so important

Mastery goals emphasise process over product. In this way, we appreciate every second we shave off of our personal best time.

Mastery goals focus on the intrinsic process of your progress. At the end of the day, only you know how much work you have out into learning a new skill. When you experience success with that skill, feel the pride – you have earned this.

When you achieve mastery goals, the gratification is separate from anyone else’s judgement. This form of goal setting does not allow you to place value on your own success based on what another thinks of the achievement. You know how hard you worked, you get to decide how proud and enthusiastic you can feel!

When you succeed with mastery goals, you will feel more motivated as you have done it for yourself and for the process. You are not doing it to please others.

How to set mastery goals

Let’s look at the difference between performance goals and mastery goals:

Performance goal: Beat my personal best time for a 10km race.

Mastery goal: Focus on running with good form and technique. Ask a trainer for tips on how to improve my running stride and gait.

Performance goal: Do more pull ups.

Mastery goal: Work on foundational muscles to avoid injury and to build up the correct strength needed for overall fitness.

Performance goal: Drop to 8% body fat.

Mastery goal: Become efficient in meal preparation and planning. Ensure my meals are healthy and well-balanced.

Performance goal: Score 85% on my upcoming exam.

Mastery goal: Carve out enough time in my schedule in order to understand the material that I am learning and apply it to my life.

It is clear from these examples that mastery goals are focused on long-term success, and are more holistic. They are focused on optimal health and wellness.

So let’s get to it

Write down a desired outcome.

Think about why you want to achieve this goal – what are your values around this? What does it mean to you?

Turn it around to see why you would like to master this goal and take validation out of the equation. What will this do for your health and wellness in the long run? How does it affect your happiness?

Write down two actions that you can do to master this goal.

Track your progress for your own motivation.

You’ve got this

True gratitude and appreciation for the self will only come through self-love. See what you can achieve. Love yourself for your wins. Other people do not know what you have gone through to be where you are. They don’t understand the process. They have not been there.

I write this with a full heart as I experienced this rather recently. I was competing in my first Spartan race. When I came to the monkey bars I was feeling pretty fatigued and my grip was worn out. I shook myself out for a bit and then began the obstacle. When I dropped down at the end I fell on my knees and burst into tears with gratitude. I thought of all the times I had ripped the skin off my hands preparing for this moment! Spectators were yelling at me to keep on moving but I was still for a moment to really appreciate myself and how strong I felt. True self love and pride!

I really wish for everyone to have incredible moments like these. Be real, be honest, be true. Then love and appreciate yourself for the process.

Lots of light and love xx

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How to Recognise Imbalances in your Body

We live in a state of constant stress, where sleep deprivation is the norm and if you’re not burnt out, you’re not trying hard enough. The relentless competition is daunting and draining, yet we continue to push ourselves. It is no wonder that illness is rampant and anxiety disorders are at an all-time high. It is important to notice the symptoms that your body is taking strain before it begins to break down.

Something needs to change…

In the practice of Ayurveda, students learn to take notice of their bodies. Through meditation and mindfulness, it is possible to become aware of how the body is feeling and where there is tension and strain. The teachings include knowledge of the imbalances within the three doshas: Pitta, Vata and Kapha. In this way, you are hyper-aware when your body is in a state of stress – it will tell you!

Western medicine tends to place an emphasis on curing the symptoms of an imbalance. We will take a pill for a headache. We take an antacid for heartburn. We never really consider what the underlying cause is of the imbalance. Your body may present a headache because it is dehydrated, and therefore we need to readdress our fluid intake. Your body may be averse to certain spices or foods, resulting in heartburn, and these foods need to be taken out of your diet. Every sign of dis-ease in your body needs to be addressed as it is an indication of an imbalance. The underlying cause needs to be dealt with.

We also need to understand that emotions are a sign of imbalance in the body. According to Vata, if we are anxious or depressed, we may have an imbalance in movement – either too much or too little. If we are feeling angry, irritable or jealous, we may have a problem with digestion or nutrition as expressed by the Pitta dosha. If we have problems with greed and envy, the Kapha dosha may be out of balance in terms of the immunity in the body. These are a few examples of imbalances, but it is clear that we need to look at every aspect of our life in order to truly feel well.

Tips to balance the body:

1. Take time out in the day to note how you are feeling – note emotions, sensations and any bodily pain. Remember that ever the smallest discomfort can be a sign of something. Notice if you are more snappy than usual. Notice if you have feelings of anxiety or unease. Notice if your joints feel tight. These could all indicate that some part of your life is not in balance.

2. Consider what may be causing slight or severe imbalances in your life. Have you recently added or taken away something in your diet? Have you taken up or taken away any forms of physical exercise? Are you spending the right amount of time: at work, on relationships, resting?

3. Make small changes to your life to try and create more balance. Take notice of the effect on your emotional and physical wellbeing. The imbalances could get better or they could worsen. Working with your body is an endless journey and you need to learn how to maintain balance.

A personal note

I recently experienced terrible heartburn. As this is very uncommon for me, I was quite alarmed. It was suggested that I take bicarbonate of soda or an antacid. Both of these may have helped me in the short-term, but I was highly aware of the fact that’s something in my body was out of balance. I tried eliminating a few things, until I found that removing lemon from my water has completely solved the problem. It may not make sense as lemon is alkaline, but it was simply my body telling me that I was out of balance.

Take time to listen when your body speaks to you. The more you practice listening, the better you will get at understanding the signs and the more your body will speak.

Have a great day,

Lots of light and love xx

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How to Achieve in the Long Run

Staying on track with our health goals is tough. We see people in magazines and on social media who always seem to be achieving and it is hard to keep motivated. There is a way to keep the end goal in mind and to win against our temptations.

I write a lot on this blog about discipline and maintaining a strong will. I personally try to live a life that is as close to what I preach as possible. I try hard to build healthy habits and to stay away from things that don’t align with the vision that I have for who I am and how I live.

It is NOT easy

I understand that staying disciplined is very tough! There are days where you have an insatiable hunger, there are days when you feel terribly down, there are days when it is cold and gloomy. On these days, your nutritional and exercise goals are challenged and it is difficult to keep your end goal in sight.

Short-term pleasure vs long-term pain

The pleasure referred to here is the quick boost that we get from having a sugary treat, the sleep in we choose over an early morning gym session and the dopamine release as we scroll through Facebook instead of studying. It is short- term, it doesn’t last long, and there are no long-term positive results. The long-term pain is the feeling of regret for not pushing harder to maintain our discipline. It’s the pain of not achieving what we wanted to. It is the pain of being anything less than the best version of yourself!

Short term pain vs long term pleasure

Pain, in this situation, would be the discipline of not satisfying your immediate needs and desires. It can be extremely hard to resist eating a sugary treat with co-workers in the office. It is hard to dig up the motivation to go for a swim at the gym when the weather outside is cold. Maintaining discipline in these situations can be almost impossible and giving in to temptation is easier. This is the pain – the mental anguish and internal conflict – we experience when we are trying to uphold our goals!

The pleasure referred to here is the joy of reaching our goals. It is the ability to finish a 10km race with our personal best time. It is the feeling of getting an amazing mark after studying hard. It is the reward for so much time spent maintaining discipline when it was so painful. It is this long-term, ultimate pleasure that we need to keep in mind when we want to give in to our temptations. A short, brief period of saying “no” to our cravings and maintaining our will power allows for a longer-lasting, more satisfying period of achievement.

Keep that end goal in mind. Temptations in the moment are brief and will pass – say “no” again and again because we are looking to win here.

So you get to choose:

Do you want your pleasure to be immediate and short-lived, with the long-term pain of not achieving your goals?

Or

Do you want to work through the short-term discipline pain in order to achieve great results and feel the pleasure of looking at what you have become?

It’s either the pain of discipline for the pleasure of achievement; or the pleasure of a temptation for the pain of regret.

Have a great day. Lots of light and love xx

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The Truth about Choice

Today we are going to talk about one of the most fundamental aspects of nutrition that is often pushed aside. With the diet culture that is everywhere these days, we need to remember one simple fact.

The foods we choose to eat are the foundational building blocks that our body will use to build itself.

We need to recreate the image of food in our minds. Let’s consider three important facts.

1. What we eat affects our mood.

First and foremost, food supplies energy and affects our blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar levels leave us feeling tired and unwell. We need to find the right foods to help us feel full of energy and well enough to work optimally for long periods of time. Fast-burning sugars that are found in processed foods and junk foods will likely lead to an energy crash.

Certain foods also lead to hormonal changes. For example, basil leads to an increase in dopamine and serotonin – our happy hormones! Apples and oatmeal increase leptin – the hormone that makes you feel full. This is why it is important to understand which hormones are being produced with the food you eat.

2. What we eat affects the make-up of our body

We need to consider that the food we are feeding our bodies is essentially what the body will build with. The body is creating new brain neuro-pathways and rebuilding blood vessels every second. The building materials are on your dinner plate. What we eat now will become what we are made up of. If you are eating a variety of healthy, natural foods, your body can then build healthy, natural body systems. Build your neurons on ice-cream, however, and you may not find that your memory is soaring when you hit old age!

3. What we eat affects how we live

It is drilled into us by the media and society that there are “good” foods and “bad” foods. “Bad” foods will make us put on weight and then we won’t look good.

This is a completely misguided way of looking at nutrition.

There are definitely healthier food choices that we can make, and we have to make them based on what our body needs. We need to listen to our bodies when we have cravings, because our body is telling us that it needs something. This doesn’t apply to artificial sugary treats. When you eat in a natural way for long enough, your body will no longer ask for processed sugars and foods. It will start asking for foods like apples and bananas when it wants sweetness.

From how we feel, to how we grow, to how we live – our food choices will end us defining who we are. This is not about how we look in a bikini. This is about health and wellness. This is the secret to optimising to reach your highest self.

Choose food that will lead to a true feeling of happiness. Choose foods that will build a strong body. Choose foods that allow you to be in control of the way you live.

Have  a great day. Lots of light and love x

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How to Build and Break Habits

Today I want to talk about habits. There are the building blocks that essentially make up the foundation of what and who we are. The amount of exercise we do, what we eat, the way we think – these are all dependent on our habits. To optimise our health, we need to replace our negative habits with positive habits.

The stages of habits

There are 4 stages of habit according to the book Atomic Habits by James Clear:

Cue – this is the trigger that sparks the habit behaviour. It is a reminder (For example, the smell of pancakes).

Craving – this is the desire to change your internal state by seeking out a reward (we are having a bad day – we want the pleasure of eating a pancake).

Reponse – this is the act of carrying out the behaviour to satisfy the craving (eating a pancake)

Reward – this is the end goal of the habit. The cue is noticing that something will give us a reward, we crave the reward and we act in a way to get the reward (We have the reward of the taste of the pancake).

Creating and breaking habits

If we want to begin a positive habit, we need to ensure that all the stages are set up for us to succeed. For example, if we want to go to the gym early in the morning, we will be more successful if we place the cue to remind ourselves in our line of sight. This would mean packing our gym bag and leaving it by the door. Find an exercise routine that your enjoy in order to increase your craving or desire to do it and to ensure that you will respond to the desire. Lastly, plan to reward yourself after you complete the habit (maybe by having a warm bubble bath in the evening, or a nice cup of tea!).

On the flipside, if you want to break a bad habit, you need to make the stages of the habit more inaccessible. For example, if you want to stop eating chocolate, make sure that it is not in the house, or at least not in your line of vision. Work on making it undesirable – eat a fruit instead so that your craving for sweetness is diminished and so that you are fuller. Make it difficult to respond to the craving – put the chocolate in the fridge downstairs. Lastly, find ways to make the habit unsatisfying – remind yourself that when you eat the chocolate, you feel unwell and tired.

Be strong when it comes to habits

Creating and breaking habits is very hard. You are literally changing the patterns of the neurons in your brain when trying to recreate your habits. It is important to know that it is going to be hard – fight anyway. Get up and do what you don’t want to do in order to be the person that you know you can be. Then get up and do it again tomorrow.

The other important factor in breaking bad habits is to replace them with a reward that is just as satisfying as the habit. We will delve further into this topic next Tuesday!

Have a great day.

Lots of light and love xx

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All it Takes is 6 Breaths…

Hi everybody!

Happy Mindfulness Monday where we practice being present even on the most chaotic day of the week. I did a bit of research into breathing this past weekend. I have  always known that for maximum relaxation and productivity we should take 6 full deep breaths in the space of a minute. I have never known why this is the case and was interested to find out.

Firstly, I had not tried practicing 6 full breaths in a minute… oh my gosh, it is really hard? I sat with a timer in front of me, and on my first attempt I managed to get down to 9 breaths per minute. The second time I got 7 breaths. Then I used some maths and realised if I breathe in for 5 seconds and out for 5 seconds, then I would make the 6 breaths… but I only managed 6 and a half! I’d love to hear from readers who have tried this so please comment about your experience.

Now, the studies specifically state that optimal breath rate for relaxation and productivity is 4 to 6 breaths per minute (I will have to practice a lot more to get down to 4!). This is a practice known as Coherent Breathing. On average, adults breathe at a rate of 15 breaths per minute, so you are essentially reducing your breathing rate to half with this exercise. This will allow your brain to be in a state of calm alertness, and is linked to an increase in cognitive performance and a decrease in stress.

In ayurveda, the practice of controlling your breath is called “Pranayama”. The word “prana” in Sanskrit means life force, and “ayama” means to extend. Essentially your are extending your life force, and the life force around you, by controlling your breath. The breath inside you is where your energy comes from, so by increasing your breath, you are increasing your energy.

We can use this technique of Coherent Breathing to boost our mood, decrease stress and enhance focus. Do it before a presentation, during a meeting or any time you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed – it only takes one minute!

Have a great day. Lots of light and love x

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How to Set Approach Goals

Last week we spoke about Outcome goals and Behaviour goals. When we set goals, we need to focus on the behaviour that we can change. You can read my article on this here: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/crystalimmersion.wordpress.com/190

The next step in goal setting is to change “Avoid” goals into “Approach” goals. There is a tendency to set goals such as “Stop drinking soda”, “Stop snacking on junk food” and “Stop hitting the snooze button”. It seems logical to set goals that tell us what NOT to do. These are the boundaries and we will stop doing the things we don’t want to do, right?

Well, not necessarily. If we are focusing on the things that we don’t want to do, we are ultimately focused on those things. By repeating that our goal is to “stop eating chocolate”, you are continually putting the word “chocoloate” into your head! Psychologically, this is a really terrible way to stop habits. It is emotionally draining and tests our willpower to the maximum.

We also have a rebellious nature that when told NOT to do something, the desire to do it increases tenfold. This is especially true when we are tired, hungry or have had a bad day. Self-control has a limit, and when tested repeatedly throughout the day it does become fatigued and you become more vulnerable. With a goal phrase that puts “chocolate” into your head all day long, by the end of the day “chocolate” is the first thing you will seek out.

This is why the focus needs to shift to “Approach” goals. These are the goals that are centered around something you desire for yourself. They focus on what is good. They focus on why you are doing what you are doing. Let’s look at some examples:

Avoid goal: Stop drinking soda.

Approach goal: Drink more water in the day. This will boost my energy and reduce headaches.

Avoid goal: Stop snacking on junk food.

Approach goal: Take healthy snacks to work. These will make me feel healthy and well.

Avoid goal: Stop hitting the snooze button.

Approach goal: Put the alarm clock in the lounge so I have to get up. This will give me time in the morning to gather my thoughts and set my intentions for the day.

You can see that when we are focused on the positive aspects – like the idea that we want to feel healthy and well – there will be more motivation to achieve those goals.

So to start:

  1. Define the bad behavior you want to break (I want to stop eating chocolate).
  2. Write down a good behaviour that you can replace the bad behaviour with (I will eat more fruit as snacks).
  3. Write down the “approach” goal to support the good habit (I will pack an orange to eat at work tomorrow).
  4. Write down why these goals are good for you and why you want to follow through on them. This will keep you motivated when you are feeling low (eating healthy food makes me feel energetic and well).

I hope this helps when it comes to goal-setting. The last technique of goal-setting is setting “performance” goals vs “mastery” goals, which we will talk about next Set for Success Sunday.

Have a great day!

Lots of light and love xx

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Meal Prep Tips from an Enthusiastic Novice

Hi everybody!

One of the most important aspects of halthy eating is to always be prepared. Deciding to change your habits and to set your intentions to eat well are essential first steps. However, if you do not plan and prepare you won’t be able to achieve your goals. If you haven’t prepared a lunch, you will end up with limited, unhealthy food choices at the petrol station shop. If you haven’t had a good lunch, you will get home and snack on every available snackable food in the pantry.

Changing your eating habits is tough. It’s a war zone, and therefore we have to bring every piece of armory we have available to the battlefield! The biggest problem is that we often do not have good, healthy food available at hand when we need it. Our good intentions will fail when we are hungry and tired. Prepare in advance so that grumpy, hangry you has no choice but to eat well. Here are some tips and tricks to make meal prep efficient and accessible:

  • Plan your meals for the week. Choose healthy options that are in season and right for your body. It really helps to choose meals with a similar base ingredient. For example, if you choose chicken, then one day you have chicken fillets for dinner and then leftover chicken on your salad the next day. Making large meals with a lot of leftovers for lunches is also good.
  • Use your meal plans to shop on the weekend. You’ll need to do some meal prep on Sunday, so have your food ready. Make sure you’ve bought everything you need for the week, because trying to shop during the week is often not possible. You may have a very bad day, going shopping is not going to happen and then good food is not available at hand.
  • Prepare your food on a Sunday. If you need some chicken for Monday lunch, cook up a whole batch. Throw some chicken into a salad for Monday lunch, and maybe toss it with rice and veg for Tuesday lunch. This gets a lot easier as you do it more often.
  • Make prep as efficient as possible! If you have planned a different meal for each lunchtime, you’re going to have a hard time prepping for all of this. This is why planning to have leftovers for lunch is really great, or to have the same easy lunch every day. If you are grilling some chicken in the over, throw the veggies in there too and cook them all at once. Place a steamer over a pot of boiling eggs and cook your veg at the same time as the eggs. If you’re making a salad, cut up extra veggies to snack on during the week.
  • Prepare healthy snack foods. Again, this totally depends on your body and how you eat, but if you do have a fiery digestion and need to eat every 3 hours, you’ll need some healthy snacks. Prepare some fruits, berries, nuts, eggs or whatever your snack is, to grab and go.
  • Drinking lemon juice, ginger and water first thing in the morning is good for digestion and kickstarting your metabolism. Grate some ginger and squeeze lemon into ice trays and freeze them. Every morning, pop a cube out and put it into hot water and drink. This will save you for prepping this every morning.
  • Smoothie ingredients can also be frozen. Berries, banana and other fruits can be put into small containers and frozen together. When making a smoothie, just grab a bag, blend it and there is breakfast!

These are my personal tips that I’ve learnt on my journey. I’ve been doing meal prep on a Sunday for a while now and it really works with my structured nature! I do understand that this doesn’t work for everyone, and can be super overwhelming if you aren’t a planning type of person. At the end of the day, just do the best that you can to make healthier choices. Be mindful of excuses that pop up in your head, and always stay strong in your willpower.

Take care!

Lots of light and love xx

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Ayurveda and Optimal Eating

In Ayurveda, health is described as the flow of nature through our bodies. When the body is working optimally, the flow is strong and the body is working with ease. In this state, there are no blockages in the systems, and digestion of food, fluids and sensory experiences is smooth.

We have to pay attention to our bodies at all times. The environment and nature around us has a huge influence on our mind and body. Any excess of food or fluids will lead to an imbalance, as well as any excessive exercise or sleep. We have to keep the balance within our body.

This is why paying attention to the season, and what we eat in the seasons, is so important. The seasons are defined by different characteristics, and we need to be balancing our nutrition with these characteristics.

Summer

Summer is defined by the constitution of Pitta, and the characteristics are hot, light, sharp and intense. We therefore need to bring in the opposite characteristics with our foods, such as cool, heavy, bland food. Excessive use of spices will lead to an imbalance as summer is already hot.

Mother nature provides us with all the balance that we need with the summer fruits and veggies. Watermelon, fennel, grapes, cucumber, leafy green vegetables, and mint are all in season and very cooling foods. We are looking for sweet, bitter and astringent tastes, so summer salads are great at this time of year.

Autumn

Autumn is defined by the Vatta dosha, and is characterized by the qualities of cold, dry and rough. We need to counter these qualities with tastes that are sweet, sour and salty. Salt increases the water in our bodies, which is important for this dry season.

During autumn, the vegetables in season are root veggies such as beets, carrots, potatoes – these all allow us to feel grounded. Warm, moist and heavy foods are imoprtnant, so you want to be cooking soups and stews. A good supply of healthy fats from nuts and nut butters is also important. Avoid salads in this season as this only aggravated the rough quality of autumn and will cause an imbalance in our bodies.

Spring

This is the Kapha season, defined by moist and heavy qualities as we come out of winter. There is a slowness and sluggishness as the world is drying and we are emerging from the cold months. With the heaviness, we want to avoid more heavy and moist food. Rather opt for hot, dry and light foods that are less oily – so baked and broiled foods.

Foods that have more spices will spark the digestive system and spices like cardamom, turmeric and cloves are all good. Limit sweet and sour tastes, and avoid salt as this will lead to retaining moisture. Herbal teas are important at this time of the year and drinking lemon with ginger in the mornings will kickstart your digestive system. Cinnamon is a great spice as it is warming, it balances blood sugar and reduces the craving for sweet, sugary foods.

I absolutely love the Ayurvedic approach to nutrition. It is simple and straightforward, and so in line with our natural being. When we start eating according to what allows our body to flow, it becomes a lot easier to maintain healthy habits.

Have a great day.

Lots of light and love xx

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The most important ability to develop

“Train your will to be stronger than the opportunity”

Hi everybody!

Today I want to talk about the above quote which is one of my all-time favourites. It is even stuck to my bathroom mirror. I heard this quote during a podcast and I am ashamed that I’m not actually sure who said it.

In the first part of the quote, the “will” refers to our willpower. Willpower is not just inherited in your genes where you have a set amount of perseverance and then you opt out. No – willpower is built. You have to develop it to be strong by resisting short-term temptations. Willpower is intricately linked with our habits, and we stay on course for our goals by remaining steadfast with our willpower. It is the ability to delay gratification in order to achieve long term success. 

When we have a habit that we want to break, we have to rewire our brain pathways. By saying “no” to what we crave, we are resetting the mindsets that we automatically default to. For example, if you crave dessert after dinner, it is because you have continually reinforced the idea that this is the natural order. As you continue to act in a certain way, the pathways in your brain are cemented and it becomes easy to walk that path automatically. After dinner = dessert.

The way to break this craving is to, through strong willpower, start by saying “no” once. The brain will be confused, because this has always been the natural process. However, the more that you say no to acting this way, the more the new foundations of behavior are laid. Saying no to our habits becomes easier and easier. This is why the quote speaks about training your willpower. It is not an easy task – it takes a lot of determination and strength.

The second part of the quote speaks about the opportunity. This is any opportunity that may come up causing you to be less than what your highest dreams require of you. This is the opportunity to stay in bed rather then get up and go for a run. The opportunity of having an ice-cream rather than a fruit. There is always the opportunity to scroll through social media rather than do that last bit of work on a Friday afternoon. Opportunities to flake out on your goals go hand-in-hand with excuses. The opportunity to have that coke instead of water was acceptable “because I need extra energy today”. It’s simply just not good enough if you want to crush your goals and dreams.

So, train your will to eat well to be stronger than the opportunity to eat that packet of biscuits.

Train your will to exercise hard to be stronger than the opportunity to only cycle 2kms when you know you were aiming for 5kms.

Make your will strong enough that saying “no” to being lazy is easy, and getting up off the couch to go play soccer with your son is just simply what you do.

Opportunities and excuses are everywhere. Strong, resilient willpowers are rare. You have to make the decision to train your willpower like a muscle – the stronger it is, the easier it is to push even harder. Choose to be stronger than the opportunity.

Have a great day.

Lots of light and love xx

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A simple health boost

Hi everybody!

A huge part of optimizing our health is dependent on the amount of water we drink every day. Studies show that just a 5% drop in our body’s fluid level can result in a 25-35% drop in our energy. Hydration levels affect our mood and ability to focus, and dehydration is the number one leading cause of headaches.

The image below is a start to understanding how much water our body needs in a day. We also need to remember to factor in the amount of exercise that we do. If you are exercising a lot or your job requires more physical activity, you will need to up your water intake even more. Caffeine will also dehydrate you slightly, so try to match a cup of a caffeinated drink with the equal amount of water.

Personally, I don’t have a problem drinking water when the weather is warm outside. I must say that I REALLY struggle during the winter months! When it’s chilly outside, there is nothing less appealing then a cold bottle of water. So how can we combat this and up our water intake? I’ve put together a list of my favourite ways to get in enough H2O:

  • I have a bottle that holds 1 litre of water. This is an easy way for me to keep track of my water intake, as I usually just drink two of these during the day.
  • Add a cup or two of water into smoothies.
  • Drink tea that is naturally decaffeinated such as Rooibos tea – the warm water is much easier when its cold outside.
  • Add lemon, cucumber, strawberries – whatever you want!- to your water. Not only does this add anti-oxidant benefits, it also makes the water taste better.
  • Use an app on your phone to help you track your water intake. I have used the FitBit app in the past to track my water. If yu are using a small bottle or a cup, you can use rubber bands to track your water. If you are going to have 4 bottles of water, put 4 rubber bands on the bottle. Remove each band as you finish drinking the bottle.
  • Keep water in sight – this will remind you to keep sipping throughout the day.
  • Divide your water up throughout the day – for example, drink 500ml before 10am, then another 500ml before 12pm etc.

I’d love to hear other ideas of how readers track and maintain their water intake. Comment and let me know!

Have a great, hydrated day!

Lots of light and love xx

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The path to achieving your goals

Hi everybody!

In a few of my blog posts I have been speaking about setting goals – the right way to set goals and the way to shift our mindset and intentions. Our goals should be intricately liked to our values and our vision for our life. Setting goals make us feel empowered, especially if they are aligned with our life purpose. However, for many people, their good intentions end after the goals are written down. Life gets busy and excuses are made to not follow through on our goals.

The next step after defining our goals is the hard part. It requires us to change which is why most of us don’t achieve the goals. In my blog post, Choose Intentions (https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/crystalimmersion.wordpress.com/63) I speak about the aversion to becoming a changed person, either due to other’s perceptions of us or because of our own.

To achieve our goals we need to become accountable to someone. Whether we want to eat in a way that allows us to feel healthy and well, or whether we want to read for 20 minutes a day, or even if we want to start running every week, the best way to do this is to tell someone that this is our goal. Even better would be to also tell them the reason and intention as to why you are making this change.

By sharing your goals, you help the other person to see your perspective and your good intentions. If they begin to tell you why they don’t think you should pursue a goal that you know is healthy for you – rather stop talking to them about it. They are clearly not the right person who will support and keep you accountable (I’m not saying cut them out or end the relationship, I’m simply suggesting that this is not the type of relationship to depend on for goal-related advice). Sometimes people may feel threatened by our need to become better or change, and would rather encourage you to stay who you are – you need to see through these thought patterns and protect your dreams.

When we tell the right people our goals and intentions, we will be inspired by the way they eyes light up and their enthusiasm for our ideas. Knowing that another person is in your corner and believes as strongly as you do that this is the right path for you will further your persistence and provide encouragement during trying times. Persuing goals is not easy – it requires strength and willpower, and to keep trying alone is very hard. In the times where we feel that we are weak, it is great to be able to send a quick message to those that hold you accountable. They can provide encouragement and remind you about why you started this journey in the first place.

Telling others your goals may also provide you with someone to do it with you. Someone who may be wanting to do more running may just need that spark of inspiration from you and then join in! We also don’t know what experiences other’s have to offer – perhaps if someone has set similar goals they may have tips to make your journey a bit easier. Again, be cautious about what others say about your dreams, and use discretion when assimilating other’s thoughts into your own.

Good luck in finding those who will provide you with the light and love you need.

Take care xx

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A simple mindfulness trick

Hi Everybody!

Mindfulness is a strange topic to talk about every Monday. It would seem that perhaps some inspiration or goal setting advice would be more relevant right? However, I feel that it is the most important day to remember mindfulness. Monday is the start– the day that sets the tone for the rest of the week. If we can find mindfulness and a space to remain grateful and present on a day as manic as Monday, then we are on our way to mastering our erratic minds.

Today I want to talk about a simple but effective way to remain mindful and present. It is a Ayurvedic practice, and it involves feeling your pulse at intervals during the day. The heart is so closely linked to our emotions, and while we experience the interpretation of emotions in our minds and thoughts, it is in our bodies that the physical response and sensation is felt. By doing this several times in the day, we are aware of checking in with our body. Our heart rate may be elevated – this will give you an indication that perhaps the walk from the car park to the office was hurried and your body is responding, perhaps your heart rate is beating rapidly in a meeting indicating your stress level, or perhaps your heart beat is calm and steady when you are content and lying on the couch at the end of the day. By noticing our bodies we become aware of dull pains, hunger, anxiety. We also become aware of the effect of certain foods on our bodies. A high carb meal may taste great, but for your body it may not be right and you will feel this through a racing heart 20 minutes after the meal.

To feel your pulse, you simply need to find the pulse point on your wrist. With your palm facing up, wrap the opposite hand around the back on the wrist so that the first three fingers are on the pulse point. Remember, you are not trying to change your pulse – the speed of the pulse will allow you to become aware of what your body is feeling. You are also not trying to count your pulse and this activity cannot be bypassed by looking at your heartrate count on your fitness device! It is a way of connecting and feeling your body, and worthwhile to start practicing in a genuine way.

Have a great week. Lots of light and love x

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Set achievable goals

Hi everybody!

Sunday is a great day to look forward to the week and to set some awesome goals for ourselves that we know we can crush. Today I want to speak about turning our “outcome goals” into “behavior goals”.

When we speak about goals, we often start by defining the outcome. We say we want to lose 10 kilograms, or that we want to be able to run 5 kilometers. These are the results at the end of the process. There is nothing wrong with knowing what you want (and important to know why you want it), but you cannot just stop there.

The problem with “outcome goals” is that you can’t control outcomes: your job will get crazy, your children will get sick, the weather will be so cold that your salad dreams are simply not an option. However, you can control your response to these things and what you do. This is where the importance of “behavior goals” comes in – it is a commitment to a practice and to be as consistent as possible.

If your outcome goal is that you want a flat stomach, your behavior goal may possibly be to “begin eating meals slowly and mindfully”. This behavior will have a snowball effect, as it will have an impact on your awareness around food choices and knowing when you are full. This approach will help someone turn a goal to achieve a flat stomach (uncontrollable) into a beahviour goal of eating slowly and mindfully (controllable).

Start by defining the outcome you want to achieve. Write down a behavior or two that will help you to achieve that outcome. Then practice that behavior today, and tomorrow, and the next day.

Let’s look at some outcome goals turned into behavior goals:

Outcome: I want to go to gym at 5am every morning

Behaviour: I pack my bag in the evening for gym the next morning, and I go to bed at a set time every night.

Outcome: I want to run 5 kilometers

Behaviour: I will run 3 times a week, and I will follow a program that will build up running strength 3 times a week

Outcome:I will spend more time with my children

Behaviour: I will leave the office at 5pm sharp every day, and we will sit at the dinner table and talk every night

With this approach to goal setting there is a commitment to behave in a new way regardless of circumstance. If your job gets crazy, then maybe running 3 times in the week is not possible – however, when works calms down again, then the behavior can resume. It is important to also note where you make excuses for not following through on behavior. Write down the obstacles that may block your desired behavior, and write down two solutions for every obstacle. This way you will not be caught off guard when life gets in the way.

Outcome goal: Lose 10 kilograms

Behaviour goal: Only eat food that makes me feel healthy and well

Possible obstacle: When I get home from work I want to snack on sugary treats

Solutions to obstacle: Do not keep unhealthy food in my home, and eat a lunch that will keep me fuller for longer

I find that this way of setting goals is super effective. It is intense, yes, but we must be relentless in the persuit of our dreams if we want to make an impact!

Next week on Set for Success Sunday, we will chat about “avoid goals” vs “approach goals”.

Have a brilliant week. Set some goals and crush all of them. Lots of light and love xx

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How to Optimise your Morning

Hi everybody!

One of my favourite writers and productivity coaches is Craig Ballantyne, owner of and writer for the Early to Rise website (https://www.earlytorise.com/). He speaks a lot about creating a morning routine to maximise productivity and to set your intentions for the day.

Craig write about how your morning is your magic time, and by rising early and tackling your day you will:

  • Get ahead of everyone else who is still snoozing
  • Take action on what your number 1 priority is
  • Start the day feeling empowered and victorious – leaving you confident to tackle everything else in the day.

In the morning there are fewer distractions, fewer temptations and you will have greater clarity and energy. There are two types of people: Those are reactive and have to FIND time for the tasks they need to do, and those who are proactive and MAKE time to succeed in what they do.

By waking up just 15 minutes earlier than your usual time you will have time to prepare your body and mind for the day.

So what should you be doing when you wake up earlier? Well, this will entirely depend on you and your lifestyle; however, I have looked into a few very successful people and there tends to be common threads in their morning routines:

  • They drink water first thing in the morning – after 7 or 8 hours of sleep, your body is dehydrated and water will get the digestion system ready for the day.
  • They learn – this time in the morning is great for listening to podcasts or reading a few pages of a book.
  • They stretch or exercise – this will get the metabolism fired up and reinforce your wakefulness in terms of your circadian rhythm.
  • They write in a gratitude journal – what a great way to begin a day in a grateful attitude.
  • They meditate – meditation has incredible benefits for mindfulness and focus.

The first step is to define what your number 1 priority is, and to define the steps that will lead you to your goal. This will help you to decide what you need to do first thing in the morning.

I recently experienced an injury that affected my training, and my number 1 priority at the moment is to fix my body. I wake up, drink water, and then stretch and foam roll for my body. I then meditate to get my mind into a space of focus and gratitude. I then tackle some exercise like yoga or my weight training!

Good luck setting up your morning routine. Check out the links below for more inspiration.

Lots of light and love xx

Craig Ballantyne’s book “The Perfect Day Formula”  (https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Day-Formula-Control-Your/dp/1619613557)

The Model Health Show podcast – https://themodelhealthshow.com/morning-routines

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How to work through Dis-ease

Hi everyone!

I was recently listening to a podcast – Elements of Ayurveda (https://www.elementshealingandwellbeing.com/podcast) – which has steadily become one of my favourites. In this podcast Colette was speaking about the idea that when your body is aligned and in balance, it works with ease. However, when there is an imbalance in your body, you are then in a state of dis-ease. The simple differentiation in emphasis on the word “disease” has really changed my though patterns surrounding illness!

In Ayurveda, when your body is in a state of dis-ease, there is an implication that there is a blockage somewhere. Whether this is experienced as problems with the sinus or an excess of mucus, or as constipation or digestive issues – this is all an indication that the body is out of balance in some area. The body is then not working or flowing with ease.

The general response is to then take medication or to treat the symptoms of the problem. Unfortunately, most of the time we do not consider what the cause of the dis-ease is and where the imbalance in our life is. It is imperative to look at the state of our relationships with others to make sure they are healthy. We also need to look at the food we are eating. Is the food in balance with the current season? Remember that mother nature grows vegetables in certain seasons because that is what we are supposed to be eating in said season. If it is hot, perhaps avoid hot food and vice versa. To avoid imbalance you also need to ensure you are getting the correct amount of exercise – too much or too little will also cause your body to be out of balance. Exercising in the hot sun or freezing cold may also cause your body to be in a state of dis-ease.

Too much or too little of any aspect of our life will lead to an imbalance – work, sunshine, water! If you are looking to recover from dis-ease, and not just the apparent symptoms, then you will need to take a look at the elements of your life to see patterns of imbalance.

Take care of yourself and stay in balance.

Lots of light and love (in the right amounts haha!) xx

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The Benefits of Simply Walking

Hi everybody!

I’m not sure about you, but I’m a little bit obsessed with my fitness device. My watch is on me at all times, and on the rare occasion where I forget to wear it I feel pretty lost – not knowing how many steps I’ve walked and God forbid, not knowing my heart rate at any given time (I joke.).

Despite our reliance on these new forms of technology, they are very effective to up our fitness game in terms of knowing how hard we’ve worked each day. We can track, for example, how fast we are running in comparison to previous weeks, or track how are heart rate lowers during intensive exercise over a couple of months as we get fitter – all very useful on our fitness journey.

Girl walking in country road in the autumn fog

There is a general tendency to believe that 10000 steps a day is a very healthy goal; however, I strongly caution against this way of thinking. As with all components of health, the amount of steps you need to take in a day to maintain fitness depends on your unique lifestye. If you are swimming 4 kilometers in the morning, it would be absurd to then also push for 10000 steps in a day. The same goes for if you have done an intense HIIT workout and have pushed really hard – no need to then be concerned with walking another 5 kilometers! Studies show that people who have upped their steps to roughly 7000 steps in a day have shown many health benefits, and there is no real logical research as to why 10000 steps is the magical number.

I am definitely not saying that walking is not an important exercise – there have been studies that show that walking for just 30 minutes can have the following benefits:

  • Increases energy – remember, you generate the energy or “prana” in your body when you are breathing deeply and oxygenating your blood.
  • Strengthens muscles – your legs and core, specifically.
  • Burns body fat
  • Elevates mood and reduces stress
  • Improves alertness – again, by deepening your breaths you are creating more energy
  • Promotes good digestion.

So what can you do today to get a little bit of extra walking in? Maybe park your car a bit further from the entrance. Join a social walking group in your area. Take a stroll in a park over the weekend. Walking in the sunshine is even more beneficial for mood, vitamin D and for stabilising your circadian rhythm if done regularly.  

Take care of yourself and enjoy your journey. Do what you can and make sure to listen to your body. 10000 steps may be manageable for some, or may be too much or too little for others – this is all okay.

Lots of light and love xx

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Seven Sneaky Veg Ideas

Hi everyone!

We all know the amazing benefits of veggies in our diet, but it can sometimes be hard to get the amount that we need every day. These are some of my favourite ways of adding in veg to my day:

1. Veggie dippers – I love having strips of carrots or bell peppers with hummus or guacamole (I just mash up avo. I don’t know how else to make guacamole…).

2. Smoothies – this is a great way to get a lot of veggies in. I love a simple spinach, almond milk, whey protein and chia seed smoothie in the morning. Remember to blend the spinach first (baby spinach is best) with the almond milk to make sure it’s nice and fine.

3. Veggie soup – Minestrone, butternut, tomato – Yum!

4. Salads – this leaves you with tons of opportunity to add veg into the day. This picture is great to get some ideas on awesome salads.

5. Omelette or scrambled eggs – I usually add a bunch of spinach, bell peppers or zucchini to my eggs.

6. Cabbage wraps – throw some chicken or hake inside a cabbage leaf and wrap it up. I also add a teaspoon or two of sweet chilli sauce to this meal as well.

7. Zucchini noodles – my spiraliser is not the best in the world but it’s sometimes a fun way to add more veg in. I use these noodles with mince that I also add spinach and tomatoes to.

I swear I do not just live on spinach, although this article seems to indicate that (haha!).

So have fun – experiment with what you do and don’t like. I’m not a fan of cauli-rice but that is also a great way to substitute some more vegetables in. Whatever you do, find what works for YOU, because if you do not enjoy it then it is just simply not sustainable in the long run.

Lots of light and love xx

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Intention and Action

Hi Everyone!

This has to be one of my all-time favourite quotes. I discovered it last year when I did a mindfulness course with Intention Inspired (https://intentioninspired.com)and it spoke to me deeply.

The essence of this quote is that when your intentions are pure – when you set out what you want to achieve with a heart that genuinely wants these things for good reason – going through with the actions to realise them is effortless. If you set unrealistic goals with half of your heart, you simply will not achieve them. They will not align with what you genuinely want for yourself and you will find the steps are just too hard. However, if you want something and you know why you want it – your intention to achieve it is pure – you will find it a lot easier to follow the path to success.

Let’s say, for example, you see a picture of a model on the front of a magazine and you think “Hmm, I’d like my body to look like that. Starting tomorrow I will not eat sugar.”. This intention is not pure. Your reasons for achieving such a goal are not clearly defined which is a key factor in maintaining your resolve when your willpower is low. However, setting a goal such as “I will cut out sugar because it makes me feel weak and unwell” shows that your intention is well-defined and has strong meaning to you. While this goal is not “effortless” per say, it will be a lot easier to avoid sugar knowing that it is with the intent to feel strong and well, rather than to look like someone on the front of a magazine.

Setting goals with pure intentions depends heavily on what your values are. Defining your values is a task that requires a deep dive, and we’ll chat more about that topic next week on Intentional Tuesday!

Have a great day. Lots of light and love xx

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The importance of pausing

Mondays can often hit hard and leave us feeling slightly overwhelmed. There always seems to be a lot going on, people are in their own heads trying to crush their goal list, and we end the day feeling like we haven’t been grounded or settled.

This feeling is disconcerting, and to take an Ayurvedic perspective, it often means that we have not taken time to digest the experiences of the day. When we hop from one task to the next, one meeting to the next, we become overwhelmed and may possibly experience some anxiety.

The way to balance this feeling of overwhelm is to pause every now and then and take a few moments to process the immediate sensory experiences in your surroundings. What can you see? What are you eating and what are the tastes you can experience? Stop and listen for a second to the noises around you.

This task in itself seems far too inconsequential for a day like Monday, but the benefits of a few minutes of mindfulness can have a huge impact on mood and warding off burnout. We can set small reminders for ourselves to remember to pause – for example, if you hear an airplane flying overhead, that is your reminder to pause. When you stand and boil the kettle for coffee – pause. Set a reminder for a couple of times a day. Whatever works to remind yourself to stop for a few moments and check in with how your body is feeling.

Have a great start to the week.

Lots of light and love xx

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Set for Success Sunday

Hi everyone!

Yesterday I attended a Qigong training course and was delighted to learn this form of mindfulness training. I loved the aspect of standing meditation, as well as the slow, steady, strengthening movements. Qigong is also incredibly spiritual, similar to yoga, and many of the movements involve acknowledging nature and the larger, all-encompassing Being that guides us (whatever that may mean to the individual involved). Very interesting and captivating!

The most powerful aspect of this course for me was the emphasis on the solstice that occurred on the 21st of June. The solstice in the southern hemisphere (Winter) symbolises that we now will experience more light, in small increments, every day for the next six months.

Let’s really think about that.

This means a few seconds – a few moments – more of sunshine in your day. Light is so empowering and it is so much easier to get up and get going when you open the curtains to sunshine!

Light, for me personally, also means hope. For me to know that every day for the next six months there will be more light gradually each day – a little bit more hope and warmth in each day!

So let’s ponder today:

What are you going to do with your moments of sunshine?

What is coming in the next six months that you can look at and say “each day there is going to be a little bit more light”?

What has occurred in the last six months as it has gradually become darker and darker (that you can now be grateful for the experience of) but is now over?

We are all on our own journey of growth and change. It is so powerful to reflect on the past 6 months and visualise what will occur in the next 6. It is powerful to acknowledge nature and what is occurring around us in the larger universe.

I hope you can crush all of your goals this week, and I hope you can all experience a little bit more light.

Lots of love and sunshine Xx

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Flourish Friday

Hi everyone!

Have you got that “Friday feeling” yet? It is amazing how our mindset can change on a Friday – no matter if it’s a tough day, “at least it’s Friday”!
However, this Friday feeling can kind of creep into our healthy mindset and we become quite relaxed about what we eat on the weekend (“because it’s the weekend” right?). We eat a little too much and drink too little water, which will leave us feeling very out of balance by the time Monday rolls around.


Balance, routine and consistency is key to staying healthy and well, and because of this, it’s super important to try maintain 80% of your regular routine over weekends. Stick to drinking your usual amount of water, make healthier choices wherever it is possible to and don’t use the weekend as an excuse to overindulge. Remember, we eat what we eat in order to feel energetic and well.


Another thing to think about is how we can add some fun and sociable fitness into our weekends. Instead of going to the bar on Friday evening and compromising your Saturday morning, why not organise to go for a run with a friend and then grab a coffee afterwards? Or join a yoga class in the area and meet some new people? Embracing the fitness lifestyle can lead to new relationships and connections – and ones that are build on a healthy foundation!


Wellness is often about compromise, and choosing an option that will be more beneficial to longevity and vitality may be tough. We are all on different journeys and we have to consider long-term visions and goals, and decide to take the path that will lead us to them. The good news: it becomes easier to choose the healthy route the more you do it. Wire those neurons to know we choose wellness over and over, and once you are feeling the benefits there will be no turning back!

Have a great weekend and be well! Xx

Important Supplements On A Vegan Diet

Veganism involves a way of eating where no animals products are consumed. This means no meat, no dairy products and no fish. While plant-based diets have many benefits, we have to ensure we are getting all the nutrients our body needs.

Supplements

There are a few nutrients we need to be careful of when it comes to a vegan diet. First and foremost we should always use food to get the nutrients we need. Supplements are great, but they should be just that – supplementary to the food we eat.

Protein – there are a few great powders made from peas and hemp seeds. Other types of seeds can also be great for protein such as tree nuts, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds. Chia seeds are also great as they contain omega 3 fats.
Iron – this is a challenging nutrient as iron is harder to absorb when it comes from plants. We therefore need to add vitamin C to increase the absorption. Food like broccoli and bok choy is great because it contains both iron and vitamin C. Iron is essential for carrying oxygen to the blood.
Vitamin B12 – this can also be a challenging nutrient for vegans as it is found mainly in animal products. Nutritional yeast is a great solution as it is often fortified with B12. It is an alternative to Parmesan cheese and can be added to soups and salads.
Vitamin D – this can be absorbed from sunlight for vegans. Mushrooms are also a great option for this vitamin.

These nutrients are not only essential to vegan diets, but should be a big part of every diet. Make sure you are always eating a variety of different foods with a lot of sources of vitamins and minerals.

Have a great day.
Lots of light and love xx