Spring is here! It’s time to prepare for summer.
Our house is surrounded by ants nests. We don’t mind the little blithers, but we don’t want them in our home either.
Last year we did lots of research on natural and essential oil recipes. Some worked better than others. There are three to that were outstanding to manage our neighbours the ants: ant powder to spread as a barrier to the front garden, and a couple of sprays for inside habitable areas. One is ready made, which is great, but not as much fun obviously since the whole point was to have a “useful activity”.
For all discounts on essential oils things, click here (external site redirect, register for free to access discounts).
Ant 🐜 powder
1kg cinnamon powder
500ml Epsom salts
200g talcum powder
50drops YL* peppermint essential oil
*these are pure and non-toxic (most essential oils are not suitable for skin application or let alone ingestion, therefore not recommended around children and animals). They also take very little to be effective. Other brands will differ.
Wear gloves or use a spoon.
Blend the powders, add the essential oils, mix some more.
Spread in the desired areas.
We made a physical barrier in our border (it was the kids’ project) and it worked well.
Ant 🐜 spray
Young Living’s Thieves mix and house cleaner (go to products, search “Thieves”) work wonders, but they’re not as much fun, especially when we want to have a “useful activity”.
Homemade ant spray
In a glass spray bottle (essential oils will degrade most plastics), add and shake:
1/4 cup purified water or boiled water, salted
1/4 cup vodka to suspend the oil in water
15d peppermint essential oil
15d tea tree oil EO
7d of citrus (orange, lemon, grapefruit etc…) EO
3d cinnamon EO
Spray where needed.
For all discounts on essential oils things, click here (external site redirect, register for free to access discounts).
They’ve been back to school for a few weeks. You’ve sorted the clothes, the stationary, the schedules are filled with activities, you’re back in the meal prep routine and if you’re on of our health tribe you’ve even sussed the optimised them with their Body Rox.
The dreaded head lice are about to make their come back. Both my boys had three bugs crawling in their hair this time last year. There was no way I was going the chemical route.
There are various shampoos and treatments on the market, personally I endeavour to avoid all unnecessary chemicals when I can.
When affected, it’s good to give the hair a rinse with a vinegar, white wine vinegar or ACV are best in my opinion.
A serum that works well is:
- 3 parts tea tree oil
- 1 part lavender
- 1 part peppermint
- 1 part rosemary
For a 5ml bottle 1 part = 10 drops.
Top with olive/almond/defragmented coconut oil for the first pass. (Change to witch hazel after the head is clear)
Rub on the hair and scalp.
The nit comb (#NittyGritty) pictured here is absolutely amazing on fine hair. Well worth the money.
In my experience we get an all clear within 48hrs. l keep monitoring with the nitty gritty and rub precautionary witch hazel based potion for a couple of weeks as incubation time is given as 10 days.
Are you one of these people who is afraid to make the changes to optimise your health because let’s face it, some foods are just so symbolic of indulgence and awake the senses like nothing else? Then read on, because I might just have something for you…
One of most frequent questions I’m being asked since first going gluten free years ago is a variation of “Don’t you miss <insert person’s favourite unhealthy food seen as a treat here>?”
Well no, of course not, I don’t miss feeling bloated, the head fog, and love the abundance of energy! Putting aside that yoga teaches moderation and control, and that’s something I can work on in my practice, let’s be real, I enjoy yummy food as much as the next person. My take on the situation is to seek and create ways to make naughty dishes actually good for you.
In this post, I introduce my all time favourite: pancakes!
These pancakes are nutritionally balanced, full of goodness and yummylicious.
2 scoops USANA MySmart whey protein
2 scoops wheat grass (I used BulkPowder here, but as long as it’s pure, any brand will do)
1 tsp raw cacao powder
1 cup water (approx, I went for consistency rather than measure, and that will depend on the size of your egg and the ripeness of your banana)
Mix, cook over a medium heat, try to resist the urge of eating them as you go so you can stack them.
It makes 4-6 small pancakes, I normally have them with a sliver of almond butter, and cashew works well too.
2 scoops USANA MySmart plant protein
4 blocks of frozen spinach or broccoli, smoothied
1 cup water
1 tsp raw cacao powder
2 tsp wheatgrass/spirulina/super greens/macha etc depending on your nutritional objectives
Blitz your spinach or broccoli with water.
Mix your protein and egg, if you take up the options as them in now, finally add in the smoothie.
Cook over a medium heat, note that because of using frozen veg, it’ll take longer to cook.
They splat if taken off too early!
Enjoy with a nut butter of your choice.
- These are a great way to hide the kids’ multivitamins and give them a super healthy breakfast without the fuss.
- Usana proteins powders are my go to because of their guaranteed commitment to purity and quality. Besides if it’s good for Olympians, NFL athletes, and premiership footballers, it’s great for a busy mum like me.
- Add in vanilla, cinnamon, ginger to experience different taste.
- For the veggie pancakes, plant protein is best.
- The egg is essential to bind the mix, so can’t go vegan on this one.
- One stack per person is plenty (it’s not because it’s healthy and nutritional that it’s a free pass for excess!)
… I am however very much an adept of optimal health.
This third post in my return to optimal health is about the power of words in relation to health. I have this friend who is a fellow gorgeous mama, who has put everyone else first for quite a while, and the extra weight that goes with it. It’s not much and she looks stunning, but like me she doesn’t recognise herself and wants to change that. Something she said triggered this post, language especially self talk plays a big part in our wellbeing.
See the first instalment of this blog series if you want to know why I’m on a return to optimal health journey. In short, I’ve had the wake up call and I’m more cuddly than is comfortable with, and I am taking action to get back to my normal.
There’s so much science research and evidence on the subject, so please take this as a generalised intro (note to self: set up a reference page for website). Let’s cover the meaning of health and a few key words before going onto the power of words in relation to health.
The power of words
A few years back I undertook a course in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I did it to learn to function better as a human, and because I love learning various subjects in an academic way. This topic is amazing for anyone who has anxiety and depression issues and is keen to take action in getting better; personally i have found its application the most useful in my role as a team leader and as a manager of people.
What CBT teaches you is that your thoughts and words influence your behaviour and vice-versa. (This is not a white paper on CBT, please google the term to find the links to the science behind it all). To simplify, how we frame our language frames how we feel and behave.
An example: picture someone cutting right in front of you as you’re going along your way. Your reaction may be:
1. Oh dear, they must be in a hurry, I hope they’re not rushing to a loved one’s last breath.
2. How dare they?! I’m minding my own business and they do this, to me?! (Insert chosen swear words, and have a field day)
How does that make you feel?
In the first case, you’re not even affected and you have sent compassion in the air (it’s all good karma, the world needs this, well done you). The second reaction, if you chose it, turns you in an instant victim, persecuted by complete strangers, and quite possibly snowballs in ruining your whole day. See what I’m getting at?
How does this relate to health then? The words we chose about ourselves impact greatly on how we define ourselves and behave. You know, the self talk in front of the mirror? The justification for “wine o’clock”? These words lead us different behavioural path depending on how empowered we feel or whether we’ve decided we’re a “lost cause” anyway.
How do words impact on all areas of health?
Looking at a few recurring ones on my Facebook wall…
“Losing weight” – this implies you’re going to lose it, and as it’s yours, and you’re not giving it away, well… it’s bound to come back. Whether you go and look for it again or for the less aware, it’ll come back out of “nowhere” (I’d suggest the biscuit tin or the wine bottle)
Make it worse by “trying to lose weight” – oh heck, the half hearted attempt at it, usually filled with guilt and deprivation. If successful in dropping a size, watch it fly back and body tackle you with gusto.
“Going on a diet” – sounds like the worst holiday ever. What does that mean anyway? Diet used to be defined (and still is when used as the technical term) by “the kind of food that an animal habitually eats”. It commonly implies restrictions and there’s a second definition “a course of food to which a person restricts themselves for a specific reason”.
Without paying attention to our language, we are very much at risk to sabotaging our best endeavour at improving our health. It’s essential to reframe, as much for body health than mental health.
Reframing for optimal health – these set out objectives and mindset.
“Functional body” – beauty is in the eyes of the beholder (and their points of reference) – by focusing on optimising the body for its functionality, the focus is more on nourishment (fuelling) than stocking up on food. Even with deeper issues than cosmetics, your body is your vehicle for life, whatever abilities it has, be grateful for it and honour it as such. Recognise what you can and can’t do with it. There are so many things that can be optimised to function better, if you so desire. To do this we aim for balance, we are honest as to what healthy looks like for us and what we want out of life. Some people are ok “plodding along” – they don’t mind the brain fog, be out of breath coming up the stairs-, some can only relax when their energy levels are right up there. It goes way beyond size and shape. More importantly it has to be realistic for the individual.
“Health and optimal health” – what does health look like, feel like? That’s such an interesting one, the spectrum of health. There’s being healthy, i.e. Being ok, within the “standard” guidelines, being able to function. Then there’s optimal health, like this lady in my network who climbed Mt Everest at 81, she’s 90 and a business woman, still active. Like being so healthy that your skin reflects it (in three weeks of returning to practicing what I’m preaching, people have been commenting on how beautiful my skin is. Someone asked if I had Botox!!! Hell no, my skin care is largely homemade, but that’s another story for another post)
Putting it simply, what is optimal for one person largely depends on how committed they are to their objectives. What I see as optimal health is the daily actions I take to prevent what is preventable and as a result, the absence of disease. Because I am tuned in with how my body functions when I am taking those actions (and what it looks like), it is easy for me to identify what I need doing and take action accordingly.
What you see as optimal health may very well vary greatly, what you decide to commit to will define how far you take it.
“Diet” objectively, this really is the way you eat daily, it does not involve restrictions of this, that or the other. It is not the latest fad. It’s a way of life, based on nutritional science and very much on what doesn’t cause inflammation in your body. This is why I run those health challenges, and since my nutritionist friend has set up her 28 day programme as an automated system, I recommend this and focus on supporting people through it. Learning a new way of life takes a whole community behind you.
“Health science” vs “Bro science” one is researched and evidence, the other one is unverified words of so called wisdom you read in the papers, hear at the gym and/or from the overweight colleague who has “tried it all, but nothing works” (she says as she has a biscuit and a latte)
My favourite resource for health science is the http://www.askthescientists.com website, where you can find the links to the papers and research that advance nutrition.
So, Sarah, what do you do if you don’t “go on a diet”?
I’m glad you ask!
First, I’m honest with myself and I ask the questions:
– has my husband boiled my jeans so they shrunk?! (No, he’s way too meticulous with the washing for that)
– have I been managing my stress?
– how often have I had the “1-2 glasses a week” this week?
– did I really not snack?! (Huh oh to the nut bar wrapper in my handbag)
Then I turn to those people whom I know support the healthy lifestyle I enjoy. Those who will provide encouragement, celebrate my successes with me. That community took some time to find and it’s proving an invaluable network of support and knowledge.
Finally I commit to respect my body, my health, my wellbeing, and I implement all I learned over the years.
I’ll write up about those good habits and the achievements of my first month’s results for the next post. In the meantime if you are looking for that supportive network, get in touch.
PS: when you work on optimal health, the weight/size regulates naturally.
You’ve got to love the media and all their false promises when it comes to health and fitness. All the fads, usually sponsored by a manufacturer or other. “Do this one thing”, “eat this one food/juice/smoothie”… seriously, if it’s too good to true, come on! If you haven’t got out of shape overnight, puffer fish style, how do you expect regaining your wellness instantly?
Broscience with its false promises gives a bad name to the fitness industry, the nutrition industry, and even to natural therapies. My personal pet peeve is the attention that some occasional writer, columnist or that dude down the gym get over real pro an other health nerds, just because they spoke louder. Argh… I diverse.
What about “quick fixes”, “superfoods”, and other “magic” potions? Is there not fast track to health?
Well… that depends what you mean by all these. It depends on what you want to believe. The choice is always yours to make. You can either go off yoyo dieting and/or jump from fad to fad, maybe lose a bit of weight for a while, give yourself the impression you’re “doing something” (good for mental health at least). Or you can make a lasting change. The former isn’t a healthy approach and it will eventually leave you miserable or to settle for less than you deserve.
There’s good news.
Picture 1: Google search on “lose we” brings up “lose weight fast”.
You have to reframe, quick doesn’t mean overnight.
There is a relatively quick fix, as in a most effective way to achieve lasting results. You may have to revise your timeline and expectations ratio, and take a dose of reality.
You have to reframe, quick doesn’t mean overnight. It involves being ready, decide and commit to your health, stop faffing with fads, get professional guidance and allow yourself to follow the plan!
The “quickest” fix for results that lasts is a journey of discovery, challenges and learning. It can be tough, particularly as you learn new habits, but the changes on you overall health are oh so worth it.
It takes three weeks to form a habit, and any sound health programme is based around that. It takes a couple of weeks for you to feel results, a month for you to see results and a bit more than that for others to notice. That’s what quick should mean.
Can you imagine a life in which you have the energy to keep up with young children, you are able to cope with whatever is thrown at you, you have such clear skin that you look 10 (or more) years younger, and unwanted weight just drops of you? Can you imagine what reaching that level of health would mean?
Close your eyes for a second and picture it. That’s what a sustainable health programme will bring you.
That’s why I’m all out for optimal health.
As I said in my previous post, I know what it takes to be healthy, I’ve studied various subjects that allows me to bring a holistic approach to my coaching, yet I somehow found myself in a state of less that desirable fitness. What went wrong? A few things. Essentially I stopped respecting myself with the daily tiny actions of self-care that make the difference between the “cuddly” body and the lean one.
The fastest way to return to health that I know, love and never stop sharing is my nutritionist friend Jess Dyer’s programme. Jess has invested an incredible amount of work in automating a framework for the health principles that I apply in my 1:1 coaching, with the added bonus of a virtual community. I’m an ambassador for this programme, and since last week I am starting again as a participant. Personally, my favourite thing (other than Jess’s recipes!) is the community. The support is phenomenal.
This post is for journaling my experience, not for promotion, however if you’d like to do what I’m doing, get in touch and I’ll give you special details.
Picture 2: I can’t wait to see these babies back
Two photos, two years apart.
These would be perfect if they were a before and after. They are, but the one on the left was taken two days ago during holidays. The one on the right was taken two years ago as I was trying on different dresses for a work do.
What’s in it?
An extra 10kg (not muscle!), 5% body-fat or so, 2-3 dress sizes, low grade hangovers, brain fog, lower aerobic performance and general fatigue.
Thank goodness my blood results are still in the ideal range. It could be worse 😱
So… what happened?
I gradually started to put on weight after the photo on the right. My lifestyle did not really change as such, which is interesting. It also goes to show it’s the little things that make the difference. Daily, almost insignificant choices. The compound effect of “little things”.
In my case, the difference can be summed up to:
– eating when I was not hungry
– increasing my portion sizes
– one or two glasses of wine, 3, sometimes 4 times a week
– sleep quality reduced
– taking too much on
My nutrition is clean, balanced and thought through in accordance with my needs. I’m the queen of life hacks when it comes to eat well for your body type and lifestyle, and my exercise routines are ace. Not only that, I have coached others in adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Jokingly I answer that “what happened” question with “hubby came home”. Not only that is not a fair statement, and it’s a poor excuse, but it also shows a lack of ownership and a lack of self respect.
It’s time to act to say the least.
What am I going to do about it?
Be responsible and aware of my actions/ non-actions.
Seek help and support where (fortunately I know) I can find it.
Be realistic that the journey back to optimal health will be hard, if not harder for the seasoned wellness pro I am than it would be for a newbie.
Treat myself as I would a coaching client, with the same kindness, care and respect and apply all I know.
It is my intention to blog my journey back to optimal health to inspire others who are “not that bad”, “just a bit cuddly”, “know what to do”, “have just a last few pounds”… but first and foremost to make myself accountable, and feel less alone through the journey to make it sustainable.
Watch this space and wish me luck.
So you’ve also caught wind of the hater’s use of USANA Scam. Let us help put the skepticism to rest, with our national and international recognition.
Digestive health matters
It’s not so much “you are what you eat”. It’s more of a case of “you are what you digest of what you eat”.
Whether you are recovering from an illness or you simply set out to be healthier, a priority is making sure that your metabolism and digestive system are going to process and absorb what you need. Reinstating the intestinal flora is key.
At FreeSpirit Wellness we swear by pharmaceutical grade supplementation. Our health assessment will indicate what tweaks you can make to your lifestyle, and our community will support your success with healthy living.
More info from the scientists from www.askthescientists.com
A little recipe for self care. Ideal for a week night in. Get your comfiest toe socks ready, wrap yourself in a fluffy robe and/or PJs, dim the lights, have a bottle of water or herbal tea at hand…
Homemade Detox Foot Bath Recipe
- 1 cup of Epsom salt
- 1 cup of sea salt
- 2 cups of baking soda
Blend and store in a glass jar. Add essential oils of your choice for maximum effect. My favourite mix at the moment is Young Living’s Valor II, lemongrass and frankincense. Those of you who are less adventurous may wish to stick with lavender, peppermint or lemon.
(Register here to qualify for discounts On therapeutic grade oils)
Prepare your foot soak of a bowl of hot water and a cup of apple cider vinegar
Take ¼ cup of salts mixture, and add to your foot bowl. Soak your feet for 30 minutes. Relax and enjoy.
Note: you will feel light headed and sleepy/chilled afterwards.
Dry your feet and pop those toe socks on!
For a more effective “detox” – understands to optimise your digestive and liver function, the best course of action remains pharmaceutical grade supplementation that is backed up by years of scientific research.
A good and affordable starting point for digestion is probiotics. The ones I use are these fantastic little guys:
(Preferred customers get 10% off RRP on the FreeSpirit Wellness Yogi shop here)
Try it. Let us know how you get on!
Writing from deep ends of my native France after pondering as to why french people live significantly longer than other populations. I was born in South Burgundy, the land of grass fed beef, goats, free roaming chicken, and of course fine wine. This is also a place where the art of gastronomy has been rooted in culture since the middle ages. With that comes the magical art of… Moderation!
This way of life gives you people who live well into their 90s. On that sunny and cold 9th May, I buried one of my grandmas. She was 93. She was also the one who taught me about fine food and nutrition, and portions (ok, she did go to a prestigious restaurant school, so that’s a head start on your average french person, but still).
As I was looking around at the attendance in church, I could see several of her neighbours, most of them in their 80s and beyond. These people, like my nan, live on their own, look after themselves, and believe you me when I tell you they know how to enjoy their food and drop(s) of wine!
This is a sight I’m accustomed to as a native. I wouldn’t even think about these healthy elderlies’ eating habits if I wasn’t an expat’. I live in the UK, and have done spells in the USA too, where obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and autoimmune conditions have reached epidemic levels. Not so much the case in France, or western continental Europe for that matter. So what is the difference?
Gastronomy and the respect of your environment make the difference.
Conscious, thought through, sustainable, respectful eating turned to an art form that is passed down from generation to generation. Meal times are non negotiable events, everyone participates in the preparation and anyone who dares not being at the table on time will be scolded (whether you’re 5 or 55). Food that nourishes your body, that pleases your palate, that is sourced locally (to the exception of special days such as a birthday) is made a priority, and the rest of the day is organised around these. Most people know where their meat comes from (as in what actual pasture it grew in), they know how to assort it, present it, and most importantly they know how to eat and digest it.
Catching up with my grandfather, also in his 90s, whom is unfortunately senile (a reknown sweet tooth, and had taken to drinking wine at every meal when he retired from his activities in his late 80s), he has fond memories of hunting game, which my grandmother would turn into terrines, pates, roasts, steaks, stews…
To this day, the simplest, everyday meals follow the same model of a three course meal, with a pause in between courses, such as:
- Lunch: a salad of green leaves, or raw vegetables (eg carrots, tomatoes, celeriac, button mushrooms) with a drizzle of dressing
- Dinner: often a soup, as an alternative to salad.
- Main: lean meat or fish with their side of vegetables
- Dessert: cheese or yogurt or fruit
As an aside… Grandmas will always try to force feed you, I believe that’s a universal fact of life! The French ones I know are ever so slightly more respectful and understanding of you admit that you’ve pigged out already.
That really is how we rock. Rich food and wine drinking is very much reserved for one or max two meals over the weekend. Days with a treat meal are followed by two or three days of eating lightly. This acceptable throughout, such that if you are invited, it is common courtesy to make your host aware you’re going to have a large meal the day before, so that they allow a lighter meal when you visit them.
Standard portions are very much based on not stretching your stomach. The old reference is that your stomach is the size of your fist. This translates in:
- Your starter salad being about the size of you fist
- Your piece of meat being similar size of the palm of your hand
- Your side vegs will be a handful’s worth
- Your cheese will be roughly like your thumb
The adage “you are what you eat” should really be “you are what you digest”. This is something else that gastronomy takes care of. The art of eating in France dictates that little pause between courses. Observing this pause allows for your food to reach your stomach and be digested without the strain of piling up other food straight away. As a result, you give your body a chance to recognise the feeling of fullness, and know when to stop eating.