Now what??

Are you a new Mummy? How good does it feel? You grew a mini human and brought them in to the world all by yourself – how amazing are you and your body?

I am betting that you spent the past 9 months (and likely a fair few months in the lead up) taking great care of yourself; giving your body what it needs, when it needs it and caring for that small being growing inside you.

So what happens now that lil’ bundle of joy is here?

The postpartum period is classed as the 6 weeks post childbirth. It is where you return to your physiological non-pregnant condition. This is the period where you require the upmost care.

And now that bub is here in person and is still the number 1 focus of your every waking moment, how do you maintain that level of care and nourishment for your own body?

Here is how:

Zinc: zinc is essential for the development and maintenance of immune function before and after birth, it speeds up healing and helps prevent postpartum depression. The recommended dose of zinc postpartum is 30mg per day.

Get more of it in you by munching on: meat, liver, eggs, seafood, legumes, wholegrain, miso, tofu, brewers yeast, mushrooms, green beans and pepitas.

Iron: iron might be necessary after birth to restore circulation and stored iron, preventing anemia due to blood loss during labor. The risk of acute postpartum haemorrhage is also decreased with optimal intake of iron. Intravenous iron has been found to be safe and efficient in restoring iron levels but is only used in extreme cases of deficiency and the recommended dose of iron postpartum is 25-80mg per day, depending on your individual levels.

Get more of it in you by munching on: liver, organ meats, red meat, poultry, fish, nuts, legumes, fruit, dried fruit, grains, tofu, molasses, green leafy veggies, beetroot, and egg yolks.

Vitamin E: – vitamin E can be depleted within 24 – 48 hours after delivery, even in none complicated births. When vitamin E is depleted it affects the ability of the body to heal and if this is the case the recommended dose to replenish is 400 IU per day.

Get more of it in you by munching on: cold pressed oils, nuts and seeds, spinach, kale, sweet potato, avocado, brown rice, egg yolks, liver, soya beans, asparagus, butter and milk.

Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) – EFA’s assist in reducing postpartum depression and aid in infant growth development. DHA (an EFA) is particularly important for infants and this is transferred through breast milk.

Get more of it in you by munching on: deep sea cold water fish i.e. salmon, cod and herring.

Remember, these are general guidelines and you should always consult your doctor to assess your own individual needs.

See more new mummy options, here.

Devilishly good

Many things contribute to us being the happiest, healthiest versions of ourselves. Moving and nourishing our bodies plays a huge part in this, as does enjoying our favourite luxuries in life. It can often seem these two things are in conflict. Let me prove to you that is far from true!

Turn some of your sinful, luxury indulgences in to saintly treats with my devilishly good tweaks…

Clever Chips ‘n’ dips

The moreish social snack can be extremely dangerous when it comes to your clean eating resolutions. Wow your social circle with my danger-free re-vamp.

Feeds: 2-4

Cooking Time: 8-12 hours

For the chips:

Veggie chips

Ingredients

  • 1 whole beetroot
  • 1 whole swede
  • Coconut oil spray
  • Pinch Himalayan rock salt

Method

  • Turn your oven on to its lowest possible heat setting, if you have a fan oven turn the fan on. You are aiming to dehydrate rather than cook the veggies.
  • Slice the beetroot and swede very thinly; this is done best with a mandolin.
  • Line a shallow oven dish with baking paper and spray to finely cover with the coconut oil. Lay the sliced vegetables on the baking paper without overlapping, sprinkle with the salt and place in the oven.
  • Leave for 8 – 12 hours; turning the chips occasionally (every 2 hours or so).
  • Remove from the oven and serve.

For the dip:

Spicy chilli and basil dip

Ingredients

  • 40g Pine nuts
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • Handful fresh basil
  • Pinch rock salt
  • ½ Red chilli chopped

Method

  • Add all of the ingredients to a food processor / blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with a basil leaf and serve along side the chips.

Top tip: Play around with the veggies you use. The above also works really well using pumpkin, parsnip and sweet potato.

chips n dips 1

Eggemplary McMuffin

Replace the fast food fail with this nourishing, tummy-pleasing winner.

Feeds: makes 1 muffin

Cooking time: 20 minutes

For the bun:

Ingredients

  • 1 Large eggplant
  • 1 Tsp olive or coconut oil

For the filling:

Ingredients

  • 1 Organic free-range egg
  • 50g Smoked salmon
  • ½ Avocado
  • 1 Large beefsteak tomato
  • 1 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, cut the eggplant in to two (2) 1 inch slices and heat the olive oil in a griddle pan on a medium heat. To poach the egg, add the eggplant slices to the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side, then place in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • While the eggplant is cooking through, prepare the remainder of the ingredients by slicing the avocado and tomato and bringing a pan of water to the boil. Add the apple cider vinegar to the boiling water and stir using big circular motions to make the water swirl, while the water is still swirling crack in the egg and cook to your liking (3-5 minutes for a runny egg).
  • Remove the eggplant from the oven, transfer to a plate and layer the egg, smoked salmon, avocado and a slice or 2 of tomato on one half of the eggplant, top with the second half and serve with a handful of rocket leaves.

Top tip: Experiment with different filling combos. This also makes a mean steak sandwich!

Eggplant 1

Perfectly packed Pizza

Taste buds are never disappointed with pizza. Unfortunately, the rest of our body often doesn’t benefit quite as much from traditional pizza ingredients. Try my nutrient packed version to please the whole body.

Feeds: 4

Cooking time: 50 minutes

For the base:

Ingredients

  • 350g Pumpkin
  • 100g Almond meal
  • 20g Coconut flour
  • 1 Egg
  • Pinch Himalayan rock salt
  • Olive oil

For the topping:

Ingredients

  • 8 Truss tomatoes
  • Handful fresh basil
  • 1 Small garlic clove finely chopped
  • Green capsicum
  • Anchovies
  • Eggplant
  • Kalamata olives
  • Rocket
  • Pinch black pepper and Himalayan rock salt

Method 

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • Place the truss tomatoes in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, remove and place to one side to cool.
  • Steam the pumpkin for 5-6 minutes until soft; allow to cool fully before transferring to a nut milk bag or cheesecloth and squeezing out the excess fluid.
  • Add the pumpkin along with the remainder of the base ingredients (except for the olive oil) to a blender / food processor and blend until a smooth.
  • Sprinkle a clean work surface with a little coconut flour / almond meal and roll the base mixture out to form a healthy dough.
  • Top a 91/2-inch baking tray with baking paper and brush with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Now add your dough mixture to the tray and spread out to make a circle around 1/2 an inch thick and place in the oven (still at 180 degrees) for 40 minutes, carefully turning the over half way through.
  • Add the cool tomatoes, garlic and basil to a blender / food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Chop the green capsicum, eggplant, anchovies and olives.
  • Once the base has cooked through, remove from oven and spread evenly with the tomato mixture, sprinkle on the additional toppings, season with the salt and pepper and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
  • Finish with a handful of rocket and serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Top tip: Get your creative juices flowing and pay around with toppings.

Pizza

Not so Daim bar

This was my absolute favourite chocolate bar as a child. But there is good reason the term ‘You Daim bar’ became a playground insult – it really isn’t a smart bar when it comes to your insides. Not willing to give up this nostalgic treat, I transformed the sugary baddie in to a tasty goodie.

Feeds: makes 4 Bars

Time: 12 hours

Ingredients

For the centre:

  • 3 Pitted dates
  • 65g Rice malt syrup
  • 10g Unhulled tahini
  • Pinch sea salt

For the chocolate:

Ingredients

  • 25ml Melted coconut oil
  • 20g Raw cacao powder
  • Coconut milk
  • ¼ Tsp Stevia

Method

  • Add the ingredients for the centre to a food processor and blend until well combined.
  • Lay a sheet of baking paper on a flat surface, spoon the blended mixture on to the paper and use a spatula to flatten and spread the mixture evenly, forming a thin, square layer.
  • Place a second sheet of baking paper over the top to sandwich the layer and place in the freezer for 4 hours.
  • 10 minutes before you are ready to remove the centre from freezer, mix the coconut oil, raw cacao and stevia until well combined and runny.
  • Remove the centre mixture from the freezer but DO NOT remove from the baking paper, using a pair of scissors cut into 4 bar shapes.
  • Stir a dash of coconut milk in to the chocolate mixture and one by one remove the baking paper from each bar to dip and coat in a generous layer of the chocolate. You need to work quickly here because the centre will melt quickly and the chocolate will set quickly.
  • Wrap each chocolate-coated centre in a single square of baking paper and place back in the freezer for a further 8+ hours.

Top tip: For a yummy dark chocolate option omit the coconut milk from the chocolate mixture.

Daim bar

Top Choc tops

The ultimate Australian movie snack no longer fits with the Australian clean eating way of life. My version is as clean as a whistle and super simple to make.

Serves 4

Time: 8 hours

Ingredients 

  • 400ml Can of coconut cream
  • 20 ml Melted coconut oil
  • 15g Raw cacao powder
  • 2g Stevia

Method

Mix the coconut oil, raw cacao and stevia together in a bowl until smooth and runny, add a teaspoon each of this mixture to 100ml ice-block moulds, top with the coconut milk and freeze for 8+ hours.

Top tip: For a double chocolate hit, mix a teaspoon of raw cacao in to the coconut milk too.

choc top 1

 

Survive the sugar blues

Have you decided to give the sugar the big heave ho?? If so, good on you! The no Sugar revolution is as popular as ever and for good reason. In 2015, the world health organisation changed guidelines to recommend adults and children limit their daily intake of sugar to no more than 6 – 9 teaspoons of sugar per day (there are around 4 grams of sugar per teaspoon).

Being sugar-free brings with it so many amazing benefits, but I am not going to sugar coat it (see what I did there)?? it can also be pretty tough some times.

That’s why this Easter rather than a sugar-laden egg I am giving the gift of my own experience.

My top 10 survival tips from my sans sugar journey:

  1. Tea, tea and more tea! After reading the IQS book, I replaced sweet treats with tea treats. Many teas have a sweet flavour and can be just enough to curb that sweet tooth. Drinking tea also gives you something to do with your hands and mouth, which is often all we need to keep us away from that sneaky sugary temptation. As an added benefit, herbal tea counts toward your daily water intake – its win, win! Experiment with flavours to keep your mind and mouth excited about something other than sugar.
  1. Put everything you learned about fat and calories to one side while you focus on giving the white stuff the boot. I grew up in a time when calories and fat were the enemy. I was always interested in the latest health and fitness craze and ironically this lead to me becoming a total sugar addict. This was because the majority of low calorie, low fat foods contain huge amounts of sugar. Sugar is used to replace the taste removed when the fat is removed. Go back to those delicious full fat versions to improve satiety and reduce sugar.
  1. Keep the end goal in sight. For me, giving up sugar was about reaching optimal health not the number on the scales. In fact I haven’t weighed myself in a very long time. The way I feel off sugar proves that whatever is happening on the inside is a good thing. We don’t need a set of scales to determine that.
  1. Crowd out. I found that coming off sugar left me with a bit of a ‘what now?’ feeling post dinner (I had always followed dinner with something sweet). When I started crowding out I found that I had more variety in my meals and eventually this crowding out technique lead to the feeling ‘what now?’ disappearing completely. Fill your plate with extra veggies, all the colours of the rainbow – have fun with your crowding!
  1. Coconut oil. I LOVE coconut oil for so many things. Being a beauty therapist and aromatherapist, I love to use it on skin and as a base oil when blending. I also love to use it in the kitchen. Because fat is super satiating and coconut oil has a naturally sweet flavour, a spoonful of the oil when that sweet craving hits is an instant way to curb it. Either add it to your tea or enjoy it straight from the spoon – yum!
  1. Add a little natural sweetness. Use spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla to add natural sweetness to dishes. Cinnamon especially is known to balance blood sugar levels and therefore stamps all over those cravings. A favourite ‘dessert’ of mine (if crowding out hasn’t done the trick) is mashed carrot with coconut oil, cinnamon with vanilla powder – hello easy sugar free carrot cake!
  1. Move. When we are craving something sweet, the majority of the time it is because we are bored. If you feel that 3pm need for a sugar hit creeping up on you, head out for a walk instead. By the time you have walked for 10 minutes the need will have passed. You will also get the added benefit of a little extra exercise in your day – bonus.
  1. Find none-food rewards. We often use food as a reward for a hard day at the office, a challenging task completed or a good workout. In reality, there are far nicer rewards you could be giving yourself over sugar. Try a nice soak in the bath, some meditation, read a book, give yourself a DIY beauty treatment. Find something that nourishes your soul, as well as your bod.
  1. Make it fun! When I first started my sugar-free lifestyle I was terrified I wouldn’t find anything to eat. I was busy and a terrible cook. I soon realised that cooking sugar free didn’t have to be a huge time consuming task. It was quick, easy, and fun. I started experimenting with recipes and I am now a great cook, even if I do say so myself. And I have created a bunch of my own sugar free recipes. This exercise also made me far more mindful of what I was putting in my body and what types of foods my body thrived on.
  1. Be confident in your decision. It can be really hard to embark on this journey alone when you have saboteurs asking why you aren’t eating such and such or telling you ‘just one won’t hurt’. Learn to exercise your confidence here. Be polite and inform those around you that you are doing this for you and would appreciate they allow you to find out for yourself. This is your journey.

Whole Food For The Whole Body

We know foods impact on the body is huge – inside and out. Since the beginning of the whole food for the whole body journey, we have proven the brilliance of the avocado, discovered why Extra Virgin Olive Oil is referred to as liquid gold. We’ve explored natures very own multivitamin – the egg, we’ve found out how to cure-all with chamomile and have benefited from ‘the fruit of the Angels’ – papaya. This week I found out how nature’s ultimate energy snack can do more for you than you might think.

Nourish from within:

Beat depression with bananas high levels of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid which converts to serotonin; serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for balancing mood.

Sleep better with the combination of serotonin production and the magnesium contained in this fruit. It is the perfect before bed snack.

Recover quicker with the high levels of B-vitamins, potassium and magnesium bananas contain. This vitamin and mineral combo speeds up recovery from illness and exercise.

How to: 

Banana Bread – this convenient comfort food has endless variations. Don’t be fooled by the shop brought banana breads that are likely to be laden with refined sugar, give this recipe a go instead: http://trainerluke.com/recipes

Banana Brekkie – who doesn’t love pancakes for brekkie? Excite your taste buds and nourish your body with this brilliant recipe:

Easy-Peasy Protein Pancakes:

Ingredients

  • 1 Banana (the larger sugar bananas work best, or 2 small lady fingers)
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of nutmeg and a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • A little organic butter, or coconut oil (for frying)
  • Toppings of choice. BUF loves frozen berries and CoYo coconut yoghurt. We’re also partial to a little almond butter, or a drizzle of organic maple syrup.

Method:

  • Pop bananas, eggs, a pinch of nutmeg and generous serve of cinnamon in your blender and mix well.
  • Pour your batter into a slightly oiled or buttered pan and cook as you would regular pancakes. Recipe makes one large, or two small cakes.
  • Serve with your topping/s of choice.

Top Tip: Best eaten on a sunny balcony, with the Jack Johnson song, ‘Banana Pancakes’ playing in the background. Sigh…

Banana Break – of course, a simple banana alone is a great and easy snack. Try freezing one for instant healthy ice cream – perfect!

pancakes canva

Treating the outside:

Packed with all the essential vitamins and minerals needed for healthy, glowing skin. The benefits of a banana don’t stop at eating them. Available all year round the banana is the perfect addition to anyone’s beauty regime.

How to:

Face mask

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Table spoons honey

Method:

Mash all the ingredients together in a clean bowl, apply to the face and neck avoiding the eye area. Lay back and relax for 15-20 minutes then rinse thoroughly. Follow with your favourite moisturiser.

Tips:

  • If your skin is on the oily side add a teaspoon of lemon juice.
  • For a dryer skin add a couple of drops of almond oil.
  • If you are looking to reduce those wrinkles, replace the yogurt with ½ an avocado.

banana pic 1

Whole food for the whole body

As we know, foods impact on the body is huge – inside and out. So far we have proven the brilliance of the avocado, discovered why Extra Virgin Olive Oil is referred to as liquid gold and explored natures very own multivitamin – the egg. This week I will be finding out why people around the world turn to chamomile tea as a cure-all.

Nourish from within:

Relieve stress, anxiety and get a good, nightmare-free sleep with chamomiles mild sedative effects.

Relieve menstrual cramps by reducing muscle spasms with the increase in glycine chamomile produces.

Recover more quickly from a cold with the antioxidants contained in chamomile.

How to:

Simply – Purchase chamomile tea bags and make tea! There are plenty of choices out there. Make sure you choose either German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) or Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and a good quality brand. My favourite is pukka tea golden chamomile http://www.pukkaherbs.com.au/golden-chamomile-tea-bags/

Creatively – Mix it up. If chamomile on its own isn’t to your taste, you can still benefit from this incredible herb by mixing it with others teas, herbs, fruits and much more. Check out some of these options, below:

  • Chamomile + mint (fresh mint or mint tea) is a great, refreshing blend. Simply place both ingredients in to a tea pot with boiling water and brew to taste.
  • Chamomile + honey is a sweet, comforting treat. Simply add a teaspoon of honey to your freshly brewed tea.
  • Chamomile + hibiscus gives you a delicious fruity tea. Make in the same way as chamomile and mint.
  • Chamomile + fresh apple pieces are a calming, tasty combination. Pour boiling water into your teapot to warm it and then add fresh apple slices using a wooden spoon to mash them in the pot. Add the chamomile and leave to brew to your liking, strain and serve. Add honey for extra sweetness or rooibos to ramp up the calming flavours.

All sound like too much effort? You can find many good, blended teas around these days. My all time favourite is serenity by Mayde tea – chamomile, lavender and rose is a perfect blend that never fails to make me feel serene, get it here: http://www.maydetea.com/products/serenity

Dress –Tea can make a pretty delicious salad dressing, don’t believe me? Give this recipe from Art of Tea a go: http://www.artoftea.com/wordpress/2007/10/08/dress-your-salads-with-tea-2/

teapot


Treating the outside:

Chamomile has amazing healing properties that can accelerate the healing of minor skin irritations and wounds; it also has a natural bleaching effect on the skin. These properties make it an essential for evening skin tone and reducing the appearance of skin imperfections.

How to:

Eye treatment – reduce the appearance of dark circles and soothe tired eyes.

Ingredients:

2 organic chamomile tea bags.

Method:

Steep the tea bags in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove from the boiling water and gently squeeze out the excess liquid. Pop the teabags in to the fridge for a few minutes to allow them to cool. Remove the teabags from the fridge, lay back, place a teabag on each closed eye and enjoy. This is a great relaxing treat for tired eyes and will naturally reduce dark circles and puffiness.

cam1

Dinner like a winner

‘Tis the season and if you are anything like me, you have definitely been getting more merry than usual. All of those Christmas parties and seasonal drinks add up. I’m a big believer in balance and I like to think we can all have our cake and eat it. Just sometimes that cake is best made sugar free. So rather than begrudgingly saying no to any festive frolics, follow my guide to your best options when eating out this holiday…

Being aware of hidden sugars in food is half of the battle; so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask the restaurant what is in the sauce, talk to the host and ask what is in the dip. You will find people more open than you think and this can also open up lines of interesting conversation.

Here are my top tips to stay on top in every situation:

The sugar free situation: A buffet style shindig.

Get in to: Vegetable crudité, salads (opt for olive oil and lemon as dressings), cold meats, boiled eggs. A little hard cheese from the cheese platter won’t hurt either just avoid the quince paste!

Stay well away from: Deep fried dishes, pizzas, pastries and any cakes, lollies and all of the sugar laden treats on offer.

The sugar free situation: Tapas

Get in to: Olives, grilled meat, fish, seafood and veggies. Salads dressed with olive oil and lemon.

Stay well away from: Churros!

The sugar free situation: Thai

Get in to: Rice paper rolls, salad with grilled/steamed meats, fish and seafood with fresh lemon, stir-fries with lots of veggies and fresh herb.

Stay well away from: Anything coated in a thick sauce i.e. oyster sauce, XO sauce – these almost definitely have lots of sugar added. Chilli jam. Sweet curry dishes.

The sugar free situation: Indian

Get in to: Tandoori/tikka and shish meats/fish and seafood, saag aloo (spinach), plain rice, raita, tomato and onion salad.

Stay well away from: Sweet curries, mango chutney, any fruit based dishes or accompaniments, lassi and Indian sweets.

The sugar free situation: Japanese

Get in to: Steamed/grilled/pan seared fish dishes, Sashimi, miso soup, edamame steamed veggies.

Stay well away from: Any sushi in general – sushi rice is sweetened and the mayonnaise that it’s often accompanied with is also full of sugar, tempura and anything teriyaki.

The sugar free situation: Greek

Get in to: Grilled meat/poultry/fish/seafood dishes, Greek salad, dolmades, souvlaki, antipasto platters, grilled calamari and seafood, tzatziki…. in fact most things on a Greek menu will be predominantly sugar-free. However, that doesn’t mean that they are great for your waistline. Be sensible here!

Stay well away from: Honey dishes, loukoumades, baklava.

The sugar free situation: Bar food

Get in to: Grilled steak/fish with salad or vegetables and ask for no side sauces. Salads with lemon juice and olive oil as dressing.

Stay well away from: Sliders and burgers, pizzas, bbq or honey ribs and wings. Cocktails!

The sugar free situation: Breakfast and brunch.

Get in to: Poached/boiled eggs with yummy sides such as mushrooms, tomato, spinach, avocado, smoked salmon or feta and sourdough, or any combination of the above. Green juices, green teas and green smoothies – green is generally a good thing. Coconut water or better still a whole baby coconut – yum!

Stay well away from:  Granola/muesli toasted and untoasted, acai bowls, banana bread, toast and pastries with preserves, flavoured bagels and croissants, pancakes and hot cakes. And be careful of that almond chai – chances are it has a fair bit of sneaky hidden sugar.

The final sugar free situation: Out for drinks

As you know, it is a good idea to limit alcohol in general and especially of working toward a health and fitness goal. Try to limit these alcoholic options to to 1-2 glasses. And go for it with the non-alcoholic options. Not only will your waistline thank you but so will your head the morning after!

Get in to: 

Soda water and lime – You will find that this clean taste is actually far more refreshing than a beer or wine. Try adding mint for that extra zing.

Coconut water – full of electrolytes, this smooth drink pleases the taste buds and the body.

Soda and coconut water – try combining the above by topping your coconut water with soda, adding a big squeeze of lime and throwing in the mint – mocktail magic!

Add clear spirits (gin/vodka/tequila) to any of the above on a couple of rounds max.

A good quality glass of red wine, or 2!

Stay well away from: Sweet wines, beers, alcopops, cocktails, ports and sticky/dessert wines, sugary mixers and fruit juices.

Final tip: Alcohol tends to lower your reserve and makes wavering from your good intentions far more likely. If you are out for drinks and drinks only make sure you have a healthy, hearty meal before you leave the house. This will ensure that you aren’t tempted by any sugary snacks or late night take aways.

Find your perfect relationship

We are all realising health and fitness isn’t just a passing craze (yay). Taking care of your body is a long-term relationship.

Commitment is key to making any relationship work and that includes the one you have with your body. Staying committed is far easier when you are in love with the way you move your body, confident in the space you move your body, and surrounded by people who support you. That’s why joining a new gym, taking part in a new fitness class or hiring a new trainer is more important than ever.

Make sure you find the relationship for you:

Read reviews about the gym. If there are any hidden nasties i.e. filthy change rooms or foul smells, you will be sure to find them online with a simple search of reviews.

Make sure you are choosing the right gym for you. You need your gym to be conducive to your goals. If you are a post-natal woman looking to ease back in to gentle exercise, you want to ensure you don’t unwittingly sign yourself up to a male dominant weightlifting cross-fit gym. Pay the gym a quick visit before heading in there for a session, the staff will be more than happy to give you a quick tour.

Likewise, find out about your trainer. Make sure they’re experienced and qualified in the area of your goals and that they’re a good fit for your personality. Read testimonials or ask them to put you in touch with any current clients, a good trainer won’t mind doing this.

Find out exactly what class you are heading in to. If you are totally un-co, you don’t want to innocently wander in to a super complicated dance class. And similarly if you enjoy busting out complicated moves, you don’t want to find yourself bored to tears in a zen style yoga. Any decent studio will have a descriptive class guide available.

Ask questions but don’t feel pressured. Gyms often pay a very low base salary and reception staff / advisors / trainers are reliant on commission to earn a living. This can lead to gym goers feeling pressured in to signing up for memberships to the wrong gym for them. If you aren’t feeling it, politely advise that you aren’t ready to sign up yet but appreciate their help. They will know what this means.

So, what are the signs it’s all heading in the right direction?

On your first visit to a gym you should be offered a one off intro offer. This could be a free session in the gym, a discounted rate for the visit or a special price for a certain number of days. The industry is so competitive that if a gym is proud of what they offer, they won’t be worried about losing out on a few $$’s to offer you this. They should be confident that you would sign up immediately as a result of your trial.

You should be shown around and given safety and emergency procedures. Either a receptionist, trainer or sales rep should give you a full guide of the gym to include location of emergency exits, first aid equipment and fire extinguishers. They should also include the change rooms, toilets and any other facilities such as saunas / steam rooms. And of course they should give you a comprehensive tour of the gym equipment and class studios are. 

And how can you help yourself to have a harmonious experience?

Introduce yourself to everyone! It pays to be friendly. You can guarantee if you are friends with all of the staff you will have a far more pleasant experience on the gym floor. This also pays off if you ever need/want a trainer, you will already know who you like and who is going to be able to help you best. 

Ask good questions…

How many members does the gym have? You want to choose a gym that has a mid size clientele. You don’t want to spend most of your time at the gym standing around waiting for machines because the gym is too full. And likewise, it is probably a bad sign if the gym has very few members; there must be a reason for this and it’s usually not a good one.

Find out if they cap class numbers. Good studios will cap the number of participants per class to allow the trainer to focus adequately on all participants and their technique. This keeps members safe and helps to accelerate your progression.

What level of qualification does your chosen trainer have? You need to know any trainer you choose, and the trainers within the gym you train at, are qualified to the correct level. This level will vary depending on what you want to achieve. Generally to instruct a class, the qualification needs to be at least fitness instructor (certificate 3 in fitness), a personal trainer requires a certificate 3 and 4 in fitness and for any specific disciplines extra certification in that specialization is required.

When do you know ‘this is the one’?

If it feels like a good fit, it probably is. If you feel comfortable in the gym and are looking forward to your next visit before you even leave the first – go for it. The same applies for your trainer. You will have a gut instinct – go with it.

If you are choosing a new personal trainer, make sure they show a genuine interest in you and your goals. They should make you feel empowered, confident and as if achieving your goals is within near reach.

You should have fun. Whether it was a gym session, a class or a training session you should walk away on a high. Making exercise enjoyable means you will remain consistent with it. This applies to all involved in your experience.

If the list of classes on offer has you excited to go back – go back! A good gym will offer a great range of class options for you to try, at times that suit you.

Is it time for a mini-break?

Specialising in postnatal clients, I see a lot of women who are simply tired. Tired of the hectic weeks and weekends, exhausted from being a mum, wife, friend and who generally feel like they ‘just need a break’. Often this just isn’t possible with a young family, it’s hard to just up and off when you have people relying on you. That’s why I say stay. Stay and take a mini-break in your own home.

Give yourself something to look forward to this weekend by organising a family staycation. It doesn’t have to take an entire weekend either. Simply take a break from your usual Saturday routine and do something different for an inexpensive family fun day or combine a few adventures and make a weekend of it, whatever suits your lifestyle.

Give yourself a rest from your usual chores (or get them done early) so you have an entire day to take a little ‘holiday in your own home’. Here are some of my favourite activities for making your weekend feel like a mini-break from the norm. Even if your little ones are super little and can’t get involved, a lot of these activities are accessible and fun. That means no excuses to not take the stroller along and have a little adult fun with some of these ‘kids’ activities. It’s all about doing something different and giving your normal routine a shake up – a change is as good as a rest.

If the weather is good:

  • Join a guided walking or bus tour of your area. You may live there but do you really know anything about the area and it’s history? This is perfect to educate the kids, and you!
  • Get outside and fly a kite. If you don’t have a kite, make your own as part of the fun! Take along a picnic packed with yummy, healthy food and let the flying begin. Try some of these inclusions in your picnic basket to keep it clean: vegetable crudités, clever chips ‘n’ dipsperfectly packed pizza, salads, finish with some fresh berries and voila – finger food heaven.
  • Create your own water park. Turn on the sprinklers, grab some old school water guns and water balloons from the dollar shop and get wet!
  • Grab your camera to spend the day playing model and photographer, capturing some amazing family shots. This can work indoors or out and as well as being super fun it leaves you with some great pics and memories.
  • Set up a tent in the garden – no further effort required. It is such a novelty it will keep everyone entertained all day long.

If the weather is not so good:

  • For something different to the usual bowling / movie fall back, arrange a behind-the-scenes tour with the pinsetters at the bowling alley or the projectionists at a movie theatre. It’s a refreshing change.
  • Visit your local museum or art gallery.
  • Go to karaoke. Your first reaction may be ‘isn’t that what used to happen at 3am, in a past life’? Maybe. But karaoke can actually be a really fun rainy day activity for the family; it breeds creativity and confidence – completely different to 3am karaoke.
  • Set up a tent or fort in the house – no further effort required. It is such a novelty it will keep everyone entertained all day long.

Top tip: It is also a great idea to visit your local visitors’ bureau; they are experts on your area and often offer fun activities you had never even considered.

Shine on through spring

The sunshine has finally come out to play!

If your winter has been spent getting your body spring ready, you might find this a challenging time.

Along with the sunshine comes more temptation– ice-cream over herbal teas, afterwork drinks over a gym visit and despite best intentions it can be hard to stick with your new found healthy habits.

Here I share my top tips to keep you shining through spring.

Read. Read all of the information you can get your hands on, seriously. Education is priceless and if you know the in’s and out’s of how your diet, exercise, and lifestyle are having an impact on your goals (positive or negative) you can work with that knowledge to smash those goals. With the easily accessible resources available to us in todays world, it is super easy to educate yourself on just about anything you want to – ‘Google it!

Write. It is proven that scheduling workouts in to your diary means you are more likely to complete them. Plan when you are going to complete workouts and schedule this in your diary as you would a meeting or an appointment, it is just as important!

Journal. If your goal is to improve nutrition, use a diary to record your daily food consumption. Keeping a record makes you more conscious of what you putting in to your body, and if you know you have to record it you are more likely to do that mindfully. I also suggest keeping a record of your feelings around this, too. It helps you to understand which foods serve your body, and which don’t. Although there are also many apps you can download to help you track your daily food intake, I suggest writing it down. It has been shown that physically writing down your daily consumption keeps you more honest (and less obsessive).

Be prepared. This is an oldie but a goodie. The saying ‘by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail’ is something that rings true in many aspects of life, including your health and fitness. If you have a kitchen full of fresh nourishing foods, workouts scheduled in to your diary and a clear goal in mind – you cannot fail!

Adopt a ‘can do’ attitude. Negative self-talk is something that is all too common these days. If you continually feed yourself the message that you can’t do it, guess what – you will believe you can’t do it. When negative comments about yourself start popping up, stop and imagine you are speaking to a friend. Would you tell a friend she wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc.? I doubt you would. Therefore, don’t let you speak to you like this.

Be gentle with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Make small progressive changes to avoid an all or nothing mentality, which isn’t healthy or sustainable. If you start cutting down on things like sugar, coffee, alcohol and processed foods week by week, you will simply adapt your lifestyle to a healthier version of itself, which is much more likely to stick than immediate, drastic change.

Ditching the dark stuff

Two weeks ago, I made the decision to cut coffee from my diet for a little while. I don’t actually have anything against coffee; it’s been proven coffee isn’t bad for us and in fact may be beneficial. Beyond enjoying a regular long black, I use coffee in my slimming beauty treatments and tans to enhance the reduction of cellulite, so coffee for me is a must!

What can be bad for some of us is too much coffee consumed for the wrong reasons, at the wrong times. It is common for us to turn to coffee in times of stress, to beat fatigue or push through a late night at work and because coffee produces cortisol (our stress hormone) doing this can be like fire fighting fire. The body produces cortisol on top of cortisol and an excess of cortisol can lead to many health issues.

A couple of weeks ago, without my even being conscious of it I had increased my usual 1 morning coffee to 1 morning and 1 afternoon coffee. I was using it to push through a busy time and it was when I noticed the effects this had on me personally that I became aware of the down sides of my increased caffeine intake. I became anxious; a little scattered and started finding it harder to sleep at night – the classic stress on stress, cortisol reaction.

It was at this point I decided I needed a break. I have always been an ‘all or nothing’ kinda gal and for me, I need a good break to reset my body before going back to a moderate coffee intake. Lucky for me, my coffee detox happened to coincide with the Sydney tea festival this weekend. Tea is the best tool to get through a coffee detox. If you feel that you would benefit from a little detox, here are my winning tea tips on how I have done it and how you can do it too!

If it is the caffeine hit you crave, go for green tea. It has less caffeine than coffee, still gives you that caffeine hit and is full of antioxidants that will have you and your skin looking and feeling wonderful.

If it is the taste you are going to miss, try a dandelion tea. It tastes like coffee and is the best replacement if replicating flavour. Add your milk of choice if you are a latte lover, and try adding a teaspoon of raw cacao powder if Mocha is what gives you your mojo.  

A real favourite of mine is licorice. Licorice tea is super sweet and stops sugar cravings in their tracks. Try the many blends available out there to keep you motivated and excited about tea over a triple shot!

For some serious refreshment, pick peppermint. As well as being super refreshing, it’s great for digestion. If you are a coffee after dinner kinda gal try replacing it with a peppermint tea. Not only does it taste great and get rid of any after dinner bloat unlike coffee it also freshens the breath. Date night anyone??

Need to calm that cortisol? Chamomile is your new best chum. Not only does this tea taste fantastic but it also relieves stress and anxiety and helps you sleep. Try adding a little honey for a real ‘hug in a mug’