Monday, 25 May 2009


I've been doing alot of work with clients this week on positive thinking and how negativity can cause real health problems. Emotions, if not allowed to be released, can be harboured within the body and result in actual physical symptoms, which can be tricky to get rid of.

So today's blog offers some tips on how to keep your mind healthy :

Keep your blood sugar steady throughout the day by eating small regualr meals combining carbs and protein, particularly slow release foods such as wholegrains, nuts and seeds, and berries. This encourages steady moods rather than peaks and troughs.

Don't sweat the small stuff. Think when a 'problem' arises " will I still worry about this next week?". If the answer is no, let it go!

Focus, and keep focussed. Have a list of what you want to achieve each day from small jobs to big projects - learn to prioritise. If you have a list it prevents procrastination (I'm a big procrastinator but find if its written down I'm less likely to put things off).

Keep it simple. Apparently research shows that simple actions every day can improve mental wellbeing. Smile at someone at the shops, take a walk in the park, have coffee with a friend. Get that feel good factor!

Physical and mental health are so closely linked. The endorphins released through exercise can help impove self confidence and moods, try to remember how good you feel after your work out and it'll make you want to do it again, and again. If only we could bottle that feeling!

Eat a diet full of key 'mood nutrients' - iron, B vitamins, and Omega 3 fatty acids particularly will help keep you on an even keel, and are vital for brain function.

Rather than looking forward to a one off treat such as a holiday which can seem ages away try small and frequent boosts throughout the day or week. Plan things you enjoy doing such as working with a personal trainer (me, hey hey!), going dancing, walking the dog, phoning a friend, going to the cinema - the list is endless!

As social creatures, in the main, we crave comfort, support and contact. Hugs,kisses, cuddles, or a kind word go a long way to giving us a boost. Give someone you care about a big cuddle today. My children are the cuddliest creatures, and they love being tickled which is their way of inviting closeness - "mummy, tickle me please". We have regular tickling sessions in our house, and the giggling gives me a big high! I say to Nat "what's mummys happy thought" and he says " me laughing".

Singing and dancing allows us to express ourselves and don't worry if youre not as good as Madonna or Beyonce (all of us then). Close the curtains, ramp up the volume and have a good sing and a good boogie - try it, it's almost guaranteed to put you in a better mood. Useful with children; I use this method alot to lift moods and divert tantrums.

Aim to be flexible with your behaviour ie. don't be so rigid that if things change for whatever reason you lose the plot ( this is one of my biggest bug bears. I am Monica from friends and struggle with lack of organisation and if things change, well that's me thrown). Challenge yourself to a day of behaving in a way that's the opposite of what you'd normally do.

To uplift and balance moods aromatherapy oils are second to none. Lavender makes a great relaxant in the bath, and rosemary and marjoram are stimulants useful for focus and concentration. Geranium, frankincense and orange will give you a boost if you're flagging. Add six to eight drops to a bath and lie back and relax.

Visualisation is my last tip and not everyone is into this. If you do have a negative thought, try to visualise it leaving your body and mind (you can wrap it up, put it in a box first etc.) and let it float away. Then, replace it with a positive thought.

Todays Tip : stress is cummulative (I know for a fact!). Try releasing it as you get it with whatever means you have at your disposal, and don't be afraid to ask for help.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


Ever wondered why boxers are as fit as butchers dogs? It's all down to their training, alot of which involves skipping.

A guy on my Personal Training course years ago was a featherweight boxer and was fitter than the rest of us by a mile. One day we did the 'bleep' test and he left us all in a heap at the side of the room as he carried on running back and forth as if it was a walk in the park. And he had not an ounce of fat on him.

My daughter, Lauren aged seven, came home the other day from school and announced she needed to learn to skip. All the other girls in her class can do it apparently, and she can't. She's a real tom boy and has never shown even the vaguest interest in skipping to date (I know but it is still viewed as 'girly' in the playground).

I grabbed a couple of ropes, shortened one, and we had a mess about with them in the garden. I use skipping as a warm up with clients, and boy does it get them warm. Within minutes, and it's such fun too. It reminds me of carefree days when I was little and that's always a good thing when as adults they don't happen that often.

Lauren's still practising little and often and can, in the main, do it now.

So what is it about a simple rope and jumping up and down repetitively that is so good for us?

Well, for starters it engages both your upper and lower body and also the brain which foxes alot of adults. It requires concentration and coordination big time to get your feet over the rope and not tangled up in it!

Having cracked the technique, alot of which comes down to timing, there are lots if different types of skips which should be manageable.

Skipping should be fluid, not jerky. Aim to hold your tummy in tight as you land and keep the knees soft so there is no jarring of joints going on. Short grass is a good outdoor surface as is the soft tarmac in children's playgrounds (just make sure you can do it before making a fool of yourself in front of a group of kids!) and indoors a sprung floor is great.

For beginners try just 10 skips, have a rest and do another 10. You will feel just that. You can then build up from there. You can do static skipping, running skipping (if you have the space), skipping on one leg at a time, skipping continuously on two legs, fast - this is what boxers do. There are many many options, just take yourself back to being a child and it'll all come flooding back!

Why bother - well there lots of benefits :

It's fun!
It'll make you smile!
It's portable, you can do it anywhere and can always use an imaginary rope; works just as well.
It's time efficient - do a couple of minutes and you'll feel it. Do this lots of times a week and you'll get great results.
It helps develop co ordination.
It works your heart and lungs hard - you will notice this very quickly as you're gasping for breath.
It helps tone muscles.
It helps strengthen joints.

I get clients to do 100 skips and then a minute of boxing using pads, and then repeat. A couple of minutes of this and they're well ready to work out.

I'm just going to do some now, what could be better to wake me up on a Sunday morning?

Today's Tip : Finding exercise that you enjoy goes a long way to helping you stick to it.

Friday, 15 May 2009


Ok guys, open your minds - because some of you may read this and think my mind has left the planet and gone to live with the fairies.

Yesterday, I had a challenge to face. Someone let me down, and I got annoyed. Really annoyed, and do you know what, it affected me for a long time - well an hour or so anyway. My body felt tense, my shoulders were close to my ears, my breathing rate and my heart rate increased and I felt generally pretty uncomfortable with myself.

And then I sat and thought about what had happened and tried to look at it from their perspective. It was my choice to feel angry by what had happened; I really don't believe it was their intention to try to make me angry or unhappy.

I sent them a message later, I reached out and explained how I'd felt after our encounter, and guess what? I immediately felt better, and they responded in a positive way too. Phew! I then went about my day feeling calmer and far more in touch with myself and my emotions.

Thoughts and emotions can be toxic. Particularly if they are allowed to be stored inside the body. Ideally they need to be released immediately, as if they accumulate they have such a strong influence on us that they can cause health problems. The mind and the body are strongly connected, more so than most of us realise on a day to day basis.

Negativity seems to be the way alot of people have become programmed. Listen when you speak to people today, and see what I mean. Try to rise above it, and don't be dragged down; you'll honestly feel much better if you try to stay positive. It's not always easy to see the good in everything, I'm as guilty as the next person for this but let's all give it a jolly good try today and the next day..........

I'm a believer in Angels. I have two who look after me, as we all do. They are with me always and if I remember to respect and believe and appreciate them, particularly through my thought processes I believe they and the universe will answer me and good things will happen.

On the flip side, constant negativity, anger etc. will be returned back to you by others if this is what you choose to give out.

Bit profound for a Friday, but hey yesterdays lesson hit me hard, and made me think deeply about what I want back from life. I love my life, and I am truely grateful for it.

How about you share your thoughts with me on this subject please?.

Today's Tip : have been teaching the kids this week to do one random act of kindness every day, and we share what each of us has managed to do at the end of each day. Yesterday Ben said one of his friends needed cheering up so he'd said a rude word behind the teachers back to make his friend laugh - perhaps a bit risky but it had the desired effect!!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


My mate Ian came over last night. He sorts my soft tissue out after all the hard training I do (and the Spider stuff is well hard!). And in my line of work I sometimes don't warm up as much as I should so do I need abit of massage therapy on a regular basis.

I'm bigging up Ian today, because he's absolutley brilliant at what he does, and not just because he's a mate. I've told him if I ever win the lottery I'm going to employ him to work on me for at least three hours a day!

Last night he worked on my hip flexors.Bit sore at the time, lots of manipulations, lots of me having to move my body into wierd and wonderful positions, and boy did it make me sleep well. This morning I feel great and ready to work out with a full day of clients.

Ians business is called Smartwaytohealth and he works on postural correction, injury rehabilitation, and also maintenance work for those who choose to push their body's or just fancy a bit of rub down with his healing hands.

Contact him at or and/or follow him on Twitter at Smartway2health.

You won't be disappointed.

Thanks Ian, you're the best matey.RX

Friday, 8 May 2009


............sugar! Bain of my life at the moment because I can't have it (see last blog post). At all, not one little bit, and when you can't have something what happens? You want it more!

I never let it take over my life but I was extremely partial to the odd bit of Green and Blacks with my peppermint tea, and as for Hotel Chocolat - don't even get me started.

Todays blog is a little rant from me at all the foods in the supermarkets that contain sugar, and you know what, there are lots and lots of them. In fact, turn it the other way around and trying to find foods without sugar becomes a challenge.

Even in my health food shop, most of the products contain sugar in some guise or other.

Dessicated coconut with added sugar, why? Baked beans, with added sugar, why? Chicken pieces, glazed with sugar, why? Prawns in chilli and garlic, with added sugar, why? Guacamole even, with added sugar, why?

Why, because it is undisputably a flavour enhancer. And so addictive and that's the problem. We are primarily a nation of sugar addicts, and that's not good. Alot of the time we don't even realise we're ingesting it so until it has to be taken away it becomes a way of life.

Corn syrup, brown rice syrup, fructose, lactose, maltose, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, palm sugar, sucrose, galactose, dextrose, stevia, honey, agave syrup, xylitol, rapadura are all forms of sugar - some much more refined than others. Try reading labels for a while and you'll see it in all its guises.

Sugar equals carbohydrate and yes, we need carbohydrates in our bodies to a certain extent. After all, the brain and working muscles primarily use glucose as their energy source . However, we really do not need as much as most people consume in their diets hence the increase in obesity, diabetes etc. etc.

Too many carbs particularly refined ones will upset your blood sugar levels leaving you feeling flat/lacking in energy and in need of more, which becomes a vicious circle as you eat more and more to create some kind of false homeostasis. Insulin levels go haywire over time which can lead to diabetes - more common than you think.

The best way to avoid too much sugar is to stop eating processed foods. If you only eat foods in their most natural state they haven't been 'tampered' with and so are unlikely to include added sugar (not guaranteed!).

I work (or did before the candida diagnosis) to the 80/20 rule. If I eat well 80% of the time I figure my body can cope with the 20% of foods which may challenge it in some way or other.

Alcohol is another carbohydrate/sugar which places major challenges on the body. It is the bodys preferred energy source, so it will use up the alcohol first leaving all other foods to potentially be turned into fat. A tip from my first trainer on a night out, was to have one glass of alcohol, followed by a glass of water and keep this up all evening. Lessens the hangover, and reduces the damage. Try it.

So, whilst sugar, in any form, is good in moderation, keep an eye on how much you consume a day by checking the labels on your food. If sugar is one of the first two ingredients it's likely to be very high and should potentially be avoided unless it's a 20% food.

If it is then you just enjoy it, I'm only a teeny, weeny bit jealous!

Sunday, 3 May 2009


I've had major stress in my life for a few years now, and whilst I won't go into detail it is one of the reasons why I've started to take my health so seriously, and may explain why some may think (and say even!) that I've turned into some kind of health 'freak', and so have now made it my business.

Just to give you a bit of background, I had excema as a child and was given steroids which were applied liberally to my skin, by people who knew no better at that time, leaving me with damaged skin and a damaged gut (the medical profession can debate this all they like but I wouldn't put steriods on my kids skin for all the tea in china).

Also, in our family (close and extended) it was the norm to eat puddings and have sweets as treats.Lovely at the time, but I grew up with a sweet tooth; a very sweet tooth. I also have a slightly addictive personality and if I find something I like, well, I just can't get enough of it. This has applied to alcohol, cigarettes and most definitely sugar. I once remember my sister and I eating a whole chocolate orange at one sitting - each(that was a confession that was hard to admit, by the way, given my lifestyle now).

Along with the current stress, all this 'baggage' from my past has taken a major toll on my body and has culminated in me having a candida overgrowth. Candida is a fungus which lives in the gut and feeds on sugar (and any food your body turns into sugar during the digestive process) and for many reasons it can get out of control and cause health problems.

Candida albicans overgrowth is a problem that is not necessarily recognised by GPs - yes they treat thrush and athletes foot with topical creams, pessaries etc. but they don't always agree that candida living in the gut can cause numerous health problems, and so treat it systemically.

Problems such as:
leaky gut
vision problems
skin problems
inability to think straight
urinary infections

.....and I could go on. Basically candida can attack the whole system and so any health problem is possible and the longer it's there the more problems can occur.

Candida feeds on sugar so logically to get rid of it one must kill it by depriving it of ALL sugar. Have you ever tried to take sugar out of your diet completely? It includes the obvious white refined table sugar (which is in most processed foods), maple syrup, golden syrup, etc. but also most fruits as the fruit sugar levels are too high - the only fruit I can eat are berries (thank God) and green apples. All others are off limits. It also includes alcohol, grains, root vegetables apart from carrots, peas, sugar snap peas,peppers, squashes and most pulses.

How limiting is that? I can therefore eat just meat, fish, eggs,some nuts (peanuts and pistachios are out), some green vegetables and carrots, green apples and berries, and coconut.

So what's the problem? That sounds like a very lovely healthy list of foods doesn't it? But I like to work to the 80/20 rule. I'm not a saint or a health 'freak' really. I'm rather partial to Green and Blacks chocolate and the odd glass of champagne, and bananas are always useful in a milk shake after a work out. And roasted sweet potatoes and butternut squash are lovely with a sunday roast....

So I've had to rethink my whole diet to starve off these nasty fungal thingies. Easter was hard, parties are very hard, going to my mothers is hard because I associate it with eating puddings and sweets, and Fridays in our house is hard - we have 'eat what you like' day, so there is generally sugar around for the kids.

I'm also rattling with the number of supplements I'm taking, prescribed by an expert digestive specialist who uses natural and organic products of the highest quality only.

I'm determined and I do have will power but it's hard, very hard. I've slipped a few times and then beat myself up badly becuase of it. But tomorrows another day.........

Sugar is addictive, no doubt about it and it's a major problem in our society today.Its a cheap additive in millions of processed foods, and it gives us a temporary 'high' that makes us crave more when the high wears off.It also lowers the immune system ;just one teaspoon can supress the immune system for up to four hours. During stressful periods of our lives we are more likely to use sugar and alcohol as a crutch as it induces an emotional response which can help temporarily.

I would guess that there are millions of people wandering around with candida out of control inside them, but they're just not aware of it.Not just that, overusing sugar can result in diabetes, and we're now seeing this being more prevelant in children which is terrible and unnecessary.

Sugar to me is a legalised drug and there should be some steps put in place to control its use before more and more people develop serious health problems.

Wish me long on my quest to banish sugar and therefore candida, it can be a long process but I'm determined to rid my body of it however long it takes.

Today's Tip : Read food labels.