Archive for March, 2012

Totally Fresh + Addictive Tomato Fennel Soup

March 28, 2012

Have you ever wondered about fennel and what to do with it?  Why not try something new like this Tomato Fennel Soup then let us know what you think.   With the chill in the air it’s the perfect time of the year to make homemade soups.  Not only are soups healthy & perfect for that quick fix;  they are also nutritious, satisfying & warm you up fast.

If you have any food requests or recipes you would like to share just contact Coffs Coast Health Club via email: or facebook us.  So give this a go and enjoy 🙂

By Kathryn Budig
I can’t get enough of this soup. I’ve been making it in huge batches to keep me happy and full through out the week. The beauty of this recipe is that it’s fresh, healthy and a gorgeous bright orange color that keeps my eyes and my tummy satisfied. Fennel is great for digestion while the spiciness of the red pepper flakes will cleanse your system and boost your metabolism. Ladle away!

3 medium fennel bulbs, fonds removed and roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced
1 T red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (get Lucini, you’ll thank me)
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, drained (San Marzano is the best)
4 cups organic free-range chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup creme fraiche
sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
fresh tarragon leaves for garnish

Trim the bottoms and fronds off of the fennel bulbs. Wash well removing the heart and chop roughly (if you have an old school blender, work on a finer chop for all of your veggies). Remove the skin from your onion and finely dice. Chop your carrots* into half inch slices. Place all your veg into a bowl and go grab the olive oil. Pour your olive oil into a dutch oven or large soup pot. Bring to medium heat and add your bowl of lovely veggies. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Saute for 10 minutes or until the carrots soften and the onions and fennel are translucent. Drain your tomatoes and add to the pot along with the broth. Give a good stir and reduce to medium-low heat for about 20 minutes so the flavors can marry and dance. Remove from heat and stir in the dollop of creme fraiche just to give that kick of slight creamy goodness. Time for the blender. The key here is to ladle SMALL batches into the blender at a time. If you add too much at once you’re going to have a super unpleasant blast of hot soup everywhere. Blend on high (I highly recommend using a BlendTec or Vitamix Blender) working in batches until your soup is nice and creamy. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a few leaves of fresh tarragon and more creme fraiche if you’re feeling super french. Bon Appetit!

*when you purchase your carrots go for either farmer’s market or buy the non-packaged carrots with the ends still attached. Avoid pre-packaged carrots as they’re treated with preservatives.

A Smarter Weight Loss Workout

March 27, 2012
Weight not coming off fast enough or are you finding you’re plateauing in your fitness level?  Maybe you need to up the anti, take it to the next level of fitness.  At Coffs Coast Health Club we are here to assist you on YOUR journey of fitness & health.  Why not talk to one of our fitness professionals to discuss your needs & goals and let them work out a plan to get you there.
Coffs Coast Health Club is all about “your” fitness & health!
The following article discusses a “smarter weight loss workout” sources through the Sydney Morning Herald.  So enjoy this read and if you’re needing some extra attention just make an appointment and let the staff help you with setting your health goals and achieving them.  Now that sounds like a good plan, don’t you think?
Walking.When the goal is to lose weight and keep it off, the best approach requires more than just a walk in the park.

We know walking is good for us, but have we over rated its power to help us lose weight?

For those looking to shed kilos, going for stroll might not be enough, says Sydney dietitian Susie Burrell.

“There’s a perception that going for a walk is getting good exercise but we’re now so sedentary that walking is just compensating for all the sitting we do in our daily lives,” Burrell says.

“If you want to lose weight on top of this, you need to add some sessions of more intense exercise to improve the ability of cells to burn fat – but this stuff isn’t talked about enough.”

It’s a message that anyone grappling with weight loss needs to hear, especially if trimming down  is   proving frustratingly slow – often a clue there’s an underlying problem with insulin resistance that makes it  genuinely difficult to lose weight.

If you’re not familiar with insulin resistance it’s what can happen when things like overweight, inactivity and too many highly processed carbohydrates eventually   make it harder for insulin to do its job of keeping blood glucose levels healthy. This forces the pancreas to pump out more and more insulin to cope – and that causes two problems: it puts us in the running for Type 2 diabetes and cripples our ability to burn fat.

Burrell, the author of Lose Weight Fast,  says insulin resistance  is now so common that  around one in two of her clients has the problem  despite being  relatively young  – typically’ in their late 30s or early 40s, but sometimes  still in their teens.

To exercise for weight loss – or jolt yourself off a plateau when weight loss stalls – she recommends three sessions of more intense training each week as well as walking daily.

“It’s about quality, not quantity. To burn off 200 calories by walking you’d have to walk, on average, for an hour, but if you work out intensely you’ll burn it off in 20 minutes,” she explains. In her experience these shorter bouts have a number of other advantages – they’re less likely to stoke appetite in the same way as an hour’s walking can and they’re less tedious.

“Most people can handle 20 to 30 minutes of cardio without finding it mind-numbingly boring, “she says.

So what does intensely mean?

“Working for ten to 20 minutes of a 30 minute session at an intensity you couldn’t keep up for an hour unless you were an elite athlete. If you’re new to exercise and you’re overweight, you need to go slowly and build up gradually, but the aim is to increase your heart rate.

“On a walk you can do this by adding in some hills or by alternating sprints and walking between lampposts. At the gym you could set the treadmill to a hill, or alternate walking and hill climbing, or you could increase the resistance on the rowing machine.  Burning 80 to 100 calories per ten minutes on the machines’ calculator is a good level to aim for – most people do 60.

Adding 20 minutes of weight training to your cardio session will make this routine even more effective – especially if you’ve hit a plateau or have insulin resistance.

What about when the weight is lost –do you still need to train?

“When you’ve lost weight you’ll find that your body soon adjusts to operating at this new weight and your metabolism will use up fewer kilojoules to keep your body functioning. You still need to train to keep the weight off though perhaps not as intensely as before,” she says.

“It’s good to keep challenging the body by doing different things.   Rather than doing three runs a week, it’s better to mix things up – do one run, one swim and one session of strength training, for instance. Even if you’re working with a personal trainer, if you’re doing the same routine time after time your body will adjust and you won’t get results.”

And if insulin resistance is hobbling your weight loss efforts, you may need some teamwork from an endocrinologist, a dietitian and an exercise physiologist. Ask your GP about this – if you’re diagnosed with insulin resistance and another condition such as high cholesterol or polycystic ovary syndrome, you may be eligible for Medicare rebates with both a dietitian and exercise physiologist under an Enhanced Primary Care Plan
Lose Weight Fast! is published by Bantam, RRP $27.95.

Read more:

Build Muscle for Better Health-Strength training is about more than getting buff

March 25, 2012

Strength Training

We all know how important cardiovascular exercise is — how it’s great for your heart, cholesterol, and blood pressure. And whether you choose to walk, bicycle, or jog, you know that any exercise that increases your heart rate helps you burn calories and melt away unwanted pounds.

But that’s only half the equation.

For a balanced fitness program, strength training is essential. It can slow the muscle loss that comes with age, build the strength of your muscles and connective tissues, increase bone density, cut your risk of injury, and help ease arthritis pain.

“metabolism is very important, not just for your muscles but for your bones,” says certified fitness trainer Debbie Siebers. “It’s preventative for [bone-thinning] osteoporosis and other problems.”

Studies from the CDC have found that muscle-building exercise can also improve balance, reduce the likelihood of falls, improve blood-sugar control, and improve sleep and mental health.

And let us not forget the weight-loss benefits. Not only does it make you look trimmer and shapelier, but building muscle also helps you burn calories — even after your workout is done.

“Three to four hours after a strength-training workout, you’re still burning calories,” says Seibers, a creator of fitness videos including the “Slim in 6” series.

Strength training is especially important for dieters. When you lose weight, up to a quarter of the loss may come from muscle, which can slow your metabolism. Strength training helps you rebuild any muscle you lost by dieting — or keep you from losing it in the first place.

Getting Started

So you’re convinced of strength training’s virtues. But just how do you go about getting started?

The weight room at the gym, with all the buff bodies and complicated-looking equipment, can be intimidating to a beginner. Indeed, for someone with back or joint pain, just picking up a weight might seem daunting. Then there’s the issue of proper form: Without it, you could do more harm than good trying to build strength.

Your best bet when starting out is one-on-one help from a qualified fitness trainer — whether it’s a personal trainer,  an instructor at your gym or group fitness class such as Les Mills PUMP.   A trainer can address your personal goals and limitations and can help you with alignment and execution of each exercise.

“I can’t tell you how many people I see with a knee injury because they were not taught correctly how to do a lunge or squat,” says Sue Carver, physical therapist with A World of Difference Therapy Services in Little Rock, Ark.

Siebers also recommends checking out books, videos, and/or fitness- and health-related web sites for guidance on exercises and form.

Indeed, good technique, not heavy lifting, should be your primary goal in the beginning, Carver says.

Siebers recommends using a heavy enough weight to feel resistance, but not strain or pain. Your individual body will determine just how much that is, and you should err on the light side at first; five pounds may not seem like a lot, but it’s better to be conservative than suffer.

And how much should you work out? According to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, beginners should do at least two days per week of any type of strength-training exercise. Your workout should consist of 8 to 12 repetitions each of 8 to 10 different exercises working all the major muscle groups — chest, back, shoulders, arms, abdominals, and legs. (A repetition is how many times you lift the weight, pull the rubber tubing, do a pushup, or whatever.)

Machines or Free Weights?

Both free weights and weight machines work well, and experts say there’s no evidence that one is superior to the other, so this is largely a matter of choice.

“Internet chat rooms and support groups really help to motivate.”

Machines are a good idea for people who are overweight and/or out of condition, since the exercises are generally done seated and with back support, Seibers says.

But if machines are not an option, investing a few dollars in a set of light dumbbells and/or some resistance tubing can give you what you need to start toning those muscles.

Whichever option you choose, keep your moves basic at first.

For the arms and upper body, try these exercises:

  • Chest presses
  • Reverse flies for the back
  • Overhead presses for the shoulders
  • Bicep curls
  • Triceps kickbacks or extensions

For the lower body, don’t start out with squats and lunges, which can put too much impact on weak joints. Instead, try:

  • Quadriceps extensions for the front of the thigh.
  • Hamstrings curl for the back of the thigh.
  • Side-lying or standing leg lifts to work the inner and outer thigh.

And don’t forget to work on strengthening your “core” muscles — the ones in your abdominal and lower back area. Core stability is key to avoiding injury, according to Carver. “Somebody with strong upper extremities but no core stability can hurt themselves doing a bicep curl, for example, if they can’t stabilize the trunk,” she says.

You’ll also avoid injuries — and get the best results — by varying your workouts. For example, if you work the biceps, back and legs one day, work the triceps, chest and shoulders the next time you train, Siebers says. Alternating between muscle groups gives the ones you worked plenty of time to recover.

Incorporating stretching in your strength program will also help keep injuries at bay, says Carver. Most important, don’t push too hard. Carver always cautions people that “feeling some discomfort in the muscle is OK, but feeling it in the joint is not.”

If you have a health condition or previous injury, you may need to do modified versions of certain exercises or skip them altogether, she says. That’s when it’s especially important to work with a fitness trainer.

Staying With the Program

Success comes from structure and constant support, according to Siebers. “Calendar it up,” she suggests: Chart your week of exercise out in advance so you know exactly what you’re expecting of yourself.

Having a friend to train with is one of the best ways to stick to a program, Siebers says, even if he or she is a cyber-pal.

“Internet chat rooms and support groups really help to motivate,” she says. “There are a million people out there in your same situation getting online every night and encouraging each other. People need that day-to-day hand-holding.”

But perhaps the most important things you need for a successful strength training program — or for successful weight loss — are patience and acceptance, she says.

“The problem is, people look too far down the road trying to see the big picture too quickly,” she says. “You have to try to accept and love yourself today and know that each day, you’re going to get better.”

If you’re interested in strength training why not talk to us at Coffs Coast Health Club and we can get you on the way to a strong and healthier body.

By Barbara Russi Sarnataro

Roasted Lamb Dinner just like your Grandmother Use to Make!

March 22, 2012
Incredible roasted shoulder of lamb with mashed veggies & greens.
Serves 6
incredible roasted shoulder of lamb with smashed veg and greens
© David Loftus


for the lamb
• 500g lovely greens, such as white cabbage, Savoy cabbage, Brussels tops or cavolo nero, leaves separated, stalks finely sliced
• a large bunch of fresh rosemary
• 1 x 2kg shoulder of lamb
• olive oil
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 bulb of garlic, unpeeled, broken into cloves

for the smashed veg
• 750g peeled potatoes, cut into large chunks
• 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks
• ½ a large swede, peeled and cut into small chunks
• 75g butter

for the sauce
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 500ml good-quality hot chicken or vegetable stock
• 2 heaped tablespoons capers, soaked, drained and chopped
• a large bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar


In this recipe I’m going to show you how utterly incredible a slow-roasted shoulder of lamb can be. In exchange I’d like you to buy quality local lamb that’s had the appropriate amount of hanging time. I’m going to let the meat speak for itself and not add much to it, just a simple sauce made from all the goodness in the tray. You can make this at any time of year served with any seasonal veg.Preheat your oven to full whack. Slash the fat side of the lamb all over with a sharp knife. Lay half the sprigs of rosemary and half the garlic cloves on the bottom of a high-sided roasting tray, rub the lamb all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place it in the tray on top of the rosemary and garlic, and put the rest of the rosemary and garlic on top of the lamb. Tightly cover the tray with tinfoil and place in the oven. Turn the oven down immediately to 170°C/325°F/gas 3 and cook for 4 hours – it’s done if you can pull the meat apart easily with two forks.

When the lamb is nearly cooked, put your potatoes, carrots and swede into a large pot of boiling salted water and boil hard for 20 minutes or so until you can slide a knife into the swede easily. Drain and allow to steam dry, then smash them up in the pan with most of the butter. If you prefer a smooth texture, add some cooking water. Spoon into a bowl, cover with tinfoil and keep warm over a pan of simmering water.

Remove the lamb from the oven and place it on a chopping board. Cover it with tinfoil, then a tea towel, and leave it to rest. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for your greens. Pour away most of the fat from the roasting tray, discarding any bits of rosemary stalk. Put the tray on the hob and mix in the flour. Add the stock, stirring and scraping all the sticky goodness off the bottom of the tray. You won’t need gallons of gravy, just a couple of flavoursome spoonfuls each. Add the capers, turn the heat down and simmer for a few minutes.

Finely chop the mint and add it to the sauce with the red wine vinegar at the last minute then pour into a jug. Add your greens and stalks to the pan of fast-boiling salted water and cook for 4 to 5 minutes to just soften them. Drain and toss with a knob of butter and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place everything in the middle of the table, and shred the lamb in front of your guests. Absolutely delish!

Meditation & Relaxation for Seniors – reap the benefits!

March 20, 2012

Meditation & Relaxation for all Ages

Meditation!  You are probably thinking that you are too old to learn new tricks and meditation is too hard or you don’t believe in messing with your mind.  Well, wrong…it is your mind and you can mess with it if you want to.  Meditation has its roots in Buddhism but it is not a religious practice.  It is a discipline that anyone, regardless of religious belief, can utilize.

It is said that meditation can help improve concentration, decrease muscle tension, promote relaxation, alleviate depression and even ease arthritis pain.

Well, that sounds like a senior thing to me, so why not give it a try.  We are so used to multitasking that ‘turning off our mind’ is not an easy thing to do.  It will take time and it will take practice. Neither age nor health status is a deterrent when it comes to learning how to meditate.

Your goal is to meditate for an hour a day but it is okay to start small and take five-ten minute meditation breaks throughout the day.

  • Focus on one thing:  Counting your breaths or repeating a word will help keep your mind from wondering.  Select a word that makes you feel calm and relaxed and repeat it with every exhalation.
  • Forget the clock:  Sit quietly, focus on your breathing and repeat that calming thought for as long as you are comfortable.
  • Don’t be discouraged if everyday distractions creep into your mind.  It is okay to say ‘oops,’ and redirect your focus.
  • Be consistent:  You need to keep doing it to get results.  Your goal should be a daily session.  If you can’t sit still for any period of time without feeling guilty it is okay to meditate wherever you are.
  • Focus:  One simple guideline—focus your attention on something specific like a candle light or a simple mantra. The idea is to get over stressing about you “to-do” list.  It doesn’t matter how many times you have to redirect yourself, the idea is to learn how to steer your thoughts away from busyness and learn how to quiet your mind.

The idea is intriguing but you just can’t stop thinking thoughts like “why am I doing this,” or “I have so much to do,” or “I hurt so much.”   Do not despair.  You may find that it is easier if you join a class and have an instructor guide you through the learning process.  If it is something that you would rather do alone you will enjoy using a guided meditation audio.  My favorite is Guided Meditation by Kelly Howell.  You are so busy concentrating on the soothing words and visualizing a walk through a meadow that you don’t even realize that you are not stressing about your pain or your busy schedule.  Believe me, you will feel amazing when you finish your session.

Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief  – Finding the Relaxation Exercises That Work for You

Stress Relief: Yoga, Meditation, and Other Relaxation Techniques

For many of us with hectic, stressful lives, relaxation means zoning out in front of the TV at the end of the day or snatching some extra sleep at the weekend. Unfortunately, this does little to help reduce the damaging effects of stress on the mind and body.

To effectively combat stress, we need to activate the body’s natural relaxation response. You can do this by practicing relaxation techniques including deep breathing, visualization, meditation, and yoga, or by performing rhythmic exercise, such as running, cycling, or mindful walking. Finding ways to fit these activities into your life can help reduce everyday stress and boost your energy and mood. They’ll also help you to stay calm in the face of life’s unexpected events.

The relaxation response: bringing your nervous system back into balance

Stress is necessary for life. You need stress for creativity, learning, and your very survival. Stress is only harmful when it becomes overwhelming and interrupts the healthy state of equilibrium that your nervous system needs to remain in balance. Unfortunately, overwhelming stress has become an increasingly common characteristic of contemporary life. When stressors throw your nervous system out of balance, relaxation techniques can bring it back into a balanced state by producing the relaxation response, a state of deep calmness that is the polar opposite of the stress response.

When stress overwhelms your nervous system your body is flooded with chemicals that prepare you for “fight or flight”. While the stress response can be lifesaving in emergency situations where you need to act quickly, it wears your body down when constantly activated by the stresses of everyday life. The relaxation response puts the brakes on this heightened state of readiness and brings your body and mind back into a state of equilibrium.

Producing the relaxation response

A variety of different relaxation techniques can help you bring your nervous system back into balance by producing the relaxation response. The relaxation response is not lying on the couch or sleeping but a mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed, calm, and focused.

Learning the basics of these relaxation techniques isn’t difficult, but it does take practice. Most stress experts recommend setting aside at least 10 to 20 minutes a day for your relaxation practice. If you’d like to get even more stress relief, aim for 30 minutes to an hour. If that sounds like a daunting commitment, remember that many of these techniques can be incorporated into your existing daily schedule—practiced at your desk over lunch or on the bus during your morning commute.

Finding the relaxation technique that’s best for you

There is no single relaxation technique that is best for everyone. When choosing a relaxation technique, consider your specific needs, preferences, fitness level, and the way you tend to react to stress. The right relaxation technique is the one that resonates with you, fits your lifestyle, and is able to focus your mind and interrupt your everyday thoughts in order to elicit the relaxation response. In many cases, you may find that alternating or combining different techniques will keep you motivated and provide you with the best results.

How do you react to stress?

How you react to stress may influence the relaxation technique that works best for you:

Stress Response: overexcited

SymptomsYou tend to become angry,agitated, or keyed up under stress

Relaxation Technique:  You may respond best to relaxation techniques that quiet you down, such as meditation, deep breathing, or guided imagery

Stress Response: Under excited

Symptoms: You tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out under stress

Relaxation Technique: You may respond best to relaxation techniques that are stimulating and that energize your nervous system, such as rhythmic exercise

Stress Response: Frozen (both overexcited and under excited at the same time – like pressing on the brakes and gas simultaneously)

Symptoms: You tend to freeze: speeding up in some ways while slowing down in others

Relaxation Technique: Your challenge is to identify relaxation techniques that provide both safety and stimulation to help you “reboot” your system. Techniques such as mindfulness walking or power yoga might work well for you.

Do you need alone time or social stimulation?

If you crave solitude, solo relaxation techniques such as meditation or progressive muscle relaxation will give you the space to quiet your mind and recharge your batteries. If you crave social interaction, a class setting will give you the stimulation and support you’re looking for. Practicing with others may also help you stay motivated.

Relaxation technique 1: Breathing meditation for stress relief

With its focus on full, cleansing breaths, deep breathing is a simple, yet powerful, relaxation technique. It’s easy to learn, can be practiced almost anywhere, and provides a quick way to get your stress levels in check. Deep breathing is the cornerstone of many other relaxation practices, too, and can be combined with other relaxing elements such as aromatherapy and music. All you really need is a few minutes and a place to stretch out.

Practicing deep breathing meditation

The key to deep breathing is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible in your lungs. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel.

  • Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  • Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
  • Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
  • Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.

If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying on the floor. Put a small book on your stomach, and try to breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.

Relaxation technique 2: Progressive muscle relaxation for stress relief

Progressive muscle relaxation involves a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body.

With regular practice, progressive muscle relaxation gives you an intimate familiarity with what tension—as well as complete relaxation—feels like in different parts of the body. This awareness helps you spot and counteract the first signs of the muscular tension that accompanies stress. And as your body relaxes, so will your mind. You can combine deep breathing with progressive muscle relaxation for an additional level of stress relief.

Practicing progressive muscle relaxation

Before practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation, consult with your doctor if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing muscles.

Most progressive muscle relaxation practitioners start at the feet and work their way up to the face. For a sequence of muscle groups to follow, see the box below.

  • Loosen your clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.
  • Take a few minutes to relax, breathing in and out in slow, deep breaths.
  • When you’re relaxed and ready to start, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.
  • Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.
  • Relax your right foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and the way your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
  • Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
  • When you’re ready, shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
  • Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the muscle groups as you go.
  • It may take some practice at first, but try not to tense muscles other than those intended.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Sequence

The most popular sequence runs as follows:

  1. Right foot*
  2. Left foot
  3. Right calf
  4. Left calf
  5. Right thigh
  1. Left thigh
  2. Hips and buttocks
  3. Stomach
  4. Chest
  5. Back
  1. Right arm and hand
  2. Left arm and hand
  3. Neck and shoulders
  4. Face

* If you are left-handed you may want to begin with your left foot instead.

Relaxation technique 3: Body scan meditation for stress relief

A body scan is similar to progressive muscle relaxation except, instead of tensing and relaxing muscles, you simply focus on the sensations in each part of your body.

Practicing body scan meditation

  • Lie on your back, legs uncrossed, arms relaxed at your sides, eyes open or closed. Focus on your breathing , allowing your stomach to rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale. Breathe deeply for about two minutes, until you start to feel comfortable and relaxed.
  • Turn your focus to the toes of your right foot. Notice any sensations you feel while continuing to also focus on your breathing. Imagine each deep breath flowing to your toes. Remain focused on this area for one to two minutes.
  • Move your focus to the sole of your right foot. Tune in to any sensations you feel in that part of your body and imagine each breath flowing from the sole of your foot. After one or two minutes, move your focus to your right ankle and repeat. Move to your calf, knee, thigh, hip, and then repeat the sequence for your left leg. From there, move up the torso, through the lower back and abdomen, the upper back and chest, and the shoulders. Pay close attention to any area of the body that causes you pain or discomfort.
  • Move your focus to the fingers on your right hand and then move up to the wrist,  forearm, elbow, upper arm, and shoulder. Repeat for your left arm. Then move through the neck and throat, and finally all the regions of your face, the back of the head, and the top of the head. Pay close attention to your jaw, chin, lips, tongue, nose, cheeks, eyes, forehead, temples and scalp. When you reach the very top of your head, let your breath reach out beyond your body and imagine yourself hovering above yourself.
  • After completing the body scan, relax for a while in silence and stillness, noting how your body feels. Then open your eyes slowly. Take a moment to stretch, if necessary.

For a guided body scan meditation, see the Resources section below.

Relaxation technique 4: Mindfulness for stress relief

Mindfulness is the ability to remain aware of how you’re feeling right now, your “moment-to-moment” experience—both internal and external. Thinking about the past—blaming and judging yourself—or worrying about the future can often lead to a degree of stress that is overwhelming. But by staying calm and focused in the present moment, you can bring your nervous system back into balance. Mindfulness can be applied to activities such as walking, exercising, eating, or meditation.

Meditations that cultivate mindfulness have long been used to reduce overwhelming stress. Some of these meditations bring you into the present by focusing your attention on a single repetitive action, such as your breathing, a few repeated words, or flickering light from a candle. Other forms of mindfulness meditation encourage you to follow and then release internal thoughts or sensations.

Practicing mindfulness meditation

Key points in mindfulness mediation are:

  • A quiet environment. Choose a secluded place in your home, office, garden, place of worship, or in the great outdoors where you can relax without distractions or interruptions.
  • A comfortable position. Get comfortable, but avoid lying down as this may lead to you falling asleep. Sit up with your spine straight, either in a chair or on the floor. You can also try a cross-legged or lotus position.
  • A point of focus. This point can be internal – a feeling or imaginary scene – or something external – a flame or meaningful word or phrase that you repeat it throughout your session. You may meditate with eyes open or closed. Also choose to focus on an object in your surroundings to enhance your concentration, or alternately, you can close your eyes.
  • An observant, noncritical attitude. Don’t worry about distracting thoughts that go through your mind or about how well you’re doing. If thoughts intrude during your relaxation session, don’t fight them. Instead, gently turn your attention back to your point of focus.

Relaxation technique 5: Visualization meditation for stress relief

Visualization, or guided imagery, is a variation on traditional meditation that requires you to employ not only your visual sense, but also your sense of taste, touch, smell, and sound. When used as a relaxation technique, visualization involves imagining a scene in which you feel at peace, free to let go of all tension and anxiety.

Choose whatever setting is most calming to you, whether it’s a tropical beach, a favorite childhood spot, or a quiet wooded glen. You can do this visualization exercise on your own in silence, while listening to soothing music, or with a therapist (or an audio recording of a therapist) guiding you through the imagery. To help you employ your sense of hearing you can use a sound machine or download sounds that match your chosen setting—the sound of ocean waves if you’ve chosen a beach, for example.

Practicing visualization

Find a quiet, relaxed place. Beginners sometimes fall asleep during a visualization meditation, so you might try sitting up or standing.

Close your eyes and let your worries drift away. Imagine your restful place. Picture it as vividly as you can—everything you can see, hear, smell, and feel. Visualization works best if you incorporate as many sensory details as possible, using at least three of your senses. When visualizing, choose imagery that appeals to you; don’t select images because someone else suggests them, or because you think they should be appealing. Let your own images come up and work for you.

If you are thinking about a dock on a quiet lake, for example:

  • Walk slowly around the dock and notice the colors and textures around you.
  • Spend some time exploring each of your senses.
  • See the sun setting over the water.
  • Hear the birds singing.
  • Smell the pine trees.
  • Feel the cool water on your bare feet.
  • Taste the fresh, clean air.

Enjoy the feeling of deep relaxation that envelopes you as you slowly explore your restful place. When you are ready, gently open your eyes and come back to the present.

Don’t worry if you sometimes zone out or lose track of where you are during a guided imagery session.  This is normal. You may also experience feelings of stiffness or heaviness in your limbs, minor, involuntary muscle-movements, or even cough or yawn. Again, these are normal responses.

Relaxation technique 6: Yoga and tai chi for stress relief

Yoga involves a series of both moving and stationary poses, combined with deep breathing. As well as reducing anxiety and stress, yoga can also improve flexibility, strength, balance, and stamina. Practiced regularly, it can also strengthen the relaxation response in your daily life. Since injuries can happen when yoga is practiced incorrectly, it’s best to learn by attending group classes, hiring a private teacher, or at least following video instructions.

What type of yoga is best for stress?

Although almost all yoga classes end in a relaxation pose, classes that emphasize slow, steady movement, deep breathing, and gentle stretching are best for stress relief.

  • Satyananda is a traditional form of yoga. It features gentle poses, deep relaxation, and meditation, making it suitable for beginners as well as anyone primarily looking for stress reduction.
  • Hatha yoga is also reasonably gentle way to relieve stress and is suitable for beginners. Alternately, look for labels like gentle, for stress relief, or for beginners when selecting a yoga class.
  • Power yoga, with its intense poses and focus on fitness, is better suited to those looking for stimulation as well as relaxation.

If you’re unsure whether a specific yoga class is appropriate for stress relief, call the studio or ask the teacher.

Tai chi

If you’ve ever seen a group of people in the park slowly moving in synch, you’ve probably witnessed tai chi. Tai chi is a self-paced, non-competitive series of slow, flowing body movements. These movements emphasize concentration, relaxation, and the conscious circulation of vital energy throughout the body. Though tai chi has its roots in martial arts, today it is primarily practiced as a way of calming the mind, conditioning the body, and reducing stress. As in meditation, tai chi practitioners focus on their breathing and keeping their attention in the present moment.

Tai chi is a safe, low-impact option for people of all ages and levels of fitness, including older adults and those recovering from injuries. Like yoga, once you’ve learned the basics of tai chi or qi gong, you can practice alone or with others, tailoring your sessions as you see fit.

Making relaxation techniques a part of your life

The best way to start and maintain a relaxation practice is to incorporate it into your daily routine. Between work, family, school, and other commitments, though, it can be tough for many people to find the time. Fortunately, many of the techniques can be practiced while you’re doing other things.

Rhythmic exercise as a mindfulness relaxation technique

Rhythmic exercise—such as running, walking, rowing, or cycling—is most effective at relieving stress when performed with relaxation in mind. As with meditation, mindfulness requires being fully engaged in the present moment, focusing your mind on how your body feels right now. As you exercise, focus on the physicality of your body’s movement and how your breathing complements that movement. If your mind wanders to other thoughts, gently return to focusing on your breathing and movement.

If walking or running, for example, focus on each step—the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your breath while moving, and the feeling of the wind against your face.

Tips for fitting relaxation techniques into your life

  • If possible, schedule a set time to practice each day. Set aside one or two periods each day. You may find that it’s easier to stick with your practice if you do it first thing in the morning, before other tasks and responsibilities get in the way.
  • Practice relaxation techniques while you’re doing other things. Meditate while commuting to work on a bus or train, or waiting for a dentist appointment. Try deep breathing while you’re doing housework or mowing the lawn. Mindfulness walking can be done while exercising your dog, walking to your car, or climbing the stairs at work instead of using the elevator. Once you’ve learned techniques such as tai chi, you can practice them in your office or in the park at lunchtime.
  • If you exercise, improve the relaxation benefits by adopting mindfulness. Instead of zoning out or staring at a TV as you exercise, try focusing your attention on your body. If you’re resistance training, for example, focus on coordinating your breathing with your movements and pay attention to how your body feels as you raise and lower the weights.
  • Avoid practicing when you’re sleepy. These techniques can relax you so much that they can make you very sleepy, especially if it’s close to bedtime. You will get the most benefit if you practice when you’re fully awake and alert. Do not practice after eating a heavy meal or while using drugs, tobacco, or alcohol.
  • Expect ups and downs. Don’t be discouraged if you skip a few days or even a few weeks. It happens. Just get started again and slowly build up to your old momentum.

Authors: Lawrence Robinson, Robert Segal, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A. Last updated: January 2012.

Seniors Week at Coffs Coast Health Club, 18 – 25 March 2012

March 18, 2012

Fitness for ALL Ages

It’s National Senior Week 2012 at Coffs Coast Health Club!  This week drop by and try one of our five “senior/boomers”classes-Monday to Friday at 8am, and sample some senior-focused exercise for yourself.  It’s FREE for the week or  register for a senior information seminar on Actively Aging or Laughter Yoga.

“Actively Aging Seminar” with Jacqui Jarratt – owner of Coffs Coast Health Club

Wednesday 22 March, 10:30-11:30

Learn how to avoid becoming a slow Senior stereotype
Prevent heart disease & diabetes
Improve your energy levels
Prevent the mid section expansion
Burn more calories
Reduce your stress

Laughter Yoga with Coffs Coast Health Club’s  “Happiness Guru” –  Jayne Meldrum

Wednesday 22 March, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Experience Laughter Yoga and reap the benefits :
Cardiovascular workout
Abdominal workout
Burn calories
Energize your brain
Reduce your stress

Book now at reception by calling 6658 6222 or emailing
Cost: FREE

Why is exercising so important as we age?

Exercise – The primary driver for reversing age-related functional decline.

First and foremost – The body is a demand-driven, adaptable, living system that requires movement and muscular activity to maintain its function. Consider what happens to someone bedridden for a month or more; muscle mass, flexibility, strength, bone density and range of motion all drop like a downed helicopter, in just a matter of days. The unseen effects are equally damaging; every organ reduces function and slows its activity. Lack of movement is devastating to the human body.

Aging is very much like a longer version of being bedridden. Slowly, over decades, the same decreases in capability occur AND the antidote is the same: MOVEMENT. Start moving and your ability to move will improve. Walk, run, dance, stretch, lift weights, play games that require physical motion, and the losses due to aging will reverse.

Along with this improved ability to move, many other changes take place. Blood sugar levels will regulate downward and remain more even, stored fat will be reduced, insulin sensitivity will improve, blood pressure will come down and your heart will get stronger. Your vascular system will actually start building collateral arteries around blocked vessels, improving blood flow to your heart and other organs. The body’s repair mechanisms speed up, things heal faster, the immune system gets stronger; you get sick less often and you recover more quickly from virtually every malady.

So, lie on the couch, watch TV, drink beer and eat potato chips with all your spare time and the disabilities of aging will overtake you like a Mongol army. You’ve seen the stories of the 92 year old Chinese (or whatever country) man or woman, still tending the rice paddy, wondering what all the fuss is over being that old. They still ride a bike to work and enjoy life with their family five generations deep. The primary difference is that they never stopped moving.

Under this category we discuss and explain the most effective forms of exercise practiced these days. Some are way better than others for restoring or maintaining strength and fitness in seniors.

Weight Training – to trigger your anabolic, or muscle-building process; muscle you need to look good and move well, be stronger than you look and dissolve fat 24 hours a day. The most effective form of exercise for delaying age-related decline is Weight training with progressive resistance. Nothing works to reverse age-related functional decline as well and as rapidly as this. It raises Testosterone production (the hormone of your youth – needed in both men and women for maintaining muscle structure), increases Growth Hormone output, lowers blood sugar, encourages the burning of fat for energy, improves immune system function, makes bones stronger and more dense, and lets your entire body function on the level of a person decades younger. Make progressive resistance weight training the core of your exercise regime and all other exercise forms will be icing on the cake.

Aerobics – to maintain and recover your heart/lung/vascular fitness. Next, we promote Aerobics to maintain heart-lung-vascular fitness for life. However, some approaches to aerobics are more productive than others, with regard to the changes that take place with aging.

Yoga, Pilates, Stretching & Balance – Building poise, posture, flexibility, strength, endurance, balance and grace, while connecting with the spirit within – speed and power aren’t the whole story. The importance of posture, fluidity of motion, flexibility and balance are undeniable in terms of aging gracefully. We believe that the swift and the strong don’t have a corner on happiness, and hope you will take time to find the value in these milder forms of exercise. Balance becomes extremely in advanced age because most bone fractures are caused by falls, and these exercise forms maintain our sense of balance and agility.

Mighty Mushrooms

March 15, 2012

By Janet Helm, MS, RD


No one seems to be neutral about mushrooms. You either love ‘em or hate ‘em. I’m officially on team mushroom. No doubt, I’m fervently fond of fungi, and now there are a lot of new reasons why you should be a mycophile too.

Scientists are unearthing a variety of potential benefits linked to mushrooms – from boosting our immune system and fighting infections to protecting against heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Many of the medicinal qualities of mushrooms are traced to beta glucans – the same type of fiber that gives oatmeal its cholesterol-lowering abilities. Mushrooms are also packed with some surprising levels of nutrients, including B vitamins and the minerals selenium, potassium, and copper.

Some of the latest news about mushrooms involves vitamin D. Researchers found that bringing mushrooms out of the dark and exposing them to ultraviolet light causes their vitamin D content to soar, making them an unlikely but significant source of this important bone-building, immune-enhancing nutrient.

Mushrooms are also packed with antioxidants – even more than many deeply hued vegetables, including carrots and tomatoes. When it comes to one particular antioxidant, mushrooms are at the top of the heap. Penn State researchers found that mushrooms are the richest source of ergothioneine. Mushrooms contain 12 times the levels found in wheat germ – once thought to be the highest natural source of ergothioneine.

Other studies suggest mushrooms can help with weight management. That’s not surprising since mushrooms are about 90% water and contain few calories and virtually no fat. Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore, conducted a study that used mushrooms as a meat substitute. Participants in the study saved 350 to 400 calories a day by using sliced, diced, or ground up mushrooms in place of meat in lasagna, chili and other entrees.

The Mushroom Trend

Beyond the renewed attention by the medical community, mushrooms are becoming culinary stars– no longer relegated to the supporting cast in a salad or on a slice of pizza.

These fragrant, woodsy fungi are now featured front and center on restaurant menus, from grilled portabella “steaks” and baby bella mushroom wraps to porcini-laden pastas, warm ragouts spiked with morels, and shitake risottos. Supermarkets now stock a burgeoning array of pre-washed, pre-sliced fresh mushrooms and myriad packages of exotic dried mushrooms – perhaps the greatest evidence of America’s new love affair with mushrooms.

If you don’t think you like mushrooms, it’s worth giving them another chance. Try grilling or sautéing mushrooms in a little olive oil and garlic instead of eating them raw – you might not be as turned off by the texture. Or grill a meaty portabella mushroom cap to use in place of a burger. These flavorful ‘shrooms are a good place to start if you haven’t been a mushroom fan in the past.

What are your favorite ways to enjoy mushrooms? Share your thoughts and recipes in the comments below or on our facebook page.

Barbecued mushrooms with eggplant & basil

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt & ground black pepper, to taste
8 small flat mushrooms
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1cm-thick slices
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
4 bocconcini*, sliced
1/3 cup basil leaves toasted
Turkish bread, to serve

Preheat a greased barbecue plate on medium-high. Combine oil, garlic & salt & pepper in a small bowl. Brush both sides of mushrooms & eggplant with oil. Barbecue eggplant for 3 minutes on each side & mushrooms for 2 minutes on each side or until tender.To assemble; place mushrooms onto serving plates. Top evenly with tomatoes, eggplant, bocconcini & basil leaves. Season with salt & pepper. Serve with toasted Turkish bread.*bocconcini is little fresh mozzarella cheese balls available from supermarkets & delicatessens.

Mushroom BLT

Serves: 4

Ingredients4 large flat mushrooms
2 tbs olive oil
salt and ground black pepper
8 rashers bacon, rind removed, cut into thirds
4 hamburger buns split
1 /4cup whole egg mayonnaise
8 butter lettuce leaves
2 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
MethodPreheat barbecue plate on high until hot. Brush both sides of mushrooms with oil and season with salt and pepper. Barbecue for 2 minutes each side until just tender. Remove to a plate.Add bacon and cook for 1 minute each side or until crisp.Toast the hamburger buns. Spread buns with mayonnaise. Top with lettuce, tomato, mushrooms, bacon and hamburger top. Serve.


Healthier ways to help teens get out of a bad mood.

March 13, 2012

Bust Up a Bad Mood!

Some people ignore their BFFs when they’re in a bad mood. Others eat a quart of rocky road ice cream. Neither is a very healthy way to express your emotions. There actually are ways to get out of a bad mood that work better — and won’t leave you feeling sick to your stomach.

If You … Eat Your Troubles Away

Are you a stress eater? Do you drown your sorrows in a chocolate milkshake or a box of cookies? You’re not alone. Many stress eaters indulge in high-fat foods when they’re sad or mad, but that “comfort food” usually offers little comfort in the end, says Robert Pretlow, MD, author of Overweight: What Kids Say. “In fact, stress eating only makes you feel worse,” he says.

The next time you’re tempted to turn to food to make yourself feel better, try this instead.

  1. Pinpoint the reason you’re bummed. For example, maybe you had a fight with your mom about your weight and what you were eating. When you think about what really made you mad, you realize you feel like she doesn’t understand you because she’s skinny. Pretlow says to write that down.
  2. Underneath that, write down something you can do about it, such as: “I’m going to write a letter to my mom explaining that when she bugs me about my weight, I get stressed and I eat even more.” Having a plan of action will instantly help you feel more in control, he says.
  3. Then, brainstorm some things you can do beside eating to make yourself feel better. To get you started on your list, Pretlow suggests calling a friend, listening to music, going outside, or getting online to connect with other teens. When you’ve got some ideas written down, pick one and do it!
  4. If you still want to eat, try turning to healthier food options. Start with an apple or orange before reaching for the ice cream. Or try a smaller portion — savor just one small scoop of ice cream from a bowl instead of grabbing a spoon and eating the whole container.

If You … Lash Out When You’re Mad

Are you the kind of person who gets dramatic or explosive when you’re upset or angry? If so, you may find that a physical release will help you get out of a bad mood. “Hitting a punching bag — or even a pillow — will help you get your emotions out,” says Ronda Rose-Kayser, a certified life coach at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, S.D. Kickboxing is another good outlet for anger, she says.

It also helps to try dealing with your emotions sooner. That’s the advice of adolescent psychologist Eileen Stone. “For most people, there’s a buildup of emotion throughout the day,” says Stone, who is with Sanford Health in Fargo, N.D. “Deal with the little things that get you down sooner. Then you don’t have this big burst of anger that explodes all at once.”

For instance, if a friend hurts your feelings, talk to her about it instead of pretending to ignore it. Yes, it’s probably going to be uncomfortable to bring it up. But, “If you talk to someone about a potential problem when you’re still calm, it’s much more likely she’ll listen,” Stone says. “If you wait until you’re lashing out, most people will just tune you out.”

If You … Hold a Grudge

For some people, a bad grade on a test or a rude comment from a classmate is enough to put a damper on the entire day. If it’s difficult for you to let things go, Rose-Kayser recommends asking yourself if what’s bugging you is really that big of a deal.

“Here’s where self-talk comes into play. You need to talk to yourself to get yourself out of that intensity spiral,” she says. “Tell yourself: ‘Here’s what happened. This is why it happened. I am angry, but I am not going to let one isolated incident ruin the rest of my day.'”

If You … Shut Down When You’re Angry

Do you lock yourself in your room or bury yourself under the covers when you’re upset? Some people need to be by themselves to process their emotions and get out of a bad mood, Rose-Kayser tells WebMD. And it’s fine to give yourself some space. But if you notice yourself building walls between you and the outside world, it’s time to break them down and reconnect. Find a way to express yourself.

“Is there an activity you can do to help you express your emotions?” Rose-Kayser says. “Maybe it’s talking to a friend or journaling.” Not expressing your emotions is dangerous, according to Stone, because if you bottle them up for too long, they’ll have nowhere to go. “They’ll build up and up and up and will eventually come out in a negative way when they finally do overflow,” she says.

If you feel like you want to sleep 24/7 when you’re in a bad mood, keep in mind that even moderate exercise can make you feel better by raising your levels of serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. “Ask yourself, ‘Do I want to sleep because my body needs rest, or do I just want to get away from everyone?'” Rose-Kayser says. If it’s the latter, walk around for 30 minutes  to see if that improves your mood.

By Julie Taylor WebMD
Reviewed by Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, PhD

Q & A: On Female Empowerment, Health & Happiness.

March 11, 2012

Coffs Coast Health Club

We at Coffs Coast Health Club are always looking for information that is relevant and meaningful to you, the members.  This article came from and is all about female empowerment, health, happiness, sex & yoga.  We hope you enjoy this article, it covers a vast array of information.  Leave us your feedback and what you found informative & interesting.

A few months ago I saw Dr. Christiane Northrup speak for the first time alongside my friends, Dr. Frank Lipman and Kris Carr at Urban Zen. Needless to say, I was blown away as her empowering approach to women’s health and wellness is second to none.

Dr. Northrup is a leading proponent of medicine and healing that acknowledges the unity of the mind and body, as well as the powerful role of the human spirit in creating health. Following a career as a practicing physician in obstetrics and gynecology for over 25 years, Dr. Northrup has dedicated her lifework to helping women (and the men who love them) learn how to flourish on all levels by creating health, prosperity, and pleasure in their lives. She says, “I’ve spent the first half of my life studying and footnoting everything that can go wrong with the female body—and figuring out how to fix it. I’m dedicating the second half of my life to illuminating everything that can go right with the female body, including teaching women how to truly flourish.” Wow!

I was fortunate enough to talk to Dr. Northrup and tried to cover as much as I could — from osteoporosis to self-empowerment to yoga  — this woman is an unbelievable wealth of wellness knowledge!

Could you speak about the misconception that women need to take supplements to prevent osteoporosis and what they could be getting from their diet?

CN: When the Women’s Health Initiative stopped abruptly in 2002, up to that point, for 20 years, women were being prescribed estrogen, in the form of Premarin, the urine of pregnant horses, as a way to keep bone mass steady after menopause. It’s fairly well documented that bones lose some mass when estrogen levels drop. But they don’t drop into the fracture range because of menopause-you just lose bone mass. The first Premarin scare in the 70s, where it was noted that women who were on Premarin had a higher risk of endometrial cancer, was the first time that Premarin fell off the stage as the panacea for everything. Then, in the early 80s, drug companies made another case for it and osteoporosis was the main indication. It was seen as the pill to keep you young forever, to keep your heart and bones healthy. But the risk of breast cancer, stroke, and heart disease increased for some women.

So they had to invent something else to prevent osteoporosis, with the mindset being that osteoporosis and fractures were a normal consequence of aging. That’s not the case. It’s not inevitable. Bones are living tissue and you can get bone mass back through weight bearing exercise and Vitamin D from supplements or sunlight. For last 30 years, we’ve vilified the sun, so now we have a worldwide epidemic of osteoporosis. But it’s also the fact that our standard western diet is acid. The bones are a huge reservoir of minerals such as calcium. They are the blood’s major source of alkalinizing calcium, so at night when you’re sleeping, to keep the blood slightly alkaline, the bones will dissolve. If we look at the standard western diet, it’s primarily acid-forming foods: grains, sugar, meat. We need those things, but we want to balance it with greens. To make the body alkaline, we need greens. The general thought is 4-5 servings of vegetables per serving of protein or grain. Every time you take a green drink, you give your body a load of alkalinizing, nutrient-rich substances that help counteract the effect of too much acid in the diet. Most fruits and vegetables are alkalinizing to the body.

What we’ve done in the west, thinking that everything is a drug deficiency, is that we’ve developed alendronate drugs like Boniva. They change bone metabolism that block osteoclastic activity, which breaks down old bones so that osteoblast can build new bone. Bone metabolism is supported by a critical balance between the construction crews and building crews, just as the health of a home or city is supported by a balance between what needs to go and what needs to be built. It’s a daily process. What the alendronate drugs do is by stopping the normal breakdown of bones, they favor the buildup of old bone that becomes brittle over time and becomes so hard and dense that the normal blood supply cannot get into the bone.

These drugs bind to bone in a way that’s not reversible, so nobody knows how long that effect stays in your system even after you’re off the drug. Plus, they’re being given relatively young women to prevent something that might happen years and years and years later.

So what do we do prevent this?

Alkalinize your diet. Make sure your Vitamin D levels are ideal: 40-100 nanograms/ml. Don’t just go to the doctor and make sure you’re “normal.” “Normal” is not optimal. Get a copy of your report. We also need enough Vitamin K, found in dark green leafy vegetables. People are taking too much calcium, a reductionistic approach to this. Bones are made from calcium, magnesium, boron-not just calcium.

What do you recommend for getting more greens into our bodies?

Do greens at lunch and dinner. A serving of broccoli, a serving of kale. Iceberg lettuce does not count. To get enough Vitamin K and to alkalinize our body, we need kale, collard greens, broccoli, arugula, and watercress. You can get a lot more if you do it as a juice. But I want to caution people about is putting too much fruit in with the greens because it counteracts the positive effects of the greens because of the sugar. It’s better to do the greens by themselves, though I know that’s asking a lot. Greens with a little carrot or apple juice are better than no greens at all. In general, do not mainline fruit juice because that’s sugar.

Could you speak about your ‘dressing room intervention’ that you mentioned at Urban Zen and elaborate on your belief that women have power that’s unique to them to nurture themselves and their relationships?

The organs and processes of the female body are how the divine come into physical form, so I use very specific references. The idea that the egg has the ability to repair a defective sperm and nourishes the fertilized egg for the first three days as it travels through the fallopian tube in order to embed itself in the uterine wall and create a placenta. The egg wisdom is such that not only does she repair something defective and make it better, but she also brings the food, and then she has the wisdom to create a placenta, an organ that nourishes new growth. On a macrocosmic level, women do this for men and for each other when they up-ride another woman and tell her she looks wonderful or lend her support when she’s down. Women act as a placenta for each other. I’ve never seen a woman heal unless she had a community of like-minded people in which to heal. This is not work you can do alone. One positive comment can change your whole life.

I was at a dress shop in Portland, Maine and could hear a woman in a dressing room, putting herself down and wondering if she was too old for this particular look — the usual dialogue that you hear women doing all the time. And I told her she looked wonderful! This wasn’t about her making the purchase. It was that every time she puts on those outfits, she’s going to hear my voice because I was the placenta for her, the egg that repaired the defect in her eyes because she could not see her beauty. But now, she can. And she’s apt to pass that on to someone else.

We always talk about how contagious bad habits are. Smokers tend to be around other smokers. The opposite is true. One person who stops smoking positively affects people at 4 degrees of separation. We take that principle of contagion and turn it into something positive. As Miriam Nelson, who wrote Strong Woman Stay Young points out, we need communities of people who are exercising, drinking green juicing, and upriding each other in the dressing room together. The Internet is making that so much easier. It’s very exciting.

Could you speak about your work in using the discipline of pleasure in our lives?

When you decide that you’re going to be more positive, there’s a physiologic effect on the people around you. The mediator of this effect is an odorless, colorless gas called nitric oxide, produced by the endothelial lining of every blood vessel in your body under conditions of health and pleasure, meaning sustainable aerobic exercise. Marathon running and over-exercising does the opposite-it causes oxidative stress. Orgasm, or anything pleasurable that is sustainable increases blood flow to every part of our body.

In the instance of erectile dysfunction, it’s very well established the mechanism by which the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis and Viagra work is to enhance the flow of nitric oxide to the penile blood vessel. A woman’s pleasure turns men on and increases their nitric oxide naturally so that they don’t have to use a drug to get the same effect. A turned on woman is what turns on a man, if he’s heterosexual. What turns on a woman is life force in all its forms. A woman will be turned on with increased blood flow to the vagina by watching gay males, women together, or a man and a woman together. Men are more selective. If he is gay, he’s generally not going to be turned on by a man and woman together or two women, he’s turned on by two men. A man is not as multi-modal. Women are more erotically aroused in a more global way. We have to think of it not just as sex, not just as “get him up and get him off” because a happy, healthy woman uplifts whatever she’s involved in.

Women think that women’s health is getting a PAP Smear and a mammogram — that’s what they’ve been brainwashed into, that’s the discussion of women’s health. It’s unbelievable to me. I’m actually going to talk about women’s health. When women feel great about themselves, their spouses are going to be happier and healthier. It’s a win-win. There’s no downside whatsoever. Because we are relationship-oriented, we are taught that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. Our role models of what is a good woman is Mother Theresa, someone who gives until it hurts. We see in award ceremonies: “She was a tireless worker for women’s rights. She never rested.” I don’t want that on my gravestone. Because you can’t get health out of working tirelessly, out of being a crusader who is always angry, tired, or depleted.

What I’m out to do is to turn this whole idea of self-sacrifice on its head, knowing full well that we live in a world where the majority of the population still prefers a son to a daughter. In India, China, and Muslim countries, women are seen as a burden. In North America and Europe, we women are in a very privileged position. The higher we take ourselves, the more effective we will be in turning around the entire planet. The Earth itself is female, and how an individual woman treats herself, how she allows herself to be treated and how the Earth is treated is the same.

How does yoga play a role in the empowerment of women?

The beauty of yoga is that it is an ancient system in which the body is prepared to receive the fullest of the soul. There’s nobody who stays optimally healthy who doesn’t move their body and have flexibility in their joints and an open heart. One of the things you’ll notice that happen to people as they get older is that their chest cavity caves in more. Yoga keeps the chest open and keeps the heart open so that you can feel, to give and receive fully. The fascial plane run throughout the entire body. They encase each and every muscle and attach the muscle to the skeleton. They’re crystalline structures that have integrin cells, which are actual electromagnetic transfer stations where whatever happens in the soles of the feet as you spread your toes on your mat, changes the way you think, the signals that your brain gets. You become a center of peace on the planet. Some rap song from the 80s sums it up: “Ma body is living proof of peace on Earth.” You have to begin with you, with your breath and shoulders.

The beauty of yoga is this: you keep getting better. The more you do it, the better you get so that the people who are the most together as yogis are older. One of the health distracting things we have going on in western culture is after the age of 30, its all downhill. But in disciplines like yoga, it’s never too late to start, and the improvements are something you can see constantly. It’s the one thing, whether it’s with yoga, Pilates, or tango that you can continually see how the body remolds itself, how the body is an extension of consciousness. It’s a practice that you come back to over and over gain that lets you know in a very concrete, practical way, that the body and mind are one. As you change your mind, your body changes, and as you change your body, you change your mind. I don’t know how people get true life without a discipline like it.

What excites and/or concerns you right now?

I’m really excited about the rise of the feminine consciousness all over the planet. What is particularly yummy is the rise of burlesque as a cheeky, hilarious celebration of female sexuality. S Factor pole dancing, Argentine tango, belly dancing-women are reclaiming their sexuality for themselves, not to turn on men, but to turn on themselves. So women are becoming sex subjects instead of sex objects. That is a luscious example of the rise of the feminine that is associated with increased nitric oxide, increased blood flow, and better health. That’s a sign of Kundalini rising. It’s what we need to balance things.

There’s nothing that scares me because part of my healthcare is that I assiduously avoid the mainstream media. I use my power of choice to choose where I’m going to put my attention because it’s ultimately the only power I have that as I attend to something, I put my attention somewhere and then I increase my experience of that. So I don’t let the media tell me what to think or believe.

However, I’m astounded that the C-section rate is 1 in 3 and that women are now having cesarean births and labor inductions on demand. The maternal mortality from a C-section is 4 times that of a normal birth and the maternal mortality rate has doubled in the U.S. in the past 20 years. That is a travesty. But where I choose to put my focus is orgasmic, ecstatic birth. The same energy that gets the baby in gets the baby out. If I can let women know that some orgasmic, high experience is available in birth, maybe they’ll stop scheduling elective inductions and C-sections

What do you tell someone who wants to make choices like you, but doesn’t know where to begin?

You just begin right where you are, knowing that tiny little steps add over time. Start with something incredibly simple. Look in the mirror every morning for 30 days, deep into your eyes and say: “I really really love you”. At the end of 30 days, something will shift inside of your head. Type-A personality is driven by the ego. As Josh Pais believes, if you follow your thoughts to their logical conclusion, your thoughts will always lead to the conclusion that “you suck.” So, the only way to counteract that is through the wisdom of the heart. Just start with “I love you” in the mirror. Then, you could do an Epsom salt bath before you go to bed.

One of the things I’ve found really fun is It means “First Love Yourself.” It’s from a woman from South Carolina, a fly fisherman, who teaches people how to have an orderly house. She starts by telling you to shine your sink at night before you go to bed because a shiny sink becomes contagious. So that when you wake up in the morning, you’ve got one focus of order and beauty — your sink, even if nothing else gets done. Her work is so grounded, so adorable, and contagious. It’s very southern, not hip New York — it’s practical and it works. So I started shining my sink every night and it’s changed my life. And so now, I can’t go to bed without shining my sink and I love it.

Jamie Oliver visits Australia in the fight against “Childhood Obesity”

March 8, 2012
Jamie Oliver fights Australian obesity

Jamie Oliver fights Australian obesity

The Shocking Facts

Childhood obesity is big news and unfortunately, like the waistbands of our nation’s children and teenagers, it’s set to get even bigger.

Obesity in children in Australia is increasing at an alarming rate.

Just like child obesity in America and child obesity worldwide, child obesity in Australia has increased greatly in the past few years.

Some statistics about child obesity in Australia

According to the Australian government:

An estimated 1.5 million people under the age 18 are considered overweight or obese.

This means about 20-25% of Australian children are overweight or obese.

The proportion of overweight or obese children in Australian is increasing at an accelerating rate. This pattern, showing up since the 1980’s, is similar internationally.

Children are getting less aerobic exercise.

The amount of aerobic fitness is decreasing about .4% a year.

Between 1985 and 1997 obesity levels in the population doubled.

While obesity increased 2-4 times, being overweight increased 60-70%. This shows signs not just of increasing, but accelerating.

If weight gain continues the path it is following, by the year 2020, 80% of all Australian adults and a third of all children will be overweight or obese.

A study in Queensland showed that up to 30% of Australian children have low fitness levels while 60% have poor motor skills.

There is an indication that walking and cycling are used less for transportation for Australian children. Studies also seem to show that those among the least fit of Australian children are the group deteriorating the fastest over time.

In Australian schools, physical education is being reduced even with no dispute about how important physical education is.

50% of obese adolescents continue to be obese as adults.

Studies show that relative body weight is most often carried from childhood to adulthood. Once a child or adolescent is obese or overweight, they are not likely to reduce it as an adult.

Obesity in a child or adult is defined as a condition where excess fat has accumulated to the point that it can impair health.

A primary cause of obesity is an energy imbalance.

An intake of high energy foods, combined with a low level of exercise or a sedentary lifestyle is a cause of this energy imbalance.

One study estimates that for every 1% increase in the proportion of physically active people, nearly 122 lives can be saved that would have been lost to coronary heart disease, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes. All of these diseases have links to obesity.

It is estimated that in 1995-1996 the cost of obesity in Australia was between $680-$1239 million.

Obesity as a child is linked to an increase in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in an adult regardless of the adult weight. Being overweight as a child brings and an increase for heart related diseases like high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and high blood sugar.

Child obesity is also related to many medical conditions like respiratory disorders, orthopedic problems, release of growth hormone, arthritis, and gastric problems.

A study estimated that less than 70% of girls that were year 8 and year 10 students remained adequately active over winter in 1997.

Basically, what you can see from statistics like these is that being overweight or obesity in a child is increasing.

A primary cause can be an increasing lack of exercise compared to an intake of high energy foods. It must also be noted that once a child is obese or overweight,  it can be difficult to lose that weight during a lifetime. Obesity in a child may also lead to an increase in obesity related diseases.

Also in the report on child obesity in Australia, were statistics showing that there in an increase in homes with both parents at work. Also noted was an increase between 1986 and 1999 where a sole parent was working.

A lot must be done to reverse child obesity in Australia and child obesity worldwide.

An emphasis must be made on the need for exercise and eating the right foods. Also, we need to understand not just how a child becomes obese, but the why they become obese may be just as important. If nothing is done, the possible 2020 statistic of 80% obese or overweight Australian adults may become true from today’s child obesity in Australia.

 Jamie Oliver fights Australian obesity

Jamie is on a mission to ensure that people all over the world know how to cook. Through his school dinners campaign launched in 2006, he learned that it wasn’t enough to just change how kids ate at school, if parents didn’t support with wholesome food at home. So he followed up with a Ministry of Food campaign in 2009 which featured centres where individuals and families could learn to cook for free. The Ministry of Food centres have been a great success, with classes booked up months ahead of time, and has been followed by equally popular centres in Leeds and Bradford in 2010 (and more to come!)

Jamie is looking beyond the United Kingdom, and he has teamed up with The Good Guys (a major consumer electronics and whitegoods retailer) who are committing AUS$5million to build, equip and run community based Jamie’s Ministry of Food centres, both permanent and mobile, around Australia.

Australia is now one of the most obese countries in the world. Changes in family life, the rise of convenience foods, and a lack of compulsory food education in schools has resulted in huge numbers of people losing touch with one of life’s most essential skills: cooking. Jamie passionately believes that the most effective way to combat this lack of knowledge is to tackle it head on, with good information and practical cookery lessons for everyone.

“When you know how to cook, you’ve got control over your life and your health. Cooking is one of the most important things we can ever learn in life and with the right sort of information and teaching, absolutely anybody can cook. It’s wonderful, it’s fun, and most importantly, it changes lives,” says Jamie.

In Australia, shocking figures provided by the National Preventative Health Taskforce show that being overweight or obese affects over 60% of Australian adults and 25% of Australian children. The total financial cost in Australia of obesity alone, not including overweight people, was estimated at $8.3 billion in 2008. The most recent projections indicate that there will be an extra 6.7 million obese Australians by 2025. This frightening statistic clearly demonstrates an urgent need for action!

In an effort to tackle this Australian health issue, The Good Guys have committed significant funding and resources to set up and develop Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia. The Good Guys has announced the establishment of a new independent not-for-profit organisation called The Good Foundation, of which Jamie’s Ministry of Food will be a priority project.

Andrew Muir, chairman of The Good Guys says, “The growing list of health concerns related to poor eating habits affects all Australians for which we all need to take responsibility. We believe this initiative has the potential to improve the health and social welfare of communities right across Australia. The Good Foundation is putting up its hand.”

Jamie’s food revolution will empower people, through giving them the skills to change their eating and cooking behaviour, to make both short and long terms changes to their lives. Based on the success of Jamie’s Ministry of Food initiative in the UK, Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia is all about encouraging people to go back into the kitchen and cook again.

Jamie says, “I’m delighted that The Good Guys will be helping to make Ministry of Food a success in Australia.”

About the Author: Monisha Saldanha works on Jamie Oliver’s web team. “It’s the best job ever, combining my love of food and the internet. Couldn’t ask for more!” she says.

Visit for more information about the “Ministry of Food” program with lots of useful information and recipes.

Sizzling Beef with Spring Onions & Black Bean Sauce

sizzling beef with spring onions and black bean sauce
© David Loftus
servings 2


This works best with rice that has been made earlier, cooled, and then chilled in the fridge. But if you can’t prepare rice for this dish in advance, cook it then spread it out on a tray in a thin layer so that it cools down quickly while you’re cooking the rest of the dish.


sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
130g long-grain or basmati rice
1 x 200g sirloin or rump steak
1 red pepper
a handful of baby corn
a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic
½ a fresh red chilli
2 spring onions
a small bunch of fresh coriander
a handful of mange tout
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon groundnut oil
2 tablespoons of good-quality black bean sauce 1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 limes
1 large egg, preferably free-range or organic
Equipment list
Chopping board
2 bowls
Wooden spoon
Tin foil
Kitchen paper

To prepare your stir-fry:
1. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the rice and cook according to the packet instructions. Drain the rice in a sieve, run it under a cold tap to cool, and then allow to dry out in the fridge.
2. Trim any excess fat from your steak and slice the meat into finger-sized strips. Halve and deseed your pepper and cut it into thin strips. Trim and halve your baby corn lengthways. Peel and finely slice the ginger and garlic. Finely slice the chilli. Cut the ends off your spring onions and finely slice. Pick the coriander leaves and put to one side, and finely chop the coriander stalks.
3. Get yourself a big bowl and put in the red pepper, baby corn, mange tout, ginger, garlic, chilli, spring onions, coriander stalks and steak strips. Add the sesame oil and mix everything together.

To cook your stir-fry:
4. Preheat a wok or large frying pan on a high heat and once it’s very, very hot add half of the groundnut oil and swirl it around. Add all your chopped ingredients from the bowl. Give the pan a really good shake to mix everything around quickly. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, taking care to keep everything moving so it doesn’t burn. Add the black bean sauce, and stir in half the soy sauce and the juice of half a lime. Keep tossing. Taste and season with black pepper.
5. Remove the pan from the heat, transfer everything to a bowl and cover with tin foil.
6. Give the pan a quick wipe with a ball of kitchen paper and put back on the heat. Add the rest of the groundnut oil and swirl it around. Crack in your egg and the remaining soy sauce – the egg will cook very quickly so keep stirring. Once it’s scrambled, stir in your chilled rice, scraping the sides and the bottom of the pan as you go. Keep mixing for a few minutes until the rice is steaming hot, then taste and season with a small splash of soy sauce, if needed.

To serve your stir-fry:
7. Divide the rice between two bowls or plates. Spoon over the meat and black bean sauce and sprinkle over the coriander leaves. Serve with wedges of lime – great!

Adapted from Jamie’s Ministry of Food