Archive for July, 2017

10 Practical Ways to Handle Stress

July 30, 2017

stressStress is inevitable. It walks in and out of our lives on a regular basis. And it can easily walk all over us unless we take action. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to minimize and cope with stress. Here are 10 ideas for handling stress without causing more strain and hassle.

1. Figure out where the stress is coming from.

Oftentimes, when we’re stressed, it seems like a big mess with stressors appearing from every angle. We start to feel like we’re playing a game of dodge ball, ducking and darting so we don’t get smacked by a barrage of balls. We take a defensive position, and not a good one at that.

Instead of feeling like you’re flailing day to day, identify what you’re actually stressed about. Is it a specific project at work, an upcoming exam, a dispute with your boss, a heap of laundry, a fight with your family?

By getting specific and pinpointing the stressors in your life, you’re one step closer to getting organized and taking action.

2. Consider what you can control—and work on that.

While you can’t control what your boss does, what your in-laws say or the sour state of the economy, you can control how you react, how you accomplish work, how you spend your time and what you spend your money on.

The worst thing for stress is trying to take control over uncontrollable things. Because when you inevitably fail — since it’s beyond your control — you only get more stressed out and feel helpless. So after you’ve thought through what’s stressing you out, identify the stressors that you can control, and determine the best ways to take action.

Take the example of a work project. If the scope is stressing you out, talk it over with your supervisor or break the project down into step-wise tasks and deadlines.

Stress can be paralyzing. Doing what’s within your power moves you forward and is empowering and invigorating.

3. Do what you love.

It’s so much easier to manage pockets of stress when the rest of your life is filled with activities you love. Even if your job is stress central, you can find one hobby or two that enrich your world. What are you passionate about? If you’re not sure, experiment with a variety of activities to find something that’s especially meaningful and fulfilling.

4. Manage your time well.

One of the biggest stressors for many people is lack of time. Their to-do list expands, while time flies. How often have you wished for more hours in the day or heard others lament their lack of time? But you’ve got more time than you think, as Laura Vanderkam writes in her aptly titled book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.

We all have the same 168 hours, and yet there are plenty of people who are dedicated parents and full-time employees and who get at least seven hours of sleep a night and lead fulfilling lives.

Here are Vanderkam’s seven steps to help you check off your to-do list and find time for the things you truly enjoy.

5. Create a toolbox of techniques.

One stress-shrinking strategy won’t work for all your problems. For instance, while deep breathing is helpful when you’re stuck in traffic or hanging at home, it might not rescue you during a business meeting.

Because stress is complex, “What we need is a toolbox that’s full of techniques that we can fit and choose for the stressor in the present moment,” said Richard Blonna, Ed.D, a nationally certified coach and counselor and author of Stress Less, Live More: How Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Can Help You Live a Busy Yet Balanced Life.

Here’s a list of additional techniques to help you build your toolbox.

6. Pick off the negotiables from your plate.

Review your daily and weekly activities to see what you can pick off your plate. As Vanderkam asks in her book: “Do your kids really love their extracurricular activities, or are they doing them to please you? Are you volunteering for too many causes, and so stealing time from the ones where you could make the most impact? Does your whole department really need to meet once per week or have that daily conference call?”

Blonna suggested asking these questions: “Do [my activities] mesh with my goals and values? Am I doing things that give my life meaning? Am I doing the right amount of things?”

Reducing your stack of negotiable tasks can greatly reduce your stress.

7. Are you leaving yourself extra vulnerable to stress?

Whether you perceive something as a stressor depends in part on your current state of mind and body. That is, as Blonna said, ““Each transaction we’re involved in takes place in a very specific context that’s affected by our health, sleep, psychoactive substances, whether we’ve had breakfast [that day] and [whether we’re] physically fit.”

So if you’re not getting sufficient sleep or physical activity during the week, you may be leaving yourself extra susceptible to stress. When you’re sleep-deprived, sedentary and filled to the brim with coffee, even the smallest stressors can have a huge impact.

8. Preserve good boundaries.

If you’re a people-pleaser like me, saying no feels like you’re abandoning someone, have become a terrible person or are throwing all civility out the window. But of course that couldn’t be further from the truth. Plus, those few seconds of discomfort are well worth avoiding the stress of taking on an extra activity or doing something that doesn’t contribute value to your life.

One thing I’ve noticed about productive, happy people is that they’re very protective of their time and having their boundaries crossed. But not to worry: Building boundaries is a skill you can learn. Here are some tips to help. And if you tend toward people-pleasing, these tips can help, too.

9. Realize there’s a difference between worrying and caring.

Sometimes, our mindset can boost stress, so a small issue mushrooms into a pile of problems. We continue worrying, somehow thinking that this is a productive — or at least inevitable — response to stress. But we mistake worry for action.

Clinical psychologist Chad LeJeune, Ph.D, talks about the idea of worrying versus caring in his book, The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety Using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. “Worrying is an attempt to exert control over the future by thinking about it,” whereas caring is taking action. “When we are caring for someone or something, we do the things that support or advance the best interests of the person or thing that we care about.”

LeJeune uses the simple example of houseplants. He writes: “If you are away from home for a week, you can worry about your houseplants every single day and still return home to find them brown and wilted. Worrying is not watering.”

Similarly, fretting about your finances does nothing but get you worked up (and likely prevent you from taking action). Caring about your finances, however, means creating a budget, paying bills on time, using coupons and reducing how often you dine out.

Just this small shift in mindset from worrying to caring can help you adjust your reaction to stress. To see this distinction between worrying and caring, LeJeune includes an activity where readers list responses for each one. For example:

Worrying about your health involves…

Caring about your health involves…

Worrying about your career involves…

Caring about your career involves…

10. Embrace mistakes—or at least don’t drown in perfectionism.

Another mindset that can exacerbate stress is perfectionism. Trying to be mistake-free and essentially spending your days walking on eggshells is exhausting and anxiety-provoking. Talk about putting pressure on yourself! And as we all know but tend to forget: Perfectionism is impossible and not human, anyway.

As researcher Brene Brown writes in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth” and it’s not self-improvement.

Nothing good can come from perfectionism. Brown writes: “Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and life-paralysis [‘all the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect’].”

Plus, mistake-mistaking can lead to growth. To overcome perfectionism, Brown suggests becoming more compassionate toward yourself. We couldn’t agree more.

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Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Choc orange, cinnamon & turmeric bliss balls

July 27, 2017

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Makes 18

Ingredients

1 cup almond meal
1 cup Shaken Jamaican protein powder
10 dried dates
pinch salt
zest one orange
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup water

Method

  1. Combine Food process almond meal and Shaken Jamaican powder.
  2. Add dates and blend until well chopped.
  3. Add salt, zest, cinnamon, turmeric and coconut and pulse.
  4. Add water gradually while blending. The mixture should roll into balls without being sticky, so add more water or add coconut or almond meal to ensure the consistency is right.
  5. Roll into 18 balls and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Is It Better to Exercise on an Empty Stomach?

July 25, 2017

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It turns out there may be something to the gym floor “bro science” of exercising on an empty stomach to fire up that coveted fat-burning metabolism. Research published in the March 2017 edition of the American Journal of Physiology–Endocrinology and Metabolism shows that eating versus fasting before a workout can affect gene expression in adipose tissue (your fat stores) in response to exercise.

In the study, British scientists had a small group of overweight men walk at 60% of their maximum oxygen intake for 60 minutes in the morning either in a fasted or a fed state (a carb-rich meal 2 hours before exercise). The research team collected adipose tissue samples before exercise and again 1 hour afterward.

It turned out that adipose gene expression differed between the two trials. In the fasted state, an uptick in genes (specifically two called PDK4 and HSL) indicated an increase in the use of stored fat to fuel metabolism. When subjects exercised after eating, these genes decreased, which could indicate less fat-burning.

After eating, the researchers suggested, our adipose tissue is affected by the food and will not respond in the same way. The upshot is that for people who are eager to shed a few fat pounds, working up a sweat in a fasted state may bring about more favorable metabolic changes in adipose tissue to help treat Buddha-belly.

Still, it remains to be determined whether this outcome would apply to more intense bouts of exercise. Many people find it challenging to keep up the pace in a vigorous workout when their stomach is growling—and if pace suffers, calorie burning will drop overall. It’s important to note that we’re talking fat-burning here, not performance.

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 14, Issue 7
by Matthew Kadey, MS, RD on Jun 13, 2017
Sourced here: http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/hungry-for-exercise

The Big Problem With Scented Candles

July 23, 2017

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People have been using scented candles for years trying to mask unpleasant odours in their homes. They’re a go-to when trying to relax and unwind after a long days work.

Though they may seem safe, regular scented candles are actually a major source of indoor pollution, and destroy air quality (and the lungs). They put off chemicals that are considered just as dangerous as second-hand smoke.

According to Anne Steinemann, an environmental pollutants expert, certain candles may emit numerous types of potentially hazardous chemicals, like benzene and toluene (1). They can disrupt the nervous system, cause damage to the brain and lungs, as well as cause developmental problems.

“I have heard from numerous people who have asthma that they can’t even go into a store if the store sells scented candles, even if they aren’t being burned,” Steinemann said. “They emit so much fragrance that they can trigger asthma attacks and even migraines.”

Studies On Scented Candles

Many studies on scented candles have been performed, so I’ll outline a few below.

One study conducted by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Hanyang University examined whether the amount of toxins varied with fragrance, based on six different scents. Scented candles, lit or not, contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be incredibly toxic when inhaled.

They found that when a candle was lit, formaldehyde was in highest concentration out of any VOC emitted. As we know, formaldehyde is listed as a hazardous compound, and its vapours are considered highly toxic.

The scents that emitted the highest concentrations of formaldehyde were as follows (ppb = parts per billion):

– Strawberry: 2098 ppb
– Clean Cotton: 1022 ppb
– Plain: 925 ppb

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that, “acute and chronic health effects of formaldehyde vary depending on the individual. The typical threshold for development of acute symptoms due to inhaled formaldehyde is 800 ppb; however, sensitive individuals have reported symptoms at formaldehyde levels around 100 ppb (4).”

Another study conducted by researchers at South Carolina State University (1) tested both petroleum-based paraffin wax candles and vegetable-based candles that were non-scented, non-pigmented and free of dyes.

The vegetable-based candles didn’t produce any harmful pollutants, however the paraffin candles “released unwanted chemicals into the air…for a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma,” professor Ruhollah Massoudi said.

You get the same kind of results with studies looking at air fresheners, like Febreze. Your best bet is to just stay away from synthetic anything.

Warnings

The CDC has warnings and recommendations for formaldehyde exposure in the home. Home owners are urged to stop exposure, especially when there are individuals with asthma, elders, or young children present in the household.

Short-term exposure to formaldehyde released from candles results in the following symptoms:
– Watery and burning eyes
– Burning in throat and nose
– Nausea and/or vomiting
– Wheezing and/or coughing
– Burning skin and/or irritation

Long-term exposure to chemicals found in candles can also cause cancer within the nasal passages, and even worse, leukaemia (5). Constantly breathing in chemicals found in candles can also lead to cognitive impairment, and certain types of dementia.

Scent Alternatives

If you want your home to smell a certain way, there are literally so many healthy options. I personally love burning cedar, sage, sweetgrass, paulo santo, and copal.

In fact, these 5 plant medicines can actually purify the air of harmful bacteria. One study found that over 94% of bacterial populations were diminished when the medicinal herb of choice was burned for 1 hour in a closed room.

You can also diffuse essential oils to help change what the air smells like, or if you want to add some essential oils in a water bottle sprayer, that helps too! Simply add 10 drops of an organic essential oil to 4 ounces of water, shake, and spray.

Natural Candles

If you love burning candles and the warm light they emit, opt for candles made of pure, organic beeswax. They do not drip, and have a light honey scent that’s to die for! They also produce a clean, beautiful flame, and naturally produce negative ions, which reduces allergens in the environment.

Read more at https://livelovefruit.com/scented-candles-destroy-air-quality-poison-lungs/#XlEtiguWJe16grdQ.99

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Slow Roasted Tomato Soup

July 20, 2017

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Ingredients

½ red onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp dried Italian herbs
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 Pinch chilli flakes
2 cups tomato juice (unsweetened)
½ cup gluten-free vegetable (or chicken) stock
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1.5kg tomatoes, halved
3 tsp balsamic vinegar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C. Scatter the onion, garlic, herbs, fennel seeds and chilli flakes in a deep roasting pan.
  2. Combine the tomato juice, stock, oil and red wine vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the tomatoes, cut side down, on the onion and herb mixture and pour over the tomato juice mixture. Roast for 2 hours.
  4. Remove from the oven and use tongs to remove as much of the tomato skins as possible.
  5. Transfer to a saucepan and blend using a stick mixer. Heat through and add the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Kill your sugar cravings with these 7 foods

July 18, 2017

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So, you’ve ditched the sweet stuff. For the first few days you’re flying high on green veggies and avocado – feeling like a brand new you.

But then, your body starts to realise that you’ve taken away ALL the sugar! Your brain’s sugar craving hormones begin to have a sweet little meltdown and you find yourself longing for that morning muffin, muesli bar and after dinner treat (read: half a pack of biscuits!).

If this sounds all too familiar, don’t sweat it. You’re not alone! We’ve all felt overwhelmed by our sugar cravings at some point (yes, even us) so here are some of the best sugar craving busters we’ve discovered at IQS.

1. Coconut oil.

This is a tried-and-tested trick in the IQS repertoire. “After lunch I still get sweet, ‘I need something more’ cravings,” says Sarah. “So this is my fail-proof trick. I eat two tablespoons of coconut oil. It satisfies my need for something sweet and KILLS appetite for about four to five hours.”

2. Liquorice tea.

The IQS team must literally sweat liquorice tea – we’re all drinking it! With the most amazing sweet aftertaste, you’ll have a hard time believing that it’s naturally sugar-free (unlike the liquorice sweets you can buy).

3. Sweet potato.

Sweet potato (or kumara) is one of the most delicious foods on this planet – fact. The very small amount of sugar will satisfy your cravings, while the starch stops you from overdoing it. Oh, and did we mention that sweet potatoes are ridiculously good for you?

4. Carrot sticks.

Carrots are another sweet veggie with lots of fibre to fill you up. Keep an emergency box of carrot sticks in the fridge, ready to be dipped into guacamole or hummus when the cravings strike.

5. Kombucha.

One of the things people miss most when they quit sugar is soft drinks. We suggest you skip the crappy diet pop and go for 100ml of gut-lovin’ kombucha when you need a fizzy hit. Just make sure it’s a low-sugar brand (we prefer it to be around 1g of sugar per 100ml).

6. Nut butter.

Nuts are full of good fats and proteins, making them perfect for sugar cravings. Almonds and cashews are naturally sweet, too. (Hot tip: if you make your own nut butter, add a heaped teaspoon of cinnamon to the mix to make the most delicious thing you’ve ever tasted.)

7. 85 per cent dark chocolate.

While you’ll have to give up your Twix bars, there’s nothing wrong with a little good quality cacao. A 100g block of 85 per cent dark chocolate has just over a teaspoon of sugar (not that you could finish a whole block!). To take it even further, try a 90 per cent dark chocolate. So good.

We originally published this post in June 2016. We updated it in June 2017.
Source here: https://iquitsugar.com/food-kill-sugar-cravings

​How to take a break from drinking alcohol

July 16, 2017

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So you’ve taken on a challenge to take a break from drinking – well done! As well as saving you money and giving you back your Sunday mornings, drinking less comes with a bunch of health benefits.

Of course, it’s not realistic for most of us to quit drinking completely forever. As with most things, moderation is the key for long term healthy living. But for many people, cutting out alcohol completely for a set period such as a month (like FebFast or Dry July) can be a great way to pause, notice how much you’re drinking and how it’s impacting you, and reset your habits.

“If you feel you are drinking too much and it has become a habit, taking a break may just be the way to kick-start changes to that habit.”

Why drink less?

Alcohol is an accepted part of the social structure of Australia, but it is a substance that has the potential to cause a great deal of harm. The effects of alcohol on health are well described and unfortunately, most of it is on the negative side of the health ledger.

Alcohol is a major cause of road injury and a significant contributor to domestic violence while higher rates of heart disease, liver disease, cancer, mental health problems and excess weight are all consequences of long-term heavy drinking. And let’s not forget about the ‘next day’ ill effects from an evening of over-exuberance.

Fortunately, most Australians who drink alcohol do so at levels that have few adverse problems. Low levels of drinking may have some favourable benefits on cardiovascular disease risk (at least in middle-aged people), but other healthy activities like exercise and eating well can give even greater benefits for a whole range of health issues.

“In place of that after-work drink, use a juicer to come up with some speciality fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies.”

Tips for changing your habits

Instead of treating your break from alcohol as just an exercise in willpower, use it as a chance to give your attention to other healthy changes you can make in place of the alcohol you are giving up. If you feel you are drinking too much and it has become a habit, taking a break may just be the way to kick-start changes to that habit.

The key to changing a habit is not eliminating it, but replacing it with something else. And that something else should be a healthier habit. Using these swaps gives you a ‘go to’ when faced with triggers for the habit you’re trying to break.

Focus on what you are gaining, not what you are losing. Here are some tips to help you with this:

  • Remove temptations. Make your home as free from alcohol as possible and put away any alcohol you have stored such as wine and spirits out of sight – you don’t want the reminder of what you’re giving up when you get home after a hard day.
  • Replace with healthier beverages. In place of that after-work drink, use a juicer to come up with some speciality fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies. Don’t have a quality juicer? The money you’ll save from not drinking will easily finance this.
  • Get outside and get moving. Take advantage of waking up not feeling seedy on a weekend as a chance to get out for some early morning activity. Checking out the weekend farmers’ markets would be the perfect way to stock up on healthy food for the week.
  • Think outside the box. Social situations involving alcohol may be hard to avoid, but if you have any control over the plans, suggest other places to meet up with friends that don’t normally involve alcohol, such as weekend brunch.
  • Team up. Don’t do it alone. Friendly support and a small dose of competition is a great motivational tonic, so team up with someone else.

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Chunky Winter Vegetable Soup

July 13, 2017

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Winter Workout Advice

July 9, 2017

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Tips for Working Out in Winter

As the weather gets cooler we can be tempted to sleep through our alarm in the morning and stay under the doona, or head straight home after a long cold day at work but it is important for your health and well-being that you continue exercising right through the Winter months. In order to boost your immune system, maintain your fitness and keep your mind happy and active, regular exercise is essential.

1. It is warmer inside the gym than it is outside and your favourite class is going to get you hot and sweaty but make sure that you wear layers to and from the club so that your muscles stay warm. Remove the layers as you warm up during class and then add them back on as you cool off.
2. Hydration is very important and although you may not feel as thirsty when it is cold you need to ensure that you drink before, during and after class.
3. Allow a little extra time before class to warm up on a piece of cardio equipment or by doing some dynamic stretching. Warming the muscles up adequately will prevent injury.
4. Put your favourite classes in your diary at the start of the week and commit to those work outs like you would any other appointment.
5. If you are finding that you are hitting the snooze button too often why not try leaving your alarm on the other side of the bedroom. Once you are up to switch it off you are up for the day.
6. If you are attending an early morning class lay your workout gear out ready for you to slip in to straight away or even sleep in your gear. If you are heading to the gym after work make sure you have everything in your car ready to go so there is no temptation to head home for any reason before heading to your class.

The great thing about group exercise is that you get to sweat it out with other people who are motivated, inspired and pushed by your instructor. So don’t hibernate this winter – get in to the club and get warm while you get fitter, stronger and healthier!

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Pizza Casserole

July 6, 2017

 

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