New Year, New You? Think Again! Learn the Right Way to Set Goals for the New Year

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The new year is a great time to reassess your life and set new goals, right? Well, sort of. Studies have shown that more than half of people who made a resolution have given up only one month into the New Year! The problem is, it’s really tough to give up bad habits and overly-ambitious goals can quickly lead to a searing sense of failure. If you’re having trouble staying motivated, or don’t even know where to begin, it’s not too late to try again. To make your goals actually stick this year, try some of these tips and tricks from psychologists and successful business owners.

 

The S.M.A.R.T. method is a great way to structure your resolution(s). It was originally developed for businesses and organisations, but can easily be applied to personal goals, too. Remember that it’s also preferable to focus on one goal (or related goals like diet and exercise) instead of trying to change every area of your life at once!  

 

S: Specific. Is your goal clearly defined? Psychologists have found that without a specific target, it’s much easier to lose your way and give up. So get specific: replace “get fit” with “be able to complete a 5k run 3 months from now.”  

 

M: Measurable. Make sure there are clear milestones, or you won’t see your progress. Measuring progress is a crucial way to stay motivated. Think “drop 5kg by March” instead of “lose weight.” This will allow you to break up a bigger goal into smaller, do-able pieces. Mentally, this makes goals much easier to achieve.  

 

A: Attainable. This may seem obvious, but make sure that your goal is reachable. There is a difference between challenging yourself and setting yourself up for failure with an impossible objective. Even with the best training, you realistically can’t expect to be able to run a marathon two months from now if you’ve been sitting on a couch for the last year. If you’re set on an ambitious goal, it may be worthwhile to check in with a relevant professional (dietician, personal trainer, financial planner, etc).  

 

R: Relevant. Is the goal you’ve set something you’re doing for yourself, or for others? If you’re more worried about getting a magazine-worthy beach bod than improving your general physical health, you may find yourself discouraged. Take an inventory of why you’ve chosen this particular goal. Shallow reasons tend to be poor motivators in the long term.

 

T: Timely. Make sure your goal(s) has a specific timeframe. Without dates, it’s hard to keep track of progress, which means it’s hard to hold yourself accountable. Having deadlines is a huge benefit that will help you stick to your goals. It may help to tie your goal to natural deadlines: if you’re trying to get your finances organised, make sure it’s done a month before taxes are due. If you’re trying to change your diet, activity level, or other behavior for the long-term, schedule a time every day to briefly journal about your progress.

 

It may seem silly or excessive to follow such an extensive set of “rules” for your resolution, but this method has been backed up by behavioral scientists. The more specific structure you have, the more likely you are to stay on track. Finally, instead of quantity of goals, remember to focus on quality. Then get SMART and enjoy the results you desire!

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Author: Natalie Millis

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The Hidden Danger of Summer Suncream & Natural Alternatives

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We all know that protecting skin from the sun’s UVA and UVB radiation is crucial for preventing skin cancer and premature aging. But what if the suncream you are using for your beach holiday is also harming your health? The whole point of suncream is to protect your skin, not expose it to potentially dangerous chemicals! Besides the safety of the sun-blocking chemicals themselves, we also have to worry about other questionable ingredients that manufactures sneak in to make creams easier to apply or to preserve shelf life. Plus, if concern for your own health isn’t enough reason, some of these chemicals could also be hurting corals and marine life.  

 

One of the most dangerous (and common) chemical sun blockers is oxybenzone. In the laboratory, oxybenzone has been found to cause skin reactions and mimic hormones in the body, which may cause cancer. Scary stuff, right? Fortunately, natural alternatives do exist. Here are some of our favorite ways to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging effects without using ingredients with spotty safety records.

 

First of all, cover up! Using hats, sunglasses and long-sleeve shirts is the simplest way to avoid sun damage. Covering up doesn’t have to look matronly, either: sporting or surf stores often carry special sun shirts or wraps made of light-weight fabric that will keep you cool while protecting your neck, shoulders, and arms from the punishing summer sun. To make sure the fabric offers sun protection, look for a“UPF” rating on the label. Finally, take a cue from actresses like Nicole Kidman who protect their complexions with a chic wide-brimmed hat and large sunnies. If you’re on a beach holiday, consider bringing a large umbrella or other source of shade.

 

Zinc Oxide is a natural mineral (not a chemical) that physically blocks the damaging rays of the sun. It’s the go-to natural sunscreen for a reason: it has a great safety record and is one of the safest choices for kids and babies. Although it has a reputation for being thick or chalky, newer formulations have added other non-toxic ingredients like coconut oil that help with absorption. It’s also possible to find water-resistant/sweat-proof formulations, but don’t forget to re-apply every hour.

 

Titanium Dioxide is another mineral with similar properties and safety profile to Zinc Oxide. Its SPF value is not quite as high, so Zinc Oxide is still the better choice if you’re going swimming/running or doing another outdoor activity directly in the sun. Titanium Dioxide is, however, often found in natural face creams and foundations. To keep wrinkles away, use a daily face moisturiser or foundation with Titanium Dioxide while you’re working, running errands, or going out with friends. Your skin will thank you later.  

 

Shea butter is another safe choice if you’re going to be mostly covered up. Shea butter has amazing skin-healing properties, including reducing the look of wrinkles and spots. It’s also safe for all skin types, and has a low naturally-occurring SPF value, too. To make sure you’re getting the full benefits of shea butter, look for a label that says “unrefined”; it’s often available at your local health food store. Avoid creams that simply contain shea butter, as the characteristics of this healing compound are significantly reduced if it’s processed. Because it doesn’t have the high SPF rating of Zinc Oxide or chemical sunscreens, it’s best used alongside other sun protection measures like hats and long sleeves. Unrefined shea butter also makes a great after-sun balm for dry or irritated skin.  

Author: By Natalie Millis

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Açai Berries: What’s all the Hype About?

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Açai Berries: What’s all the Hype About?

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The popularity of Açai berry products has been growing for the last few years. If you’re considering making Açai part of your diet, learn what science has to say about this superfood—and how to get the best benefits for yourself!

Açai (pronounced “Ah-Say-Ee”) is a purple, olive-sized fruit that grows on a type of palm tree in the Amazon rainforest.  Açai has been traditionally used by indigenous people for a variety of health concerns and celebrated for its energy-giving, healing properties. Besides being packed with colorful phytonutrients that provide its record-setting antioxidant properties, Açai fruit is a source of healthy omega-3 fats and dietary fibre, too.

 

As knowledge of Açai fruit has gone mainstream, its benefits have been explored both as a health-boosting supplement and a skin-care ingredient. Research has focused especially on Açai’s possible usefulness in aiding weight loss, but other benefits of the fruit may include improvement of: immune system function, heart disease and high cholesterol, arthritis and other inflammation-related disorders. A promising study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2011[1] showed that subjects who took Açai pulp daily showed improvement in fasting levels of glucose, insulin and cholesterol - all important parts of healthy weight loss. Preliminary studies have also shown that Açai may help prevent tumors from being formed[2] and could even help kill cancer cells[3]. The same powerful antioxidant properties that make Açai such a superfood can also have brightening, wrinkle-reducing benefits when applied to the skin.

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Like many natural supplements, the benefits of Açai depend greatly on the quality of the product and packaging. When antioxidant properties of Açai were compared to other berries, fresh Açai had some of the highest scores recorded. This means Açai out-performed other nutritional powerhouses like blackberries, blueberries and strawberries! Unfortunately, the antioxidant power of Açai is seriously reduced if it is not processed and stored correctly. Improper storage and packaging can lead to a huge drop in the free radical “scavenging” capabilities, which translates into a reduction in health benefits[4]. This is why anyone who wants to experience the benefits of Açai should take the time to find a high-quality product. Flash-freezing the berry has found to be the best way to retain its nutrition; when Açai is transported fresh or in powdered form, its antioxidant properties actually drop below other berries! Therefore, to get the maximum benefit from this wonder food, a flash-frozen product is the best choice—unless you’re able to travel to the Amazon rainforest yourself.

 

Speaking of the Amazon rainforest, the recent popularity of Açai berries has been a mixed blessing for communities that have traditionally relied on the fruit as a staple food. In many areas, demand has raised prices significantly, making Açai more difficult for local people to buy. Therefore, investing in a fair-trade Açai product is an excellent way to get maximum health benefits for yourself while not harming the original discoverers of this miraculous superfood.


[1] https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-10-45

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25329001

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24886139

[4] http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf0609779

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Author: Natalie Millis

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Post-Christmas Liver Recovery

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Post-Christmas Liver Recovery

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Your liver, roughly the size of a football (!!!) is our largest internal organ and is responsible for detoxifying your blood; producing the bile needed to digest fat; breaking down hormones and storing essential vitamins, minerals and iron. It has a number of other functions but in essence, one’s health, wellbeing and longevity are intricately entwined with a healthy-functioning liver.

 

For most people, constant exposure to environmental pollutants, pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals put our liver under undue strain. Our day-to-day lives put us in constant exposure to toxins either orally, topically or via inhalation and once inside our body, these toxins get stored in tissues and cells. The consequences of toxic overload are far-reaching and there has been study after study on the accumulative effects of toxicity from chemicals, including cancerous, reproductive, metabolic, respiratory and mental health effects to name but a few.

Some of the signs you are in need of a liver cleanse include:

  • Constipation

  • Bloating

  • Gas

  • Nausea

  • Reflux / heartburn

  • Trouble digesting fatty foods

  • Halitosis (bad breath)

  • Food cravings

  • Headaches

  • Low energy and hypoglycaemia

  • Fatigue

  • Overheating and/or excessive perspiration

  • Aches and pains

  • Abdominal fat, unexplained weight gain or inability to lose weight

  • Allergies, skin rashes and acne

  • Mood swings, depression, poor concentration and a foggy brain

  • Hormonal imbalances, PMS and pronounced menopausal symptoms

In addition to these signs of liver malfunction, some of the risk factors related to impaired liver function include:

  • Heavy alcohol abuse

  • Intravenous drug use

  • Recurrent viral infections and autoimmune disease

  • Overuse of prescription medication

  • Blood transfusions prior to 1992

  • Exposure to certain industrial chemicals and environmental toxins (dyes, cleaning agents, nailpolish, petrol, smoke, etc)

  • Obesity and a heavily processed diet or one high in saturated fats

  • Tattoos and/or body piercings

  • High blood triglycerides

 So if you haven’t been giving your liver the TLC it needs or the festive season has taken its toll, consider a liver cleanse and notice changes in your body within a matter of weeks.   

 STEP 1: Tidy up your Diet and Lifestyle

Remove from your diet the following: packaged and processed foods, including foods with trans-fats; foods with colourings, additives or preservatives; gluten (incl. wheat), dairy and red meats; alcohol, soft drinks, packaged juices and caffeine; refined sugars and deli meats. Preferably you even cut out non-organic produce or if this is not an option, at least consider reducing foods from the “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables (a quick Google search will help you out here).

Substitute with fresh, preferably organic vegetables and some fruits; raw juices (to reduce overall acidity in your body) and depending on your physical activity levels, some organic proteins (the liver still needs protein in order to be able to detoxify).
Look carefully at your lifestyle and replace any known toxins with natural alternatives - think bathroom products, makeup and hair care products, laundry products, cleaning agents and so on. Consider exercising at times of the day when pollution levels are at their lowest (early morning) and reduce electrical exposure around the house.

 

STEP 2: Boost your Diet with Nutrient-rich Foods

Increase your intake of the following:

  • Raw vegetable juices: As mentioned, these reduce the overall acidity in your body.

  • Liver detox drinks (lemon, apple cider vinegar, ginger, cinnamon, grapefruit and aloe vera): A combination of any of the listed ingredients in purified water, sipped throughout the day, in order to promote increased digestive enzyme secretion and enhanced digestion.

  • Foods rich in potassium (sweet potatoes, organic tomato puree, spinach, beet greens, white/kidney/lima beans, molasses, avocados and bananas): This vital nutrient helps with liver cleansing, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and helps support a healthy heart.

  • Foods rich in sulphur compounds (organic eggs, garlic, onions, leeks, shallots) and cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts): Sulphur aids in phase II liver detoxification, whilst cruciferous vegetables assist both phase I and II detoxification.    
     

STEP 3: Supplementation  

The critical supplements to take during a liver cleanse include:

  • St Mary’s Thistle, or Milk Thistle: A beautiful herb for its liver regeneration properties

  • Globe artichoke or Dandelion root: Alternative herbs for liver detoxification

  • An antioxidant such as L-Glutathione, Alpha-lipoic acid, resveratrol or green tea or other polyphenol-rich compound: Assists in minimising free radical damage.

  • Activated charcoal: This substance has a drawing effect upon toxins in the body, though take it away from other foods or supplements as it will diminish the effect of other substances concurrently in the gut.


STEP 4: Other Ideas

Though there is a great deal more you could do in your cleanse, here are some final pointers:

  • Break a sweat every day to stimulate your circulation and lymphatic system, both important systems in detoxification.

  • Partake in dry skin brushing, again boosting your lymphatic and circulatory systems.

  • Take an epsom salt bath to assist detoxification.

  • Practise yoga as certain poses are known for their detoxification, digestive or circulatory effects.

  • Breathe deeply to encourage toxin elimination, boost circulation and drain the lymphatic system.

 

Even simply instigating just a few of these changes will have a marked effect on your health and biological markers, though if this Christmas was one of complete overindulgence, do your body a favour, plan well and start your cleanse without delay. And make sure you let us know about your new and improved self!

 

*Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional when conducting a liver cleanse, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions or are on medication/s.

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Author: Samantha Kirton

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6 TIPS FOR A FOOLPROOF SUMMER

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6 TIPS FOR A FOOLPROOF SUMMER

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     6 Tips for a Foolproof Summer

Author: Samantha Kirton

With summer well and truly underway and pool parties and catch ups left, right and centre, here are some of my favourite summer wellness tips to keep you cool, hydrated and most of all, healthy.    


 

1. Make Your Own Insect Repellent

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Source images: https://unsplash.com/search/photos/essential-oils


Nothing spells summer more than a pesky mosquito that won’t leave you alone. With so many natural alternatives available, there really is no reason to reach for the can of chemical-ridden bug spray.

One of my favourite recipes that I’ve only just started using, but mimics a personal concoction that I have used for years is by Dr Axe.

Here’s Dr Axe’s recipe, adapted to how I make it:

Natural Insect Repellent (That Works!)   

Ingredients:

½ cup witch hazel (available from most health food stores, supermarkets or online)

½ cup apple cider vinegar

30 drops eucalyptus essential oil

30 drops geranium essential oil

20 drops citronella essential oil

20 drops lavender essential oil

(or a combination of any of the above essential oils, along with lemongrass, tea tree, lemon or rosemary essential oils, adjusted to preference or availability)

1 x 250ml spray bottle

Directions:

  1. Mix together witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and essential oils in a small jug.

  2. Pour into spray bottle and label. Keep out of reach of children and use as needed, avoiding contact with eyes and palms of hands (so as not to inadvertently rub your eyes).
     

If you’re not the DIY-type, you can always head to your nearest health food store to pick up a skin-friendly option.
 

2. Natural Sun Protection

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Though I’m going to keep this brief, sun protection obviously has an important part to play in the harsh Aussie climate. Aside from considering Vitamin D levels, nothing beats sun protection more than staying out of the sun. If you are going to venture outdoors, especially in the middle of summer, it’s imperative for the safety of your skin to preferably head out before the UV index reaches its peak between 10am and 4pm, though from personal experience, in summer, I can feel a burn between 8am and 5pm a lot of the time.

 

A nifty tool to check out is http://www.myuv.com.au/ . You simply input your location and it spits out the UV reading for the day. Basically, anything over a “3” warrants sun protection. This page gives you the time of day to use sun protection and can show you when the UV is at its peak.  

 

If you do choose to venture outdoors, there’s a plethora of natural sunscreens on the market and not all of them are greasy, so switch it up and start exploring some of the chemical-free options.

Otherwise the usual recommendations apply - covering up when you are in the sun, popping your sunnies on and wearing a hat.

Concerned about your vitamin D levels? Chances are, if you are reading this from Australia, you should be. Or at least in winter, you should be. In summer, the average person only needs a few minutes of sunlight per day, in every state, including our Tasmanian friends. Winter is a different story, though the majority of Australians aren’t actually vitamin D deficient (77%), despite common belief that deficiency is rife. For cities in line with Sydney and Perth and below, you’ll need to aim for 2-3 hours of sunlight per day, preferably in the middle of the day during winter, in order to reach your recommended vitamin D intake, though for more northern cities, you still only need a few minutes a day. Check out Australia’s most recent guidelines on vitamin D and sun protection here.       

 

3. Hydration & Natural Pick-me-ups To Beat The Sluggish Heat

With summer comes heat, humidity, parties, functions and all sorts different foods we wouldn’t normally eat. Not to mention alcohol. The result? A greater chance of dehydration. Though there are a host of benefits to staying hydrated, there are some real consequences to dehydration.

Some of the effects of not drinking enough water include:      

  • Fatigue, tiredness and a feeling of exhaustion

  • Constipation

  • Dull or dry skin

  • Puffiness or swelling

  • Joint pain or stiffness

  • Impaired elimination of toxins via the skin (with time, this can lead to premature wrinkling, dermatitis and psoriasis)

  • Premature aging

  • Elevated blood pressure

  • Digestive disorders (including ulcers, gastritis and reflux)

You can probably remember at least one summer where you’ve experienced any number of these signs or symptoms. An easy way to combat dehydration is to keep a glass or bottle of water handy. Do whatever suits your style - sip on it throughout the day or aim for a glass an hour - whichever you’re more inclined to remember if you’re not already in the habit of drinking water.

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Spike up your water and give one of these taste-tempters a whirl

 

  • Sparkling water blended with 1 sachet Sambazon acai  
  • Raspberry, strawberry and basil with sparkling water (ideal for parties and get-togethers)
  • Peppermint iced tea with fresh mint leaves
  • Lemon, ginger and raw honey tea made with hot water and left to cool
  • Hibiscus iced tea (or in fact, any of your favourite teas, iced) 
  • Sparkling water with blueberries (or any of your favourite berries)
  • Flavoured water (try any combo of kombucha, sparkling or still water, fresh or frozen berries - including Sambazon acai, citrus slices (tangelo / orange / lime / lemon / grapefruit), fresh herbs or any other fruit that takes your fancy.

 

4. Boost Your Cooling Foods & Pack A Nutritional Punch!

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Lower your body’s core temperature in summertime by eating “cooling” foods, which have the bonus function of supplying you with an additional source of fluid  

 

Opt for the below goodies to cool you off this summer:

  • Cucumbers: Great in salads, as dippers with hommos or in your water or fresh juice

  • Watermelon: Straight out of the fridge or in salads, fruit salads or juices

  • Citrus fruits (lemons, grapefruits and oranges): Freeze for a healthy iceblock alternative, slice and eat fresh, add to salads or juice

  • Lettuce and leafy greens: Best eaten as a refreshing salad, smoothie or juice on a hot day!  

  • Strawberries, avocado, dates, figs, grapes, melons, pears and raspberries: Eat as a snack, or in smoothies, salads or main meals  

 

An alternative to sugar-laden ice-creams and ice blocks are Sambazon frozen acai packs  eaten straight from the pack! Our acai packs can always be made into delicious acai bowls or smoothies. What better way to embrace summer than with a massive nutrient hit?  
 

5.  Refresh & Renew

Christmas time is synonymous with parties, get togethers and functions, but that needn’t play a toll on your body. With some well thought out moves, you can head back into work and the new year with a spring in your step, rather than a drunken stumble.

Here are my suggestions for thriving (not surviving) the never-ending onslaught of activities at Christmas:

  1. Be picky.
    You can’t do everything so practice mindfulness and be selective. Need some help with turning “opportunities” down? Do yourself a favour and read Essentialism by Greg McKeon  

  2. Adding on to point 1 (above), only choose to attend activities you’d really love to be a part of.
    Life’s too short to be dragged across town to every invite you get. Choose only the best or those you really feel you have to attend. As a polite, G-rated version of my most favourite quote ever says Derek Sivers, TEDx speaker, “It’s either hell yeah, or no.” Read this one again and cement it into your memory, expletives added or not.   

  3. Decide ahead of time where you want to spend your time off - in bed recovering or out in the fresh air, making the most of the hot summery days. Once you’ve decided what’s worth nursing a hangover for, the rest of your choices should be easy.

  4. Do your own mini detox or day spa day. Or why not make it a week? Unplug, disconnect and get into the vibe of healthy living.

  5. Practice visualisation. Though it’s perfectly wonderful to have a break from it all and recharge the batteries, research shows that the effects of a holiday rarely last, yet the brain actually shows long-term change when you have programmed it with visualisations (in this case, of health and relaxation perhaps). This has its origins in neuroplasticity and is something that needs to be practiced, often. Give it a go, even if it’s just 5 minutes each day on waking. What better way to get into a habit than to start this this summer? Just make sure you set yourself up for success once work goes back by opting for an accountability buddy or perhaps a post-it note reminder if you’ve thrown your phone away for good! (Ha!)

 

If you were to just choose one of the above, I’m sure your experience of the new year would be one filled with ease and grace. Go on and give it a go!
 

6. Set An Intention For The Year

Every year, I set a new theme, intention, or phrase for the year ahead. I believe I first came across this concept from speaker and blogger Michael Hyatt  though I could be wrong…. Apologies to the original creator of the concept if I am.

Basically, I choose something that I want to align myself with for the coming year - single words work well for me, though phrases might work better for you, in which case, go for it!

Choose anything from one to say five words from the list below (or create your own words if they don’t appear on the list and they resonate more with you). (List courtesy of https://mindcore.cz/short-list-of-values/).    

 

Abundance              Fairness                     Order

Acceptance             Faith                            Passion

Achievement           Family                         Peace

Authenticity            Fitness                       Perseverance

Balance                    Freedom                   Quality

Bravery                    Friendship                 Respect for others

Care for others        Fun                            Responsibility

Commitment           Generosity                Security

Competence          Gratitude                 Self Respect

Contention              Harmony                  Self-Control

Cooperation           Honesty                    Serenity

Courage                 Humor                       Service to others

Creativity                Independence          Simplicity

Dependability        Innovation                 Spirituality

Discipline                Joy                            Stability

Diversity                 Kindness                   Success

Effectiveness          Knowledge               Teamwork

Empathy                 Love                             Well-being

Equality                  Loyalty                       Winning

Excellence              Openness                Wisdom

 

The idea then is to use these words on a daily basis - pop them wherever you are inclined to see them and then live by them to create the year that you have set out to achieve.

 

So there you have it - some of my favourite summer wellness tips. Hopefully they help you set the scene for a fantastic summer ahead!  

 

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Author: Samantha Kirton


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