Alternative Health

Perhaps “alternative medicine” is a better term since health is such a loose word, but medicine seems so intimidating and foreign.

Most recently I have been surrounding myself in some new practices – acupuncture, Chinese herbs and meditation. All of them have been great, especially since my glass is currently spilling over with stress while we are figuring out our visa situation here in Melbourne and considering a move back to the US in August. Yes, that is about 3 months away and we have no confirmed plans, nor know where we will move to or what/if I will have a job. It is no bed of roses, but I have been trying to enjoy the confusion. Oh! And I will be having jaw surgery again in July. 

Life goes on and why not try meditation and acupuncture to cope, right?

Sure enough, it has helped. I am pleasantly pleased with the outcome of both meditation and acupuncture. I think the expensive Chinese herbs could fall by the wayside though. I am not sure if I notice anything different when drinking them in dissolved warm water and I cannot fail to mention how awful they taste. Has anyone else tried them? Do you have any insight to share?

The meditation is so interesting too. It is actually funny how I got involved in this. I purchased a yoga voucher and quickly learned there was more focus on breathing, etc than downward dog poses.

However, anything I do, I try to go into it with an open mind regardless of what it is. At my first session, I sat there thinking to myself, “I know how to breath, why do I need someone to tell me to take a deep breath and scan my body while listening to some weird sounds?” But gosh by golly! By the end of each session I feel pretty content. I have since been, a handful of times, and plan on continuing some sessions every month. Overall, I have realised I handle stress better, I go with the flow better and live in the moment a bit more.

I highly recommend meditation and suggest doing it at least a few times. It is a great way to shut off any chaos in your life and feel more comfortable in your own skin. 

Now onto acupuncture – why did I try this out?

Besides Robb Wolf preaching how great it is among many other health advocates, I wanted to reduce my hay-fever symptoms (I take anti-histamines every day and want to wean that down), try something new and see what it did for my diabetes (type 1). On a side note, I strive to eat paleo every day but sometimes that does not happen. When it doesn’t I often see fluctuations in my blood sugars and pay for it. So overall, I wonder what acupuncture can do for my cravings, circulation and over blood sugar stabilisation.

So far, things feel pretty good. After session one I felt engerized and invigerated. It’s not everyday someone sticks a needle in the top of your head and forehead wrists and tummy. I have session two this weekend and look forward to what differences, if any, I feel. I will be sure to provide an update on anything surprising.

Overall, the prices for alternative medicine are a little high, but I think they are worth it. They are natural and a new approach for caring for yourself. I am personally all about touting the benefits of a good diet and often forget the other sides of health including stress, sleep, movement, and fertility. These alternative health practices have helped me bring my well-being full circle.

Cheers to you and good health!

Client’s Paleo Transition – @shanan_g

For today’s post I am sharing one of my client’s experiences on his paleo journey. To say the least, I am impressed. Well done Shanan! I have also made some comments for Shanan and others to consider.

Please paint a picture of who you are:
Shanan – I’m an active male, aged 28 that enjoys running, cycling and swimming -I occasionally compete in cycling and triathlon events. I’ve always led a fairly active lifestyle with the exception of when I lived in England for 4 years, did do some cycling there but mainly only to commute into work. I work as an IT support/implementation consultant so this does involve sitting at a desk for the good part of a week and also means I’m in the car a bit also. Find me on twitter for more info @shanan_g

What inspired you want to do Paleo?
Shanan – I’m always watching what I eat and I am up for trying new things -I didn’t see Paleo as a diet or being hard to do, I was more interested to see what benefits came from it. So I guess that’s what made me want to do it. I’d also heard successful professional athletes were attributing their success to Paleo, such as tennis player Novak Djokovic.

Kelly – I could not agree with you more Shanan. It sounds like a tough task but in reality it is not that hard and the benefits are felt within a short time, i.e. more energy, better sleep, better performance, etc. I am also pleased that athletes are talking about how they are doing paleo. I hope their media attention around this diet inspires other active people to overlook the myth of having to “carb load” and fuel their activities off carbs.

What are your goals for eating Paleo? Have you met any of them thus far?
Shanan – Feeling less bloated and having my energy levels spread more evenly over the course of the day were my main goals. I hate that feeling of coming down after eating heavy carbs or something high in sugar! I have already achieved these goals with Paleo after just two weeks. There was some concern I would not have enough energy for my physical activities but so far I haven’t noticed any change here… although I have yet to do any extreme distances on the bike -that will be a test! Also, another goal is to stop shopping at supermarkets and just buy produce from markets and more local retailers -I did start doing this before Paleo but I’m even more motivated for this now!

Kelly – These are great goals, especially the one in regards to shopping at markets more. That is something outside of the box thinking that many others would not put down. As for feeling less bloated and more even energy throughout the day – I am not surprised you have met them in this short of time. If you were to say you have not felt a difference, I would challenge you or anyone else in a similar situation to scrutinize everything they are eating and to ensure there are no sneaky ingredients creeping into their snacks/meals. Let us know how it goes after your long-distance bike ride.

How long have you been doing a strict Paleo diet? What are the challenges? Any other surprises worth mentioning?
Shanan – I’ve been doing strict Paleo for two weeks. I think the biggest challenge that arises is in social situations, for example, work lunch on Friday at the pub there were limited options for Paleo so I had to improvise, not a big issue but could be tricky for some. I’ve heard breakfast is a big issue for many starting Paleo but for myself this hasn’t been an issue as I’m very fond of eggs. I think the surprises that come from Paleo is how any meal basically can be shaped into a Paleo meal. After reading through the Primal Cookbook I was surprised to see how many easy changes you can make to incorporate great eating Paleo style -I love cooking with fresh produce so Paleo has been easy to integrate into my daily routine.

How long do you intend doing Paleo, if not for a lifetime?
Shanan – I’d like to continue with Paleo as a lifestyle change. I admit there will be times it will be impossible to do it 100% but I hope to do it, say 90%. I am enjoying the benefits thus far and look forward to seeing the benefits as time goes on.

Kelly – I love the motivation and inspiration with your answer. I myself love food; all types of food, and strive to be 100% paleo and accept only making it 90%. Ironically too, many people will find an extreme difference when they have a non paleo food and naturally lose their old cravings. I look forward to hearing of your future positive results from the lifestyle.

Any advise for those thinking about trialing this lifestyle?
Shanan – My advise for people thinking about giving Paleo a go is simple: Be prepared! By that I mean make sure you have lots of fresh produce available and to have your fridge well stocked. Other advice I would say is if you have a partner, ask them if they’re interested in joining you -this will definitely make the initial stages much easier. I share my house with one other who isn’t currently doing Paleo -one thing I’ve done to make things easier for myself is I’ve divided up the pantry into accepted Paleo foods and non-Paleo foods -this makes things much easier come food prep time.

Kelly – Could not agree more with your tips.

Any additional comments?
Shanan – I’ve only been doing Paleo a short time but in this short time I’ve definitely noticed the benefits – I’m feeling motivated, energised and alert! My mum is also trialling Paleo at the moment, her goals are different from mine in that she is trying to help fix her sinuses and lose weight. Like myself, she too is feeling the benefits already. I’d definitely recommend anyone giving Paleo a go as I’m truly amazed by how fantastic I’m feeling already by simply eliminated things out of my daily food intake. Good luck for anyone starting out and enjoy what will come to you!

What does an average day of Paleo eating look like for you?

Friday 6th of January
Breakfast Eggs, tomato, spinach
Morning snack Mixed nuts
Lunch Chicken stir-fry (leftover dinner)
Afternoon snack n/a
Dinner Roast lamb with sweet potatoes
Exercise (morning) 30 min run with dog
Exercise (lunch) 20 minute walk
Exercise (evening) n/a

Dear Food Diary – 3/12/11 – Christmas BBQ Party…

Today, Saturday, I am prepping for a gathering of friends to celebrate Christmas. Let’s see how I behaved at the BBQ, keeping in mind these few goals:

1. Avoid all dairy and grains
2. Drink plenty of water and do not over eat on anything
3. Avoid all dairy

Breakfast: 9AM
Long black
I was not hungry when I first woke up so I waited an hour or so. I also had rubbish sleep last night, so I will be interested in how my cravings run today.
Protein, Coconut oil smoothie
Fish Oil
Allergy meds

Exercise: I have graduated from my walks and am back in the gym! Do not get me wrong, I love walking the parks but I am beyond ready to get my heart rate up and to life some weights.
11AM: Kettlebell workout – wow, I am out of shape.

12noon: met Schmidtty at the market and picked up some wild barramundi for tonight’s barbie! Enjoyed some preservative free sausage samples.

Lunch: 1:35PM
1/2 banana and nutbutter
Ham, deli

Exercise: 4 mile walk with friend

Snack: 4PM
Blueberries and Glutamine fortified jelly (Jell-O)

Party begins 6PM
Grazed in sweet potato chips, sliced pears and apples, hard boiled egg, wine and some tuna-like dip (gfree no doubt)

Dinner: 8PM
Wild barramundi
Salad, Greek-like

Bites of my husband flourless chocolate cake (to.die.for.)

Antioxidant-rich melon extract may ease stress, fatigue

Daily consumption of a melon extract rich in the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) may relieve stress and fatigue, suggest findings from a French study.

A daily supplement containing 140 international units of SOD was associated with improvements in sleep, concentration levels, and reduced irritability, compared to the placebo, according to findings from a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled clinical study.

The pilot study used the commercially-available extract Extramel, produced by France’s Bionov and distributed internationally by Seppic. Researchers from both companies, in collaboration with scientists from the University Henri Poincaré and Isoclin, a clinical research organization, report their findings in Nutrition Journal.

The melon-extract is a rich source of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). Dubbed ‘the enzyme of life’ when first discovered in 1968, it is the first antioxidant mobilised by the cell for defence. It is thought to be more powerful than antioxidant vitamins as it activates the body’s production of its own antioxidants, including catalase and glutathione peroxidase.

“Several studies have shown that there is a link between psychological stress and intracellular oxidative stress,” explained lead author Marie-Anne Milesi from Seppic.

“We wanted to test whether augmenting the body’s ability to deal with oxidative species might help a person’s ability to resist burnout. The 35 people in our study who received capsules containing superoxide dismutase showed improvement in several signs and symptoms of perceived stress and fatigue,” she added.

Study details

Milesi and her co-workers recruited 70 healthy volunteers aged between 30 and 55, who reported feeling daily stress and fatigue. The volunteers were randomly assigned to receive either the melon extract (10 mg Extramel corresponding to 140 IU SOD per capsule) or placebo for four weeks.

Furthermore, the researchers noted no adverse effects following four weeks of supplementation with the melon extract.

At the end of the study, significant improvements in pain, irritability, sleep troubles and weariness scores in the Extramel group of 30, 22, 38, and 26 per cent were observed, compared to the placebo group.

There was also a trend for improvements in attitude, and concentration, said the researchers, although these did not reach statistical significance.

A strong placebo effect was noted, however, which the researchers noted was to be expected when studying subjective feelings like stress.

“The placebo effect was only present during the first 7 days of supplementation and not beyond,” said Milesi. “It will be interesting to confirm these effects and better understand the action of antioxidants on stress in further studies with a larger number of volunteers and a longer duration.”

Recent studies with the same ingredient reported that, in hamsters at least, daily SOD-rich melon extracts may lower cholesterol levels and prevent hardening of the arteries, as well lowering body weight when consumed in combination with a high-fat diet.

Source: Nutrition Journal
“Effect of an oral supplementation with a proprietary melon juice concentrate (Extramel) on stress and fatigue in healthy people: a pilot, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial”
Authors: M.-A. Milesi, D. Lacan, H. Brosse, D. Desor, C. Notin

Reference click here


Have a healthy and fit day!

How do I wake myself up in the morning?

Four coffees and Lady Ga Ga.

Well, actually I do the opposite. I treat myself with a coffee and sip it down while I eat a piece of fruit while walking to the gym. Once I get there (and wake up), I either run (training for the KY Derby Half marathon), row, lift or swim. I mix things up so I hit all muscle groups and I try to motivate myself to chug at least a bottle or two of water in the first few hours of being awake. I am trying to grow a liking to spinning and other activities but…that liking hasn’t grown just yet. Anyone have a favorite workout to share?

I must declare that this routine is not easy, but I inspire myself the night before by knowing what workout I want to do the following morning. So, would this be something that you can start or continue to do in your lifestyle? If waking up every day at the crack-of-dawn and breaking a sweat does not sound enthusing to you, try to find something that will work with your liking. I have some tips/ideas below to make small steps in improving your overall wellness.

Carry a water bottle with you everywhere. Act like it is a tattoo and it won’t go away. Oh ya, make sure to drink and refill consistently.

Flavor your coffee with either cocoa or cinnamon for extra phytonutrients.

Take a break in your afternoon for a five minute stretch. You don’t have to get down and give me twenty, but a daily stretch can do a body good.

If you have trouble eating the recommended amount of fruits or vegetables — make one day a week THE day to consume the advised amount.

Swap your soda consumption with tea, water, coffee and/or milk.

Get a pedometer to see if you can reach 10,000 steps in a day.

Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Do not go hours without food. This will make you mean.

Allocate a small amount of your daily calories for chocolate or something that you really love. Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life.

Pack your lunch one day a week and walk for 30 minutes during the lunch hour.

Text yourself what you eat. Many people have journals but I think having the information on your phone will not allow for any excuses for not documenting your intake.

Please share ideas.

Have a healthy and fit day!