4 spices to spice up your meals and their health benefits

A spice a day may help keep the doctor at bay according to recent research. So add these to your personalised meal plan to help make food more flavoursome:

Wasabi: boasts anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects in your digestive system and may also help reduce the risk of blood clots and cancer.

Chilli: women who eat meals containing chilli have fewer spikes in their glucose levels after food, lessening their risk of weight gain and type 2 diabetes, according to research at the University of Tasmania. Capsaicin, which gives chilli its spicy punch, speeds up our metabolism. Research suggests it may also reduce bad LDL cholesterol, help combat prostate cancer and blitz the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers.

Turmeric: in India, where they call curry ‘the spice of life’, the incidence of Alzheimer’s is lower. Turmeric, one of the main curry ingredients contains curcumin which helps reduce the build-up of damaging proteins that cause Alzheimer’s. Further studies also suggest that turmeric can reduce spread of breast cancer and joint swelling caused by arthritis.

Cayenne Pepper:boosts circulation and stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, aiding digestion and in some studies, reducing minor heartburn.

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Treatment options for coping with stress and anxiety

Everybody has moments of anxiety, deep worry and high stress; here are a few treatment options available during those times.

Counselling

The good news is that treatment for anxiety – for those that seek it out – is usually successful. Your first port of call is your GP to discuss your options and receive a referral to the best psychologist or counsellor, for your needs, in your area.

“The most recommended psychotherapy for anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioural therapy,” says Rudy Nydegger, psychologist and author of Dealing with Anxiety and Related Disorders.
“It is not a template therapy method where each patient and each disorder is treated in a predictable and specific way. Rather CBT is an approach that relies on the use of many different techniques that are designed to deal with each unique situation and individual and focus primarily on the changing of particular behaviours, developing better strategies for managing troublesome situations, and learning how to think about, perceive and interpret circumstances in ways that lead to a healthier adaptation to conditions that are producing the symptoms.”

This could include learning how to self-monitor symptoms, relaxation and breathing retraining, and experimenting with behaviour, visualisations and relapse prevention techniques. While it’s not a quick fix – compared to medication, for instance – it will ultimately produce longer-lasting results.

“Using cognitive rehearsal and imagining how to do things differently help a patient to initiate new behaviours,” says Nydegger. “A technique called reframing is frequently employed to help people learn new ways to think about particular problems or situations.”

Mindfulness

A meditative practice of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is increasingly used as part of a holistic approach to the treatment of anxiety, as well as for chronic physical illness and pain.

“Mindfulness is a way of noticing how our attention gets pulled in different directions, and it’s a way of practicing the gentle, persistent art of returning our attention to the present moment,” says Dennis Tirch, cognitive therapist and author of Overcoming Anxiety.

“Mindfulness training has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for a range of psychological problems, such as depressive relapse, anxiety and emotion-regulation difficulties. By developing our ability to be mindful, and by learning how to apply mindfulness to more healthy methods of coping with stress, we may become able to change our habitual and unhelpful responses to anxiety.”

Talk to your psychologist about mindfulness training and check out some of the free mindfulness meditation apps available.

Lifestyle changes

Is your lifestyle increasing your vulnerability towards anxiety? For a majority of anxiety sufferers, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Perhaps it’s time to de-clutter, delegate and slow down.

“If you feel that your life is spiralling out of control – with too many demands from your work, home, partner, family and friends – maybe it’s time to simplify,” suggests Wendy Green, author of Anxiety – a Self-Help Guide to Feeling Better. “If you regularly feel under pressure and stressed because of a lack of time, try reviewing how you structure your days. Keep a diary for a week to see how you spend your time and then decide which activities you can cut out or reduce to make more time for the things that are most important to you.”

It won’t hurt to be a little selfish, occasionally, for the sake of your mental health.

“Try saying ‘no’ to the non-essential tasks you don’t have time for or just don’t want to do,” says Green. “It’s a little word, but it can dramatically reduce your stress levels. If you find it hard to say ‘no’, then perhaps you need to develop your assertiveness skills.”

Diet

Nutrition can have a powerful impact on anxiety, for better and for worse, and can form an important part of an overall approach to rehabilitation.

“We use a number of therapies to treat anxiety, including exercise physiology, psychology, nutritional, medical and naturopathic support, gut health work and detoxification support for clients dependent on alcohol, medications, illicit drugs, sugar and caffeine, which we see a lot of in people living with anxiety,” says Pettina Stanghon, founder of mental health rehabilitation centre Noosa Confidential.

Dr Malcolm Clark, Melbourne GP and author of Doctor in the House, says that stress and anxiety play a major role in irritable bowel syndrome, both in triggering and worsening symptoms, including bloating, abdominal cramps, flatulence and loose, frequent bowel motions or constipation.

“Sufferers often report the return of their rotten symptoms when they are under increased stress at work or at home,” he says. “Depressed or anxious people seem to suffer from this problem more often than the rest, suggesting these may also be causes.”

To combat ‘gut anxiety’, eat a low GI diet (which also helps regulate blood sugar levels), reduce fatty foods and alcohol, and increase fibre intake.

Exercise

Developing a healthy exercise habit is highly complementary to an overall anti-anxiety approach.

“Exercise is likely the oldest form of self-management of anxiety, although alcohol is a close second,” says Bret Moore, psychologist and author of Taking Control of Anxiety. “Numerous studies have been conducted over recent years showing that exercise alone, or in combination with psychotherapy, is effective in reducing anxiety associated with a variety of anxiety disorders.”

In fact, one study found that regular exercise can be as effective as medication in people with panic disorder.

“Vigorous and sustained physical activity promotes the release of endorphins: neurotransmitters in the brain that promote a sense of euphoria and contentment,” says Moore. “This phenomenon allows joggers to overcome fatigue and pain during long-distance running.”

Medical support

A number of medications are available that provide effective relief – but not a cure – from anxiety. The first option, usually, are SSRI’s (or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Traditionally used to treat clinical depression, and a little slow to kick in from the outset (they can take a couple of weeks to ‘build up’ to the complete benefits) they have proven to be very successful for many people. MAOI’s (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), which inhibit the breakdown of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, are a similar option that may be recommended.

The old-school anti-anxiety tranquilliser meds – still used for individual cases – are benzodiazepines; immediate and highly effective, they do come with a catch.

“As effective as tranquillisers can be, they are less frequently prescribed today because they are addictive if taken for a long period of time and at a high enough dose,” says Nydegger “Also, increased tolerance can become an issue, which means a patient needs to continually increase the dosage for it to be effective.”

Beta-blockers may also be used for planned events, such as a speech or presentation, where anxiety can go into overload. They work by calming the heart, reducing hand trembling and may even be helpful with blushing and sweating.

For more information about anxiety and mental health go to mindaustralia.org.au.

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Healthy eating with Rachael Finch

We caught up with mum and author Rachael Finch to chat about her healthy eating habits and discovered how she stays on track.

Who’s that girl? Mother to Violet and Dominic, wife to Misha (her partner on Dancing with the Stars), certified Health Coach, author of Happy, Healthy Strong, and founder of B.O.D (Body of Dance).

Exercise Goal:My exercise goals vary depending on the season and what’s going on in my life. Currently I’m enjoying getting back into my dance workouts and stretch sessions since having Dominic. I also have a little personal goal to make five unassisted chin-ups by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

Typical day of exercise? I always try to workout in the morning: it’s when I have most energy and Violet loves coming out on the balcony with us in the morning air. I balance cardio, especially dancing, with stretch and tone workouts, and pair it with beautiful fresh food and meditation every day.

Steal her Science: Immunity

Rachael’s food plan provides the body with a variety of proteins – found in the quinoa, legumes, chicken and nuts – and healthy essential fats including omegas and vitamins A, E and D. Accredited nutritionist, Tracie Hyam Connor (tracietalkshealth.com.au), says Rachael’s food plan has a great combination of flavours, and the use of homemade foods and fresh ingredients satisfy some nutrition requirements. “High protein diets from a variety of sources provide nutrients needed for sustained energy, muscle building and recovery. Good inclusion of essential fats and nutritious greens nourish the body and assist with stronger immunity and resistance to disease and illness, as well as faster recovery when needed.” Hyam Connor says if you’re adopting the food plan, focus on balancing your ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. For an extra health kick, we recommend adding some spinach to your morning smoothie, or try loading your chilli bean salad with your favourite vegies.

Sample Day on a plate:

Breakfast: Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day! If I need something quick, I love a good blitz like my B.O.D Choc Espresso Smoothie (think: cold drip coffee, protein powder, banana, almond milk and rolled oats), full of antioxidants and espresso buzz. Sundays are my day for long brekkies and relaxing, so we usually go out to eat and I will have eggs on toast with lots of sides.

Lunch: For lunch I usually have filling salads or left-overs from dinner, such as haloumi and quinoa, or my chilli bean salad with avo, lime and feta.

Dinner: My go-to winter warmer dinner at the moment is my coconut chicken zoodle soup. There’s loads of green, so lots of good stuff going on! (Think: onion, garlic, chicken, zucchini, coconut milk, coriander leaves, kale etc).

Snack: Almond and date power balls and cookie dough protein balls are the best to grab when I’m on-the-go.

Photography: Bayleigh Vedelago

 

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4 ways to increase fat loss

Progressively burn more fat with these top tips from personal trainer, Pilates instructor, and owner of KE Fitness Kris Etheridge.

 

Body fat is simply stored energy, so giving your body a reason to use it is vital. This can be done through diet or exercise, but most commonly a combination of the two.

“To lose body fat, you need to place your body into a calorie deficit, forcing it to use its fat for energy. Muscle is also your body’s engine – the bigger the engine, the more fuel it uses and the more calories you burn, making it easier to lose fat,” says Etheridge, who suggests any good fat loss plan contains gradual progressions in both fat-burning cardiovascular activity and resistance training.

“Strength training is the most important element; the amount of cardio you need to do to achieve fat loss depends on how strict you are with your diet and what kind of strength and conditioning program you’re doing,” he says.

“Utilise progressive overload to make your resistance workout more difficult than what you can comfortably perform in your current program. Whether it be using different training principals, such as supersets and circuits, or increasing the weight or reps, keep progressing by asking more from your body.”

Etheridge suggests increasing your weight, sets, reps or intensity each week for six weeks, followed by one week of lighter training (aka. a deload week) to allow the body to recover.

“Lighter weeks or rest weeks are imperative to minimise overtraining and reduce the chance of overuse injuries. This is the optimal way to increase your strength,” says Etheridge.

“For weight loss, it’s not as important to use progressions with your cardio. The cardio is purely for fat burning – but if you want to continue to improve your cardiovascular fitness, aim to increase your workout intensity by approximately five per cent each week for six weeks. Take a week off and then start your new program.”

Here are her top four tips:

1. Change your exercises from basic compound movements to compound movements that require a higher level of skill, coordination or strength. For example, single leg or unilateral work. Examples: think pistol squat, TRX suspended lunge, Bulgarian split squat, single-leg deadlift, squats and step-ups using a bosu ball; single arm work such as one arm dumbbell or chest press on a fitball, single arm rows or renegade rows.

2. Reduce rest periods. Depending on how much rest you’re currently having, aim to drop it by five per cent per week for six weeks, or until you’re only having approximately 40 seconds rest (if performing straight sets) and 20 seconds rest between exercises (if you’re performing a circuit).

3. Split your program up and focus on two to three muscles groups per workout rather than full body. This is a more advanced way of training and a great way to continue progressing. Splitting the body parts up means you can perform more volume (sets) on each muscle group in each workout, and workout more days each week while still allowing adequate recovery time.

4. Add plyometrics to your workouts. Plyometric training is high impact and high intensity, and involves a lot of jumping where your muscles exert maximum force in short intervals – great for power and agility, and can be a quick and fun way to burn fat given its higher calorie output.

In order to track your progress, keep yourself accountable. Regularly weigh yourself or take measurements, and keep a food and training diary to understand how training and nutrition protocols affect you on a weekly basis.

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The importance of protein intake post-workout

Protein is vital post-workout in order to kick-start the body’s recovery process. Here, Hilary Simmons explores the importance of timing and balance for health.

According to research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN), the ability to build lean muscle mass is elevated for 24 to 48 hours after training. During this window – otherwise known as the anabolic phase – the body is greedy for nutrients, the muscles hungrily suck in glucose and your overall ability to process protein is significantly raised.

In practice, if you’re training most days, then your body is in a constant state of recovery and it’s therefore important to be consuming protein regularly across the day, especially if you’re trying to build lean muscle mass.

Accredited sports dietitian, Jessica Spendlove notes that building lean muscle mass is one of the better and more conclusively researched areas in the sports nutrition space, with two clear elements to consider if you’re aiming for muscle hypertrophy:

» Protein timing. Protein is required to build and repair muscle tissue. Not eating enough can hinder your gains, so this is where the timing, distribution and composition of your meals comes into play.

» Energy balance.While muscle hypertrophy requires a calorie surplus, shedding body fat requires an energy deficit – in other words, you need to consume less calories than you use.

Consuming enough protein will be vital to both goals: for the former, to ensure a surplus and, for the latter, to preserve muscle mass.

This doesn’t mean you need to freak out that the anabolic window of opportunity is going to close the minute your workout ends. While it’s wise to bookend your training with a balanced post-workout snack (think a banana with nut butter or a protein shake), you have one to two hours to reap the benefits of your body’s heightened nutrient-processing abilities.

Good post-workout nutrition will always have three key components:

» Slow release carbohydrate (such as oats, wholegrain sourdough, quinoa, sweet potato, brown rice and bananas) to replenish muscle glycogen stores.

» Good quality protein (such as Greek yoghurt, eggs, milk, chicken, turkey, tuna or protein powder) to support muscle recovery.

» Fluid. In fact, this goes for pre-, intra- and post-workout nutrition.

The post-workout period is also a great time for you to enjoy an açaí bowl, or loads and loads of vegies. According to Spendlove, many people go wrong by undereating on the days they have trained, when they can actually afford to eat more. In fact, their bodies will utilise the nutrients better.

“For example, a 60kg woman may be completing a mix of HIIT, LISS and weights every week night. She may eat really ‘clean’ throughout the week, focusing on lean protein, lots of vegetables and minimal carbohydrate intake,” says Spendlove.

“But on the weekends she may eat out most meals, have alcohol both nights and be more relaxed about portion sizes. What can easily happen here is a total mismatch of intake and output. Her high intake days are her lowest output days, and this is not ideal. Aim to match your intake to your output.”

In addition, if you undereat or under-nourish your body during your recovery phase, it can lead to appetite spikes later in the day – or into the next – often resulting in overeating.

“We all understand when we’re trying to lose weight that we need to be in an energy deficit, but weight loss and, more importantly, body fat loss is a lot more complex than that,” says Spendlove. “To most effectively lose body fat we need to strike the right balance between what we are eating and the training we are doing. One of the biggest mistakes I see women make is over-restricting on training days or around intense training sessions, but then end up over-eating on low output days. Post-workout nutrition is important, but you need to pay attention to pre-workout and intra-workout nutrition as well in order for it to succeed.”

By the same token, athletes and individuals who train most days have 50 to 100 per cent higher protein requirements than inactive or sedentary people. During periods of significant physical adaptation, such as when an individual is first beginning to workout, protein needs are greatly increased.

“When we talk about protein intake for muscle hypertrophy, the key elements are the type of protein, the timing of protein intake, and the distribution of protein intake across the day, as well as the total intake,” says Spendlove. “Most people are consuming enough total protein across the day, but they are possibly not consuming it at the right time or in the right amounts. You can make an enormous difference to your diet and fitness goals by focusing on distributing your intake more evenly.”

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Getting to know the mastermind behind Inspire Fitness community

We caught up with the passionate woman behind Inspire Fitness, Olivia Del Borrello about her vision behind creating a vibrant outdoor workout space (no bench press required), built around the philosophy of encouraging, motivating and empowering one another.

ON STARTING A BUSINESS

Inspire Fitness began four-and-a-half years ago, and what a ride it has been! There have been a few tears and a hell of a lot of laughs – all worth it when I look at the incredible community of women we’ve created and how we are changing lives for the better.

With a background in health science, I began studying a physiotherapy degree in 2013. I wanted to create not just a ‘place’ but a community for women to come together to exercise and support each other; where they could achieve their health and fitness goals and also create a lifestyle.

I was adamant it wasn’t going to be your regular bootcamp; I wanted to make it more personal. It started with one or two people (most of the time just my mum and her friend Linda, and getting them to stop chatting was a challenge in itself!).

Starting a business definitely isn’t easy – it takes a lot of determination and self-belief. I remember my first ‘big’ session, which was all of four people. I left the workout on a massive high. To see those girls, who I had just met, come together and encourage, support and empower each other throughout the entire session was something really special.

Inspire Fitness has now grown to six locations in Perth and three in Adelaide.  We are a women’s health and fitness brand on a mission to empower women to live an active and healthy lifestyle – and to actually enjoy doing it.

ON KEEPING MOTIVATED

Even though I’m a health and fitness professional myself, I struggle with the day-to-day motions of going to the gym. There are some days I can be really motivated but there are others I struggle to get myself out the door to go for a run. It’s tough staying committed when there is no one waiting for you to arrive; when you have to think about and you’re your own workout routine and then push yourself in-session. Sometimes I think about everything I have to do when I get home, which then becomes my justification for finishing a session early or skipping the gym altogether.

This is why I created Inspire Fitness. It’s a place where you are held accountable through a booking system; where the trainers have conveniently mapped out your workout according to your lifestyle and goals, and where you are going to be encouraged and pushed to work hard and get results. I wanted to be surrounded by a group of ladies who make it fun. That is what Inspire Fitness is about.

For us, being active is a way of life. We focus on creating an active lifestyle where you work out consistently because you love it, not because it’s a chore. You become addicted to the full experience of working out with inspiring coaches and being surrounded by an incredible community of like-minded women.

ON HELPING OTHERS

I’ve lived an active lifestyle from a young age, whether it be playing netball, doing athletics or even a daily walk. It’s something my parents instilled in me from a young age.

When I exercise regularly, I eat better, sleep better, have more energy, have better focus, making me more efficient, and I don’t get sick as often. I feel more confident in myself and in the way I look, and I’m in a better mood, making me a happier person overall. It’s a way of life that extends further than aesthetic goals and I want to help to create this positive cycle in other women’s lives.

By offering a comfortable space, we help to transform our clients into strong, confident and empowered women that are the best versions of themselves.

WOMEN BE ACTIVE EVENTS

The Women Be Active event brings women from Perth and Adelaide together to support, motivate and empower an active and healthy lifestyle – and to have a blast doing it! 

WBA comprises a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) style workout, and a circuit and boxing session run by our Inspire Fitness coaches, with live backing tracks from a DJ, followed by active recovery yoga flow. The event is free and attendees can follow up their workout with a delicious breakfast and coffee available for purchase. A great way to start the morning with your girlfriends!

The aim is to bring women together to get active – no matter your fitness level.

In such an exciting atmosphere, it’s easy to forget you’re there to work out. There’s no need to worry if you’ve never done boxing or high-intensity exercise before: you can go at your own pace and our team will be there every step of the way.

I am so excited for Women Be Active – it is by far our favourite and biggest event for the year. In just two years WBA has seen registrations in excess of 2000 women and 2017 is going to be our biggest and best one yet!

Inspire Fitness are partnering with Women’s Health and Fitness to bring Women Be Active, the ultimate event in women’s fitness.

Event details

Adelaide: Saturday 14th October, 2017

Perth: Sunday 15th October, 2017

8:30am: sign in

9:am: workout commences (1 hour followed by a 30 minute yoga flow cool down)

Tickets are free but you do need to register (registrations open from 4th September) – click here for more details. 

Instagram: @inspirefitness.au

Facebook: facebook.com/inspirewomenshealth

Website: inspirefitness.net.au

 

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Glowing smoothie bowl recipe

Start your day with this delicious glowing bowl courtesy of personal trainer Danielle Bazergy.

Ingredients

  • 1 scoop BSC Organic Plant Protein (vanilla)
  • 1 cup spinach 
  • 1 cup kale
  • 5-10 ml chlorophyll 
  • 100 ml coconut water 
  • 1 large frozen banana 
  • ½ cup ice 

Method

Blend all ingredients, either adding more coconut water or ice depending on desired consistency

Toppings:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries 
  • Buckwheat 
  • Shaved coconut 

NUTRITION (per serve for the base ingredients)

Protein = 23.5g // Fat = 2.2g // Carbs = 39.4g // Calories = 270

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