Archive for the ‘Overcoming Depression’ Category

Focus on Sugar – #fit4feb

February 17, 2014

In the past few weeks there has been an influx of media attention on the issue of “sugar”. Much of it has been confusing and contradictory. Is it really that bad for you? Are all kinds of sugar bad for you? Can I eat it in moderation? Laurie Hill, Certified Health Coach gives us the answers:

Laurie Hill is a Certified Health Coach who has been coaching people on better health for over 10 years. Laurie’s passion about health began when she had come to a crisis point herself15 years ago. At 70 pounds overweight, and suffering from some serious health issues such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, gall bladder disease, acne, and horribly low self esteem, Laurie found a Health Coach in California, who helped her lose her weight by showing her how food heals the body.  Amazingly, the health issues either went away completely, or were nearly non-existent.   Laurie says her body was given healthy beautiful food, which stabilised her blood-sugar imbalance, cravings disappeared, her energy increased, and began walking 40 minutes a day.  Laurie says that her body ecology had become messed up from years of chronic yo-yo dieting, stress, sugar addiction, diet-coke addiction, and quick foods (from being a busy mother), that she couldn’t lose weight by trying every fad diet around.  Laurie was so impressed from this natural and healthy approach to body ecology that she became a Health Coach last year and now offers workshops that helps people understand how sugar has devastating effects on health, how to eat healthy and heal your body, and how you can eat for beauty. But most importantly, Laurie says that it’s about learning to love yourself and if you have curves, love them! You’ve been blessed!

#fit4feb OFFER: Get your FREE 60 minute health consultation with Laurie Hill, Certified Health Coach

When my clients first come to me, aside from wanting to lose weight, they may be suffering from; aches and pains, irregular menstrual cycles, blood sugar imbalances, sugar addiction, emotional addictions to food, low energy, low sex drive, and many others…

I can tell you that sugar is a culprit in all of those factors. I have had people tell me that they although they suffer from the above symptoms, they don’t have a “sweet tooth”, and hardly consume sugar. However, when we sit down and examine the typical foods they eat, they soon realise that they are consuming loads of sugar, but most often it is hidden sugar.

The problem with focusing on “sugar” too much is that we can become myopic. The food industry is so clever at manipulating our impulses, that we are brainwashed through the media and even government “nutrition” agencies, that making swaps is our best attempt at limiting sugar. So really, all we are doing is exchanging one bad habit for another, without ever addressing what healthy eating actually looks like. We’re choosing “no sugar added foods”, “low and non-fat foods”, thinking that we are cleverly outsmarting our bodies from taking in sugar. The problem with chemical sweeteners is that they have some pretty scary side-effects that the media isn’t talking about.

My goal of helping my clients is teaching them that their health is their responsibility. Part of that responsibility is learning how to listen to their body. Believe it or not, your body communicates with you all the time. Pain, fatigue, cravings, acne, headache, low sex drive, all are ways that your body is trying to get your attention. When you visit your GP for blood tests and such, blood, pH, thyroid, sugar, iron, are all ways your body is getting your attention. What is it saying to you? Do you throw medication at it, or are there natural ways to help bring your body into balance?

When you shift your perspective about caring for your body, you will be attentive to how food (and non-foods) affects your body. The issue of sugar and all of our questions about foods will be answered because how you feel when you eat those foods will be the great litmus test!

Here are 10 tips I give at my workshops to help people make wiser food choices:

  1. How much colour of fruit and vegetables did you have in your diet yesterday? Have a quick count. If it’s fewer than 7, add more colour every day.
  2. How much of what you ate was live food (fruit and vegetables) and how much of it was dead foods? (Cooked foods, meat, pasteurised dairy, processed food). A life-giving diet will be at least 70% live foods. Even adding a salad, a fruit smoothie, and crunchie veg sticks would be enough to start.
  3. Eliminate sugary drinks; fruit juices (unless you blend them or juice them yourself), fizzy drinks, no-sugar added drinks, and vitamin water.
  4. Drink more water. Sometimes we think we’re hungry or craving sugar, and we’re actually thirsty.
  5. Eat 2-3 times a day, until you’re 80% full, with no in between meal snacks. (Just like how we were raised).
  6. Don’t eat after 6pm.
  7. If you eat dairy foods, eat the full-fat kind. Good fat is your friend, don’t worry.
  8. When you have painful joints, or any kind of inflammation, lay off grain products and dairy foods.
  9. When you shop, focus on the fruit and veg section and don’t get lulled in by the £1 or yellow tag deals, which are usually bread and junk stuffs. Make a list; don’t shop hungry, when you know they’re baking bread, or when you’re feeling emotional or vulnerable.
  10. And lastly, read food labels! If sugar (or any word that has “ose”, “dex”, “malt”) is more than 5 grams, third on the list, or if there are any substances you can’t pronounce, choose another brand or make it yourself)

From those top 10 tips, you’ll notice that the only time I mentioned don’t have sugar is with regard to sugary drinks. When you focus on nourishing your body, you are going to heal it at the same time. Sugar is what we do when we are not conscious of what we eat, eating out of emotion, where we eat, and are too busy or tired to prepare food.

It takes time to bring our taste buds back into enjoying real food, so don’t be hard on yourself. Our kids are even slower to change. The point is to begin taking those 10 steps. When you do, sugar will be naturally replaced with whole healthy foods, and believe it or not, our old favourites will taste way too sweet. We will love the taste of fruit again, we’ll crave fresh foods on our tongue, our bodies will feel better, and communicate back to us with more energy, clear complexions, healthier looking bodies, and weight will shift naturally.

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Easing New Mums back into Exercise – #fit4feb

February 17, 2014

Dr. Joanna Helcké is an award winning expert in pregnancy and postnatal fitness and is the creator of the UK’s first ever online pregnancy and postnatal fitness system. She is regularly quoted as a pregnancy and postnatal fitness expert in the national media. www.joannahelcke.com 

Joanna HelckeThe What’s on 4 Me team asks Dr Joanna Helcké how new mums should ease themselves safely back into exercise…

What’s on 4 Me: In your expertise, what are some realistic expectations about when it’s safe to begin exercise? How long does it really take? And will most women be able to bounce back to their former selves?

Joanna Helcké: In terms of when it’s safe to start exercising post pregnancy, the general guidelines are to wait until you have had your 6 week postnatal check up with the GP and been given the green light to start up exercising again. Having said this, 6 weeks is the absolute minimum, and if someone has had a caesarean section then she will need to wait at least 8-10 weeks and use her judgement. In other words, if the scar has not healed properly and is still painful then starting exercise would be unwise. Likewise, water-based exercise is an excellent choice when you’ve had a baby, because it is low impact, but without wishing to make anyone feel squeamish, it is important to wait for everything to have healed up before diving into the local pool.

Once new mums have received the go-ahead from their GPs this should not be taken as licence to throw themselves into hard core, high impact exercise. Post pregnancy exercise needs to remain low impact – that means no running, jogging, jumping, skipping or – heaven forbid – trampolining! – for the first 6 months of the postnatal period. This is partly so as to look after the pelvic floor which – let’s face it – has had a tough time in pregnancy and labour, and also to protect against injury or already vulnerable ligaments, joints, and back. Having said this, I am most certainly not advocating sitting around doing nothing – with a good dose of imagination there are so many activities which are perfectly safe and will get new mums, fit, health and boosting the metabolism.

In terms of new mums bouncing back to their former selves, it’s very much a question of a quick-fix versus a measured, sustainable approach, or a super-complicated diet plan versus a healthy eating plan that is quick and easy to follow for busy mums. Quick fixes are invariable so gruelling that nobody can actually stick to them for any length of time, and complicated diets are just too much hard work for busy working mums. The trick is, therefore, to find ways of eating healthily that are enjoyable and take no time at all. It can be done!

Win 3 months membership to Dr Joanna Helcké’s tummy tightening online New Mum Pilates Programme

What’s on 4 Me: What’s your advice about easing back into your pre-pregnancy fitness routine? How much does exercise and diet really affect breastfeeding? 

Joanna Helcké: When I am helping people regain their pre-pregnancy figure, I never focus on the usual “going on a diet” approach, as this implies a short term measure which is, in my opinion, liable to be unsustainable. It is also inappropriate, given the demands of breastfeeding and looking after a little baby. In view of this I have a three-pronged system for beating the “baby bulge”: specialist, post-pregnancy, abdominal work to strengthen and flatten the abdominals, which have been stretched and weakened in pregnancy; a weekly exercise “portfolio” which is specifically designed to kick-start the metabolism whilst still being safe for the post natal period (low impact interval training, and the introduction of appropriate resistance work to build muscle, which gets the body burning lots of calories) and which is also baby-friendly i.e. no need to find childcare as this stops new mums from sticking to their fitness regime; and last but certainly not least, analysing people’s nutritional intake to ensure that it is balanced and healthy. With regard to the latter, I would suggest that for most post natal women, simply making sure that they get the correct balance and type of protein, carbohydrates, fat, dairy, fruit and vegetables – combined with the right sort of exercise – is enough to see the baby weight come off at a steady and healthy rate, without feeling hungry, tired and without having to count calories, points or swig food replacement shakes.

It is often suggested that vigorous exercise has a detrimental effect on the production of breast milk and can interfere with the success of breastfeeding but reviews of research would seem to indicate that this is not that case and that exercising has no adverse effects when it comes to breastfeeding. Having said this, it is, of course even more important to maintain excellent levels of fluid intake if you are both breastfeeding and exercising. On a personal note, I breastfed all three of my boys – the youngest until the day before his third birthday – and I also exercised regularly. Having clocked up a total of 5 years’ worth of breastfeeding and exercising I had to conclude that it had no negative impact in my case!

With regard to diet and breastfeeding, mums should remember that their babies are gaining so much goodness from them when breastfeeding. This should provide an enormous incentive to eat healthily, so that they are giving their babies the best possible start in life. The added bonus is that new mums will also be getting all the health benefits of this nutrient-rich food. Early motherhood is a tiring experience that requires huge reserves of energy (and patience!) – going on a restrictive diet is unhelpful and likely to leave mums deficient in certain nutrients, iron being a frequent problem.

What’s on 4 Me: Is it true that breastfeeding helps you lose weight fast? Can diet and exercise too soon mess up the breast milk somehow, ie, make it less nutritious?

Joanna Helcké: If a newborn baby is fully breastfed then a new mum will be burning an extra 400-500kcal per day but trying to exploit this in an attempt to shed the baby weight would leave her feeling depleted and exhausted. If breastfeeding mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet and combine this with moderate exercise, such as brisk buggy walking incorporating intervals of faster and slower walking, this is a very good basis for beginning to lose the baby weight in a manageable and sustainable manner.

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5 Benefits of Regular Exercise – #fit4feb

February 1, 2014

You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood and improving your sex life, to losing weight and feeling firmer, find out how exercise can improve your life.

Check out these five ways exercise can improve your life.

No. 1: Exercise controls weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the lift or revving up your household chores.

No. 2: Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

No. 3: Exercise improves mood and sex life

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. So, take a dance class, join a walking group or a netball team. And if feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy, then regular exercise can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life.

No. 4: Exercise boosts energy

Tired out by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily activites.

No. 5: Exercise promotes better sleep

Struggling to fall asleep? Or to stay asleep? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to fall asleep.

The bottom line on exercise

Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any health concerns.

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New Book And Campaign To Support Fathers And Families Of Those Suffering From Postnatal Depression

February 6, 2013

mark_williamsAfter going through postnatal depression in 2011 with his wife and suffering from depression himself Mark Williams has set up a new charity called “Fathers Reaching Out” which supports fathers and families of those suffering from postnatal depression.

Mark found that while there was support for his wife there was no support for fathers and families and a lack of education, research and awareness about the illness in general.

In January 2012 Mark set up a website called www.fathersreachingout.com as a point of contact for fathers and families and has also published a book on Amazon called “Mark Williams Reaching Out” about his personal experiences of postnatal depression and depression.

Postnatal depression is often a major cause of families breaking up due to the high stress levels it creates and the lack of education or support to combat this. While the mother receives treatment and support the father has to deal with the newborn baby, the partner’s depression and work in isolation.

Mark comments “When I was at my deepest, I didn’t think I could turn to anyone. I was told I had to go on a waiting list for counselling which after sixteen months I am still waiting for the phone call. I went to free counselling through a drink programme, which was the starting point of my recovery.”

tips_bannerHe continues, “Since then in the last 12 months I have turned my life from a negative into a positive, and now feel strongly about helping others in the same situation as me. I was just given medication and that was that, and feel that a simple outreach project could not only save the government money, but stop families from breaking up.”

Mark says “One of best things for depression, that worked for me was structure. Going to the gym is always great, and also exercise classes, as you are more likely to eat healthy foods and meet positive people. Small steps each day will get you to your final goal…depression free. Always remember this is a illness,and you will get better.”

Mark has raised awareness through public speaking to people from the NHS and the mental health charity MIND amongst other resources. Mark has also been asked to appear on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, Radio 5 live and other networks. He has many followers and now receives emails from all corners of the world, from professors to people who have been through the experience themselves.

Due to Mark self funding the ‘Fathers Reaching Out’ project and all his hard work in awareness he has been awarded ‘Inspirational Father of the Year’ in Wales, The Welsh selection for the Pride of Britain Awards and was even short listed at the Mind Media Awards hosted by Stephen Fry. He has also had an article published in a journal for health visiting.

Mark hopes to help even more people and take his campaign from strength to strength. He would like help with a project he is starting along side Fathers Reaching Out, which will involve going into shelters for homeless, prisons and other places where people can help others and also better themselves by taking part. Marks aim is also to educate students in schools and employees in companies around the country that they must seek help before it gets to breaking point, like it did to him.

Since speaking out about his illness and the effect of postnatal depression, Mark has been delighted with the results. He has had people who he has known for many years come up to him saying they too have suffered in silence.

banner5Mark notes, “People are more willing to open up when they know that they are talking to someone who has been through the same situation themselves and don’t feel judged. Many people including myself were afraid to seek help, and didn’t know how people would react to the situation. I know this is a illness, that anyone can have in their lifetime as the figures show 1 in 4 will have a mental illness in their lifetime.”

Mark concludes “If we can start talking about this illness called depression, people will be more likely to come forward and seek the help quicker and start the recovery at the earliest point.”

Follow Mark Williams on twitter @fathersreaching or see www.fathersreachingout.com for more about the campaign.

For more support groups and ways to increase your positivity, search www.whatson4me.co.uk for classes and groups near you.

Dreading the clocks going back? S.A.D. – Seasonal Affective Disorder – Are you a sufferer?

October 15, 2012

SAD is a depressive disorder which occurs during the winter, starting between September and November and continuing until March or April. A diagnosis can be made after 3 or more consecutive winters of symptoms, which include a number of the following:-

Sleep problems:  Usually you have a desire to oversleep and can sometimes find it difficult to stay awake, feeling the need to sleep during the day, more often than usual.

 

Lethargy:  Feeling fatigued and have difficulty carrying on with normal routine.

 

Overeating:  Have cravings for carbohydrates and sweets, which usually result in weight gain.

Depression:  Feelings of misery, guilt or loss of self-esteem. Sometimes hopelessness and despair, sometimes apathy and loss of feelings, which lead to inactivity and inertia.

Social problems:  Where you can feel irritable and avoid social contact.

Anxiety:  Feel tense most of the time and find it difficult to deal with stress

Loss of libido:  Decreased interest in sex and physical contact.

Moodiness:  In some sufferers, extremes of mood and short periods of hypomania (overactivity) can occur in Spring and Autumn.

So, what can you do to overcome this seasonal depressive state…?

Light Therapy has been shown to be affective in up to 85% of diagnosed cases. This is exposure for up to 4 hours a day (average 1-2 hours) to very bright light, at least 10 times the intensity of ordinary domestic lighting.

Light treatment should be used daily in Winter (and dull periods in Summer) starting in early Autumn, when the first symptoms appear. It consists of sitting 2-3 feet away from a light box, usually on a table, allowing the light to shine directly through the eyes.

Treatment is usually effective within 3-4 days and the effect continues provided it is used every day. Tinted lenses, or any device that blocks the light to the retina of the eye, should not be worn.

Anti-depressant drugs.  Traditional anti-depressant drugs such as tricyclics are not usually helpful for SAD as they exacerbate the sleepiness and lethargy that are symptoms of the illness. The non-sedative SSR1 drugs such as sertraline (Lustral), paroxetine (Seroxat) and fluoxetine (Prozac) are effective in alleviating the depressive symptoms of SAD and combine well with light therapy. Daily exposure to as much natural daylight as possible, especially at midday, should help.

Psychotherapy, counselling or any complementary therapy which helps the sufferer to relax, accept their illness and cope with it’s limitations are extremely useful.

 

If you think you may suffer from SAD then why not contact Jayne Briggs of Life Solutions to arrange an appointment to discuss your concerns? Jayne is an integrative counsellor, life coach and stress management trainer, who runs her private practice in Ecclesfield, Sheffield.

Jayne is currently offering a 10% discount on a one hour session of Reiki Healing and Relaxation therapy session, which will be carried out at her therapy premises.

For further details about Reiki healing and it’s therapeutic benefits, visit her website at

http://www.lifesolutions-lifecoaching.co.uk/spirituality.php


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