Friday, 16 October 2015

Core Values

Thanks for visiting again!
What I'm wittering about today is core values and how it relates to your happiness and life goals.

Core values could be defined as the things, groups or theories that we hold as important. Examples of some core groups would be things like family, spirituality, work, self growth, lifestyle, diet of choice to mention just a few. They are the core principles that we may or may not realise we live by.

A good exercise is to rank down on a piece of paper what your core beliefs are. How would you rank things in importance in your life? Where does your job scale? Family? Spirituality? Security? Fitness? Hobby? Self actualisation?
It's quite a tricky exercise, and you may even feel guilty about the order of things of importance.

But if you can be true with yourself and get a proper order written down you may start to understand why you make some unconscious decisions or why you may seem to be afraid of certain opportunities.

It is also a useful exercise if your feeling a bit lost. What do you really treasure?

All of us live busy lives, and personally, when I'm very busy I find it hard to stay true to my core values. The hustle and bustle of life can prevent us from making sure we tick our own boxes.
If I take on too much work then that can take its toll. It takes too much time and energy and as a result I can't give the attention and strength to things more important up my own list of values. Do you get me? So decisions I make can affect how true I am to myself.
Stay up late and as a result be too tired to go to the gym?



For instance. Something that's high enough on my own scale is family and myself oddly enough. If I'm not the best person that I can be, then I'm not able to serve the people closest to me very well.
So it's important to make sure that what you value is looked after and that you are true to the person that you are deep down and where you as a person want to be.
I also have a deep belief in the Paleo diet. I believe the core ideals of the diet and the benefits. So when I drift away I'm dissatisfied with myself. That's because I'm straying away from something that I view as important, drifting away from something that I view as important and true.

Henry Ford said that "if you do what you've always done you'll get what you've always got!".
So we need to step away from the routine. Evaluate, step above yourself so to speak and get an overview of your passage in life. Where are you going? Why? Is it what you want? Where will it lead?

So what are some practical actions to get to your core values and maintain them?

Define your own core values. Who are you and what do you value?

Take the solitary time to evaluate your progress and direction in life. You can do anything, go anywhere, you make your world. So how are you progressing?

Which of your core values are you not being true to?

What can you do next week so as to put that right?

If it's not a hell yes, then its a no. Make every decision by making sure that it's in alignment with your values. Does someone want you to do this that or the other and you hate it or really don't want to?
I'm looking at you!

We are never finished :)


Ps. No alcohol or other mind altering substances were consumed during, before or after the writing of this blog post.

Pps. Stop watching the news. It's never good and you can't do anything about it anyway. Don't let negative *stuff in.


Just in case your wondering... :)

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Summer/ Autumn Weight Gain?

Hi,
Thanks for taking the time to have a read.
I don't know about you but I find that I put on a bit of weight around this time of year...
Not a huge amount, but a few pounds. Is this because of having a poorer food choice or what's behind it?

Well first of, who knows...

But secondly, I find winter time a lot easier to lose weight.
If we observe nature, Autumn is a busy period. Creatures are getting ready for winter time, building houses and fattening themselves up for a shortage.
We too, in our history, would of found food harder to find during the winter.
A lot of foods that naturally ripen in our environment do so at this time of year. Lots of fruit and berries ripen, and give the natural fatten signal to our bodies via the fructose. In fact during the summer all manner of carbohydrate rich foods are produced, potatoes, carrots and more.
Were we designed to have the same body composition all year round? I don't think so...

So as a species, we have developed and perhaps designed to store energy at this time of year.
During winter time no fruit was ever available. Some starchy tubers gave some carbohydrates, but a lot of our diet would of been from fermented or saved food from the summer, or fat and protein from animal sources that we would of hunted and killed.

So if you find that you are more hungry at this time of year and perhaps a few pounds heavier than youd like, consider the possibility that your body is craving the nutrients and information found within the seasonal food that you are eating. ( I know I'm loving the berries around here - they are almost like sweets!).

But my plan is that when winter does set in, I'm going to go back into a more cyclical ketogenic phase of lower carbohydrate and higher fat and protein.


Just my own two cents...



But wait there's more....
Just a small tip or advice- we all know how important it is to make sure that we eat a natural diet that is rich in nutrients. Now more than ever with flus and virus' going around, it's important to stock up on those healthy foods. Make sure that all your dinners are crammed with things like garlic, mushrooms and other nutrient dense foods.

Also, the sun has been out over the last few days. It could be some of our last chances to get the rich rays that it gives. So get outside. It was even warm enough this afternoon for me to go topless in the back yard, getting as much sun to the skin as possible. #happyneighbours :)
Not only does this help with circadian rythem but also helps with Vitamin D. When our supply is "full", excess D is then stored in the bones for slow release in winter. So, get storing!!!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Health tips and tricks

I've just a few more health tips and tricks going on at the moment...

We've had loads of kids parties and family gatherings recently which means things have headed south on the diet and health front. Not all out binge but definitely a turn south! It's actually turning out to be really hard to get back on the Paleo/Primal wagon again....

I've kept going on my weight lifting routine of 2/3 mornings a week. I do feel I'm getting stronger and I can see progression with the weights.

(Just to interject and interrupt myself, I'm currently writing to you with my blueblocker light glasses on. I've got my nerd on...)

So, while trying to eat healthy again, I'm having some more fat, lots of veg and low carb. Staying away from all grains also which is a huge help. I react badly to wheat so the odd bit of cake really hasn't helped!

But I digress.

The real reason I'm writing this is a new App that I've downloaded for my Iphone, and it's amazing.
It's called Sleep Cycle...

Each night I turn my iphone onto Aeroplane mode and place it on the bed beside me. Not on my pillow but maybe an inch or two away from me.
The phone then uses it's accelerometer to measure your sleep cycles. It senses the movement of your body to detect what level of sleep you are in.

It's so interesting to see a graph of your nights sleep. It has different colours for awakeness, light sleep and deep sleep.

But my favorite feature is that the app is also an alarm clock. Fore instance if you want to wake up by 6am, the app will wake you up between 5.30/6am. But it will wake you up gently with the alarm progessively getting louder when it senses that you are in the lightest sleep.

As a result you don't get rudely awoken in the deepest sleep. This can save you from the really groggy feeling of being woken mid hibernation.

You can also track and see what different habits have on your sleep. I had a couple of glasses of wine one evening and the sleep cycles were very noticably disturbed. I fell into a deep sleep almost straight away but then got tossed out of that after an hour into a long period of being awake or in light sleep. It's facinating!

Best of all, the app is free!



Sunday, 16 August 2015


I don't know where I heard this proverb first, but I think it was on a podcast somewhere.
I'm impelled to write about it because it's been playing over and over in my mind for the last couple of months.

It doesn't take a genius to decipher what the message is about. But using it throughout your life on the other hand is quite an art.

Life is busy, Life is good, life is difficult. Life is exciting. Life is a lesson.

My life is all the above, and whether things are going good or bad, it all depends on the state within.
Mood is not dependent on external forces, instead it is based on internal peace.

For example, I don't find looking after our two children taxing in anyway when I'm at peace. But if I'm tired because of a hard taxing week, poor sleep for some reason, or lacking in some way, looking after them can be more of a chore. I have less patience.

Some symptoms might also include using things to distract yourself from the here and now. Using Tv, Internet, facebook or random things to distract or take our attention. When interrupted from such pointless things we can become unhappy or irritated.
But whats the real problem?
It's the enemy within.


What's your enemy within? Have you recognised this about yourself?

I've seen people so engaged in fire fighting problems that don't concern them, whether that be in the news, or in life in general. How happy are you? It's a hard journey finding out the source of unhappiness. Its a long and deep road that might take you to places that you've not thought of before...


For months now every time I've lost my patience or been unhappy in a situation the wise saying comes racing back into my mind. With inner peace and true self belief you can accomplish what you want. So...

"When there is no enemy within, the enemy outside cannot hurt you."

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Paleo Living - I'm using hardly any chemicals

You may of read my post about my new water bottle a couple of months ago. Well I haven't broken it yet and I'm loving drinking from it everyday. Water tastes great from it, and it's good to know that my water bottle isn't leaching chemicals into my drinking water.

Even though my friends may refer to me as a caveman, I must admit that I'm starting to get there! :)
As the title of today's post would indicate I'm using as little chemicals as possible.
My wife happens to make organic soaps and body products which is a huge help of course. You can see her fine products at www.madeinlucyskitchen.com. Some people call their products natural or organic but still have natural nasties, whereas these are products and moisturisers that we use ourselves and for our children, that are completely free from chemicals and just contain butters and oils such as organic coconut oil.

Natural soaps like this that have no chemicals in what so ever are more expensive than the store bought equivalent, but I get to use odds and ends and soap bars that didn't make the cut!

But in general I only use this soap, I don't use hair shampoo, the ingredients list on them are really horrible. What I've been using for months is actually the same soap bar that I was the rest of myself with.

The world that we live in is far more toxic than ever before.
Plastic has a estrogenic effect on us, which can be cancer causing and also changes our hormone levels which can be disastrous for our health. If you can, stay clear of plastic food containers. Plastics shouldn't be used in conjunction with our food or water. Estrogenic substances increase the level of Estrogen in our body. This is the feminine hormone, it can lower men's testosterone levels and provide too much Estrogen for women, which may be problematic during PMS. Not to mention the BPA issue with plastics
We weren't designed to drink or be in contact with a man made product like this.

In fact if you think about it, when we say that these plastics and cosmetics change levels of hormones, we are saying that these things change the structure of cells and how they interact with other cells. We are upsetting the homeostasis of the entire body. That can't be healthy or optimal.

Cosmetics often contain phthalates and parabens, along with other metals like aluminium. For this reason I avoid using normal off the shelf deodorants and instead use a natural option. All shaving foams, deodorants and make ups contain hundreds of chemicals. These topical formulas rest on the skin for long periods and do make it into our blood stream where they are absorbed in to the body.
This is the first time in human history where we have ever used and bathed all day in so many harmful chemicals. Why do it! Instead search for natural products or years old tried and tested methods to get the same results. We don't know what sparks off the cancer genes, but we know that some of the chemicals are cancer causing. So why take the chance just to smell like Lynx Africa?


I also like getting my hands dirty outside every now and again, and while I don't mind getting soil and grass on my hands, if I'm doing something that has chemicals in it I try not to get it on my skin.
For example I like doing some DIY (destroy it yourself!!) on our cars, and that includes changing out the oil, beforehand I would of gotten oil on my skin and not worried about it, whereas now I am conscious that chemicals on the skin can get into our blood stream and do a lot of damage.
Of course there's no need to be OCD about it all, but at the same time why not be conscious about it?

I'm not saying though to always stay away from dirt, as recent research has shown how important it is for us, and especially our immune system to get a measure of dirt and bacteria on our skin and then into our bodies. Then our immune system gets stronger as it fights off all these small infections.

We live in the most cleanliest time ever. Everyone has alcohol wipes and fluid ready to clean their hands right away. But the focus should be on avoiding germs but not eliminating all forms of bacteria.

So that's just another step that I've taken. Not to be too brutal but I use deodorant as little as possible (here come another ribbing from friends), as my wife is currently making a natural option.

Again the same as my water bottle, you won't see the result straight away, but this is a long term lifestyle rather than a fad diet.

Chemicals are very new in our history, and manufacturers use them to make our products last a long time, look and feel the way that we want and expect, and to keep costs low. But no time is being spent thinking of the dangers that it can do. I live a very normal life, and I'm not saying to lose sleep about chemicals, but perhaps be aware of them, and make some wise choices.

Right...where did I leave my cave...

Monday, 26 January 2015

What does my midweek shopping trolley / cart look like?

So what can I eat on a low carbohydrate,natural food or paleo diet?


Here's my cart from today, now I'm the only one in my family that is paleo-ish/ natural foods / low carbohydrate. So the organic brown bread isn't for me nor are the bananas. But I will have some of the organic potatoes when I'm carb backloading or having a carb refeed day.

So there is some healthy vegetables - sprouts, cauliflour, mushrooms, parsnips, carrots and potatoes.

Some salmon and beef for a dinner or two, as well as some high quality full fat greek style yogurt. Cheese and Ham for snacks for the children and myself.

Not to mention the obligatory bacon and liver. Which is what I'm tucking into now as I'm writing this evening.

All in all, not a bad shopping cart for anyone interested in healthy eating. (minus the bread).

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Magnesium - Importance, deficiency and what to do about it.

It's not new news to you that Magnesium is a very important mineral for our body.
Magnesium has been found to be used in over 350 known biochemical processes. A normal healthy adult has about 25 grams in their body and it is stored mainly in deep tissue and bones.

Magnesium has a relationship with calcium and vitamin D in the body as well.
For example if you have a severe magnesium deficiency then you will also be deficient in calcium. However if you supplement with calcium you won't increase your body's levels of calcium without increasing magnesium levels first.
If you increase your magnesium levels alone though your calcium levels will also increase.

If you have hypocalcemia (hypo - for low or lacking and hyper- for too much) also supplement with magnesium. Often calcium supplements also contain magnesium but it is often quite small amounts of the RDA.

If you have a magnesium deficiency then you may suffer from the following:

  • seizures
  • headaches
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • vertigo
  • vision changes
  • insomnia
  • unrefreshed sleep
  • mental fatigue
  • aches and pains
  • disorientation
  • anxiety
  • hyperactivity
  • constipation
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • jitters
  • pins and needles
  • muscle pain
  • tooth decay
  • carbohydrate intolerance
  • extreme thirst
  • dry itchy skin
and the list goes on and on. Suffice to say that if anything is wrong, there's a good chance that magnesium might be playing a role in it. 

Magnesium deficiency - How does it happen?

Well it's not as simple as saying that we don't eat a magnesium rich diet. In fact we don't. The WHO estimate that 75% of Americans have a magnesium intake that falls below the RDA. 
The RDA for men is 420mg.

We don't eat enough magnesium is a fact. But it's not as simple.
We need to understand the absorption or lack of, retention and elimination of magnesium in the body.

Here are some of the main sources of magnesium in the diet. It can be hard to remember all the sources of magnesium but in most instances foods that are high in fiber are also higher in magnesium.


Dark leafy greens such as spinach: 1 cooked cup provides 157mg
Nuts and seeds: 1/2 cup 600mg
1 Avacado: 15% of RDA
















Here is an article with detailed amounts of magnesium per food types and it's worth checking if a few simple changes in foods eaten could help. Perhaps adding fish to your evening meal or an Avacado for a snack during the day. There is no doubt that the best way to get all our vitamins including magnesium is from our food. But in most cases it just isn't possible to get all our nutrients that way. That's where deficiency comes in and the need for some supplementation or very deliberate food choices every day.

If you have magnesium deficiency the RDA might not be enough for you. You may even need to take up to double the RDA because you are lacking and below what the RDA was based on.
The RDA recommendations are based on a "normal" person whose magnesium levels aren't deficient.

The use of Magnesium in our body depends on it's Absorption, Retention and Elimination.


Absorption

Like all things that we consume there is always some particles that are left undigested and therefore not absorbed. The same is true of magnesium. Some supplements are barely absorbed, and even the highly absorbable forms can lack effectiveness if we are not in a good place to accept them. Here's why.
Everything we digest goes into our gut. The gut is also known as the microbiome.  A destinct home of micro organisms / bacteria that breaks down our food. In some ways we are a walking bag of bacteria. They outnumber the cells in our body 10:1!

If our gut home is out of order, lacking or damaged in some way, then it's ability to extract all the goodness from foods and nutrients is deminished and malabsorption will occur.

The gut can become damaged or leaky if it is irritated or inflamed, this can happen because of gut overgrowths like candida, or from foods that we are in some way allergic to.
The lining of the gut becomes inflamed and then the gut itself can leak and we poison ourselves to a degree and have a poorly performing digestive system.
So it is important to make sure that we don't have a leaky gut that is being damaged by gluten or some other allergen that we can't cope with.

But there are several tools to make absorption better in the gut. It may be improved by the use of prebiotics and probiotics.
Prebiotics and probiotics can help to feed the good bacteria within our gut.

Another method of absorption is the use of topical magnesium solutions. Epsom salts baths are magnesium baths. The Epsom Salt Council recommends soaking 3 times week for at least 12 minutes in standard warm water bathtub with 2 cups of Epsom Salt added. However even though beneficial, absorption rates differ from person to person and as a result quantification of levels is difficult. It's a good excuse for a hot relaxing bath though!

Retention

Research has shown that a deficiency of vitamin B6 and taurine causes a greater lack of retention of magnesium.
Vigourous exercise also increases losses of magnesium along with the usual alcohol, caffeine, sugar and foods high in oxalates.


Choosing supplementation

That's where supplementation comes into play. But for the best results it's best to choose your magnesium wisely. There are many forms that magnesium comes in, and what is important is the packing agents used and the bioavailability of the magnesium. Basically how much of it will be absorbable and how much will just pass through your system and out the other end?
A full explaination of all magnesium types is explained in this link!

Magnesium chloride and amino acid chelates offer 80-90% availability, on the other hand cheaper magnesium oxide capsules only offer 4%!
Experts also say to take magnesium by itself and not with calcium or other vitamins because of their complex inter-relationships.
It is also recommended to supplement only 350-400mg per day. Magnesium is important but overdosing on magnesium can be dangerous. If you feel that you are very deficient it is best to seek medical advice and even to have blood testing to verify levels before increasing levels beyond the RDA. Saying that, there is no harm in taking the RDA plus lots of healthy magnesium rich foods.

Antiobiotics also are resticted in their use when magnesium is taken, so if you are very sick and are taking antibiotics then perhaps reduce the amount of supplementation until your treatment has finished. Remembering all the while that antibiotic use effects the good gut bacteria in the microbiome and repeated use will cause damage and thus malabsorption of nutrients and minerals.

A comprehensive list of the RDA for men, women and children of different ages can be seen on a chart here from the WebMD website.

References: 

Heidi Collins MD EDS Syndrome

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-998-magnesium.aspx?activeingredientid=998&activeingredientname=magnesium


Thursday, 1 January 2015

Choose Your Fuel

You might not realize but your body is a hybrid engine. There are advantages to using both types of fuel that it can burn.
Your body in its amazing wisdom can burn glucose or amino fatty acids or fat for fuel!
The glucose that our body makes from burning carbohydrates is like burning petrol, its highly explosive and gives a strong and intense burn. This is excellent for some sharp burst exercise. The only thing is that the fuel doesn't last as long and leaves you in a slump for more. When you eat carbohydrates your body uses this first as a fuel and uses this in metabolism. So by eating carbs we chose the fuel we want our body to burn.

However when you don't need that explosive ability there is a better and more sustainable fuel, that of burning fatty acids.
Fatty acids or fat burning produces a slower burn, and this happens only in the absence of carbohydrates. The metabolism also has to adapt to the ability to burn fat.
This can take a week or so of eating low carbohydrate and high fat. During this time your body adapts to using fat for fuel. Eating a lower carbohydrate diet isn't always easy, but there are some benefits to being a hybrid engine.

Easier fat burning. When your body utilized fat for fuel you also open the gateway to using fat stores from the body. Everyone wants to access stored body fat. Most of us have upwards of 40k calories of stored energy right on our hips! (Well everywhere).

Because the body can use digested fat or body fat your hardly ever hungry.
You always have a food source! As a result you can go for longer without feeling hungry. I can eat my evening meal at 6pm and go through to the following lunchtime without the slightest hint of hunger. Even after that it’s easier to go through to 6pm if there’s no chance to eat. As a result you can eat negative calories that you use and burn the rest from your body.

When you use fat for fuel you have a constant and fairly level blood sugar level.
This benefits the body in various ways from preventing diabetes to cancer.

Mood stabilization. Some have described the feeling of hangry when they get near the next meal. It’s a mix of hungry and angry! I've felt like this loads of times, you'll just go and eat into the entire fridge and you’re angry about it!
While burning the fat fuel though your body doesn't spike and trough to the same extent. As a result mood stabilization occurs. That's good for you and your family :)




How much carbohydrates and when?!!
Well initially to get adapted to burning fat you must cut down on carbohydrates and increase your fat intake. Cutting down on carbs during this time means cutting out bread, sugar, pasta and other grains. Instead replacing them with fats and so release carbohydrates such as vegetables. It is also important to have enough protein at this stage. Protein is needed and also excellent at warding off hunger.
So dinners should be high fat, medium protein and low carbohydrate.
By doing this for a number of weeks the body becomes fat adapted!!

It’s quite a healthy way of eating too! You can get your fat from some of your meat, delicious butter over your food or even olive oil. Many like coconut oil also and cook their foods in it. Coconut oil is excellent as it is a MCT and converts to fatty acid fuel quickly. It can boost your body into fat adaptation.

Carbohydrate sources should be from vegetables, especially non starchy vegetables such as coli-flour, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and carrots. These are dense in nutrients armed at helping the body, and yet the carbohydrates that they contain are slowed down by the fibre.

Protein helps builds the body, meat protein sources always contain some amount of fat also. Protein keeps hunger away for longer and is vital in cell formation.
When we eat too much protein though, and you do have to eat some amount, then the body converts the excess into glucose by gluconeogenesis. So even though protein is needed it’s good not to go too mad!


By a few simple steps you can choose the fuel that your body chooses. Will it be the explosive rush and quick action of carbohydrates? Or will it be the slow release and stability of the fat burn? You choose.