Hair Dye Allergy Changed My Life

From my mid teens and through my adult life, I was an avid fan of hair colour, mostly blondes, a few times brunette, a couple of experiments with red, and then balayage and foils. I initially used box dyes, and then later hair stylists. On a whim, I could mix up my style and appearance, keep up with cutting edge trends, and just get creative with colour whenever I felt like a change.

In April 2020, one morning I felt itchy on my arms and legs. I then noticed a couple of tattoos felt itchy. I’d been to the beach and also waded in lake water the day before and thought I may have been experiencing some pelican or sea lice itch. I moisturised and went to to bed that night not thinking much else about it. The next day, I woke up still itchy and noticed small red welts on my legs. Over the next couple of days, the red welts appeared and disappeared over my body randomly.

I checked all sorts of things…Was it the washing liquid? Was it food? Was it my pets? Was it saltwater?… I spoke to a Dr who seemed confused, she prescribed prednisone and suggested allergy tests. As it was during the start of Covid, trying to get on site for tests was time consuming, and in the meantime, I had several days of on again/off again rashes and itches. Long story short, blood tests returned negative results to grass, pets, dust, pollen.

One evening a few days later, we had Italian for dinner, after eating I broke out in a rash from head to toe, bright red hives everywhere, and I ended up in the emergency department. They prescribed double dose prednisone and anti-histamines, which eventually calmed down the hives.

A few days later, I was sitting at work and felt light headed, dizzy, and had a raspy throat causing a temporary loss of speech. This was followed by my lips swelling to double in size. More prednisone relieved the symptoms, but this continued on and off for a week or more. The following week, my eyes started to swell up and water, and were particularly swollen upon waking.

At this point, I realised the hives seemed to be worse after a shower, and were appearing on my back, sides, and down my legs. I finally made a connection of a balayage hair dye I had the day before I started itching. The stylist used a darker than normal dye on the roots to reduce fading, and left it on longer than normal. The hives were flaring up when I washed my hair and the water was washing the chemical PPD (Paraphenylenediamine) over my body. It was in my bloodstream from my scalp. PPD is the main culprit when it comes to hair dye allergies, and is a study in itself.

All of the symptoms described above can be symptoms of a hair dye allergy! They can also include more severe anaphylactic responses, sores, bleeding, and even death. As I had never had any allergy issues (except a mild rash to too much orange/vitamin C) I didn’t make the connection between the hair dye and the onset of strange symptoms. I must admit the swelling and the loss of speech was very scary!

During all this time, I had started eliminating products with chemicals I used, trying to work out what I was reacting to! I also stopped buying any foods with chemicals, additives, colours etc. This led to only buying and eating organic fresh foods, meats, fruit, vegetables. All condiments with chemicals were tossed out in favour of preservative free options. Favourite chocolate snacks were discarded. Soaps and beauty products were swapped for natural and chemical free options. Laundry and cleaning products were scrutinsed and reviewed for their problem ingredients and eliminated where necessary, again replaced with more natural options. I became scared of anything I thought may possibly cause extreme hives, breathing issues, and facial swelling! Which is potentially everything when you don’t know what you’re reacting to!

I had made a food diary trying to make links to food types and reactions, and after much scrutiny, I realised the facial swelling was a cross reaction from the PPD with aspirin and ibuprofen. On the ocassions I had severe hives and lip swelling together, I had consumed high concentrate fresh citrus drink with Italian food on one occassion, and orange rind on a cake on another occassion (this relates back to my allergy to orange/citric acid as a child, which I had no problems with ever since, until this cross reaction)

I further discovered that using some purple toner shampoos and conditioners were causing hives and a raspy throat. When you delve into researching PPD and the possible symptoms and cross reactions, they are all reactions I experienced. The itchy tattoos, eye swelling, hives, cross reactions to medications. This allergy can cause reactions to dental pain relief, anesthetic, certain fruits and nuts, and due to it being concerned with mostly dark dyes, many people then react to things like rubber, seatbelts, black clothes, and a range of household products. I even broke out in hives around my ribs in a 2 inch band, exactly where a gym crop top had sat, it turns out the black thick elastic in the top had PPD in it! A $100 gym top became an enemy 😕

As far as I’m concerned, PPD should be banned. Period. The case studies are horrible, people should not be put in a life or death situation for hair dye! The ongoing issues faced by victims and survivors are awful. I tried another ‘allergy free’ dye but reacted to a similar chemical used in place of PPD. I can now only have bleach foils and dark blonde lowlights where the chemical does not touch my skin or scalp. I still take medication before an appointment just in case.

The ongoing quest to identify the reaction triggers actually changed my life for the better. Fresh foods only, no caffeine, no refined sugars, lots of water, natural soaps and beauty products, eco friendly cleaning products, and I eliminated take away foods… This led to a healthier diet, improved heart health, better skin quality, more energy, improved digestion and internal health, less environmental impact, less use of products tested on animals, and an overall feeling of improved well-being. Very quickly I discovered I did not miss any of the eliminated products, and nor did I want to return to using them. Eliminating as many chemicals as possible from your body makes you realise just how heavy and ‘blergh’ they make you feel!

I don’t think I would have eliminated so much all at once if not for the experience of trying to identify this allergy. Being healthy and fit, and having a ‘good’ diet, I thought I was fine. If you use hair dye, be aware one day your system may just ‘have enough’ of the chemical top ups and react severely. I beg you, don’t wait for a reaction to start detoxifying your system and eliminating chemicals from your lifestyle.

I can’t recommend a safe hair dye as individual reactions differ between the ‘safer’ alternatives, but you can learn more for ‘you’ specifically with this brilliant investment True Roots: What Quitting Hair Dye Taught Me about Health and Beauty A must have read for hair dye fans!

For help with eliminating toxic products, this is a handy resource Living Allergy Free: How to Create and Maintain an Allergen- and Irritant-Free Environment It is always worth educating yourself.

No Equipment Exercises | No Excuses

It’s very easy to put off a workout or exercising by saying “I can’t get to the gym” “I don’t have any weights” “I don’t have a bike” “I should buy a treadmill”… Recognise these statements for what they are, they are excuses! Have a quick read of this uncomplicated article, don’t overthink it, and then get started.

Getting started only requires you (and your motivation) and ideally some light workout clothes, and a decent pair of cross training joggers. ASICS are by far the best exercise shoes! Get a decent price here on my exact shoes ASICS Women’s Gel-Contend 6 Running Shoes, 9M, Black/Rose Gold

Choose a spacey living room, backyard, local park, beach, sport field, and you’ll be ready to choose from the following exercises, which you can easily design your own workout combinations from…

Push ups. Sit ups. Squats. Squat jumps. Squat pulses. Lunges. Walking lunges. Burpees. High knee runs. Planks. Side planks. Skaters. Ski jumps. Lunge jumps. Mountain climbers. Tuck jumps. Calf raises. Ladder runs. Jumping jacks… to list only a few. Google has examples of all! Combinations of any of these will provide a great workout and lots of burn 🔥

Pick 3 to start with – 5 of each for Round 1. Complete 3 rounds. You can then start mixing up your exercises and increasing your reps and rounds to suit! Such an easy, affordable, hassle free, effective way to get started! Strength, cardio, core is all targeted! Music (speakers/pods) is a great motivational tool, make sure it’s pumped up to get you pumped up!

You can also walk, jog, and run. You may like to set up a ‘x’ kilometre jog and complete some rounds of reps as a warm up, mid or post jog workout. Literally, all you need is to turn on your motivation, set yourself a daily goal, and start smashing those goals, burning calories, and reaping benefits. No equipment needed. No excuses. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, increase fitness, maintain health…….Focus. Fire. Fit.

Focus. Fire. Fit.

Is Discipline Important in Group Fitness?

Having been a dancer, dance teacher, choreographer, creative director, athlete, and currently completing further group fitness/personal trainer study, I definitely feel qualified to open up this topic. Somewhere along the way in our pursuit of a variety of options to choose from to be physical and get fit, the notion of discipline seems to have lost its central role. Discipline now sits at two opposing ends of the spectrum, those being either, all work and no play, or all play and no work.

I find myself in many group fitness classes where I am not being corrected, and I look around and see the majority of the class performing exercises incorrectly, many are just a major injury waiting to happen at any minute, others are contributing to lifelong problems with posture, hips, knees, ankles… Not only is correct form and technique not being addressed, many instructors are so busy trying to use their multiple technologies, perform the exercises, stay connected to working microphones, while verbally instructing, motivating, and encouraging, they are not even observing their students in order to correct them. There may be slightly less of an obligation placed on a group fitness instructor over a personal trainer to correct form and technique, but any time an instructor notices incorrect form and technique, as part of good service and discipline, it should be corrected. During a small break, or even at the end of the class would be fine.

Add to this, a competitive market where we all want to feel included (and rightly so), in this respect, organisations seem to be backing off on correcting people, possibly in order not to upset people or lose clientele. I understand this from a business model perspective, I really do. I do not understand this from an ethical, safety, health, effective instruction, ‘discipline’ point of view.

If you are avoiding correcting people to save them from injury or illness and to improve their results, in order to keep clients coming no matter what, fitness might be the wrong business. If people didn’t need discipline, correction, encouragement, or motivation, it’s highly unlikely they would be seeking the services of a personal trainer or a group fitness class.

While I appreciate and understand many people come in social groups to a group fitness class, and this is a great way to motivate each other when managed effectively by the class leader, it seems that much of the required discipline to effectively participate in, learn from, and start seeing results from, is left on the side with the towel and water bottle. What I mean by this is, the ‘social group’ continues during the class with off-topic chatting, talking, giggling, and even time-out sitting down to discuss personal things in class time.

This makes learning and progress for yourself very difficult. This contributes to the whole class being affected by the ‘demotivated’ bug, once one person starts slacking off, it’s like a contagious wave, it spreads across the class. Everyone’s group fitness class becomes 10 times more difficult when dealing with a lack of discipline in class time. Further, it’s disrespectful to other class members and the instructor.

On the flip side, there are a few group fitness classes out there, so hard in their discipline (think army training level discipline – which I have absolutely no issue with, and think is critical for the formation, development, and maintenance of long term discipline, once a student has learned the ropes, so to speak) they scare off newbies in five minutes, never to be seen again.

It seems you can either choose a half-arsed effort as an uncorrected participant in a bodyweight group fitness class, or be hit over the head with 100kg worth of plates and 1000 burpees. Personally, if I’m paying for or investing in classes, I expect to be watched by an instructor periodically for the purposes of being corrected. I expect to be shown how to execute exercises. I expect to be given some quick one on one advice if I am obviously struggling with the move/exercise. I expect to develop my motivation and technique. I expect to see results. I expect if another person stops the class for selfish reasons (talking, checking phones etc.) that they are reminded to get back on track during class time. I expect consequences for my actions, good or bad. I expect each person in the class is spaced evenly to give each other the required space, and failing this, I expect the instructor to show people where to stand to achieve this, to avoid half the class being forced to exercise up the wall or in a corner.

12 SIGNS OF A GOOD GROUP FITNESS CLASS

1.Class is organised and set up to start on time, and the instructor provides a strong, positive, and informative welcome

2.The class is not overcrowded, and people are evenly spaced

3.Warm up

4.Exercises are explained, special attention is given to new starters

5.Incorrect form and technique is corrected to avoid injury and illness

6.The instructor glances over your performance several times during class

7.If music is involved, as it mostly is in indoor group fitness classes, the instructor must be able to count bars of music, and know where the bars start and end for changing combinations

8.Instructions are clear, understandable, and delivered with enough time to change the combination/exercise effectively

9.Options are given for differing fitness abilities and/or due to injury or rehabilitation

10.Lack of discipline (as mentioned in the above blog) is addressed, the instructor maintains control of the class

11.The instructor motivates and encourages

12.Cool down and stretch

In other words, I expect to be disciplined! And you should be too. Be open to learning and improving!! If your group fitness class is missing the above, find a new class. Let’s get on it team, balanced discipline is the name of the game here. We can still have fun, albeit discplined fun! And after awhile, you’ll be able to play with the 100kg weights and do 1000 burpees easy-peasy. Motvation and discipline equals progress and results.

Here is a great resource, at a great price for you: Discipline Equals Freedom: A Field Manual

Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

MO2V8 Red Frog Berry Bomb Pre Workout Smoothie

This is hands down my absolute favourite smoothie combo as a pre workout drink!

1/2 Cup Frozen Raspberries

1/2 Cup Frozen Bluberries

(Or alternatively 1-1.5 cups of frozen mixed berries)

1 Serve of Frozen Acai

1-2 Scoops of Frozen Vanilla Yoghurt (or dairy free ice cream)

1/2 – 1 Cup Oat Milk (or soy, almond, rice etc.)

1-2 Scoops of Fireball Red Frogs Pre Workout Powder by Red Dragon Nutritionals

Add ice if desired

Blend in a blender, I use a Ninja like this one, a must have kitchen go-to … Nutri Ninja Nutrient Extractor, Black & Chrome, BL480ANZMN

This Fireball pre-workout is honestly the best pre workout I’ve had, great flavours, great energy, no crash. The bomb. https://www.reddragonnutritionals.com/

5 Handy Handstand Tips

Remember as a kid playing around in the yard or playground, cartwheels and handstands were performed over and over until we were dizzy! Such a great skill that many adults stop practising. Handstands in particular, are often dismissed or overlooked in strength training exercises in adult fitness classes.

Aside from being loads of fun, handstands can offer the following gains:

  1. Building Core Strength
  2. Developing Upper Body Strength
  3. Improving Balance
  4. Strengthening Bones
  5. Improved Blood Flow and Circulation

When you are upside down in a handstand a range of different muscles are engaged to stabilise you including, abdominal muscles, quadriceps, back muscles, triceps, hip flexors, among others. Having so many muscles engaged and working to stabilise your body rapidly develops your core strength. Solid core strength is the main aim of strength and conditioning, so get hand-standing!

In addition to core strength, upper body strength is getting a workout too. If you can manage handstand push ups, even more gains coming your way!

The more handstands you do, the more you will see your balance improve. As your balance improves, increase your skills by walking on your hands, activating a range of arm and back muscles, working abs, and improving balance.

By practising handstands, you are engaging in a weight bearing activity, which will contribute to the strengthening of your bones. Strengthening bones in your spine, shoulders, arms, and wrists, is a great way to reduce your risk of arthritis and osteoporosis.

What happens when you turn upside down? The blood runs to your head. Getting your blood flow moving and circulating is beneficial to your heart health. As you take the weight from your feet and lower body and direct it into your upper body, you will increase blood flow to your lungs which can also improve effective breathing.

Check out The Handstand: Basics A great reference guide

Handy Getting Started Tips

Use a wall for balance

Use a friend as a spotter to catch your legs/feet for starting to improve stabilisation

Use a wall to begin practising handstand push ups. A cushion/pillow is recommended to avoid injury when getting started.

Practise cartwheels to get used to weight bearing before trying to stabilise handstands

Repeat. Practise is key here, the more you do the better you get, and the more results you gain. Have fun.

The Art of Focus

In our insanely fast paced world, where we have so many different ‘things’ competing for our attention, sustained focus has become incredibly difficult to achieve.

Watch any child for just one hour, and you will witness their attention span go from 0-100 different things. TV, phone, toy, video game, food, drink, pet, music, outside, inside, drawing, book, paint, ball… When it comes to choices, television for example, we now have hundreds and hundreds of programmes, channels, playbacks, on demand options, and so on. This range of choice extends across toys, foods, clothes, music, apps, and all consumables, and even non-consumables. There are just so many options, and so much advertising for those options, our children now grow up with infinite choice at their disposal 24/7. As we advance into adulthood, being exposed to such an increasing amount of products, advertising, opinions, news, changes, shifting technology advancements via multiple mediums, does seem to create many issues, this blog will focus on focus.

What is focus? Many people struggle to concisely answer this question.

Focus is to direct and maintain your interest, involvement, and concentration on one topic, item, or activity.

To focus on one ‘thing’, you have to ignore or place aside many other ‘things’ competing for your attention. Without focus, our productivity suffers. Without focus, our efficiency declines. Without focus, we split ourselves across multiple tasks, starting most and finishing few.

Therefore, focus is the key to high productivity, efficient performance, effective time management, attention to details, and personal improvements.

Recent study has suggested an adult attention span is now down to 8 seconds! Putting us just under the attention span of a goldfish, who has a 9 second span. Why? Content, marketing, emails, calls, apps, meetings, screens, digital reminders, calendars, texts, social media, family commitments, bills, travel time, advertising, food, drink, snacks…There is just so much available information and product being presented to us, our brains go into overdrive trying to take it all in.

So, let’s focus on focus. Here are 3 key tips to develop the Art of Focus.

  1. Focus is a muscle. To strengthen our focus we must exercise it. Too much multitasking and spreading ourselves thin across many things all at once = a weak focus muscle. To begin to strengthen our focus muscle, we could use a favourite approach of mine called 1/24. 24 hours in a day. Divide them into 1 hour slots. Commit to certain tasks and activities in 1 hour or 30 minute brackets. Only do your listed activity for that designated time frame. To avoid slipping up, schedule in smaller blocks of time for emails, messages, and social media etc. Stick to the plan. No excuses. Repeat this process and watch your focus increase in all areas, including writing, conversation, learning, physical activity, and stamina.
  2. Create your space. Be sure you have your own personal space to work in. A room, or office, or outdoor area, specifically for you. Develop this space into a zone free from outer distractions. What inspires people to work to their best capacity differs. Some people are minimalist and want very little around them, others thrive with personalised touches and inclusions. You do you. Your space must be personally inviting, comfortable, and an off limits zone to others when you are working, unless invited otherwise.
  3. Get enough sleep and water. 8×8 works for me. 8 hours sleep. 8 glasses of water. This will ensure you avoid the focus killers of fatigue and dehydration.

Get yourself a copy of this brilliant book ‘Focus: Bringing Time, Energy, and Money into Flow’ A great read to focus on  Focus: Bringing Time, Energy, and Money into Flow

Focus like a laser, not a flashlight.

Image: Courtesy http://www.itl.cat

Why Posture Matters

At the core of any good physical form is correct posture. Posture matters. The old adage of ‘Stand up straight’ actually holds true. While standing up straight is part of correct posture, there are a few more components to achieving and maintaining correct posture, and even more reasons why posture matters. Correct posture helps us align our skeletal system, and also enables our muscles to avoid shortening and tightening, or becoming elongated and weak. Why does this matter? If our muscles shorten and tighten, we begin to limit our range of movement, and may experience muscle tightness and soreness from very simple activities such as sitting on the lounge for only a few minutes. Muscles at risk of elongating, such as cervical flexors (muscles stabilising our neck) can occur by sitting and looking at computer screens and phone screens, which we all now do a lot more of. Poor posture then leads to many other issues.

So, what are some effects of poor posture? Are you ready?

Back pain, joint pain, spinal degeneration, weak abdominal muscles, round shoulders, spine curvature, poor balance, improper walking style, hip issues, turned feet, headaches.

Harvard Researchers have suggested poor posture is also causing issues with heartburn, digestion, constipation, mood, sleeping, fatigue, jaw alignment, and incontinence.

Let’s add to those issues heightened arthritis risk, poor circulation, poor sexual function, heightened risk of injury, poor lung function, constricted nerves, and reduced function in bodily co-ordination.

When it comes to physical activities, fitness pursuits, sports, dancing, swimming, running, and a range of other activities, developing and maintaining correct posture is critical to peak performance and to avoid injuries. I am always a little disheartened and annoyed at the number of trainers in public fitness and activity classes who fail to correct posture (and form and technique). In most cases the person with incorrect posture is completely unaware of it, and a simple reminder and demonstration may put many people on the ‘correct posture’ track, reducing their injury and illness risk, and contributing to a better workout and improved results.

Any exercise performed with correct posture (and form and technique) will yield way better results than poor posture, form, and technique. For example, imagine if the muscle development you were seeking and working hard for was not happening for you simply because of incorrect posture! What a waste of time! It’s like waiting for the toast to pop, but you forgot to push the toaster down to start with!

So, what are the key components of correct standing posture?

Feet should be aligned directly under your hips with the weight evenly dispersed across both feet (no leaning into one foot, leg, hip)

Pull your shoulders back, but they should also be down, and relaxed.

Once your shoulders are back, your core/abdominal area will naturally pull in, avoid a sway back by ensuring your core is pulled in and up

Your arms should fall naturally to the sides of your body with the palms facing inward

Imagine a rope gently pulling up from the crown of your head, and keep your head facing forward

Even when you begin moving, keep all these points in mind and engage as many as possible while moving (obviously you will need to move your feet and shift your weight) but using correct posture as your central framework will benefit you in a myriad of ways!

Posture matters.

To help you get strated on correcting your posture, check out the following affordable recommended product deal! The Posture Corrector is a comfortable and effective aid to set you on the right path

Posture Corrector – Adjustable Clavicle Brace to Comfortably Improve Bad Posture for Men and Women – Posture Corrector for Women and Men Plus Kinesiology Tape and Carry Bag Included by MARAKYM

10 Tips To Kick Start Your Motivation

  1. Procrastination is the lazy member of the group slowing everyone else down. Ever find yourself saying “I’ll do it later” “I’ll do it tomorrow” “I can’t be bothered at the moment” “It’s not that important right now” “I’ll do it one day”… Now ask yourself, how many times did you come back to those excuses and actually “do” the thing? My guess is never, or at least, not very often. Throw procrastination in the bin! Every time you catch yourself making an excuse, immediately tell yourself you’re making an excuse, rewire your neural pathways to recognise and acknowledge the ‘excuse’ in order to create new, healthy, habits! Our thoughts really do create our reality.
  2. Start replacing lazy habits with active habits. I work with a very simple calculation I call the 1-24 approach. There are 24 hours in a day, that gives us 24 x 1 hour segments, or 48 x half hour segments. A 1 hour workout is 1/24th of your day! A 30 minute workout is 1/48th of your day! Now, I’m no stranger to full days, family duties, work and study commitments, chores, bills, and so on… and I am very aware how time poor our modern lifestyles have become, BUT, ‘not having enough time’ it is still NO EXCUSE for not getting motivated! We all make time for what we WANT to make time for. Remind yourself 1 hour or 30 minutes is only 1/24th or 1/48th of your day, this approach works not only for getting yourself motivated for movement and fitness, but for any time consuming task or activity. By rewiring your thinking habits ‘tasks’ become much easier and more manageable
  3. Start journalling or noting your thoughts. Weren’t feeling great? Write it down, identify ‘what’ is not feeling great…Headache? Sore foot? Unhappy with a colleague? Upset with a family member? Money worries? It’s really important to start identifying the causes of what you holds you back, this way we can focus on specific areas requiring attention and stop generalising our feelings and emotions. We may need more water for hydration, we may need to discuss an issue with a colleague, we may need to work through family problems, if you have a sore knee, identify why, injury? illness? bad shoes? By noting down exactly why we feel a particular way and what may be the cause, we can then identify clearer ways to tackle problems more efficiently, and free up ‘me’ time.
  4. Start journalling or noting your successes, however small they may be. Congratulate yourself for waking up 15 minutes earlier, recognise your own personal achievement of completing 5 sit ups, then 10 and so on, make notes on the healthier food choices you made that you enjoyed, be super proud of yourself just getting started. I honestly believe the most difficult part of any fitness training, strength development, weight management, or ANY new challenge is GETTING STARTED! Once you’ve started, keep going (just keep swimming, just keep swimming) then we start to build consistency. Reward yourself responsibly.
  5. Seek out positvity. Spend time with people who encourage and celebrate you. Get out of bed and appreciate the sunrise. Go for a morning walk, or an afternoon walk. Find reasons to laugh. Encourage yourself by reminding yourself you are worthy. Understand any time spent on personal growth and tending to your physical, mental, and spiritual health is valid, rid yourself of feelings of guilt for spending time on you!
  6. Clean out your kitchen! Start by eliminating ‘dead foods’ from the pantry and fridge. Foods such as chips, fries, chicken nuggets, packaged biscuits, white bread, white sugar, frozen microwave meals, two minute noodles, pies, processed meats… Replace them with fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh pasta, wholegrains, tofu…If you’re not vegetarian or vegan include eggs, tuna or salmon, fresh meat, fresh chicken. I know lots of people think the swap from dead foods to alive foods sounds ‘boring’. I cannot stress enough how misguided this is! Once you detoxify your system from all the dead foods you’re ingesting, and replace your dietary choices with alive foods, your system will not like returning to eating dead foods at all.
  7. Get creative in the kitchen! Grab a few cookbooks – I was amazed at the quality of a few I grabbed from K-Mart, so affordale, and so good! or Google some healthy recipes and compile a recipe list. I had fun creating a ‘go-to’ recipe book for the kitchen with a combination of vegetarian, meat based, dinners, breakfasts, smoothies, desserts. Some were ‘quick’ recipes and others a little longer. The idea here is not to ‘diet’. Diets are not sustainable and you just end up feeling like you’re being punished. You want to be able to eat healthily from a full range of fresh, healthy foods.
  8. Get cooking! I began with a wok and lots of green healthy veges, such as spinach, bok choy, beans, carrots, mushrooms, baby corn, tofu, brown rice, fresh chicken or meat, egg…I replaced my vegetable oil with rice bran oil, and experimented with herbs, lemongrass, lime, soy sauces, curry pastes. I used gluten free where possible. I replaced cream and sour cream with light coconut cream and coconut milk in cooking. I ditched the processed sauces, and started making my own. I replaced cow milk with rice milk or oat milk. I sometimes use honey but now prefer rice malt. Date syrup is a great alternative for use on deserts. Swap out ice cream for a plant based or dairy free ice cream. For lunch make fresh salads, lettuce or spinach leaves, tomato, onion, mushroom, carrot, mix through tuna or salmon, add hommus and egg. Avocados are versatile for breakfast and lunch (buy the rejected stock in bulk, much cheaper and they’re usually fine) Oats for breakfast, add fruit or prunes/dates/seeds, top with yoghurt and honey… Cut up a fruit salad – 3 fruits is all that’s needed, your choice, watermelon, rockmelon and banana as an example. Smoothies!! A ninja is a great start, a thermomix is heaven if it’s in your budget. Use fresh or frozen fruits and vegies, you can add yoghurt, light milk, supplements, you are only limited by your imagination! Make smoothie bowls! So yummy! Once you have started consistently replacing dead foods with healthy foods (and your body breathes a sigh of relief) you will start to understand just how ‘poisonous’ dead foods are. You will physically have more energy which leads to more motivation and better health and wellbeing generally. Once you’ve established a healthier meal and exercise schedule, you can still have the occasional burger, chips, dessert, gelato etc. Moderation (in addition to exercise) is key.
  9. Drink lots of water. The 8-10 glasses a day is not an exaggeration. Drink at least 8-10 glasses a day, if you can drink more, then do so. Staying hydrated is critical to good bodily function and to shedding excess toxins and weight, it also improves hair, skin, and nail quality, among other benefits for your body. When we are dehydrated, we lose motivation and become lethargic, suffer headaches and fatigue…
  10. Set realistic goals, write them down. Without goals, you risk blindly jumping in the deep end with no idea of where you want to be or how to get there. Short term goals…Want to start going to a fitness class? Find a nearby class, time, cost and commit to 1 class per week to start with. Already doing fitness classes, but want to do more? Commit to an extra class or 2 per week, ask a trainer for guidance on a specific goal so you choose the right type of exercise for your goals. Want to eat healthier? Start the pantry challenge above and replace one meal per day to start, then keep going. Long term goals. What do you want to achieve in 6 months? 12 months? 3 years? Is it weight loss? Is it overall fitness? Is it general health and wellbeing? Is it bouncing back after injury or setbacks? Is it strength development? This is critical to think about to set appropriate goals. Keep implementing more of the tips above to build consistency, make your new habits a way of life, NOT a fad, NOT a diet, NOT a one off attempt, consistency is the key to a sustainable, energetic, healthy lifestyle, and a healthier, stronger, fitter, you! Just GET STARTED. This further reading may help You Are a Badass Every Day: How to Keep Your Motivation Strong, Your Vibe High, and Your Quest for Transformation Unstoppable

5 Underrated Feel Good Activities

  1. Sing. Sing out loud. Blast out some music and kiss your cares goodbye. Create a playlist. Don’t be shy, let your voice be heard. Learn new lyrics. Revisit songs from your childhood. Just sing.
  2. Dance. Dance, dance, dance. Use that song playlist to get your groove on. Dance alone, dance in front of a mirror, dance in front of an audience. Get in touch with your inner mojo. Be free. Feel alive. Book a class, try pole dancing, try Zumba, try popping and locking, get primal, get moving!
  3. Run a bath. Light some candles and incense. Add muscle soak or bath oils. Awaken your senses while relaxing. Play some meditation music, drift off into a relaxing state of zen. Add crystals, flower petals, or whatever adds to your peace and enjoyment. Bliss.
  4. Gardening. Getting your hands into some dirt while tending to plants, potting plants, planting in an established garden, will draw your attention and senses back to nature. Be earthy, connect with Mother nature and appreciate all she has to offer. Choose some of your favourite greenery and colours, succulents are easy to grow and maintain, colourful flowers brighten any drab areas, herbs, fruit and vegies, climbing vines, cacti, bonsai, outdoor and indoor. You’re in control of choosing, growing, nurturing, tending to, and enjoying the gorgeous garden life you create!
  5. Beach vibes. Walk on the beach, feel the cool sand beneath your feet. Swim in the ocean, let the salt water refresh, revitalise, and heal your mind, body, and soul. Enjoy the sea breeze blowing through your hair. Discover shells, sea life, and marine vegetation while exploring the water’s edge and rockpools.

Yummy Avo Vego Breakfast Roll

Serving for 1

1 x Sourdough or Wholemeal Roll

4 x Long Slices Grilled Tofu (thin)

1 x Poached or Fried Egg (optional)

1 x Grilled Portobello Mushroom

1/2 Avocado

Spinach Leaves

Oregano

2-3 Cloves Crushed Garlic

1 x Diced Onion

1 x Punnet Cherry Tomatoes

Step 1. Make cherry tomato reduction sauce: Use 1 tablespoon rice bran oil and heat in saucepan. Add 2-3 cloves crushed garlic, 1 diced onion, saute until light brown. Add small punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved. Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste. Add 1 teaspoon oregano. Add half cup water if desired and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside. (Serves 2- 4 Can be stored in fridge)

Step 2. Lightly baste tofu and mushroom with rice bran oil, grill the tofu and mushroom, set aside, while poaching or frying egg.

Step 3. Prepare base of roll with smashed avocado and tomato reduction, then place grilled mushroom on tomato reduction, place grilled tofu on top of mushroom, place cooked egg on top of tofu, and add more tomato reduction and spinach leaves to top of egg as desired. Place roll top on and grill lightly for a minute to slightly heat roll. Serve.

An easy to make, and absolutely scrumptious, light breakfast roll. Enjoy!

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