We always appreciate the health wisdom and information we receive from CNM (The College of Naturopathic Medicine). Their Spring 2021 article by Michelle Sanchez, in which she offers her tips for a healthy year, is chock-full of sound advice. Check it out below!
By Alison Canavan
As we move out of the winter months we might want to put a spring in our step by upping our physical game. Even with the best of intentions, the winter simply doesn’t lend itself to a lot of physical exertion due to the dark nights and cold mornings. After winter’s gestation period, spring is an opportunity and a time for rebirth. It’s a chance to look at the world through fresh eyes and also try something new.
When it comes to exercise I like to switch up my routine as we enter a new season. To be honest, I get bored and I love to challenge my body by trying new exercises. I’m a huge fan of Reformer Pilates and I can credit these classes with helping me to get back in shape, post-baby, a few years ago. It’s been quite a while though since I took a class but I decided to return to Pilates Performance Ireland in Dundrum and see if the passion was still there.
The Reformer is a bed-like frame with springs and straps attached. Don’t let that frighten you because the best thing about this exercise is that your back and body are supported by the bed at all times which is great for me as I have a bad back from a car accident. The Reformer gives you a full-body workout and it also helps to build a very strong core. Halfway through the session, I felt a huge smile appear on my face as I realised just how much I missed these classes. I felt grounded and really connected physically as the instructors encourage you to really use your breath with each movement. It’s a potent de-stressing exercise for many reasons. The deep breathing helps to calm your central nervous system and the movements help to really move your energy through your body. Your circulation gets a boost, your spine and muscles are stimulated and, of course, those feel good hormones wake up and start to flood your body too.
Because of the strong focus on core strength, your balance and posture will also be improved. In an age of computers where we sit at desks for long periods of time, I welcome any exercise that helps with that. Your flexibility will also increase and what I like is that it really helps to give you a lean shape and stretches out the muscles as opposed to
Pilates Performance Ireland offers a wide range of classes suitable for all levels and abilities. You can also book personal sessions, which I would advise anyone who has injuries or back problems to do. The owner Sarah MacLachann, who is a Pilates master, is excellent and can really help you to get to the root of your problems and work slowly with you to build your strength back up.
visit alisoncanavan.com for upcoming events.
By Amanda Collins
Your home can be arranged in ways that either block or support you to be the best version of yourself. A supportive home nurtures, inspires and becomes a sacred space in which to live and thrive.
Start at the start – the first thing you see when you enter your home defines how you perceive it. People who see the bedroom as soon as they step in may feel tired. If you see the dining room your guests will eat and run. If you see your kitchen first, your first thought will be to eat or go back and forth to the fridge even if you already know what’s in it. Place a plant or hang a curtain to divert attention from the kitchen. Create a different focal point with a beautiful artwork on the opposite wall to invite your energy in the other direction. Place a mirror at eye level on the fridge to look yourself in the eye, the window to the soul, and ask yourself if you are really hungry and really need this? Also add a mirror above your stove to place yourself in a powerful position when you are cooking.
Is your fridge covered in magnets? Avoid this magnetic pull and instead, keep only one magnet with an affirmation: “I love my body and feed it natural healthy foods.” Bring in nature and healthy choices by growing fresh herbs and greenery in your kitchen window and create a clutter-free kitchen with a sense of freshness and lightness. Clean out the fridge, pantry and cupboards – I recommend taking everything out, and then, piece by piece, putting back only what you use.
When it comes to colours, reds, oranges or bright yellow on the walls, plates or placemats in the kitchen or dining room will stimulate your appetite so choose earthy colours such as cream, tans, blues and greens to relax the nervous system. A bowl of fresh fruit on the table also suggests healthy choices, and makes an accessible snack. Keep the energy flowing by allowing only what you use out on the counter and place sharp knives in a drawer out of sight.
Make eating a sacred ritual by decorating the table with fresh flowers and using good china for meals. Bless your food and show gratitude for it. Try not to eat dinner sitting down watching television, give yourself the gift of time and chew your food 12 times per bite! Calming crystals and minerals such as blue lace agate or sodalite can also help quiet your appetite and slow down the pace of your meal. The slower you eat, the less likely you are to overeat.
In your closet, get rid of old clothes you have been saving for “when I lose weight.” Holding onto clothes that don’t fit symbolises holding on to old behaviour patterns. Keep only clothes that honour you and that help you accept and love yourself, as you are right now.
Display images of vibrant health, including a picture of yourself exercising and enjoying it! When working out, keep
a bit of the fiery gemstone garnet in your pocket to enhance your strength and endurance. Finally, uplift your mood at home with citrus scents by adding a few drops of lemon oil to spring water in a diffuser. Then play some dance music to get your chi energy up and your feet moving!
Expert insights for nutrition and exercise
It’s the perfect time of year to make some positive changes in our lifestyles. As awareness is often the first step to change, we share the latest insights from experts at the College of Naturopathic Medicine to help you spring clean your routine.
Mark O’Sullivan, Homeopath: Make new habits
Start off by trying to recognise habitual tendencies and patterns of behaviour that are not serving you well. Set goals for new behaviours by listing the ones you would like to decrease and the ones you want to increase. Use the Bach flower remedies and a journal to support you in change!
Michelle Hone, Exercise Physiologist, Blood sugar control
As well as avoiding refined sugars and increasing our omega 3 intake, exercise is fundamental in blood sugar regulation. Though cardiovascular exercise is crucial, it is in combination with resistance training that it has its most powerful effects. Resistance training/weight bearing exercise has the strongest effect on insulin sensitivity, stabilising blood sugars and overall metabolism. Through resistance, we increase muscle mass and since muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in the body, we quickly burn up calories. This type of training is also when our cortisol levels (stress hormones) are lowered. Exercise in general, but especially resistance and high intensity training, is associated with positive feelings and heightened energy levels. So to really put a spring in your step, start increasing and varying your exercise types.
Jessica Keane, Nutritional Therapist, Gut health and happy foods
Our gut isn’t just responsible for digesting food and absorbing nutrients. It houses an enormous number of nerves and most of our immune system. It helps control appetite, metabolism, energy, mood and immunity! The layer of cells that line the gut acts as a barrier between the foods and bacteria that enter the digestive system and the immune system; housed below the lining of the gut. To help avoid intolerance problems, keep your immune system strong and to fight autoimmune conditions, it’s important to keep that barrier perfectly in tact by achieving optimal digestion. It sounds complex, but we’ve got some handy tips.
- Think about the smell and taste of your food and chew thoroughly as this stage accounts for 40% of digestion.
- Avoid foods that cause wind, burping, bloating.
- Eat a small bitter leaf salad before each meal. Bitter leaves includes chicory, rocket, frisée, radicchio.
- Make soups and stews using homemade stocks.
- Eat fermented, probiotics foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi or kefir.
– Getting lots of fibre doesn’t have to be boring
- Eight portions of vegetables per day including: avocado, asparagus, sweet potato, turnip, potatoes, beetroot, artichoke, brussel sprouts and broccoli.
- Add oat bran and ground flaxseed or chia seeds to your cereal.
- Take psyllium husk daily.
- Two pieces of fruit daily.
- Snack on prunes or dried apricots.
- Eat at least one portion of brown rice, millet, quinoa, legumes (beans or lentils) daily.
The number of ‘happy feelings’ we experience are influenced by the state of our neurotransmitters (such as serotonin). These are chemical messengers released from nerve cells in the brain and nervous systems. We can produce ‘Happy Neurotransmitters’ by eating the right foods and decreasing alcohol intake and stress.
– Happy Foods
- Tofu, chicken breast, turkey, wild salmon, sardines, halibut, mussels, eggs (though not too many), lentils, 1brown rice, green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale.
- Asparagus, tahini, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, banana, raw unsweetened chocolate powder.
- Make use of plenty of spices such as cardamom, ground ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and herbs such as parsley, bay leaf, tarragon, coriander and dried marjoram.
- Aim to eat oily fish twice a week.
- One tablespoon of flaxseed oil daily.
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