Ok so you’re a few weeks into the new year and already you’re struggling to keep those (over-the-top) promises you solemnly made to yourself when the clock struck midnight. Like giving up chocolate and booze, losing 10kgs, running 5kms everyday, or doing 60 minutes of yoga every morning straight after your 15 minute meditation.
In fact, you’re probably already feeling like these are just dreams that will never come true, so what’s the point in even trying right? Wrong.
Here are a few tips to make sure 2014 is your best year yet:
1. Make your resolutions realistic. We all embellish at times, stating "we're never going to eat sugar or drink alcohol again", but in reality we’ve already set ourselves up for a downfall with over the top, unachievable and unsustainable goals. Instead, set goals that are time-framed, like starting a 7-28 day detox where you cut out alcohol and sugar. You can then add alcohol back into your life in moderation if you choose to, although hopefully you'll find you feel amazing without it and don't want it so much anymore. This is a far more realistic way to start good, maintainable habits.
2. Make your resolutions measurable. Don’t just throw out that you want to ‘lose weight’ in 2014. Think about a realistic amount of weight you’d like to lose in an achievable time-frame (that's about 0.5kg a wk), or - even better than focusing on the scales - perhaps how you want to look and feel in your clothes, or a certain fitness level you’d like to be at. For example, being able to run 10kms comfortably in 3 months time. Write it down, set a timeline and strive for that.
3. Don’t fall off the bandwagon just because you’ve had a bad day/week/month. You have a whole 365 days to meet your goals and avoid being a statistic in the “I didn’t reach my NY resolutions again” survey. Didn’t achieve what you thought you would in January? February is just around the corner. No excuses.
4. Start small, aim big. This means taking baby steps to get to the main goal. For example starting your day with a squeeze of lemon juice in warm water to aid digestion; putting yourself on a 7 day detox and extending it one day at a time; cutting gluten or sugar (or both!) out of your diet for a few weeks to reduce inflammation and allergies; aiming to include 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week into your daily routine; striving to eat 3 cups of salad and vegetables a day. All of these simple steps will lead to a healthier version of yourself, and you’ll (hopefully!) want to keep going as you start to see the benefits. This is way better than promising yourself to run everyday and only lasting for 2 before you give up and go back to your old ways. Find sustainable habits that you can build on and start from there.
5. Don’t beat yourself up. We all have to start somewhere and those that have been successful were once in your situation. Set yourself a time-frame and write out what you want to have achieved by certain checkpoints. If you miss a deadline, don’t be hard on yourself, simply adjust the time-frame and start again. No one ever woke up on New Years day suddenly able to run a marathon without any training: they planned their sessions, adjusted their eating habits and set weekly goals. Being successful in anything - from losing weight to starting a new business - takes time, effort, hard work and continuous reality checks. And that’s ultimately what sets those who achieve their resolutions apart from the rest of the pack.
Anecdotal evidence of the Pill causing depression is wide spread and, although I have no scientific proof, I am one of those who definitely thinks the Pill was responsible for my downturn mood…
For me, I didn’t notice mood problems while I was on the Pill – I took Yasmin for ten years – but it was a completely different story when I came off it last year. With no synthetic hormones racing through my body, suddenly my anxiety escalated and my moods worsened.
I went to my doctor to discuss what I could do, thinking I’d have to go back on the Pill. But I was advised that no, it was best to sort out the hormone situation and let my body find its natural rhythm again. So I did a complete adrenal overhaul. The healing took almost six months, but I can say that I feel a thousand percent better than I even did on the Pill. If only I’d known how hard it was going to be to come off it, I might have thought more seriously before starting.
And I know I’m not the only one with this kind of story.
The Pill was once deemed a miracle drug, allowing girls to take complete control over their bodies. But this little wonder drug that we put into our bodies to eradicate PMS symptoms, heal our skin problems and to keep babies at bay – seems to have a lot more to answer for.
Over the past few years, more and more reports are being published about the very serious side effects of the Pill, specifically Yasmin and it’s sister pill Yaz. These are two that are being connected to blood clots (Medical Journal in October 2011 stated Yaz and Yasmin users experienced twice as much blood clot risk as women who used older birth control pills), embolisms, deep vain thrombosis, heart attacks and strokes in otherwise perfectly healthy females.
According to the pharmaceutical company who makes Yasmin and Yaz, Bayer, as of September 2013 it has settled 6,760 law cases by uses and/or their families for $1.4 billion for things relating to side effects of these Pills. Thousands more are still pending in state and federal courts nationwide.
Closer to home, in Australia, the TGA is in a battle as to whether the Pill should be banned in Australia and are at least asking for packets to come with more severe warnings, like cigarette packaging.
Then there’s my friend Harriet who suffered a 14cm blood clot across two veins in 2007. She was taking Yasmin at the time and her doctor ordered her off it straight away. She goes into more detail here if you’re interested in reading the full story.
So what does all this mean? Should you just never go on the Pill? Should you go off it?
Well that is a choice only you can make. However, it’s one I recommend you don’t make quickly or lightly. Start by doing further research into the Pill and your other options, and then I recommend talking to your doctor - or even a couple of different doctors to get some different opinions. Ask lots of questions, especially if you’re looking at a prescribed drug option, such as: what are the short-term and long-term side effects, what does the Pill actually do to my body, what happens if I want to come off the Pill and what are my other options?
But if I had my choice, I’d take all of my clients off the Pill to allow their bodies to regulate their cycles and start to ovulate again. Big call, I know. But there are diet, supplement and botanical programs that can assist with PMS and skin problems that are also natural and sustainable and wont put you at risk of depression, or even worse, stroke. Over the next two weeks, I’m going to be outlining these further in case you do want to come off the Pill and need a little help!
And what about preventing unplanned pregnancy? Condoms! They’re cheap, safe and are not only 98% effective when used perfectly, but also prevent most STIs that the Pill can’t assist you with. Plus it evens out the responsibility for both sexes.
We tend to take for granted that our doctors and pharmaceutical companies have our best interests at heart, when all too often it’s the bottom line that really matters.
For those who missed this excellent article the first time around, it’s definitely worth the read.
Warning: you should always seek medical advice from a doctor when it comes to your body. This is just my opinion as a qualified nutritionist and having been on the Pill for 10 years.
If you were busy drinking champagne and feasting on cheese and pizza, this is what you can do to ease a food and drink hangover
Let’s kick Monday off the right way! Follow these 10 steps and you’re on your way to being healthier by Friday.
1. Kick-start your day with a fresh, nutrient rich, metabolism boosting and re-hydrating ice cold smoothie. Think coconut water, hemp seeds, spirulina, banana, ice and fresh lemon. Not only is a great pick me up but it will give your digestive system a little rest after all that ice-cream (if you’re like me at least!)
2. Add protein. Get it into you in the form of poached eggs with avocado and roasted heirloom tomatoes or an omelette. Protein will stabilise your blood sugar levels when you’re feeling especially hung and fatty, whereas carbs (i.e. sugar) will cause you to feel worse when your blood sugars raise and crash. Avocado contains good fats which help the absorption of nutrients, and heirloom tomatoes contain the anti-oxidant lycopene as well as giving you UV protection from the sun.
3. Steer clear of comfort foods today. If you indulged on the weekend, keep away from foods filled with inflammatory gluten and stick with salads and vegetables that contain vitamins and minerals to replenish your body and not aggravate it.
4. Water. Drink loads and loads of it. Permanently attach a straw to your mouth and rehydrate yourself all day long! I don’t care if you have to spend the day on the loo. Not only will it flush out the toxins from the night/week/month before but it will rehydrate you and shift the foggy head.
5. Avoid coffee or soft drinks. They’ll only make you feel worse by loading you up with sugar and caffeine, increasing hangover anxiety and generally just making you feel like crap. Go for pure fresh coconut water instead which is naturally sweet and full of rehydrating potassium and electrolytes.
6. Pop a probiotic and multi-vitamin to help heal the gut after all the crappy food and alcohol, improve digestion, give you energy and fill the gaps of missing nutrients at this time of year. Get yourself some Nuzest Good Green Stuff for a real pick-me-up and cleanse.
7. Exercise. Go for a walk or run outside to get some Vitamin D into you, do some yoga – especially twists and inversions which have the added benefit of releasing toxins and decreasing inflammation, as well as improving mood and decreasing anxiety.
8. Go for a swim. Either in the morning for an energy kick or in the arvo as a break from work. If you can, get to a sauna to sweat out the alcohol, followed by a dive into the ocean. If you can’t get to a beach, take a cool shower again!
9. Try to create habits that are maintainable instead of being on the roller-coaster ride of indulgence followed by cleansing and detoxification. Start every day with half a lemon squeezed into warm water to aid digestion; add dark leafy greens to every meal for Vitamins and fibre and you’ll create healthy habits that are maintainable.
10. Don’t beat yourself up. Monday morning is usually spent feeling guilty about how big you went and vowing to not do it next time. Stop that cycle now! You’re only human and we all over-indulge every now and then so there’s really no point getting annoyed at yourself over a few too many wines and hot chips. You’ll be back to your healthy self in no time!