Making the Most out of the Christmas and New Year Period

Making the Most out of the Christmas and New Year Period

With Christmas just a few short days away, I wanted to share how I navigate, and encourage my clients to get through the Christmas and New Year period, without derailing all of their hard work.

This is, assuming you have been working hard this year on your health and/or body goals! If not, then maybe you can use this as a strategy for next year, when you are slaying your goals 😉

Let’s start with the first tip; 

1. Try to keep your food ‘cleaner’ in between events

This just means, when not at a Christmas lunch, family dinner or new years eve party, eat as healthy as you can. Keep your carbohydrates and processed foods lower, stick to a high-protein, healthy fat diet with loads of fruit and vegetables.

The reason for this is to compensate, and allow room for indulgent days without ending feeling like a blown-up whale (which I know we all have done in the past!). Resist the urge to graze in between meals and events, but absolutely do allow yourself to enjoy celebratory foods and drinks when the occasion arrives.

2. Do not attempt to stay in a calorie deficit

Most people will tell me that they ‘can totally diet over christmas’, that it’s ‘just one day’ and the rest will be fine. This is fine and all, but unless you have a serious reason to stay on track, like, you’re competing in a bodybuilding competition in March, there is really no chance of navigating this time of year without derailing.

All good diets and health transformation goals require a break here and there, and all transformations require you learning how to adjust to life with events, setbacks, and roadblocks. The best way to approach them is to actively approach one with your awareness in check.

This means, you try to stay on track with maintenance calories, but you do not try to diet. And, you take Christmas day off. And New Years Day, if this is a celebratory event for you.

So get out of the deficit, and take this period of time as a time to learn to accept that some days are going to be out of your control, and that diet breaks are actually really healthy mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Keep exercising as you normally would, or replace your exercise with an equivalent activity such as switching gym sessions for beach walks, or HIIT training for yoga, something along those lines. So you are keeping the body moving, but you aren’t pressuring yourself to do exactly what your usual routine dictates for you to do. 

3. Limit the alcohol

This is one of the main reasons why people feel like rubbish over the Christmas period. Drinking too much is a depressant, can damage the intestinal lining, and disrupts sleep. These are very real downsides of drinking alcohol that overpower it’s ‘antioxidant’ effects.

Feeling the pressure to drink from friends/family? If they’re the kind of people to drink what you consider to be ‘too much’, then my tip is to get a drink when first offered, then just sip on it throughout the night. After a few drinks no one will notice if you’re drinking or not, and the next morning you can wake up and exercise, or make a healthy breakfast, rather than feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck like the rest of your family/friends.

I mean, why is it that we ‘celebrate’ holidays by drinking ourselves silly and binging on junk food? When did ‘celebration’ lead to self-punishment?

4. Change your mindset – think of it as the last chance you have to relax before beginning a brand new, killer year

Do you want to start the new year feeling completely overwhelmed and off track? Chances are that no, you don’t! If over-eating and consuming tonnes of alcohol is how you feel good, then this doesn’t really apply to you, but I don’t remember the last person who said to me that they thoroughly enjoyed the fact that they ate and drank until they felt sick

It’s also hard to get things back on track after a rogue couple of weeks, especially if you started your holiday season on December 1st (I know some of you did! Lol).

So many of us whine all year about being stressed out, overworked, sad about not being able to travel, we have symptoms that we aren’t getting on top of. It makes no sense to get the only break you will have this year and use it to dump junk into an already overworked, over-stressed body right before it goes back into normal life overdrive again.

So, relax, allow your body the time to lower stress levels, physically, emotionally, mentally, so you can recuperate and feel refreshed come the new year!

5. Write down some goals for the holiday period and keep them handy

Keep a list on your phone, or find a quote that represents an ideal holiday period for you. Is it putting your feet up? Set yourself up for an amazing new year? Reading a book? Connecting with your children and extended family? Finding time for meditation, exercise, or hiking? What is it you would ideally like to do for the break?

Setting intentions early on can really start to get the ball rolling here!

6. Implement one of your new year’s resolutions early

This is a hack in a way, to get you out of the mindset of going rogue for two weeks and then trying to reel it in to get the year started right. All you do is, get one of your new year’s resolutions, and action it right away.

For me, I want to reduce my caffeine consumption next year, so I have already, as of the 18th December, started the process of doing that, going from 350mg/day to 250mg/day. I already feel better and by the time the 1st January comes around, I should be up to 0-100mg/day (the maximum I want to be consuming from this point forward).

This is a goal I can maintain over the holiday period and it will also set me up to hit the ground running when January 1st comes around.

So, those are my top tips for making the most out of this christmas/new year period.

Let me know if you plan on trying any of them in particular!

Jen x

Peanut-Butter Pumpkin Savory Oats

Peanut-Butter Pumpkin Savory Oats

Savoury oats are a winner when you want to keep your blood sugar under control, have sustained energy throughout the day, and avoid those sugar cravings.

Also perfect for winter weather in November that just won’t go away! ❄️

I find it funny to see how oats, one of the healthiest foods you can get, has suddenly turned into cake on Instagram. So I am making a healthy contribution 😅 This is my peanut-butter pumpkin savoury oats recipe!

Ingredients;

  • 40-50gm Oats
  • 100gms Pumpkin, cooked/pureed or air-fried
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tbs peanut butter, or 20gm powdered peanut butter (Yum Natural is the brand I used)
  • Himalayan salt & cinnamon

Instructions;

◻ Cook the pumpkin by boiling or air frying, then either use the air-fried cubes or mash the boiled pumpkin.

◻ Cook the oats in a pot with cinnamon and salt

◻ Cook one egg on the frypan

◻ Prepare the peanut butter, either by heating it up or mixing the powdered peanut butter in water to create the desired consistency

◻ Add the oats to a bowl, the fried egg, pumpkin, and drizzle the peanut butter on top.

Delish 🌱🍽

Macros:

  • 318 calories
  • 22gm protein
  • 10gm fat
  • 35gm carbs

You can add more protein via egg whites or vanilla protein powder too if you wish!

Hope you enjoy!

Jen x

5 Keys to Stress-Reduction

5 Keys to Stress-Reduction

Stress, you hear about it all the time, you’re told to reduce it, but what is it??

Stress is an acute response by the body when faced with a threat – be it physical, emotional, chemical, or spiritual. The body responds by activating what is called the sympathetic nervous system. This response prepares you to fight, or flee.

When the danger passes, we return to a parasympathetic state, which is where we rest, digest, heal and rejuvenate. This is the opposite arm of the autonomic nervous system, and this operates below the level of conscious awareness, meaning, you don’t have any control over it. 

When it comes to stress, it can be caused by more obvious things such as a car coming at you, or less obvious things, like your perception, or even your imagination.

Imagined stressors usually stem from early childhood where we formed beliefs, which are now deeply rooted into our nervous system, and those beliefs are now running the show. So for example if you believe deep down that you’re unworthy or unlovable, you may make terrible food choices, or work yourself to the bone in order to ‘rectify’ that wound and ‘prove yourself’ to the world around you.

Most often, this leads to chronic stress, and it can impact our lives greatly.

When in stress mode, we have issues with creativity, rationality, maintaining health, digestion, nutrient assimilation, sleep, relationships/friendships and more. If the body is in stress all the time, then our lives and bodies tend to fall apart.

So, what to do? Here are 5 tips to support a healthy nervous system.

  1.     Learn what a stressor is, and what it feels like

You need to identify what stress is, and like I mentioned earlier, it can be physical, emotional, chemical, or spiritual. If you don’t know what stress is, then you have no hope of rectifying it!

Everyone tells me they’re not stressed, but what we are usually saying is we are not overloaded with stress. The symptoms are still there.

For example, if you have a health condition, this is a stressor, if you have a high-stakes job, then this is a stressor. If you ruminate or experience a lot of negative emotion, then this too, is a stressor.

The first thing to do once you identify where your stress is coming from, is to assess whether these stressors are necessary in your life. Work out if they are coming from you, or if it is coming externally to you. Work out how to navigate it from there. Maybe you need to change your work conditions, set more boundaries, or change your lifestyle. It’s an exploration process that takes time but is 100% worthwhile.

The image below outlines what we call sympathetic dominance, which I posted on my Instagram. You can check that post out here.

Do any of those on the left-hand side resonate for you?

  1.     Intentionally teach the body how to switch back

We need to teach the body how to switch back to parasympathetic ‘mode’, meaning, we need to learn to activate the rest and digest system. Tools for this include eating healthier food, starting the day off with a wholesome breakfast, learning how to meditate, introducing breathing exercises, and finding activities that help you ‘switch off’.

  1.     Correct your circadian rhythm

This is your sleep-wake cycle. We all run on a 24-hour clock, with hormones dictating how we feel and what we do at certain times of day. In the evening, hormone fluctuations make us sleepy, in the morning these very same fluctuations wake us up.

The biggest thing that interferes with this rhythm is light – namely, blue light. Blue light blocking glasses are a great start, and if you wear them after dark, you essentially block the blue rays from signalling to your brain that it is daytime, when it is in fact, night time. Warm lighting for the home and blue-light screen protection or ‘night mode’ functions are helpful too.

  1.     Eat proper food and be intentional about it

Eating a high protein diet is highly protective as when under stress, the body requires more protein to sustain what you are doing. We also require more magnesium, salt, and zinc when we are pushing the limits, even under mild stress.

If your diet is heavily processed, then this is a stressor, both in the inflammatory nature of the food, as well as its lack of nutritional value. The body needs nutrition and if you’re chronically stressed, these nutritional stores will be drained and need to be replenished with a proper diet.

  1.     Take ownership

This one is a tricky one, as it involves you having to accept that it’s your fault you’re highly strung out, even if a lot of what has contributed to this situation was out of your control at the time. It is common to blame other people – husband, kids, job, friends, study, but at the end of the day it’s your life and you decide how that is going to look.

Oftentimes a lack of self-esteem, and lack of boundaries creates toxic relationships that are highly stressful. Learn to set boundaries. If you find yourself constantly ending up in stressful interpersonal situations, seek professional guidance – a councillor, psychologist – anyone who can point out your own behaviour and help you change it.

In conclusion

So those are my top tips, it’s obviously a super complicated subject and everyone has unique stressors and solutions that may work for them.

At this end of the day, you are the only person who can reduce stress in your life, and you need to want to do it. We are often so used to being stressed out that it is an addiction, and when it is low, we often seek it out so we can feel ‘high’ again.

Don’t get me wrong, stress is a great tool to have if you rely on it when it’s really needed, but then return to rest and digest mode after the stressful event – presentation, exam, wedding, awkward conversation with your child, etc – has passed.

If you want to learn more about stress, I’m running a mini course from Monday November 1st. Click here for more information!

Jen x

Black Forest Chia Pudding

Black Forest Chia Pudding

This week I have been on a ‘diet break’ (code for still tracking food but eating a little more), and I’m playing with a few recipes. Here is my favourite so far, a black-forest cake inspired chia pudding!

The best part about this recipe is it contains all your essential macro-nutrients and is packed with 15gm fibre – over half the daily requirement! Not to mention, it’s easily digestible and will last you until lunch time.

To make this you will need;

  • 100gms fresh or frozen cherries
  • 20gms chocolate protein powder
  • 5gms Cacao powder
  • 35gm Chia seeds
  • ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 10gm Dark chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 50gm Vanilla yoghurt – I used YoPro
  • Shredded or desiccated coconut

How to make it;

  1. Combine the chia seeds, almond milk, coconut, and cacao powder in a jar and mix through. The easiest way to do this, is to add the cacao, milk, and protein powder to a shaker, shake like a normal protein shake and then add to the chia seeds that way (less clumps!)
  2. Leave to sit for 10-15mins, and then stir again. Put it in the fridge now for a minimum of 30-minutes to allow the chia seeds time to expand
  3. Prepare your cherries, chocolate chips and yoghurt for when you are ready to serve it.

When serving you have two options, the first is to layer it (like my picture), or you can simply place it in a bowl and add the extras on top. Either way, so long as you get all of the flavours in your belly, you will be satisfied!

Macros for this recipe are;

  • Calories: 410
  • Protein: 31gm
    Fat: 17gm
  • Carbs: 38gm
  • Fibre: 17gm

Note that you can make it vegan by using a vegan protein powder, and coconut or almond yoghurt. You could also make it with berries rather than cherries, but cherries are really the best option here (as far as my cherry=obsessed opinion goes anyway).

Let me know if you try it!

Jen x

Making the Most out of Lockdown

Making the Most out of Lockdown

So, it’s lockdown (again), but how lucky we are here in Canberra to have spent hardly any time in lockdown this year?

Plus, it’s only 7 days….. {crosses fingers}.

As much as I don’t like not being able to run my business freely, and my personal goals that I have been working towards for over 2 years are on the brink of not happening, I am quite the optimist and I like to flip things into a positive, every time they’re not looking so good.

Last year I read ‘Mans’ Search for Meaning’ by Viktor Frankl. He was a survivor in much, much worse times than we are currently in, but his message was clear – no matter what is happening around you, one thing you never lose power over is your reaction to it. You choose your reaction, and you never lose that power.

Anyways so I thought I’d share with you some ways I plan to make the most out of lockdown, starting with my favourite, absolute top number one tip;

 

  1. Turn off the TV

If you want to feel anywhere close to good, turn off your TV. Yes, there is a virus out there and these are challenging times, but watching a rolling case count, and testing stats aren’t going to add any value to your life right now.

Media is pretty much constant negative information and, in many cases, it’s misinformation. They don’t need to account a mistake or correction anymore; they can simply log in to their old news story and edit the details.

Social media is the same, filled with one-sided information layered with thousands of highly unqualified individuals (everyday citizens who have taken it upon themselves to tell others how to live). In hard and stressful times, people need their friends and family, not division and segregation.

Assuming people are following the rules, then no one is ‘better’ than anyone else based on how they choose to respond to the situation.

Stay informed, of course, but switch it off. We know the rules and we will get updates when the announcements come without sitting in front of the TV

 

  1. Go within

Lockdown is a kind of hybrid time – things are a little slower and the world a little quieter (especially for those of us who are not able to work to usual capacity). It’s a great time to ask yourself, what do I want to do? How do I want to feel? It’s a good time to try meditation or find some kind of relaxation technique.

Modern objectives would love to steer you into a life of fight or flight right now. You can’t divide or control people without instilling fear. Be a rebel and take your power back. Challenge yourself to see the good in every situation and see if you can find some calm.

For those of you who are thinking ‘meh’, I cannot do that! Here are some super practical things you could dig your hands into;

 

  1. Try new recipes!

Cooking is something I like, but rarely have the space for. I spent Thursday evening (last night) going over a bunch of recipes I would like to try, or cook and photograph for socials, which is another thing I rarely have time to do. So, check out some fun recipes and get cooking

 

  1. Enjoy a different style of training

It’s common to panic about the disruption to your training routine, many of my clients sure do. Won’t the lockdown set you backward? In a word, NO.

This is an opportunity to either take active rest (walking outside in the sunshine with a rest from weight training, which is great for your nervous system if you’re an avid gym person), or, explore other exercises.

You would be surprised how a change in training stimulus or method, even if it feels ‘easier’ than what you’re used to, will challenge your body and in many cases will even match or surpass your current training challenge.

 

  1. Go out into the sunshine!

Yesterday, the weather was beautiful! Lockdown means you can go for a walk at lunch time and soak up some Vitamin D, which, although I’m not sure I am ‘allowed’ to say this, is a crucial piece of your immune system.

 

  1. Clean a part of the house

Got a horrible part of the house that has been tormenting you for months on end? Got a pantry you can’t fit anything else in? Pull it all out and tidy it up. Make room for new things when lockdown has ended. Downward times are always the best time for re-jigging things, and bringing about new beginnings, no matter how simple.

 

  1. Get out into the garden

Getting out in the garden is therapeutic, not only because you’re in nature, so-to-speak, (unless you have fake grass), but also because you’re in the sunshine! Sunshine is so great at this time of year as it isn’t too hot. It’s perfect really.

 

  1. Research your fave topic or complete and online course

Dive deep online into a topic you would love to learn more about. Finish off that online course you started but can’t seem to make time for. Search online and purchase a short course.

I myself will be spending time completing meditation teacher training, which I have been doing after my evening clients when I am super tired these past few weeks. Now I can do a lesson or two in the morning. So, find something cool to explore and expand your mind a little.

 

  1. Tick some things off your to-do list

Do you have a bunch of tasks you can never seem to be centered enough to work through? (I speak of myself here). List those things out and get through them, so when lockdown has ended you will feel a thousand times lighter!

 

  1. Make a vision board

What do you want to achieve for the rest of 2021? I know some people are speaking of how you shouldn’t have goals, you should just be ‘surviving’ in these times, but I don’t buy that. There is always something you can be doing to lighten up your mood and situation.

We are very privileged here in Australia and we all have iPhones, start jotting down some goals you have, dreams you’re ignoring, things you want to do when this whole nightmare is over.

Collect quotes, imagery of your favourite idols, pictures of things that bring you joy and stick them up somewhere. Have a bit of fun with it! That way, when you are feeling overwhelmed and catch a glimpse of it, you can access that feeling of inspiration that is bubbling away under all this mayhem.

 

  1. Enjoy that rare time you have with your family

I know, I know, I don’t have kids and no idea how exhausting they can be. But from an outsider looking in, how much time do you have to spend time with your partner, kids, significant others? Usually you’re commuting, rushing, and unable to spend quality time. Now there is more time to do just that 😉

 

Keeping ‘extra’ essential items in your home isn’t a bad idea, either…

Last lockdown I was caught off guard and waited weeks for toilet paper and tissues, I ran out of rice, meat, veg and other items I rely on, so since then I have kept just that little bit extra at home. This way, a snap lockdown doesn’t instill panic as you have what you need already on hand.

 

So those are my top tips for now. I hope they help to bring some positive vibes and even a little stress relief for you.

What do you plan to do for this lockdown?

Do you face challenging times in the same way?

Jen x

 

 

 

 

 

 

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