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Posts from the ‘Exercise’ Category

Are you living your ideal life? (plus a fantastic eCourse to help you ensure you do).

 

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These days my life is a constant recalibration, a regular ‘check in’ of an adrenal system at risk of overdrive, the consequence of a Type A personality battling to find the STOP button. Only a couple of short years ago, there was little, if any, ‘self assessment’. On and on I charged, pushing as hard as I could to reach those targets, surpass expectations, to succeed. It wasn’t long before the universe had other plans for me, landing me flat on my back, incapable of writing a ‘to do’ list, let alone conquering one. It was at that point I knew I needed to find (and properly manage) said STOP button, before I blew another gasket and drove myself to an early grave.

So here I am, 3 years on from a CFS diagnosis. I’m as healthy as can be, establishing a new business and career that incorporates all that I am most passionate about – whole foods, clean living and boundless energy. Nearly 18 (very intensive) months in, I’m pinching myself that my career has transformed in such a way (from a corporate office to a highly diverse home based business), yet I’m deeply aware of a marked neglect in other areas of my life, of values that I hold dear. It was this awareness that lead me to the door of Melbourne Meditation Teacher and creative business coach , Kate James of Total Balance.

Kate James, of Total Balance.

Kate James, of Total Balance.

Over 2.5 hours, Kate helped clarify those values that are most important to me, the combination of which will enable me to live my ideal life – one of balance, freedom, connection and authenticity. Kate encouraged me to dream, think big and to pursue the things I love in a balanced and authentic way. During this session we put a number of action steps and goals in place that would ensure I don’t get lost in the ‘noise’ of a busy career, rather fostering a life that is true to all those values held dear. As simple as these steps may seem, they include a 15 meditation in the middle of every day to help calm my adrenals and enforce rest and stillness; an exercise regime that must never come second to work demands; restricted social media activity (i.e. switching off a night) and most importantly, blocking out time in the diary for connection – with friends and family and other interests outside of work.

During the birth and growth of my business, I have found it easy to get lost in the noise, hurling along from one task to another. Now however, I am armed with a bunch of commitments and a sense of accountability to Kate, with a checklist in black and white serving to remind me of my digressions. It’s now about recalibrating, again and again.

I wonder, do you feel the need to stop, to re-evaluate your direction? Are you living your ideal life? Have you taken the time to consider what your ideal life even looks like? Perhaps like me, you need guidance – to help map your values and ensure you are in fact living the life of your dreams.

I’m very excited to share Kate with you today, along with her fantastic eCourse entitled Dream, Discover. Do. This highly comprehensive 8 week eCourse will help you discover your strengths and values, it’ll help you identify any limiting beliefs holding you back from following your dreams, and it’ll help you create change in your life to ensure you are living your version of an authentic, meaningful life. For all the information you need, including a little video snap shot of the wonderful Kate, jump on over here. The course commences 14th February.

Don’t wait until the universe slaps you on the back – be your truth, now.

Ten tips for healthy christmas living.

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How many of us come back from our Christmas festivities cursing ourselves for splurging like we did, vowing “I’ll never eat again!” or “It’s just not worth it, I feel so awful, that’s it! Tomorrow I start afresh!” Guaranteed the majority of you have said something with words to that effect.  Well I’m hoping to offer a little assistance this year (for me AND you) to help preempt our discomfort by offer some simple solutions.

10 tips to help us feel (and not look) jolly throughout the holidays.

1. Begin your day as any regular day; prepare a nourishing and satiating breakfast to ensure you’re not ravenous by the time Christmas lunch is served. Don’t skip meals to save calories!

2. Eat a protein-packed snack an hour before your holiday meal. Why not pre-prepare some protein bliss balls to serve, or to take with you as a gift to the host. Your fellow guests will appreciate your effort and you’ll ensure you have a healthy snack to keep your eyes off the inevitable sugar laden treats that abound.

3. Don’t think of the holidays as an excuse to gorge on unhealthy food. Plan in advance to make sure there are options available that you can enjoy.

4. Scan the spread before putting anything on your plate. Choose wisely! Opt for good quality protein and salads without the rich, creamy dressings.

5. Set an intention for a healthy day. Visualize how you would like to feel after the meal and hold yourself accountable by sharing with a close friend or family member.

6. Start the meal with a soup, fresh vegetables, or a salad, and avoid any refined flour pastries or sweet appetizers to prevent the cycle of craving.

7. Drink a glass of water with lemon before the meal. Add apple cider vinegar for a digestive boost.

8. Plan an activity to look forward to after the meal—a group walk, visiting with other friends or family, a group game, or playing with younger family members. Or try offering to clean up and help your host!

9. Eat Mindfully:
• Take a few deep breaths before your meal.
• Sit next to someone you genuinely find interesting and engage in some good chat.
• Appreciate the colours and smells of your food.
• Chew thoroughly and slowly.
• Put your fork down between bites.
• Breathe in through your nose while you eat.
• Express gratitude with others before the meal.

10. Most importantly, take time to enjoy healthy, wholesome meals with your friends and family and remember that you can heal your body and mind with each forkful of delicious food you enjoy.

Much love and happiness to you all this Christmas. x

The Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat (that has me hooked) + a beautiful GIVEAWAY!

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So there I was, a few days into my 5 night stay at the Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, mindfully enjoying my delicious organic salad, when a guest to my left pipes up and says “Amy, when you get home, perhaps you’d better edit an old post you wrote about never spending big bucks on health retreats.” My reaction? “Noooo…I wouldn’t have said that!”. Out came someone’s phone, up came the blog post I wrote earlier in the year, and low and behold…I swallowed both my words AND my lunch!

My words exactly:“….my life is usually one big detoxification process these days. I own a Far Infra-Red Sauna (you can read about that here), I eat organic foods, I drink detoxifying green juices every day, as far as humanly possible I avoid toxic chemicals on my skin, in my hair, in my home. It’s not likely you’ll see me paying big bucks to go to a health retreat.”

Seriously, words swallowed (and all apologies to Gwinganna). I am a new woman and I’ll tell you why in a sec.

Firstly, let me introduce you to this incredible destination. Gwinganna is Australia’s only Eco Tourism health retreat, located in the Hinterland of the Gold Coast. Perched on top of a plateau, it is surrounded by stunning ocean and valley views that leave you feeling like you’re a million miles away from anywhere. Amongst a multitude of other things, you are blessed with beautiful mountain air, a distinct lack of (any) traffic and a feeling of utter serenity and stillness (unless of course you’re engaged in a ‘yang’ physical activity that has your sides hurting from laughter and your lungs screaming from exertion). Gwinganna offers a variety of programs to suit the needs of the ‘freshers’ like me and the multitudes of returning guests who know a good thing when they find it.

Having recently completed a 30 day cleanse, I chose not to attend a detox program (that’d be just cruel), but instead to join their 5 night Optimum Wellbeing program: “This retreat will help you to cleanse your body and to empower yourself by first assessing and then discovering solutions to improve your quality of life. Using integrative health techniques, this journey provides the opportunity to balance essential areas of your lifestyle.” 

So you may ask why I decided to go to a health retreat, when let’s be honest, from the outside looking in, my lifestyle does look pretty healthy (as per my now word-swallowing quote above). Well the fact is, it hasn’t been as healthy as it may actually appear. Up until last week (because as I said, I am now a changed woman), there was a distinct lack of balance in my life. The food I get pretty right, same goes for clean living. The bit I battle with is balance, more specifically rest, play and stillness. My wonderful new career has me racing around battling ever expanding ‘to do’ lists; social media demands that could have me up all night; an inbox that flows to abundance 24/7..and an addiction to technology that has me wired and engaged all day every day. So you can imagine my delight when I read that laptops and mobiles were considered ‘contraband’ – how’s that for cold turkey!

I’ve decided to share with you a typical day in the life of a Gwinganna guest, to give you a feel for the level of activity you can choose to be involved in (or not, as the case may be). I must stress, none of this is mandatory. It is entirely up to you how much or how little you would like to participate.

5.30am: the suns up and with a knock on your door there’s a cheery voice prompting you to hop out of bed (it is broad daylight, please do not be scared off by the ungodly (for some) hour!

There we are, on the hill overlooking the most glorious view, practising Qigong.

There we are, on the hill overlooking the most glorious view, practising Qigong. Photo credit, my new friend and fellow guest, Jackie 🙂

6.00am: Overlooking the incredible valley and coastal views we learn and practise the ancient art of Qigong, a moving meditation.

7-8.00am: The guests select a Yin walk (gentle paced) or a Yang walk (heart pumping, lung busting – serious hills!).

8-9.00am: Breakfast, in all of its organic, caffeine free, whole food, as-nature-intended-it glory.

9-11.00am: Thirty minutes of light stretching to be followed by your choice of Yin or Yang activities. These may include yoga, palates or creative dance (Yin) or boxing, spin or fit ball classes (Yang) – there is always a fabulous selection.

11-11.30am: Morning tea. SO yum. Think tahini balls, smoothies or fresh young coconuts.

11.30-1.00pm: A hugely educational seminar with topics covering anything from nutrition, mind mechanics, colonic health…you name it. These totally surpassed my expectations. All the speakers are highly qualified and fantastic speakers to boot.

1-2.00pm: Wohoooo it’s lunch time! Oh so good. Raw salads fresh from the garden, beautiful soups, fish off the barbie..I was kept very happy!

2-6.00pm: The much loved ‘dreamtime’. Time for you to do whatever your body and mind needs most – to rest in your room, to lie by the pool (my choice), to while away hours in their amazing day spa (with a spa menu bigger than your phone book, assuming you don’t live in Sydney), having acupuncture, massages, manicures, body scrubs, hot stone massages, kinesiology, you name it!

Gwinganna Lifestyle Resort - Gwinganna Gym , March 2008.

4.00pm: Afternoon tea. Again, always yum. Think crunchy crudités, raw crackers and yummo dips.

6-7.00pm: Meditation class anyone? Perhaps a functional movement class…whatever the case it’s a gentle hour.

7-8.00pm: Dinner with your fellow guests. There’s always a vegetarian option and for the meat eaters amongst two night with red meat on offer.

The food. OH THE FOOD!

The food. OH THE FOOD!

Did I love it? With every ounce of my being! And this is what I loved:

  • Meeting and befriending other amazing guests, all with a story and something interesting to share. It was the most beautifully positive group of people and I was particularly glad I had attended the retreat on my own.
  • The hugely talented staff, all of which were totally authentic and passionate about their work (it seriously shows)
  • The opportunity to totally disconnect from the world – I switched off as I arrived and back on as I left. I was blissfully unaware of the outside world.
  • The day spa…oh the day spa! It is incredible and don’t get me started on the treatments. Actually you can. If you go…try the Sound and Stone treatment – oh my goodness – a hot stone massage timed and choreographed with music by an amazing therapist, it was out of this world.
  • The food – just amazing. Gluten free, sugar free (bar fruit) and organic. Most of it comes fresh out of the ground in their own beautiful veggie patch, tended lovingly by a hugely talented chef turned gardener, Shelley.
  • The pools (yep, there are two infinity pools). It’s hard to describe the feeling in the water. They feels as fresh and clean as spring water. Glorious.
  • My bed. I was out like a light by 9pm and wide awake at 5am, every day. Slept like a baby and woke up feeling incredible.
  • The quality of the information shared in the seminars. This program looks into all facets of your life style, there is SO much to learn.

There are so many reasons why I loved this experience but the proof in the pudding (don’t get excited, there WAS no pudding) was the way I felt as I hopped back onto the bus on departure. I had this amazing sense of vitality and calm; I felt totally balanced with energy I had not felt for some time; there was a feeling of absolute nourishment reflected in the whites of my eyes, the glow on my skin and a smile on my face that I couldn’t wipe off. I honestly cannot wait to go back (soon).

IT’S GIVEAWAY TIME! 

One very lucky THI follower is going to secure a copy of this absolutely gorgeous recipe book, A Taste of Gwinganna…from garden to gourmet. Here’s a little excerpt from Gwinganna:

“The very first book from the team at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in the Gold Coast hinterland, ‘…from garden to gourmet’, is a celebration of delicious and healthy organic cuisine for every meal of the day. Over 140 pages, it uses organic ingredients to create simple options that can be created at home.The recipes are all directly from the menus at Gwinganna and have been developed in conjunction with Gwinganna’s nutritionists. The book also features information to help you live healthier and nutritional tips for each dish. Beautifully photographed, the book is a valuable guide toward optimal wellness. If you want to eat healthier and have more energy, then this book is for you.”

Valued at $59.95, this is a must have addition to your recipe book collection. To win this book, simply tell us in 20 words or less why you’d love it. The winner will be chosen post 4pm on Monday 28th October.

Conditions: you must be a THI follower and reside in Australia. 

Recipe Ebook Cover

My 30 Day Clean Eats Challenge.

As many of you know, particularly those who follow my daily food consumption on Instagram and Facebook, I am nearing the end of a (self imposed) 30 day ‘clean eats challenge’. I am doing this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I was becoming a little too liberal on the sugar front for a while there. Now I don’t mean the dirty white stuff, I mean in the form of extra fruit like bananas, apples and oranges, or raw honey and maple syrup. Just a little here and there but enough to start weakening my immune system and the sense of inner calm I had grown accustomed to. It had become a habit that was manifesting. Secondly, I had a sense that my increased sugar intake (not to mention some of my food choices) was creating a little restriction in the wardrobe department. I was feeling bloated, there was definitely fluid retention. So what I decided to do was call upon my lovely friend Gen, my now ex Personal Trainer, who knows a thing or two about ‘paring down’, about cleaning things up. I must make it very clear that this 30 day cleanse was designed for me specifically, knowing what my body needs (that is, good quality protein as an example). This post is not a recommendation for others though I hope it gives some of you the inspiration you need to make positive changes to your diet.

So below I outline the ‘rules’ and parameters of the diet and exercise program, as prescribed by my Gen. As a result of a hefty work load, a momentary lack of ‘balance’ and some corresponding poorer food choices, a couple of months ago I started experiencing some marked energy issues relating to my history with CFS. I am going to speak more about that another day. Taking into account those often limited energy levels Gen put together 2 plans, as listed below.

My thoughts? Listen to your body, work hard, commit.  If I am a gauge to follow, I promise you will feel the positive results quick smart. The changes for me includ much greater clarity of mind, loss of bloating and fluid retention, really clear and glowing skin, a sense of vitality and much greater inner calm. I have included a couple of other noticeable, positive results at the bottom of this post.

Plan 1 – Minimal Exercise and CLEAN EATING.

1. Walk – Go for a fast power-walk first thing in the morning. Don’t eat breakfast, just get up, chuck some clothes on, grab the dog and go! Aim to be out for more than half an hour, walk fast, walk some hills, you don’t want to be totally out of breath, but you don’t want to taking a leisurely stroll either. Do this every morning! If you can incorporate other exercise such as weights or sprints please do, but if not, walking will definitely do.
2. Carbs – Zero starchy carbs! No sweet potato, no pumpkin, no quinoa, no brown rice, no oats, no sprouted bread, no grains, and no fruit (except perhaps a small portion of berries but that’s it)… capiche? For 30 days you are only permitted protein, fats and vegetables.
Acceptable veggies include all your greens (broccoli, beans, peas etc), salads capsicum, cabbage, caulliflower, brussel sprouts, cucumber, celery, asparagus, mushrooms…you get the drift.
3. Protein – Ideally you need to be eating a serve of protein and fat at every meal. Lean meats are preferred (chicken, turkey, organic red meats, fish and eggs). Ensure your meat portion sizes ortion are between 100-130g. If you had eggs, 2-3 organic whole eggs. Be aware that smoked salmon and other smoked meats are incredibly high in sodium.. with high sodium comes water retention making one look more bloated than what they actually are.
4. Fats – Enjoy fats at every meal… but just 1 teaspoon ok?! Attempt to avoid nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter for the simple reason that they are very calorie dense and it all adds up. Coconut oil, organic butter, avocado and olive oil are definitely acceptable. Please avoid all dairy. Yoghurt is acceptable in limited intakes… a scoop or 2 of yoghurt every second day if you must have it!
5. Meal Times – 4-5 meals per day, spaced 3 hours apart. And WATER WATER WATER!
6. Treats – I think you know what I’m going to say don’t you?! Treats need to be kept to a minimum or none at all for best results. I’m a firm believer if you have a goal, commit to it. There will always be time to indulge later! And if you chose to eat a meal out, still stick to the guidelines of proteins, fats, vegetables and no carbs.

This is an example of what my meal and exercise plan has looked like for the past few weeks!

Pile of carrot slices

Brekkie (after a fasted walk) – 2 eggs poached with 150g mixed spinach and mushrooms cooked in 1 tsp coconut oil or organic butter plus 1/4 avocado (home made guacamole) red onion, lemon juice, pepper, pinch of Himalayan seat salt
Snack – Green smoothie made with low sugar coconut water. Be sure to avoid fruits, except berries if need be, and either a scoop of yoghurt or avocado for creaminess and texture. Avoid Almond milks at this point.
Lunch – 100g-130g salmon or chicken breast with salad (example: baby spinach, roasted capsicum, roasted red cabbage, sauteed brussels sprouts and mushrooms) with 1 tsp olive oil and lemon juice (no added avocado or nuts etc…)
Snack – Depending on the time and your hunger levels, small handful of nuts. Or for something more substantial, another small piece of lean meat with 120g of green vegetables of your choice
Dinner – 100-130g organic red meat or lamb or any other meat of choice (avoid really fatty meats) with 150g salad or green veggies again. If you cooked the meat in coconut oil, then just add 1 tsp of either organic butter or olive oil to dress your dinner once cooked.
Plan 2 – Vigorous excercise and CLEAN EATING.
If you can do more than the morning walk please do. The above meal plan still stays the same, but increase your meals to 5 instead of 4, all the time monitoring how you feel. If you ever feel shaky or really ravenously hungry, you may increase your fats slightly, but do not exceed 1 tablespoon if adding coconut oil or organic butter to a meal.
So there you have it, my 30 Day Clean Eats Plan. I am nearly through the end of it but will be tacking on a couple of days (I have been only 95% perfect!) for good measure. The one thing I have noticed is that my craving for sweetness has disappeared completely. However, I have definitely craved fat and have needed to up the fat a little (teaspoon in a nut or tahini jar soon sorted that issue!). I have also grown to love the simplicity and lack of choice in my diet. Eating just whole foods, and a limited selection of those makes life so much easier.
If you are looking for more simplicity in your diet and need further inspiration around that you will find 42 simple and inspiring recipes in my eBook, A Nourishing Kitchen, if not already. You can purchase that right now, here.

A post illness ‘body restoration’ program commences..and with it a whole lot more self-love.

2012-07-07 15.29.06As many of you would know I recently commenced a post chronic illness ‘body restoration’ program in an effort to build my fitness and strength, re-ignite my metabolism and restore my body shape to a point where I feel at my absolute peak. In short I simply want to be the very best I can be from a mind, body and spirit level. I must stress this is not a mission to ‘get thin’ – it is a challenge that I have chosen to take now that I am entirely free of CFS and have the capacity to increase my physical output and make changes to the diet that restored my health but is no longer quite as ‘pertinent’ as it was.

As anyone who has had or does have CFS will know, at your worst exercise is simply beyond contemplation. I recall the many months prior to my diagnosis (when we still had no idea what was going on) I was working with a specialist in an effort to manage whatever it was that was throwing me sideways. As such we started monitoring my daily output to try and pull the reigns in and regain control over my health. Of course in the early days if I had a good day I’d go for a 10km run or have a PT session…and even if I wasn’t feeling so great I’d do it anyway for fear of the flack I would cop (from myself) for slacking off (proof that it can be a VERY difficult process trying to reign in a Type A personality). The point soon came where running was no longer an option and I was told to grab a notebook and start journalling my daily exercise patterns. It often went like this: “Tuesday: 10 minute walk, 1 minute break; Wednesday: 5 min walk; Thursday: ten minute walk in morning, ten minute walk in afternoon; Friday: nothing in me, couldn’t exercise”.  This journalling continued throughout my illness and whilst it was a massive task on days where lifting a pen was neigh impossible it ended up being one of the most uplifting and inspiring tasks of all. When you’re really, really sick it can be very easy to forget how far you’ve come, even if it’s simply the fact that this month you walked 15 minutes a day as opposed to 5 minutes, 2 months ago. It’s the little reminders that you are slowly but surely improving that serve to give you hope that wellness is within reach.

Thankfully for me the CFS journey really is finally, officially over. I know for some this seems naively finite of me considering many believe we are never really free of CFS at all. Whilst I know for certain that  I am free of it’s constraints (thanks to a life transformational CTC session – please read here for further details) there is no doubt my lifestyle will forever be different. These days I appreciate a more gentle pace – early nights, a quiet home environment, long walks over 10km jogs, home cooking over eating out, whole foods over the convenience of packaged and processed foods, catch ups with friends in ones or twos rather amongst throngs in bars. As a consequence of the huge transformation that has occurred in my life (and as a direct result of this illness) I am now the happiest, most content and grounded I can remember being. I bless my recent ‘predicament’ for coming into my life and forcing me to make these changes, for setting me on this path of spiritual awareness and for teaching me how to love myself for the very first time.

That takes me to a pertinent point. The loving myself part hasn’t been so easy…but it’s happened every so gradually, albeit a little late in life. As part of this journey to self love I realised recently that I need to totally accept my body as it had become (post illness) or work to get it to the point where I feel I am the healthiest and best version of myself that I can be.

I’ll tell you how it was (until very recently). With CFS in my life I wasn’t that sick or stressed girl who couldn’t eat – I never have been, illness of otherwise. Food has always, always brought me joy (at times admittedly far too much!) and I’ve always found a way to eat, appetite or no appetite. With CFS it gave me focus, it was one thing I simply had to do each day and it ate into the hours of inactivity and boredom. I would wile away the hours thinking about what I could prepare for my next meal. Previously my love for food was balanced with my hefty weekly exercise regime but it wasn’t long before CFS ensured my metabolism ground to a halt and my body lost it’s ability to mobilise toxins – not an ideal scenario for a food lover who can’t move, exercise or sweat. Consequently I gained a couple of kilo’s and lost muscle tone to the point I became ashamed of my body and (sadly) avoided the mirror at all costs. It wasn’t long before the berating started at every opportunity. My body copped a beating day in and day out, fuelling a cycle of negativity that often resulted in tears.  I decided at a point not long ago that enough was enough and with the signal that I was CFS free I knew what I had to do.

Through the wonderful world of instagram I have established a lovely friendship with a most delightful girl, Genevieve. Genevieve is an actor and part time Personal Trainer who has taken on the challenge of helping me reshape. Genevieve has devised a program I manage on my own and meets with me once a week to to inflict a certain degree of pain (enjoyable, yet painful).  Combined with the exercise regime we have had a good look at my diet and it has become quite clear that I need to undo some habits that were formed at the time of my diagnosis – that being a marked increase in good fats (in an effort to remove the heavy metals from my system, amongst other things). Interestingly it was quite a challenge upping the good fats at the time but reducing them is now proving even more difficult – let’s just say I have grown to loooove the good fat! The rule for the time being is one good fat per meal each day  i.e. avocado, coconut oil, nuts, oil, seeds, yoghurt, etc. Just to put this in perspective there were as many as 6 fats in a smoothie only a few weeks ago. Yes, six. Let me just say that smoothies have recently lost their appeal.

Genevieve ever so capably demonstrating my new program. Wilson to the left, practising the plank is his own little way.

Genevieve ever so capably demonstrating my new program. Wilson to the left, practising the plank is his own little way.

For those of you following my instagram feed or FB page, you will no doubt have noticed a much ‘cleaner’ diet that reflects my challenge. Into week two I already feel so much more in control and at peace with my body – just the knowledge that I am making progress and some really positive, healthy changes seems to have put my mind at peace. There’s a way to go and many a nut butter temptation along the way but hey, I’m only human so I will do the best that I can and arrive at my destination when I get there.

Shan Cooper (AKA My Food Religion & My Fit Religion blogs) chats about exercise and shares her stunning Key Lime Tart recipe.

Shan, being totally and utterly hard core.

Shan, being totally and utterly hard core.

Exercise. I’m sure some most wonder if I do it, because let’s be honest I’ve not yet touched on it. There’s a reason for that – it’s the anticipation of the can of worms that may spill forth when I do! In short, the fact is I do exercise though certainly not with the same intensity that I did pre diagnosis. Mine has been a very slow and steady, paced exercise plan (that for a Type A personality has proved nothing short of frustrating). But more on that another day.

To kick off the exercise theme I have invited one of my very favourite ‘instagrammers’ (@myfoodreligion) and a daily source of food and exercise inspiration Shan Cooper to share her thoughts on health, exercise and a darn good recipe! Shan and her partner Travis are the fit foodies behind My Food Religion and My Fit Religion  This lady is nothing short of inspirational – her food, her motivation, her energy, her passion. All of it. It’s totally infectious. So without further ado…

Great to have you here Shan! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thanks for having me! I will stick to quick facts as I have a tendency to go off on random tangents. I am a wife, mother to a Great Dane called Astro, love cooking, eating, training & have an unhealthy obsession with coconut in all it’s forms. I sometimes get “Hangry” (hungry x angry) if I am without food, it’s not pretty, there are tears, sometimes I cry too. My “real job”, the one that pays me money, is in animal health, I love it but not as much as I love food & fitness.

There is no question that you are super fit and take great care of yourself. Have you always taken great care of your health or was there a pivotal point where you very consciously changed your habits?

I have always been very active. If there was a sport to play, I’d give it a crack. I’d go as far as to say that through my late teens/early 20’s I was a terrible “over trainer”. I’d train twice a day, for hours, I did not eat nearly enough food, I was constantly injured, I was skinny but I had no muscle mass. I ate “low fat” everything and would eat an entire packet of lollies in one sitting to fuel the exercise. I was addicted to sugar. When I met my husband, about 5 years ago, and actually started to do a lot more research into nutrition (he used lecture on nutrition at a number of RTO’s), things changed. I started training less & smarter. I started really experimenting with food. I started eating more fat. I quit sugar. I got leaner, stronger & fitter. I started challenging my body. I started lifting heavy weights and doing less cardio.

Could you give us a typical day in the life of Shan? 

The lady herself.

The lady herself.

I love routine. Probably to a fault. I get royally pi$$ed off when things disrupt my plans. Because of this my days look pretty much the same. 6am is normally the start of my day- hop up & walk the dog, home, brekkie, work, train, create some dinner, hang out with my awesome husband, off to bed generally by 9.30pm. I love to sleep and I never train more than an hour- usually 40mins is the max! Go hard then go home.

What are you truly passionate about – what lures you out of bed in the morning on a chilly day (and don’t say burpees because I’ll brand you al iiar 😉

Fig & pistachio quinoa porridge would lure me…. Definitely NOT burpees!!! FOOD – The only reason I get up in the morning (apart from the giant dog staring into my face) is to cook and eat! I am constantly thinking about new food I can create, new flavors, people I can feed. I love learning about food, nutrition & fitness. That is my passion. Once I am fed, then I start thinking about what punishment I can inflict on my body… What new exercises I can try & master? Handstand push-up’s are the current challenge. I love learning new techniques, ways of training & functional exercises.

You have two fantastic and popular blogs that must keep you very busy, My Food Religion and My Fit Religion. Can you tell us a little bit about these and what motivated you to establish these blogs?

These were both created to share the love & the passion that I (& Trav) have for fitness & nutrition. One without the other is moot. Obesity is now an epidemic. Nutrition & Exercise both contribute to reversing that epidemic… If these blogs can help one person I care about live a happier, healthier, with a better quality life, then we have done our job. If someone would like to pay me to cook & train all day, that would be fine too! 😉

My Food Religion is healthy, creative recipes along with my random ramblings – they are all clean, nutritious and wholesome foods that nourish our bodies. My Fit Religion followed this to help people get enthusiastic and educated about fitness. It is about providing challenges (COW’s-Challenge Of the Week) for people to start, continue, or excel in their fitness journey. We have weekly Food COW’s & Fit COW’s to do and hopefully it is helping to teach, motivate and help people train smarter and make better food choices.

From your experience training with people either recovering from illness or commencing an exercise program for the first time, what is typically the greatest challenge they face in your view?

The biggest hurdle anyone, whether they are recovering from illness, a period of inactivity, weight issues or anything else, is not going to be their body, it will be their mind. Our bodies are quite remarkable things and can actually endure far more than we think. Our minds, our self-talk, our negativity, our impatience, our lack of confidence, are what will stall the process. Having unrealistic goals & timeframes will also just set you up for dissappointment. I suggest goals that are strength or fitness based, NOT weight related. Scales don’t tell the whole truth. Take a photo at the start of your journey so you can reflect in the following months and see how far you have come and be proud of the small and big achievements.

What advice would you give someone who is starting out?

1st up, stop making excuses and make your health a top priority. We all have the same number of hours in our day, we just make different priorities. If I am 100% honest with myself, my top 2 priorities are my family & my health. If your health is not in your top priorities, it should be. Good genes are only going to get you so far, at some point, they will NOT be enough. You will get fat or you will get sick, or both, it’s not an ‘IF’ it’s a ‘WHEN’.

Get the all clear from your GP/physio/witch doctor and know your limitations to START. Try lots of different activities/sports/training types. Find out what you actually LIKE doing. Just because you can run, doesn’t mean you should. If you find something you love, you will actually do it without having to struggle mentally to get out of bed for it. I think everyone should do some form of strength training, it is good for our entire body & mind. Train smart, 20 mins of high intensity weight training will kick a$$ on a 10km run any day.

Speak to a trainer that as been recommended to you by someone you trust & who has achieved results that you are impressed with. Be clear & realistic about your goals & make sure you know WHY you are doing this? What is your motivation? Write it down. ‘Get skinny’ is NOT a good goal. ‘Be able to do an unassisted chin-up by the end of the year’ is an excellent one. Word of warning…. Not all PT’s were created equal. There are some total muppets out there. Seek someone who obviously practices what they preach…

Be kind to yourself, you will not be an athlete in a week. Go gently and be nice to your body, it is the only place you have to live. Negative self talk & beating yourself up will not get you anywhere. Focus on what you CAN do now and be awesome at that.

Shan it would be shameful to have you on here and not be privy to one of your gorgeous recipes! Have you a recipe that you could share with us today?

Shan's Key Lime Tart

Shan’s Key Lime Tart

These Key Lime Tarts are one of my favorite desserts of all! I don’t even know what to say except that these are the BOMB! They are super low in sugar (only a few fresh dates!) and are beautiful enough to serve at a dinner party. Enjoy!

Crust Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts (you can sub for macadamias if you like)
4 fresh dates (for a sugar-free version sub dates for 1 tbs coconut oil and a pinch stevia)

Directions:

Place walnuts and dates into a food processor and pulse till combined. Take crust mixture and spoon into your mini cheesecake pans (or one large pie pan) and press into the pan. Bake for 10mins at 180C or until just starting to brown. Remove and set aside. You don’t actually have to bake this- you can have them as ‘raw’ tarts if you like. I made a couple of raw ones too.

Filling ingredients:

2 1/3 cup cashews (soak the cashews in water for a few hours prior)
1/3 cup coconut butter (you can use coconut oil if you don’t have butter but reduce to 1/4 cup)
Stevia to taste (you can add 1/2 cup maple/agave instead if you like)
1/2 -3/4 cup fresh lime juice (start with 1/2 and see if you want more tang)
2-3 tablespoons lime zest (depending on how ‘Limey’ you like it)
1/2 cup coconut cream
2 kaffir lime leaves, bruised (to bruise- roll them up and whack them a few times with the blunt end if your knife)
Extra zest to decorate

Directions:

In a small saucepan add lime juice, lime leaves, zest, coconut butter, coconut cream and stevia and heat over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 mins. Remove lime leaves and set mix aside. Drain water off cashews and pop them in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add saucepan mix and blitz again until all combined.

Spoon lime filling on top of your crust in your mini cheesecake pans and sprinkle with extra lime zest. Pop back into the oven at 180C for 10-15 mins until just browning at the edges. Remove, allow to cool and pop in the fridge for a few hours to set. Once again, if you want a ‘raw’ tart you can skip this baking bit and just pop them straight into the fridge to set.

Once set, gently remove from tart shells and serve.