Adrenals and Perimenopause Suck … but so does Child Abuse

Lately I’ve been writing the odd post on my personal Facebook profile about what I’ve been going through … but I thought it’s time to come out and share with those of you who visit to read my posts in the hope it may help some of you. So here’s the update for those who are interest … so this is a real (and not a Fakebook) post.

After 7 months of uncertainly, I finally got my cervical biopsy results last night. Worried as my grandmother had uterine cancer, I was dumbfounded to receive news that what was an abnormal and very high read is now NORMAL! Follow up testing required in 12 months but the paleo diet and focusing on gut health must be working.

Whilst that’s a load of unnecessary stress off my mind (finally) I can now concentrate on other matters … Apart from being officially peri menopausal and having to wait 6 months before I can be tested for natural hormone therapy (rather than bio-identical hormones which I am allergic to) it seems I may have over-active adrenal glands.

This is apparently not a new condition, but something that occurred as a result of the child abuse I suffered as a 6 year old which triggered my fight or flight response system … permanently. Instead of living in the normal rage for the parasympathetic symptom, my subconscious sympathetic system is continually triggered (similar for PTSD sufferers) and I’m always on edge for being ‘attacked’ again … even when I consciously know I’m safe. Yep, the mind makes strange and not always wonderful neural connections.

For years I’ve channelled this adrenalin into being a high performer and just getting lots of shit done and into my exercise and 13km runs each day which saw me shed more than 70kgs. But after a dodgy hip (or two) when running had to stop, and then a bout of complete physical exhaustion including pneumonia, flu and a kidney infection all within 12 weeks, it led to adrenal fatigue (aka fibromyalgia) … my body said “enough”.

Since my fibromyalgia almost 2 years ago I requested my rheumatologist put me on something mild to help change my brain chemistry to being more positive … 5mg Endep is almost a non-therapeutic dose and it requires 6 month minimum bursts of treatment. He and I made an agreement to do 6 months (which I finished June 2016) but by the end of November the same year I was having bad thoughts that I couldn’t explain so I decided to repeat another 6 months of treatment. That finished two weeks ago.

Now I knew Endep for me wasn’t a long term solution. I also caught wind that, when I accidentally failed to swallow the tablet and my tongue went numb for a couple of hours, that it probably wasn’t doing great things to my mind or my body. But what I didn’t realise is what a massive fog that pill had put me under.

Since coming off the meds on 8th June I felt a surge of motivation, of energy and the sort of clarity I hadn’t experienced in ages. All those projects that had been lying dormant were almost instantaneously resurrected and new solutions came to me easily. I was on fire … getting shit done again … I was finally back baby.

And then I had an ‘aha’ … the sort of moment of divine and pure clarity that makes you stop and reassess your whole life. In that moment, I realised for the first time, not just on a mental level, but I got it physically … that ‘being back’ and the burst of energy was my over active adrenals kicking in. And I also realised that if I continued this way, that I was going to be back with sever fibromyalgia again … unable to get out of bed for 4 or more days a week. And having been on a 2 year journey to detoxify and rid myself of that pain, that’s just not what I ever want again …

Stop … pause … time to explore the concept of over active adrenals. If this is the case (my thyroid is normal – I get it tested every 6 to 12 months) then it may also explains my addiction to carbs at night. Carbs … my nemesis … it’s almost impossible for me to avoid them, no matter how hard I try. I thought I was just addicted, and needed help … or some really sticky gaffa tape for my mouth. But seriously if over active adrenals are at play, then this could be the underlying cause for my weight gain over recent years. It makes sense … I crave the carbs (and sugar) at night as all my other reserves are depleted from being ‘on edge’ and hyper alert all day (presenting through the day as high stress and anxiety which others see as a lot of energy). The body’s response for depleted reserves is for a quick carb fix, which sadly undermines all the good work I do during the day. The end result … the weight I lost has started to return. I feel like I’m in a never ending revolving door… often to the fridge.

For me all the pieces are finally falling into place … the resumption of childhood night terrors from lack of control of my body, the adrenals kicking in to ‘rescue’ me and make me safe, the over-eating to protect myself from fear of attack … and all stemming from something that happened to me when I was 6 … something I thought I’d gotten through. Apparently there’s more to unravel. The relief at knowing this, at knowing I’m ot crazy or depressed is a HUGE load off my shoulders … and my mind.

Recently, as part of a program to get off the Endep forever, my doctor put me on a Mental Health Care Plan … up to 15 subsidised counselling sessions with the counsellor of my choosing (thanks Medicare). Finding the right one was super difficult and took a lot of time … but in the end she was right under my nose. She’s not only a social worker trained in trauma counselling, she has worked at CASA, and has specialist training as a Counsellor and Psychotherapist in emotion focused therapy, art therapy, mindfulness, and trauma-informed care. Emily is all about ‘chick power’.

The first step in this counselling journey was a tough one to take … but of all the medical natural therapies I have done over recent years, the biggest revelations for me have happened on Emily’s couch. She’s helped to realised that my subconscious has made all sorts of unsupportive neural connections back to the original traumatic events. She’s given me the tools to break those connections, and restore the ‘event’ back to it’s original container where we can start dealing with it. My night terrors have almost all stopped.

And after years of unresolved grief (you try going to 13 funerals in 12 months) and blocking the mourning process I’m finally moving forward on that one too … reconnecting with my ‘sisterhood’ and sharing in personal heartfelt exchanges, one on one, with the important women in my life. And I’m happier. After all it’s the depth of connection that’s important, not the frequency. As women we’re so good at giving to others, we often forget to share and receive. Truth is we’re important too.

So where to from here? Long post short, I’m hoping to get my adrenals tested next week and I’m trying all sorts of different therapies, trying to find out what works best for me. Meanwhile Ashwagandha and Astragalus root drops are on their way to try, and I’ve been ‘ordered’ to stop every 30 minutes and ‘be present’ and calm my state … and my adrenals. I’ve also been advised (at my own suggestion) to recommence my morning yoga sessions and do quick guided meditations several times a day.

It’s a commitment … but then I’m worth it.

If you got this far, thanks for reading, and thanks for your support.
I hope in some small way my sharing has helped, and encouraged you to open up.

Remember, you’re worth it too.





I’m a Beginner – What Gym Routine Should I do to Lose Weight?

Click here for the original InShape News article.

Deciding to get your ‘gym’ on is one of the best things you can do. The health benefits for all aspect of your body, mind and spirit are well researched. But going to a gym is a little different than just grabbing your runners and going for a quick jog. No going to the gym is a completely different environment … and you want to ensure you see a return for your often big bucks.

Gym First Timers
Attending a gym for the first time can be quite daunting … there are often so many different classes on offer it’s hard to know where to start. And all those machines … you might be wondering what they all do and how you’re ever going to learn how to use them.

Gyms are great places to get some expert tuition or to just get your workout done when it’s cold, raining or just plain dark outside. And the recent proliferation of 24×7 gyms makes that task so much easier. So before you head into a gym, let’s spend a few minutes getting your head into the right space so you’ll be a bit more relaxed.

Gym as a Way of Life
First things first … the main thing you need to know is that whatever you end up doing, to maintain your results you need to be prepared to do it for the rest of your life. Exercise is not a fad. It’s not something you do solely to lose weight and then the weight miraculously stays off. No, as soon as you stop doing whatever you did, the weight comes right back on. Exercise … love it or loathe it … really is a life-long commitment. It’s a way of life.

That said, you can now understand why it’s important it is to select a gym routine that works for you: the location, time, type and duration all have to work. So choose something that you can fit (or squeeze) into your normal schedule. Keeping it interesting and fun will make it easier to commit to it long-term. And grabbing a partner to workout with can not only increase your commitment and motivation, there are also a whole host of additional benefits according to Mirel Ketchiff from

Gym is Not a Dirty Word
As a beginner, don’t be scared of the word ‘gym’. You’re not going to be hurled head first into a weight lifting only routine … in fact quite the opposite. Gym staff will usually recommend you do a mix of activities so have a chat with them and ask them to suggest a routine. Staff at the best gyms will do a thorough assessment on you, and only recommend things that are comfortable (and possible) for you to do.

Before you become a gym junkie it’s worth knowing that the most effective workout seems to be a combination of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Resistance Training (RT) as opposed to the straight cardio fad of the 19080s – so Richard Simmons has officially left the building.

HIIT and You
You can read all about why HIIT works so well at Nerd Fitness and there’s a fantastic summary and examples by exercise at the FitnessGoat. And HIIT’s effectiveness is also investigated in ABC Catalyst’s 2015 report “Fit in 6 Minutes a Week”. HIIT is a sensible exercise approach for making long-term gains with minimal effort. And it’s got a solid pedigree…

HIIT’s not new. It actually originated informally in the 1970s and was used by track and field athlete Sebastian Coe. It has since morphed into a number of regiment including, more recently, the Timmons regimen (2012) used by Dr Michael Mosely in his BBC documentary the “Truth about Exercise”.

HIIT aside, if you’re looking for guided DIY information about specific routines then has their “Best Fat-Loss Workout of All Time” and it’s pretty good if you have all of the equipment and plenty of time. If you are time short then check out Women’sHealth Mag’s “5-Minute Fat-Blasting Workout” which focuses on Interval Training (similar to HIIT, but not quite as effective). It will take longer to get the results but it is a good routine, especially if you add some free weights where you can on alternate days.

Mix it Up
Just keep in mind that research has shown that after performing the exact same routine for three weeks your body switches off, and the effects of doing the same program start to diminish. To avoid this simply change your program every 3 weeks by selecting a different cardio exercise (rowing instead of bike), changing the work out time (15 or 25 minutes instead of 20) or the intensity (use interval programs and change out the interval duration). When it comes to resistance training simply change out your sets and reps – instead of 3 sets x 10 reps, do 2 sets by 15 reps.

Don’t Go Over the Top
Oh and there’s no point going overboard. According to Haroon Siddique of The Guardian doing more exercise won’t necessarily lose you more weight. There’s apparently a sweet spot for the ‘exercise to calorie burn’ ratio. And like anything, consistency is the key to getting (and keeping) good results. That and a solid commitment to your routine, and your body. After all this is not a 6-week affair, it’s for life.

Eat Lean and Clean
And sorry … there’s also a bit more bad news. Even if you work out like a mad person, your eating regime could actually undo all your hard work. Yep, a critical part of your workout is actually what you put in your mouth. Who knew?

If that’s the case then when should you eat, and what should you eat? A while back I gave some advice in my article What Are The Best Foods to Eat Before Working Out. But the big take away from the article is that most people load up before a workout, and it’s simply not required. You have enough reserves … trust me.

Instead, to burn the most fat from a diet perspective, don’t snack and follow a Ketogenic diet. According to Wikipedia high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate Ketogenic diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. has lots of good information on it and a helpful searchable database of recipes. And Kyran Doyle has a whole host of yummy ketogenic snack recipes here. Lastly, Authority Nation also lists the foods to avoid here.

Beginner or not, in the end it is all about doing what works for you and your lifestyle – there’s no ‘one fits all’ solution when it comes to health. Keep trying different things (both diet and exercise) until you find what works for you. What works for you won’t be the same for everyone. But what is the same is that the most important bit of any workout or gym routine is that you actually do it.






What is a Paleo Diet, and is it Good for You?

Click here for the original InShape News article.

What is a Paleo Diet?
A paleo-based diet is based on raw ingredients, and is often referred to as the ‘caveman’ diet due to the hunt and gather nature of its ingredients. In today’s modern times our ‘hunting and gathering’ tends to be done at the local supermarket or grocer, so think of it as a diet that focusses on home grown or organic seasonal ingredients and generally no- or low-processed foods in recipes made from scratch.

What do you eat on a Paleo Diet?
The paelo-based diet generally consists of meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds with some healthy fats and a small amount of fruit.

Meats and fish: Importantly when it comes to meats, it’s a holistic view of the animal that counts rather than focussing on muscle meats (generally the cuts you find at the butcher). So you should include offal, or the internal organs of animals, in your diet. These include hearts, livers, kidneys, brains, trotters, etc. which are richer sources of nutrients than muscle meal. Bone broth is also an important component of a paleo-based diet, and especially good for gut health and addressing allergies. Use a vinegar (with a mother) to help extract the minerals and simmer for at least 24 hours – get Pete Evean’s recipe here or simply watch Paelo Star’s Fast Bone Broth video here.

Nuts: Nuts should be ‘activated’ where possible – soaking them in filtered water to remove impurities and phytic acid, and then dehydrating them. Find out more in this video from The Internet Chef.

Vegetables: the paleo way of life should focus on a vegetable-rich diet (up to 70%) supplemented with some meat, fish, nuts. All vegetables including root vegetables and especially leafy greens are welcomed and eaten in abundance.

Fats: Fruit-based fats are good and used in most meals. These include coconut oil, avocado and olive oil. Nut oils are less often used as the oxidate quickly and are difficult to extract. Coconut oil has the highest smoke point and is good for cooking.

Fruits: Fruits are generally high in fructose and are ‘sometimes’ foods if you chose to adopt a paelo-lifestyle. If you think about our pre-farming ancestors they did not have ready access to bananas, mangoes or even apples. They were not only seasonal, but spasmodic in access. So keep your fruit intake to under 3 pieces a day.

Fermented foods: Fermenting vegetables is one of the new paelo crazes as it increases the nutrients of the vegetables 100-fold and makes them more bio-available. New to fermenting? Check out the Fermenting Queen of Australia, Kitsa Yanniotis’s fermenting recipe video here.

What can’t you at on a Paleo Diet?
In two words – processed foods.
That means no grains, no sugar, no dairy.
Yep, no rice, no pasta, no legumes, no soy, no refined sugar.

What can you replace these with?
Paleo substitutes may seem difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier. Substitutes include cauliflower rice, Zucchini or squash ‘pasta’, dried fruit, coconut flour, nut meal, flax meal, nut milks and coconut cream. You can check out more substitutes at Paleo Grubs here.

Is a Paleo Diet good for you?
If food is medicine (and it is), then what we eat is who we are, and a paleo way of life makes a lot of sense. Check out PictureFit’s Video here which explains both sides of the paleo story.

It’s well known that a diet rich in the right vitamins, minerals, micro and macro nutrients can repair most, if not all, ailments in the body. In fact, if you ask Australian Paleo Ambassador and Chef Pete Evans he will tell you it’s the only way of eating that is good for you. Check out his ‘Paleo Way’ introductory video here.

Experience has shown that a paleo-style diet eliminates the high inflammatory foods that cause issues and pain in the body. Paleo advocate Dr Sarah Ballantyne (aka The Paleo Mum) provides a lot of evidence-based assistance for autoimmune sufferers on her website.

Are there issues with a Paleo Diet?
There are two main issues with a paleo diet – accessibility and scientific evidence.

Accessibility: The real pitfalls with a paleo-based diet is that it can be time consuming – everything has to be made from scratch. There are plenty of shortcuts once you are familiar with the preparation and cooking techniques, but generally you need to plan ahead: organic foods do not have the same shelf-life as conventional packaged foods, and it can be really hard to find paleo foods when eating out. Paleo diets, due to the organic and grass-fed nature of ingredients, can seem expensive and out of reach of many of those in need of a healthier diet.

Scientific evidence: The Sceptical Nutritionist tries to debunk the paelo diet here with claims from evolutionary biologist, Professor Marlene Zuk, that the paleo diet lacks any rigorous scientific research to support its health claims. They further cite Dr Christina Warriner, archaeological scientist, who states that there was no ‘one way’ of eating when it came to our ancestors, and that due to thousands of years of evolution, the modern cultivated foods we grow bears little likeness to those our ancestors ate.

But having said that you can read well-respected Paleo Grubs article “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of the Paleo Diet” here and PaeloDietEvolved’s “15 Benefits” including scientific links here.

Is there a wrong way to go paleo?
For sure! For many people paleo is about losing weight or addressing an ailment of the body (arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.). And whilst a true paleo-lifestyle may address and even alleviate many of these conditions, it will only help people to lose weight if the portion sizes and meat to vegetable ratios eaten are truly paleo in nature.

For example, there are now a lot of paleo and raw food ‘treats’ on the market. These contain a lot of concentrated fructose, from dates, dried apricots and prunes or other fruits. We know from last month’s article that there are lots of dangers associated with a high fructose diet. So switching from processed foods to a diet rich in these paleo snacks is not the right way to start, and it’s not truly paleo anyway.

Do you have to count calories on a Paleo Diet?
That is one of the biggest advantages of a paleo-lifestyle – there should be no need to count calories – as long as you do it right.

However, having said that, there is a need to constrain portion sizes and eat more appropriate meal sizes. Restaurants are well known for trying to give you ‘value’ with cheap nutrient-depleted meals rich in bad fats, salt and sugar to make them taste better.

The biggest issue with people on a paleo diet is that they over-eat protein. A small palm sized pieve per meal is all you need. Oh and lots of veggies!

I want to go paleo, but where do I start?
If you’re unsure of where to start, don’t worry, there’s plenty of resources available to help. You can simply search for ‘paleo’ on the web or in your favourite bookstore.

My go-to paleo resource is chef Pete Evans, because he explains things simply, and his recipe books look beautiful. Eat Drink Paleo’s Irena Macri also has some great resources and My Paleoish Life has some fantastic recipes and a new cookbook coming out soon.

If you want something to ‘digest’ immediately then check out Paleo Chef Pete Evan’s “The Paleo Way – Putting It All Into Practice” video here.

Happy hunting.

P.S. if you want more information on the difference between raw, vegan and paleo diets check out this article from PositivehealthWellness here.



Paleo Challenge #3

I feel like crap. I’m still craving sugar and I’m thirsty.

Lots on today … I get writing and update my blog. Still thinking about breakfast and decide to give paleo pancakes a try. I don’t have any coconut milk. I decide to use almond milk, egg whites and SteviaSlim and add 2 spoons of raw cocoa powder to the mix. They take a long time to cook, especially one at a time. The air is thick with the smell of chocolate and coconut.

The day was pretty busy and so I never got back to this post until much later. I did manage to get in a quick mostly-paleo dinner before heading off to MTC’s Faith Healer starring the amazingly talented Colin Freils and Alyson White.

Sadly after this post I got a bit sidetracked, things got hectic, I had some bad medical news and I fell off the paleo wagon. Whilst I tried to maintain my mostly-paleo ways I can’t say that things since have gone to plan. Mentally it’s been a real struggle. Emotionally it’s been tough. Physically things have gone downhill.

As a result I couldn’t continue this experiement.
I did write my article on all things paleo – it’s coming out soon – watch for the post.
And in May I have recommited to a paleo lifestyle, not just for combatting my adrenal fatigue, but for combatting a number of other women’s issues including suspected candida. It’s time to get back on the wagon, kick my bad habits for good and make the healthy lifestyle change for me.

Paleo Challenge #2

Feeling good today, slept well and had good result on my morning weight in, which always puts you in a good frame of mind and spurs you on for the day.

Did yoga *ouch*, my gratitude journal, and got the dogs out to the ‘G’ for a good off lead run (they always run well after a chiropractic treatment). Back home, hydrotherapy, body brushing and time to hit the computer for a few minutes before heading to lunch with my wonderful husband for our weekly catch up meeting.

Great meeting and lunch with my husband. Avoided the bread and the wine. Still feeling good. Delicious scallops, green salad and amazing pan-fried mulloway. Watched hubby eat dessert and drink a fine fortified tokay.

Home again, hit the office and start knocking off tasks, getting lots done (but never enough). That old adage “right now my to do list is so long I’ll never die” applies.

Snacked: activated nuts, choc paleo balls, raspberry coconut chia pudding (all home-made). Still peckish. Hmmm. Try to avoid the urge.

Massage at home from our good friend (and qualified masseuse) Grace. Eat dinner: aromatic coconut vegetables and bbq’d chicken thighs. Remaining chia pudding hit the lips after adding activated pepitas, walnuts and cocoa nibs. Crunchy.

Still peckish …inca berries …activated almonds …1/3 of a banana …home-made sugar-free (paleo) hazelnut kisses and lots of water. I decide to send the rest of the kisses to hubby’s work mates tomorrow.

Watch TV and give the dogs a cuddle. Still peckish …nectarine …cup of hot tea. The sugar cravings are overwhelming. Is this withdrawal? I feel like a drug addict. My self-control has boarded the bus and is leaving. I trawl the fridge and the cupboards for suitable sugar-laiden snacks like an addict searches the streets for a fix. I can’t find any.

But later that night I give in …a serve of Moser Roth Dominican Republic 75% cocoa with quite a number of prunes. My addiction is sated for the time being. I go to bed.

Weight: -0.7kg
Water: 3.0 litres
Stopped eating: midnight
Added sugar: 6g (just over 1 teaspoon)
Sleep: 4h 52m


Paleo Challenge #1

Over the years since I shed all that weight I’ve come to realise three things: 1) maintenance is more difficult that shedding the weight ever was; 2) I have a number of food intolerances that seem to get worse as I get older that need to be managed; and 3) I have some addictions that I need to deal with – specifically an addiction to refined carbohydrates (including sugar).

In preparation for an article on Paleo Living that I’m writing for InShape News next month I thought I’d do a 30 day paleo test and go 100% paleo for at least 30 days, testing my bloods before and after and tracking my weight and body fat. so with the tests done I’ve embarked on just this.

On reflection the diet I mostly used to shed all that weight was paleo: lean proteins, lots of vegetables, a few nuts and a little fruit. For the most part I ditched all grains and most dairy. And I exercised. Boy did I exercise. I went to the gym 3 days a week and most days I jogged 13kms (which is the same distance as the City to Surf). It was hell on my body during the maintenance phase and I eventually developed painful bursitis in both hips.

In recent years I’ve relaxed my exercise routine and my diet and the results have not been all that I hoped … not only has more than just a little weight crept back but in November 2016 I developed adrenal fatigue (also known as chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia).

So 2017 is time for change … time to rethink and recommit to a healthy eating plan that is not arduous, lets me socialise with friends easily, and a plan that I don’t have to weigh, measure and track what I eat to keep a stable weight.

Enter this Paleo Challenge.

To be completely transparent, I’ve been moving towards a paleo diet for many months, eliminating refined sugars and reducing grains, flours and dairy. But one of my weaknesses is bread products like fresh sourdough (often spelt or gluten free) and more recently I discovered an amazing French baker nearby that makes all sorts of delights (think brioche, almond croissants, pain au chocolate) from imported French flour – a strain of wheat that doesn’t bloat me (Australian wheat is very high in gluten and isn’t very well tolerated). It’s been a delight to indulge but the indulgences have been too frequent. And knowing all too well that food IS medicine, I need to clean up my act and walk my talk.

So today, Day 1 of the challenge I started on this journey. I felt really good today and was easily able to stick to my paleo plan. I skipped breakfast to induce glycolysis (the burning of glycogen stores) and began with a late lunch of sweet potato, carrot and avocado egg skillet. Delicious.

Dinner was a crock pot creation of aromatic coconut norwegian salmon and vegetables (no rice) inspired by chef and paleo king Pete Evans, and a raspberry coconut chia pudding adapted from Kari’s recipe at Get Inspired Everyday (I simply switched out the dates for SteviaSlim to lower the fructose count, and I didn’t have any dates on hand). I didn’t feel any need to snack or eat after dinner. Slept well.

Weight: OMG
Water: 2.5 litres
Stopped eating: 8.30pm
Added sugar: 0g
Sleep: 6h 08m


How Do Personal Fitness Trackers Work, and are They Any Good?

Click here for the original InShape News article.

Fitbit®, Garmin, Apple Watch, Misfit, Jawbone®, Smartwatch?
About 20% of us are using personal fitness trackers – so what’s the skinny on these mini devices?

What is a personal fitness tracker?
A personal fitness tracker, sometimes also called a smart band, is generally a wrist-worn electronic device that contains a watch as well as various tracking sensors to measure exercise metrics such as your steps, flights of stairs, exercise sessions, calories burned, heart rate and even your sleep patterns.

How do personal fitness trackers work?
In simple terms wrist-worn devices all measure motion with the use of 3-axis accelerometer (measuring movement in each direction) and sometimes a gyroscope that measures rotation. This data is then fed into custom-written software (depending on the brand of device) that analyses and converts, to the best of its ability, the data into more meaningful statistics like steps, distance, calories and stairs climbed.

Devices that monitor heart rate also include an optical sensor (aka ‘the green light’) that shines to illuminate the capillaries under your skin, measuring the rate at which your blood is being pumped through.

Similarly sleep patterns are measured using an actimetry sensor which essentially measures wrist movement, sometimes combined with other sensor inputs, and analyses it to determine your wake, sleep and restless periods.

Some trackers (especially those designed for long distance sports like running) also have a GPS to track your actual position on the planet via satellites (much like sat Nav for your car). Others include galvanic skin response sensors to measure sweat, thermometers to measure temperature and ambient or UV light sensors or bioimpedance sensors to gain input data for analysis.

To check what’s in an individual brand check out the following Wearable and Digital Trends articles to see how various fitness trackers work.

The skinny: Various sensors in the fitness tracker provide raw user data that is then interpreted by software (that uses basic assumptions and calculations) into more meaningful data.

Are personal fitness trackers accurate?
Yes, and no. Personal trackers use varying technology to gain and analyse user data but all rely on user inputs including weight, stride length, wrist dominance and sometimes height and age to provide more precise reporting. So if you don’t change the default factory settings your readings may be incorrect.

One University of Pennsylvania study found the step count on fitness trackers could be as much as 22% out when compared with old-style pedometers and accelerometers. But the University of North Carolina’s Professor Kelly Evenson says lab and field tests revealed trackers were reasonably accurate, but tended to overestimate distance with slow speeds, and underestimate when moving fast.

In a test of 10 fitness trackers, CBNC’s Eric Chemi reported all devices were close to reporting accurately but each device did vary slightly. Fitbit® Charge HR (which also records sleep patterns) was the most accurate when it came to step counts; Apple Watch for heart rate; and Withings Pulse O2 for distance. But most of these devices record additional activities that were not subject to testing.

What is most useful about any fitness tracker is the daily comparison of results by the same user. Just like any gym routine or fitness program you’re only in competition with yourself and your results are the only ones that matter (despite many trackers having the ability to join virtual groups and compete in weekly competitions). Personal fitness trackers are a way of setting targets, and tracking and recording your gradual improvement, or the lack thereof.

And most reports like The Guardian’s Amy Fleming  and Shape’s Paige Fowler tend to agree: it’s about the user being able to monitor their own data, even if it’s just feedback or a guide to make incremental improvements.

The skinny? All fitness trackers vary in results slightly.

What are the best personal fitness trackers?
Right now the best fitness tracker, according to TechRadar, is the Fitbit® Charge 2 which connects with the GPS on your phone, particularly good for joggers and runners. Second is Samsung’s Gear Fit 2, third is Microsoft’s Band 2 and fourth is the Fitbit® Flex 2. However the TechRadar report excluded Smart Watches which are reported separately here.

Wearable on the other hand rates Garmin’s Vivosmart HR+ the best tracker with Fitbit® Charge 2 coming in second as the best general fitness tracker. They also rated the best trackers for a range of categories including simplicity, style, parents, getting in shape, tight budget, losing weight, multisports and screen quality. Check out their full report here.

PC Magazine’s assessment put’s the Fitbit® Surge at the top of their list, with the Fitbit® Charge 2 and Garmin Forerunner 735XT runners up.

The skinny? It really depends what exercises you regularly do and what you want to track.

How do I pick the right personal fitness tracker for me?
Mens Journal quizzed fitness tracker researcher, the University of Pennsylvania’s Dr Mitesh Patel, who likened fitness trackers to a gym membership – the novelty often soon wears off. What was most important, says Dr Patel, is that wearers already had a high motivation towards improving their own health and fitness. It would seem that motivation and personal responsibility for one’s own health are huge pre-requisites when it comes to fitness trackers, but these aren’t the only factors.

The ABC’s Joel Werner and Tegan Osborne report that around 50% of people stop wearing their fitness tracker within 12 months of purchasing it. So it seems that selection of the right device for the right purpose is crucial to any device’s longevity of use.

When I asked my fitness-tracking friends what they liked about theirs the responses varied. Some liked the technological features like the Fitbit® Alta which vibrates with incoming calls, receives SMS and calendar reminders on the watch face; some wanted a tracker that looks more like a conventional watch rather than a band; others talked about the importance durability like the Garmin Vivoactive being waterproof, even in sea water (which might have been helpful for me when I fell into a French canal last year).

For me it’s the sleep tracking function of the Fitbit® Charge HR that won me over. Being able to see how many times I ‘wake’ and how many times I’m ‘restless’ and my combined sleep total for the night gives me a lot of information to proactively improve my quality of sleep.

What did seem to be a common theme was to consider the comfort and look of the unit (as you generally wear them 24 hours a day), the battery life/recharge time, ease of device use as well as the user interface (via smartphone or laptop apps).

Other friends use a non-band fitness tracker like Google Fit which uses advanced sensors in your smartphone to work out when you’re walking, jogging or cycling – good if you are a regular ‘wearer’ of your phone (probably better suited for men. Why don’t they put pockets in women’s clothing?).

Fact: there are a heap of different devices out there at a huge range of prices from the cost effective to the insane. Finding the right device is a personal choice and it may take you a few goes to find the device that’s right for you. Do your research and talk with your friends who use fitness trackers, find out what they like and dislike about their units and see if you can try theirs on. And if in doubt handy services like USA-based Lumoid provide devices for rental so you can ‘try before you buy’.

The skinny? Decide on what’s important for you, set a budget and do your research before you buy.

Tips for getting the most out of personal fitness trackers?
Once you’ve chosen your personal fitness tracker the first thing you’ll want to do is customise it. Add in your personal user settings (height, weight, stride, etc.) according to the app to ensure more accurate results.

Next, and most importantly, is to decide on what you want to track and set some goals, like hours of activity, heart rates and daily steps. If in doubt use your tracker for a week first to know what your baseline is, then set realistic goals that stretch you a little more each week.

To keep your motivation you might want to join a virtual group. Many brands have virtual groups in the apps that allow you to connect with others and share selected statistics (like step count). If a friend has the same brand of device then you may be able to create a group of your own, which is more fun and definitely more motivating. But remember, it’s your week on week results that count – you are your only competition.

If you’re on a weight loss mission many apps allow you to log your food and water. This can be time consuming but also a very sobering experience when you realise how little water and how many calories you’re actually consuming. Still it can be a very beneficial and educational exercise.

And when it comes to burning off those extra calories don’t believe everything you read (or track). Fitness trackers aren’t 100% accurate. In fact, a study from Iowa State University found that there’s more than a 15% margin of error in most trackers. Take the results as a guide and don’t get too over zealous.

If you’re prone to sitting or being inactive for long periods of time then set a regular reminder to move. Reminders and alarms are a great way to make sure you’re moving more, but they can also reduce your battery life requiring more regular recharges.

Consistency and routine are the keys when it comes to tracking. Make sure you wear your device for the same hours, or better still keep it on 24 hours a day – especially for devices that track your sleep patterns. Simply recharge your device when you’re not moving much, like sitting at your desk or when you’re in the shower. Most devices fully charge in around 20 minutes and last for 3 to 5 days.

The skinny? Personal fitness trackers can be a great way to monitor your health and wellbeing. But they require commitment, consistency and routine.

Is Fructose Good or Bad for You?

Click here for the original InShape News article.

I have a sweet tooth.
Oh boy do I have a sweet tooth.
It’s gotten me in trouble on more than one …ok, I confess …many occasions.
Having quit refined sugars and I’ve had to look for alternatives.
And so this got me thinking about fructose as a replacement sugar …is it good or bad?

What is fructose?
Fructose is a plant sugar, a simple carbohydrate found in fruit and vegetables. Yep, that’s right … vegetables too. In fact vegetables with the highest levels of fructose include green beans, asparagus, leek and onion …but virtually all vegetables contain some fructose.

But it’s fruit, combined with additionally high glucose, that really takes the cake. Star fruit is the worst culprit at 8% fructose and a massive 7% glucose – that’s 15% sugar! Other high-fructose fruits are those you’d suspect due to their sweetness: apples, kiwi, bananas, mangoes, oranges, pineapple and stone fruits. You can check the fructose and glucose levels of foods here.

How is fructose different to sugar?
Fructose IS a sugar …don’t be misled otherwise. Fructose only differs from refined table sugar (which is sucrose made from the sugar cane plant) in that sucrose is 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Fructose is, well, 100% fructose sugar. The difference is it’s metabolised slightly differently by the body (and we’ll get to that later).

But what’s causing outrage and concern is the refined version of fructose and other sugars found in packaged products and take away foods. Look on your ingredient label: fructose, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, glucose, anhydrous dextrose, maltose, cane juice, dehydrated cane juice, evaporated cane juice, cane crystals… these are the culprits of ill-health and obesity. These sugars, concentrated and devoid of any nutritional counterparts (like fibre), are added unwittingly to our convenience foods to make them more ‘palatable’.

And let’s not forget flour: corn, wheat, rice, maize, tapioca, coconut, etc… which are added as fillers and binders to our packaged and processed foods, all of which contain sugar and simple carbohydrates (which convert to sugar very quickly once eaten).

This means we’re eating more sugar than ever before in the history of humanity.

Feeling sick yet?

How is fructose metabolised?
According to Wikipedia, whilst glucose is metabolised ‘widely’ in the body, fructose is almost solely metabolised in the liver. So eating high amounts of fructose not only means you’re eating high amounts of sugar, but it’s putting a serious load on your liver …often the very thing you’re trying to detox.

Fructose is also serious stuff for those suffering fructose malabsorption or FODMAP (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols) where the short chain carbohydrates including fructose cannot be digested properly due to deficient fructose carriers in the small intestine’s enterocytes. This results in indigestion, excessive flatulence, bloating and distension, fatigue and impaired brain function.

And it’s the volume of all sugars combined that now adds up to alarming amounts in almost all diets. So switching to a non-refined fructose diet is not the panacea. But it can be the easy and important first stepping stone to switching to a no added sugar (of any kind) diet.

How much sugar is enough?
Harvard Health Publications recently reported on studies that explain why we should limit our sugar intake to around 10% of our daily calories. More simply, men should eat no more than the equivalent of 9 teaspoons of sugar, whilst women should aim for 6. That’s 45g for men and 30g for women. Which means 200g of Star Fruit equals the daily allowance for women. No tea, no coffee, no lattes. Frightening, eh?

Why do we crave sugar?
It’s been well reported that sugar is actually more addictive than heroin or cocaine? In fact studies, including those by Dr Mark Hymon, have shown it’s up to eight times as addictive. So it’s no wonder western affluent countries are turning into obese nations …it’s a true epidemic and it’s happening right now without any sign of reversal.

Just like any drug, cravings for sugar (insert your favourite ‘ose’ here) require more and more of it to sate our appetite for this modern day heroin. And it’s contributing to a plethora of diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

What happens if we have too much sugar?
OK here it is …bottom line …first you’re going to get fat. Really fat. There’s no avoiding this one. No amount of exercise or dieting is gonna fix it. And then you’re going to get sick. Really sick. And here’s why.

When the body metabolises glucose it releases insulin to control the chemical reaction induced by eating high amounts of glucose. Insulin tells the body to ‘store’ the glucose rather than burn it. So though metabolism glucose is converted to fat and stored in the body …and usually in those places you don’t want it.

Sadly, when it comes to diet, we’ve been lied to for many years. Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, debunks the last 30 years of nutritional information and explains the damage caused by a high sugar (including fructose) / low fibre diet in “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”.

And even I Quit Sugar’s Sarah Wilson agrees ….whilst fructose isn’t metabolised in the same way, and doesn’t cause the same sort of spike in blood sugar and insulin production, it still contributes to your overall calorie count. So remember that Star Fruit you gorged out on that contains 50% glucose? Guess what …your fat reserves just got added to. And they’re gonna keep getting added to until you make a choice.

What can I do to reduce the effects of fructose and sugar?
So you’ve decided to reduce your sugar intake … start slowly and track your sugar consumption and aim for it to be 10% of less of your calories a day. When sweet cravings hit choose low-fructose naturally occurring sweet foods like berries. Remember sugar is present in almost all foods including dairy. Read food labels and ingredient lists.

The optimal solution is to quit all added sugars, processed foods and sweet beverages, but this isn’t always practical. So minimise fresh fruit consumption and avoid all dried fruits where possible. Eat complex carbohydrates (e.g. quinoa, teff, amaranth) and ditch simple carbs (e.g. potatoes, rice, wheat, flours, bread). Eat mostly fresh vegetables, 50% raw, and some lean protein. Drink plenty of filtered water … boring I know but your gotta drink 45mls per kilogram of body weight …that’s 0.69 ounces per pound of body weight. It’s how I lost 70kg (150lbs) so I can vouch that it works.

Even though I’ve quit refined sugar, over the years my sweet tooth has gotten the better of me and I’ve let too much alternative sugars and this addiction creep back into my life. Tired of the illness and added girth it has caused me, I’ve decided it’s now time to take a stand and quit …this time for good.

For some, including me, this is gonna be rough…

What sugar replacements are safe to use?
If you need to sate your sweet tooth (and I still do) then don’t go for the maple syrup, rice malt syrup, agave, honey, molasses or coconut sugar or nectar. The truth is all of these substitutes are virtually the same from a sugar-perspective and will ultimately add to the girth of your backside. And even worse are the artificial non-calorie chemical sugar substitutes like SplendaTM which mimic sugar and trigger the same chemical responses from the body even though they have no calories.

Instead try getting used to the liquorice-like flavour of Stevia. It’s a natural plant product rich in steviosides, which have a negligible effect on blood glucose, but are up to 150 time as sweet as sugar. It’s more recently been combined with a benign sugar alcohol called erythritol and granulated into a more palatable product under labels like NativiaTM and SteviaSlimTM.

It doesn’t taste the same, I don’t get the same ‘sugar’ high, but it’s gonna help me kick this habit …and fructose …for good.

Do I Need To Take Supplements?

Click here for the original InShape News article.

If you’re asking this then you’re probably asking the wrong question ….the real question here is “why do you think you need to take supplements?”

I’ve sure done a lot of research over the years, and my book goes into a lot of depth about every vitamin, mineral and trace element your body needs to stay healthy, the recommended dietary intake of each, what happens if you have too little (or too much), the best natural sources and what effects their uptake by the body. But the truth is it’s difficult to comprehend holistically …and even if you can make sense of the complex web of vitamin-mineral relationships it’s a lot to put into practice.

You know the warning …that dietary supplements may only be of benefit if your dietary intake is insufficient or lacking. But there is more to the jigsaw puzzle of dietary supplements than meets the eye. Manufacturers are well aware that this complex topic can yield them big bucks. In fact, the global dietary supplements market is expected to reach USD 278.02 billion by 2024, according to a recent report by Grand View Research, Inc. So with everyone trying to grab their piece of this health-driven pie you can understand why companies are spending huge wads of cash to tell you why you need their product …and why theirs is better than their competitor’s.

The sad truth of our time is that most people spend more money on pharmaceutical medicines than herbal remedies or supplements. People would rather use a manufactured pharmaceutical ‘pill’ to treat their symptoms, than find a natural cure to treat the root cause. And therein lies the issue …it’s the biggest health care scam of our generation. (You can Google it later, and trust me you’re going to want to.)

Think about it. How many times have you grabbed a paracetamol or aspirin to treat a headache? An anti-inflammatory to treat a body ache? When have you instead aimed to decipher and treat the cause, rather than the symptom?

Life has sped up; it throws us daily curve balls, pumping our bodies with adrenalin to which we use a cocktail of substances, including coffee and alcohol, to manage our daily highs and lows. We’re on a road to somewhere, but it’s not the utopia of health and longevity we’re all hoping for. Almost each new study that comes out shows we’re getting sicker. We might be living longer than our ancestors, but not healthier. Our bodies are massively deficient …lacking in nutrients but more importantly lacking in water. We are chronically dehydrated and malnourished.

The food that’s grown for us by big conglomerates clamouring for profit in a competition rich environment where genetic modification and low-cost-high-yield growth techniques are designed to produce the cheapest prettiest products, means our fruit and vegetables are now only half as nutritious as they were 100 years ago. And as a bonus they are jam packed with an array of toxins to prevent pests and blemishes, toxins that our bodies just aren’t designed to handle. Further with the ever expanding waistline of fast food and manufactured snacks (the processing of which destroys almost all nutritional value in food) we’re now eating as little as 8% of the fresh produce that our parents ate.

Our convenient ‘big gulp’ drinks and soy lattes are packed with sodium, sugars, colours, caffeine and flavours in insurmountable quantities and we’re drinking less water than ever before. Who do you know that drinks half a gallon or 2 litres of water a day? And even that amount is grossly insufficient for the average person. It’s no wonder we’re all dying of ‘lifestyle’ diseases.

So I ask you again “why do you think you need to take supplements?”

Looking for a panacea? The solution really is very simple. Rather than spending your hard-earned cash on the majority of supplements that have very little chance of making any real impact on your health, start with the basics. Eat a diet of 70% whole fresh fruit and vegetables. Keep them as raw as possible. Juice daily. Thoroughly wash your produce before consuming, or better still, buy organic where possible to reduce the amount of toxins your body ingests. Get yourself tested to check your vitamin levels, or buy a Vitastiq and test them yourself.

Read all ingredient labels. Avoid all processed food (anything that can sit on a shelf unrefrigerated for days, weeks or months, or any ingredient you can’t pronounce). Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake to one shot or two standard drinks a day. Eliminate all added sugars, simple carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. Drink 45mls of water per kilogram (0.7floz per pound) of body weight, per day …minimum.

If after doing that for 2 weeks you still feel like you need a supplement then start taking a natural super greens supplement made from dehydrated and powdered fruit and vegetables. The most you should need above that is a good quality multi-vitamin from a GMP Certified manufacturer – remember it’s quality not quantity.

Food is medicine – millennia of evolution have designed our bodies that way. In fact there’s a growing amount of evidence, including one recent study led by Dr. David Suskind published in the December 2016 Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, that a change in diet alone can cure many ailments and diseases, including Crohn’s.

Whilst a change in diet will work for the majority, there are some natural herbal supplements that can be good for individual conditions (especially hormone-related conditions and detoxification). And it’s best to see a qualified Naturopath or Herbalist to ensure you get the right compounds in their most natural state in the right quantities for your particular circumstances. Remember, everyone’s ‘body’ is different and responds to different treatments and diets.

So if you think you need a supplement because of some advert, a friend told you, or it just seemed like a good idea, then think again. Get back to basics and give your body all it needs, naturally.

#inshapenews #goodadvice #dontbefooled #spendmoneywisely #backtobasics #healthylife #healthydiet #foodasmedicine #supergreens #vitamnins #minerals #traceelements #macronutrients #micronutrients #water #drinkmorewater #eattolive #naturalfood #lovelife #behappy #doinedtotakesupplements

If I lift weights will I get bigger muscles?

Click here for the original InShape News article.

It depends … the answer is not simple and the truth is lifting weights (or resistance training) produces vastly different results in men and women. True that the amount of muscle is mostly linked to your testosterone levels – 200-1200 ng/dl in men while 15-70 ng/dl is pretty typical in women. So naturally for men resistance training yields much more muscle mass than it will for women, who have lower amounts of testosterone.

But muscle mass is not only influenced by testosterone levels, but also the amount you eat, what you eat, how often you work out, how hard you push your workout, the type of resistance training you undertake, the amount of rest between sessions, and your age.

So how do you unwind this complex web of variables and achieve the results you’re seeking? Let me break this down into separate answers for women and for men.



Unless you have an unusually high level of testosterone, eat massive amounts of protein and work out using the Arnold Schwarzenegger method of resistance training there’s just no way on this earth that you’re going to build any sort of over-bulked muscle. What you’re going to achieve, at best, is great and toned definition – which is what most women are seeking.

The benefits of resistance training are well known but are worth repeating: a reduced risk of illness (including chronic illness especially osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes and obesity); improved functional strength and balance, enabling you to achieve more in you day with much less effort; a higher metabolism because of the muscle fibre repair process and the fact that muscle uses more energy than fat; and finally greater muscle definition … yes that tighter butt is at reach if you’ll just get off the couch.

And if you want to know how to get that tighter butt with a minimum of effort all you need to do is follow this simple 11-point plan:

  1. Daily Calories need to be your bodyweight (kg) x 22 to 26. Example: 70kg = 1540 to 1820 calories.
  2. Your pre-workout meal at least 2 hours prior should consist of low fat low fibre foods that are easily digestible, e.g. low fat yoghurt and berries.
  3. Eat 2.2 to 3.3 grams of pure protein per kg of body weight each day, with 25g consumed after a workout and the balance spread over the rest of the day. Example 70kg = 154 to 231g of pure protein (note: lean meat is about 50% protein).
  4. Eat low GI (complex) carbohydrates (max 25 to 30% of calorie intake) except after a workout which should include 30-50 grams of higher GI carbs to replenish your energy and jump-start recovery.
  5. Warm up adequately for 5 to 10 minutes (e.g. bike or orbital trainer) to get your body prepared for the workout whilst preventing the very real possibility of injury.
  6. Fatigue your muscles in every workout by using the heaviest weight you can lift and perform your reps (slowly in both directions) until failure (also known as dropsets). Then immediately continue with a lighter weight and repeat to failure for your second and third sets.
  7. Include 15-20 minutes of high-intensity interval training cardio in each workout to keep your fat levels down and your fitness up.
  8. Don’t follow the same routine every workout. It’s important to keep your body guessing (and keep it stimulated) by changing your weight, rep scheme, exercises or even simply flipping your grip on the weights or doing your workout in reverse.
  9. Stretch and cooldown after every workout – never miss this part.
  10. Rest in between workouts for at least 48 hours (no cardio or weights) to allow the muscle tears to start to regenerate and build even more muscle.
  11. Stay hydrated by drinking at least 45mls of pure filtered water per kilogram of body weight, more when working out. Example 70kg = 3.15 litres plus workout water.


Whilst I have studied personal training and lifted weights for many years I’m not a guy, so I can’t give you my personal experience. But what I can tell you is for men who want to build big Arnie-style muscles please know that it’s going to take a HUGE amount of commitment to your training program despite your testosterone advantage. And, as we women know you guys aren’t great at commitment to anything over a long period of time, you’re also going to be relieved to learn that the completely ripped look actually turns very few women on. Sure it’s nice to look at from time to time, but the truth is hugely muscled men often have anger issues due to elevated testosterone. Plus if you look too ripped we might a little feel inadequate and ashamed of our own bodies in the bedroom. Really all women really want is some nice definition in their man. Truly.

Look the way to successful body building is pretty much the same as I outlined for women, except men can lift much heavier weights for more reps and sets. So first up I recommend you spend a bit of time working out a good plan that’s easy for you to follow. Look for some drug-free role models and check their workout routines for something that piques your interest (although I can admit that Arnie’s workout books are a good read and very informative).

Again your plan should include a mix of high-intensity interval training for cardiovascular fitness, and a balanced workout of arms, chest, back, abs, thighs and calves, focussing on any areas that need resizing to balance your overall look. For example you can rectify a common lack of natural V-taper by emphasizing your upper back and middle deltoids to a greater degree in your workouts, if that’s your thing.

Now it can help to keep your motivation in check with a workout buddy. But bottom line is you’re going to need to set your expectations accordingly and not expect results overnight. It’s going to take time. In fact a 2kg to 5kg increase in muscle mass over a year would be an outstanding result.

My final advice for men? If you’re building muscle to ‘pull the chicks’ or improve your chances in ‘dorkville’ just don’t prioritise your workout over your lady’s needs … we’d rather have a weedy dork who treats us right, than a Arnie-sized muscle man who puts us second.

#inshapenews #goodadvice #resistancetraining #workoutright #buildmuscle #muslesformen #musclesforwomen #trainingtips #getfitnaturally #diet #ripped #fattofit #fatlossjourney #losingweight #weightloss #weight #gym #shape #workout #training #muscle #routine #gettherightadvice #11pointplan #calories #preworkoutmeal #protein #lowgi #complexcarbs #warm up #fatiguemuscles #hit #highintensitycardio #mixitup #stretch #cooldown #rest #hydrate

Sigrid de Castella – weight loss achiever, paleoish intermittent faster, adrenal fatigue recoverer, foodie, cook, writer, globetrotter & dog lover