Curse your Coach Challenge!

Christmas is just around the corner and with it comes holidays, family gatherings and parties and most towns light up with the atmosphere of it all. But with all this can come stress, over indulgence, weight gain and a general feeling of 'falling off the wagon.'

So to combat the downsides of this time of year without losing any of the enjoyment I have put together a total health challenge for mind, body and spirit. I guarantee if you stick with it, you'll go into the Christmas holidays feeling better than you have for a long time!

The first challenge is to be performed on Monday Dec 2nd but will be posted on Facebook at 12:00 PST/20:00 GMT the day before to give everyone a chance to take part. The rest of the challenge will run in this vein for a total of 21 days in order for you to become the best possible version of yourself in time for Christmas and there will be a prize for the person who gets most involved and shows the best ‘spirit’. As Facebook seems to have its own agenda of who sees what, liking my page is not enough. To get all the tasks you will have to do the following; hover your curser over the word ‘Liked’ where a drop down menu will appear – click on ‘Settings’. Then click on ‘All updates’; that way you won't miss a post. Alternatively you can just go to my page everyday but let's face it, you won't remember will you… :P

How it works
  • Each contender will start with 10 ‘Free Pass’ points in order to have a ‘cheat day’ or to skip certain challenges. 
  • Extra passes will be given for inspiring or imaginative actions/photos – add comments and/or photos to each FB post. 
  • Each day I will post a cringe worthy joke – if you can beat it – one extra free pass. 
  • I will also post clues to obtain extra passes here on my blog so you will need to keep checking in - subscribe to my blog, (up on the top left!) and you'll get all updates by email. 
  • FIVE extra passes will be given to anyone who brings an accountability partner who likes my InSpiral Coaching Facebook page and joins in the challenge.
The rules (or guidelines…)
Of course there are general rules as well as each day's challenge :-) And they are as follows;
  • Everyone must increase their physical activity level for the 21 days. If you don’t ‘workout’ at all try to add in a couple of days a week. If you’re a 3 day a week person, up it to 5. If you’re already on 5 days, increase it to 7 – it’s only for 21 days so quit your whining!
  • No alcohol for 21 days!
  • No fast food for 21 days!
  • No eating out for 21 days - one Christmas party is allowed free! 
  • No candy or chocolate for 21 days – small advent calendars are excluded.
  • Start each day with the juice of half a lemon squeezed into a glass of room temp water – first thing; it’s an awesome liver cleanser and starts the day on a healthy high! For an even better cleanse, add a dash of apple cider vinegar if you can! Smile as you drink it - you look so much better when you smile :-)
  • Each 'cheat' will cost you one ‘Free Pass’
These are the rules but the judge, (me!) is just as likely to be open to bribes. i.e. I'd rather see some good use of a vivid imagination/warped sense of humour here - with photo evidence where possible… ;-)

That’s it – for now…;-) (Remember you have 10 free passes; use them wisely and be honest – you keep score!) Good luck and have fun

9 reasons why you should work out at home

Ok so you may think you don’t have the space for it but hey, you’re only one body. You’ll be surprised how little space you actually need. Here are some answers for those ‘ other’ excuses;
  1. It’s not expensive. All you need is a mat, a few dumbbells and a good workout DVD. Two of my favourites right now are P90X and Supreme 90
  2. It takes less time. There’s no driving out to the gym when your time is limited; less time getting ‘there’ means more time working out! Workout first thing instead of sitting drinking that third coffee and you’ll find that getting up 30 mins earlier can mean as much as an hour working out and still leaving for work at the same time!
  3. It’s not weather dependent. You can’t be stranded due to snow, floods, hurricanes etc.
  4. You don’t need fancy/clean workout gear. Just throw on something loose and comfortable. Not showered or ‘done your hair’ yet? No problem.
  5. It’s not intimidating. There’s nobody there but you!
  6. You don’t need a baby/dog sitter!
  7. You can do it any time day or night. Nothing on TV, partner’s working late, can’t sleep – get up and ‘hit it’!
  8. Your warm up can be a walk in the fresh air, playing with the dog or kids or even just a jog up and down the stairs.
  9. The money you save by not taking out the gym membership you never use means you may be able to afford a workout plan and the occasional visit from a personal trainer – worth their weight in gold!
Now what’s your excuse??!!

Cooking with Mushrooms Recipe Round-up

Mushrooms seem to be one of those foods that people either love or hate, but did you know it is believed that there are more than 15,000 different varieties in the world. A mere 1% of known types will kill you and 25% are perfectly healthy and/or tasty to eat. Once you know the benefits of this awesome fungi you may want to start experimenting with recipes.

Some of the incredible benefits of Mushrooms include;
  • Eating just 1/2 cup daily can reduce the risk of breast cancer in women by anywhere from 60 - 75%. 
  • White mushrooms have also been found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer 
  • They are great for our immune system and are highly antibiotic - penicillin comes from a form of fungus itself
  • They produce Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, just like humans so when we consume them we're getting an extra dose of Vitamin D ourselves
  • They are high in Vitamin B which is needed to turn carbs into fuel.
  • Mushrooms are anti-inflammatory, are high in antioxidants and they also help to stabilize blood sugar.
They are however, very good at absorbing their surroundings and what they are grown in and as we absorb what we eat, organic mushrooms really are better for us than non organic - I hate to use the term 'conventional' for non organic as it has implications of normalcy and natural.

So on the assumption that we're highly unlikely to stumble across the poisonous 1% in our day to day lives, it really does seem to be true why they say - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger…  

Mushroom Barley Soup by Ceri from Sweet Potato Chronicles
Mushroom Bourguignon by Nicole from Arctic Garden Studio  
Mushroom Risotto by Anna from Your Healthy Place
Chilli Jam Mushrooms from My Foodbook

Wild Mushroom Salad from Kitchen Daily
Portabellas with Peanut Sauce by Ashley from {never} homemaker
Mushroom & Asparagus Pizza by Alissa from 33 Shades of Green
Lightened up Crockpot Beef Stroganoff by Heather from Shrinking Kitchen

Mushroom Zucchini Quesadillas with Cilantro Pesto by Kiersten from Oh My Veggies
Savoury Spinach Mushroom Quiches by Abby from Manila Spoon
Barley, Sausage, Spinach & Mushroom by Lindsey from The Healthy Hausfrau

Guilt-free treat formula

These days I'm constantly aware of the balance between eating clean and enjoying treats. I certainly enjoy a sweet treat to snack on after my dinner. But something delicious, indulgent and chocolatey doesn't have to be bad!

I've been having fun with various versions of these little treat balls - you can adapt to suit your preferences and what's in your pantry. I've developed a bit of a formula for making these;
  • I always start with a 'base' - dates are great - nice and sticky and big (physically - for volume y'know!)
  • Then I add some nuts or seeds (or both!) - Almonds, Cashews, Sunflower seeds are all favs for me
  • Then I add more fruit - like cherries, cranberries, apricots or raisins
  • Then I'll add something that's gonna add some bulk to this - shredded coconut or oats are great
  • Finally some flavour - cocoa powder is pretty much a given, but also there are some awesome organic extracts like peppermint, almond, vanilla and orange - don't stop at one - I love the mint chocolate combination
This was my recipe (this time) for Chocolate Cherry treats!
  • My base: 8 medjool dates pitted
  • My nuts/seeds: 1/4 cup almonds
  • My extra fruit: 1/4 cup dried unsweetened cherries
  • My Bulk: 2 Tbsp Shredded unsweetened coconut
  • My flavour: 2 Tbsp Cocoa powder & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • I added a teaspoon of maple syrup to help bind it together and since this version ended up pretty sticky I rolled them in cocoa powder to finish them off!
Sometimes the mixture is a little stickier, sometimes a little drier but anything goes (and if all else fails and it doesn't hold together in balls then just grab a spoon and eat it out of the bowl - just watch out for portion control!)

2 great Clean Eating techniques

Eating clean at every meal, every day is at best, extremely tough, and impossible for most people; hence the 80/20 theory which means eating clean for 80% of the time and letting go for the other 20%. Some people even manage 90/10 but let’s not mention that. There is however, another method less talked about and this may well suit people who like a little more structure in their lives – the ‘cheat day’. 

In the same way that shocking your body with new exercises and new workout routines has been proven to have great results than simply repeat the same thing over and over, the ‘cheat day’ theory works in the same fashion. Rather than letting your body get too comfortable with constant goodness, you shock it, and therefore your metabolism into action now and again. One method is the 3-1-2-1 plan where you eat clean for 3 days, have a cheat day, eat clean for 2 days, have a cheat day, It sounds like good sense to me although I would however add, just be careful how much you cheat ;-)

So how about you? Would you be better eating clean today if you knew that in a few days time you had a cheat day? or would you rather have your 80/20???

Stop being such an achiever...

We've all seen those social media posts showing pictures of incredibly toned athletes, dripping in sweat and having just thrashed themselves to within an inch of their lives. The caption tells us or at least  implies, that this is the only standard to aim for, that the only acceptable way is to work hard - constantly. Or the picture showing the epitome of health on some sun kissed island, nibbling on the lightest salad and sipping on a green 'power' smoothie…

So what effect does this have on most 'normal' people? I'll tell you what message I receive; it tells me I'm not good enough and unless I devote 25 hours a day, 8 days a week to my health, I'll never be good enough - and I'm one of those annoyingly naturally slim people who genuinely enjoys eating healthily and doesn't have too much trouble motivating myself to workout. I can only imagine how less 'fortunate' normal human beings must be feeling!

You know what? If you don't look like that now, the chances are you never will - accept it, in fact most of those models don't look like that either. Or at least not until photoshop was invented.

So let's not concentrate on changing our lifestyle to one which we can't realistically sustain; all we need to do is change our way of thinking… Never mind what others want us to do or think we should achieve, what do we want to achieve, what do we really want our goals to be? Do we want to reach for the skies or do we just want to make small sustainable changes to continually improve our health day by day?

So if you don't workout today it's not because you're lazy, it's because your body needs a rest day and you owe it to yourself to enjoy that rest - your mind needs a day off as well as your body. Heck, maybe it needs a rest week or even rest month. In ten years time what you did or didn't do today won't make a blind bit of difference to your overall condition. Get back on it when you're good and ready.

And if you indulged in that bad lunch at work or snacked on crap all day - so what! You're not treating your body with a lack of respect; you're challenging it. In the same way it's good to shake up our exercise with different routines to shock our muscles, I believe it's also good to catch our digestive system out from time to time. Isn't that what we do with inoculations - we give our immune system a bit of whatever the particular disease is so it can learn to fight it? (The same works for eating local raw honey by the way - subjecting ourselves to the pollen in the honey helps us become immune to that pollen and so avoiding many seasonal allergies.

One of my least favourite 'motivational' quotes is; "What did you do today to take you one step closer to your goals?" As if we have to be moving forward everyday. Actually, I did nothing today that took me closer to my goals! Know the feeling, that you wasted your day? Maybe your brain needed a time out, to empty itself of pressure, to let new ideas in. If anything is full of pressure it makes sense that nothing else can get in. So if you're really not feeling motivated; switch off, go veg in front of the TV, go potter in the garage or garden, whatever takes your fancy. You're only wasting your day if you waste your day thinking about how much you're wasting day…

So what's the answer? Do your best, whatever your best happens to be right now; not yesterday, not tomorrow but right here right now! !) It's what you do most of the time that counts, not what you do occasionally. Go waste your day, and enjoy it :-)

Don't waste your time trying to look good!

Just think for a moment; what are your real health goals, what truly matters to you?

Be honest with yourself here, are you working out and eating clean to look good for your Christmas party, your wedding, a holiday, the beach next year? If you are I'd like to challenge you to have a total rethink; you'll always look good to those who matter, never look good to those who don't and will probably never look good enough for your own personal critic within!

This shortsighted goal is not only too much like hard work, it's a sure fire way to fail. It only leads to yoyo dieting, to an 'all or nothing' exercise routine, whatever that may be for you. Look around you; how many perfect 'get fit for summer' type articles are there in magazines at the checkout or on virtually every web page you see? Too many is the answer; but it shows two things... How popular these plans are, they're everywhere and they sell - big time! But also how useless they are - if they worked, everyone would have tried it once, succeeded and never need to do it again. Logic, right?

You make the wedding in good shape or you look great for the beach - but then what, it all stops there? No of course it doesn't; health is forever and there is no rush to achieve it - you have your whole life to improve on it; taking small steps constantly along the way - that's the real way to make big changes. Changes that are sustainable and permanent are what we should be aiming for and achieving along the way.

I'm all for creating S.M.A.R.T. goals, (as they actually DO work!) but you can't attach a date or an event to your health or even your fitness. Of course I'm not talking about beating your own PR at your next race or even completing your first race - these are true goals and can be achieved using the S.M.A.R.T. acronym. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) But they are steps along the way - not the end result. Real health has no end result, so relax, take it easy, it's only life and no-one gets out alive!

Health isn't about vanity; health is about becoming the best possible version of yourself and living a long, happy life full of abundance. So you want help with identifying and achieving some really valuable goals on your own personal health journey? I'm right here, contact me for a free no obligation chat...
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