Apart from being so refreshing and hydrating in hot summer weather, watermelon has numerous health benefits.
Watermelons are full of beta-carotene (the bright pinky-red colour) which is converted into vitamin A in our bodies. Vitamin A helps maintain eye health by protecting against age-related macular degeneration and night blindness.
Watermelons are also high in Vitamin C which is known to be an excellent immune booster and cancer fighter. Vitamin C also helps heal wounds faster so if you have any slow healing wounds up your intake of vitamin C rich foods. It will also help prevent cell damage and promote healthy teeth and gums.
Watermelon can boost your energy levels as it contains Vitamin B6 which stimulates the production of dopamine in our brains and makes us feel good and relieves us from stress, fatigue and anxiety.
They have an alkalising effect in the body when properly ripe. Eating lots of alkaline-forming foods in the form of fresh, ripe, fruit, vegetables and greens, can help reduce your risk of developing disease and illness caused by a high-acid diet, in the form of breads, dairy and artificial cool drinks.
Lycopene is abundant in watermelons, which is good for reducing inflammation. It is also good for achieving younger looking skin; lycopene is an antioxidant that neutralizes the free radicals which cause wrinkles and sun damage. The riper the fruit the more antioxidants and better looking skin and hair.
Now it's not just the fruit that is so good for you, the seeds are hugely beneficial as well. Most people would spit them out but here are some reasons to consume them:
- The seeds contain fatty acids which keep your skin moisturised, soft, firm and well toned and can help prevent acne and other skin disorders.
- They can prevent signs of aging because they contain antioxidants and oils that make your skin look younger, healthier and more vibrant.
- The oils also help rejuvenate the elasticity of your skin.
- They contain high amounts of proteins such as lysine and tryptophan which the body needs to keep hair healthy and strong, preventing breakage and keeping it moisturised.
A good way to enjoy all the benefits of the watermelon and its seeds is to blend it up and make a smoothie. I add in some sprigs of mint and a few blocks of ice and it's an incredibly refreshing and tasty drink.
Follow your body and not your mind. Listen to your body and what it needs.
What does this mean and how can we apply this practically in our lives day to day and moment by moment?
To help support a smooth and easy transition back into work and family life after the changed routine and potential excesses of the holidays, work with awareness and intention around what foods you reach for and why:
- Excess sugar creates an acid state in your body which in turn creates cravings for more and more sugary foods. Increase your intake of fresh and seasonal fruit and vegetables. This will detoxify your body and help return it to an alkaline state.
- Eat only when hungry and drink only when thirsty – in this way you follow your body and not your mind.
- Avoid eating cooked and raw food together; this will help to strengthen digestive fire (agni).
- Re-establish a regular routine around sleeping, waking and eating habits, this helps to ground and balance body and mind.
When we over identify with the story of our mind and are driven by fear, anxiety, frustration, anger or worry we become stuck in our head and disconnected from our body and life. Here, the practice of the half smile is a beautiful way to help bring us back into our body, our heart and the present moment.
The half smile:
- Slightly lift the corners of your mouth and hold softly for at least three breaths.
- Notice what changes in your body and mind… your focus drops out of your head and into your body, you become aware of what parts of your body are tense, which in turn helps it to relax, you get space from the drama of your mind, your heart can open which provides the potential to return back into the spaciousness of the present moment.
- This can be practiced during any periods of waiting – for the kettle to boil, in any queue at the shops, at the traffic lights, on the telephone as well as first thing in the morning upon waking, and last thing at night just before sleep.
- There is no quick fix… benefits accrue with regular practice over time. If you do this practice 5 or more times a day, it will make a surprising difference to your body and mind, and to the environment.
- When we smile it immediately brings us back into our hearts.
Enjoy the practice of the half smile, and remember to listen to your body.
Happy New Year!
How was your festive season? Did you eat like crazy and make your healthy resolutions only to get lazy or get invited out to dinner with a friend or family member that is visiting and you think, ‘oh well, I’ll start next week when they’re gone’? Then next week arrived and something else happened, and so the story goes...
I can definitely tell you that you’re not alone. Detoxing is not an easy thing to do when you’re really social. You just have to set aside the time and say ‘This is it, I am eating clean for x amount of days!’ And if you really have to, just say no to going out for a few days.
I did a juice fast from the 1st to 3rd of January. It was slightly challenging when I was sitting at the dinner table at home with family and four Aussie guests all tucking into a delicious meal. The hardest part was smelling all those amazing aromas and then looking at may glass jar of whatever juice concoction I had going on and seeing how much less appealing it looked. When I saw them eating artichokes (one of my favourites) I had to take a great big gulp and say ‘this is only 3 days of my life and I know it’s for the best’. Just to make it a tad more challenging, we went out to dinner with friends the next day, and again I was holding onto my jar of juice looking at their meals with envy.
However, I have to say I’m very glad I did it. No matter how good the food smelled, I know I was doing an incredible thing for my body and I felt amazing afterwards. I am looking forward to doing another one soon, this time a bit longer. It was a real test of my willpower and I made it through, now I know how strong I am and what I am capable of.
If you can’t set aside the time to do a detox right now, here are some things you can add into your daily routine:
1. Have Warm Lemon Water Upon Waking
Your body has been detoxing over night, so to help flush out these toxins faster have your lemon water. No lemon? Drink either water on it’s own (Preferably spring or filtered water) or add a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar. If you have to have your cup of coffee first thing, drink the lemon water first to flush the toxins, then have the coffee.
2. Drink More Water Throughout The Day
If you're feeling sluggish or tired, or think you are hungry, reach for the water. You may find you are actually just dehydrated.
3. Have A Green Juice During The Day
Green leafy veggies are packed with nutrients and chlorophyll which help detox and rebuild your body. They also help purify and oxygenate your blood.
These little delights are power houses of nutrients and energy as they are living foods. The more energy and live foods you eat, the more alive and energetic you feel.
Give your body the chance to thrive.
Happy Clean Eating!
Many of us wake up and jump headfirst into our day, with little time for reflection. If you want to add some serious productivity – and meaning – to your day, a morning routine can make a powerful difference. Why the morning, you ask? Well, this is the easiest time to craft your own day. Early mornings are usually our own time, where we can meet personal needs without obligations, appointments and others’ interference. If you have kids and wake up at the same time, I strongly suggest waking up just 30-45 minutes earlier – it will make a significant difference to your day. Even applying just a small handful of the suggestions below, can help add some energy, productivity and calm to your day.
Drink Water – Or Healthy Versions Of It
Upon waking, you’ve gone hours without food or liquid, so there’s no denying your need to replenish. Gulping down a glass of water immediately after you wake up gives you a head start in getting on top of your daily quota. Better yet, make the morning your time for a cleanse – add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of lemon (to disguise the taste) to a tall glass of water. Or try a warm brew of lemon, ginger and honey. These cleansing ingredients are best ingested on an empty stomach for maximum benefits, so the mornings are ideal.
It’s pretty easy to understand the benefits of a morning stretch, but most of us still don’t do it. It not only relieves your stiffness from the night’s sleep, it improves circulation and flexibility. Perhaps of the biggest benefit: it helps you wake you up! Pushing blood around the body is a natural and effective energiser. Inverted yoga poses or even a minute or two on a mini-rebounder will have the same benefit.
Set The Tone
Music-fundi or not, there’s no denying music’s impact on our moods. It’s a guaranteed pick-me-up that is within our control – so make use of it! Play a song or two guaranteed to energise you or fill you with happy thoughts. Online meditation tracks or mood-themed playlists can help if you don’t have a lot of your own music at hand.
Count Your Blessings
Many of us wouldn’t consider ourselves ungrateful, but we still need to consciously acknowledge what we are grateful for in order to fully appreciate it. Doing so has a grounding effect that can help us keep our perspective throughout the day, and promote resilience when problems crop up.
Remember Your Goals
We may sail through life effortlessly and appreciate some wonderful events, but in the end, a feeling of accomplishment comes from having a goal and reaching it. There’s something about putting in a little effort to get what you want that just makes the reward so much sweeter. Rather than wondering ‘where did the time go?’, have a balance of a few general goals and a few specific ones to really add purpose to your days. It also helps keep you on track in terms of crafting a life you really want, and making every day count towards it. General goals could be – I want to have children, I want to build close relationships with my family, I want to travel each year. Specific ones could be – I want to see the Northern Lights, I want to bungee jump, I want to save enough for my children to attend a private school. You may already have reached some big goals without realising it, but simply being mindful of the achievement process plays a big part in feeling accomplished.
It could be 5 minutes alone or 15, but mindfulness is crucial to our authenticity, our productivity and our wellbeing. Many of us perform certain, varying roles in a day, influenced by others and the situations we are in. Being alone helps us connect with our thoughts honestly, helping us focus better on who we are and what we’d like to get out of life.
Get A Game Plan
Have a general idea of what you’d like to – or need to – get out of the day. It doesn’t have to be set in stone or complete, but you’ll manage to tick more things off your to-do list simply by having one. You’ll also feel more productive as a result.
I don’t mean this offensively as I am seriously guilty of it myself – but don’t overestimate yourself! Be realistic versus idealistic about what you’re going to get done in the day – add some buffering time around each appointment as emergencies, distractions or even just traffic often cause us to lag on our daily schedule.
Fuel Up Properly
What nutrients are you likely to by-pass in the day – getting enough water, taking your vitamins, or squeezing in enough veggies and fruit? Avoid these possible deficiencies by packing a nutritional punch in the morning.
Make Your Bed
Or do whatever other tidying you need to do to keep your space clear. Bringing order to your physical space has long been identified to help with mental clarity – take advantage of it!
Exercise – If You Can
I know this is not an option to everyone, but consider exercising in the morning if you can. Curve balls often get thrown at us during the course of the day, or we can simply be too exhausted at the end of the day to care about exercise any more. Fitness and health really need to be our top priorities, and getting a session in at the crack of dawn means it is less likely to be cancelled.
An unlikely hero. It’s colourless, odourless, and without it we cannot live. Yet we give very little thought to just how important it is and more specifically, how it could benefit our health.
If you’re on the lookout for alternative healing methods for a whole host of health issues ranging from cancer and anemia to influenza and various infections or skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis, then perhaps you should consider ozone therapy as a viable option.
The Source Of Disease
It is believed that the fundamental cause of all disease is a lack of oxygen. The understanding that the human body is predominantly composed of water and that water is over 80% oxygen further supports this theory. It therefore stands to reason that the only element that is in continuous demand is oxygen and therefore its absence is fatal in a matter of minutes.
In addition, free radicals created as a by-product of oxygen metabolism, then poach electrons from other molecules, ultimately damaging those molecules. Our bodies tend to function reasonably well with some free radicals floating around, in fact our bodies can purposefully create them in order to neutralize pathogenic bacteria and viruses. However, as with anything is life, too much of even a good thing can become problematic and as such, an excess of these free radicals has been linked to a number of poor health conditions. Moreover, this entire process can be augmented through external factors such as increased stress and exposure to pollution, harmful light including sunlight as well as smoking and the consumption of alcohol.
Enter In Super Oxygen: Ozone
Ozone was discovered in 1840 by German-Swiss chemist Christian Friedrich Schonbeing, when he observed a gas with an “electric and pungent smell” that could be considered “super-active oxygen”.* Seventeen years later Werner von Siemens, German inventor and industrialist and also the founder of the electrical and telecommunications company Siemens, developed the first ozone generator. By 1881 Dr. J. H. Kellogg first used Ozone in steam saunas at his clinic based in Michigan and in 1926 Dr. Otto Warburg, former director of the Kaiser Institute for Cell Physiology in Berlin, released his research on cancer detailing a vital link to the disease and oxygen. In fact,according to his research he had discovered that the cause of cancer is a lack of oxygen at the cellular level. As a result, in 1931 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work, and in 1944 he was presented with a second Nobel Prize, the only person ever to receive two Nobel Prizes for medicine. His research discovered that the principal cause of cancer is when the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells is replaced by the fermentation of sugar. He discovered that normal, functioning cells thrive in an alkaline body whereas cancer cells thrive in an acidic state. In addition, acidosis is prevalent when there is a lack of oxygen and vice versa.** Fast forward to the modern era when only now these alternative methods gaining traction.
Why We May Need It
I have written about my journey to overcoming skin issues, eczema in particular, and whilst researching root causes as well as natural remedies for these issues, I came across Ozone therapy. My mom then shared an article with me on a South African woman who travelled all the way to Vichy in France to treat her chronic eczema by bathing in Ozone spas. So when I experienced a particularly bad flare-up of eczema earlier this year, I decided to find a local Ozone institution and was put in touch with Ozone therapist and the head of the Ozone Therapy Association of South Africa, Dr. Michelle Nicolopulos. Dr. Nicolopulos, shared how the various applications of Ozone have developed over the years and currently include six modalities: Major Autohemotherapy, Minor Autohemotherapy, Bio-oxidative Therapy, Ozone Saline Drips, Insufflation, EBOO and Hyperthermia Total Body Exposure (Steam Saunas).
“Every breathing person should consider ozone therapy, whether young or old. The basis of what we do is oxygen and we all know that you cannot survive without oxygen” says Dr. Nicolopulos. It is her opinion that when it comes to disease, the general consensus in naturopathic circles, is that the patient probably most likely has very low oxygen levels and therefore high acid levels. “This situation becomes a breeding ground for ill health. If each person maintained high oxygen levels they would be less likely to ever get sick because viruses cannot survive in high oxygen [environments], because they are anaerobic.”
She believes that our modern lifestyles are huge precursors of disease. “One of our biggest problems, as the human race, is our greed. Everything we do today is based on instant gratification and we do not consider the consequence of our actions. Fast food, fast lifestyles, high stress, zero health maintenance, pollution, hormones in our meat, genetically modified seeds, over population, over fishing, toxic medication, vaccines, shallow breathing...and the list goes on – no wonder we are sick”.
She advises patients to find a way to slow down and highly recommends ozone therapy treatments as a solution.
I sat in an ozone chamber for a duration of 30-40minutes and this was probably the hardest part of the treatment as I felt slightly claustrophobic but Dr. Nicolopulos and I chatted up a storm which helped ease my nerves. She is interested in the health history of her clients and makes a concerted effort to share her knowledge beyond ozone treatment, which includes an Ayurvedic approach to nutrition. Before I knew it the 30 minutes were over and I experienced a sudden rush of blood to the head or a light headed feeling. At first this felt abnormal but Dr. Nicolopulos assured me that it was very normal and in fact was an elevated state of being. She highlighted that most of us do not know what true wellness actually feels like. By the time I wrote this article I had attended three sessions with Dr. Nicolopulos and a definite improvement in my condition and energy levels.
Give ozone therapy a try!
South Africa has been going through a bad drought and there are huge water shortages in Phokeng in the North West province where I live. A lot of articles in the media talk about the water crisis, its impact on farmers and communities and what government is doing to help alleviate the problem.
Sometimes I find myself laughing hard at what people say, not because it’s funny, but because I want to cry and laughing stops the tears. On the one hand we are encouraged to grow as much of our own food as we can to help reduce the spiraling food costs, yet the water shortages make it extremely hard to do so. How do I grow my own food when drinking water is limited?
I’ve tried to be as prepared as I can for the extreme heat and semi-arid climate of Phokeng (located just outside Rustenburg), where every year mid-summer temperatures skate close to 40 degrees Celcius and the water shortages are becoming a norm, even when nationally nobody talks about drought.
The odd advantage I have is that I inherited my home from my parents who invested heavily in self-sufficient practices during the apartheid years, as they had no access to municipal water. They dug a borehole, which supplies a 5000 litre tank linked to my household supply. When I started to grow my food year-round, I also invested in a 10 000 litre tank, which provides for the garden solely. You’d think with all that storage drought wouldn’t be one of my biggest issues right now, would you?
The problem is that access to water in my community is a sporadic thing. So those of us who have stored water or boreholes end up sharing what we have until municipal water starts running again.
I’m never sure when the water will come back, so I ration to the water from the 10 000 litre tank very carefully, with every household allowed 40 litres daily, where there are no children, and 80 litres for households that have children. So far, the system sort of works for all of us – my gate is always open, and everyone knows how much they can take.
But, back to food gardening, my conundrum is this: how can I water my food garden, which is supposed to provide up to 80% of our vegetables and 100% of our herbs, when my neighbours don’t even have water to drink, cook, bath or flush their toilets? I’m afraid it would feel like a slap in their faces to watch me “throw water onto the ground,” when they need it to drink. So for now, I don’t water my garden. Much.
My poor garden is still standing though. And it’s still productive, though not as much as I would like. Here are some of the strategies I’ve employed /plan to employ to aid my food garden’s survival:
Phokeng is always hot in late Spring and Summer and rain remains sporadic due to the climate. So right from the beginning, I’ve had to learn optimal times to plant so that by the time the daily heat is high, my plants have a strong hold on the ground.
Choose Plants That Do Well With Limited Water
I’m still struggling with my plant selection, trying to find vegetables that can survive prolonged droughts and heat year after year, but which my family will enjoy eating. It’s no use growing cactus-based plants if my family won’t eat it!
So far, I’ve found that root vegetables like carrots, beetroot and onion do OK but not wonderfully, in drought periods. I also struggle with cabbage, though kale and rape do well enough. For now, my garden is restricted to very basic crops: greens like spinach, chard, kale and rape; a variety of beans, zucchini (summer squash) and artichokes. My onion and leeks are struggling. It is my hope they’ll survive the dry spell.
Mulching Is Necessary
Irrigation is not only about watering the garden; it’s about retaining whatever moisture the soil may already have. Unfortunately, I learned that the hard way.
Reduce Competition For Water In The Soil
When there are big amounts of rain, I’m happy to let my garden to grow wild and for seeds from previous seasons to unexpectedly sprout and surprise me. Unfortunately, when there is a water shortage I don’t have that luxury. All the weeds and unplanned seedlings have to go, so that the crops that I’m nursing through the process can have as much water as the soil can retain.
Grey Water Adds Much-Needed Moisture
So far we water with grey water when we remember to carry it out of the house with buckets. It’s hard work. But it’s worth it, because I can water my garden without any feelings of guilt. So next time I have two cents to rub together, I’m going to invest in a piping system from the house, so the water automatically goes to the garden.
Collect Rain Water (When It Comes)
When I was growing up, my grandfather had several tanks collecting rainwater from the roof gutters. We used some of the water for the garden, and the rest for laundry and cleaning in order to save money on the petrol we required to run the generator for the borehole. When we began to get municipal water, we relaxed on that, thinking we didn’t need to collect rainwater anymore. That was a mistake. It’s better to collect as much rainwater as we can, when we can, so that we have some stored for dry periods such as this one.
Cover And Shade
My garden is a busy mix of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, all interspersed. Long-term, the fruit trees will provide shade for plants that are sensitive to the sun, so that they can grow midsummer without going crispy. Big leafy plants such as artichokes also provide shade for smaller plants like chives, spring onions and “cut and come again” lettuce.
Mostly, I find myself constantly re-evaluating my gardening practices to check if they can help me keep my family fed while also using as little water as possible. What can I change without compromising my crops? What can I do in terms of planning for the medium-term because clearly, this drought is not a once-off thing? Chances are, next year and the year after will also be dry, and as a result, food prices will keep climbing and my garden will become a critical part of my regular food supply.
I hope that other gardeners will also start exploring this topic and proposing possible solutions that can help those of us who rely on our gardens for most of our meals.
Feeling sluggish, bloated and uncomfortable? Fear not! I have the perfect “antidote”. This Miracle Morning Tonic is a simple and highly effective way to cleanse, repair and energize the body. This is something that I drink every single morning as I wake up, and I absolutely swear by it! Even if I am on holiday I will make sure to bring along my special ingredients so that I can enjoy the benefits of this miraculous drink.
Although this concoction may at first glance appear to be something that you would rather not drink, like ever, I can assure you that it truly works wonders for keeping the gut healthy and happy. You will see and feel the difference within just a few days, after which you will never want to miss a morning without your Miracle Morning Tonic. The powerful combination of these detoxifying ingredients (listed below) work together to cleanse the gut, promote digestion, eliminate bloating and boost the metabolism.
So how do you make it? So simple, really! Here goes…
You will need:
- 1 litre boiled spring water – please make sure this is spring water!
- 1 fresh lemon – cut into slices – alkalises the system and promotes the breakdown of fat
- 1 tbsp. oolong tea leaves (can also use green tea leaves) – boosts metabolism, detoxifies the system and contains anti-cancer properties
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper – boosts metabolism and detoxifies the system
- 1 tsp. cinnamon – boosts metabolism and acts as an anti-inflammatory
- 1 tbsp. raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar – promotes fat loss and contains probiotics to aid in digestion
- 1 tbsp. liquid probiotic of choice (optional)
- 1 tbsp. raw honey
- 1 glass jar to hold 1 litre of water
- Cut fresh lemon into thin slices and place into glass jar, add apple cider vinegar, honey, cinnamon, cayenne and probiotic.
- Boil spring water and allow to cool for a few minutes. Do not add water immediately after boiling as this will burn the spices.
- Once cooled, add water to jar, stir vigorously with a spoon to ensure that all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- For every serving, simply warm a mug full of the liquid in a small pot on high heat until liquid begins to boil. Please use a stove for heating, no microwaves, as these destroy all the goodness of the ingredients! Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly and enjoy!
For the best results, make sure that you drink your Miracle Morning Tonic as you wake up, first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. I like to make a 1 litre jug which lasts up to 4 days if refrigerated and stored in a glass jar. Allowing these healing ingredients to soak in the water for a good amount of time is even more beneficial, as all their healthful properties are absorbed into the water. And voila! There you have it. Your metabolism boosting, bloat curing, gut cleansing, body detoxing Miracle Morning Tonic! Go on…try it out..a new morning ritual that will do you wonders!
Ok so this post is two-fold… on the one hand we have a simple delicious juice and on the other we have a naughty juice… a.k.a. a cocktail. We could all use a little health AND a little naughtiness to help us get the weekend started :)
One of my favorite things about summer is that watermelon is in season. I could subsist on watermelon. It’s versatile, delicious, and the health benefits go on and on. Here are a few:
- Low in sugar and calories
- Natural diuretic (yay for kidney health!)
- High in antioxidants
- Natural electrolyte (hello, post-workout food)
- Can reduce body fat
Yum. While you can put watermelon through a juicer, it’s not really necessary. The fruit is so high in water that it’s worth keeping the pulp and just popping some chunks into the blender.
handful of mint
2 cups of chopped watermelon
Blend the watermelon. Juice the cucumber and mint. Mix the two. Voila!
- chopped watermelon
- champagne/sparkling wine (just make sure it’s dry, the watermelon adds sweetness and you don’t want a sickly sweet cocktail)
- mint to garnish (optional)
1. Blend the watermelon until smooth.
2. Fill a champagne flute 2/3 of the way with champagne, then carefully top with the watermelon juice.
These pink delights go down WAY too easy. Delicious, refreshing, simple, and screaming summer.
When it comes to exercising through pregnancy, it’s not a case of one size fits all. Exercise opportunities depend largely on what your fitness levels are, which trimester you’re in and how you’re feeling. One thing that is unanimous, though, is that exercise is important! It can help minimize aches and pains, improve your sleep and even lower your risk of gestational diabetes and depression. Your labour and birth process could even improve! And getting back in shape afterwards won’t be as challenging. If you’re pregnant and discovering that your moods and energy levels aren’t as predictable as always, here are a few options that might make exercising easier for you.
Some General Exercise Rules
Always consult your Ob-Gyn before new exercise habits: While it’s usually best to stick with what you were doing pre-pregnancy, there is no reason why new forms of fitness can’t be beneficial and safe. Whatever you choose, get the go ahead from the doc beforehand.
Improve your skincare habits: Pregnancy hormones can leave your skin more sensitive to sun damage. Always factor in an SPF when you’re exercising outdoors.
Plot your potty breaks: Bladder control is of prime concern as you move up in your trimesters. Whatever the exercise discipline, have an idea of how quickly you can get to a toilet while you’re there.
Avoid dehydration at all costs: Sufficient water is even more important during pregnancy, as low water levels could initiate early labour.
Listen to your body: It won’t be capable of what it was before pregnancy, and there will be days when a light walk is a better idea than an hour of hard exercise. Go with your gut feeling.
Exercises For Every Mood and Energy Level
If You’re Feeling: TIRED
Why: Whether it’s first trimester nausea or final trimester baby weight that’s left you feeling exhausted, walking is the easiest exercise to undertake. It doesn’t take much mental commitment to head out for a walk, and you can add a little intensity with a few speedier intervals or gentle inclines if you feel like it. You can even up the ante with toning shoes for a slightly more intense walk and an increased number of calories burned. Add even more incentive by taking your route past kid-friendly parks. You’ll be too distracted by your research to notice you’re exercising.
Precautions: Your feet are likely to swell during your pregnancy, especially during your final trimester. Too-tight shoes can leave you susceptible to foot injuries and imbalance, so it’s better to take a size up. Also stick to familiar routes and avoid uneven terrain.
Why: You aren’t as susceptible to falling or injury, you won’t overheat and your joints will be spared 50% of the impact.Swimming is an ideal, low-impact exercise for women in the later stages of their term and feels a lot less strenuous than a session on the treadmill.
Precautions: Pregnant women don’t only run a risk from high temperatures. They need to avoid chillier ones as well, so steer clear of freezing water. If you think you’re prone to slipping, wear aqua shoes in the shallower areas.
If You’re Feeling: Stressed
Why: Hiking is a wonderful way to get outdoors and enjoy your environment while also improving your cardio and strength fitness. The fresh air and connection to nature will also work wonders on your mood, and a scenic path acts as a natural destressor.
Precautions: Opt for a steady terrain – save the bundu-bashing or explorative routes for post-pregnancy. Check that your current hiking shoes are still meeting your needs and consider taking hiking poles along for added stability. Always take a buddy along for your hikes too.
Why: The prospect of a new baby accompanied by changing hormones can leave you a little on the edgy side. Yoga not only strengthens your core and improves flexibility, with its emphasis on breathing and meditation it fosters a sense of calm. New studies have even shown women’s depressive symptoms to decrease steadily during consistent yoga training, while mindfulness increased.
Precautions: In the second half of your pregnancy, avoid exaggerated twists and movements that tug on your belly, as well as those that require you to lie on your back or belly for longer than a few seconds. Inversions like headstands and shoulder stands are a no-no.
If You’re Feeling: Energetic
Why: Some of the lucky few pregnant women sail through their terms with little aggravation. If you’ve been blessed this way, you can have a blast with a Zumba session. The hip rolling and core conditioning in this standing ab workout works your pushing muscles, while the choreographed moves improve your ever-changing sense of coordination and balance. A lot of women lose confidence during their pregnancy, so you’ll feel sexier with all the hip shaking as an added bonus. You’ll also burn a ton of calories in the process.
Precautions: Stick to the indoor/studio classes versus natural environments with potentially uneven grounds. Your teacher should be trained in prenatal exercise, so make sure she shows you modifications to the usual moves, particularly those with a lot of bending and twisting. These classes can also up your intensity without you realizing it, so make sure you can sing along to the music at all times. If you’re lucky, there may even be an aqua-Zumba in your area, which minimizes impact to nearly zero.
Why: Cycling can ease back pain, boost your mood and improve sleep, which means spinning does just the same. Spin classes are often a go-to exercise for those who love the ‘runner’s high’ and have plenty of energy to expend. Opting for a stationary bike versus cycling outdoors is also a necessary precaution during pregnancy.
Precautions: Spinning classes can be intense – if you’re panting or gasping for breath you need to take it down a notch. Pregnancy is also not the time to join the keen-beans who stand during their spinning session, as it adds intensity and can stress extra-flexible joints. If you’re finding your lower back is suffering, relieve the tension by sitting back more – you’ll need to adjust the handlebars and bring them in a little closer to you.
If You’re Feeling: Strong
Your Normal Strength Routine
Why: If you were training hard before your pregnancy, there is no reason not to stay in the gym. Strength training is one of the best ways to minimize aches and pains, and weight machines are great as they control your range of motion, which is important as your joints increase in flexibility. Building upper body strength also helps with the biomechanics of motherhood – think lifting, bending and holding. A few modifications are all you need for a safe session, as well as aiming to maintain rather than build muscle.
Precautions: Steer clear of machines with pads that press on your belly, and give any exercises with overhead lifts a skip – these can increase the curve in your lower spine during pregnancy. Make sure that any advice you seek on modifying your workouts comes from a credible professional.
Why: Pilates helps maintain a powerful core, which will support your growing belly, minimize back pain and give you strength during delivery. It is also an excellent non-impact form of strength training that boosts your mood and energy.
Precautions: There is a lot of mat work in Pilates, which will mean modifications as you progress through your pregnancy. Make sure your Pilates instructor is skilled in prenatal training, or seek out a pregnancy-focused class. An angled foam spine support (found in most Pilates studios) will help keep your head higher than your belly during flat back exercises.
If You’re Feeling: Nervous
Prenatal Fitness Classes
Why: Pregnancy is not a smooth trip for many, and moms are often nervous – especially if it’s their first time. If you have access to prenatal exercise classes, sign up! Not only are the workouts modified for your pregnancy for a guaranteed safe experience, you’ll have the support of other moms-to-be in the class who are also going through what you’re going through.
Precautions: Almost none! If you’ve checked out the credibility of the instructor, you should be in very safe hands. Prenatal instructors will also be more sensitive to your needs and moods than the average instructor.
Why: If you’re determined to keep fit, sessions with a personal trainer are one of the safest ways to do it. You enjoy the company of an expert when it comes to modifying traditional exercises, and you’ll have the security of someone double checking your safety the whole way through your session.
Precautions: Credentials are a big one – make sure your trainer comes highly recommended by other moms-to-be.
Undergoing mindful detoxification is a great way to assist our body’s natural detox mechanisms to remove excess toxins more effectively. In theory, our bodies are supposed to be continuously undergoing detoxification. Our lymphatic system, lungs, skin, liver, and kidneys function specifically to breakdown toxins, purify our blood, and remove unwanted substances from the body. However, these natural metabolic detoxification mechanisms can be hindered due to the prevalence of:
- High stress levels
- Poor nutrition
- Lack of sleep
- Insufficient exercise
- Consumption of pharmaceuticals
- Exposure to pollutants, pesticides and chemicals in the air, water, food
As a result, are bodies are unable to efficiently remove all toxins, which then build up over time and cause us to feel sluggish, fatigued, bloated and constipated. Undergoing a detox, is therefore a great way to help our bodies along by recharging our natural detox mechanisms so that they operate optimally.
Think of detoxing as a way to help your body towards become more efficient in cleansing itself from the inside out. When we detox, we help our liver, kidneys, lungs, skin and lymphatic system to remove unwanted toxins more efficiently. When our bodies are in an optimum state of detoxification, we feel energised, and cleansed. Detoxing the body helps to reduce gas, eliminate bloating, prevent constipation, remove impurities from the skin, improve digestion and promote a healthful glow.
There are many ways through which we can effectively cleanse our system:
- Nourishing the body optimally by eliminating all processed foods
- Engaging in rigorous exercise regularly to remove excess toxins through perspiration
- Undergoing colon cleanses to filter the intestines
- Purifying massages to draw out toxins
- Spending time in a sauna or steam room
- Hot yoga
Detoxing really doesn’t have to become an overly-extreme, ‘liquids-only’ process. Detoxing simply means mindfully nourishing our bodies with the right nutrients to promote the removal of unwanted toxins. Eating wholefoods that include plenty of steamed veggies, leafy greens, lean chicken and fish, wholegrains, and legumes, drinking loads of water and unsweetened herbal tea, will effectively and efficiently promote detoxification without having to starve, or undergo liquid detoxes.
It is also important to remember that detoxing requires a holistic approach in order to be truly effective: Proper nutrition in addition to sufficient rest, exercise, and mental cleansing are imperative for the detox to have full effect. It is all good and well eating properly, but if we are exhausted and stressed, our toxins will replenish quickly which will undo any good we have just done nutritionally.
Some Do's on a Detox:
- Do exclude processed foods, sugars, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, carbonated beverages, store-bought sauces, dairy, and heavy meats – these are the key perpetrators for toxin accumulation and should be avoided completely.
- Do eat lots of leafy greens, lean fish and chicken, legumes and wholegrains such as rolled oats, quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice.
- Do exercise 3-4 times a week. Try opt for exercises that really get you to sweat as this will improve your mood, reduce stress and ultimately promote detoxification even further through perspiration.
- Do get plenty of sleep – at least 8 hours every night.
- Do engage in regular meditation to relieve stress, calm the mind and control your thoughts. Remember, your thoughts can be just as toxic as poison to the body!
- Do continue to exclude the above listed foods post-detox. You can re-introduce meat and dairy if you wish, but first see how your body feels when you eat them – you may find that you feel better without them. It is not the end of the world if you treat yourself on the occasion, but don’t allow processed foods back into your daily diet – they are both unnecessary and toxic!
- Do drink plenty of water, unsweetened herbal teas, and detox water to keep hydrated and flush out toxins. I love to infuse slices of cucumber and strawberries into my water to promote detoxification and to give my water a delicious and refreshing taste.
Don’t be afraid to listen to your body. So many of us become so fixated with prescriptive time-frames, methods and diets, which prevent us from tuning in to our bodies to really understand what they actually need. Your body will tell you when it is time for another cleanse.
Low energy levels, fatigue, poor digestion, bloating, gas, skin breakouts, unexplained weight-gain, high levels of stress, fogginess, and poor concentration are typical tell-tale signs that your body is not detoxifying itself effectively. Monitor yourself continuously to assess where your body is at; see if you experience any of these symptoms, and then decide if you need to detox again. It really is all about getting to know your body better and working with it to enhance its natural detoxification mechanisms. Most importantly, try to maintain a clean diet on a permanent basis to ensure that your body is always detoxing optimally.