What is coaching anyway?

Let’s play a game. Can you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions?

There’s a gap between where I am now and where I want to be

I can make and keep appointments to work on my goal(s)

I’m committed to do the work required and take action to get to where I want to be

I’m willing to change any self-defeating behaviours and beliefs that limit my success

I am willing to try new things, even if I’m not yet 100% convinced they will work

More than three yes’s? Then coaching is what you need.

So what is coaching anyway?

Essentially, coaching is a future-focused conversation with a trained professional. A conversation that’s 100% about you and helping you think differently about things you’ve previously felt stuck or unclear about. It’s action-oriented. Coaching gets you results.

Why do I need a coach?

Put simply, because it will get you where you want to be faster than if you go it alone.

A good coach will help you to bring out the best of yourself so that you feel confident in your abilities, have clarity on what you want and stay motivated to overcome the tricky patches.

Whatever your challenge, a professional coach can help you unpick the challenge or issue at hand, and define a way to overcome it.

The idea is that the more you learn and understand about yourself, the more equipped you’ll be to navigate your health journey and make choices that will make you happy and fulfilled. Along the way, your coach can help you recognise your strengths, address the habits that are supporting you, or maybe getting in your way, and help you find ways to overcome obstacles. 

How does coaching work?

Whatever the challenge, your coach will ask you lots of questions aimed at raising your own awareness and helping you see things from a new perspective.

Then they’ll work with you to break the issue down, clarify your goals and help you define your own way forward. Importantly, you’ll leave every session with clear actions to take. No fluff here, this is about results and getting you where you want to be, no matter your start point. 

Coaching is most effective over a series of sessions. We say that 90% of the work is done in between sessions because that’s when it’s up to you to use the new insights you’ve gained or take the action you decided on.

Each session is a touchpoint to talk about any challenges or successes since the last time, and decide what you want to do next. 

How do I get the best out of coaching?

Most people find coaching an empowering and liberating experience but, like anything, you get out what you put in, so you need to come prepared with an open mind and it’s helpful to think about what you want to get out of the session before you start. Time, commitment and honesty (with yourself as much as with your coach) are all you really need.

Grain Free Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

The school holidays are the perfect time to get in the kitchen with the kids and get creative. And we all know how hungry the kids are during the holidays!

These chocolate brownies have been a hit in our house this weekend.

Slightly tweaked recipe from previous brownies and it has taken a bit of trial and error – but that’s what baking is all about for me. I love experimenting with flavours and recipes.

Ingredients

1 cup cacao powder

1 cup almond meal

½ tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

½ cup coconut oil

½ packed cup grated zucchini

1 ¼ cup almond milk

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

100gm vegan dark chocolate chopped.

Method

Preheat oven to 180degreesC. Line a 20cm square tin.

Add ACV to almond milk and set aside. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Add remaining ingredients to the buttermilk bowl and stir. Pour into the dry mix and combine. Stir through the chopped chocolate.

Bake for 40mins. The cake should be slightly sticky.

I like to bake this in the evening as it sets well overnight.

Icing is optional. I used 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 3 tablespoons cacao, 1 tablespoon of maples syrup. Melt the oil and mix through the ingredients.  Spread onto the brownie once it has completely cooled and set.

Enjoy!

Magnesium – are you getting enough?

Magnesium is a mineral essential for over 300 enzymatic systems in the body, many of which relate to brain and nervous system function. Inadequate intake of magnesium is linked to cardiovascular disease, metabolic diseases, skeletal disorders and neurological abnormalities.

Magnesium and mental wellbeing

Magnesium comes up a lot when talking about muscle cramp relief, exercise recovery and sleep. However, magnesium is also a very beneficial mineral when it comes to supporting your body to adapt to stress and promoting mental wellbeing.

Magnesium has been shown to help reduce the release of hormones, which lead to over activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which plays a role in our stress response. Over activation of this axis is associated with increased stress and lower stress tolerance, which can lead to poor mental health such as increased anxiety and low mood.

Magnesium is also an important co-factor necessary to help synthesise neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, a deficiency in either of these can lead to symptoms of depression, nervousness, inability to concentrate and anxiety.

While magnesium is beneficial for stress, being in a state of prolonged stress can lead to depletion of magnesium.

How much magnesium do we need?

The Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand state that the recommended dietary intake for adults is:

Men
19-30 years: 400mg/day
31+ years: 420mg/day

Women
19-30 years: 310mg/day
31+ years: 320mg/day

Food sources of Magnesium

Look at the list I have prepared below – are you consuming enough magnesium?

100g cocoa = 510mg
100g chia seeds = 335mg
100g sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds = 425mg
100g almonds = 260mg
100g cashews = 250mg
100g uncooked oats = 100mg
100g dried figs = 73mg
100g firm tofu = 78mg
100g raw spinach = 68mg
100g cooked quinoa = 56mg
100g cooked black beans = 49mg
100g boiled brown rice = 49mg
100g green or brown cooked lentils = 31mg
100g cooked red kidney bean = 30mg
1 medium banana = 30mg
100g cooked chickpeas = 27mg
100g raw rocket = 23mg
100g cooked salmon = 34mg
100g cooked chicken breast = 27mg
100g cooked beef = 26mg
100g natural yoghurt = 17mg
1 boiled egg = 5mg

Try this Magnesium rich Chocolate Banana Smoothie for a delicious magnesium boost

Chocolate Banana Smoothie

Ingredients
1 cup soy milk
1 medium banana
20g avocado
10g baby spinach leaves
20g cocoa/cacao
20g chia seeds
honey to sweeten
ice, optional

Method

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Intermittent Fasting – is it right for me?

Intermittent fasting is the voluntary abstinence from food for a prolonged period of time.

Traditionally many cultures and religions have used fasting in their practises.

Some Christians follow lent.  The Muslim religion has Ramadan where fasting is observed for 29-30 days during the daylight hours.

Buddhist monks and nuns following Vinaya rules commonly do not eat each day after the noon meal, aiding in meditation and good health.

Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term for various eating diet plans that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting over a defined period. Intermittent fasting is under preliminary research to assess if it can produce weight loss comparable to long-term calorie restriction.

Many believe that fasting is the most ancient secret to good health.

There have been many studies on various intermittent fasting diets that show that intermittent fasting can improve health and successfully aid in weight loss.

For the purpose of this paper I would like to further explore:

  • Periodic fasting (where, once every few months you cut your food intake down for 5 days in a row)
  • The 5:2 approach (where you restrict your calories for 2 days a week)
  • Time Restricted Eating (where you restrict your eating to a narrow time window)

Periodic Fasting

Professor Valter Longo, one of the leading experts on human ageing believes in the power of fasting to delay aging. Periodic Fasting claims to activate a process called autophagy which means ‘self eat’. Autophagy acts to eat up dead, diseased, worn out cells. It is triggered by fasting and stops when the fast is broken (https://valterlongo.com/ VAlter Longo Foundation).

Periodic fasting also claims to regenerate cells faster. So, when you fast your system tries to save energy and recycles a lot of the immune cells that are not needed. When the fast is broken it triggers the creation of new more active white blood cells. (Valter Longo).

Short periods of fasting have been shown to regenerate the immune system (Longo, Valter et al 2014)

A 2012 Human trial conducted by Valter Longo of a 4 day fast resulted in IGF1 levels decrease (Insulin like Growth Factor -1) which is a measure of cancer risk.  Valter concluded that regular bouts of short term fasting can reduce your risk of a variety of cancers. And, that fasting could assist with making chemotherapy more effective by slowing down the growth of cells to help protect the healthy cells during treatment.  (https://valterlongo.com)

He also recognised the difficulty of fasting for patients while undertaking chemo therapy and there are current trials on an 800 calorie diet to try to mimic this approach.

5:2 Approach

The general idea behind the 5:2 diet is calorie restriction on the two (non-consecutive) given days. That is, for two of the 7 days in each week, you eat very low calorie (but high in nutrition) foods, while the other 5 days you can eat what you would usually eat. This diet isn’t a full fast, but is a carefully planned eating plan for a couple of days each week.

The two days of fasting requires you to keep your intake below a set number of calories: 500 for women, 600 for men. The normal average calorie intake is 2000.

5:2 Raised blood sugar and heart health

The diet has shown to reduce the HbA1C levels. This haemoglobin is chemically linked to glucose. The formation of the sugar and haemoglobin linkage indicates the presence of excessive sugar in the bloodstream, often indicative of diabetes. A1C is of particular interest as it is easy to detect.

A human study concluded that intermittent fasting can reverse Type 2 Diabetes (Therapeutic use of Intermittent fasting for people with Type 2 diabetes as an Alternative to Insulin https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6194375/)

The study was of 3 patients all on medication to manage their diabetes. The most noteworthy outcome from this case series is the complete discontinuation of insulin in all three patients.

It was noted that caloric restriction and weight loss are important factors for remission of T2 diabetes.

The study concludes that therapeutic fasting can provide superior blood glucose reduction compared with standard pharmacological agents.

A 2018 study shows that modest weight loss of 5-10% have been associated with significant improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors (eg decreased HbA1C levels. Reduced blood pressure, increase in HDL cholesterol, decreased plasma triglycerides) in patients with T2 diabetes. The risk factor was reduced even more with a greater body weight percentage weight loss of 10-15% (Antoni R, Johnston KL et al. Intermittent v. Continuous energy restriction: differential effects on postprandial glucose and lipid metabolism following matched weight loss in overweight/obese participants. Br J Nutr., 2018. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29508693)

The 5:2 has also been found to have promising results for Brain disease and Breast cancer

TRE Time Restricted Eating

Time restricted eating is not a new diet but rather an ancient ritual that has been observed by both religious and cultural groups.

The two most popular fasting schedules which have become popular amongst body builders and celebrities is the 12:12 fasting:eating or the 16:8 fasting:eating. There have been some studies indicating that the 16:8 is the most beneficial.

According to Dr Satchin Panda, Professor at the Salk Institute in San Diego, one of the worlds leading research centres for biomedicine in San Diego, most of your body’s fat burning occurs 6-8hours after your last meal.

A human trial of TRE found that after 10 weeks, a group that had gone without food for an additional 3 hours per day had lost more body fat, and had bigger falls in blood sugar levels and cholesterol.

Contradictions

A recent clinical trial with 43 participants conducted comparing Continuing Energy Restriction (CER) and Intermittent Energy Restriction (IER) concluded that reductions in body weight were similar.

Fasting plasma glucose concentrations decreased after CER but not after IER (mean difference CER–IER – 4.8% (0.7, 8.9), P < 0.05) and fasting plasma non-esterified fatty acid concentrations were lower after IER compared to CER (mean difference CER–IER 0.15 mmol/L (0.06, 0.24), P < 0.005). There were no differences in lipids, adipokine/inflammatory markers, ABP or HRV between diets (Pinto et al)

They concluded that short-term CER or IER diets are comparable in their effects on most markers of cardiometabolic risk, although adaptive changes in glucose and fatty acid metabolism occur.

A major assumption that intermittent fasting makes is that the food that is being consumed on the non-fasting days along with the restricted or fasting days will still equal a calorie deficit. Eating healthy on non fasting days does not mean that a calorie deficit will be maintained as eating ‘healthy” can mean a lot of different things to many people.

Another consideration is that on the fasting days or low calorie days are foods from different groups being consumed. If a patient is eating the same foods over and over again there could be risk of nutrient deficiencies.

There is more quality research coming through on intermittent fasting and more human trials that I could cover in this paper.

Many books on how to fast and recipe books for fasting diets have been published creating a small market of products.

If a patients chooses to go on this diet they will need to ensure that they are taking in quality healthy ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and lean protein.

There could be a risk associated with grains and fruit being omitted from the diet as these are generally higher in calories.

In conclusion, a wholefoods diet would be favourable over intermittent fasting in the first instance. If a patient is unable to lose weight on a wholefoods diet then calorie restriction or one of the fasting techniques outlined here could assist in restricting calories. Intermittent fasting could add value as a tool to assist calorie restriction and weight loss if other more gentle approaches have not been successful. Intermittent fasting isn’t a ‘magic’ remedy for reversing diabetes or heart health but a valuable tool to help patients lose weight if they haven’t been able to previously.

References

  • https://valterlongo.com/ Valter Longo Foundation/PKA to promote Hematopoietic-Stem-Cell-Based Regeneration and Reverse Immunosuppression. Cell Stem Cell, 2014; 14(6)
  • Valter D. Longo et al. Prolonged Fasting Reduces IGF-1
  • Therapeutic use of Intermittent fasting for people with Type 2 diabetes as an alternative to Insulin https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6194375/
  • Antoni R, Johnston KL et al. Intermittent v. Continuous energy restriction: differential effects on postprandial glucose and lipid metabolism following matched weight loss in overweight/obese participants. Br J Nutr., 2018. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29508693
  • Pinto et al (2019) Intermittent Energy Restriction is comparable to Continuous Energy Restriction for Cardiometabolic Health in Adults with central obesity; A randomised controlled trial.

GRAIN FREE VEGAN ALMOND COOKIES

Everyone loves a cookie (or two).

That morning coffee indulgence, or 3pm (or even midnight) snack.

These cookies are packed full of almonds. And with the added Tahini which is also rich in healthy fats, amino acids as well as essential vitamins and minerals. Tahini is packed full of all the goodness as well as being high in calcium.

Tahini can also help to balance hormones. Hormones plays an important role in managing our weight, sleep, hunger cues, libido, mood and our sanity! When our hormones are off balance from poor lifestyle habits and food choices we feel it pretty quickly. 

If balancing hormones is your #1 priority this is the most delicious place to start, full of good fats, protein and nutrients your hormones (and taste buds) are going to love you for this!

Here is my recipe for the simplest & easiest minimum effort  

5 I N G R E D I E N T Grain Free Vegan Almond cookies with Tahini.

A good option to make weekly if you want to snack better at 3pm.
I was just able to take a photo before these were inhaled.

Can substitute maple syrup for honey if you are happy to have a non-vegan option.

RECIPE

Vegan Almond Cookies
2 cups almond meal
3/4 cup tahini
1/3 cup maple syrup
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of the best quality vanilla extract you can get.

I’ve used sesame seeds as an optional garnish.

Mix all ingredients and roll into 12 balls. Press gently with the back of a fork (or don’t). Place on tray and press down ever so slightly. Bake for 10 mins in a pre-heated oven at 160c (or until they are lightly browned).

Moist and Decadent Vegan Chocolate Cake

This cake is the moistest most decadent chocolate cake you will ever eat. There is nothing healthy about this cake – I think if you want to have chocolate cake then you should have chocolate cake!

I am replacing our family chocolate cake recipe with this one – it will be at every birthday party from now on. Not because it is vegan (we have one vegan in our house) but because it was minimal effort for an amazing cake! Noone even knew it was vegan (except my daughter).

The kids thought it was the best chocolate cake ever and devoured it. We were all eying off the last slice.

If you wanted to be fancy and show off or needed a dinner party dessert you could always decorate with raspberries and toasted coconut.

Ingredients

375g dark (70% or darker) chocolate, chopped

2 x 400ml cans coconut milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups self-raising flour (or can replace half of this quantity with almond meal)

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tablespoons cocoa

Method

Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan-forced. Grease a 6cm-deep, 20cm round cake pan. Line base and side with baking paper.

Place 150g of the chocolate, 2½ cups of the coconut milk and the vanilla in a microwavesafe bowl. Microwave on HIGH (100%), stirring every 30 seconds, for 1 minute 30 seconds or until mixture is smooth.

Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and cocoa into a large bowl. Make a well. Add chocolate mixture. Whisk to combine. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Place remaining chocolate and coconut milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH stirring every 30 seconds, for 1 minute 30 seconds or until mixture is smooth. Stand for 2 hours to thicken slightly.

Split cake in half horizontally. Spread 1/2 the ganache over bottom half of cake. Top with remaining half. Spread remaining ganache over top of cake.

Healthy Thai Green Curry

I NEVER want my clients eating a boring, monotonous diet. Eating the same mundane food day in and day out is only going to intensify those cravings and lead you back to square one.

Life is about flavour. It’s about enjoying your meals.

This Thai Green Curry recipe is a great way to spice up your weekday meals while still eating healthy.

Green curry paste is usually spicy. You can substitute for yellow paste which is a bit more mild.

If you’re feeding kids that don’t like chilli, you can always sprinkle the chilli on your own dish when you serve.

Here’s what you need: 
2 tbsp coconut oil 
2 tbsp green curry paste 
1 onion, chopped 
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 cup chopped spinach
1 cup green beans
1 red capsicum, cut into strips 
3 carrots, sliced
1 zucchini, chopped 
1 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp black pepper 
1/2 tsp chili flakes 
1 tbsp coconut sugar 
1 can full fat coconut milk 
1/2 lime 
4 tbsp fresh basil (chopped)

Directions: 
1. In a heated pan, add 1 tbsp coconut oil. Add in the curry paste and fry for 1 minute. 
2. Add in chopped onion and cook for approximately 5 minutes (until translucent) 
3. Add in garlic and the other tbsp of coconut oil. Then add in all of your vegetables. Add in the  salt, pepper, chili flakes, coconut sugar and stir everything together. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes.
4. Add in the coconut milk and let simmer for 5 minutes. Squeeze in lime and remove from the stove top. 
5. Add the basil on top. I served mine with baked tofu and brown rice!