FITNESS-FRIDAY: Foods You Definitely Must Avoid If You Want to Get in Shape

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Black coffee and hours of pondering didn’t fetch me a conclusion as to what should be my next fitness blog topic. Even the internet which is flooded with content these days, could not rescue me from this dilemma. According to statistics, 15% and 23% of the internet population searched for what to eat before they hit the gym, and what to eat post gym respectively. Out of all these, the thing which gained my attention was that only 7% were actually worried about what not to eat pre-or post-workout. Let’s cut the cake and go a little further and talk about what not to eat at all, to attain maximum results while they are sweating it out.

Regardless of whether you work out to lose weight, build muscles, enhance health or compete in sports, what you eat before, during and after a workout plays a major role in attaining results. Ideally, you should fuel the body properly to achieve the best performance, without feeling weak, sluggish or nauseous. What you eat should assist you in enhancing your workout. It will assist you in gaining more power, more muscles, less fat or whatever your personal goals are. So, I’m listing down few of the choices you should keep yourself away from:

White bread

They are high on GI (Glycemic Index). It is an index which measures blood sugar level. So, the next time you’re up in the store and thinking of picking up the white loaf. Just stop then and there and pick up the brown loaf. You get the same thing but with the better nutrients.

Alcohol

This is one thing most people won’t compromise on when they want to kick start their weekend on a high note. But the bad news is that regular consumption of alcohol is unhealthy for your body, as it puts more stress on your body. Thus, asking for more antioxidants. The antioxidants which are used to help muscle recovery are instead used in metabolizing the alcohol. So even if you are not able to curb your craving don’t exceed your consumption for more than 2 drinks. (Rum or Vodka)

Dry fruits

Most of them suggests that it is one the best evening snacks, but I would like to disagree with the fact that it provides all the required nutrients. Dried or dehydrated fruit contain Sulphur and added sugar and the removal of water from it allows us to overeat. You consume a lot of calories by eating dried fruits as compared to eating a fresh apple or any fruit. The amount of water percentage determines that how your body digests the fruit. So, next time pick an apple over dried fruits.

Processed Cheese

Processed cheese contains more calories as compared to unprocessed cheese. It also contains emulsifiers, which help keep the fatty and non-fatty ingredients mixed together.

Packaged salad

Again high on calories and can turn your healthy meal into a fat bomb.

Ice cream

When your objective is to stay healthy and trim, you cannot choose this as an option in the diet chart. This is very high on calories and fat. Processed sugar which is used in making Ice cream can be harmful for your health.

Fried foods

The tinge of oil and a twinkle of cheese might enhance the taste of your cuisine, but will not help in reducing your fat midsection. The oil is high in saturated oils.

So, guys, these are the things, that I invariably keep out of my diet cart. Make sure you do the same if you are willing to lead a healthy life. Hustle up!

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The 4 Stages of Self-Love

I have recently found Dr. Ross Rosenberg’s work around codependents and emotional manipulators. I am currently reading his book “The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us” and it has been an incredible journey to the roots of my own codependency symptoms.

Codependents have a “complete willingness to give love, respect and care to their relationship partners, without the hope or the possibility of receiving the same in return”. More often than not, codependents choose emotional manipulators as partners and rarely empower themselves to put an end in a relationship that makes them very unhappy and miserable.

There are many important things to say about codependency and emotional manipulation, but for now I would like to share the most important idea I got from one of Dr. Ross’ youtube videos: the cure for codependency is self-love. As Dr. Ross notes several times in the video, it might seem cliche, but the process of codependency recovery is about realising the power and importance of loving ourselves. And how do we do that? It is easier said than done, so I thought it would be nice to share Dr Ross’ four-stage approach with you.

Stage 1

Setting Boundaries 

When you finally decide to put a stop in all the abuse you have subjected yourself to, you will notice that the efforts to change how you react and deal with “pushy” and manipulative individuals will inevitably bring some level of conflict into your life. People were used to receive everything from you and when you stop giving them the benefits of having a relationship with you, they will start to complain. As a result, you may have to deal with some nasty reactions and in most cases the situation and climate between you and others can become really negative. Some people will try to persuade you to come back to your “old self” with arguments such as “you are not being nice”, which will easily make you feel pressured to return to your old habits and behaviours. Whatever happens, please stick to your new boundaries and rules.

Stage 2

Maintaining Boundaries in an Hostile Environment 

This is when you have to persist in face of doubt and hazardous situations. In this stage, some people will keep taunting and persuading you to give up on yourself. Others will be simply sad or surprised, but they will support you anyway. And others will simply walk away, because you stopped fuelling their egos and that was the main reason why they used to stick around you. Either way, the most important is that you keep focused in your own needs and the reason behind your wish of having a healthier relationship with yourself and others.

Stage 3

Building New Relationships 

After realising who loves you and who only brings you toxicity, it will be time to look for healthier relationships. You will finally look for mutuality, commitment, and interdependence. You will no longer accept to be in a relationship in which you give all of you and receive barely nothing in return. You will apply your new set of rules and lessons when developing a new relationship.

Stage 4

Reinforcing or Strengthening New Relationships

Once your new relationships are established, you want to keep taking care of them. This is when you explore healthy ways to keep bonding with others while still preserving your own needs and expectations at the same time. You will want to invest in others and request others to invest in you in a similar fashion.

3 Habits That Will Transform Your Life

Yesterday I started working on my eating and exercising habits. I feel it is time to commit more seriously to myself and ‘run’ those extra miles that I have been avoiding. Plus, I’m craving some sort of life transformation, and is there any better moment than now?

So I did a quick search, because there is no need to reinvent the wheel, and I found a couple of habits that are said to be part of the routine of multiple entrepreneurs. I think the most important thing about these habits is not exactly what you will get from them individually but the transformative energy you will generate while pursuing them.

Wake up earlier

Through all these years, I have never been able to wake up ‘that’ early (#5amclub). I do try it often but I always fail – the temptation to hit the snooze button is bigger than my expectations from the previous day. However, I have been able to wake up around 6am, so I will use that time reference to start with.

Workout regularly

Every time I set my mind to workout every day it doesn’t work. In the beginning, the idea sounds great but sooner or later it becomes too overwhelming. Since I’m at a beginner stage again, I will limit myself to walk at least 5 times a week and then review my workout goals later so I can start adding strength exercises to my routine. I will also write my workout commitments on my calendar, as if they were a work-related commitment.

Meditate

Meditation is really important and I can confirm all the good benefits you can get from doing it. I do need to practise either meditation or any other contemplative practise in order to be calmer and less reactive, so my aim is to start meditating for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening.

 

Addiction Recovery: The Critical Day 3

Last year, I went public here about my food addiction.

Since then I recovered at least twice from it and relapsed three times. Right now, I’m recovering from my third relapse and it’s Day 4. In a nutshell, uncertainty and the fail of another “almost relationship” led me here – well, actually, my ancient unhealthy mechanisms to deal with emotional pain drove me here.

In each relapse and recovery I learn something more. When looking back, this time I noticed that Day 3 is a very critical day and it’s usually the day I jeopardise all my recovery efforts. Day 3 is the day my body starts to kick out all the toxins. The result is an intense and paralysing headache, body aches, light sensitivity and nausea. And what do I (usually) do about pain? I eat (crap).

So yesterday my food cravings went up 200%. I could only think of gummy bears, Big Macs, french fries loaded with ketchup, chocolate cookies, donuts, and so on. I wanted to put everything in my mouth and spend the rest of the evening eating, so I would be distracted from the physical pain I was going through.

But suddenly I remembered the time I spent on the retreat doing my coaching certification. For one week, we did raw food fusion at every single meal. On the third day, I got the same reactions I was having yesterday: a paralysing headache, body aches, light sensitivity and nausea. It then struck me: the physical pain was part of the recovery process and in order to continue I had to be with it. If I gave up to the sweet taste of a whole box of donuts, I wouldn’t be able to reach the following step on my recovery journey and I would be back to stage zero.

Hence, instead of numbing the physical sickness with food, I did what I had done before when I was at the retreat: I laid down, I took the fetal position, closed my eyes and tried to fell asleep. In the next day, I was totally fine and the intense cravings were completely gone. This is exactly how I feel today – I have been thinking way less about food and my body feels much healthier on the inside, so I’m glad I managed to go beyond the Critical Day 3.

Finding and Giving Space to Your Own Voice

I have done a lot of work on myself to express my inner voice over the years. It has been a long way, from a super shy and introverted teenager to a young adult who is now brave enough to teach in a cinema room or reach out to people who are often perceived by others as “VIP” or powerful.

Earlier on, I knew I had to find my voice and speak up no matter what, if I really wanted my ideas and passions to fly away from my writer’s desk. I think I can say I have done a reasonable good job on putting myself out there whenever there’s the need to. With baby steps, I have overcame the fear of failure and social rejection. I go out there and I just allow myself to be whoever I am, with all the good, bad and ugly things that are part of me. Maybe that’s why some clients are signing up to work with me on the same problem I used to have. They want to find and give space to their own voice in the world and within themselves.

And maybe you face the same struggle. Maybe you are also afraid of looking silly, of doing mistakes or saying all the wrong things you can imagine when talking to someone you barely know. You know you have to overcome these barriers if you want to feel confident and safe out there, just as my clients and I did. So what’s stopping you?

I can’t say I know exactly what’s stopping you, but I can share with you what was stopping me at the time. Here is a short list of reasons I can recall from the top of my head:

  • I thought I was not an interesting person
  • I thought I had nothing to say that people would like to hear
  • I thought people would find me weird as soon as I started talking to them

Of course I don’t feel expansive and confident all the time – no one is! -, but I find myself much more at ease whenever I need to speak to 200 students, express my opinion in public or attend a business party. The acute anxiety and stress peaks are no longer as harsh as they used to be, and believe me I would be paralysed. So what helped me in those scenarios? Three particular thoughts that refute the thoughts I wrote above:

  • Everyone is interesting and therefore so am I
  • I’m not the one deciding whether people are or are not interested in what I say, that’s up to them
  • Everyone is weird and everyone is great, so why fear?

We spend much time in our heads, that’s our biggest problem. And we tend to think the whole world gravitates around us. Does it? The freckle you think someone will spot on you will probably go unnoticed, because just like you everyone else is too much in their own heads to acknowledge that maybe, maybe that one person in front of them is actually feeling the same way they are – anxious, awkward, stupid. So why prolong the suffering?

My final pieces of advice:

  • find your voice and give it space
  • be open, be yourself, be brave
  • focus on the process, be in the moment, forget about the outcomes

Healing Tiredness With The Four Elements

More often than not, whenever I sit on a bus I grab my smartphone and I go on Pinterest. So after reading this article here on screen time, I plead guilty. Nonetheless, I found something very interesting while I was searching for “tired” – and yes, lately I have been constantly tired and experiencing “brain fog” a lot.

What I found was one those images with a bunch of words in it which altogether make us have an ‘a-Ha!’ moment. It basically mentioned how the soil, water, air, and heat could “heal” and empower us. From there, I associated the saying with the four elements and I realised how it actually looked like a very clever way or system to reboot ourselves – especially when we are feeling tired.

The image said the following:

“Place your hands into soil to feel grounded. Wade in water to feel emotionally healed. Fill your lungs with fresh air to feel mentally clear. Raise your face to the heat of the sun and connect with that fire to heal your own immense power.” (Victoria Erickson)

Wasn’t this lady intelligent?

The soil is the Earth. Water is water and air is air, of course. Heat is the Fire. The four elements, right there. And the most interesting thing – or at least I find it so – is that I have noticed each of these benefits in myself. Let me offer you a couple of examples:

Earth

One of the best memories I have when I was a kid is being at my grandfather’s garden and sitting directly on the ground next to my cousin. We would play with the reddish soil around us and contemplate the big world from that lovely seat that nature provided us with. The feelings I recall from that experience are safety and security.

Water

In the last 9 months I spent in Portugal, I started to realise the great impact that diving in the sea had on my mood and energy. Since then, I am always waiting for summertime and the chance to immerse myself in the sea (plus, I love the salty taste afterwards).

Air

Another thing that deeply changes my mood and disposition is seeing myself in an open space – the greener, the better. Last week I went for a walk in the fields around our university and afterwards I felt so much at ease with myself and my whole life!

Fire

Ok, I’m a suspicious person to talk about this one, because I come from the land of the sun (Portugal) and I’m pretty much like a lizard – whenever the sun is out, I love being outside feeling it on my skin. And I love being tanned (who doesn’t, right?). But the great thing about being exposed to sunlight is the feeling of being somehow “recharged” or “reenergised”.

 

 

What about you? Have you experienced any of these “healing” properties of the four elements? I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

The 3 Signs That Tell You Whether You Are In The Right Path

In a previous post, I talked about life purpose and how you can reconnect with your own. What I shared with you was based on many insights that I got from reading once again the book “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. Since then, I have been focused on working on my life purpose and how to unlock the mission that underlies that same purpose.

So today I want to share with you three signs that will tell you whether you are following the right path or whether you are in the right track to accomplish your life purpose.

Immense Joy

Whatever area you are focusing on, your heart and mind are connected and you feel an immense joy within you. You smile when you either talk about what you are doing or what your vision is all about. Your body expands from inside out and you may even feel like you have a kind of glow all over your, a glow that protects and nourishes you in such a way that no matter what happens the next step is always revealed  to you.

Everything Flows

Joy and all the other positive emotions you feel open not only the way, but also the doors and windows that are necessary in order to help you accomplishing your mission. Of course, we are talking about one baby step at a time, as nothing happens over night, but there is this huge sense of flow: one thing connecting with another and one opportunity leading to many others. All flows.

You Become an Inspiration to Others

Feeling that you are being blessed and accomplishing each milestone of your big mission empowers you and that reflects on how other people perceive you. If you carry a special glow around you, people with the same mindset will feel attracted to you and will also see you as an example, as an inspiration, a light that shows them that they also can connect their heart and mind, just like you are doing. They will feel inspired by the idea that they can also light up themselves.

The 2 Psychological Barriers That Prevent You From Changing

We are gladly waiting for Spring time to come. I think this post is actually somehow influenced by the energy that Spring brings with it, an energy that propels us to clean ourselves from Winter’s excesses and renew or change all that has been weighing us down and stopping us from being our best selves.

From the coaching work I’ve done with incredible people and reflecting upon my own experience as a human being, I have noticed that there as essentially two issues that we need to “clean”, “get rid of” or make ourselves aware of, in order to make all the changes we need to happen. These are:

  • conscious or unconscious fear of change, and
  • uninspiring goals

I talk about each of these barriers to change in more depth in the video below. Hopefully you will get some useful tips as well to unblock your path to change.

 

Honey Oats: Another delicious breakfast!

Breakfast is by far my favourite meal! And today I opted for something a little bit different from what I have been having (egg on toast).

Here are the ingredients you need:

  • rolled oats
  • honey
  • cinnamon
  • chia seeds
  • strawberries

How to do it:

  • place the oats in a  bowl and add some water (until they are covered)
  • microwave your oats for 2.5 minutes (mine is set to its highest power level)
  • remove your bowl from the microwave and drizzle your oats with honey
  • sprinkle some cinnamon over the honey
  • cut a couple of strawberries (I cut them in a round shape, but you can be as much creative as you want!) and place them in the blow
  • add some chia seeds to decorate

And eat it all with great pleasure! 😉

How To Reconnect With Your Life Purpose

If you are already in my e-mail list, you may know by now that I have been through a great process of change and heading to different decisions in life. I am writing a new book at the moment, in which I share my story around burnout and how these last three years made me realise that it’s about time for me to spread my wings and fly towards happiness. I mean true happiness. So I am truly committed to change the direction of my career and leave academia for a while to pursue something that feeds my soul in a deeper way.

And one of the things that helped me to embark on this journey of reconnection with what many call “life purpose” was to go back in time, literally; I asked myself what were my dreams when I was a kid and I let myself be immersed in memories of my childhood. I went back as further as the age 5 or 6, an age in which I would tell people that I wanted to be a teacher.
At the age of 14, I then had the wish of becoming a journalist who is always travelling and reporting from remote places around the world. At the age 17, I wanted to become a nutritionist. At the age of 25, I became someone who had a master’s degree in Psychology but who couldn’t really be a psychologist. And at the age of 29, I am now a professional coach, who is focused on working side by side with inspiring people and help them open even more roads, doors or even windows so they can shine even brighter.

When I look at life through the eyes of the 5 year old child that is inside me, I know what my life purpose is

Looking back, I just have to say that life happens and what goes around comes around. I didn’t trained to be a teacher, but I became one. I didn’t trained to be a journalist, but I keep writing and extending my soul through my fingers. I spent three years depressed for being able to enrol in a nutrition course, but I have now three degrees in Psychology and I know more about how food impacts our minds, souls and bodies than many nutrition students that I have met in this journey. I am not also legally qualified to be a psychologist, because I refuse to be part of an organisation which makes me trade money for acting within my own profession, but I studied social norms and groups so much that I am comfortable to step aside from all the status and prestige that one can have from being a Doctor.
And when I look at life through the eyes of the 5 year old child that is inside me, I know what my life purpose is. My life purpose is not being a doctor, a psychologist, or a nutritionist. When I look back to all the dreams I had, they were all about improving myself and helping others change towards their best selves. So when I am 5 years old again, I’m in that exact moment in time that separates me from living a sad life or live the life that I came to live.
And how did I arrive into this moment? I travelled in time and I recalled every dream that I forced myself to let go because there were always far more people to stop me than to encourage me. I grew up, I screwed up, I got lost, but I have never stopped being to others the type of person that I needed when I was just 5 years old. Today I am not just being that person to others. I am being who I am at my very best for myself and that’s why I am sailing away and embracing the beautiful unknown gift of life. Once more.

3 Sunday Habits For a Successful Week at Work

Few people like Sundays – or at least Sunday evenings. People start feeling the dread of Monday’s morning. I must say that I stopped feeling that way since high-school, simply because I realised that everything was pretty much “head-made”: it’s all about the meaning you create and live by.

If you like to feel bad about yourself, your work and life in general as soon as Sunday goes by, well then keep navigating through your blues, but if you are fed up of feeling the unnecessary negativity associated with Mondays then you need to work out on your attitude and thoughts. At least, that was what I did back then and it worked pretty well as I am now always looking forward to welcome a new Monday.

use your Sunday to take care of yourself, relax and prepare for the upcoming week

 

One of the things I did to change how Sundays and Mondays impacted my mood was to see Sunday as an incredible opportunity to prepare for what is coming and therefore assume that Monday will actually be a good to me. Mondays became, therefore, a time in which something new unfolds – and that always sparkles excitement. So basically if you want to overcome the “Monday Blues”, you must:

  • reprogram your Sundays, and
  • reframe the meaning you attribute to Mondays

Now this post particularly touches on the first point: reprogramming your Sunday. How do you do that? Well, instead of losing time with that feeling of dread, use your Sunday to take care of yourself, relax and prepare for the upcoming week. See it as warm up; a moment to slowly transition from the weekend’s laid back attitude to a more work-focused mindset. Please, let me repeat an important word here: s-l-o-w-l-y.

And how can you do this? I am giving you three suggestions below which I personally use for my own mind shift, so I can prepare both mind and body for a successful week at work. Here are my three favourites:

1. Making Self-Care the Priority

Self-care is something very personal. Each person has his/her own self-care activities or preferences. I usually reserve this day to shape my eyebrows, do a deep facial cleanse, and catch up with fellow bloggers. I usually do all these in the morning and early afternoon, so I can generate good feelings within and refill my emotional cup for the week.

2. Meal Preparation

I love food, so I love this one. Being in a Fitness Journey – or I would say Wellbeing Journey actually – requires us to eat well and make sure that throughout the week we keep faithful to our healthy eating commitment. The way I found to do that is to do some meal preparation and setting up some snacks to take to work with me. I usually do this later in the evening, because I see it as an in-between activity between “self-care” and “work”.

3. List of Work Commitments

After preparing my meals and snacks for the week, I like to sit down and look at my calendar. I often make some to-do lists and I enumerate several things I need to do during the week at work. This helps me a lot getting into a more “working-mindset” without much effort and it also reduces uncertainty because while I am doing the list I am not only freeing my mind of worries but I am also materialising the things I need to get done and that gives me more clarity.

3 Myths Behind Work-Life Balance

There are essentially three big myths that can also be pointed out as the three big reasons why so many work-life balance attempts and interventions fail. I remember the first time I came across this topic: it was in a work psychology lecture, while I was doing my masters. I was glad to see that such concept was actually something that we were already taking care of in the workplace but I also had the feeling that there was still much to do, because even though we all dream about managing work and life successfully the truth is that the majority of us struggle to make it happen.

I was one of those people for almost my entire life. Curiously enough I think I reached a point in which I either had to change my lifestyle or I simply could not keep teaching my students about stress and work-life balance, because I felt like such an impostor and a failure myself. Moreover, I actually started thinking that it was impossible to have work-life balance, and in fact that is partially true. Work-life balance makes us think that there must be an optimal point between work and life, a point which must be universal and the same for everyone. That’s exactly when our management efforts start to make us feel worse instead of inspiring us to integrate two of the most important dimensions of our human existence.

Let me explain it in more detail: thinking there is an “ideal” that we must achieve sets us immediately for failure. There is no ideal balance between work and life, because each one of us are different and each one of us has different aspirations. We can’t simply apply a mathematical equation to calculate how much work-life balance we have or how much we are missing, especially when our own aspirations change through time and the context we are in at the moment. To make it clearer, let me give you what seems to be the three big myths behind work-life balance:

Continue reading “3 Myths Behind Work-Life Balance”