24 10 2014
I’m not big hygiene freak and I make absolutely no effort to avoid bugs and viruses, yet I’m rarely sick *knocks on wood*. If I do catch a cold, I can usually shake it off pretty fast because my immune system is strong and ready to take on most bad guys like some sort of a superhero. However, last winter I did get sick and I couldn’t shake it off without a trip to the doctors. On hindsight, it’s very obvious why – I wasn’t really taking great care of myself; simple as that. So this winter I’m not going to make the same mistake! Here’s what I do to keep myself strong and healthy:
1. Don’t eat crap
This means processed foods and the main culprit – sugar. Sugar absolutely ruins your immune system (in fact, it ruins your health in about million different ways). It is difficult to find processed foods that don’t contain sugar so it’s best to learn to eat clean, go back to basics and cook your own food (without sugar, of course). I also avoid most dairy, especially milk and hard cheeses. I caught a nasty sinus infection for the first time in my life last winter and I found my daily latte made it flare up big time. I have never known pain like sinus pain and I don’t want to experience it again so no milky lattes for me, thank you very much.
2. Drink water
I always try to drink a lot of water, at least 2 litres a day though I aim to get 3 litres. Things like herbal teas and homemade juices also count towards your water intake. Water flushes out toxins, helps with digestion, keeps your eyes and mouth clean, keeps you energised and even helps you sleep better among its many other benefits, all leading to a stronger immune system.
3. Take spirulina
Spirulina is my absolute number one favourite super food. I’ve been taking it on and off for the past ten years – off for the last few and when I started taking it again earlier this year I could feel its benefits instantly. It is not only boosting your immune system thanks to its rich vitamin and mineral content but it also fights infections. I find it really gives me energy almost instantly. I take a teaspoon in a glass of water with lemon every morning and on the days I feel run down or just tired I take another dose in the afternoon.
4. Eat lemons
Okay, I don’t eat eat lemons, rather squeeze the juice of half a lemon in a glass of water every morning (with spirulina) and if I’m feeling a cold coming on, I’ll have another glass in the afternoon – even two or three. Lemon has numerous health benefits, such as it is great for flushing out toxins, alkalises the body and it’s high in vitamin C and many antioxidants. I also find it great for indigestion, bloating and any tummy problems. If lemon water isn’t your thing, an easy way to take it is in a juice or a smoothie.
5. Eat garlic
I would be lost without garlic and it surprises me how many people actually don’t seem to realise that it is full of healing goodness. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and hence great for fighting infections and the great thing is that it’s cheap and easily available. It has numerous other health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. If I feel my immune system or health in general needs a little boost I take garlic every day. I always start taking it at the first sign of a cold coming on and usually after a day or two it’s gone. Cooking destroys many of its health benefits so it has to be taken raw (and no, it won’t make you smell). I chop up a clove of garlic really small and knock it back with a glass of water just like any other supplements/tablets after dinner (never take raw garlic on an empty stomach). You get used to the taste after a while; I rather put up with the taste than spend days being sick or risk having to take antibiotics (and spend money on doctors)! Garlic is also a great home remedy for ear infections – I stick a clove in my daughter’s ear if she ever has a sore ear and so far there’s been no ear infections *knocks on wood*
6. Eat ginger
I love the taste of ginger so I tend to use it a lot, more or less daily. Ginger has some natural antibiotic properties, it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial, meaning it kills bacteria. It’s absolutely packed with goodness and health benefits so you should try to include it as part of regular diet. You can add it to a stir fry, flavour fish with it or add some to a homemade juice. Ginger tea is also great when you’re feeling unwell.
7. Take vitamin C and D
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and is absolutely essential for the absorption of iron, helps prevent cardiovascular disease and even wrinkles, among its many other benefits. I know I get plenty from my diet but for best results, I take a supplement to give me an extra boost when I feel I need it and especially this time of year. Vitamin D is vital for your immune system as well as your muscle function, cardiovascular system and respiratory system. We should, in theory, get it from the sun but even when we do see the sun, things like using sunscreen and pollution mean we aren’t getting enough so I like to take a supplement. These are really the only supplements I take regularly, I think everything else I get from Spirulina!
8. Exercise outdoors
Exercise is an essential part of staying healthy and helps boost your immune system – it is a fact that fit people are sick far less than unfit people and when a physically fit person catches a bug, they are able to shake it off faster than an unfit person is. Obviously I don’t exercise just to boost my immune system but it is one of the many reasons why I want to always fit in daily exercise. Exercising outdoors is even better as fresh air is known to boost immunity too, in fact, just being outdoors every day is beneficial, even if it’s just sitting in your garden. Another great thing to do is air out you home (and office) – open the windows, let out all the stale air and let the fresh air in.
The reason why I caught that nasty horrible awful sinus infection last winter was this, together with the next point: I was stressed, overworked and didn’t sleep enough. Obviously I knew sleep was important but I always had a bit of an ‘Sleep is for the weak’ attitude. Only when I was doing research for my book I really started to understand how absolutely vital sleep is and how it, no matter what, should always be our priority (with few exceptions, like when you have newborn!). Getting enough sleep helps you lose weight, reduce stress, function better and it is particularly important for our immune system, so this winter I’m going to make sure I won’t have too many late nights – I admit it, it’s not easy! I actually now think that it takes a lot of strength to go to bed early! Also, at the first sign of a cold, I nowadays head straight to bed to rest, giving my body a chance to focus on fighting off the bad guys.
10. Reduce stress
Busy, stressed people rarely sleep enough, that’s what happened to me. Along with sleep deprivation, stress is another thing that is so extremely bad for our health in many ways and yet, I guess because we are so used to living with it, we rarely do much to prevent it. Stress causes your body to release more cortisol, which in turn prevents your immune cells from doing their job properly, which is why often when you’re stressed you catch a cold (the last thing you need when you have enough on your plate already, right?). I have learnt from my errors and now I make a real effort to try and not get stressed – sleep, exercise and good diet are keys to this!
Here’s to a healthy winter!
**If you want to take any of the above mentioned supplements, please go to a good health food store to get advice on a dosage that’s suitable for you. These are just things I personally take but I’m not qualified to give advice on supplements to others**
09 10 2014
These are just some transformations I’ve observed in my Running Made Easy clients.
1. Strengthens your self-belief giving you courage to face other challenges.
If you’re like most people who don’t exercise, you are a bit scared of running, possibly terrified. You probably think you’d never be able to do it, it is scary. However, once you find the courage to take the first steps, get started, you will find that (with the right approach and support) you can do it – anyone can do it, there is no reason why you couldn’t do it – you’ll start realizing that many of your other fears are also unnecessary and you’ll be brave enough to face them, one small step at a time. You realise that you can achieve what ever you set your mind to!
2. Transforms your body
A lot of people want to start running in order to lose weight and yes, you will lose weight as long as you change your diet as well, but the true transformation is in how your body feels. Even if you don’t lose the weight, very soon after taking up running, your body will start feeling stronger, moving is becoming easier every day and you feel energized. There’s absolutely no better feeling that feeling strong, you’ll love it and you’ll love your new strong body, regardless of its size.
3. Improves your health
Exercise is essential for long term health and running is one of the best exercises for health, you only have to run a few times a week for 30 minutes (though you better start with a combo of walking and running) to get the benefits. Your risk of many serious diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis is lowered and your immune system will strengthen which means you won’t be catching colds as easily.
4. Improves your mental health
Running releases endorphins, which means it makes you feel happy! If you’re feeling down, there’s nothing better than a little run outdoors (it has been proven that running outdoors, or even just walking outdoors, is much more beneficial to your mental health than exercising indoors). Running is also a great way to release stress and even let go of anger or other negative feelings.
5. Changes your outlook in life
Runners tend be very positive people. Maybe it’s because of the above – running is a great way of letting off some steam. It is hard to feel nothing but positive after a run! When you first take up running, you will really notice the effect on your general outlook in life. I’ve seen many people go from being stressed and negative, perhaps feeling stuck, to more laid back, positive people who look forward to the future.
6. Changes your whole lifestyle
One of the greatest things I’ve noticed with my beginners is that running opens a door to a whole new lifestyle. People might come to me wanting to just start exercising, start running, but very soon they become naturally interested making other lifestyle changes too, such as eating healthier, sleeping better, learning to handle stress better, cutting back on your drinking etc. Their focus also tends to shift from being purely focused on weight loss, to being more interested in being healthy and feeling good.
7. Enriches your social life
Through running, you’ll meet new people and make new friends. You might not want to do that right now, but very soon you’ll realize that you’re not the only beginner, there are hundreds of people like you and it is great to connect, whether it’s through social media or in real life, and share experiences and support each others. Very soon, you might want to meet your friend for a run rather than a pint!
8. You will have new found respect for yourself
Once you reach that goal, or even when you find the courage to take the first steps, you will be so proud of yourself! You have achieved something you never thought was possible and you’ve done it all by yourself – no one else can get those miles in for you. Reaching your target means that you have put the work in, you have been consistent and you have prioritized yourself, made some time for yourself and for that reason, you will feel extremely proud of yourself.
Our next Running Made Easy Online starts Monday 13th October – get up and get running now, you won’t regret it! And you can do it, I promise!
19 09 2014
While Running Made Easy is aimed at complete couch potatoes, people who do not currently exercise, we do get a good few participants who have a little experience and don’t necessarily need such a slow and gentle introduction, sometimes it can even be frustrated to start so slow (while others really enjoy the opportunity to take it easy).
I’ve come up with a new Fast Track option for those who want to, well, fast track the course and skip the first few introductory weeks. This option is suitable for those with some running experience, previous Running Made Easy graduates, anyone who is already quite active and used to aerobic exercise or anyone who just likes to push themselves a bit more.
Your options are:
6 weeks – you can run for 1 min 30 seconds. Price €96/£78
5 weeks – you can run for 3 minutes. Price €80/£65
4 weeks – you can run for 5 minutes. Price €64/£52
For the rest of 2014 we have the following fast track courses available in Dublin:
29 September (Mon/Wed), Malahide, 7pm, Jessica – Fast track 6 weeks
29 September (Mon/Wed) Herbert Park, 6.30pm, Una – Fast track 4 weeks
30 September (Tue/Thu) Phoenix Park, 7pm, Jean – Fast track 6 weeks
30 September (Tue/Thu), Blackrock, 6.30pm, Ruth – Fast track 6 weeks
13 October (Mon/Wed), Malahide, 7pm, Jessica – Fast track 4 weeks
14 October (Tue/Thu) Phoenix Park, 7pm, Jean – Fast track 4 weeks
14 October (Tue/Thu), Blackrock, 6.30pm, Ruth – Fast track 4 weeks
29 October (Mon/Wed) Herbert Park, 6.30pm, Una – Special 6 week course
If you need help choosing which option suits you, you can always email us