bess-kirkpatrick-mason I feel sympathy for the old carbohydrates. They are so badly reputed that they often get put into the ‘cannot’ category before they can even defend themselves. Believe me, I’ve had my fearful days, months – years, perhaps – about carbohydrates. It’s taken time and research to help me understand how to utilise carbohydrates as fuel for my body. But I would like to share some truths that may be fresh and encouraging information. Dare I say it? Whole intact grains, tubers, legumes, rice and even potatoes are all foods that I now eat more regularly, and enjoy more than ever before. My health and vitality are better for it. Truly, with more words to spare I could share my personal account! Carbohydrates, in a nutshell (or should I say in a wheat husk), are the most efficient source of energy for your human body. Your body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose (blood sugar) and your body NEEDS this glucose for energy for your organs, your tissues, your cells. This is so important to remember: It is impossible to survive without (the right amount of) glucose in your blood and in each body cell! To make carbohydrates, plants trap the sun’s energy inside molecules of glucose. When you eat plants, your digestive system breaks the carbohydrate back down into glucose, which travels through your bloodstream into your cells. The cells then process this glucose, releasing the captured energy and to use for fuel. What lovely efficiency! For those of you who have a fear of carbohydrates, think of it this way: you’re eating sunshine! In essence, this is the sun’s energy in a form we can eat. Oh, bless. Ponder this, especially if the word ‘carbohydrate’ strikes fear into your very soul… ALL PLANTS are carbohydrate sources. YES, ALL. This means that an extremely low-carb or a no-carb diet means an extremely low- or no- plant diet. And I hope that the majority of our readers esteem whole, plant-based eating. A thought or two further: a serve of our much-loved kumara contains more carbohydrates than the humble potato, as well as more than 2 slices of wholemeal bread. This information is not intended to make you tremble, but to embrace the Kiwi favourite (and all root vegetables) in a balanced amount. Stoke your digestive fire, friends. Whole wheat, rye and barley are gorgeous pre-biotic foods that increase good gut bacteria. The very serious issues of coeliac disease aside, grains (many of which are gluten-free) are nutritional powerhouses with their vitamins, mineral, fibres and even proteins! Let me be clear; I am the last person in the world to recommend highly processed carbohydrates. There are many imposters that give good carbohydrates a bad name. For example – white refined flours, sugars, lists of preservatives that no-one can pronounce, are all highly refined carbohydrates with very minimal intact nutrients. These are a tremendous force leading to epidemic obesity, chronic disease and decreased quality of life. I love good fats; I love quality protein; I don’t eat a high carbohydrate diet; I eat moderate amounts to fuel my body optimally. Close-up of buckwheat noodles with aubergine, beans and sesame So, what next? Firstly, let’s stop going nutty when we hear ‘carbohydrates’. They will not kill you! Instead, eaten appropriately, they can boost your energy, sustain your focus, increase digestive health and give you a greater appreciation for the wide variety of beautiful whole foods available to us. I feel saddened by diets that remove food groups from the mainframe of a person’s intake. No food group is wholly bad. It’s how we achieve balance. Imagine the fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and the plethora of good food from this earth you are avoiding that can truly be great fuel for your body. Pointers for Carb-Appreciation: – Beautiful sustaining whole grains and complex carbohydrates are great energy sources: explore them! – Prioritise the real and untainted options. For example, your body doesn’t need 10 pieces of commercial white bread in a day. Maybe it does need a few slices of homemade wholemeal bread, though. (Try to make some! It’s a fun and creative way to get yourself back in the kitchen!) – Eat carbohydrates at each meal. Steel-cut oats for breakfast with fresh berries and coconut yoghurt! Wild rice salad with Asian greens, chilli and poached chicken for lunch! Or perhaps baked kumara at dinnertime with some white fish and greens. – Eat slowly, and allow your body to digest what you have fed it. – Move and utilise your fuel! We weren’t made to be sedentary beings. Fuel well to move well! – Mindfulness, balance, variety and joy are the perfect blend that will sustain and optimise your energy. Be balanced, not scared! Till next time, Bess x
  • I am happy to discuss quantities further, as well as carbohydrates for individuals with coeliac disease and for different lifestyles. We all have a different body to fuel and so I have not given average quantities for this reason.
  • Carbohydrates and food security: a quick note for those concerned with food sustainability and looking after our earth. The environment cannot keep up with grain-free demands. A worthy conversation. If this spikes your interest, please feel free to contact me!

A lot of people tatania-wellness-treelk about having a work / life balance. But we need to remember that balance looks like different things to different people. I am a busy bee at the moment. I have three jobs and two side-hustles. As a marketer who was looking for a role that would not be purely about profit, I had to take on some gigs that perhaps don’t pay as well as I’d like. So I’ve created a jigsaw of jobs that I love, that keep me busy and pay my bills. All of these have a social media aspect, which means that it can be hard for me to switch off. There’s always another post to compose, a comment to reply to, an idea for a campaign, a new notification waiting for me. Always. And I couldn’t be happier. I work long hours, but I don’t feel overwhelmed and run down. Because everything I do, I enjoy. So it gives me energy, rather than it running me down It’s taken me a while to learn this – that work can be energising rather than draining; that I don’t need to stay in situations that don’t feel right; that I can love everything I spend my time on. I’ve spent time in my life feeling obliged to do certain things with my time. Or to wait before making a decision. Or underselling myself and my skills so I end up spending time on things that are great, but definitely aren’t as fulfilling as I want them to be. While this was going on, I knew in my soul what the right decision was, but it was too scary for me to say it out loud let alone discuss with someone who could help me make a change. Sometimes you do need to dwell on ideas; to take the time to let them simmer away; to make sure they really are the right decision for you. And when you go through this internal decision process, you know that when you say it out loud that you’ve thought through the risks and it’s not such a risky decision anymore. But make sure that it’s not all thinking that you’re doing. Actually put some plans in place and take some action! Spend more time focussing on what you love and a little less on what you don’t. You’ll find you’ve got more energy and excitement going on inside you. And you’d be surprised at what doors open up when you’re literally glowing with happiness, day-to-day. Don’t be afraid to take risks when opportunities present themselves. You can be a pro-athlete and hold down a job. You can own a business and start a side-hustle that you’re passionate about. You can quit your job to go travel the world. The most important thing is to make sure that YOU feel balanced in your life. Do you need to slow down a little? Do you need to start working out more? Do you need to set yourself a new goal? Do you need to spend more time with your family? Just make sure that you’re doing what feels right as much as possible and the rest of your life will just fall into place.

Rest and recovery are very important aspects of any successful training program. There is a difference between rest and recovery or how to implement them both into your training programme. Rest can be defined as a combination of sleep and time spent not training, it is the easiest to understand and implement. How you spend this time and sleep is very important. Recovery, refers to actions taken to maximize your body’s repair. These include nutrition, hydration, posture, heat, ice, stretching, self-myofascial release, stress management, compression, also time spent standing versus sitting versus lying down. Recovery encompasses more than just muscle repair. It involves chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system repair, mental state, and more. We have different systems that need to recover. These include structural, neurological and hormonal. Our structural system includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Muscles recover the quickest because they receive direct blood flow. Tendons, ligaments, and bones receive indirect blood flow and therefore can take longer to recover and be more susceptible to overtraining stress. For most, the goal should not be set for perfection or include exactly correct levels of each factor – leave that for professional athletes to strive after. Our goal is to prioritize life and maximize performance without personal sacrifice. Kick back, relax, and enjoy an evening out with friends. Order your favorite beer and get the ribs as this may mentally benefit you more, allow you to unwind, and put you in a better place to perform as opposed to another solitary night of broccoli and chicken. A balanced combination of rest and recovery along with proper diet and exercise should be a part of any fitness regimen. Unless you are competing at an elite level, you should follow the follow the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your time can be spent focusing on diet and exercise, while twenty percent should be left for enjoying life. In other words, don’t let yourself get too wrapped up in perfection. Below is a break down of the subcomponents of rest and recovery to provide you with better insight on how to improve performance and overall quality of life. A healthy and happy athlete not only performs better, but has the ability to give time and energy to friends and family.

Elements of Rest and Recovery

 1. Sleep

Sleep is the most important action for recovery. Healthy levels of sleep help to provide mental health, hormonal balance, and muscular recovery. You need to get enough sleep, which is 7-10 hours for most people. Everyone has individual needs based on their lifestyle, workouts, and genetic makeup.
  • Hours slept before twelve at night are proven to be more effective than those slept after.
  • Sleep in the most natural setting possible, with minimal to no artificial lights.
  • Wakeup with the sun if possible.
  • Fresh air and cooler temperatures help to improve the quality of sleep.
  • 2.Hydration

Drinking enough water is vital to health, energy, recovery, and performance. Athletes tend to be very attentive to hydration levels close to and during competitions, but keeping that awareness during training and recovery times can make just as large an impact. Water helps in all of our daily bodily functions. A few examples are more efficient nutrient uptake, lower levels of stress on the heart, improved skin quality, and better hair health. The simplest way to check hydration is to look at your urine. If it is clear to pale yellow you are hydrated. The darker and more color in your pee the less hydrated you are and more water you need to drink. That is unless you have been taking vitamin supplements which may change the colour of your urine temporarily. Water is the best way to hydrate. Sports drinks are only needed for before, during, and after strenuous training or completion, don’t drink them simply because they taste good.
  • Flavorings and other additives only give your system more to process and cause it further strain. Stick to adding a lemon or lime.
  • 3. Nutrition

Everything you eat has the ability to help heal your body, or to poison/injure it. Alcohol and processed foods contain toxins and are harmful to the body. Eating clean, eating close to the source, and eating balanced meals in moderation is proven to be effective to remain healthy and increase performance.
  • Create a meal plan and shop ahead for the week.
  • Have healthy snacks readily available that you enjoy.
  • Plan ahead for dinner out by helping to pick the place you’re eating and looking at the menu ahead of time.
  • 4. Posture
We spend more time sitting in the present day compared to the last decade and the decade before that. This is not a restful position; sitting or standing with poor posture is harmful. It can lead to back or neck pain, specifically for those with desk jobs.
  • Find a chair that is ergonomically correct.
  • If you struggle to sit upright use a lumbar roll in the small of your back, sit on a stool without a back, sit on a swiss ball (all in moderation).
  • Don’t lean to one side or on an object for support while standing. Instead you should try step standing, ie. Putting one foot up on a ledge or step for a period of time and engage the straight leg glute muscle and activate your core.
  • 5. Stretching
You need enough flexibility to move well and remain pain-free. Include dynamic stretching in your warm-ups while saving static stretching for after your workouts. Yoga is a fantastic way of gaining flexibility and also strength.

6. Self-Myofascial Release

Tight muscles and trigger points sometimes need assistance to return to healthy normal tissue. Use a foam roller to keep your myofascia in good health.

7. Heat, Ice, and Compression

Use these techniques for recovering from injuries or a very stressful training or racing experience such as a marathon, triathlon or any intense sporting experience.

8. Conclusion

Spending some time focusing on rest and recovery can pay great dividends. We could describe it as ‘legal performance enhancement’. The most frustrating thing for me as a clinician is that people don’t spend enough time focusing on rest or recovery. Dedicating additional time to the three categories of sleep, hydration, and nutrition will increase your output ability, decrease recovery time, and reduce your risk of injury. Don’t ignore your body until it becomes too late and you’re forced to take unnecessary time off due to injury, burnout, or worse. Your body is a bank account, look after it!.

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