So this week I thought I'd focus on something that we all have...
Good news though - Fat doesn't make you FAT!
In fact it is essential to our ongoing good health.
Not only does it help our body to absorb vitamins and minerals, it also produces and releases hormones that affect your organs.
But now don't get all complacent about your body fat.
There are 2 different types of fat.
And where they are found is critical.
Just like in real estate, it's a case of Location, Location, Location!
There is subcutaneous fat.
This is the fat that lies below your skin. It keeps you warm and cushions you from a fall or bump. It stores calories.
It is PINCHABLE.
The other type of fat is Visceral Fat.
It stores calories too.
It is found deep inside your abdominal cavity. It surrounds your organs. It is Firm to press.
It is not squishy and pinchable.
When you have too much visceral fat it can increase your LDL cholesterol. That is the bad kind.
It can also increase your blood pressure.
Visceral fat makes your body less sensitive to insulin which can increase your chances of Type 2 diabetes.
How do you know if you have too much visceral fat?
It is all about apples and pears!
What does fruit have to do with it, you ask...
Well think of the shapes of these 2 fruits.
And apple is round and a pear is triangular.
They give you a picture of where fat is stored on your body.
Pears store weight on their hips, thighs and bum.
And it is subcutaneous fat.
It is surface level fat.
Apples on the other hand, store fat around their bellys. Hence the name Belly Fat.
To get a more specific confirmation of whether you could be an apple or pear, there are 2 measurements to take.
The first is your waist measurement.
Feel where your hip bone is.
Feel the top of it and measure around from this point.
Take a couple of measurements
and Don't Hold Your Breath!
You want an accurate measurement!
It is best to have a waist circumference of less than 89cm (35in) if you are a woman.
If you are a man then your waist circumference should be less than 102cm (40in).
The second measurement is your hips.
Measure 20cm down from the top of your hips. That is the point at which to measure your hips.
Take the measurement with your feet together.
Now for a bit of maths!
Take your Waist Circumference and divide it by your Hip Circumference to get your waist to hip ratio.
WC/HC = WHR
e.g. 74cm/97cm = 0.77
Women should have a WHR of less than 0.8 and men should have a ratio of less than 1.
Having a greater ratio of visceral fat is linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, strokes and other chronic diseases like Alzheimers.
Belly fat also produces inflammatory molecules that go into your blooldstream.
Continuous long term inflammation puts your body under severe stress.
As a result we become one big hormonal imbalance.
And that is a topic for another day.
So since you can't spot reduce fat around your tummy what can you do?
1) Keep track of your measurements. They are far more telling than the scale ever will be.
I have been tracking my measurement for 19 years, off and on!!
When you lose cm you're losing FAT.
If you're losing Fat then your risk of Type 2 diabetes and other lifestyle diseases are decreased.
2) Sweat each day.
Belly fat responds well to endurance exercise that raises your heart rate. Running, biking, swimming, rowing are going to help.
3) Choose to eat foods that are whole i.e. they aren't packaged and processed - vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats.
4) Sleep - get 7 - 9 hours of sleep per night. Your body needs time to repair itself. Lack of sleep affects your appetite.
And now I'd like to invite you to book a Free 20 minute strategy session so that we can work out some ways to help you move forward & start losing your belly fat.
Click the button below to book your session on my scheduler. It sounds fancy but it's not really!
In the United States about 20 million Americans suffer from some type of thyroid disorder. Mostly it is an under active thyroid (hypothyroid) but there are those who have an over-active thyroid which comes with its own problems.
Unfortunately there are no stats for South Africa.
What’s really surprising is that 60% of those who have thyroid problems are completely unaware that this is the root of their problems.
The American Thyroid Association reports that 1 in 8 women in the USA is affected by a thyroid disorder at some point during her lifetime.
Think of it as your body's thermostat.
It regulates your body temperature, hunger levels, sex drive, mood, how much energy use up during the day.
It is interrelated to every system in your body.
So if your thyroid is not running at its best then you are not running at your best.
Where is your thyroid?
It is a butterfly shaped gland in the middle of your neck and below your voice box.
Your thyroid produces the master metabolism hormones that control every function in your body. It makes sense that if your thyroid is not working at best case then there is going to be a knock on effect on every other system in your body.
There are 3 thyroid hormones all with long names!!! Their short names are T4, T3 and T2.
T3 is converted to Free T3 and Reverse T3.
Free T3 is what really matters.
This is the hormone that attaches to a receptor in every cell in your body and causes something to happen.
That could be body temperature rising, metabolism increasing or bowel functioning.
A sluggish thyroid will usually be experienced in these ways;
What can contribute to thyroid problems?
Genetics to lifestyle habits can all have an impact on the health of your thyroid.
There are a number of nutrients that play a role that are often overlooked in proper thyroid function.
These are iodine, selenium, zinc and B vitamins.
The number one cause of an under active thyroid or hypothyroidism is an iodine deficiency!
Iodine is needed for the production of thyroid hormones and the normal functioning of the thyroid.
So where do we find iodine rich foods?
Seaweed is a great source. But it is a bit weird in a Western diet, right!?
Sushi has seaweed so I guess we could all indulge in more sushi!! Other sea vegetables are dulse and kelp.
But for Westerners you can find iodine in raw dairy i.e. non pasteurised. Wild caught tuna, cod, sea bass and eggs.
When there is iodine present in the soil where crops are grown (remember iodine is a mineral) then these vegetables are good sources –
onions, mushrooms, lettuce, spinach, pineapple, cantaloupe, whole-wheat and green peppers.
Selenium helps to balance T4 levels of thyroid hormone.
Foods that are high in selenium are Brazil nuts, spinach, tuna, grass fed beef, turkey and beef liver.
Zinc and vitamins B5 & B12 are also important for thyroid health.
Vitamin B12 helps to balance hormones naturally and treats chronic fatigue syndrome. Eat grass-fed beef and beef liver, tuna, raw milk and cheese, cottage cheese, lamb and eggs.
Vitamin B5 has many of the same benefits as B12 for supporting the thyroid as well as supporting metabolism. Eat these foods as part of your meals; peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sesame and sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, spinach and ground flaxseed.
What else can you do?
Get enough rest and learn to manage stress.
Physical and emotional stress put your body in a fight or flight mode. When this happens then the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, are heightened.
This causes the blood vessels to narrow, muscle tension increases and blood pressure too. Antibodies and inflammatory proteins that suppress immune function are released. All this damages the adrenal glands and thyroid.
So take stress seriously and find the root causes of your mental strain. Try multiple methods to deal with your stress.
Aim for 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night.
Meditate, exercise, journal and look to be part of a community.
Either a faith based one or support group. And schedule enjoyable activities for yourself and the people that you enjoy spending time with.
Lab tests to determine if you have a thyroid problem.
Normally doctors only check for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and T4.
There are other tests though, that will show a better picture of whether you have a thyroid problem.
Ask your doctor to run these tests.
Dr Amy Myers is a leading a Functional Medicine doctor specialising in thyroid treatment. She herself has the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s disease. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system turns against the body's own tissues. In this case the body turns against the thyroid.
According to her these are the optimal values for the lab results on the tests done…..
If you’re looking for increased energy then take a look at my program –
21 Days to Increased Energy.
It was 5:15 a.m. one morning that I got a message from my maid.
She was man down with a tummy bug and would not be coming to work.
We rely so much on our maids, don't we?
They really are an important part of our families.
So she wasn't coming to work. It's school holidays. I'm thinking, "Oh crap! Not just one child but now two to sort out."
Anyway, snacks got packed. Toys and entertainment packed. Blankie for naptime packed.
And we all went to work.
But in between receiving the message and getting to work I got so stressed out. My whole plan and morning-time routine was now out of whack .
And along came my 6 year old who said , “Mom. It's Ok to be stressed. It's ok but you need to calm down and breathe. Breathe, Mom.”
Don't you just love that what you say to them comes right back at you at the most appropriate time?
I breathed and reached for Relicalm.
It's like a large cup of tea - it has the same ingredient as tea l-theanine - which helps to calm you. Now you know why that cup of tea works so well! Relicalm also promises 5 hours of calm . Just what I needed!
And that is the kind of stress that we all dealing with - not the fight or flight - that is part of our evolution.
There was no fight for me and no physical escape route that I needed to take.
It was all mental but our bodies release chemicals for the physical fight or flight. Snce we're not in a situation that requires physicality those stress chemicals start to cause havoc on our body’s systems.
Let's take a look at the impact of stress on our body -
Memory - Long term exposure to cortisol is linked to shrinkage of the memory part of your brain. A Finnish study found that patients with persistently high cortisol levels were 3x as likely to develop Alzheimer's.
Head - Studies have shown that an increase in the stress hormone adrenaline can cause migraines. People who have tension headaches tend to translate their stress to muscle contractions.
Heart - reggular feelings of being highly stressed can lead to an increased risk of a fatal stroke. High cortisol levels are more likely to have high levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol. Long term stress is a factor leading to raised blood pressure.
Skin - skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis can worsen when you are stressed.
Digestion - emotions and the gut are closely linked. Think of butterflies in your tummy. But also runny tummy, a sore tummy, indigestion and heartburn .
Immune system - Ongoing stress can deplete the body's resources to fight infection . Studies have shown that those under long-term stress have lower white blood cells - the guys that fight the bacteria and viruses that cause illness.
I know that when I was diagnosed with pneumonia in August ‘17 it was a result of long-term stress. My immune system was at rock bottom .
Mood - stress can leave you unable to concentrate, inefficient and accident prone. The ongoing release of cortisol and adrenaline - the stress hormones - disrupt levels of the feel good chemical - serotonin . This may lead to depression.
So what's a girl to do? -
1) Breathe! Really.
When you're under stress your breathing is rapid and shallow. Breathe through your nose for a count of 5 and out for a count of 6.
Do this 5 times .
He who half breathes, half-lives.
2) Get Moving
Chase your children in the garden, what about a game of touch rugby? Turn up the radio and dance! Go for a walk around your complex or on the road .
3) Create a list of activities and people who bring you Joy
Make time to do something that makes your heart sing .
I love crocheting and I am making a blanket for our king size bed!
P.S. Stress suppresses your body's production of testosterone which helps control abdominal fat.
Book an initial call at no cost and let's identify your top 3 current challenges.
P.S.S - You can't be a great mum, wife, employee and friend if your stressed out and struggling with your health....
An email landed in my inbox a few days ago - it was spurting statistics about obesity and diabetes.
Of course the stats were based on the population of the USA.
Here they are;
40% of adult Americans are obese
20% of children in the USA are obese
50% of Americans have diabetes or are pre-diabetic
and 2 out 3 people who are diabetic die from a heart attack...
So it got me thinking...
How bad is it here in South Africa?
It is BAD here in South Africa. Take a look -
40% of women are obese.
And a 2016 survey found that 14% of primary school children - 6 - 13 year olds - are already over weight!
This is a powerful predictor fo the chances that as these children grow up they will continue to be overweight or become obese.
And as we are living longer it stands to reason that a greater part of life as an overweight person is going to be spent suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and dementia.
What can we do as parents?
In a nutshell we need to change the way we eat so that all our other efforts towards good health will not be wasted.
Exercise alone will not make the changes needed to undo FAT Gain.
Think about it - You're likely only going to exercise for about 3 - 5 hours per week.
What about the other 160+ hours?
The fact is that it is the decisions we make around what we choose to eat that contributes towards our body's transformation.
So if it all boils dow to food why dont we just all choose whole foods?
And then the reasons, excuses come flooding in....
Go on add your own and let me know what they are...
The reasons or excuses are affecting your health.
And of course it is scary to make changes.
Yes, there is going to be resistance. Your own and your family's.
But isn't it better to start making some changes now?
Get your health on track now?
Help your kids learn what is a good choice from a nutrition point of view.
Do you really want to end up having a heart attack?
Do you really want to have to take medication to control an illness that you can control through good nutrition?
And that is why baby steps are the best way to tackle this big issue.
Start with the next time you reach for something to eat or drink.
Ask yourself - Is this choice going to build me up and make me stronger or will it impact on my health?
I'd love to help you start making better choices for yourself and your family.
Please contact me for a complimentary call to discuss your needs and goals.
Feel free to pass this on to someone you think needs to find health & harmony.
To choosing health one baby step at a time,