Mindfulness

Be Ever Present: The Art of Mindfulness

We often get consumed by the hustle and bustle of daily life. We find ourselves going through the motions every day without being too conscious of it. This often leads to feelings of burnout or unfulfillment which is why mindfulness has become such an important art to master. 

When people say the word ‘mindfulness’, a variety of thoughts may cross your mind; “has this got to do with spirituality?” “Do I now have to start meditating?” “I really don’t have time to add another task to my day”. And most importantly, “what does mindfulness do and does it work?”

We’re highlighting the importance of mindfulness and showcasing how easy it is to add it to your daily ‘To-Do List”.  This blog is going to take you through the journey of mindfulness – from what it is, all the way to how you can practice it. 

What is mindfulness?

Simply speaking, mindfulness is being 100% present in every moment. 

The Mindful Blog describes it as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”.

Mindfulness is something innate in us that we are all fully capable of doing but due to our busy lives and the allure of social media, we easily forgot to be present in the moment. This makes mindfulness something we need to practice daily.

If you ever catch yourself really noticing what your senses are experiencing or you’re deeply aware of your emotions and your thoughts, you’re being mindful. The art of mindfulness includes learning breathing methods, using guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind. In the long run, these practices will help calm your mind, body and soul. 

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

The art of mindfulness is not merely focusing on the benefits of it. The goal is to practice it daily and slowly begin to notice the changes your mind and body will experience. 

When we solely focus on the benefits something can have for us, we often forget to completely immerse ourselves in the journey. That being said, there definitely are a variety of benefits to mindfulness. 

When you’re mindful, you are able to reduce your stress levels, gain insight and awareness of not only yourself but the world around you and enhance your performance in everyday life. You are able to gain a completely different perspective into your life and the lives of those closest to you. A perspective that is free of judgement, prejudice and full of positivity

According to the Mayo Clinic, mindful meditations have shown to minimise: 

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

Mindfulness has also proven to: 

  • Improve attention
  • Decrease burnout
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve diabetes control

Mindfulness

How to practice mindfulness 

Now that we’ve explained the beauty mindfulness has to offer, it’s time to dig into how you can practice being mindful every day. There are a variety of simple techniques to use so we’ve listed a few. 

1. Pay attention

This sounds slightly obvious, if I’m living and doing tasks then, of course, I’m paying attention. 

Well, not necessarily. 

Paying attention means more than just being there and doing something. It’s about slowing down and actively noticing the world around you through all 5 of your senses and really thinking about how it makes you feel. 

2. Live in the moment

This means putting your phone away and being present. Don’t think about how cool this would look on Instagram and snapping a selfie as a result. Instead, be intentional with what you’re doing. Be open and accepting of all that is around you while being completely aware of your thoughts and feelings. 

Living in the moment also means being truly appreciative of what you have and those around you. 

Of course, you are going to be battling with fighting off plaguing thoughts that naturally enter your mind. But the trick is to accept and acknowledge those thoughts, and then let them go as you release them. 

A good way to look at your thoughts is as though you are sitting on the side of a busy road, watching the cars pass you by. Your thoughts are the cars. And you can either choose to pick a car to travel in – aka – a specific thought – or you can simply sit and watch them go by. This is the practice of peace and being present. It is the art of not allowing your thoughts to control and take over your mind. It is giving you the ability to control which thoughts you focus on and which ones do not deserve your attention. 

3. Accept yourself

If you don’t accept yourself, you will feel less inclined to be mindful because mindfulness opens you up to being vulnerable and taking a deeper look into yourself. You need to practice self-love and self-acceptance and truly love yourself like you would a close friend. 

4. Focus on your breathing

If you are feeling negative or anxious, you need to take a step back and fully focus on your breathing. Take a deep breath in and close your eyes, focus on your breath as you breathe out and pay attention to how the air moves through your body. Carry on breathing in and out focusing on the feeling of your breath. 

There are more advanced ways of practising mindfulness like through meditation where your breathing and your thoughts come together but for now, we’ve left you with the basics to get started. 

Some facts about mindfulness

  1. Mindfulness is not something that’s unfamiliar to you, it’s something we all know how to do. Life just has a way of taking over in some moments. 
  2. You don’t need to change who you are to be mindful but it requires you to use simple practices to open yourself up completely.
  3. Anyone can do it. From children to the elderly, this is something that is so easy to master and will truly transform your life.
  4. Mindfulness is something you need to be conscious of as often as possible. You need to train your brain to actively be mindful. 
  5. Being mindful can assist you at your job as well as in your personal life. When you’re mindful, you have a higher chance of being innovative and finding effective solutions to difficult problems. 

Take a moment now to truly be mindful. Sit back, breathe in and focus on your senses. In a short amount of time and with practice, you will truly transform your life.

Running

UNDERSTANDING THE BRAIN BENEFITS OF THE ‘RUNNER’S HIGH’

Written by Sarah Braithwaite, a WellBe&Co Neuroscience-based Life & Health Coach

We have all had that same message drummed into our heads since we were young – ‘eat plenty vegetables, exercise often and get enough sleep’ , and while we are all familiar with the physical benefits these have on our body, most are not aware of the incredible impacts had on our brains – particularly when it comes to exercise. Our brain and body is intrinsically connected and while neurology is flowing downwards, physiology is flowing upwards and to separate the dual effects on one another would be impossible.

The love-hate relationship of endurance running is real – time, commitment, pain, and pressure, versus that insane ‘runners high’ that keeps us coming back for more and more. Let us unpack the latest science on brain health in relation to exercise – after all knowledge is power, and these juicy facts may give you a whole new appreciation for those long arduous training sessions.

How exercise actually rewires your brain

More than a mood boost

The latest buzz word in the neuroscience world, ‘neuroplasticity’, means our brains are able to change and rewire depending on many factors, one being physical movement. Beside the mental health benefits of reducing anxiety and depression, regular physical exercise is actually rewiring your brain for better cognitive function as well as improvement of emotional regulation. Exercise also allows the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, from the body which is hugely beneficial and explains why we experience mood changes after a workout.

It’s all biochemistry

During exercise, the body begins to produce endorphins which are our ‘feel good’ hormones. The effects of these endorphins plus the release of important neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, means that you are getting all the right kinds of ‘highs’ while you are running. Dopamine affects the reward pathways in the brain while serotonin stabilizes our moods – both are essential to mental health and well-being. While physical exercise is best, studies have also shown the mind boggling benefits to the brain from simply visualising a detailed exercise session in your head – what better evidence to prove the brain’s role in physical movement?

 

Run

4 Ways to maximize your training for better brain health

Okay so now that we have indisputable evidence of just how great movement is for our minds, here are a few easily implementable training hacks to help you get the most out of it:

  1. Incorporate HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

HIIT-style training has been shown to help prompt new cellular growth in the brain as well as increasing activity between neurons and prompting neuroplasticity. 

  1. Keep consistent

Regular exercise improves memory function in the brain. The hippocampus is responsible for memory and learning, and studies have shown that exercise improves these functions and causes neurogenesis (new cellular growth).

  1. Sweat out the stress

Use exercise as a stress release tool to rid your body of excessive levels of toxic cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone that we produce, and it can become toxic when chronic. Stress can quite literally cause the physical release of cortisol.

  1. Be mindful

Combine exercise with some mindful or visualisation practices to encourage neuroplasticity. The mind battles to distinguish reality from imagination, and the power of visualization is helpful in ingraining those neural pathways that are used when performing the activity. 

  1. Eat the right brain food

The brain thrives off of slow release carbohydrates as well as healthy fats. Dr Tara Swart, a remound Neuroscientist, recommends food such as: eggs, nuts, avos, coconut oil and salmon. Other foods such as sweet potatoes and healthy grains can also be beneficial. 

Movement for the mind 

Regular exercise, like running, really has profound benefits for both the brain and body, and that ‘high’ is there as a reminder to keep coming back for more. And with that in mind, I’m putting on my trainers and hitting the road…

A word from WellBe

This blog was written by Sarah Braithwaite, of MindSight, is a WellBe&Co Neuroscience-based Health & Life Coach, in collaboration with RunMalibu.

DEBUNKING 7 COMMON MYTHS AND MISNOMERS OF RUNNING

Written by WellBe&Co

When it comes to running wisdom, numerous myths and misconceptions have been generated over time, and some of these more popular theories have turned out to be a lot more fiction than fact.

Recent research has debunked some of the most widely-known rules and beliefs. From stretching before a run to adopting extreme fad diets, here are some of the most common running myths that you should kick to the curb.

Myth busters: running facts vs fiction

Myth 1: Running trail is harder than road

Road runners thinking about trying their hand at trail running are often hesitant to tackle more technical routes due to the unfamiliar terrain. But is trail running really harder than road running? 

It’s true that trail running requires a lot more attention than running on local roads. This is largely due to the uneven terrain, steeper grades and winding switchback, while road running provides smoother and harder surfaces which often correlate to faster times. 

Because of this, people tend to think that road running has a lower level of difficulty, while the slower and more technical nature of trail running tends to get a bad reputation. 

Often we want to categorize trail running and road running as two completely different activities but, at the end of the day, they are both just running. According to most athletes, if you are already an avid runner, then you already have all the skills you need to run on the trails. 

In fact, trying your hand at trial running could benefit you in the long run since many health professionals actually report seeing less injuries in runners that mix their training with some trail running and road running than those who prefer to stick just to the roads.

Myth 2: Runners don’t need strength training 

Most people tend to think that if they want to improve their running, all they should focus on is running. In actual fact, if you want to perform at your full potential, you should try to adopt a more comprehensive approach to your training. 

Strength training is a key part of boosting performance and preventing injury. Strategically targeting different body parts on different days will also help you to better strengthen your muscles, improve your power output, give you a stronger, better push on the roads and improve your overall race time. 

That’s why it’s important to supplement regular roadwork with occasional training to strengthen muscles and joints, as well as to target areas of fitness that you may not normally pay attention to – such as flexibility, balance, mobility, and strength.

Myth 3: Taking a few days off will hurt your fitness

The benefits of rest days shouldn’t be underestimated. Most people tend to forget that one of the most important parts of exercising effectively is giving our bodies time to recover.

Often, being stuck in an “I must work out everyday” mindset will do more harm than good. A lot of the time we tend to feel like taking a day or two off for rest and recovery, or sometimes even for illness, means that we have immediately lost the miles that we’ve logged during the week.

The truth is that cardiovascular fitness doesn’t just disappear overnight. Studies show that there is little decrease in general fitness over the first 10 days of inactivity in trained athletes. So if you need a rest day, take it. There’s no real need to ‘make up’ for the lost time.

Myth 4: Running is bad for your knees 

Running will mess up your knees completely. It’s only a matter of time, right? Wrong. Research shows that running is in fact really healthy for your joints and plays a significant role in preventing bone diseases such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

A recent study even found that 80 marathon athletes reported that their bones and joints around the knee actually became stronger after training! And while 45% of running injuries do involve knee pain, it’s not the running itself that is inherently strenuous on your body, but rather the related issues which result from weak hips, tight muscles and overuse.

The only time you should really be cautious about injuring your knees when running is if you’ve had a recent knee surgery or if you’re significantly overweight. If that’s the case, it’s always better to start with a more gradual fitness routine before jumping right into an intensive running routine. 

Myth 5: You don’t have the right body shape to be a runner 

Often people are told that they are too tall, too heavy, too big or too short to be a good runner.

While it’s true that most elite trail or roadrunners have a specific shape and build, we’re not all born elite gold-medalists who are predisposed to a smaller frame and leaner body fat percentage. In reality, most of us don’t have single-digit body fat, and there is no ideal body type for someone looking to get into the sport. 

While an individual’s body weight is undoubtedly important when it comes to distance running (since being lighter generally makes running a little easier), runners of all shapes and sizes are capable of beating times and breaking personal records.

Simply put: anyone can become a runner. At any big race, whether it’s a 5km or marathon, you’ll see athletes with varying body types cross the finish line. All it takes is a good level of aerobic fitness and the right training program.

Myth 6: Stretch before you run 

While many people swear by a regular stretch routine before a run or race, static stretching is not actually the optimal way to warm up before a run. 

In general, the rule is to never stretch a cold muscle. Certified running coaches tend to agree that you should never engage in static stretching before a run as lengthening your muscles could actually over-strain your muscles, and a simple stretch might even end up slowing you down instead.

Your primary focus should instead be to get enough oxygen into your muscles before you partake in any type of physical exertion. A good idea is to start it by warming up with a slow walk. Swing your arms back  and forth to get the blood moving or do a few shoulder shrugs. The idea is to slowly elevate your heart rate for a few minutes before you pick up your pace. 

Myth 7: There is a perfect diet for running

These days, athletes are always always looking for a new fad diet that will make them leaner and faster. 

In reality, there is no specific diet for athletes looking to build stamina and better their performance. The bottom line is that proper nutrition and a balanced diet is all that matters when it comes to keeping your body fit and strong – and research has shown that we are able to thrive equally well on a variety of diets. 

The key is trying different diets to find out what works best for you and to create a sustainable lifestyle centre around holistic, healthy living. Essentially, it is all about experimenting with a range of meals and eating plans to see what combination of foods will help you feel good while also enabling you to reach your peak athletic performance. 

Whether it’s a vegan lifestyle, a ketogenic diet or a plant-based way of living, once you’ve figured out your best diet, it will undoubtedly give you more energy and stamina when you head out on the roads or the trails. 

A final word 

Don’t let any myths or misconceptions keep you from hitting the road – or the trail, or the track. At the end of the day, running is an ever-evolving sport, and new studies, better research and different theories are always showing up in the running community. 

The trick is to use these opportunities to learn something new so that you can better develop your running wisdom and put your best foot forward every time you hit the roads.  

A word from WellBe&Co

This blog was written by WellBe&Co in collaboration with RunMalibu. RunMalibu is taking virtual running to the next level with their US-based virtual races hosted between 7th and 8th November 2021. 

MASTERING MEDITATION

MASTERING MEDITATION: HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR EMOTIONAL AWARENESS AND CULTIVATE MENTAL CLARITY

Between trying to balance a busy home life with the never-ending demands of the world of work, it can be hard to find time in the day to take care of your own mental health and well-being. 

That’s why, in this week’s blog, we go over our top tips for embracing self-awareness through regular meditation and developing better emotional wellness by taking time to practice mindfulness every day.

We also give you a go over a quick and simple, five-minute meditation session that is perfect for stress relief where you’re short on time.

What is meditation? 

Meditation is the habitual practice of training your mind to build better focus, redirect your thoughts and improve your own emotional awareness. This ancient wellness practise focuses on training awareness, attention, and compassion while trying to achieve a state of mental clarity and emotional calmness.

What most people don’t know is that there are actually many different styles of meditation, and each practice requires a different skillset and mindset. The two major styles of mediations include:

  1. Focused-attention meditation: 

This style of meditation aims to focus your attention on a single thought, object or visualization in order to clear your mind of any disturbances or distractions. This could involve repeating a particular mantra or focusing on a specific breathing pattern. 

  1. Open-monitoring meditation:

This type of meditation is all about broadening your awareness as a whole while taking in every aspect of your environment. The idea is to become more aware of the thoughts, feelings and sensations around you which you may usually try to suppress or skip over in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The benefits of meditation

Meditation is something everyone can do to improve their mental and emotional health, and the practice has been successfully used for many years to help people increase awareness of both their inner selves and their surroundings. 

Individuals who are able to effectively enter a meditative stage are able to use this practice to develop a more outlook on life, elevate their mood and improve their self-discipline – but research shows that the benefits of meditation extend past just basic self-awareness and a better sense of clarity.

Here are just a few of the ways in which developing a daily meditation routine will benefit you:

  1. It will reduce your stress and anxiety 
  2. It will calm your nervous system (since meditation has been proven to be a very effective way to bring your brain waves into a deeply calm and relaxed state)
  3. It will promote better emotional health and self-awareness 
  4. It will improve your attention span and concentration
  5. It will help reduce any memory loss 
  6. According to some research, it will help you manage symptoms of all kinds of conditions such as asthma, chronic pain, depression, high blood pressure, sleep problems and tension headaches.

MASTERING MEDITATION

Meditation basics 

How to manage your breathing 

Most people think that there must be a certain technique to breathing right when it comes to meditation but, in actual fact,  most meditation experts recommend that you allow your body to breathe naturally. After all, the whole point of mindfulness and meditation is to cultivate awareness and find a sense of peace.

That being said, there are a few tips and tricks that will help you hone your focus and really immerse yourself in that meditative stage. Experts recommend that you take several deep breaths before you start, as well as to focus on breathing in through your nose and breathing out through your mouth until you find a comfortable rhythm.

Keeping a clear head 

It’s completely normal to feel your mind wondering when you first start your meditation journey. The important thing to remember is that it will always take a bit of time to get comfortable with being alone with your thoughts when you first get started, and there’s no rush to achieve a certain level of clarity and stillness immediately. 

The reality is that meditation is not about stopping your thoughts completely. Instead, it’s about learning how to observe your thinking while managing feelings of restlessness and anxiety in order to find some stillness in the moment. 

Remember, there might be some setbacks along the way, but it’s important to recognize that this is just a part of your meditation journey. 

A quick 5-minute meditation routine for stress relief  

Gaining a new perspective when it comes to stressful situations can be as simple as dedicating just five minutes a day to sitting down and taking some time to improve your mindfulness through meditation.

The great thing about meditation is that it really can be done anywhere, and it doesn’t require any specialized equipment or space. 

How to get started:

  1. Find a place on the floor or at your desk chair to sit upright in a relaxed, comfortable position. 
  2. Take time to notice how you’re feeling and acknowledge any emotions or sensations that you may be experiencing at the time.
  3. Actively relax your body and feel the weight of it sink into the floor or your chair. 
  4. Take a second to notice your own breathing pattern and slowly breathe deeply in and out through your nose and mouth until you are comfortable.
  5. Now, take five minutes to sit in stillness and reflect. Remember to be kind to your wandering mind as you take on this new practice. 

While five minutes can feel like a short amount of time, taking a moment to separate yourself from the constant busyness and distraction of the world we live in today can dramatically improve your ability to cope with stress, increase your focus and improve your productivity — as well as enable you to be more fully present during the rest of your activities throughout the day.

Some other handy tips: 

If your work or home environment has too many distractions to allow for a peaceful, quiet surrounding, consider participating in a group meditation class over the weekend. This can improve your chance of successfully mastering meditation as you’ll have the guidance of a seasoned instructor to assist you during your learning journey, as well as the additional support of an entirely new community.

Alternatively, consider setting your alarm a few minutes early to take advantage of some quiet time in the morning. This may help you develop a more consistent habit and allow you to set the tone for the day so that you can tackle every task further with a more positive attitude.

Holistic, healthy living with WellBe

This November, we’re zoning-in on the theme of focus, mental wellness and mindfulness. 

Here at WellBe, we want to give you the right tools to strengthen your mind and your body and to start building a healthy balanced lifestyle for yourself.

That’s why we’ve developed our two new 12-week nutrition and training guides to help you live every day with a clear intention to get closer to achieving your goals and living a life that is centred around healing, health and happiness. 

Our easy-to-implement, lifestyle-focused nutrition, training and health solutions are fun, simple and the perfect way to improve your mental focus and renew your motivation for the week ahead with a variety of healthy, balanced meal plans and killer workout routines.

 

Want to know more? Check out our Instagram page or contact one of our friendly WellBe team members for more information today.

WellBe Fitness

6 STEPS TO ESTABLISHING A REALISTIC FITNESS PLAN

The trial month of 2020 is over and as we wave goodbye to January, it’s time to remember those resolutions before they become a distant memory. Now that the January excitement has died down, the gym won’t be as busy and you can now establish a fitness plan (and stick to it).

A fitness plan doesn’t mean spending 3 grueling hours at the gym every single day with one of those hours devoted to the treadmill. A fitness plan needs to be something you’re excited about and motivated to keep up with, that’s how to remain consistent. 

No matter your goals or the plan you decide to use, 2020 is definitely the year for you to smash some goals!

Why you need a fitness plan

We’ve all seen the fitness fanatics on Instagram who love to sell their online fitness plans and as much as they try and force you to believe that you simply cannot workout without one – there is a little method behind the madness. 

Having a plan means you’re more likely to stick to something and you’re more likely to succeed. 

Firstly, I think it is amazing that you’ve made the decision to get active and well done for taking that first step but failing to have a plan when starting a new lifestyle can result in burnout from lack of results. In the end, you’re more likely to quit so it’s time to change the narrative you’ve grown used to. 

How to establish a fitness plan

First things first, we are not here to tell you what to do, you need to find exactly what works for you, this is just a guide to get you started and remind you that having a plan is the key to success. 

 

WellBe Fitness

1. Be realistic with your scheduling

We would all love it if we could workout every single day for over an hour but at the end of the day, for most of us, this isn’t possible. 

I remember when I was in university, I found it so easy to make it to the gym but as life goes on, we get busier and our schedules quickly fill up with meetings, deadlines, projects and commitments (social or otherwise). 

Which is why it is essential to create a schedule that you can stick to so start out with fewer days and gradually increase them as you develop a new routine or simply keep it to 2-3 days a week and move it around to suit you. 

It is YOUR schedule and you don’t need to feel guilty about it. 

2. Find something you enjoy

Standing in the weights section at the gym isn’t for everyone – and that’s okay! If you want to master the weight section though, this could help you.

Start trying different things out and see what works for you. Go for a run, join a yoga or boxing class or sign up for the gym. If you find something you hate, move on from it, there is no correct way to exercise and if you do something you hate, you’re more likely to give it up because let’s be honest, I’d rather lay on the couch than endure an hour and a half of running.  

3. Set goals

Your goals don’t have to be based on appearance (although they certainly can be, if that’s what you’re looking for). Exercise is wonderful for both your mental and physical health too.

Take a step back and identify what you want to gain from becoming more active and write them down. Make sure you refer back to these goals every now and then to make sure you’re staying on track and just to give yourself a little reminder of what you want to achieve.

4. Start slow

One mistake you can make is going too hard on your first day. Getting active is exciting and you might want to jump in full force but by going too hard too soon, you risk injuring yourself or making your muscles so stiff that you wouldn’t want to do it again!

5. Give yourself a break

Perfection doesn’t exist and it’s so easy to get swept up in everyday life and end up missing a day or two. It’s perfectly normal and doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

All you need to do is make up for it the next time you can fit a workout in. 

6. Get an accountability buddy

You might be motivated to workout but actually doing it can be a little difficult (we know the struggle). This is when having an accountability buddy comes in handy! Find a friend or family member that you can rely on to help keep you motivated and ready to smash your goals. You both can help one another make it to the gym more often than not. 

This is merely a little plan to help get you started, once you’ve figured out the above, it’s time to plan your workout routines (you can look here for some inspiration!). 

Getting out of the mindset of what society deems necessary and remembering your capable of anything you set your mind to is the beginning to a successful fitness routine that you can stick to! 

Oh, and by the way, if you want a 12-week training plan that really works, then have a look at our Better Body Blueprint. It’s packed with healthy and simple meals, effective workouts and tried and tested advice. 

At home exercises

7 SIMPLE HOLIDAY EXERCISES: NO EQUIPMENT. 1 EPIC WORKOUT.

The holidays are a time for spending time with loved ones and friends, eating some delicious food and more importantly, relaxing. 

When it comes to the holiday period, we seem to spend a lot more time with our feet up than we do hitting the gym or working out. And who can blame us? We’ve worked incredibly hard throughout the year and we deserve a break. 

But getting in a workout doesn’t have to require the gym, equipment or even a lot of effort. In fact, all it takes is a little dedication and just 30 minutes of your time. That’s it. And afterwards, you will be left feeling a little less guilty about eating three helpings of pudding last night and a little more energised and happy! 

How this guide works

All of these exercises can be done in the comfort of your own home. We’ll take you through the various exercises and how they are done, then we will apply them to a sweat-creating, muscle-making, heavy-breathing kind of workout (seriously, it’s a great one!). 

Oh, and while you’re here, have a look at this blog on healthy hacks for the holiday season plus 3 healthy recipes for classic holiday meals. 

1. Chair pose 

Target muscles: Hamstrings, glutes and core 

Start in a standing position, feet shoulder-width apart. Then, extending your arms in front of you, lower your body into a seated position. You can do this against a wall with your back straight up against the wall. Basically, you get into a seated position, but without the chair. 

Hold this for one minute. 

2. Standing side-leg raises 

Target muscles: Core and hips

Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Start by lifting your right leg out toward the side, keep your core tight as you slowly lift your leg. Then return it back to the starting position. Make sure this is a slow and controlled movement, extending your leg to just over 45 degrees (if you can). 

Repeat with each side for 10 to 15 reps per side. 

3. Oblique side bends

Target muscles: Obliques 

Starting in the standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands behind your head (clasping the back of your head with your fingers intertwined). Engage your core and bend at your waist to the right toward the floor – in a slow and controlled motion.  Then repeat on the other side. 

Do this for 15 to 20 reps per side. 

4. Sumo squat

Target muscles: Inner thighs

Start by standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing slightly outwards. With your hands clasped together at your chest (this will help with balance), push your hips back and then squat down – make sure you keep your back straight and your upper body lifted.

Repeat this 10 to 15 times. 

5. Push-ups

Target muscles: Triceps, chest, core and shoulders 

This is a great upper body exercise!

Start with your stomach and chest on the floor. Your legs should be straight out behind you and your palms should be in line with your chest. Push from your heels and hands as you bring your chest, torso and thighs off the floor. Then slowly lower yourself back down and repeat. 

An easier pushup version: It makes it a little easier if, instead of your feet being on the mat, you bring your heels towards your butt and then, press slowly through your hands to fully extend the elbows. Then slowly return to the starting position (flat on the floor). 

Repeat 5 to 10 times. 

6. Glute raises

Target muscles: Glutes

Start by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Keep your arms down at your side with palms facing down. 

Slowly lift your hips off the ground until they form a straight line with your knees and shoulders. Hold this for a few seconds before easing back down. 

Repeat 10 to 20 times. 

7. Side plank

Target muscles: Obliques

Start by lying on your side with your feet together and stacked on top of one another. Then raise yourself onto your elbow and lift your hips off the mat – raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from head to fee. Keep your core tight. 

Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. 

At home exercises

Full body workout example

Now that you know how to do these simple at-home exercises, let’s discuss how you can apply these to a workout…

3 – 4 rounds. Full body. Prepare to sweat. 

  1. Chair pose – hold for 60 seconds 
  2. Standing side leg raises – 10 reps per side 
  3. Oblique side bends – 15 reps per side 
  4. Sumo squat – 10 reps 
  5. Pushups – 10 reps 
  6. Glute raises – 20 reps 
  7. Side plank – hold for 30 seconds each side 

So, get to sweating! 

Happy holidays from all of us at WellBe! 

INTERMITTENT FASTING: WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU FAST

INTERMITTENT FASTING: WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU FAST

Intermittent fasting is quickly gaining popularity as celebs and ordinary folk alike are jumping on the bandwagon of this method of dieting. Whilst the word ‘diet’ is not in our vocabulary at WellBe, it can be said that this form of restrictive eating does seem to have some benefits, as well as some adverse effects, which is why we decided to dive into the topic. 

Truth be told, anything that doesn’t involve spending excessive amounts of time on the stair master or hundreds of rands on paleo and banting bars and trail mixes is worthy of our attention. 

So, what is intermittent fasting all about? Let’s find out. 

An expert explanation of intermittent fasting

According to an educational article published in Hackensack Merdian Health, “Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating where you withhold food for a certain amount of time and allow your body to use energy more efficiently.” Basically, instead of your body using energy from food such as carbs, it will break down fats instead. 

Sounds too good to be true, right? We thought so too. So we did a little digging…

The different methods of fasting

The 5:2 method

This is where you consume your normal caloric intake for 5 days a week and then on two non-consecutive days, you limit your consumption to less than 500 to 600 calories a day. 

The 16:8 method

This is one of the easiest ones to follow, basically, this involves skipping breakfast. You don’t eat for 16 hours of the day and then eat during the other 8 hours. You can choose which hours you would want to spend eating and which ones you will fast for depending on your lifestyle. For example, you can choose to fast between 10 am to 6 pm or 11 am to 7 pm. Whatever suits you! 

The 24 hour fast

Also known as the eat-stop-method, this is pretty much as straight forward as the name suggests. A 24 hour fast is when you do not eat for one full day, either once or twice a week. You then stick to your usual caloric intake for the other days of the week.

The warrior diet

This one seems a little extreme to us. How it works is that you divide your days in 20 hours of fasting and then 4 hours of eating as much as you like. During the fasting period, you are allowed to have small amounts of eggs and nuts to prevent low sugar levels causing you to pass out.

Is there any science behind fasting and weight loss? 

In order to lose weight, our bodies will need to increase the amount of time spent burning calories from the food we eat. When you do not eat (fasting), then this allows your body to burn stored energy. When your body digests and absorbs food it is in what is known as a ‘fed state’, this starts the moment you start eating and lasts roughly 3 to 5 hours after. 

During this ‘fed state’, it is difficult for your body to burn any fat as your insulin levels are high.

On the other hand, your body’s post-absorptive state will last between 8 and 12 hours after the last meal you ate. This is when your body has entered a fasted state, during this time your body will burn fat as insulin levels are low. 

FYI: Insulin works to decrease your blood sugar levels by moving glucose out of your blood and into surrounding cells. When we have higher levels of insulin, this prevents fat from being broken down for energy.

Essentially what fasting does is put your body in a fat-burning state that it rarely reaches during your normal schedule of eating. 

Can I drink during periods of fasting?

As long as you’re only drinking zero-calorie beverages such as water, coffee, and tea, then you’re in the clear. Drinking water whilst fasting is encouraged. 

I thought breakfast was the most important meal of the day?

Experts suggest that it’s better to eat more earlier in the day to avoid overeating at night. If you want to start fasting, it’s advised that you start eating at a time that gives you a 5 to 6-hour time gap before you sleep. For example, if you typically go to sleep at 10 pm, then your last meal should be at 5 pm. 

 

INTERMITTENT FASTING: WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU FAST

Apart from weight loss, are there any other health benefits to fasting?

Studies suggest that those who have followed a diet of fasting compared to a calorie-restrictive eating plan have experienced more health benefits and sustainable weight loss. Some of which include decreased inflammation, increased energy and even an increased immune response (perhaps this is because our bodies are not working overtime to digest food all the time and can focus on immunity efforts). 

However, you need to keep in mind intermittent fasting is a relatively new trend, meaning that current studies lack in control group numbers and findings are somewhat limited. 

Are there any foods I should avoid when I’m not fasting?

There is no rule about what you can and can’t eat when following an intermittent fasting plan. However, it is encouraged that you eat unprocessed wholefoods and be mindful of what you put in your body. Experts suggest sticking to a healthy diet and foods that are high in fibre will boost effects felt from fasting. 

While you’re here, have a look at these foods to help improve gut health

What are the side effects of fasting?

After a few weeks of intermittent fasting, your body will start to adapt and adjust to your new eating cycle. But we must warn you the first few days and weeks can be incredibly challenging. You might experience bouts of lightheadedness, headaches, low energy, constipation, and irritability. 

You need to ensure you are drinking enough water (6 to 8 glasses a day) and avoid any strenuous exercise when fasting. 

Who should not fast? 

If you are someone who suffers from an eating disorder, or you are pregnant, have diabetes, are underweight, trying to conceive or have issues with your blood sugar regulation, then fasting is not for you.

The final word

Before starting any new eating plan, it’s always advised that you chat with a professional such as your doctor or wellness coach. They will be able to assist you and give you sound advice on what kind of healthy lifestyle choices you need to make. 

Remember, different diet and lifestyle choices work for different people. We always suggest that you make conscious and mindful decisions to lead a healthy and happy life, and your diet and exercise plan are two very big determining factors in your physical and mental wellbeing. 

Following a nutritious diet

BOUNCING BACK AFTER A BABY: GET BACK YOUR CONFIDENCE & A HEALTHY BODY

A number of new moms will start to wonder just how long it takes to lose their baby weight and bounce back to their pre-baby body. While many might wish you could magically lose the love handles and hips the moment your baby is born, the fact remains that no one, not even celebrities, can snap right back to their body before their baby so quickly. 

And give yourself some credit, you just carried a baby inside your womb for 9 months. Your body was bound to change as your baby developed and your hormones conjured up what seemed to be a hungry, tired and sore body (unless you’re one of those pregnancy unicorns who glows and walks around on clouds, then kudos to you). 

So, just how much weight do you lose the moment you give birth? 

This will depend on the size of your newborn, he or she should weigh between 3 to 5 kgs, then there is the weight of your placenta and amniotic fluids, which you deliver at birth. All in all, you can expect to instantly shed 5 to 6 kgs during delivery. Hooray! 

So, where is the rest of the weight sitting? In your blood supply, breast tissue, enlarged uterus and fat stores. In fact, when you give birth you should not expect the instant weight loss to automatically shrink your belly, this might take about 6 weeks until your uterus shrinks back to its original size. 

Losing the baby weight

There are a number of ways you can go about trying to lose your baby weight but remember to give yourself a break. You literally just birthed another human being. Things have moved around, grown and stretched out a bit. This means that the trick is not to focus on getting your pre-baby body back, but rather to create a happy, healthy and slightly-differently-shaped you! 

1. Setting reasonable weight loss goals

A good place to start is to chat with your doctor or a qualified dietician for them to help you set a reasonable and safe goal. Remember that everyone sheds weight at their own pace. There are also a number of factors that come into play when it comes to weight loss. One of these is your age. Your metabolism slows down as you get older – have a look at this blog on how to naturally boost your metabolism.

Another factor is your diet. If you adopt healthy eating habits (which will not only benefit you but your baby too if you are breastfeeding), then this will help immensely in your weight loss journey. While you’re here, have a look at these healthy and happy meals

And lastly, your activity levels and exercise routine also plays a role. 

2. Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a great way to burn calories while sitting down. In fact, some experts suggest that breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories a day! It also stimulates the release of hormones that will aid in shrinking your uterus back to its pre-baby size. So, if you can, breastfeed your newborn. Some moms suggest breastfeeding for the first two years of your little one’s life. 

3. Following a nutritious diet

The first thing I need to warn you about is to never jump into a ‘get-thin-fast’ kind of diet. These kinds of ‘crash’ diets might have you shedding a few pounds in just a few weeks through excessive and restrictive dieting, but when you start eating normally again, you will only put the original weight you lost (and some) back on. 

Your body needs proper nutrition to recover from the delivery, fight off infection and aid in feeding your baby. Which is why you should not consider any forms of restrictive diets

You need to ensure you are getting enough calories to breastfeed your little one. There are a number of delicious, healthy and easy to follow diet plans out there, especially for new moms. The WellBe Team is happy to help if you want some expert advice on where to start and what kinds of foods you should be eating as well as what kind of exercises plan to follow. Having a wellness coach is one of the best things you can do for your body and your wellbeing. 

A good place to start is by cutting out on junk food, processed food and fast food and choosing whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats. But if you want a slice of cake, treat yourself. The key is moderation when it comes to implementing a healthy lifestyle. 

4. Following an exercise routine

You might feel exhausted, rundown and sleep-deprived, but keep in mind that exercise, even a brisk walk, will not only do wonders for your physical appearance, but it will also boost your mood and leave you feeling great. So before you head to the couch after putting your little one down for an afternoon nap, why not pop a yoga video on the TV or a quick little workout video to follow? 

It’s a good idea to find activities you actually enjoy doing and ones that don’t take up too much of your time. Being a new mom doesn’t leave you with a lot of free time on your hands, so try to get in exercise anywhere you can. Invest in a pram you can jog with or pop a few squats the next time you ‘pop a squat’ in the bathroom. Trust me, incorporating these little exercises into your day will make the world of difference. 

5. Staying positive

The key to all of this is staying positive and being easy on yourself. Focus on the things you have accomplished and the weight you have already lost and remember than fitness if more about the number on your scale. 

The fact that you’re reading this blog is a step in the right direction, so here’s to you!

Offer yoga and meditation classes

HOW TO INSPIRE A CULTURE OF FITNESS IN THE WORKPLACE: 4 SIMPLE STEPS

A number of companies are starting to see the benefits of wellness in the workplace. From improving employee’s happiness which is directly linked to their levels of productivity, a healthy workplace allows for not only healthy and happy employees but a boost in sales and your company’s bottom line. 

To fully understand the benefits of workplace wellness we wrote a blog on the topic which you can have a look at right here: 8 reasons why your company needs a wellness program

Personal wellness is a top priority

As working professionals, our personal wellness is of top priority and when a company enables its employees to work in an environment that supports their personal health and wellness, it creates loyalty, decreases sick days and creates a workplace that boosts morale and decreases stress levels. 

One of the first steps to improving personal wellness in the workplace is to inspire a culture of fitness. But it takes more than just some healthy snacks in the breakroom and encouraging employees to take the stairs. 

More than a few simple acts of wellness

To truly make a difference in the lives of your employees and sustain these positive results, you need to create healthy habits of wellness in the workplace, it’s these habits that help develop a culture of health and fitness. 

It’s important to understand that whilst a culture of fitness is important to implement and sustain, as a company, you need to look at the bigger picture of corporate wellness. Which is why it helps to get some professionals in to help. Wellness coaches offer expert advice and implement effective practises to improve the wellness culture in your office. 

In any case, one of the first steps to creating a culture of wellness is to inspire a culture of fitness.

Why fitness matters

Exercise is known to make you feel good. From the runner’s ‘high’ to the great feeling you get after working out, even when you go for a brisk walk around the block, exercise does more than just improve your physical health, but it also taps into our mental wellbeing on a number of positive levels. As with healthy eating and positive thinking, exercise helps us to feel great about ourselves which has a direct impact on our work lives. 

So, how great would it be if your place of work inspired this kind of healthy living? It would be amazing. 

1. Get moving – step up to fitness

It’s all about the little efforts that make the big difference. Rewarding employee’s ‘stepping’ milestones is a great way to encourage movement. 

For example, set daily goals of 10 000 steps a day. Those who reach this goal for 10 days in a row are celebrated and rewarded with discounted gym memberships or healthy snack baskets. 

Walking meetings offer a fun alternative to the boring boardroom. 

Provide safe bike parking for those who cycle to work. 

Did you know that staff who spent 30 to 60 minutes working out during their lunch break reported an average performance boost of 15%? Encouraging staff to work out during lunch and better yet, providing them with the space to do so is a great way to improve productivity.

2. Bring fitness into team building

Fun soccer games, 5k fun walks/runs or even jumping on trampolines at Bounce are all fun and engaging ways to interact as a team. 

 

3. Offer yoga and meditation classes 

During lunch and after work, bring in a yoga instructor or offer a meditation class for those who want to get involved. You can also offer this before work starts in the morning to ensure employees start their day feeling relaxed and ready to take on the challenges of the day. 

 

4. Clear communication and celebration is key

Offer yoga and meditation classes

It’s all fine and well having these various fitness and health opportunities available to employees, but you need to ensure that they know about them too! 

And what’s more, your staff need to know that you care about them. A fitness culture in the workplace will not happen without reinforcement. 

This means you need to create a clear communication plan and timeline that lets employees know exactly what activities will be taking place and when as well as what rewards and incentives are linked to these activities. 

It’s important that you reward and celebrate those who take part in fitness challenges. As mentioned earlier, some rewards include: 

  • Discount gym memberships 
  • Healthy snack baskets 
  • Healthy reward vouchers for shops like Total Sports or Sportsmans Warehouse 
  • Free yoga vouchers 

The list goes on. 

Open up an honest conversation around fitness in your business. Talk about topics like work and personal life balance and nutrition. Create an environment where employees are encouraged to talk openly about their health and mental wellbeing and have the right tools to improve their health. 

It starts at the top

Don’t forget that effective fitness in the workplace starts with the boss. As a leader, your staff will follow you so ensure you set a good example and take part in the various fitness activities in the office. 

Physical benefits of a wellness coach

4 REASONS WHY YOU NEED A WELLNESS COACH (FROM PHYSICAL TO EMOTIONAL BENEFITS)

“Health is a state of the body. Wellness is a state of being.” 

What if I told you there was a way to not only better your physical health, but your mental health too? 

Cue health and wellness coaches

Health and wellness coaching is fast becoming one of the most beneficial and constructive financial commitments you can make. But the thing is, a number of people don’t quite understand the concept or see the benefits of it until they try it out for themselves. 

More than an exercise trainer

A wellness coach is more than just a personal trainer. We look at your entire wellbeing and focus on giving support and guidance to help develop both your psychological and physical health. 

Basically, a health and wellness coach is someone who not only helps you reach optimal physical health but helps you improve your mental state of being too. This person becomes your guide to holistic wellbeing (a good health guru, if you will). Combining healthy lifestyle choices, a good diet, exercise, stress optimisation and sleep are ways your coach will help you to become the best version of yourself. 

Some of the focus areas of wellness coaching include: 

  • Nutrition 
  • Health 
  • Weight
  • Stress

For business and individuals

Wellness coaching can also move beyond the focus of one individual. We also work with companies to help improve their brand’s work culture and improve the health and stress levels of employees. 

Have a look at this article on how to bring wellness into the workplace (it’s a great read!)

Let’s take a look at some of the psychological and physical benefits of a wellness coach…

Psychological benefits of a wellness coach

There is a close link between mental and physical wellbeing, in fact, the two of them work hand in hand. 

Here are some of the focus areas of psychological improvement through wellness coaching:

1. Guidance and support

Trust us when we say we have “been there and done that”. Our personal experience and background expertise are what allows us to help you work through struggles in your life. 

Our outside perspective can offer a grounded and objective reality to help bring about concrete goals and a tranquil mindset. 

Issues such as stress, anxiety and depression are tackled head-on to help you take logical steps in overcoming these mental blocks. 

Check out this article on how to handle anxiety in the workplace. It is this kind of support and guidance that we seek to consistently give you. 

2. Real advice for real people

We don’t believe in fads. We don’t do ‘get-fit-fast’ plans or ‘lose-weight-today’ diets. We create our plans based on your individual needs and goals. 

Everyone is different. Everyone has different goals and capabilities. We work with you to create health and wellness plans that not only provide you with advice and steps to reach your mental and physical goals, but we are with you every step of the way to ensure you get to your end goal. 

3. Mental wellbeing and positivity

Health starts in the mind. We help change your mindset and work with you to get healthy through positive reinforcement. 

This isn’t some kind of “you can do it” on repeat, we help you to shift your view of yourself into one that is positive, allowing you to believe in your capabilities and be comfortable in your own strength and body. 

 

Physical benefits of a wellness coach

 

Physical benefits of a wellness coach

1. Tailored fitness and eating plan

We create our eating and exercise plans to include real, nutritious and healthy meals, as well as exciting and interactive workouts. 

We encourage you to eat healthy food that makes you happy and give you all the information you need about healthy eating and ingredients. 

We also ensure you are fully equipped with all the knowledge needed to never feel like you are ‘doing something wrong’ in the gym. 

2. Someone to motivate you

You’re less likely to cancel a gym session when you know one of our coaches will check in with you, if not train with you at the gym. 

This accountability helps encourage you to stick to your plan and give you both an in-person and digital (we’re always just one message away) training buddy. 

3. Challenge yourself

When working with you, we get to know your limits and capabilities. We help you to push outside of your comfort zone (but never force you to the point of injury), helping you to create new limits and reach new heights in your physical abilities (you’re stronger than even you may know!). 

Your wellbeing starts with you

Want to take the next step and find out more about our wellness coaching? Get in touch with our team and we can work on finding the balance and health in your life.