Often we get stuck in the day-to-day running around of life, that when planning a holiday, we can easily be swayed into a trip that is all about food, wine and putting our feet up. Don’t get me wrong, holidays are a great time to do this and chill, but they can also be used to reset the fitness wheel. I recently went to Bali for a Physiotherapy course and thought I’d use it as an opportunity to kick start my fitness routine that had slid well and truly off the rails the past 6 months due to work, parenting and using the ‘I’m too tired to exercise’ excuse. We all know the benefits of regular exercise, and mixing it up with all different training really is key.

There are many ways to include fitness into your next trip and it doesn’t need to be boring. You need to decide what sort of fitness you enjoy the most and how much you’d like to do on your vacation. It can be as easy as booking the hotel or resort that has the best gym, good lap pool, fitness classes or beach activities that you can join into. Then there are more adventurous holidays (ones I’ve had clients do) where fitness is a standout, such as trekking caves in Vietnam, learning to surf week-long schools in Sri Lanka, skiing in Japan, paddle-boarding schools in Hawaii or cycling around Cuba. The list is endless!

The other option is to attend a dedicated health retreat. For this you can look global, however Australia has a growing list of world-class retreats where fitness is a focus. Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat (Queensland), Oliva-Newton John’s Gaia Retreat & Spa (Hinterland of Byron Bay), The Golden Door (Hunter Valley) or Kangaroo Island Health Retreat (South Australia) are a few standouts.

When you have that extra time away from work and the usual routine, you can get back into the groove of fitness. It also makes indulging and lying on the beach (the best part about holidays) feel a little less guilty.

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I’m always asked for advice about what are the best shoes to wear for walking and running. This is such a controversial discussion that ranges from very supportive arches in shoes, to the new memory foam innersoles, to lightweight running shoes to completely barefoot. I have to say that I lean towards the barefoot end of the spectrum or as close to it as possible for normal feet.

Back in the 90’s research showed that the introduction of supportive shoes for walking and running did not reduce the rate of injuries to the foot, ankle or knee. Injury rates continued to rise. Many books have hit the market on the barefoot running movement and they do hold a few truths. From the minute a child can walk we put them in shoes. Shoes prevent earthing (a change of electrical charge that exists with connection to the ground), can reduce natural mobility of the foot and can change walking dynamics in many cases.

Barefoot running is often not realistic in the big smoke. More often than not we are walking on concrete with sharp hazards. A rubber sole is so important to cushion and protect against this.  However, the shoe industry is currently moving towards feather light sneakers and they are fantastic. The latest pair of Adidas I bought are made of neoprene (wetsuit material). The new designs are so confortable, super stylish and quite a fashion statement.

You do have to think…how much support do feet really need? The arch was designed to move, stretch and contract. Shoes were originally designed for protection of the feet only. Providing too much support in my opinion is like wearing a back brace. Wearing a back brace for too long can cause the abdominals to slacken as they are not needed. I feel the same happens in the foot. Too much support means the foot becomes in a sense ‘weakened’.

So go as light as you can. I always stress the need to slowly wean yourself into them as they feel very different if you’re used to bricks on your feet. If you have any injuries or are currently wearing orthotics its best to get advise from your Physiotherapist about changing shoes to a lighter option.

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I recently attended a lecture titled “Sitting is the New Smoking”. Thought I’d share a little of what I took away from it.

Sitting down for long periods (facing a computer screen, sitting in meetings, watching TV, driving a car) is not what we were designed to do. It has now also been shown that sitting all day and then going to the gym for an hour isn’t ideal either. The key is to move more often, as much as possible, with high intensity several times per week.

Objects of modern life such as office chairs, beds, car seats, and lounges are designed to provide so much comfort and support to our bodies that we can stay put for long periods of time without the need to move. But is this a good thing? Research shows us that fascia (all our connective tissues that covers and weaves through our entire body) is continuously being remodelled every minute of every hour. Naturally if we sit or lie on a hard surface, (think of old Danish furniture, basic plastic chairs or just on the floor like many other cultures) the body will move roughly every 20mins to get a new comfortable position. Not moving for hours can lead to our connective tissue re-modelling in that position, potentially leading to imbalances and pain, not to mention the stats on other health factors. I stayed in Myanmar in a monastery many moons ago on a timber floor and I definitely moved every 20 mins as each body part progressively went numb. I think it’s a matter of getting used to it. We are conditioned for comfort! But the truth is we are doing harm by not moving. I don’t know if I’m ready to sleep on a yoga mat yet, but here are some tips to for moving more regularly if your desk bound all day:
1. Make yourself head out at lunchtime.
2. Arrange walking meetings, grabbing a coffee for the walk if need be.
3. Get up and stretch! Move your fascial system regularly. I’ll post over the next few weeks some great ways to move at your desk that won’t have you looking ridiculous if you’re in a shared office.
4. Consider gradually making your chair a little less comfortable. Your body will tell you its time to move.
5. Use the stairs.

Know that sometimes it’s impossible to change your day, but I’m sure there are a few ways you could move more often. Hopefully I’ve got you thinking…

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Claire Fabb (Style By Yellow Button- stylebyyellowbutton.com.au)has been a regular client of the studio for many, many years now and has asked me to write a blog post about Pilates, in particular using the traditional machines and the benefits of these. This post was for her website, but I’m sharing it here…

With summer around the corner, it is good to understand how machine-based Pilates can help with strength, toning, flexibility and mindfulness.

Pilates has been around now since the early 1900’s. Joseph Pilates set up his first studio in NYC, but it became famous around the world when it hit the Californian shores in the 70’s. The list of Hollywood celebrities doing Pilates is endless, Kate Hudson, Anna Paquin, Reece Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz and Megan Fox to name a few. In the professional sporting scene it’s larger. Even Pippa Middleton claimed her infamous bottom in that bridesmaid dress was attributed to machine-based studio Pilates in London. And it’s not just for women! It was started by a man, and men usually love it the most.

There are mat-based and machine-based Pilates classes. Both are the same, but different. The exercises all come back to the founding principles of precision, form, control, breath, muscular balancing, etc. I personally love machine-based Pilates the most. The machines are all spring loaded and can look a little daunting, but they have this amazing ability to either assist a movement or seriously challenge it. This is what gives regular Pilates enthusiasts those leaner and longer muscles. When you do Pilates, you have a better awareness of your body too and how it moves. It really is like meditation…you can only focus on the one thing (your body) whilst performing the exercises.

Remember that no matter what level your at, what your goals are or what injuries you have, Pilates can be modified to your situation. It should start slow until you learn to master your body and the basics, then you will find out the true potential of Pilates. It will make you shake, strengthen your core and even get the heart rate up.

There are 5 main machines to work on, and all good studios will have them; the Reformer, Cadillac (or often called the Trapeze table), Wunda Chair, High Barrel and Spine Corrector. There is a magnitude of other contraptions too that you will see. All these beautifully crafted machines can assist you to perform a movement, add varying resistances to intensify a movement, increase stretches and add balance challenges. Pilates should be a full-body workout once you have mastered the basics, however, the most important thing is your form and using the correct technique. Like learning any new skill, you have to start at the beginning. The more challenging repertoire you get to look forward to is truly amazing.

Also, consider seeing a Physiotherapist for Pilates if you have a current injury. Machine-based Pilates is great for rehab!

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Style By Yellow Button

I was just recently asked to be the fitness expert for the amazing fashion/styling/absolutely anything cool ‘Style By Yellow Button’. You can check out my first blog post below. It is about machine based Pilates.

http://stylebyyellowbutton.com/machine-pilates-how-you-can-use-these-in-prep-for-the-summer-season-by-deborah-thomas/

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Green Lifestyle Magazine

I have been reading Green Lifestyle Magazine for over a year now, and recently it went to an online format only. Its free to sign up to the monthly mag links delivered to your inbox and the content is fantastic. I have had to share it this month as just too many good articles! Here are three that were an interesting read with the links attached.

1. 95% of vitamins on the market are synthetically made (http://www.greenlifestylemag.com.au/features/20415/vitamins-synthetic-vs-natural).

2. Information on sunscreen (http://www.greenlifestylemag.com.au/features/20391/sunscreen-dilemma).

3. Microplastics in exfoliant skincare products. Small particles of plastic that are in many big brand body/facial cleaners that are acting as exfoliants but polluting our waterways (http://www.greenlifestylemag.com.au/20412/instant-expert-microplastics).

Hope you get a chance to have a read!

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One of our regular clients was asked to do a blog about her story as a professional skydiver and her current rehabilitation through hamstring surgery with us at Studio Align. Barbara is training for the Womens Head Down World Record in Novemeber in the USA. Can’t wait to see some pictures! We wish you all the best on this jump! To read this interesting and inspiring story click on the link.

http://info.lululemon.com.au/community/blog/how-a-jump-from-14000-ft-changed-my-life/

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Homemade Butter

After reading ‘Deep Nutrition’ by Dr Shanahan and watching a documentary a few weeks ago on the Nepalese hill tribes, I decided to make my own butter. The women in this tribe made their own butter churning it in the stomach lining of a cow and then hand stitching it into woven bags to preserve it. Cow linings are a little extreme, but after a quick Google search I found it can be done very easily in a glass jar. All you need: cream, a glass jar, pinch of salt and some good arm muscles. Really delicious.

Steps: Pour the cream into the glass jar, place the lid one securely. Shake the jar in hard slow pulses until the cream divides into the solid butter and buttermilk (approximately 5-10mins later, will go from cream to a custard phase first before it separates). Wash the solid butter with water to remove all buttermilk, mix through salt to taste and place in a storage container in the fridge. Voila!

Homemade Butter

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I have just spent a lovely week with the family in Bali for a wedding and like all holidays I read a book. I do love a good non-fiction book every now and then, but I am a sucker for a good textbook too! This trip it was more of the later, with a book I was recommended by a colleague called ‘Deep Nutrition: Why your genes need traditional food’ by Catherine Shanahan. It was well worth the read. It’s based around a Doctors research into tribal diets and the four main things every diet should have to reduce disease and keep your genes healthy. The word used is ‘epigenetics’. Epigenetics in a nutshell is the latest buzzword based on evidence that your genes are not locked or unchangeable structures passed down from your parents. Genes are dynamic and everything you do (food, stress, environment etc) can dramatically change the way your genes behave. This is really powerful news. She believes although our life expectancy is longer than 20 years ago by a few years, we are actually less healthy, with diseases occurring at younger ages. The increase in life expectancy is due to improved medicines, not improved health. Interesting?

So the four food requirements Dr Shanahan found that were the same across healthy tribal cultures worldwide are below:

1) Meat: The more fatty cuts. Cooked as rare as you can eat it or slow cooked. Always on the bone.

2) Offal: If you can stomach organs, they are super rich in every mineral known to man.

3) Raw Milk and Dairy (inc. Butter): You can buy this, although its not allowed for consumption due to Australian laws. I bought some this week and it tastes, looks and drinks like normal milk. Long story short, when you pasteurise and homogenise milk you break the fat cells membrane, making it near impossible for your body to digest. Dr Shanahan actually thinks this is the reason for lactose intolerances. I was super nerdy the other day and made my own butter (blog to follow).

4) Fermented and sprouted foods: I’m still getting my head around this point, but will keep you posted on my progress. I just bought sprouted bread twice last week. Once from the organic markets near me on a Sunday (Frenches Forest) and the other from my home delivery shop (The Organic Food Network). Both were yummy!

The final points are NO sugar, one piece of fruit a day only, NO vegetable oils.

The book goes right into the science of it all and also looks into maternal nutrition, conceiving and birth. Some interesting concepts are raised about western mothers having babies super close together and the problems that maybe associated with this. All theories, but quite believable. Hope you get to read this book!

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Organic vs conventional?

This is a hot debate. One that I am passionate about. I really do believe that organic food is better. Not only for its nutritional value but also for the benefits to agricultural land and our environment for sustainability. We buy our fresh fruit and veg from The Organic Network in Brookvale (ofn@bigpond.com) and it’s home delivered each week. Firstly, it saves so much time and secondly, because I always have a baby in one arm and getting groceries up from the car to my apartment is virtually impossible!

I read this article this morning and clicked through to the reasarch article. It’s well worth a look at. A young girl has been researching the benefits of organic food vs conventional in the health of fruit flies. The organic fed flies are ahead in leaps and bounds. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/is-organic-better-ask-a-fruit-fly/?src=me&ref=general

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