The Sugar Intervention is a mini nutrition course disguised as a sugar detox (well not very well disguised now!). It’s:

– getting rid of sugar and eating real food for two weeks to create long lasting new habits (that you want to keep looking at) to truly eat healthy for your body.

– resetting your go to meals, cutting alcohol and coffee and other ‘habits’, and rethinking your food not just for the season but for the reason – you.

– rethinking your next bite using nutritional therapy and digestive strengthening aids, to start your journey back to helping yourself to health.

– loving everything about feeling fantastic when you wake up each morning and staying that way all day long.

But…

Sugar isn’t just sugar. It’s every food that cause a blood sugar response. Grains. Legumes. Starches. Coffee. Alcohol. Grey areas foods and allergens. Lack of sleep. Stress. In fact they’re all stress and all stress summates: our body doesn’t realize if it’s sugar or toxins or stress that’s causing the stress, it just elicits a blood sugar response. And our brain hates blood sugar spikes of any kind. It has to send out insulin each time, and then massive amounts of glucagon to counteract the insulin (which like stress summates so needs more glucagon to ‘come down’ which we do in a BIG way.) Cortisol release from our adrenals works much the same way, where we also end up craving sugar, and need more insulin and more glucagon. No wonder it’s called the blood sugar roller coaster.

But getting back to a more even keel can start with food. Well these two weeks especially. They’re two weeks dedicated to making more mindful choices to oust sugar responses.

Except it’s more than that too. Even the healthiest meal each day becomes boring to the dopamine receptors in our brains’ rewards system, where it can act like sugar on this roller coaster, looking for more of a buzz! Because our brain evolved to pay attention to new and different tastes. First to detect food that’s gone bad and second because the more variety we have in our diet the more likely we are to get all the nutrients we need. And more importantly, we need to want to keep eating new foods and that’s why dopamine levels off when a food becomes boring.

But for the two weeks of the Sugar Intervention you’ve three new chances each day to see how your body feels, what it needs and doesn’t and what you’re blocking out with go to eating and reaching for sugar in your rush to eat.

So…

If not sugar what then? Simply more room for what you need first. You’ll realize what you can do without, the bad things that have crept into your diet. With new, quite ‘convenient’ ways to cook (and think!) you may refresh more than your food habits.

Also…

The Sugar Intervention does not mean quitting sugar for good. We all pretty much went low fat for so long that it’s tempting to feel the need to go low sugar. We cannot vilify one nutrient to quit for weight loss and health success forever (oh and it’s not ‘no carb’ either. Many people suffer detrimental health effects from removing whole food groups from their diet completely!). A one-size-fits-all diet can never work: for as many people as that diet works for, there will be just as many as it doesn’t. For humans, who grow, change, get sick, heal and age throughout our life, so must their diet. We’ve actually a primitive need for sugar, it’s just that through over consumption (& stress adds to that consumption), we can’t access the benefits.

Because…

Nothing good or bad just in or out of balance. There is no one nutrient or one diet for weight loss or health success – if someone says there is they’re either misguided, selling something or both. That said, getting sugar out of your meals for two weeks lets you put other things back in, change up your go tos, refresh your recipes and shopping to rethink your meals and most importantly start noticing how you feel.

There’s a lot of people out there are recommending ‘diets’ that have worked for them, without getting to know a person and what is happening in their body at a biochemical and cellular level. This is not the Sugar Intervention. I think we need to start teaching people (& most importantly then, teaching ourselves) to be conscious about how food works. One man’s food is another man’s poison: you know too much sugar is yours, what’s your ‘food’ then?

Join us this September. (Email vanessa@fitbynature.com.au for more information).

We’re all a collage of whys: why we exercise, why we eat the way we do, think the way we do, make the choices we do.

Losing weight only makes you lighter not kinder, not smarter, not happier. You just weigh less.

So what are your whys?

Maybe they’re Instagram inspired, past achievements to be relived, bucket list goals no matter your age, whims, wishes, wants.

Firstly I’m hoping you have some of these. I like to screenshot some and put them in a google doc and keep adding to them, remembering to keep looking at them or even better print them out on a regular basis. Instagram allows you to do one like today’s post but somehow that’s just not enough room for me. Or maybe that says something about me and it’s time to pull things in a bit.

But how can we turn these collages, sometimes called vision boards, into action boards? We all live in this ready, set… world, but do we ever go? Well let’s!

Because I feel that a lot of people are just a collage of tricks. They are hacking their bodies, and taking a supplement here, and drinking a cup of coffee for some chemical energy or alcohol for the opposite chemical down time. They’re basically interlacing tricks. But, underneath, there is no glue. Nothing glues these things together. There is a scarcity mindset that emerges. We’re more in lack than in love. We feel the need to keep doing more, full throttle, with no real direction? Training for what?!

So what’s your glue? And how do you find it?

For me it’s the feeling of what and where I want to be. Maybe it’s looking into one or more of those visuals and really imaging myself there and what I’d feel. Maybe it’s a smell, a taste, a song that puts me in a great mood, a reminder or a dream of something I’d like to relive or experience for the first time. But it’s the feeling that drives it. When you find it you’ll know it’s your glue.

The glue is there to serve us in weak moments, in the moments where we are not really wanting it anymore. We like to say we want this and we want that— success or money or achievement—but these are only temporarily desires. Once things become a little bit more difficult, the want disappears and we either take a break, or altogether fall from the process. Someone who has their glue, the feeling of what they want, can activate that automatic pilot and kick things on again to keep going forward.

However there’s a bad side. You can find yourself not really aligned with what you still want. Is it still the same as you wanted when you made this vision/action board? Is there more, more priorities? Part of the gold of the glue is the lack of need to question again and again, where do I want to go, and what do I want to do?

So the glue both serves you, it works for you, but then you’re not really in full control of the process. Install a daily centering practice—stillness, mindfulness, meditation—and reexamine your desires underneath the surface. They’re checking systems for checking in on your glue.

Your beliefs are the thoughts you keep thinking so keep celebrate what’s thriving in your life, giving yourself permission to have a good time. And now hold onto that feeling. That’s your glue!

  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cashews, crushed
  • 1 cup combined flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 175°C.

Parchment-line 20×20 tin

Mix  almond meal, salt + baking soda in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine coconut oil, maple syrup + vanilla. Add the almond meal mixture, + mix in the nuts, seeds and cranberries.

Pour into tin + bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Breaky bars
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It’s funny that ‘squat’ and ‘squatting’ both have negative meanings, but in the world of health it couldn’t be further from the truth. While there’s no one thing that’s the best thing, squatting comes very close. 

Let me clarify too. I not talking squatting weights. I’m taking about being in the position of deep squat, under your own body’s weight. Your weight is on your heels, and they’re on the ground. Your feet are shoulder width (or wherever is comfy for you) and your knees tracking over but not beyond your toes. Your torso is upright not leaning ear forward and your head is also just neutral. Your low back is strong. The crease at your hips is below parallel. Breath. Relax. 

Everyone always asks how much your feet should be turned out or facing forward. The answer is yours: there’s no idea of ONE perfect position. Just aim for maximal depth and relaxation. And footwear? Best is barefoot. Then minimal footwear, zero drop, no feel. Keep your heels on the floor if possible. Try a small heel support until you gain the proper mobility to squat flat foot on the ground. But get there with no support cos you can and should. 
So what about neutral spine. Ok for a resting squat, no need to try to remain erect. It’s a RESTING position.
KneesKnee pain? Hip pain? stand up and move around. Resume the squat and work in small short bursts of squatting throughout the day.
How deep should you squat? Just DEEPER. In fact the sign of good squatting is when you get tired from standing you squat. 
So for August (1st-20th cos that’s my bday and I always love setting myself a challenge), Fitbynature clients are squatting 100 a day. Not all at once. 10×10, 25×4, 2×50. In fact the more spread over the day the better. Cos we’re gonna get better at this, the resting squat, a squat not as an exercise but as a movement we just relax into. 
Tips:
– Squat down as far as you can, just before you fall backwards on your bum you should grabbed a hold of a door or ledge so that you can balance yourself in that position.
– Depending on how much assistance you need to prevent you from losing balance – get a small weight plate at the gym or if at home a small book or raise block can be used to slide under the heel of your foot to prevent you falling backwards and losing balance. Obviously the more assistance your need then the bigger the raised item will need to be that you put under the heel of your foot.
– The challenge is to find the time each day to squeeze this in.
– Add books or a squatty potty to your toilet sitting and start to squat ALL incidental times too
– Squat to watch tv at night or just the ad breaks
– Do your first squats first thing out of bed and jump start your posture and your day
– tmi but squatting can improve the ease of your #2s! Your puborectalis muscle helps keep your everything in place by kinking your colon, much like a bend in a garden hose stops the flow of water. Squatting straightens the kink and allows for a ‘straight out’ complete elimination!
Squatting is a natural position for the human body which if we practice it more often we will be able to correct and return our posture back to its intended state. 
Oh and apart from shifting the idea of squatting from an exercise to a movement you rest (comfortably) in by squatting throughout the day in this challenge, realizing that there’s not THE squat but YOUR squat through this challenge could be one of the biggest things you learn this year. Now you can really begin to help yourself to health!

Strength is the foundation of movement and control. It’s where we get the biggest bangs for our buck. 

If not good at something, I’m on it. Because I actually can get better at it. All I need to do is to work at it.

Weaknesses are certainly harder to work at, but there’s a lot more discovery and growth. They take you the furthest and best of all they’re the things you’re most proud of in the end of the day. 

Which is why your weaknesses are your biggest bang for your buck. They’re the number one thing you need to work on your strength. Even if you are strong at something. In order to strengthen the whole chain, you just find the weak link—once you resolve that, the whole chain became stronger and you move to the next weak link. 

It’s humbling, frustrating and exciting to explore new realms of movement. But your body is an adaptation machine if you keep introducing progressive functional stress. And because our bodies are designed to move freely, that’s always the ultimate journey to keep working towards. 

The shoulders and the hips tie the arms and the legs to your body, don’t you think?

But in order to function properly, a knot cannot be too loose. It comes undone and your shoe comes off, or it’s too tight, and you can’t untie it to even get your shoe off. In order to have a functioning knot you must have a perfect balance of strength and flexibility.

We must be like flexible steel. It’s strong like no other, a force to be reckoned with. And flexible steel bends, but does not break.

And the most flexible steel I will try to get is in my hips and shoulders. The points where those knots really work their magic. Because I’ll always get a very big bang for my buck if I can make even small improvements in these key areas.

And then there’s the bow tie of those knots. My thoracic spine or tspine. Not over tight, never over flexible (tho I’m sure there just be people out there who are?!). Any gains I can make here come from those shoulder and hip knots. They’ll inevitably get tighter or stronger than each other as life happens but through mobility practice daily I can take them all through their motions and in doing so free up one of all of our postural, structural, emotional holding body parts, the tspine. Then I can truly breathe easy: my lungs are right underneath right?!

Tight muscles are not functional on the outside and especially not on the inside of our body. Mobile muscles are both strong and flexible: resilient for helping us help ourselves through each day no matter which way it turn.

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini, patted dry
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients except choc chips which you can mid in once combined. Pour into muffin tins and cook at 350f/180c for 20-22min or until knife comes out clean. Yum

(Zucchini) Jaffa muffins
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Observing others is a big step towards becoming more conscious of your own movement habits. That’s gotta be one of the biggest perks of the job as a movement teacher: that you get to keep learning every session. And you can be too. Obviously you don’t want to be the suspect perv who’s obviously leering at people from afar… But try to subtly be more mindful of the people around you, and how they move. How they breathe, how the walk, how they hold their posture and how it changes with motion (& emotion!).

I can’t help but notice how people move. I have always wanted to become stronger, faster, climb big mountains, run huge distances, flip and cartwheel, jump high, limbo low, surf, skate, ski, play tennis, soccer, dance. But like so many similarly sporting insatiables before me I eventually became involved in teaching my own movement classes. I want to see the moment others see what it feels like to really move and that when you can, you can move even more. And you’re free!

I have watched clients begin their movement journey rolling, crawling on their elbows or hands and knees, or on their backs no hands or feet at all and not doing anything for them except describing what it might feel like and seeing them click. I’ve overheard them telling friends about a class they did ‘doing things that look like you should be able to do them really easily that turned out in fact to be really hard’. What one guy could blast through, another could even get his body to the ground to even begin. What a guy should’ve been able to do and couldn’t yet his office compatriot smoked him and she didn’t even try.

Our bodies are made to move but somewhere along the way we get ‘set in our ways’. Maybe that’s getting really into one sport (or just getting good at sitting!).

Climbers for instance seem to have shoulders that belong on people four times their age, rolled forward, heads carried forward with them, and hands that should’ve rested on the side of their thighs on the fronts and almost turning inwards!

Surfers are similar to climbers because of a similar overarm reach and strength to paddle, add in tight neck and middle back from lifting to surf and then under or over use of their low back to try make up for what their paddling posture can no longer get them doing.

Actually that’s not fair cos the posture is common to most of us. Forward head, rounded shoulders, caved chest and tight neck and mid back and just sore low back (& mostly dysfunctional abs).

It’s interesting (and in some ways quite sad) to see how movement capacity deteriorates – from the toddler with unlimited potential, to people in their 30s and 40s starting to hunch and feel the aches and pains, all the way up to those of us that have all but curled up like prawns.

But what’s even more interesting is that more and more I’m seeing people bursting out of their skins to move, climb, skate, bounce and flip everywhere I go and it really makes me smile.

What body shape are you? Which will you be next?

I think I am now in the business of freedom. That sounds like a grand sweeping statement and if you know me I’m pretty humble even by humble standards.

But coming home to Australia I have met with a lot of clients I’d trained before I’d left (tho I still see a lot of them too which I love!). One group still meets up and trains together using old (and new online) sessions we did, another has an in house fitness offering as standard. One guy now does world masters triathlons, another is bucket-listing travel she dreamed about in her forties, and a now retired couple are taking their kids and grandkids around the circuit they’ve set up around their farm home. I’m a pig in mud.

Because what started with freeing people up from their rib cages, helping them rediscover a posture other than the one their body is melding towards (the one that fits a chair) and my favorite, confidence building, helping people help themselves to their health, curiosity, exploration and potential longevity, truly is right now as I write this. I count these stories as some of the biggest things I have achieved. And they give me the warm and fuzzies for sure.

Because I think we should all begin working on the user manual to our own machinery. And I’m not saying that I have all the answers, cos you do. I’ve just helped some pretty cool people committed to exactly that find their own way there.

What I do offer I have fought against for a long time. I’ve dabbled. In so much. Gymnastics. Dance. Climbing competition and teaching. Fitness and personal training. Holistic life style coaching. Chek practitioning. Massage therapy. Yoga practice and teaching. Functional movement. Natural movement. Movement nutrition and biomechanics. Nutritional therapy. Mobility exploration and flow. And I say dabbled because I feel in the fitness industry especially we tend to specialize. But I never want to stop learning new things and broadening that offering. Of generalization. Because I am proudly a jack of all trades, master of none, which I feel makes perfect sense if we are talking about exercise and longevity.

In society, we admire the specialists who dedicate insane amounts of time and effort perfecting a practice but in the long run, it’s just not sustainable. After a period of time, the highly specialized body starts to suffer from extreme specialization, just as the sedentary body specializes in doing very little: they both get too good at that one thing and things begin to break.

A study from the University of Oxfordmeasured how white matter changes while someone learns a new motor skill like juggling. After 6 weeks, they found that white matter increased almost 6%. But what’s more interesting is that this increase is not strongly correlated with the performance but correlated with the amount of time spent training.

So I think it’s safe to say that learning new things and trying lots of things is a worthwhile endeavour, not just for your body but for your mind too. Yours and mine! Join me in taking your first steps into becoming your own teacher, beginning working on the user manual to your own machinery and move because you can, for as long as you.

1¼ cups almond flour
5 tbsp ground psyllium husk powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
1¼ cups boiling water
3 egg whites

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another then combine. It should resemble dough (if not add small amounts more almond flour). Wet your hands and make 10 small rolls. Bake at 350f/180c for 45min. 😋 

Gluten free bread rolls
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Gluten free bread rolls
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