Energy comes before training and as a result of training.

I used to train my hardest no matter how I felt. Though highs bit a lot of lows, I’d push myself just to get my daily (often high intensity) training in. If I saw myself today back then, I’d laugh at how little I train nowadays, and with better results! Yes, it’s still every day. But I no longer push myself to run everyday and later hammer it out at the gym. I skate, climb, trail run or walk in nature at least once a week, dance and do a fairly unstructured workout at a nearby park each day. And I do some sort of mobility workout each day too. They’re all feel good workouts.

I no longer think of myself as exercising or training. I move because I love how it makes me feel and it seems to make sense, and with those combined comes an overall sense of accomplishment and rightness in both my mind and body.

Our bodies are designed to move. And most of us don’t move nearly as much or as well as we should, and when we do move, we do the same repetitive movement a lot – like running or working out at gyms, swimming laps or riding a bike.

But when we do move, we feel good! Who doesn’t feel that they’re doing themselves some good when exercising? And what about that feel good after? Actually for 48hours after while EPOC (exercise post oxygen consumption) makes it’s beneficial way through every cell of our body. And so does the feel good then, right?!

Baseline movement patterns have risen. ‘Fitness’ is moving towards a ‘movement culture’ and it’s about how your body can perform when confronted with both the known and unknown. Movement is becoming more – your potential – and your potential for feeling good, more so than ever.

Traditional strength training (barbells, kettlebells) isn’t superior to bodyweight based training (gymnastics, acrobatics). Both can serve a valuable purpose in a training program. Weight training of course uses weights, body weight uses physics to increase the resistance your body can overcome. We rely on the sameness, known, traditional ways to ‘train’ maybe as a way of protecting ourselves, knowing we’ll be doing what we should, lifting what someone else lifted, using a corrective that worked for another, exercising because we should rather than because we could. Because movement, locomotive and mobility flows can have you experimenting with ways you could move, moving parts that haven’t and feeling better in places you’d never thought to.

Getting back to basics like crawling, climbing, rolling, just moving your body in movements that may or may not be simple for you, there’s a feeling of awareness and task oriented challenge. And it’s humbling, frustrating and exciting to explore new realms of movement. The first few sessions, you’ll probably suck, feel uncoordinated, lost in space and frustrated with how ‘easy’ it seems it should be. But your body is an adaptation machine so sit back and watch as you and your body become smarter together.

There’s a realm of physical training that exists beyond fixating on sets, reps, weight lifted, and racing the clock. Modern life has us stuck in positions that we do not thrive in. Let’s break those and learn to use our bodies to their full potential: our bodies are designed to move freely, to feel good.

Make feeling good a priority.

For me it has been a magical mystical tour to be able to become curious about what I’m eating and that food changes everything.

You have a cup of coffee you feel one way, sugar another, a carrot, a steak and this profound thing that affects human behavior day to day, week to week.

I can understand how we think food is medicine. But for me allopathic medicine saved my life, with or without food. Emergency brain surgery to remove a tennis ball sized brain tumor needed every neurosurgery breakthrough and tech going. Did you know they used to blind drill and hope to locate tumors?!!

But every day is another day towards my yearly check. A doc visit for a referral for an mri, the mri, waiting for imagery and an appointment with neurosurgeon. And it’s scary. Still. The leadup, the waiting, til the moment he (so far) declares up clear.

Each day is an opportunity to nourish myself into the knowledge I am ok. And particularly from that kind of tumor, in my cerebellum, affecting my balance and spatial awareness and more. I’m not walking around not listening to my body anymore.

And food is the music for my listening. I don’t think of food as fuel. I feel enhancing energy with food is flawed. But eating food should taste good, and make you feel good, both immediately and for longer than two hours so you’re not a slave to more food, not able to live further than a cafe, fridge or grocery store.

Your body is sending signals day to day, week to week, and we can develop our familiarity with it. And it takes time to figure out exactly what and how you’re supposed to be doing that. However, the more familiar you are in your own body, the better control you can have and the more efficient you’ll become and can become at acquiring new skills.

Because when you CAN listen, and CAN realize it’s under you’re control, and you CAN realize your familiarity with your body and it’s capacities, do you see how learning something new would be a bit easier?

Not to mention when we’re well and have all the options to create what we want, our CNS in our brain can find more and more ways to execute living to thrive!

All of this takes time. But would you rather let time pass and slowly move towards having less knowledge about your body or would you rather make use of that time and become more familiar with yourself and give yourself the opportunity to do all the things you can even BETTER?

Food is food and, like what I’m often preemptive text prompted as I’m writing the word, good, for becoming familiar with your body and the opportunity to live your best.

Join us October 7-20 for The Sugar Intervention, two weeks of listening to your body and it’s responses to food. We’re going to strip back our intake to the basics then gradually add whole food items back: if something works, eat it. If a food does not make you feel good, giving you optimal energy and digestion, then try something else. It’s a simple method to figure out how food FEELS, how good a food is for you.

DM for joining details, cost, weaning week info, guidelines and recipes to get you started ebooks.

When you think of Spring, and health and fitness, it seems everyone thinks cleanses and detoxes and things you should be doing

But what if this spring we thought about what we’d been doing? Winter is a time of hibernation, of storage and slowing and knuckling down. Sounds like you’re pretty rested and loaded up ready for Spring!

So this spring, let’s think instead that you’re already ready. You’re a coiled spring from winter ready to go.

But don’t go too hard. Of course. Go by how you feel.

But do you know know?

Every day I do a self assessment as a daily process of warming my body up. From there I can work out how to adapt my training variables (based on my own self-assessment and goals).

Health is taking responsibility for yourself own your own choices. Coaches can guide you but you need to develop self awareness to do the work. For you.

When you think about eating better, what comes to mind? Adding servings of fruits and vegetables to your lunches and dinners? Cutting down on processed foods? Consuming more locally grown produce?

What if by doing something as small as adjusting your mealtimes, you could re-set your body clock and improve your health?

Because adjusting one specific factor — when we eat — could improve our lives just as much as changing what we eat. Much the same way that we should eat a healthy meal every day, we should also eat it when our body expects it.

Our bodies run on a 24-hour clock — right down to our cells. Pretty much anything that you would get tested at the doctor’s office has a circadian rhythm. For instance, your heart rate and blood pressure naturally rise in the afternoon and are lowest while you sleep. This rhythm helps us be alert when we wake up, it has our digestive system ready to process food when we eat, and it helps our organs rest and repair while we sleep.

In our busy and highly stimulated world, our circadian rhythm could use some assistance. The two biggest cues you can give your body to tell it the time of day are light and food.

– eat to wake up, don’t skip breakfast and eat really late and over hungry (you’ll also grab for almost anything so healthier choices don’t even figure)

– get the first light on your skin and in your eyes. Maybe on your face, no sunnies. Just to say ‘good morning body, time to kick ass today’

– the same for lunch and dinner. Not too late and over hungry or over full for your rest and repair in sleeping. Digestive rest is as important as good choices and timing can be the clinch pin!

Evolutionarily, light and food were very reliable cues to know the time of day. But in modern society, they’re both available around the clock. This can lead to circadian disruption and impaired health follows.

When you eat can be just as important as what you eat.

I’m a big fan of alliteration but that aside, facilitate don’t force to me is a big lesson in the journey over the destination, consistency over intensity, daily efforts over perfection. It’s about having goals then stepping back and letting things naturally unfold as you move towards those things intentionally and even the most miniscully (is that a word?) you can each day.

To me it’s as much a training technique as a life value. Ok, big sweeping statement there. So one at a time.

A Training Technique

The reason so many of us can’t touch our toes has nothing to do with hamstring flexibility; it’s our body putting on the brakes. We have simply become more dependent on our legs for stabilization than our core and weight shift. So do we start stretching those hamstrings and mobilizing soft tissues to force the position? Instead we could facilitate that core reactivity and comfort in our weight shift to get out of our legs.

There is a huge difference between:

1. Forcing a position or skill endlessly against the current ‘setting’ of the nervous system and eventually through sheer repetition, achieving a resetting of the parameters (hacking).

2. Facilitating the conditions in which the setting of the nervous system change naturally to accommodate the new conditions (development).

It’s a temptation I’ve probably had with everything: get it done quicker and force it. Yet the more we fight it the less compliant it becomes. Instead we need to think about providing our body with the basic building blocks it needs then giving ourselves space, time, towards feeling and performing our best.

A Life Value

Have you ever noticed the harder you try to go to sleep, the further you move away from even dozing? Trying too hard is the complete flipside to just allowing it to happen.

We can’t make sleep, or awareness, or love (or arguably health too?) happen. Things arrive spontaneously when the conditions are right.

So what can we do?

Create the conditions! Putting our efforts into creating the framework allows these qualities or conditions to naturally arise. Although maybe ‘doing’ is still forcing so just trying to leave space or room for stuff to arise naturally?

In movement, that could even be just choosing two movements you feel good doing or that you need and feel better having done them and stringing them together with interesting transitions (there’s your framework). Then just try and do them each day. For a week (that’s the space). Experiment on yourself. I’ll bet you feel better, move better, change. You’ll be ready for another two next week for sure!

In health, whether mental or life goals, try the same. A new recipe, bringing your lunch to work, veggies at each meal for one day. A gratitude diary, mediating, creating a vision board but committing to look at it each day and even better translating it into an action board and then looking at it and feeling into it each day (there’s your frameworks). For a week (your space). You’ll be ready to add more when they start ticking themselves off. Time passes anyway, you may as well try to create yours.

We can’t force habits to change. But we can provide the conditions and allow for unfolding with time. By stepping out of our habitual thinking and letting things unfold in their own way, we can take a moment to really feel instead of letting old patterns decide for you. You’ll develop not hack; dream not drudge. In movement. In health. In life, man

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.

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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.