So June is upon us and our hanging challenge begins. It’s winter here in Australia and everyone is hunching their shoulders, contracting their muscles every way to stay warm as it descends on us pretty quickly after such a long warm summer.

Today is day two, but it’s never too late to join in! The goal is to hang for a cumulative time of 5min a day for 30days. Why? To improve spine and shoulder health by decompressing vertebrae, strengthening grip and letting gravity do the work of opening up your shoulders and hips.

As our name suggests, at Fitbynature we feel the need to move more and to implement it into our daily lives. We’re not a fan of the pure fitness approach of ‘training it’; we prefer the ‘move it’ approach any day of the week. And that goes most for hanging, especially from our arms.

Hanging should be brought back into fitness and daily movement fashion. I wonder if we implement hanging work throughout our lives, from young age and into old age and without taking too large of a break what would be the results over the now lost ‘overhead reach’ range and shoulder injury rates. I suspect we would have little need to ‘stretch our shoulders’ any further. Of course shoulder integrity, elbow and wrist/hand/finger health can benefit tremendously from daily hanging as well.

By simply allowing gravity to ‘do its thing’ in the passive hanging work or ‘fighting it’ in the active hanging work – we can send a very intense adaptation producing signal into all our structures. Like standing is for walking, hanging sits as a prerequisite for so many movements like climbing and pulling. A deficiency in hanging work will become evident at a certain stage – some get stuck early unable to develop even a single chin up (a very common female problem).

Already in to day two of the challenge, I’m finding opportunities for hanging, rather than feeling I am limited because I’ve no chin up bar. Trees, kids park equipment, door frames and skirting boards, fencing. We do also have a chin-up / pull-up bar set up in our house, encouraging hanging every walk through. If you can’t do the same, set up anchor points in and near your home – a closed door on two tea towels (taking care they’re secure on that closed door), from your ceiling (or your office one), in your garage, a nearby park not too far to incorporate into your daily healthy spine needs. By having it readily available, your children, loved ones or fellow office workers may join in. And you’ll all realise you don’t need to go to the gym to do fo your daily hanging, your daily spinal health check (remembering each vertebrae of your spine each has different nerves from different organs)!

I am hoping by asking you to join in this challenge that you too will see the amazing benefits (we’re already feeling them in day two!) but also that we need to see hanging appear in our daily lives – spread out and practiced shortly but often, and shift so much of our movement into a paradigm of – ‘I am not training’ but ‘I am moving’ – all the time.

First things first – install some anchor points. Do it now. And start your hanging challenge. Do that now too.

We get two sets of teeth, our skin sheds, our cells regenerate, our nails regrow but we only get one set of feet. Yet they’re furthest from our eyes which means they’re also often furthest from our mind. Here’s why repairing your feet now is such a big deal. 
The foot is the platform for your entire body: the muscles have to be strong enough to keep your entire body moving as smoothly as possible. The current state of your feet is the future projection of how well you will be able to move as you get older. 

Our foot is made up of twenty-five percent of the body’s bones and muscles and have the potential to deform subtlety, sending valuable information to the body’s center of mass (located in the pelvis). The tiny stretches in between every one of each foot’s twenty-six bones are a gold mine of proprioception that allow the pelvis to make three-dimensional positional adjustments based on these tiny movements. Simply, your low back pain could be a better foot strike away!

Optimal foot health, however, has been compromised by the use of footwear over our lifetime. The limitations footwear places on motion of the foot (along with motion of the ankle, knee, hip and sacrum) are not equal across all types of shoes. The healthiest footwear is one that interferes little with your natural body movements. Barefoot is best but, like any health protocol, we need to take our time getting back there: little steps at a time has never been so punny and so true. 

Before you go baring it all, keep in mind the supporting structures of the feet have been, for the most part, inert for the bulk of your life. Loading fresh arches on long walks after removing a lifetime of support can stress and strain tissues. It is important to think about building strength in the musculature of the feet just as we would with any other part of our body. Start with smaller doses of barefoot walking and make sure you do lots of foot stretching in between walking sessions. Pamper your feet, which will help them be happier as they cart you around: A coconut oil foot massage and nontoxic pedicure can be a mini-vacation. 

Try some of these:

1. Trace your foot and put the pic next to your shoe

– How does your foot-shape compare to your shoe shape?

– How do you think this affects your feet?

– try some of the exercises below and redo the drawing next month and see how much you can change your foot shape thru movement!

2. Write your name with your foot. Ok now left footed!

There are two types of nerves in the feet: motor (those that tell the toes and feet to move) and sensory (those that the toes and feet feel the environment with). Let’s test each:

3. Test the motor nerves: Starting in standing position, have them see if they can:

– Lift your big toe by itself.

– Lift each other toe by itself.

– Spread the toes away from each other.

– Spread the toes away from each other without lifting them off the ground 

4. Test the sensory nerves: Sensory nerves measure environmental factors like temperature and surface textures. Many people expose their feet ONLY to the sensation of socks, the same pair of shoes, and the flat surfaces inside their home. How can we remedy this? 

– Create an indoor texture box or a clean space in your yard for texture walking. A cobblestone mat works too

– Collect items from around the house with various texture, like a washcloth, sandpaper, a toothbrush (of some unlucky person), some pebbles of various sizes, a set of silverware (to be washed before putting back, especially if you have me over for dinner), an ice cube and something warm. You’ll also need a blindfold. Can you guess?

Let’s just keep getting outta our shoes and into our feet.

We prioritize a bikini body in spring in preparation for summer, but just as important in autumn is prioritising rest, whole body movement, as well as nutrient dense and seasonal produce for managing our energy levels as the seasons change for winter

1. We need more sleep in winter months. Give yourself permission. 

Our body wants more sleep in the cooler seasons. The first has to do with less light and our natural sleep hormone production. The lack of natural light in autumn and winter suppresses the release of melatonin, the hormone that tells our body it’s time to get ready for sleep

In summer, when sunset is later, our melatonin signals come later. Going to bed later is our bodies natural response to light cues. But because nightfall is earlier in winter, and there is less light overall, we are genuinely more tired earlier in the dayGoing to bed earlier is our bodies natural response to light cues. 

And should be our response too! More often than not, at this time of year, you may find yourself wanting to burrow under your covers. Yet a lot of us don’t. We push through with our exercise regimes, waking up at 5.30 am for that boot camp forfeiting that extra hour of sleepThis may be negatively impacting your health more than you realise. And I’m a fitness trainer saying this 🤣 but I firmly believe in it. It’s health and fitness in that order! If your natural instinct is to keep charging through your routine the next time you feel low on energy, give yourself permission to sleep.

2. Our movement patterns change with the changing light but we too can go with the flow 

Our movement patterns change when it is dark, cold or raining. It’s harder to motivate yourself to get outside and exercise. This often means we are more sedentary in the cooler months.

Which affects our energy because the benefits of movement extend far beyond weight loss and movement:  it’s important for full activation of our lymphatic system to help the body’s detox pathways, healthy body systems critical for mood balancing and increased insulin sensitivity. 

If you struggle to include daily movement of any sort as the season’s change, find a form of indoor exercise you like or you can even do a little home yoga or workout session. I love to string 2-3 mobility exercises together with interesting transitions and try and ‘flow’ then 3-5 times thru. Try adding music and keep up with the rhythm. 

3. Up your warning, nutrient and digestive density in winter foods 
Did you top up your vitamin D this past summer? Vitamin D controls the DNA of our cells and helps control belly fat through the role of insulin. It plays a key role in the production of pancreatic enzymes and controls the level of calcium in the blood and bone.

We absorb vitamin D from the sun through our skin. However few of us realise that this can only happen, in summer, during the hours of 10 am and 3 pm. This is because the UVB sun rays are only effective in penetrating the atmosphere and our skin’s thickest layer when the sun is at its highest strength.

So as the seasons change it’s important to get enough:

– Vitamin D from food sources such as sardines, mackerel, egg yolks and organic pork lard

– Try to include warming spices and herbs such as garlic and ginger which both have proven medicinal qualities.

– Include slow cooked means and steamed vegetables in your diet – as opposed to salads – to give your digestive system a break. My favourite way to eat seasonal produce is to saute them in bone broth.

Bone broth contains healing compounds such as glutamine, collagen, proline, glycine and gelatin. These are essential amino acids and trace minerals that work within the intestines to help seal the gutThey’re easily absorbed, allowing them to provide cells with the direct building blocks needed to heal the gut lining.

Easily digestible and very soothing, bone broth is also great for bone health, your skin and also helps support the immune systemHere’s my favourite bone broth recipe.


The changing weather conditions affect more than our routine outdoor time and activities — it actually disrupts some of our body’s natural processes too. Take the time to slow down and check in, up your nutrient density and digestive strength and listen to the earlier waning sun and chill out this winter for long term nourishing health. 

  • 2 1/2 cups macadamia milk
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup pistachios
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  1. Pour the mixture into a loaf pan, top with extra chopped pistachios, and freeze overnight.
  2. Slice with a not knife and serve
  3. Or let thaw for 10-15 minutes until soft enough to scoop.
  4. Or if you want it SUPER creamy, break into chunks and re-blend until smooth
Pistachio avocado (n)ice cream
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Our health is defined by an equation with ‘do less of this’ and ‘more of that’: ‘If I eat less and exercise more I will lose weight’. When the equation doesn’t balance, our health doesn’t either: it’s an approach about struggle and scarcity.

Our body prioritizes repairing and improving tissues that we use frequently. Conversely, anything we do not use will not be well maintained. It makes sense to change up what we’re currently doing don’t you think?

It’s time to move to a more productive conversation about health, the body, food, and movement, teaching ourselves that there is a different way, a way that cultivates and connects.

Our approach to exercise, movement, needs to be about ‘more’ and exploration: places you go rather than things you do, listening to your body and letting it teach you.

I’m not talking completely without a routine, though I do think it’s entirely possible to move better simply with any daily routine where you move each of your joints through all their ranges of motion under tension. It would give your body the stimulus it needs to maintain and improve your joints and sharpen your control over them rather than a rigid one of something you’ve always done.

But we’ve become good at finding the path of least resistance. We strengthen our strengths and neglect our weaknesses. We need both baseline and aesthetic goals, which we regularly test and aim for and we can progress and regress our standards towards our goals and not only meet there but aim higher, always improving our body rather than giving into degeneration and aging.

This is about putting your body first. It’s about learning what we don’t know, not just consolidating what we do. Our body is built to move correctly all the time, but instead of learning to move the way we were meant to move, we focus on ‘working out’ or ‘getting some exercise.’ We should be aiming our exercise and movement programs towards maximizing our movement potential by improving the way your brain talks to our body.

Three things you can do today to move better then more consistently:

– when you sit to watch tv tonight, sit instead on the floor. You’ll have to move (particularly your hips) throughout. Book, you’ve just added a mobility set into your day.

– commit to a daily movement routine. Pick three places you’re body feels tight, look to their opposite sides and google a mobility exercises for them (chances are you’re weak in these sides cos you’re right on the back. Stretching alone ain’t gonna do it for you, strength work night lead to injury first). Try stringing these together in a flow by using two interesting transition movements between. Repeat a few times daily!

– contact vanessa@fitbybature.com.au for some ideas.

Upcoming courses:

free two week movement course downloaded ebook

– #unlimityourmovement coming to Instagram @fit.by.nature in June

July online group coaching


Try red + green cabbage for different tasting sauerkraut
  • 1 liter glass jar with spring lid
  • 1 medium cabbage (1kg)
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp whey
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds
  • enough water to cover

Grate or process cabbage then add to jar with salt and whey. Pound until the juices cause suction. Press firmly until the juices rise to the top and covers the mixture. Leave at least and inch or more space at the top to allow for expansion. Add the seeds and extra water and put lid on. Store in cool dry place for 3/5 days depending on temperature. Store in the fridge and consume after a few days tho you can leave it a month for a delicious flavor.


Sauerkraut
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Our mouth is for eating, tasting, and talking; our nose is for breathing and smelling. It’s when our bodies, or body parts, begin to operate outside their intended function, that problems begin to arise.

If you’re breathing through your mouth while you sleep at night, it’s a big deal. Mouth breathing (asleep or awake) is a strain on your nervous system, airways and lungs.

But in a more positive light, there are huge benefits in nose breathing. Breathing in and out of your nose (instead of your mouth) is a simple way to reap the benefits of better sleep, improved oral and dental health, better focus, memory, and concentration and reduced anxiety.

What’s So Bad About Mouth Breathing?

During mouth breathing, air is forced through our airways at a larger volume than when we breathe through our nose. And when you breathe in air at such a high volume, the collapsible airway tends to collapse.

Mouth breathing impacts blood pressure and heart rate, worsens asthma, and deprives the heart, brain, and other organs of optimal oxygenation

If you’re breathing through your mouth while you sleep at night, it’s a big deal.

Not only does it reduce the quality of your sleep, but it disrupts the balance of your oral microbiome and makes you more prone to tooth decay.

Not just any old tape!

Mouth tape isn’t duct tape or any other random, store-bought tape that you just slap on your lips.

– it’s minimally invasive, pain-free, and completely safe (unlike trying to sleep with heavy-duty duct tape covering your mouth).

– many brands are hypoallergenic, easily removed by simply opening your mouth, and shaped to sit directly on the lips.

– if can’t breath with the tape on, then you wouldn’t fall asleep in the first place

– don’t tape if you’ve drunk alcohol or eaten under two hours before bed

– if it makes you anxious try taping after you’ve brushed your teeth and are getting ready for work – ie while you’re awake and til you’re comfy with it (there are also anti snore chin straps that keep your mouth closed). Just close your mouth.

– becoming a nose breather is a process, but even repeated cycles of just a few minutes of nose breathing can effectively train your body to do it regularly.

– if you‘re a mouth breather, it’s unlikely that your first night of mouth taping will be successful.

– the best thing you can do is to keep trying and be vigilant about practicing nose breathing during the day, when you’re more aware.

In fact we all should practice our breathing. Better breathing is better health: if we can only survive 3 min without breathing, how long can we while optimally breathing?! Surely longer!

Mouth breathing might be one of the biggest reasons for dental cavities but nose breathing is surely THE highest biohack for optimal health.

This recipe has lots of (real foods and flavors) ingredients but is easy to just whiz and store.

DIPPING SAUCE

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup red curry paste (see below)
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water

Bring all ingredients to gentle boil on medium heat. Simmer 3-5 min. Cool and serve (store in glass jar in fridge)

THAI RED CURRY PASTE

  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin seed 
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns 
  • 2-4 medium red chilies, deseeded 
  • 1 stalk lemongrass 
  • 1 heaping Tbsp fresh ginger 
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp fresh turmeric (or 1 tsp ground turmeric)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt 
  • 1 medium lime, zested and juiced 
  •  1/2 cup diced green onion 
  • 2-3 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 Tbsp coconut sugar 

Whiz all ingredients in blender. Store in glass jar up to 10days in fridge

Red curry dipping sauce
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Red curry dipping sauce
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Why do lizards sunbathe? Why do jackrabbits have huge ears? Why do dogs pant when they’re hot? Why do we love and loathe sunshine, cold water, windy days, rainy stormy weather? We regulate our body temperature by thermoregulatory strategies that are arguably physical as well as mental.

I remember Easter weekends as a kid when we’d have a late southerly and boom, it was winter. Well winter for Australia anyway. We’d have our fire laid ready cos love getting our cosy on (& my boys are both pyros).

Having just had an incredible endless summer- leaving California at the end of summer (& then their Indian summer) then coming to Australia at the end of spring and getting the full brunt of summer just gone, this lovely sunny Easter weekend isn’t unwelcome. It’s still lovely basking in sunshine Thankyou!

But something in me knows I can’t always seek sunshine. We’ve gotta open ourselves to every weather and find stability in navigating conditions.

Description

Thermoregulation is the ability of our body to keep its temperature within certain boundaries, even when the surrounding temperature is very different. It’s so important to our metabolism and our energy perception as much as creation.

– We can alter metabolic heat production to maintain body temperature using both shivering and non-shivering.

– by shrinking and expanding our blood vessels to the skin, we can alter our exchange of heat with the environment.

– our body can arrange blood vessels in which heat flows from warmer to cooler blood, to reduce heat loss.

– and of course we sweat and pant during exercise all in the name of body temperature regulation.

I love to challenge mine. Infra red saunas, polar plunges, swimming in the ocean (no matter the temp outside). I used to be such a coldy cat always. And then I had my brain tumor operation. Now I know it’s importance.

Our body’s (& your mind’s) thermoregulatory strategies can bring us a sense of confidence. Things come and go and change. And so can we!

And there’s stability in awareness.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Melted dark chocolate for crosses

METHOD

Preheat oven 160c/320f

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and mix wet ingredients in another. Add together. Let sit to 5 min. Makes sticky dough

Shape into balls on paper lined trays. Add crosses in melted choc

Bake 35 min, turn off oven and leave in for another 5min

Hot Cross Buns
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Hot Cross Buns
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