Putting the focus on You.

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Thank you for being here.

I am very grateful for your patience with me, I have been writing a great deal and will be sharing more with you very soon.

But first  a bit about me and why I need your help to get to know You and Your Needs better.

Me.

A nerd at heart.  I have a deep fascination with the human body and what makes us the incredible beings we are.  I have gone back to university to become qualified in Functional and Lifestyle Medicine and Integrative care to work alongside  GPs and Physicians.

I’m  passionate about giving back the knowledge that I have learned over the last three years and share what I’ve read about this brave new world of nutritional science that we are entering.

 

You.

I would like to turn the spotlight on the most important aspect of why I write, why I continue to study and why I am here now – YOU.

I’m thinking about writing a practical program on the science behind achieving a healthy lifestyle and a HOW-TO type guide to help you achieve your health and weight goals.

 

Why this is needed right now.

Research has repeatedly shown that ‘No One Size Fits All’.

This is why following the latest fashionable diet to become that lean/ripped/curvaceous model you see in magazines or on Instagram is seriously flawed and NOT sustainable.  This may sound like a romantic notion, but we are individuals, we are unique and there is most certainly no-one out there quite like you.

My mission with this program is to help empower you with tools to reconnect you with your body and your food choices.  Helping you find your best health and weight along the way.

This program will take you through:

  • The science behind health and weight  in a way that will help you understand the inner workings of the body; the why and how we put on and lose weight.
  • The health implications associated with weight and how we can make a difference with simple steps to make sustainable change.
  • We talk about food and lifestyle strategies that you can tailor to yourself to find the right weight and body shape for you.
  • Perhaps the most important outcome I want to achieve is reconnecting YOU with your body and your optimal health… starting where you are now.

QUESTIONS FOR YOU:

What has been your No.1 health or weight challenge?

Do you spend a good part of your day worrying about your weight or health?

-If yes what do you worry about ?

-What have you tried already ?

Do you feel that a program like this would be of value to you?

I’m super curious, love talking and hearing about the challenges we face.

I read every email and look forward to hearing from you.

vaishalimehmi@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

Medical Disclaimer:
The information on this website is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. 
All advice should be discussed with your GP/ healthcare provider if you  are unsure or have a medical condition. 

 

 


What’s so fabulous about fibre?

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We are only just beginning to explore the intricacies of how the food we eat interacts with our bodies and in particular, our gut microbiota (the incredible 100 trillion bacteria that live in our digestive system). Fibre is a vital part of what can be called your ‘way of life’ or your daily normal diet (click here to see my previous post on ‘Which diet is best for me?’). The aim of this article is to share the evidence on the benefits of fibre, where we can get it from and how we can apply this to our everyday. 

The WHY of FIBRE.

Looking into the importance and benefits of fibre will hopefully encourage you to welcome it into your day wherever and however you can.

FIRST BENEFIT: Fibre has hormonal effects.

What is a hormone and how does it relate to fibre?

The word Hormone is Greek for ‘set in motion’. If you imagine a hormone like a parent on a mission, intent on getting things done; hormones are chemicals that travel to certain organs and exert a specific effect in order to make things happen.

An example is the fascinating hormone Insulin which is remarkably designed to allow the body to utilise sugar/glucose from the food we eat to be used as fuel (sugar is essential for our survival, click here to read more on why). Insulin is able to unlock cells, in effect telling the body to absorb this energy source for immediate use or to store it for later.

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How is insulin linked to fibre?

The fibre in your meal adds bulk to your food, which means it takes longer to chew and travel through the body, slowing down the digestive process. This slowing down means that food takes longer to leave the stomach and longer for the digested food to be absorbed into the bloodstream. This results in a delayed release of sugar into the blood and a delayed release of the hormone Insulin.

Why is this so important?

Dr Jason Fung, Canadian kidney specialist describes the action of Insulin similar to the railway guards in Japan called ‘pushers’. The job of these ‘pushers’ is to cram as many people onto the subway trains as they can during peak time. Similarly, Insulin is released by the body after eating highly refined carbohydrates, for example,  to ‘push’ the sugar efficiently into our cells. With the sugar now being taken up by the cells, there can be a sudden drop in blood sugar which if persists in some people can cause feelings of hunger, tiredness, fatigue and dizziness- symptoms of what we may call a ‘sugar crash’.

Read More


Why are we so addicted to sugar?

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We are fundamentally wired for survival.

Designed primarily to hunt and gather in times of scarcity, we are built to seek out sugar. With no guarantee of the size, timing or even certainty of the next meal, we became finely tuned to search for sugar and instinctively wired to gain pleasure from consuming it. The body, as a result, has become highly efficient at utilising sugar and storing the excess to fuel a future famine.

Aligned with this evolutionary drive to eat, we have been gifted with a ‘Hunger Management System’ policed by our old friends’ the hunger hormone Ghrelin which signals hunger and counterbalanced by the anti-hunger hormone Leptin which signals satiety by disrupting our natural desire to eat.

Fast forward to the present time.

Sugar and calories now plentiful and equipped with a finely tuned Hunger Management System: Why is portion control, calorie intake and our ability to say no to that second or third piece of cake so difficult?

Food availability has changed. How we choose our food sources and the ease with which we are able to sustain our energy needs has been hugely transformed. Our physiology has yet to catch up with this transition that we see from food scarcity to food abundance.

Whilst we wait for that 4.0 systems upgrade by Mother Nature or further research to give us answers and possibly an external solution; we need to find a strategy to deal with this desire to consume more than we need.

STRATEGIES TO HELP CURB CRAVINGS AND PROMOTE FEELINGS OF BEING SATISFIED.

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EVENT + RESPONSE = OUTCOME

A story :

GULF WAR. Southern California.

LEXUS SHOWROOM: Recession was hitting hard and they found fewer and fewer people walking through the door. Nearing closure they decided to try something different.

They drove the cars around to local polo clubs, country clubs and restaurants where they knew the rich would be frequenting.

They set up shop roadside and started to offer Test drives for Free for fun.

They played on the human psyche; we are often satisfied with what we have until something better comes along, this is how Apple has been so successful in the past selling us the latest iPhone.

Many took up the offer and happily drove around these new Lexus cars but then found it very difficult to then return back to their own ‘lesser’ cars.

Suffice to say that the Lexus showroom did better and sold MORE cars during the recession than they did ever Pre-War.

Jack Canfield (author of Chicken soup for the Soul) uses this example to show how powerful the RESPONSE can be to influence the OUTCOME.

EVENT + RESPONSE = OUTCOME

Faced with the EVENT, Lexus went straight to the OUTCOME they desired and engineered the RESPONSE to make it happen.

This is such a powerful concept.

Once the EVENT has occurred at that moment it is equal to the OUTCOME… in the absence of an emotional RESPONSE.

Think about this for a moment.

An event without a response is just a neutral outcome…

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The SCIENCE behind the headlines: “HIGH CARB vs LOW CARB diets results in early death”

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There is so much conflicting information in the nutritional world. Studying functional medicine has opened up a whole world of science that is both intensely fascinating and constantly evolving as we are starting to learn more and more about our incredible bodies.

Chris Kresser is a world-renowned leader in the fields of functional, integrative medicine and ancestral health. He has also been named as one of the 100 most influential people in health and fitness. Author of ‘Unconventional Medicine’, he has written extensively on the controversy around carbs in our diet.

Headline news and scientific research are not always the best bedfellows. Sensational news creates clicks and often leaves behind the key science.

As discussed in my recent post- Paleo, Keto, Low Carb, High Fat, Atkins…Which one really is the BEST diet for me to achieve Optimum Health? (click here to read ) let’s start with the bottom line that remains despite every diet related headline:

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Is it Criticism or is it Feedback?

Tim Grover, legendary coach of sporting greats such as Michael Jordon, writes in his hard-hitting book ‘Relentless’ about mental toughness and how to become not just good but great at what we do. This was the straight to the point ‘dust yourself off’ and keep moving forward book I needed.

I have always done things differently. I don’t conform.

Putting myself out there in many arenas I have opened myself up to a great deal of criticism, which at times has been very difficult to hear. Having a very different parenting style to most and strong views on a few subjects that mean a great deal to me, I have decided to avoid the easy way out and practice what I teach.

Being the only female cricket coach at sporting conferences and ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) training courses, all eyes were on me. The classic walking into a bar scenario when everyone goes pin-drop silent with all eyes following me as I find my seat. Someone even asked if I was there for a child welfare course …”No thank you, actually, I’m here as a coach.”

I have so much joy in saying that many more talented girls and fantastic women are involved in the sport and indeed RUN the training courses now. Cricket has moved on and is a great game for both boys and girls to get involved.

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As a young girl, my father used to coach me. He used to put me in the nets, to face a hard ball with no pads to protect my legs, he used to enjoy watching me batting so happily and freely without fear. I have many fond childhood memories training with Dad in the nets.

I often quickly built up an audience as the guys training in the other nets would hear the loud noises of bat on ball coming from my net and stop to watch this little girl knocking it out of the park; not afraid of hitting a cricket ball.

Years later an injury meant that I had to stop playing. I turned my energy into instilling the joy of the sport into my two boys and learning ‘how’ to coach them to give them the best of my abilities.

I am very lucky to have had such great support from my Dad who always made me feel that I was just as good as any other boy my age and there was nothing I couldn’t do as a girl. Also, the fantastic support from my husband, fellow male colleagues and mentors along the way all empowered me to feel that I could do it.

Having put so much time and effort into being the best I can be and spending a great deal of time researching and planning each coaching session I must admit I took any criticism hard.

This quote by Theodore Roosevelt has stayed with me and guides me forward not just as a cricket coach but as a mother and individual; not afraid to stand out and be different, successes and failures all.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly;

who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds;

who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst,

if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt

 

I have come a long way over the many years and grown in confidence in myself and my abilities and so grateful to all that have helped me get here.

I have developed a process of handling ‘criticism’ to help me keep moving forward that I encourage you to try out next time you are faced with the opportunity.

MY PROCESS: Is it Feedback or Criticism?

IT’S MINDSET

As Tim Grover writes,  it’s up to Us.  We choose how we want to frame it. My default was to immediately think negative and frame it as criticism.

I have now made the choice to see it all as neutral FEEDBACK.  This unemotional reframing also means that I have the choice to accept it or not.

No emotion attached: It’s all  Just Feedback.

WHO IS IT FROM?

Is it from a fellow coach? or parent or someone who is in the same arena and understands your journey?

If it’s from someone who has my best interest at heart like my Dad, my husband or a fellow coach or perhaps another mother I am much more likely to take it as positive feedback given with good intentions.

If it’s from someone outside the arena  ‘Heckling from the cheap seats’ as Brené Brown says then I may decide to let it go.

DOES IT SERVE YOU?

If Yes, thank them and if it does indeed serve you:

Accept it in, Use it Positively and Grow.

If NO it doesn’t serve you, thank them and

Let it go.

It’s hard work and the responsibility is huge.  To be an influential figure to young people is a massive honour for me and I take it very seriously.  I can honestly say I’ve loved the journey and wouldn’t change it or who I have become.

What I take with me as a mother and as a coach and as an individual is that I will continue to DARE GREATLY.

Next time we are faced with this opportunity I encourage you to join me:

It’s all neutral  feedback

If it Serves you:  Take it, Use it and Grow.

If Not,  Let it go.

 

…Never stop moving forward.

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Paleo, Keto, Low Carb, High Fat, Atkins…Which one really is the BEST diet for me to achieve Optimum Health?

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Our default mode is of OPTIMUM HEALTH.

This is how we are designed to be, our lifestyles and environments enhance this or move us away from this baseline.

Like an elastic band, our body is in constant struggle trying to pull us back to what it knows is best for us, often our lifestyle choices tug against this, with each pull adding strain and pressure taking us so far from wellbeing that we can forget what it was like to feel energised and well.

Eventually, our body cannot sustain this resistance, in constant tug of war, the strained elastic band snaps and the body drifts into wearily into disease. This is the sad reality of many diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease to name only two.

I am amazed however at how battle hardy our bodies really are, it takes a great deal to push us over the edge into disease and even then, after all the damage we inflict on our bodies, our inner evolutionary drive is to keep fighting, trying to claw back even just to an in-between place of pseudo-health where it tries to adapt to our lifestyles and tries to keep us going.

What has astounded me, even more, is how much we can do with simple food choices to help heal our body and pick ourselves up again to return to what we know is inherently where we belong, in Optimum Health.

I welcome you to join me on my journey back there.

So where do we start?

With so many diet books on the market all touting to be the best for us; how do we know which diet and celebrity to buy and follow?

I have had a long fascination with how food is intricately linked to our experience of the world and the quality of our life.

The more we study food and its effects on the body, the more we are realising how the food we consume can have direct effects on general wellbeing and health.

What I am reading and discovering about nutritional science is mind-blowing. I think the biggest light-bulb moment for me was realising that despite all the new claims that the current fashionable diet can make you slim and healthy in 21 days…there is a fundamental flaw in them all. Read More


Blueprint for life? Learning to manage our core human needs.

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Growing up in a society where qualities of independence, maturity and responsibility are highly valued it has always felt like a weakness to admit vulnerability.

In a culture that prides itself on working hard and long hours, wearing high levels of stress as a badge of achievement;  admitting that we have needs has a sense of giving in to being flawed or weak.

Understanding how our brain has grown and evolved has been pivotal in my realisation that we do have very real needs that cannot be ignored and must be managed if we are to work towards achieving a healthy body and mind.

Rick Hanson, author of Resilient, outlines these three core needs and their evolutionary origins.

PRIMARY NEED FOR SAFETY – This is thought to have come from needing to stay alive and run away from predators and when met gives us feelings of being secure.

SECONDARY NEED FOR SATISFACTION– This perhaps evolved to give us the motivation to get things done and to achieve feelings of success.

FINALLY OUR NEED FOR CONNECTION– This is a connection with ourselves, our self-worth and connection to our community.  The feelings of being loved, understood and heard.

These needs have emerged from the progressive evolution of our primitive brain over the last 600 million years.

The oldest part of our brain is the Brainstem,  known as our REPTILIAN or Lizard brain; it is primarily concerned with raw basic survival.

The next structure to evolve from the brainstem is the Subcortex known as our MAMMALIAN or Hamster brain; wired to seek satisfaction.

On top of both these structures lies our crowning glory- the Neocortex, known as our PRIMATE or Monkey brain; concerned in particular with social connection.

During the flow of our day, there are many different situations that can easily threaten our wellbeing- if we let them.  They evoke various emotional reactions which, if we take a moment to be witness to them, are designed to show us where the work is to be done.

3 STEPS TO RECOGNISE, ACCEPT AND MANAGE OUR NEEDS

STEP 1:

Name the emotion to yourself, be it anger or feeling unhappy, lonely or unheard.

There is a lot of work written about the power of witnessing and naming an emotion as it arises instead of pushing it back down…guaranteed to resurface again when you least expect or want it to.

This is my work in progress. Painful and difficult they may be, to not run away from those emotions but to name them and through awareness, stay with them.

Incredibly difficult to do and very easy to write about; I know deep down I can only teach this to our boys through my own self-practice and discipline.

They give me plenty of opportunities to experience a wide range of emotions and for them to see me PAUSE, NAME and STAY with the moment without an instant reaction is,  I feel, the biggest gift of emotional wellbeing I can give them.

But my goodness it is so hard. I am failing often but I can happily say I am making progress as I keep in mind what I want to achieve:

To develop an emotional intelligence that both boys can witness and mirror for themselves.

STEP 2:

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Is it possible to Change and Grow your adult brain?

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I have been following Jim Kwik, who is now a world-renowned expert in memory, brain performance and accelerated learning. Termed as ‘The boy with the Broken Brain’ as a result of a childhood injury, Kwik created strategies to rebuild his brain and now coaches and trains clients such as Nike, Space X and Virgin in accelerated performance skills. He was on the set of the latest Avengers film coaching and supporting the actors through the learning of their lines.

Kwik speaks about enhancing your brain power with simple exercises that have been backed by research, one of which I would like to share with you.

Juggling

Learning to juggle has been proven to change white matter in the brain. Having been taught that neuroplasticity essentially ends as we approach adulthood, it has been incredibly empowering to learn how new science in so many ways is now proving this wrong. The brain has the capacity to change, grow and adapt. Arguably our ability to adapt is the reason we have survived as a species.

Researchers have scanned the brains of Taxi drivers and Jugglers before and after they acquired the skills needed to carry out their tasks.

London Taxi drivers are known for their encyclopaedic knowledge of the city including 25,000 streets of London and thousands of landmarks. ‘The Knowledge’ as it’s known can take 2-3 years to acquire. It was found that this incredibly difficult learning process caused structural changes in the brain with a resultant increase in nerve cells in the hippocampus, the area primarily responsible for memory.

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Learning to juggle is a much simpler task and has been shown to alter the white matter of our brains, with fascinating evidence of the adult brain pruning and refining its wiring system to operate more efficiently as a direct result of this learned skill.

Credit: moneyminiblog.com

This capacity to rewire different neural circuits in an adult brain absolutely blew me away and more and more research is coming out to back this up. Always keen to try different ways to enhance my own brain capacity and support my parents in their mental health and longevity…I began a mini-experiment of my own.

I sat down with my parents discussed the research and explained to them the process of juggling as explained by Jim Kwik (process outlined later).

Two months on, going from just being able to throw one ball in the air and catching it, my incredible father has mastered juggling 3 BALLS and I am so thrilled every time he shows off his new skills; living daily proof before my eyes that he has expanded his brain capacity and rewired his brain.

Genius.

My mum and I are works in progress. Mum is doing really well to juggle with 2 balls which is still a big leap forward… I’m, well let’s say I have a lot of catching up to do.

Want to change your brain with an easy exercise? Give it a go and share and have a competition with those around you to see who can get to juggle 3 balls and keep them in the air the longest.

PROCESS: Learning to Juggle

Equipment: 3 old socks each one rolled up into a ball

-I thought I’d use a few stones that I had to hand, bad idea on 2 counts. One they made a lot of noise constantly falling on the wooden floor and two…it really hurt when a stone accidentally landed on my head. You’ll know what I mean when you start this.

Location: Standing over your bed or a table or sitting down on your bed or floor

-I got very fed up of constantly and I mean constantly having to pick these socks off the floor. Much easier if I started off closer to the floor or near a surface at waist height.

STEP ONE:

Imagine a rectangular frame in front of you with your head in the middle

Hold one sock in your right hand and while your head is central follow the sock with your eyes as you gently throw it to the top left corner of this imaginary frame

And catch it as it falls straight down towards your open left hand.

Practice this daily trying to get a good height on the ball over your head as you throw it diagonally up and catch it in the other hand.

STEP TWO:

Now take a sock in each hand and as you toss one in the air and it reaches the top then throw the other one.

This takes practice but does come together with time

STEP THREE:

Now try with two socks in one hand and one in the other… this link may help you with added pictures and videos.

https://www.wikihow.com/Juggle

Let me know how you get on.

Remember each time you practice you are changing your brain and helping it rewire more effectively.

Happy Brain Training.


Taking Refuge

Finding a life raft in the ordinary.

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Life has a funny way of presenting us with unexpectedly difficult and challenging experiences. For me, it’s usually when I’ve worked hard to get my routine back on track, my head’s in the right space, I feel I’m in a good place and right then something presents itself and throws all my planning and work out of the window.

Rick Hanson, renowned Clinical Psychologist talks about how small moments of ‘awareness’ and ‘mindfulness’ or what I prefer to call- ‘Moments of Pause‘ can offer us a Refuge in the busy lives we lead.

Hanson describes ‘Refuges’ as places or moments that Uplift, Nurture and Protect us. He describes a process of seeking refuge to help us get through our often chaotic and busy lives.

These Moments of Pause or Refuges can act like a life raft and carry us from one situation to the next as we try and tick off our To-Do list, meet deadlines or often just, like me, try and keep my head above water.

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Simple yet effective I’m working hard to try and work these into my day. The process is beautifully ordinary with nothing needed but an awareness of the simple moments of 2-3 minutes you have to yourself during the flow of your day.

These moments could be :

  • During your morning shower
  • Listening to some music you love on the way to work
  • Spending time in nature- even if it’s 5 minutes on your way to work as you pass a patch of wild flowers or see dandelions poking out of the cracks of the pavement, hear the chatter of birds overhead.
  • Or even a hot aromatic cup of  coffee.

I urge you to try this out with me, starting where you are right now to find those ordinary but powerful Moments of Pause to carry you forward through the rest of your day.

This is the process I use from what I have learned from Hanson’s very practical and relatable book ‘Resilient’.

Taking Refuge In the Ordinary

1. Pick small regular events that happen through the course of your day when you feel you may be able to Pause for 2 -3 minutes. For me it’s:

– A few minutes during my morning shower.

-The first few minutes on waking when I realise I have been blessed with another day.

Pick small moments where you feel a sense of safety, you feel nurtured or just peaceful, like those magical few minutes of silence before the rest of the house wakes up and all manner of chaos ensues (or maybe that’s just my house!).

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2. So you have your moment. As you practice this more, like me I hope you will start to find precious moments scattered throughout the ordinary flow of your day that maybe went past before unnoticed.

Now let’s imagine it’s your first hot aromatic cup of coffee of the day.

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All that’s needed is 2-3 minutes of staying with the feeling of being right-here-now, feeling the comfort of your first cup, inhaling the aroma, seeing the froth or the little swirl of milk at the top…its being present to the small details. Smile, take 2-3 deep long breaths while you hold that sense of calm.

Just the simple process of smiling and taking long deep breaths has been clinically shown to improve our levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Both smiling and long deep breaths have also been shown to raise mood-enhancing hormones called endorphins and  lower blood pressure.

3. If you feel the chaos resurfacing- Imagine yourself standing safe, high and dry with the waves  crashing  down below you or under a shelter of leaves with the rain pouring outside and know this :

‘Eventually the storm will pass, all experiences do,

And the Peaceful Inner Core of YOU will remain’.

-Rick Hanson, Resilient

Just takes 2 -3 minutes, try it for one moment every day and watch your practice and your peaceful inner core grow.

Know that however busy, rushed or chaotic your life may be right now- You always have a Life Raft to get you to the next moment …and the next. Just take a moment to find it.

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Enjoy.