Not looking after myself

This week has seen the return of my old enemy diverticulitis. Mr D snuck up on me on Monday. Just a niggle to begin with and I tried to ignore him, but he persisted and I succumbed spectacularly with fever, nausea and horrific pain. I’m now off work with antibiotics and pain relief and back on that merry-go-round of ill health.

I’m not surprised he made his presence known. I let him in. Throughout a stressful last few months – grief, moving house, financial pressure, job pressure – I was not looking after myself in the way I know prevents Mr D paying a visit. Not looking after myself in a way that keeps me healthy, lean, fit and full of energy. Not looking after myself in a way that helps me cope with stress from a place of health and strength.

I’ve forgotten how good fit and healthy feels. I’ve allowed myself to get lazy, get complacent and put foods in my body that I know are not good for me. I’ve forgotten how moving my body and lifting heavy makes me feel strong and invincible and is the best stress relief around. I’ve taken the easy path and forgotten how the discipline and commitment to being healthy is who I am. I’ve lost the real me.

I preach these values to my clients. That its not about a tight butt, having abs or muscly arms. That as we get older, its more important to eat well and train for health and vitality. To prevent lifestyle diseases, to maintain what we have for as long as we can and yes, to look and feel the best we can.

The truth is I am feeling old. Older than I have in a long time. My skin is starting to look dry. My eyes have lost some of their sparkle. My flexibility has diminished. I’ve gained a few kilos and my clothes feel tight. I’m not liking how I feel.

So the rot stops. Now. This moment. I’m getting back to walking my talk, practising what I preach and being the best version I know I can be. I can’t exercise at the moment while I’m unwell but I can start eating better. Remember it is all about what you CAN do in the now, rather than focusing on what you can’t do or waiting for the perfect time.

If you’d like some free easy tips on starting a healthy lifestyle, visit my website at http://www.deeverrall.com to download my free e-book.

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How to train around an upper body injury

You have injured your shoulder or your elbow and you can’t train your upper body. Firstly, I recommend seeing a health professional such as a physiotherapist or your GP to have the upper body injury assessed and to have rehab exercises prescribed. They will also let you know what limitations you have in your training while it heals. Some injuries will still allow you to perform limited upper body movements, but again, best to check with your health professional and follow their advice.

The good news is there is still many exercises you can do that don’t involve your upper body. Also, because the muscles in your lower body are so large, you will get a bigger calorie burn which will help compensate for the limitations you’re currently experiencing.

Depending on the location and extent of your injury, you should be able to train your legs with weights including:

  • Leg press
  • Leg extension
  • Leg curl (seated, lying or standing)
  • Hip thrusts
  • Glute focused hyperextensions
  • Calf raises
  • Hip abductions and adductions

In addition you can incorporate bodyweight exercises such as:

  • Lunges and split squats
  • Step ups
  • All types of squats
  • Abdominal work

Cardio should also be fine, such as running, walking, treadmill, cross trainer and bike.

It is best to avoid anything that involves placing a barbell on your back such as squats, good mornings and weighted barbell lunges. Any pulling movements such as deadlifting and any back exercises such as cable rows, pulldowns etc should also be avoided while you are recovering, together with any pressing movements such as chest press and shoulder press.

I reiterate – always check with your health professional so they can advise on your program, ensuring that you don’t re-injure yourself or make the existing injury worse. Always undertake the rehab exercises they prescribe for you – religiously – and resist the temptation to rush back into training. Patience is key to recovering from any injury so you can start training again sooner rather than later.

10 nutritional tips for people trying to be healthier

Are you trying to get healthier? I’ve compiled some nutritional tips just for you:

  1. Drink more water – aim for 2-3 litres a day. Water is beneficial in so many ways and most of us don’t drink enough. Plain water is best but you can use sugar free flavour drops if you have difficulty getting your water intake up
  2. Eat more vegetables – load up on veggies. You should aim for 3 – 5 servings per day. Veggies will fill you up, provide your body with fibre and nutrients. Plus they are cheap!
  3. Eat less processed food – it’s okay to have some processed packaged food in your diet, but try to prioritise healthy whole foods in your diet as much as possible. Processed foods can be nutrient deficient and generally don’t have much fibre
  4. Don’t drink your calories – get rid of the sodas, iced coffees and fruit juices. Put these calories towards real food
  5. Sit at a table to eat – you are more mindful when you are not eating in front of the TV. Enjoy your food and only eat until you are satisfied.
  6. Prepare your own food – you’ll know exactly what goes into it and your wallet and waistline will thank you
  7. Don’t shop when you’re hungry – huge red flag right there! Make sure you eat something before you hit the supermarket so you don’t buy the whole store
  8. Keep a food diary – download a calorie counting app like My Fitness Pal and track your food intake. You might be surprised at how much you are consuming and its a great way to keep you on track
  9. Don’t demonise food – life is about balance. Although you should prioritise whole foods, allowing yourself a small treat here and there keeps you sane and prevents bingeing/deprivation behaviours
  10. Eat more protein – most of us don’t eat enough protein. Protein helps keep you full, maintains muscle which helps to burn calories even at rest. Include a protein source in every meal.

If you’d like some help with your nutrition, check out my free webclass

How switching to a healthy lifestyle saved my life

Nine and a half years ago, I was living in a small town in rural South Australia. The previous year I had escaped a stalker, subsequent mental health issues, sold my house and moved to the country with my young son to be closer to my parents. I had been happily running my online business, enjoying small town life and had even set up shop in the Main Street of that small town.

One morning, I awoke with a sore tummy which felt like indigestion. Not too bothered by it, I took my son to school and went to my shop to start my day. As the day wore on, the pain in my tummy didn’t shift and by the evening had got worse. I started to feel hot and dizzy, so I took myself to bed with strong painkillers and antacid for what I still thought was gastro. If I was no better by the morning, I told myself, I would make an appointment to see the doctor.

The next morning I could only walk doubled over, with my face pointing to the floor and I knew I had to get to hospital. My parents were out of town on a short holiday so I ended up taking my son to our neighbour, who my son was friends with her son. I drove myself to hospital as I had no ambulance cover.

The emergency staff immediately found me a bed and gave me strong pain relief. Blood tests revealed an abnormally high white blood cell count and other markers. My temperature hovered around 39c. My stomach was tight and very sore when pressed. The pain had localised somewhat to my lower left hand side. At this stage I still wasn’t overly concerned and ‘twisted ovary’ was being suggested as a possible cause. Scans needed to be taken, so it was decided I would be transferred down to Adelaide for a CT scan on my belly.

With a good dose of morphine, I headed down to Adelaide in the back of an ambulance. I was drifting in and out of consciousness, half delirious from the fever and the sedative effects of the morphine. At the Royal Adelaide, I was placed in a cubicle in emergency to await my scan, and not long after started vomiting. I pushed the emergency button and demanded I be scanned immediately (I’d been waiting 2 hours in emergency at this point). It was late afternoon and I had been in hospitals since 7:30am.

Finally they did the CT scan. I was returned to my cubicle in emergency and after about 30 minutes, a doctor flew in, followed by two nurses. It was a flurry of panicked activity as they hooked me up to IV fluids, put a plastic band on my wrist and told they me they were admitting me for emergency surgery. I had a perforation in my bowel, I was literally being poisoned and they needed to operate straight away. I stared at them in shock. They left the room briefly (I presume to organise theatre) and I called my mum who had no idea where I was or what had happened.

I was utterly alone in that room – scared, in pain and thinking I might possibly die from this. The doctor returned with a second doctor and the news was slightly better. They had reexamined the scan and decided they would treat me conservatively in the first instance as the perforation appeared to have sealed over (the wonders of our self healing bodies!). This meant very strong IV antibiotics over the next five days and a clear liquid diet to rest my bowel. If this didn’t work, surgery was still an option where they would remove a section of my bowel, possibly leaving me with a temporary colostomy bag until follow up surgery could close it again. The prospects weren’t great.

What followed was five days of misery. Constant blood tests to test my white blood cell levels and inflammatory markers. Awful antibiotics every few hours that made me feel wretched and were always followed up by an injection of anti nausea drugs in my thigh. Gnawing hunger and only being able to have clear fluids. Being away from my son and family. Being scared out of my mind.

I ran my online business from my hospital bed. I had visits from my Adelaide friends. My parents brought my son down to visit a few times and each time he would stare at me with big eyes and then sob when it was time for him to leave, thinking I would die and he would never see me again. Those visits broke my heart.

Finally after a week, I was discharged with oral antibiotics and a follow up appointment for 6 weeks to have a colonoscopy. Nothing prepared me for the 3 months it took to fully recover. I was weak and tired all the time, I couldn’t work or go to my shop, I slept for hours every day. I had no appetite, sometimes only having an apple and a can of tuna for the whole day.  I lost about 10 kilos in weight. I’m sure I had some type of PTSD as I had flashbacks,  dreaming I had died and waking up in fear. I was depressed, teary and anxious most of the time.

The medical profession is not sure what causes diverticular disease, which is the name of my condition. There is some agreement it is lifestyle related – highly processed diet, lack of fibre, not enough exercise. It is rare for a younger person (I was 37 at the time) to develop serious complications such as acute diverticulitis. It is potentially fatal.

After a couple more years of problems with the condition (more hospital stays, endless visits to doctors and specialists, countless courses of antibiotics) I decided I had to fix myself. I was tired of feeling like rubbish. I wasn’t prepared to live with the uncertainty and have the condition control my life. I wanted to do everything I could to stay out of hospital and get healthy.

This experience was one of a couple of reasons that led me to changing my lifestyle and finding fitness.  I truly believe fitness saved my life for many reasons, and continues to improve it every single day. Quite honestly, the main reason I train and stay fit these days is for health – both mental and physical. How I look is secondary to this.

In another blog I’ll talk about how fitness saved my life in other ways. These reasons are my ‘why’ – and you should always have a ‘why’ that compels you to stick with a lifestyle change for the long haul. Motivation will get you started – it will not keep you going. Your ‘why’, however, will always be with you.

If you need help to get started on your healthy lifestyle transformation but you’re not sure how, I would love you to join me on my free webclass

Be relentless

Being relentless in pursuit of your goal is sometimes confused with being a perfectionist. There is a difference between being relentless, as opposed to trying to be perfect.

Being relentless means you fall in love with the process; that you are energised by the push and the grind; that the goal is secondary to the lessons you learn along the way.

Being relentless means you never give up, you commit to the process, and the process just IS – no matter what life throws at you.  It means you pick yourself back up again and again and keep on pushing until you reach your goal.

The mindset of perfectionism means you don’t allow yourself to make mistakes and therefore don’t learn about yourself. The goal is everything and if you don’t do everything perfectly, then you’re a failure, you are somehow less of a person, and you might as well give up now. You have ‘all or nothing’ thinking. You’re either all in or you’re all out – and this is no way to live your life.

Burdening yourself with the mindset of perfectionism will only set you up for failure. The moment you stray from being ‘perfect’ will be the moment you want to throw in the towel – to beat yourself up that you’re not good enough, not worthy and will never achieve your goals.

Free yourself from the guilt, the unrealistic expectations and pressure, and submit to being human. Commit to the process and the journey – a succession of consistent steps that will get you to where you want to go, and along the way you’ll have a hell of a good time doing it. So you ate the ice cream and didn’t hit the gym today? So what? The bigger picture journey has not gone anywhere. Recommit to the PROCESS, not to perfectionism.

Get out of the negative mindset of stop/start; you’re in/you’re out; all or nothing. Be relentless in your pursuit of your BEST self – after all, it’s only your freaking life!

PS – health coaching can help you on the path to being relentless and smashing your goals – without the GUILT, without the SELF SABOTAGE and with all the accountability and support you need. Check out my free webclass at http://bit.ly/2DXQXHY

Ive failed so many times…that is why I succeed

Over the years, I have failed at life. I have failed at relationships, I have failed in my career, I have failed at getting fit and losing weight. I have even failed at being a parent at times. It’s hard to believe I know (lol) but I don’t always have my shit together and live a carefree life. Far from it.

Now here’s the thing… no matter how many times you fail, how many times you fall down, how many times someone lets you down, disappoints you or doesn’t follow through, you learn, reassess, get back up and keep frigging going.

I truly believe you haven’t failed if you’ve learned something and grown inside. There is no such thing as a mistake, just wisdom and discovery.

You’ve only failed if you stop. You’re only unsuccessful if you give up. You only fall short if you cease to push.

The only reason I have succeeded is because I have failed. The lessons I’ve learned have spurred me to greater things and it is this failure that puts me in a unique position to teach others to succeed.

Embrace mistakes, learn from failure, kick your own butt and keep your eye on your goals.

Ps – do you know that you don’t have to kill your self with extreme exercise to transform your body? I cover this and more in my free webclass!

5 foods that are shockingly low in calories

Did you know there are a ton of delicious low calorie foods that you can enjoy in your diet right now? Today I would like to share with you five of my favourite low calorie and delicious foods!

  1. Strawberries – Top of my list are these delicious little red berries. Sweet, tasty and full of Vitamin C, they are also very low in calories. A whole punnet (250g) is a mere 80 calories, with 2 grams of protein, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 2g of fibre and virtually fat free. I enjoy them chopped up with some Chobani yoghurt, sliced on top of oats or protein pancakes or dipped in chocolate protein powder.
  2. Chobani 0% yoghurt – creamy and thick, I adore Chobani plain yoghurt. For a 170g tub, it’s a mere 97 calories with a whopping 16 g serve of protein and only 7 g of carbohydrates and 0 fat. I have Chobani with everything – it’s great for stirring into curries, having with fruit and a squeeze of sugar free maple syrup, mixed with a scoop of protein powder or as a substitute for milk with cereal.
  3. Cherries – another delicious red fruit, normally you can only buy them around Christmas time in Australia. 100g of cherries yields only 64 calories with 1g protein, 0 fat, 16g carbohydrates and 2g of fibre. When I eat cherries, I feel like I’m eating something decadent and naughty, they just taste too good.
  4. Fat free bacon – who knew that bacon would be on the list? Hans make a 98% fat free bacon for Weight Watchers, which is only 100 calories for 100grams. It packs a whopping 19g protein, 1g of fat and 1g of carbs. It tastes delicious and you can use it in all your normal bacon dishes such as bacon and egg rolls, pasta dishes etc
  5. Rice cakes – versatile rice cakes come in at around 92 calories for 4 cakes. Four rice cakes has 18g of carbohydrates, 0 fat and 0 protein and 3g of fibre. Top with low calorie toppings, such as flavoured tuna, cucumber and tomato, and you have a light lunch that won’t blow the diet.

What low calorie foods are your go-tos?

PS – free web class! Head over to the training