Sugar and your happiness

Have you ever felt completely “addicted” to chocolate, or completely powerless to resist cake? What is it about these food that make even the most determined dieter lose willpower?

It turns out, that you have spent an entire lifetime developing unconcious preferrences to foods that give us the most calories for the least ammount of effort. Its not your fault, its just the way our brains work, and sugar in particular is a main feature of the most unhealthy foods that your brain has detected provide this.

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Sugar activates reward pathways in your brain, similar to drugs, alcohol and other fun activities like being in love. The main chemical, or neurotransmitter involved in this process is called dopamine. In people that experience dependency on alcohol, nicotine or drugs the dopamine receptors are over stimulated causing a flood of happy feelings and the result can be addiction. Sugar activates similar pathways, and although not as extreme as these other substances, the effects on your mental and physical wellbeing are just as destructive. The unfortunate fact is that the more sugar you have, your tolerance levels increase and  the more you are going to need to reach this same happy state – leading to cravings and over consumption.

 

When dopamine is raised, serotonin, another brain chemical is lowered. Serotonin is responsible for feeling balanced, motivated and generally stable, also involved in higher decision making processes. Elevated levels of dopamine and lowered levels of serotonin are hallmarks of both anxiety and depression. This is how sugar can decrease your happiness, and affect your mental wellbeing.

sugar-addiction

If you strugle with eating sugary foods, the best ways to reduce the cravings are to slowly reduce the amount of sugar in your diet and build up an intollerance to it. For example if you were to add 3 sugars to your tea or coffee start by lowering it to one and a half over a week or two. Then look at things like your breakfast in particular. If you’re eating a sugary breakfast cereal, swap it for one with whole grains, or bran. The most ideal swap here would be porrige which you can add a teaspoon of honey to. Adding protein to meals is a good way of sending signals to your brain that you are full, and reduces the cravings. Last and most importantly, dont be too hard on yourself, the reasons behind sugar consumption are complex, and are largely beyond your control both by physiological desgin and manipulation of mass produced food by the food industries.

How stomach acidity affects your health.

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Why is the acidity of your stomach so important for your health?
Stomach acid plays an incredibly important role in your general health and wellbeing, by ensuring adequate nutritional status and immune system function.

Your stomach has specific cells that secrete gastric acids, cells that secrete a protective barrier and cells that secrete digestive enzymes. These cells work together in a feedback loop with each other to ensure that food gets digested but your stomach lining doesn’t.

Unfortunately, your oesophagus doesn’t have the cells that secrete the protective barrier, so that is why you can experience intense pain with gastric reflux – usually resultant of too high stomach acid. This in turn can change the cells in your oesophagus and is a risk factor for oesophageal cancer. You can avoid high stomach acidity by balancing high protein/fatty meals with leafy greens and legumes.

Low stomach acidity is also detrimental as it disruptive to the digestive process, and even impair immune system function. The ph. of your stomach is very acidic, so any bacteria or pathogens should be neutralised at this stage but if your stomach is not acid enough these pathogens can go on to the intestinal tract where they can cause a lot of trouble, from food poisoning to triggering onset of IBS and worsening inflammatory bowel diseases. This will also sequester a good deal of your immune cells leaving you vulnerable to other viruses and bacteria.

Gastric acid is the start of the digestive process for proteins and some vitamins and minerals, if these aren’t properly prepared in the stomach then they won’t be properly digested in the intestine. If the food isn’t properly digested, then it will not be properly absorbed which can then lead to nutrient deficiencies and protein malnourishment. For example, iron requires high gastric acidity, and with around 40% of the population already low or deficient in this mineral low stomach acidity can compound the problem. Iron deficiency anaemia can lead to feeling or fatigue and depression (WHO, 2016). You can also be taking in enough protein, but if it isn’t prepared in your stomach first then you will not be absorbing it.

Beneficial gut bacteria live in your large intestine, and they mostly feed on undigested carbohydrates such as fibre which keep your gut healthy. However, if you aren’t digesting your food properly first, it can provide these bacteria with too much, leading to gas, bloating and abdominal pain. (Beasley et al; 2015)  Low acidity can also be caused by eating too much food at once, which dilutes stomach acid and caused specifically by too much protein and or fat in one meal.  A good way to increase the enzymatic potential in your stomach and acidity is to take some apple cider vinegar with your meal, even better to use it on a salad, or to take a digestive enzyme tablet. Caffeine also increases stomach acidity, but this is not recommended as a long-term solution, and generally suppresses appetite anyway.

The best solution to both low and high stomach acidity, is to balance your meals well – with low fat/protein ratio and include lots of leafy greens with every meal. And if you are going to have a really big meal, or a big Sunday lunch – a digestive enzyme could help.

 

 

  1. http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/ida/en/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4519257/

 

 

 

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How much protein do I need?

How much protein do you need?

Without getting into too many technicalities, recommended protein intake for a sedentary person is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound.

This amounts to:

56 grams per day (man)
46 grams per day ( woman)

If you’re recovering from illness, in a physically demanding job, or trying to gain muscle mass;

Most studies suggest that 0.7 – 1 grams per pound of lean mass* (1.5 – 2.2 grams per kg) is sufficient.

This amounts to;
56-91 grams per day (male)
46-75 grams per day (female)

The best strategy is to stagger your protein intake throughout the day at around 15-20g at a time, this allows time for  physiological processing and avoids it being stored as fat. Studies also show that protein intake beyond around 95g is not utilised and again you run the risk of storing the excess as fat and putting a burden on your kidneys.

*Lean mass is muscle mass minus total body fat. Most gyms have a machine that can measure this for you.

strategies for a long and healthy life for your pet

IMAG0696A few years ago my little friend Pushkin got so sick from some comercial pet food, (and/or some additive in it) that we almost lost him. Thankfully due to all the amazing vets at the RSPCA he did survive and is now back to normal. We still don’t know what exactly in the food triggered the illness – but the only thing he ate for a year was boiled or raw chicken and mince meat. I learnt 3 important lessons from this experience;

1. Even thought I bought top quality and mostly natural packaged pet food, his health and the look of his coat was never healthier than when he ate just plain fresh meat.

2. Feeding my pet fresh meat from either the butcher or the supermarket worked out less expensive than buying commercial food.

3. Not buying pet food that has been grown, processed and packed into paper and plastic, I managed to reduce the environmental burden of feeding my pet. Of course animal agriculture has its own enviromental burden, but that is for another post entirely.

As well as feeding him fresh whole food, I also started feeding him pro-biotics to help restore his digestive system and to restore his gut flora after all the antibiotics he had while in the hospital. Studies have also shown that giving your pet pro-biotics can help with defending their digestive systems from pathogens, which can be especially helpful when they are recovering from illness and courses of antibiotics.

Did you know that the biggest health problem facing humans in the majority of western countries is obesity? Well the same is true for pets.

Overweight pets run a significantly higher risk of developing serious debilitating diseases including arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, hypothyroidism, respiratory problems, and kidney disease. Any one of these can result in a significant reduction in both the quantity and quality of your pet’s life.

So what strategies will work?

1. Feeding your pet with fresh meat, helps you control what exactly they are eating. Dogs will be able to have rice or similar mixed in, but cats are obligate carnivores, so meat only for them! Traditional weight loss strategies for pets included high fiber diets, which for the felines can lead to further health problems.

2. Calorie restriciton

For example, if you have a 15-pound kitty whose normal daily calorie count is 220, you could reduce that amount by 25 to 30 percent and feed only 154 to 165 calories per day. You feed the same food, just less of it.

Long-term calorie restriction has been shown to have beneficial effects on free radicals, which decreases oxidative stress. It is the inflammation resulting from oxidative stress that is thought to be the primary cause of age-related degenerative disease.

In a study of 48 Labrador retrievers from 8 weeks of age until death, 24 dogs were fed a 25 percent CRD and 24 control dogs were not. The results:

“Compared with control dogs, food-restricted dogs weighed less, had lower body fat content and lower serum triglycerides, triiodothyronine, insulin, and glucose concentrations. Median life span was significantly longer for dogs in which food was restricted. The onset of clinical signs of chronic disease generally was delayed for food-restricted dogs.”

The dogs also had a lower rate and severity of osteoarthritis in joints and lived an average of 2 years longer than the control dogs.

 

 

 

10 one ingredient beauty treatments

10 One-Ingredient Natural Beauty Remedies

From: The chalkboard mag

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR FACE MASK

Using raw, unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar and a cotton swab, this ingredient can be a peel to treat sun spots and pigmentation. Just leave it on for 5 minutes, then rinse with warm water and you’ve just given yourself an exfoliating treatment.

AVOCADO WRINKLE TREATMENT

The inside of the avocado skin that sits closest to the skin’s edge is full of rich nutrients and is the perfect choice for an anti-wrinkle eye treatment. Just mash it and apply to the orbital rim for 10-15 minutes. This ingredient can also work double duty as a scalp mask as well!

HONEY CELLULITE MASSAGE

Honey is the sole ingredient for this anti-cellulite treatment. Just two teaspoons on your problem areas and use dry hands to drag the honey back and forth repeatedly. This 5-10 minute massage with increasing pressure will help force circulation to the area, bringing nutrients and oxygen with it.

SEA SALT SCALP SCRUB

Adding a little bit of sea salt and gently rubbing it into your scalp can absorb excess oil and help add some volume to your hair.

MILK EXFOLIATOR

Massaging plain whole milk into your skin is an exfoliating treatment that can help slough off dead skin cells and reveal fresh, new cells at the surface.

COCONUT OIL MAKE-UP REMOVER

Try this as an easy and inexpensive eye makeup remover. All you’ll need is a cotton ball and some coconut oil. It will not only remove eye makeup, but will also coat and strengthen lashes.

red beets green smoothies

2015-03-04_Food_0076-1920x1280Red beets green smoothies!

Red smoothies contain about 90% more antioxidants than green smoothies, thanks to the red pigment contained in berries, grapes and beets. Antioxidants help reduce inflammation, improve skin elasticity and skin tone, improve heart health and help you to feel more energised. Recent studies show that inflammation is associated with depression, so if antioxidants can reduce inflammation they can greatly improve your mental and physical well-being.

The benefits of red smoothies are not limited to antioxidant activity, but contain many important vitamins, mineral and other compounds to improve iron levels and arterial health.

Here is a recipe for a classic green smoothie, next time you make a green smoothie, you can turn it into a red smoothie with the following ingredients;

-Frozen or fresh berries, blackberries are the best.
-Black grapes
-Beetroot
-Pomegranate seeds
– Optional : superfood powders that contain, powdered berries like acai, blueberries, pomegranate.

get more energy without coffee

How to:

Get more energy without coffee

It can be a struggle to balance everything in life – work, relationships, socialising, hobbies, children, the list can go on. This constant balancing act and the fact that we have to do it all at what seems like warp speed can quickly create fatigue, overwhelm and eventually we are burnt out and exhausted.

I often speak to people with very healthy diet and exercise habits, yet still suffer from lack of motivation and feel constant fatigue, and feel the only way to get through the day is to caffeinate.

Coffee and tea are actually good for your health, in moderation. A good indication of when things are not working properly for you is if you’re on your 3rd and 4th cup of the day and still exhausted, things need to change.

Here are some other stategies to get you through your day happier and healthier

1. Time your caffeine intake.

Cortisol, which is kind of like your own natural caffeine  peaks at certain times of the day, when your caffeine intake will be less effective. This picture is a good infographic of which times of day it is best to drink your coffee, and leave your natural (circadian rythyms) to do their thing.

Basically between 9:30 and 11:30 and 1:30 -5:00pm are the best times to have coffee, although as it usually takes caffeine around 6 hours to be fully metabolised out of your system I would recommend not to drink caffeine after 3pm.

2. Balance blood sugar levels.

Fluctuations in blood sugar levels can be one of the greatest contributors to fatigue. There is a vicious cycle – toast with jam or refined cearal – feeling energetic high blood sugar -blood sugar low – tired and irritable – biscuit and coffee, and so the cycle continues.  The best way to combat this is to eat a breakfast that contains protein and or complex carbohydrates i.e whole rolled oats. Choose nuts, fruit, cheese, boiled egg and strained yoghurt for snacks over biscuits and chocolate, they will provide you with a steady stream of energy so you wont run out of steam too quickly.

3. Downtime.

Doing nothing is a scary and foreign concept to a lot of people. If you are sleeping for what seems like a reasonable amount of time and still wake up tired, excluding nutritional deficiencies this could indicate burnout. When you do too much your brain cannot properly process everything which leaves you stressed out and tired. If you give yourself a break once in  a while you will find you actually can get a lot more done. Mindfullness meditation for 5 minutes a day or just taking time out of your day to focus on 5 full breath cycles (in and out) can make a big difference.

4.Supplement.

I won’t go into too much detail here and will just list some helpful supplements for increasing energy.

B-Vitamin complex – also found in whole grains, yoghurt and liver.
Iron – found in brocolli, legumes, red meat.
Vitamin C – found in fresh fruit, especially red peppers and strawberries.

Magnesium and omega 3’s on the other hand are good for both, energy and relaxation.

5. Aromatherapy.

Certain aromatherapy scents are associated with feeling more energised. You can use an oil burner, use a spritzer and a thousand other ways, but the best way is to keep in a spritzer bottle that you can carry around with you and spray whenever you feel your energy slumping.

Citrus scents like, lemon, grapefruit, sweet orange, bergamot.

Peppermint

Rose geranium

Rosemary

6. Effective sleep.

This one is kind of a no brainer, but is something which most people struggle with. Some top suggestions which are proven to help improve the length and quality of sleep include;

First and foremost try to keep your sleeping pattern regular so your body can function optimally. You will probably know how many hours a night you need to feel properly rested, and so going to bed and waking up the same time everyday will help.

Keep your room dark and cool
Switch off electronic devices 1 hour before bed, read a book instead.
Try valerian tea before bed.
Your body switches of cortisol (energy hormone) about 6:30pm and switches to melatonin (sleepy hormone) so try not to drink caffeine after 3-4pm.
Take a hot bath 2 hours before bed time, as your core temperature cools you will start to feel sleepy.

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travel without the baggage

Traveling is one of the best things anyone can do in life, and the experiences and memories it gives you are invaluable. I have traveled most continents and have learnt a good deal about the art of packing. The last thing you want is to be lugging around too much stuff, which makes it impossible to get around cities, airports and to the top floor of that amazing place you booked in Europe – which forgot to mention in the listing that there are about a gazillion stairs.  Here are some of my favourite tips for traveling with the essentials you need so you will look and feel great without the excess baggage.

Streamline!

Here is a handy 54321 guide to packing clothes

You definitely do NOT need that extra pair of heels. 3 pairs of well chosen shoes is the maximum amount required. I pair of walking shoes, a pair of going out shoes and one pair of weather appropriate shoes i.e. snow boots or sandals.
This is a good rule of thumb;
5 tops
4 bottoms
3 dresses
2 bags
1 watch and 1 jacket.

Take only small travel size cosmetics.

Travelling in europe only allows 100ml cosmetics on your onboard luggage, which is free on most airlines. If you want to take your giant bottle of shampoo, not only will you have to lug a great big suitcase around, you will have to pay extra for check in luggage. I LOVE this REN travel pack.

Electronics

Take one universal adapter that has a USB port that can charge all your items.
You dont need a phone, ipad, kindle, camera and laptop. Hopefully you will be too busy exploring for most of these items. In general I stick to phone, kindle and camera.

Here is a handy packing list that I use when I travel.

10 life lessons to learn in your 30s

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10 life lessons to learn in your 30s

I recently came across this post originally written by Mark Manson who had sent an email out to his subscribers and asked readers age 37 and older what advice they would give their 30-year-old selves. I have found it to be the most concise and usefull advice article that I have read, and because it come from actuall experience it makes the advice all the more valuable even though it says these lessons are for those in their 30’s I think they are valuable at any age. The idea behind the article was that he would crowdsource the life experience from my older readership and createanother article based on their collective wisdom.

Below are 10 of the most common themes appearing throughout all of the 600 emails. The majority of the article comprises dozens of quotes taken from readers.

  1. Start Saving for Retirement Now, Not Later

“I spent my 20s recklessly, but your 30s should be when you make a big financial push. Retirement planning is not something to put off. Understanding boring things like insurance, 401ks & mortgages is important since its all on your shoulders now. Educate yourself.” (Kash, 41)

The most common piece of advice — so common that almost every single email said at least something about it — was to start getting your financial house in order and to start saving for retirement… today.

There were a few categories this advice fell into:

  • Make it your top priority to pay down all of your debt as soon as possible.
  • Keep an “emergency fund” — there were tons of horror stories about people getting financially ruined by health issues, lawsuits, divorces, bad business deals, etc.
  • Stash away a portion of every paycheck, preferably into a 401k, an IRA or at the least, a savings account.
  • Don’t spend frivolously. Don’t buy a home unless you can afford to get a good mortgage with good rates.
  • Don’t invest in anything you don’t understand. Don’t trust stockbrokers.

One reader said, “If you are in debt more than 10% of your gross annual salary this is a huge red flag. Quit spending, pay off your debt and start saving.” Another wrote, “I would have saved more money in an emergency fund because unexpected expenses really killed my budget. I would have been more diligent about a retirement fund, because now mine looks pretty small.”

Gee whiz! Saving is so easy and so fun!

And then there were the readers who were just completely screwed by their inability to save in their 30s. One reader named Jodi wishes she had started saving 10% of every paycheck when she was 30. Her career took a turn for the worst and now she’s stuck at 57, still living paycheck to paycheck. Another woman, age 62, didn’t save because her husband out-earned her. They later got divorced and she soon ran into health problems, draining all of the money she received in the divorce settlement. She, too, now lives paycheck to paycheck, slowly waiting for the day social security kicks in. Another man related a story of having to be supported by his son because he didn’t save and unexpectedly lost his job in the 2008 crash.

The point was clear: save early and save as much as possible. One woman emailed me saying that she had worked low-wage jobs with two kids in her 30s and still managed to sock away some money in a retirement fund each year. Because she started early and invested wisely, she is now in her 50s and financially stable for the first time in her life. Her point: it’s always possible. You just have to do it.

  1. Start Taking Care of Your Health Now, Not Later

“Your mind’s acceptance of age is 10 to 15 years behind your body’s aging. Your health will go faster than you think but it will be very hard to notice, not the least because you don’t want it to happen.” (Tom, 55)

We all know to take care of our health. We all know to eat better and sleep better and exercise more and blah, blah, blah. But just as with the retirement savings, the response from the older readers was loud and unanimous: get healthy and stay healthy now.

So many people said it that I’m not even going to bother quoting anybody else. Their points were pretty much all the same: the way you treat your body has a cumulative effect; it’s not that your body suddenly breaks down one year, it’s been breaking down all along without you noticing. This is the decade to slow down that breakage.

The key to salad is to laugh while eating it.

And this wasn’t just your typical motherly advice to eat your veggies. These were emails from cancer survivors, heart attack survivors, stroke survivors, people with diabetes and blood pressure problems, joint issues and chronic pain. They all said the same thing: “If I could go back, I would start eating better and exercising and I would not stop. I made excuses then. But I had no idea.”

  1. Don’t Spend Time with People Who Don’t Treat You Well

“Learn how to say “no” to people, activities and obligations that don’t bring value to your life.” (Hayley, 37)

Gently let go of those who are not making your life better.

After calls to take care of your health and your finances, the most common piece of advice from people looking back at their 30-year-old selves was an interesting one: they would go back and enforce stronger boundaries in their lives and dedicate their time to better people. “Setting healthy boundaries is one of the most loving things you can do for yourself or another person.” (Kristen, 43)

What does that mean specifically?

“Don’t tolerate people who don’t treat you well. Period. Don’t tolerate them for financial reasons. Don’t tolerate them for emotional reasons. Don’t tolerate them for the children’s sake or for convenience sake.” (Jane, 52)

“Don’t settle for mediocre friends, jobs, love, relationships and life.” (Sean, 43)

“Stay away from miserable people… they will consume you, drain you.” (Gabriella, 43)

“Surround yourself and only date people that make you a better version of yourself, that bring out your best parts, love and accept you.” (Xochie)

People typically struggle with boundaries because they find it difficult to hurt someone else’s feelings, or they get caught up in the desire to change the other person or make them treat them the way they want to be treated. This never works. And in fact, it often makes it worse. As one reader wisely said, “Selfishness and self-interest are two different things. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.”

When we’re in our 20s, the world is so open to opportunity and we’re so short on experience that we cling to the people we meet, even if they’ve done nothing to earn our clingage. But by our 30s we’ve learned that good relationships are hard to come by, that there’s no shortage of people to meet and friends to be made, and that there’s no reason to waste our time with people who don’t help us on our life’s path.

  1. Be Good to the People You Care About

“Show up with and for your friends. You matter, and your presence matters.” (Jessica, 40)

Conversely, while enforcing stricter boundaries on who we let into our lives, many readers advised to make the time for those friends and family that we do decide to keep close.

“I think sometimes I may have taken some relationships for granted, and when that person is gone, they’re gone. Unfortunately, the older you get, well, things start to happen, and it will affect those closest to you.” (Ed, 45)

“Appreciate those close to you. You can get money back and jobs back, but you can never get time back.” (Anne, 41)

“Tragedy happens in everyone’s life, everyone’s circle of family and friends. Be the person that others can count on when it does. I think that between 30 and 40 is the decade when a lot of shit finally starts to happen that you might have thought never would happen to you or those you love. Parents die, spouses die, babies are still-born, friends get divorced, spouses cheat… the list goes on and on. Helping someone through these times by simply being there, listening and not judging is an honor and will deepen your relationships in ways you probably can’t yet imagine.” (Rebecca, 40)

  1. You can’t have everything; Focus On Doing a Few Things Really Well

“Everything in life is a trade-off. You give up one thing to get another and you can’t have it all. Accept that.” (Eldri, 60)

In our 20s we have a lot of dreams. We believe that we have all of the time in the world. I myself remember having illusions that my website would be my first career of many. Little did I know that it took the better part of a decade to even get competent at this. And now that I’m competent and have a major advantage and love what I do, why would I ever trade that in for another career?

“In a word: focus. You can simply get more done in life if you focus on one thing and do it really well. Focus more.” (Ericson, 49)

Another reader: “I would tell myself to focus on one or two goals/aspirations/dreams and really work towards them. Don’t get distracted.” And another: “You have to accept that you cannot do everything. It takes a lot of sacrifice to achieve anything special in life.”

A few readers noted that most people arbitrarily choose their careers in their late teens or early 20s, and as with many of our choices at those ages, they are often wrong choices. It takes years to figure out what we’re good at and what we enjoy doing. But it’s better to focus on our primary strengths and maximize them over the course of lifetime than to half-ass something else.

“I’d tell my 30 year old self to set aside what other people think and identify my natural strengths and what I’m passionate about, and then build a life around those.” (Sara, 58)

For some people, this will mean taking big risks, even in their 30s and beyond. It may mean ditching a career they spent a decade building and giving up money they worked hard for and became accustomed to. Which brings us to…

  1. Don’t Be Afraid of Taking Risks, You Can Still Change

“While by age 30 most feel they should have their career dialed in, it is never too late to reset. The individuals that I have seen with the biggest regrets during this decade are those that stay in something that they know is not right. It is such an easy decade to have the days turn to weeks to years, only to wake up at 40 with a mid-life crisis for not taking action on a problem they were aware of 10 years prior but failed to act.” (Richard, 41)

“Biggest regrets I have are almost exclusively things I did *not* do.” (Sam, 47)

Many readers commented on how society tells us that by 30 we should have things “figured out” — our career situation, our dating/marriage situation, our financial situation and so on. But this isn’t true. And, in fact, dozens and dozens of readers implored to not let these social expectations of “being an adult” deter you from taking some major risks and starting over. As someone on my Facebook page responded: “All adults are winging it.”

“I am about to turn 41 and would tell my 30 year old self that you do not have to conform your life to an ideal that you do not believe in. Live your life, don’t let it live you. Don’t be afraid of tearing it all down if you have to, you have the power to build it all back up again.” (Lisa, 41)

Multiple readers related making major career changes in their 30s and being better off for doing so. One left a lucrative job as a military engineer to become a teacher. Twenty years later, he called it one of the best decisions of his life. When I asked my mom this question, her answer was, “I wish I had been willing to think outside the box a bit more. Your dad and I kind of figured we had to do thing A, thing B, thing C, but looking back I realize we didn’t have to at all; we were very narrow in our thinking and our lifestyles and I kind of regret that. “Less fear. Less fear. Less fear. I am about to turn 50 next year, and I am just getting that lesson. Fear was such a detrimental driving force in my life at 30. It impacted my marriage, my career, my self-image in a fiercely negative manner. I was guilty of: Assuming conversations that others might be having about me. Thinking that I might fail. Wondering what the outcome might be. If I could do it again, I would have risked more.” (Aida, 49)

  1. You Must Continue to Grow and Develop Yourself

“You have two assets that you can never get back once you’ve lost them: your body and your mind. Most people stop growing and working on themselves in their 20s. Most people in their 30s are too busy to worry about self-improvement. But if you’re one of the few who continues to educate themselves, evolve their thinking and take care of their mental and physical health, you will be light-years ahead of the pack by 40.” (Stan, 48)

It follows that if one can still change in their 30s — and should continue to change in their 30s — then one must continue to work to improve and grow. Many readers related the choice of going back to school and getting their degrees in their 30s as one of the most useful things they had ever done. Others talked of taking extra seminars and courses to get a leg up. Others started their first businesses or moved to new countries. Others checked themselves into therapy or began a meditation practice.

As Warren Buffett once said, the greatest investment a young person can make is in their own education, in their own mind. Because money comes and goes. Relationships come and go. But what you learn once stays with you forever.

“The number one goal should be to try to become a better person, partner, parent, friend, colleague etc. — in other words to grow as an individual.” (Aimilia, 39)

  1. Nobody (Still) Knows What They’re Doing, Get Used to It

“Unless you are already dead — mentally, emotionally, and socially — you cannot anticipate your life 5 years into the future. It will not develop as you expect. So just stop it. Stop assuming you can plan far ahead, stop obsessing about what is happening right now because it will change anyway, and get over the control issue about your life’s direction. Fortunately, because this is true, you can take even more chances and not lose anything; you cannot lose what you never had. Besides, most feelings of loss are in your mind anyway – few matter in the long term.” (Thomas, 56)

In my article about what I learned in my 20s, one of my lessons was “Nobody Knows What They’re Doing,” and that this was good news. Well, according to the 40+ crowd, this continues to be true in one’s 30s and, well, forever it seems; and it continues to be good news forever as well.

“Most of what you think is important now will seem unimportant in 10 or 20 years and that’s OK. That’s called growth. Just try to remember to not take yourself so seriously all the time and be open to it.” (Simon, 57)

“Despite feeling somewhat invincible for the last decade, you really don’t know what’s going to happen and neither does anyone else, no matter how confidently they talk. While this is disturbing to those who cling to permanence or security, it’s truly liberating once you grasp the truth that things are always changing. To finish, there might be times that are really sad. Don’t dull the pain or avoid it. Sorrow is part of everyone’s lifetime and the consequence of an open and passionate heart. Honor that. Above all, be kind to yourself and others, it’s such a brilliant and beautiful ride and keeps on getting better.” (Prue, 38)

“I’m 44. I would remind my 30 year old self that at 40, my 30s would be equally filled with dumb stuff, different stuff, but still dumb stuff… So, 30 year old self, don’t go getting on your high horse. You STILL don’t know it all. And that’s a good thing.” (Shirley, 44)

  1. Invest in Your Family; It’s Worth It

“Spend more time with your folks. It’s a different relationship when you’re an adult and it’s up to you how you redefine your interactions. They are always going to see you as their kid until the moment you can make them see you as your own man. Everyone gets old. Everyone dies. Take advantage of the time you have left to set things right and enjoy your family.” (Kash, 41)

I was overwhelmed with amount of responses about family and the power of those responses. Family is the big new relevant topic for this decade for me, because you get it on both ends. Your parents are old and you need to start considering how your relationship with them is going to function as a self-sufficient adult. And then you also need to contemplate creating a family of your own.

Pretty much everybody agreed to get over whatever problems you have with your parents and find a way to make it work with them. One reader wrote, “You’re too old to blame your parents for any of your own short-comings now. At 20 you could get away with it, you’d just left the house. At 30, you’re a grown-up. Seriously. Move on.”

But then there’s the question that plagues every single 30-year-old: to baby or not to baby?

“You don’t have the time. You don’t have the money. You need to perfect your career first. They’ll end your life as you know it. Oh shut up… Kids are great. They make you better in every way. They push you to your limits. They make you happy. You should not defer having kids. If you are 30, now is the time to get real about this. You will never regret it.” (Kevin, 38)

“It’s never the ‘right time’ for children because you have no idea what you’re getting into until you have one. If you have a good marriage and environment to raise them, err on having them earlier rather than later, you’ll get to enjoy more of them.” (Cindy, 45)

“All my preconceived notions about what a married life is like were wrong. Unless you’ve already been married, everyone’s are. Especially once you have kids. Try to stay open to the experience and fluid as a person; your marriage is worth it, and your happiness seems as much tied to your ability to change and adapt as anything else. I wasn’t planning on having kids. From a purely selfish perspective, this was the dumbest thing of all. Children are the most fulfilling, challenging, and exhausting endeavor anyone can ever undertake. Ever.” (Rich, 44)

The consensus about marriage seemed to be that it was worth it, assuming you had a healthy relationship with the right person. If not, you should run the other way (See #3).

But interestingly, I got a number of emails like the following:

“What I know now vs 10-13 years ago is simply this… bars, woman, beaches, drink after drink, clubs, bottle service, trips to different cities because I had no responsibility other than work, etc… I would trade every memory of that life for a good woman that was actually in love with me… and maybe a family. I would add, don’t forget to actually grow up and start a family and take on responsibilities other than success at work. I am still having a little bit of fun… but sometimes when I go out, I feel like the guy that kept coming back to high school after he graduated (think Matthew McConaughey’s character in Dazed and Confused). I see people in love and on dates everywhere. “Everyone” my age is in their first or second marriage by now! Being perpetually single sounds amazing to all of my married friends but it is not the way one should choose to live their life.” (Anonymous, 43)

“I would have told myself to stop constantly searching for the next best thing and I would have appreciated the relationships that I had with some of the good, genuine guys that truly cared for me. Now I’m always alone and it feels too late.” (Fara, 38)

On the flip side, there were a small handful of emails that took the other side of the coin:

“Don’t feel pressured to get married or have kids if you don’t want to. What makes one person happy doesn’t make everyone happy. I’ve chosen to stay single and childless and I still live a happy and fulfilled life. Do what feels right for you.” (Anonymous, 40)

Conclusion: It seems that while family is not absolutely necessary to have a happy and fulfilling life, the majority of people have found that family is always worth the investment, assuming the relationships are healthy and not toxic and/or abusive.

  1. Be kind to yourself, respect yourself

“Be a little selfish and do something for yourself every day, something different once a month and something spectacular every year.” (Nancy, 60)

This one was rarely the central focus of any email, but it was present in some capacity in almost all of them: treat yourself better. Almost everybody said this in one form or another. “There is no one who cares about or thinks about your life a fraction of what you do,” one reader began, and, “life is hard, so learn to love yourself now, it’s harder to learn later,” another reader finished.

Or as Renee, 40, succinctly put it: “Be kind to yourself.”

Many readers included the old cliche: “Don’t sweat the small stuff; and it’s almost all small stuff.” Eldri, 60, wisely said, “When confronted with a perceived problem, ask yourself, ‘Is this going to matter in five years, ten years?’ If not, dwell on it for a few minutes, then let it go.” It seems many readers have focused on the subtle life lesson of simply accepting life as is, warts and all.

Which brings me to the last quote from Martin, age 58:

“When I turned forty my father told me that I’d enjoy my forties because in your twenties you think you know what’s going on, in your thirties you realize you probably don’t, and in your forties you can relax and just accept things. I’m 58 and he was right.”

 

5 ways to naturally reduce cellulite

5 ways to naturally reudce cellulite

Cellulite is just fat stored beneath the skin. The fat appears bumpy because it pushes against connective tissue, causing the skin above it to pucker. There are lifestyle factors that contribute to the appearance of cellulite, and even very thin people can have it! Supporting the health fo your connective tissue and reducing fat cell overload are two main goals to reduce cellulite, and while there is no known cure for cellulite, you can naturally reduce it using the following methods;

1. Drink enough water. This is important to reduce water retention. Your body retains water when it is dehydrated, which is why after a big weekend you can appear puffy and seem to have put on weight. The water retention can worsen the appearance of cellulite.

2. Reduce sodium. Excess sodium intake also increases water retention. Skip the salt and add herbs and garlic to your dishes for taste.

3. Dry body brushing. Body brushing promotes tighter skin, cell renewal and blood flow. This also helps the lymphatic system release toxins and aids in digestion and kidney function.

4. Squats. This exercise is good for getting the blood flowing to the problem areas around your thighs and butt, and helps lymphatic drainage and reducing water build up in the area. Exercise also burns fat – bonus.

3. Eat food rich in vitamin C. This helps support your connective tissue, to reduce the bumpy appearance of the skin and keep everything tight and supple.

4. Balance hormones. Excess oestrogen can increase water retention and reduce your metabolism. Good ways to keep your hormones balanced, is to get lots of sleep, eat lots of fresh fruit and veg, avoid sugar and refined flour and exercise. Evening primrose oil and flaxseed oil can help around certain times of the month.

5. Massage with a cellulite oil. Massage helps drain away excess fluid and brings blood flow to the area to keep the connective tissue nice and firm. Natural cellulite oils contain ingredients that help with water retention and can help keep your skin in great condition. I like Fushi’s really good cellulite oil.