The typical Western approach to exercise and eating is geared towards a More Is More approach - but unfortunately, not more joyful, more mindful, more considered and more strategic. Just More. However, well intentioned as your ambitions to run a full marathon, train for 4 hours a day, eat a gluten free, dairy free, carb free diet and exfoliate three times a day, you may win medals but you could also be asking to look like a mouldy prune by 40.
What best benefits your body and mind is some perspective.
You have a functioning, well body. You have the intelligence and awareness to be seeking and open to information on how to move and fuel it. Everything begins and ends with that desire to be well. Consider that everything you do must stem from the intention to look after your body because you love it and want it to function, look, feel and BE fit and well throughout your whole life.
A restrictive diet can result in bone loss, nutritional deficiency and an onset of physical signs of ageing and illness.
The vegan diet in particular can be short on protein, iron, B12 and calcium if these nutrients aren't knowingly enhanced in dietary choices. Similarly, if you are genuinely allergic to foods, it is vital to have your levels of iron, calcium, vitamins B & D and iron measured. It would also be worth seeing a nutritionist or dietitian who can advise on dietary sources of essential nutrients based on your age, lifestyle, level of fitness and your goals (whether that's running a marathon, travelling the world, having a child or addressing particular symptoms).
Consider also that combining particular foods can enhance their nutritional power. Many vitamins are fat soluble, including A, D, E and K. Even a drizzle of coconut oil, a handful of nuts or some avocado in your salad will immediately boost the value of these nutrients in your veggie intake. Iron and vitamin C are known partners (a little citrus addition to your spinach in the form of lemon juice or sliced up oranges in your salad...)
My pick for Australian Certified Organic, all natural, tasty coconut oil is The Whole Foodies. Coconut oil not only adds island fresh flavour to salads and sauces, but is ideal for frying, roasting and ALSO as a beauty tonic. Comb it through the hair for an instant mask, or apply it as a moisturising balm to the skin.
Plant-based healthy fats are an excellent addition to your diet for more than vitamin and nutrient absorption.
They take longer to digest than carbs and protein and therefore act to fulfil the appetite and regulate hormones such as insulin, ghrelin and leptin which - when imbalanced - can fuel hunger and cravings whether you require fuel or not. Go for avocado, coconut, olive oil, nuts, seeds, milk and yoghurt (obviously not fat-free versions!)
Adequate calcium prevents the face and body from ageing signs.
A lack of calcium can show up in weakened and vulnerable bones. This doesn't just result in the dreaded "hunchback" appearance of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis at its most potent. Consider that the face is a thin layer of skin over...bone.
If the bones are weak and deteriorating, this impacts the cartilage in the nose, eye sockets, chin and forehead. Weak bones leads to an early onset of shrinkage of the bones, wrinkles, a concave effect on the forehead and no amount of fillers and botox will disguise a lack of good nutrition and genuine glowing health. Protect and feed the scaffolding so that you glow for your whole mortal life. If you don't do dairy, consider another calcium rich source of milk such as soy and almond. Check the level of calcium as not all "milk" products are calcium-rich. Don't even bother with rice and oat milk if calcium is your concern.
One major calcium secret for vegans and foodies? Unhulled tahini! It contains four times the amount of calcium in full fat cow's milk. My pick is the organic unhulled tahini from Aussie brand The Whole Foodies
which is Australian Certified Organic, paleo, gluten free and 100% vegan.
Facial Wrinkles Linked to Bone Density
Calcium In The Vegan Diet
(The Vegetarian Resource Group)
Adrenalin-fuelled exercise leeches calcium from the bones.
Extended cardio - from cycling, running, climbing or whatever you may be doing - as well as caffeine and stress are all sources of calcium robbery from your body. While you can ensure a higher intake of calcium through diet, it is also worth replacing some of the cardio-based exercise you do with weight-bearing exercise that builds bone strength (this can be weight-lifting or reformer pilates, circuit training or BodyPump).
Probiotics and Prebiotics for a healthy immune and digestive system
A happy belly is related to more stable mood and appetite, having positive benefits for sleep, relationships, energy for exercise and just living generally.
A healthy gut and immune system are also the basis for healthy skin. The process of shedding the outermost layer of the dermis and allowing new skin to be revealed that is radiant and well nourished depends on a healthy diet, stress management, balanced hormones and adequate sleep. Fuel your healthiest gut with pre- and probiotics found in kombucha, miso, tofu, yoghurt and kefir.
I've been delighted by Adam Liaw's recent book of recipes that embrace fresh, seasonal produce in creative and flavour loaded combinations. Here's a recipe for Sushi Sandwiches - they look so fancy and yet they're so easy to make! The Zen Kitchen by Adam Liaw is published by Hachette Australia
SERVES 1, BUT MAKE AS MANY AS YOU LIKE PREPARATION TIME 10
MINS COOKING TIME 0 MINS
1 cup cooked rice per sandwich
1 sheet nori per sandwich
1 Place a sheet of nori on a piece of plastic wrap on a cutting
board with the shiny side facing down.
Spread ½ cup rice in a
10cm square at 45° to the nori. Top the rice square with
choice of filling and cover with the
remaining ½ cup rice.
2 Fold the corners of the nori sheet into the centre to create
a square with the filling inside.
Gather the plastic wrap around
the sandwich and leave wrapped for at
least 10 minutes for the
seaweed to soften and stick to the
rice. This will help hold the
sandwich together. Use a sharp knife
moistened with a little cold
water to slice through the centre of
the sandwich to reveal the
SOME FILLINGS WE LIKE INCLUDE
Teriyaki chicken and green beans
Salmon, salmon roe, egg and lettuce.
like the rice balls, don’t keep these sandwiches in the fridge.
Eat them straight away or pack them
in plastic wrap or foil at room
to eat later
Stress Relieving Practices regulate hormones, increase energy and counter a busy lifestyle.
Many people claim their yoga practice is their stress relief. I understand - but it is really only effective if the style, environment, accessibility and cost are all feeding into your practice being a stress relief rather than a source of agitation.
If you feel that doing class is a chore rather than a joy, or you are pushing yourself to do a vigorous and athletic form of yoga when everything else you do is busy, competitive, adrenalin-fuelled and physical then it's hard to imagine this practice is genuinely stress relief for your body and mind.
This is not to say you shouldn't do this type of practice - only that you may also benefit from including other types of yoga practice such as yin yoga, restorative, iyengar, slow flow or pure meditation and pranayama practice.
Other forms of moving meditation that attune your mind, body and spirit and create a sense of peace that you carry beyond the practice itself and into your daily life include anything outdoors - surfing, walking through parks, beach and gardens, tai chi, swimming and sailing.
Use Good Quality Skincare. Incorporate It Into Your Stress Relief Practices.
I don't mean apply your avocado and coconut face mask and get into a headstand, although I am partial to applying my face mask and...getting into a headstand. Because, why not?
Make skincare part of a routine and ritual that calms and grounds you daily. I always wash my face as soon as I get up - it's my wake up call. I wash off my day when I get home too. If I'm in need of some down-time, I slather on a face mask, crack open a book and sit on my balcony to allow the wind and elements to soothe me. A streaming reggae playlist also helps.
My latest discovery is Bobbi Brown for skincare - as a long time fan of her makeup and Bobbi as an entrepreneur and force of good in the world of beauty, skincare and women in business, I am not surprised (but still thrilled) her skincare is worthy of devotion and dollars too.
Try her Coral Grass & Green Algae Skin Nourish Mask
I'm also big on peels but nothing too harsh because being violent with the skin only inflames the blemishes or ageing signs. Rather, do a weekly at-home glycolic peel. Try cult beauty brand StriVectin LABS 5-Minute Glycolic Peel