If the constant deluge is not enough to persuade you that winter is here, the clocks going back, and the longer darker nights will have no doubt convinced you.
For many the thought of 4 dark cold months is not a welcome prospect leaving them to “winter depression". More commonly known as SAD (Seasonal affective disorder), as the symptoms are usually more apparent and severe during this season.
Sunlight heighten the brain's production of the mood-enhancing chemical serotonin, consequently the more sunlight we are exposed too, the more serotonin we produce and vice versa!
With indifferent weather on the horizon for the next few months, getting into good habits and making the absolute best of the daylight hours available would be a wise choice. A healthy dose of fresh air, daylight and moderate exercise will help boost your immune system and keep you in good spirits.
As one year draws to a close, leaving the festivities aside, our thoughts turn to plans for the year ahead. From an early age, we learn that planning for our future is vital as it will bring us achievement, fulfilment, and satisfaction. Evidence suggests that we need a defined plan or goal. Otherwise, we are less likely to advance in the right direction or manifest the life we want to live. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” Benjamin Franklin. Check out our article by clicking this link.
The recent success of the European Ryder Cup team owed much to the groups tight knit bond that they nurtured over many weeks Building on previous encounters and experiences and the ever-present WhatsApp! Players shared photos, jokes, and general camaraderie, making the team a tighter fitting unit, and keeping spirits high! So even skilled professionals at the top of their game, require and benefit from the support, encouragement, and motivation of fellow professionals.
By surrounding yourself with likeminded others who will support your project and encourage your change, you are more likely to succeed. Your support group can be online or off, either way, create a support team that will check in with each other regularly and provide that much needed shoulder to lean on or kick up the backside when required!
Having a support network that will hold you accountable for your goals and making the change means you are more likely to succeed. Whether it’s a coach, partner, friend, or colleague. Ensure you divulge all your plans and desired outcomes and insist that they never let you off the hook!
Numerous studies have shown that when you share your goals with others, your chances of achieving them are twice as much than when you keep the goals to yourself. Being held responsible for achieving your goals will enhance your chances of success to yourself, if only because they motivate you to keep your reputation intact! There are many types of accountabilities for you to choose. Depending on your goal, your personality, and your budget, some will work better than others. Here are 5 types of accountabilities you could try!
3. Join a Group
Joining or creating an accountability group can help you perform and achieve things that you may struggle to do on your own.
We love this salad, as it means summer is here and we can sit outside and enjoy these amazing flavours and textures. This salad has evolved over the years and occasionally takes a different direction, but this is our family favourite.
Pre heat your oven to 150.
We all look forward to a summer holiday, a chance to switch off, relax and recharge. If you are heading to the Med, chances are you will enjoy better weather than here, (even if a little bit hotter than usual) and you will sample the delights of the much-venerated Mediterranean diet!
So, what is the Mediterranean diet and how might can it boost our mood?
The Mediterranean diet is rich in colourful plant foods, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, and olive oil with moderate amounts of fish and white meat but only small amounts of red meat and dairy foods. It is notably low in sugar, refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, rice etc), and saturated or trans fats.
An inflammatory mechanism is one theory for what causes mental health disorders, in fact some scientists are now questioning whether antidepressant medications such as SSRIS may primarily be beneficial because they have anti-inflammatory effects in the brain. Interestingly, the plentiful coloured plant pigments, high fibre content and omega-3 fats in the Mediterranean diet all add up to a powerful anti-inflammatory cocktail which helps to combat the raised inflammatory markers that are often observed in people with depression and anxiety.
In addition to being anti-inflammatory, the low content of sugar and refined carbohydrates in the Mediterranean diet supports better blood sugar balance. Having poorly controlled blood sugar levels or a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates are both known risk factors for developing depression or other mental health disorders 4.
Plant fibre is important for good gut health – and there is increasing evidence for the link between gut health and brain health. Gut microbes produce chemicals that can act directly on the brain to influence mood and it is clear from animal studies that changing the pattern of gut microbes can influence behaviour. It is also a little-known fact that the gut makes large quantities of the same neurotransmitters that are used in the brain - although it is currently unclear exactly how these may be acting on the brain. Eating a Mediterranean diet is certainly associated with having a much more diverse and healthier pattern of gut microbes.
Finally, the quality protein from fish and white meat provides essential amino acids and other nutrients that the body needs to make neurotransmitters without high levels of the more inflammatory fats that are found in red meat and dairy products.
So, what does it all add up to?
Following these few simple dietary rules may help to increase your resilience and lower your risk for developing mental health problems.
GRILLED SWEETCORN AND ASPARAGUS WITH RICOTTA, GOJI BERRIES AND HONEY DRESSING
First published in Savour by Peter Gordon, published by Jacqui Small (2016)
This is the first of 2 salads from Savour by Peter Gordon, and it was the easiest to choose, considering the book is packed with amazing salads as this is my wife’s favourite. When asparagus season arrives, this is the dish she always requests, and I am more than happy to prepare as it tastes delicious. Goji berries are not always easy to get hold of and I have sometimes substituted dried cranberries, but please don’t substitute any of the other ingredients.
2 Corn cobs
1 1/2 tsp Extra Virgin olive oil
2 Handfuls of Salad leaves
2 tbsp Goji Berries
250g Ricotta Cheese
2 tbsp Sunflower seeds - lightly toasted in a dry pan
1 ½ tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp Runny Honey
2 tsp Lemon juice
1 tsp Soy sauce, or use half a tsp. flaky salt
Leon - Spicy Chicken Couscous
To add an extra layer of texture and healthy greens, wilt a large bag of baby spinach and place into the oven dish before you add the chicken and couscous.
If the prospect of Spring has tempted you out into the garden, onto the golf course or up onto the hills, you might be feeling a few aches and pains in the lower back as your body adjusts to moving more vigorously again. As many of you are aware, it is not only those who overdo the gardening that can suffer from back ache, those who sit at a desk all day also are at increased risk as their abdominal and back muscles become increasingly weaker.
Exercise, movement, and motion are our medicine; and should become our daily prescription for healthy living.
Try the Seated glutes stretch or the Wall calf stretch
If any of these exercises causes pain, contact one of our team for further advice and treatment. Do not leave it to go away on its own, the earlier the treatment is carried out the better. You should exercise and keep fit so that you can enjoy your gardening and other leisure activities, rather than using your gardening as an exercise to keep fit.
Something special for New Year’s Eve, that does not take long to cook and tastes delicious!
Heat a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat and add the bacon and olive oil. Cook until the bacon has rendered most of its fat but is still juicy, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a bowl and increase the heat to high. Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan cut side down and sear hard, without shaking the pan, until well-charred and beginning to black (see photo above), about 5 to 7 minutes. The idea is to get a deep, penetrating sear that nearly blackens the sprouts, but keeps them relatively green inside. Reduce the heat back to medium, flip the sprouts, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the dates and cooked bacon and toss well. Add the stock to the pan, a little at a time, using a wooden spoon to smash the dates into the stock, breaking them into smaller pieces as the stock reduces into a sauce. Once the dates are incorporated, add the vinegar.
Continue cooking for 2 or 3 minutes, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the sprouts but be careful not to reduce it too much or the sauce will become cloyingly sweet and sticky. (If you do over reduce it, add a splash of stock or water to get it back to where you want it.) Transfer to a serving platter and serve warm
You may have been lucky enough to sail or swim alongside a dolphin, seen them perform at a waterpark, or perhaps grew up watching Flipper, but I am sure you can a picture a dolphin swimming having fun! What you might not know is that Dolphins have a great sense of fellowship and are extremely social. By nature, they are very curious and enjoy playing with objects and other dolphins following the waves created by boats. As well as being able to jump almost 5 meters out of the water, they frequently make bubbles and take the time to recreate * themselves in the ocean.
Back on dry land, the impact of the Covid pandemic highlighted that inactivity is now seen as an ongoing pandemic due to the link between poor health and weakened immune system. A point reinforced by the Sport England Active Lives Adult Survey November 2020-21. Their report suggests that four in 10 British adults were so immobile they risked their long-term health.
Exercise’, according to Peter Walker, author of ‘The Miracle Pill – Why the sedentary world is getting it all wrong.’, is the issue. He believes that labelling physical activity as exercise turned off the majority and created a belief that it is a pursuit of a minority, whether that be elite athletes, or a routine squeezed into busy schedules of busy people! Since time began, daily physical exertion was an integral part of humanity, but in less than a half a century movement has almost been designed out of our lives with transformed workplaces, our reliance on the car, and a whole host of appliances that aid our domestic life.
So where do you start and what is the best activity to do? According to Steven Blair, one of Americas leading experts on the health benefits of exercise his answer is, “The one you’ll do and keep doing.” And the good news is, it is never too late to start exercising and benefitting from all the health benefits that physical activity brings. Even if you have had, or you think you have had a lifetime of inactivity, don’t worry about which exercise you need to do, or which class to attend, just think about moving more and moving well.
Once you have practiced the squat and gained some competence in the movement, the next step, (literally!) is to lunge. Just like squats, lunges work all the major muscles of the lower body and can help improve your balance as well. Lunging is a great exercise because it mirrors many of our day-to-day movements, such as walking and running. It is also very similar to the position we assume when we get up from the floor and creates the same muscle-activation patterns used for ascending or descending stairs.
Any good technique is crucial in order to avoid injury and gain the Take a big step forward with your right foot, keeping your spine in a neutral position. Bend your right knee to create a right angle, focusing on keeping weight on the toes of your left foot whilst dropping the knee of your left leg toward the floor. (Repeat on other leg)
This article has highlighted that the aging body has the propensity to become weaker, less flexible/mobile which has the consequence of impacting our balance. Brazilian Physician Claudio Gil S Araújo developed a simple evaluation of balance, flexibility, and strength to prove this point. **
From a standing position, without support or leaning on anything, you slowly lower yourself to the floor, and then attempt to stand back up again.
Then as you attempt to stand up you place your left hand and then left knee on the floor for support, you would deduct a further 2 points giving you a total score of 6 (10-4=6) for the Sitting-Rising Test.
The Sitting-Rising Test, or SRT was performed by over 2,000 patients between the ages of 51 and 80. Araújo and his team found that individuals who scored less than 8 points on the test were twice as likely to die within the next six years. Those who scored 3 or fewer points were more than five times as likely to die within the same period compared with those who scored more than 8 points. Araújo concluded that each point increase in the SRT score correlated with a 21% decrease in mortality from all causes.
The Sitting-Rising Test reinforces the point that muscular strength and flexibility are just as important aerobic health in delaying the impact of old age.
We are all mortal and our time on this earth is limited, but the quality of that time can be improved if we feel better and move better. Getting started is never easy, but one of the simplest things you can do is to try and lessen the amount of time spent sitting and walk a little bit more every day. The thought of entering a gym can be intimidating and overwhelming for many, but some of the best physical activities for your body don't require the gym or assume you are preparing for an Ironman. Remember the dolphins? They move just for the fun of it! Find something you enjoy whether it is on your own or in a group, indoors or outside. Don’t give yourself a hard time, find joy in moving and recreate just like our aquatic friends!
*RECREATE verb (used with object), rec·re·at·ed, rec·re·at·ing.
to refresh by means of relaxation and enjoyment, as restore physically or mentally.
**Sitting–rising test: Sex- and age-reference scores derived from 6141 adults
Claudio Gil S Araújo, Claudia Lucia B Castro, João Felipe C Franca, Denise SMS Araújo
European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, vol. 27, 8: pp. 888-890. First Published May 1, 2019
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