Meal Prep 101

Life happens. And one of the best ways to make it through successfully is to make sure you’re prepared.

Meal prepping saves you time, energy and serves as your friend on the days when you get home late and every fibre of your being is against you making food. In turn, you end up spending less on eating out and having more energy by eating home-cooked, delicious meals.

Whether you’re keto, paleo, low-carb, or standard NZ diet, this simple guide will serve you well to have a fridge full of healthy meals for the week.

 

Prep steps:

 

  1. PLAN: Meal prepping starts on the weekend. Look at the week ahead of you and figure out the busy days for which you’ll need meal-prepped meals. Even if you don’t want to meal prep for the entire week, make sure that you schedule some time the day before to prepare a meal.
  2. THINK: Open notes or find a pad and pen to write some healthy meal ideas. Nothing fancy, keep it simple. For example, you could have some one-pot recipes on hand that can make huge batches like chilli, grilled chicken, roast veggies, and stir fry.
  3. SHOP: From that simple menu, create an ingredient list and go out to buy your meal prep ingredients. If you don’t have the memory of an elephant, be sure to bring a note pad with you or have your list on your phone notes to tick off as you go.
  4. COOK: Schedule one or however many days out of the week to cook. This could be every Sunday that you plug your headphones in with a good podcast and go hard at your meal prep for an hour and a half. Be sure to cook all the things that take lots of time to cook like your chicken, veggies, and potatoes. Prepping in bulk is best because it saves you heaps of time. Slicing a few carrots is as fast as slicing one, so make sure to prep everything you can in that set time.
  5. STORE: Finally, store your meal-prepped food in containers and make them accessible in the fridge. Be sure to also put the appropriate items in the freezer if you know you won’t be eating it before it goes bad.

And most IMPORTANTLY, don’t forget to make meal prepping fun and a regularly weekly ritual of yours. Throw on some music, watch a show or just chat if it’s a team effort.

Apply these meal prep principles and your future self will thank you immensely.

This blog is sponsored by Priorityfitness.

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Should I Quit Drinking?

The debate of whether a certain amount of alcohol is good or bad for you has been a long-standing one. Some of us enjoy the glass of wine with dinner. Others have a few beers on the weekend.  But do you need to quit it altogether to change your body or your health?

If you’re thinking that alcoholic beverages tend to show up a lot in life you’re not alone. Alcohol has become a huge part of the culture in New Zealand and in other countries around the world. Whether it’s a nice cold beer at the end of a workday or a bubbly champagne on New Year’s, it tends to add up. But how does that affect your health goals? Well, it’s kind of complicated.

You may have heard that drinking can be good for you as research has shown that moderate alcohol intake is associated with a lower risk of diabetes, gallstones and coronary heart disease. There have even been studies indicating that drinkers live longer than people who don’t drink.

However, it’s important to know that experts recommend that if you don’t already drink, don’t start. Why? Because no one actually knows if ANY amount of alcohol is good for you.

I’m not going to tell you not to drink. But it’s important to know that most of the research on the potential benefits of drinking alcohol doesn’t actually prove anything due to how the studies are designed. The research tends to be large, long-term population-based studies that can’t say that it CAUSES anything, but rather that it CORRELATES with something.

So what is a “moderate alcohol intake”?

  • Women: 7 drinks/week, no more than 3 in a single day
  • Men: 14 drinks/week, no more than 4 in a single day

In my opinion, this type of moderation will land you in a host of health problems. Let’s take it down to 1-2 times per week with only 1 drink per setting. That’s better 🙂

A single drink can be a 330 ml can of 4% alcohol beer or a 100 ml glass of 12.5% alcohol wine.

Chances are, if you’re a human, you’re most likely underestimating your alcohol consumption. The occasional happy hour or birthday dinner can quickly take you from moderate to heavy drinker without you even realizing. The health risks for heavy drinking are much higher for major health problems, such as liver cancer, alcoholism, osteoporosis and a host of other diseases.

So how do you find a nice balance? What amount of alcohol gives you enjoyment while giving your body a chance to respond and recover from processing it? MY moderate alcohol intake guideline is a good start along with the following tips:

  • Keep track of your drinking habits. Do this for a week or two and ask yourself:
    • Am I drinking more than I thought? (Did you forget to count those couple of beers you like to have on Sunday afternoons?)
    • Are there patterns in my drinking? (Does your stressful job trigger your end-of-week binge drink?)
    • Is it helping me enjoy life or stressing me out? (Are you not sleeping well or feeling worried about drinking?)
  • Tune in to your body’s signals:
    • Do I feel good?
    • Am I recovering?
    • How do I feel afterwards?
  • Switch it up and experiment to break your routine:
    • Delay your next drink for 10 minutes and see if you still want it after.
    • Savour your drink. Look, sniff, and taste it.
    • Quality over quantity. Drink less, but have the good stuff.

Evaluate how drinking fits in with your goals. If you want six-pack abs, then that might mean skipping out on a few drinks at the bar. Taking part in Friday night “Happy Hour” means pushing back your Saturday morning workout. If you’re aiming for a more moderate alcohol intake then you’ll have to find a way to say “no” to certain stress/social triggers that make you want to drink more.

 

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Pillar No. 1: Sleeping Well

Introduction

So you’ve been consistent with your eating and your workouts for quite some time now, but for some reason the results you were expecting just aren’t happening. You need answers. What could possibly be happening?!

Well, have you considered your sleep habits?

Everything is dependent on proper sleep quality. From your performance during exercise to clearness in your thinking, all your functions are influenced by your sleep in some way. So it only makes sense that you get enough of it, as well as the best possible quality.

Unfortunately, more and more people are dropping below the minimum hours of sleep required to keep health problems in check and suffering from poorer sleep quality due to lifestyle factors that they would not have expected to play a role.

 

How do you KNOW that your sleep habits aren’t working for you?

1. You can’t think clearly

Our experiences and information accumulated throughout the day gets integrated into our memory while we sleep. Disrupting this process can lead to forgetfulness, confusion and reduced concentration.

 

2. Your mood is low

Sleeping refreshes neurotransmitters and regulates hormone production. Less of it leads to increased stress, unhappiness and decreased regulation of emotions.

 

3. Your immune system seems weak

Not enough sleep can decrease immune cell count and increase inflammation, which may lead to you getting sick more often and having an increased risk of inflammation-related illnesses.

 

4. You’re not losing weight

This one is a double whammy because not only is poor sleep linked to excess body fat, but excess body fat can reduce sleep quality. Talk about a vicious cycle!

 

5. You’re struggling through your workouts

As mentioned before, sleep allows your body to refresh neurotransmitters, but it also aids in flushing our energy-draining metabolites to help with nervous system activity, reaction time and endurance capacity.

 

Now, how do you ACHIEVE a good night’s sleep?

1. Wake up at YOUR appropriate time

When woken from a light sleep stage, you feel way better and more alert. Look into purchasing a device or downloading an app that senses sleep cycles and awakens you at an optimal, personalized time

 

2. Start moving

When it’s time to wake up, don’t think, just sit up, put your feet on the floor and start moving. It seems to help speed up the waking process.

 

3. Mind your caffeine and alcohol intake

Try to avoid having daily caffeine and alcohol as these can interfere with proper deep sleep. Save them for treats or special occasions only.

 

4. “Empty your mind”

This Bruce Lee quote rings true in more ways than one, and it DEFINITELY applies to sleep. Sometimes we’re just so frazzled with thoughts in our head that it can make it hard to fall asleep. There are many tools you can use to help this, such as meditation, quiet reading or you can try this: grab a pen and paper and get whatever thoughts you have floating in your head on that paper. This is quite therapeutic and can help you achieve genuine relaxation.

 

5. Get at least the minimum hours of sleep (7 hours)

Sleep should be made a priority, but it can be tough to see its benefits compared to the immediate urge to scroll through Instagram or watch one last Youtube video. Invest in your future and plan for proper sleep. Most people NEED 7-9 hours a night. If you’re way under this now, that’s okay. Just know that you’ll have to work your way up slowly. Try adding half an hour of sleep at a time and you’ll feel the difference.

 

Conclusion

Now you’ve got the why, what and how about getting a good night’s sleep. None of this is useful though, unless you put it to practice. So take even just ONE of these strategies and try it out. Your body and mind will thank you for it 😉

 

Tips for a better sleep

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Can You Live Without Water?

Introduction

65 % of our body is composed of water, from our organs to our blood cells, we need water to function effectively. Most people know that drinking plenty of water is beneficial for us.

In this blog, I will share with you 4 benefits of drinking plenty of water.

 

1. Adequate hydration has a big impact on your immune system.

Water allows your blood to carry oxygen to all the cells in your body. With oxygen this allows your kidneys to function at its best. The kidneys job is to filter out all the toxins. Without your kidneys getting enough oxygen to function, toxins will start to accumulate and will not be excreted as waste.

Another way water aids in your immune system is through the production of lymph fluid within the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system provides a network of blood vessels and lymph nodes that help protect our body from outside invaders such as bacteria. Lymph fluid carries bacteria to lymph nodes where it gets filtered and destroyed.

 

2. Water helps aid in digestion.

We may have all wondered, if the acid in our stomach is so strong that it can dissolve a nail. Why doesn’t it burn a hole through our stomach? Good question. This is all due to your mucous stomach lining. Without adequate water this mucous membrane would be limited. As a result this would cause ulcers within the stomach which can be very unpleasant.

Staying hydrated helps your gastrointestinal tract to flow freely and prevents constipation. When you are dehydrated your body will try to keep hydrated by any means possible. Even if it means pulling water away from stools. This results in hard and dry stools which are straining to pass through. As you are needed to use force to pass them through, this can negatively impact your body by developing hernias, hemorrhoids or even diverticulitis.

 

3. Water can help maximize physical performance.

Studies have shown that even losing as much as 2 percent of body water can have a noticeable effect on physical performance. Like any other organs within the body, our muscles are also dependent on water to function effectively. As we exert ourselves physically we will sweat to regulate our body temperature. This results in a drop in body water content. With minimum water reserves that will go to other vital organs, our muscles will have insufficient hydration to function properly. We will notice increased fatigue and will be worn out much easier.

 

4. Water can help you lose weight!

Research has shown drinking water can help you burn more calories and promotes the breakdown of fat cells. Other research has shown that drinking water prior to a meal can help suppress appetite. Water is a zero calorie free option and is an awesome replacement for other drinks that are high in calorie.

 

Now we know how important water is to help us regulate our daily lives. How much do we need to drink to see these benefits?

Well as with most things it really depends on each individual. Many factors may affect how much we need to drink. Are we doing any vigorous physical activity? Is it a hot summer’s day? As a rule of thumb drinking 1 liter per 25 kg of body weight should be adequate.

Some tips to keep yourself hydrated all the time:

  • If you are sick of drinking plain old water try adding lemon or other citric fruit pieces to flavour your water naturally.
  • Fruits and vegetables are also high in water content. With some having high fiber content which can aid in digestion.
  • Carry a reusable drink bottle with you, so you can always refill it.
  • Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake. Both these beverages act as diuretics resulting in you losing more water than you should.
  • Drink small sips throughout the day. Don’t wait until you feel the symptoms of thirst etc.

 

Some benefits of drinking water

 

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Fertility and Alcohol (women and men)

Introduction

Firstly, let’s look at heavy drinking or binge drinking. As fun as it may be, there is absolutely no evidence that points towards this sort of amusement as being anything other than detrimental to our health. Numerous research studies have found links between moderate-heavy drinking. That is, equalling or surpassing the weekly recommended allowance, and problems with fertility.

 

Alcohol & Female Fertility

Moderate-heavy drinking

The way in which heavy alcohol consumption affects female fertility isn’t properly understood. However, hormonal imbalances are one of the most likely explanations. A study published in a 2000 edition of Alcohol and Alcoholism found that women who enjoyed moderate-heavy drinking had significantly lower levels of progesterone than non-drinkers. Progesterone plays a vital role in conception. It is fundamental in keeping the thick uterine lining, and implanted egg, in place. Low progesterone levels mean that the lining is more likely to shed each month.

The same study found that drinkers had increased estrogen levels, which are often present in women suffering from endometriosis. Indeed, further studies have confirmed that ‘alcohol intake positively associates with endometriosis‘. Abnormally high estrogen levels can cause cells outside the womb to thicken in the same way as the uterine walls. Known as endometriosis, these cells can cause damage to both the ovaries and fallopian tubes. That means some cases don’t lead to the successful completion of the ovulation process. As you’ll know, you can’t get pregnant naturally if you don’t ovulate.

The effects on in-vitro fertilization (IVF)

The research has also suggested that alcohol can even affect assisted conception. Some researchers have proposed that alcohol can not only create an inhospitable environment in the uterus but also decrease egg production and quality. Those are two aspects that would contribute to IVF attempts. A study by the Harvard Medical School put forward the notion that drinking just half a bottle of wine per week could lower the chances of conception via IVF by up to 18%.

Light-moderate drinking

There are some gaps in the research on the effects of light-moderate drinking on conception. However, many studies do argue that even the occasional drink can cause fertility problems in women. There have been two studies. Infertility in Women and Moderate Alcohol Use (1994), and Does moderate alcohol consumption affect fertility? follow up study among couples planning first pregnancy (1998). They both conclude that even light-moderate drinking can reduce the likelihood of conception by a significant margin.

Doctors have even claimed that giving up alcohol completely can be as effective in treating fertility issues as IVF. They have reported a 33% chance of getting pregnant via assisted conception, and a 32% chance of getting pregnant naturally by cutting out the booze. Even if light-moderate drinking doesn’t necessarily cause infertility, it can certainly increase the amount of time it takes to become pregnant.

 

Alcohol & Male Fertility

It’s not just women’s habits that are under the microscope when it comes to how alcohol affects fertility. Conception is a joint effort, so if a woman’s alcohol intake can be an influencing factor, then it makes sense that a man could, too. Unlike with female fertility, it’s far easier to accurately view the effects of alcohol on sperm.
One study, ‘Direct effect of alcohol on the motility and morphology of human spermatozoa’ added alcohol directly onto healthy sperm in concentrations that would be similar to that if the alcohol was consumed.

Mobility, motility, and velocity of the sperm all decreased, while incidents of tail deformities increased. This could not only affect the sperm’s ability to reach the egg in the first place, but also the ability to create a healthy embryo. This study involved moderate-heavy drinkers. In the case of light-moderate drinkers, the research suggests a 14% decrease in IVF success rates when men have consumed as little as half a bottle of wine per week.

Alcohol has been suggested to affect fertility in both, women and men

 

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