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Sunday, May 29, 2016

8 Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started Working Out

Some of these is a great reminder as to why we keep our body going. All the 8 items are real key to me. And they mean alot to keep going.

Rest, Fun, and it's ok that we have bad days. That is the sweet bitterness of being balance in life.

If you’re getting ready to kick-start your journey into fitness—whether it’s starting a strength training workout for the first time, finally lacing up your running shoes and hitting the pavement like you’ve talked about all these years, or taking a group fitness class like kickboxing or yoga—there’s likely a little voice in the back of your head giving you doubts.
The voice might make you wonder if you can really do this—are you really prepared? Do you really know what you’re doing? Will you really see success?
Very often, these doubts simply come from the fact that you don’t have experience with what you’re about to do and are worried there’s too much you don’t know.
To help ease these doubts and make the transition into fitness easier, here are a few of the big things I’ve learned throughout my 15-year journey to fitness.
There Will Be Days You Just Don’t Want To
First, let’s start with what you likely don’t want to hear: You won’t always be motivated.Inspiration comes and goes, even for the most fit individuals, and that’s completely OK. Normal even.
Embrace it. Realize that you can’t expect motivation to carry you through this journey. You need to trust the process and know that if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, results will eventually come. In fact, your ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other during this time is what will make you stronger mentally—just as your workouts make you stronger physically.
Even on those days when you just aren’t feeling into it, do something active. Something will almost always be better than nothing (unless you really do just need to rest, and then it’s time to listen to your body—more on this later).
Finding Your “Inner Reason” Is Key
Why do you want to exercise? Does it make you feel more confident? Does it give you more energy? Do you want to be active with your grandkids?
Find an inner reason—something that isn’t about impressing others or looking good at your reunion. Those reasons just won’t stand the test of time.
Progress Won’t Always Be Linear
It would be great if your results were just a straight line that went up, up and up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Understand that you’ll progress much faster at certain times than others. Again, this is natural. Don’t give up the fight. Just as things seem to slow, you need to trust that they’ll pick up again.
Learn the difference between slow progress and stagnation. If it’s been four weeks or longer without any results, it’s time for re-evaluation. Don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result. If after four weeks you aren’t seeing progress, then it isn’t coming.
Rest Is Key
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the great changes that are taking place, and you might want to work out every single chance you get. Unfortunately, this will likely result in slowed progress, burnout, illness or injury.
Rest is a vital component in the process of getting fitter. Learn this now or you’ll be forced to learn it later when you’re sidelined due to fatigue or injury. The choice is yours.
Periodization Is Important
Periodization, meaning focusing on different goals at various points, is also a must. During some months, gaining strength may be a goal. Over the next few months, you might choose to work on losing fat instead.
Change things up. This will not only keep you more mentally interested in your sessions, but also give your body a break from the repetitive nature of the exercise you’re doing.
Over the long run, this can go a long way towards preventing injuries.
Comparisons Will Never Help
One of the worst things that you can do as you go about this journey is compare yourself to others. There will always be someone out there who is fitter than you, leaner than you, stronger than you, and so forth.
Don’t pay attention to them. This is your journey so the only person you need to worry about is yourself.
Are you better than you were yesterday? That is the question you need to be asking.
Seeking Assistance Will Help
Don’t be afraid to ask others for support. Benefit from the experience of others, whether this is a personal trainer, friend who’s more fit than you, or someone you know online who is an expert in the area you’re trying to improve.
Failing to get the help you need could be the one thing that causes your progress to stagnate. Don’t be shy or embarrassed about it. Reach out and you’ll be glad you did.
Having Fun Should Be Prioritized
Finally, it’s a must to focus on having fun. If you don’t have fun during your workout, you’re unlikely to stick with it over the long haul. Nothing says you have to lift free weights or that you have to go for a run. If you don’t like it, don’t do it.
There are plenty of ways to get fit, so choose one that you’ll look forward to doing. When you enjoy the activity, it won’t feel like work and you’ll naturally want to exercise regularly.
Find something that brings you an inner sense of joy—something that makes you feel alive when you do it, and that’ll be the workout that changes the way you view fitness.
So keep these quick tips in mind. As a beginner, you’re forming the foundation upon which you’ll view fitness and everything involved with it. Make sure you make that foundation a positive one.

Tags:  beginners fitness new to working out working out 
Shannon Clark
Shannon Clark
Shannon Clark is an AFLCA certified personal trainer with a degree in exercise science. She has written on the topics of health, fitness, and nutrition for nearly a decade, and her thoughts and advice are regularly published on Bodybuilding.com, shannonclarkfitness.com, andFitRated.com, a leading fitness equipment review site offering fitness insights on equipment, workout plans, and weight loss strategies.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Let's Get It Ohm: 5 Amazing Benefits of Meditation (video)

It is probably the most challenging ever done to the body.

The art of doing nothing.

Take some time out and try. The benefits are simply amazing

Click here

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Peace of Mind

Dedicated to the mommies and daddies out there. Always remember: You have always done the best you can, so love yourself but take care of yourself first. I always think about during a flight when the oxygen masks drops...grab and put the mask on you first before others.

Thank you Plunket NZ

Mindfull Parenting

If you find yourself feeling frazzled, guilty and emotional, then applying mindfulness techniques to your parenting could help. Jai Breitnauer consults the experts on how to do it.

We all know that parenting is full-on, even on the good days. Most people would instantly forgive any new mum who feels a bit stressed and vulnerable, but we’re not always so easy on ourselves.
“So many of us have such high expectations – that baby will be happy all the time, that parenting will be great every single day – we’re unprepared and unwilling to accept reality”, says Dr Chantal Hofstee, a clinical psychologist and mindfulness expert. “Having a new baby in the house is an intense, stressful period – I should know, my second daughter was born in August. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Unrealistic expectations lead to feelings of guilt and shame.”
It’s hard when you’ve got the baby book to fill in, social media to update, and eager friends wanting to know how wonderful motherhood is, to be honest even with yourself. But practicing mindfulness is about being kind to yourself and others, about living in the present, and accepting your reality for what it is.
Hofstee says new parents are often stuck in their ‘red brain’. “This is all about stress, being reactive, feeling overwhelmed and multitasking,” she says. “When you’re in that mode you are disconnected from yourself, the moment and your child.” Mindfulness can help you switch to ‘green brain’, which is responsive, calm and connected to the present. “It’s not always happy though,” Hofstee explains. “That’s a misconception. Mindfulness isn’t about being happy, it’s about being kind and present in the moment, and how that helps you respond to the challenges of life in a more accepting way.”
Mindfulness practitioner Glenda Irwin agrees. “Mindfulness will help you accept the situation, and your child, for what it is. That does not make you any less in love with your child – it’s about finding your normality, and knowing it’s okay.” Irwin and her partner teach over 200 adults a week how to live in a more mindful way, and she notes an important skill for parents is to be able to relinquish expectations.
“Mindful parenting is about matching your expectations to the development of your child”, says psychologist and mindfulness expert Monique Lubberink. “But it’s also about being kind and accepting to yourself”. Lubberink helps parents to trust themselves, and to be assertive around the boundaries they set for other people. Self care is essential to this. “Your baby will always come first, but that is enabled by looking after yourself, your sleep and healthcare – and not being afraid to ask for help.”
Here are three common scenarios and ways you can respond mindfully:
Baby won’t stop crying
You’ve established breastfeeding and got into such a good routine, you’ve made arrangements to have coffee with a friend. But today your baby just won’t settle. She’s been feeding all morning, the jobs are building up and you can’t put baby down. You have to cancel coffee and feel like having a bit of a cry yourself.
“It would be almost impossible to expect a mum in this position to do some sort of meditation or breathing exercise, she would be far too overwrought,” says Glenda Irwin. “But she could have a shower – that’s great informal practice.” First things first, make sure baby is safe in her cot then give yourself a few minutes to try this.
“Notice the intention to have a shower,” says Irwin “This isn’t the unconscious, fall out of bed and into the shower you might have in the morning, this is a conscious choice. You could go as far as to say out loud, ‘I’m going to have a shower.’ Notice what happens as you take
the steps you need to take to get to the shower. Is the bathroom floor warm or cold? Do you need to step into the shower? What muscles do you use? How do you turn the shower on? Feel the lever or tap, its shape and size.” Irwin says that after testing the water temperature, really feel the way it hits your skin; how does it run down your body? Is the pressure hard or soft?
At all times keep your thoughts on what is happening now. Find some relief in the present moment, this will sustain you when you return to your baby, helping you to respond with more focus and compassion.”
The missed milestone
Your little boy is 14 months old and you’re loving this amazing phase in his development and celebrating every milestone. You’re proud of his achievements and excited about showing him off at a family gathering but soon find yourself caught up in a long conversation with someone. Then a well-meaning relative comes rushing over to tell you your son just took his first few independent steps. That news hits you like a sledgehammer – your little guy walked, and you missed it.
“Mindfulness is about processing emotions,” says Hofstee. “Before you react, give yourself the chance to register and understand what you are feeling.”She suggests the following steps:
Acknowledge - “Whatever you feel, accept it. Say, ‘hello guilt, or  ‘hello sadness, it’s perfectly reasonable for you to be here right now”.
Link - “Connect that emotion to its trigger. Say, ‘I’m feeling sad because I just missed my son’s first steps’. To verbalise helps the brain to process.”
Let go - “Take a few really deep breaths, drop your shoulders, breathe out and say, ‘I let it go’. After all, there will be more milestones. Now you should find that emotion you felt is much smaller, and you’re ready to respond with kindness and acceptance toward yourself and others.”
Cheeky toddler
You’ve had a lovely afternoon messy-painting with your two year old on the deck. She’s made some great pictures, and you’re just thinking about tidying up when the phone rings. You ask her to stay put, telling her clearly not to go inside. But when you come back you find that your daughter has followed you, wiping paint on the wall and sofa, and is making patterns against the glass ranch slider.
“This is such a recognisable situation for all parents,” says Monique Lubberink. “Toddlers feel and act at the same time and have a limited ability to be reasoned with, as the cortex, the thinking part of the brain is the last part to develop. This curiosity and disruptiveness gives us the best challenge to learn to be mindful.” Lubberink suggests that the age-old advice of counting to 10 is useful here.
“Focus on your breathing. Just follow your breathing and count ‘one’ as you breath in, ‘two’ as you breath out and so on until you are at 10,” she says. “This will calm your body down and stop your thoughts from making a situation worse than it actually is.”Once you are calm, reach deep and find your sense of humour.
“Having a good laugh, making fun memories with your children, is the best response,” says Lubberink. “After all, there are a lot worse things that could have happened instead of some paint on the wall. Kindly explain that painting is for paper and not for walls, doors and floors. You could even make it into an activity by cleaning up together.” 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How Much is Too Much? Protein Myths Busted

There isn't really such a thing as too much protein, but there is a such of having too much of the same kind of protien

Is it true that too much protein can be bad for your health?

You’ve heard that too much protein can be bad for your health, but is it true? Get the real answers, based on research.

As a trainer, you’ve probably heard it all when it comes to protein:
            Too much protein will destroy your kidneys.
            A lot of protein makes your bones weaker.
            Only professional bodybuilders need that much protein.
There are myths galore about protein, from how too much is damaging to your body to the idea that protein isn’t that important unless you’re a serious lifter.

The truth about protein is that it is misunderstood.

Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a huge role in helping to keep you healthy and is essential to building muscle mass. And those statements about bone strength and kidney function? Totally untrue, in fact the opposite is true.
Protein actually plays a role in preventing osteoporosis and strengthening bones. And there is no evidence that a healthy person will get kidney damage from a typical high-protein diet.
You probably already know some of this, but you need to be able to convince your clients and people who ask you for fitness and nutrition advice. Tell them why getting enough protein is so important:
What Protein is Good For!
  • Protein builds muscle mass
  • Adequate protein is needed for post-workout recovery
  • Protein in the diet supports fat loss
  • Protein is important for a healthy immune system and connective tissue
  • Insufficient protein skews body composition
So, we know protein is good and necessary, especially if you’re active. But can there be too much of a good thing?
Sure, too much of anything is always possible, but with protein, that danger level is much higher than most people realize.
To convince the people that they are definitely not eating too much protein, and in fact that they might even need more, let’s take a look at the myths about protein and bust them wide open.

Protein Myth #1 – A High-Protein Diet Damages Your Kidneys

Protein Myth #1 - A high protein diet damages your kidneys
Think of the kidneys as our body’s water filter. They get rid of unneeded substances, metabolites, and other waste from the body.
And yes, kidneys play a crucial role in metabolizing and excreting the nitrogen byproducts from protein digestion. But, this doesn’t mean that eating a lot of protein will overtax your kidneys.
One reason this myth has perpetuated is that research has shown a high-protein intake can increase how hard kidneys work—for people who already have chronic kidney disease and damaged kidney function.1

Multiple studies concluded that healthy individuals will NOT develop kidney disease or impaired kidney function from increased protein intake. 2,4,7

To get into a little more detail, what the researchers found was that increased protein intake does change how your kidneys function, leading to hyperfiltration—but this isn’t a bad thing.
Hyperfiltration is evidence that the kidneys are adapting to higher protein levels in the diet. They are simply doing a better job of metabolizing increased amounts of protein.1,2,4,7
Think about people who have donated a kidney. That one kidney left over suddenly has to handle more protein. If higher levels of protein damaged healthy kidneys, we would see it in donors. But we don’t. That one kidney just adapts and donors have no increased risk for kidney disease.
Need some more evidence?
Researchers have found that bodybuilders and other athletes who consume high protein diets are also not at a greater risk for kidney damage or disease.7 These people may consume more than 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, much more than the average person eats per day.

Protein Myth #2 – Too Much Protein Weakens Your Bones

Protein Myth #2 - Too much protein weakens your bones
The idea of protein leading to weaker bones comes from the fact that protein increases the acidity of the body, and that this causes calcium to leach from the bones to counteract it.
Excess acidity has been found to lead to bone weakness, but protein is not the culprit. 3
As a matter of fact, protein in the diet has the opposite effect: it strengthens bones. Increased protein in the diet leads to greater levels of insulin-like growth factor-1, better calcium absorption, and more vitamin D.
All of these effects act to strengthen the bones.
And that’s not all. More protein in the diet, combined with weight training increases muscle mass and strength. This is especially important as we age and naturally start to lose muscle mass. Having more muscle is associated with greater bone density.

So How Much Protein Do You Actually Need?

How much protein you need?  Moderately to Extreme Active = 2-3 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight
Now that you explained to the naysayers that more protein is better, how much should you recommend?
Currently the FDA recommendation is for 50 grams of protein per day for both men and women. This is a very general recommendation and isn’t accurate for people who are really active.
For people who work out, for athletes and trainers, more protein is necessary to build muscle and aid in recovery.
Personally, I have not found any studies showing that 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is harmful - although I'm still doing my own research on that intake (if you find any, please leave the link or study in the comments section!).
For anyone who is moderately to extremely active, 2 to 3 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight is a good general guideline.
This means that for an athlete who weighs 175 pounds (this is about 80 kilograms), protein in the range of 160 to 240 grams per day is reasonable, much more than the FDA recommendation.
While helping people figure out how much protein to eat, it is important to keep in mind that too much protein can be harmful for anyone with kidney disease or kidney damage.
Unfortunately, chronic kidney disease is known as a “silent disease.” Symptoms are hard to detect, but you can get some simple tests done at your doctor’s office to find out if you have any issues with your kidneys.
A serum creatinine level test or a urinary dipstick test for proteinuria will tell your doctor if you have any kidney damage and whether or not you need to be careful about protein intake. For anyone with kidney damage, an intake of about 0.6 grams per kilogram is recommended. 6
Now you have the myth-busting facts to go help your clients, friends, and family make better choices about protein—go forth and change some minds.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


And for once, it is ok to become a little more zombified, a little more forgetful, and a little more weaker as science has proven that mother's brain shrinks 5% when making a baby...

What sheer sacrifice to all the mothers out there. Be proud ~

Thank you Goop


Consider this: If you’ve had a child within the last decade, you might still be suffering some consequences—lethargy, memory disturbances, and poor energy levels, among other symptoms. And according to Dr. Oscar Serrallach, a family practitioner in rural Australia, it’s not just because being a parent is hard—physically, the process of growing a baby exacts a significant toll. The placenta passes nearly 7 grams of fat a day to the growing baby at the end of the pregnancy term, while also tapping into the mom’s “iron, zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B9, iodine, and selenium stores—along with omega 3 fats like DHA and specific amino acids from proteins.” On average, a mom’s brain shrinks 5% in the prenatal period, as it supports the growth of the baby (much of the brain is fat) and is re-engineered for parenthood. He has spent the majority of his career witnessing this syndrome, which he calls Postnatal Depletion, first-hand, watching as women fail—hormonally, nutritionally, and emotionally—to get back on their feet after the baby comes. Dr. Serrallach first became tuned in to it when he encountered a patient named Susan, a mother of five children, who was so emaciated and depleted that she “was visibly running on empty.” After an extensive visit where he ran bloodwork, and proposed nutritional and emotional counseling, she looked at the clock and bolted. And he didn’t see her again: Until she turned up in the emergency room with pneumonia so evolved that she needed intravenous antibiotics. She spent less than a day, before checking herself out against his orders. That image stuck with him—of a woman ripping out an IV to rush back to her family—and its representation of a mother sublimating all of her own needs to serve her children. Part of the brain shrinkage mentioned above, Dr. Serrallach explains, is reprogramming: “It supports the creation of ‘baby radar,’ where mothers become intuitively aware of their child’s needs, if they are cold or hungry, or if they cry at night.” This hyper-vigilance becomes dangerous for the mother when she, in turn, is not supported. When his own wife had their third child he observed that she too was totally destroyed, and unable to get back to “feeling like herself.” Sound familiar? All the moms at goop think we have it. “There is plenty of prenatal support,” he explains, “but as soon as a baby is born, the whole focus goes to the baby. There’s very little focus on the mother. The mother disappears into the shadows of her role.” As in all things, knowledge is power: Below, Dr. Serrallach outlines exactly what you need to do to shake the brain fog, regain your energy, and get back on your feet.
Can you take us through what happens to a mom physiologically and emotionally as the baby grows?
What is happening in our society is that many mothers-to-be are already depleted leading up to the conception and pregnancy time. Nature’s design is that the developing fetus will take all that it requires from its mother. The go between to ensure that this happens safely is the placenta. The placenta is unique in humans in terms of how extensively the finger like projections of the placenta reach into the womb lining, thus creating a massive surface area. The reason for this lies in the fetal brain and its huge requirement for energy and fat (in the form of specific fatty acids such as DHA). Toward the end of the pregnancy, up to 7 grams of fat pass across the placenta each day to feed and build the baby (much higher than any other animal). Also, 60% of the total energy that goes to the baby via the placenta is to feed the brain (other primates, including gorillas, have a figure of around 20%).
The placenta serves two masters: the growing baby AND the mother. During the pregnancy, the mother supplies everything that the growing baby needs, hence why so many mothers become low in iron, zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B9, iodine, and selenium. They also have much lower reserves in important omega 3 fats like DHA and specific amino acids from proteins. The placenta also tunes the mother to the baby, and the baby to the mother. This is no accident. The placenta develops at the same time as the fetal hypothalamus (a hormone producing gland in the baby’s brain) and the hormones produced by the placenta look very similar to the hypothalamic hormones—again no accident. A beautiful example of this occurs during birth. What causes labor pains (contractions of the uterus) is oxytocin, which is also known as the “love hormone.” As the baby is squeezed through the birth canal, its hypothalamus produces oxytocin which ends up in the mother’s blood stream, causing more contractions. It is as if the baby is assisting the mother in its own birth. Once the baby is born, there are huge amounts of oxytocin in both the mother and the baby, literally creating this love fest they call the “baby bubble.” This needs to be encouraged and respected, and caregivers and fathers need to be aware of the importance of this time post-birth, when the bond between mother and baby is established. Breastfeeding then keeps this bond strong. This is nature’s design, so the further we drift away from this in terms of interventions such as caesarian surgery, and opting not to breastfeed, the more we can expect the “cascade-like” flow on of “compromises” in the postpartum period and beyond, for mother and baby.
Part of the job of the placenta is to reprogram the mother. It’s as though she gets a “software upgrade,” with some parts of the brain being reinforced and other parts of the brain being lessened. The average brain shrinkage during pregnancy is about 5%, but it is not so much the brain getting smaller, but rather being modified to acquire the skills to become a mother. This is not discussed or respected enough in our society, and I feel mothers need much support and acknowledgement for this new phase of life. Part of this upgrade is the acquisition of the “baby radar,” where mothers become intuitively aware of their child’s needs, if they are cold or hungry, or if they cry at night. This hyper vigilance is obviously vital for the survival of the child but if living in an unsupportive society, it can lead to sleep problems, self doubt, insecurity, and feelings of unworthiness. An extreme example of how this can work to the mother’s detriment is the mother who “discharged” herself from hospital with pneumonia because she needed to get back to her children—without any external support, her upgraded program told her to take care of her children even if it means sacrificing her own health.
You’ve identified a syndrome in mothers, which you call Postnatal Depletion—what is it exactly?
It is the common phenomenon of fatigue and exhaustion combined with a feeling of “baby brain.” Baby Brain is a term that encompasses the symptoms of poor concentration, poor memory, and emotional lability. Emotional lability is where one’s emotions change up and down much more easily than they would have in the past, e.g. “crying for no reason.” There is often a feeling of isolation, vulnerability, and of not feeling “good enough.” It is experienced by many mothers, and is an understandable and at times predictable outcome associated with the extremely demanding task of being a mother from the perspective of both childbearing and child raising.
Along with these features, I have identified a typical associated biochemical “fingerprint” that is partly the cause of and partly the result of postnatal depletion.
How many women do you believe it affects? And for how long?
I suspect up to 50% of mothers will have some degree of postnatal depletion—possibly more, but because of the focus of our clinic I would have a slanted view. I don’t tend to have mothers seeking my helping who are feeling “amazing.”
Postnatal depletion, I feel, can affect mothers from birth until the time the child is 7 years of age (possibly longer). There is a lot of overlap between postnatal depletion and depression in terms of symptoms and biochemical findings. For some women postnatal depression occurs at the severe end of the spectrum of postnatal depletion.
In Australia, the peak incidence of postnatal depression is four years after the child is born, not in the first 6 months which was previously thought to be the time of highest incidence of depression. This shows that postnatal depression is an accumulation of factors from the pregnancy, delivery, and post childbirth. This is also the case for postnatal depletion though many mothers with depletion don’t experience depression and it is possible to have postnatal depression without the depletion.
What are its symptoms?
  • Fatigue and exhaustion.
  • Tired on waking.
  • Falling asleep unintentionally.
  • Hyper-vigilance (a feeling that the “radar” is constantly on), which is often associated with anxiety or a sense of unease. I often hear the words “tired and wired” describing how mothers feel.
  • Sense of guilt and shame around the role of being a mother and loss of self esteem. This is often associated with a sense of isolation and apprehension and sometimes even fear about socializing or leaving the house.
  • Frustration, overwhelm, and a sense of not coping. I often hear mothers say: “There is no time for me.”
  • As mentioned, brain fog or “baby brain.”
  • Loss of libido.
What are its causes?
It is multifactorial.
  1. We live in a society of continual ongoing stress and we literally don’t know how to relax or switch off. This has profound effects on hormones, immune function, brain structure, and gut health.
  2. Woman are having babies later in life. In Australia the average age for a mother having her first baby is 30.9 years.
  3. Women tend to be in a depleted state going into motherhood with careers, demanding social schedules, and the chronic sleep deprivation as the norm in our society.
  4. As a society we tend not to allow mothers to fully recover after childbirth before getting pregnant again. It is not uncommon to see the phenomenon of “Irish twins” where a mother will have give birth to two children from separate pregnancies in the same calendar year. Also with assisted reproduction we are seeing higher rates of twins which will obviously exacerbate any depletion.
  5. Sleep deprivation of having a newborn with some research suggesting that in the first year the average sleep debt is 700 hours! Reduced family and societal support is very common.
  6. Our food is becoming increasingly nutrient poor. We are in many cases having “2 mouthfuls of food for 1 mouthful of nutrition.”
  7. Though poorly studied, there are specific aspects of the 21st-century lifestyle that are contributory to postnatal depletion. This includes environmental pollutants such as air pollution, heavy metals, chlorinated water, and “electrosmog” to name a few.
  8. There is a perceived notion that the mother has to be “everything” and as result many mothers suffer in silence and are not receiving education, information, or support. Multi-generational support groups for mothers have been part of indigenous cultures for millennium though they are sadly absent in our post-industrial culture.
  9. The phenomenon of inter-generational epigenetic changes in the expression of our genetics is very complex but explains in part the higher rate of allergic disease and autoimmune disease that we are seeing in our society. In short we cannot do the same as what our parents or grandparents did and expect the same level of health. We literally have to “up our game” just to experience the same level of health as our parents, let alone experience better health.
Where should women start in terms of starting to feel like themselves again?
In our clinic we talk about the four pillars of health: Sleep, Purpose, Activity, and Nutrition. I use the acronym SPAN to illustrate this, alluding to the fact that while our lifespan is getting longer, our health span (the years of independence and health) in society is getting shorter. We address all four pillars with the repletion, recovery, and realization parts of our program. As a mother graduates from each level we look at each pillar in more depth knowing we can gain traction with the work that has been done at the previous levels. Giving too much information can be overwhelming and unnecessary but to regain and maintain vitality it is important to continue the journey of improvement. Trying to give a mother information about specific food additives, plastics to avoid, pesticides to be aware of, cleaning products and cosmetics that may be contributing to fatigue and hormonal issues may be total overwhelm for a mother in the repletion phase of her program when she has fatigue and a foggy brain. But this same information is most necessary in the recovery phase to enable continued ongoing health and wellness not only for herself but for her family and community.
We use a 3-step program as a guide to help mothers.
REPLETION and REBUILDING of micronutrients and macronutrients
1. Go see a good functional health practitioner and get a comprehensive assessment of micronutrients, -vitamins, and minerals: We often find iron, Vitamin B12, zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, and copper are deficient, insufficient, or out of balance.
2. I universally will start mothers on DHA (an omega 3 fatty acid), which is vital in repairing the nervous system and brain. This can be found in a number of supplements and is typically sourced from fish or algae.
3. A nutritional assessment to identify food sensitivities and food intolerances as these are often created or worsened in the pregnancy.
4. Nutritional advice often will begin by getting mothers off the “cardboard-hydrates,” i.e. hollow carbohydrates and focus on nutrient dense foods.
5. Get support, get support, get support. You can’t have too much support and a babysitter is a lot cheaper than a divorce.
6. Physical therapies that help engage the relaxation response can be very useful in this first part of the repletion program. I particularly recommend restorative yoga and acupuncture.
7. Having assessments and therapies around hormonal health can be super useful.
8. Seeing a life coach, counselor, or psychologist around supporting emotional well being is important.
9. We have specific recommendations around improving overall energy, sleep quality, and physical activity which are all equally important parts of the road to recovery.
10. Hormonal health is obviously very important. What I find fascinating is that often after addressing specific nutrient deficiencies and insufficiencies and giving support around sleep diet and lifestyle hormonal health usually improves. In assessing hormones I find using questionnaires and salivary hormone tests to be most useful. The most comprehensive test is a urinary steroid hormone screen but it is costly, requires more time to interpret, and takes longer to get the results. Blood tests for hormones are not that useful due to day/night variation in levels and due to binding globulins in the blood which can give a misleading result. The “free” unbound hormone as found in saliva is actually what the body utilizes. Given that, the blood tests for hormones that may have some use are thyroid, DHEAs, and testosterone. In terms of therapies initially it is important to look at lifestyle issues around physical activity, sleep, and stress management. In fact the most important thing I believe is the “relaxation response” and to ensure that people can indeed relax properly. It sounds strange to say but many of us don’t know how to relax properly, that when we are “relaxing” we are in fact stressed. Restorative yoga, acupuncture, sound healing, and biofeedback such as HeartMath can all be useful activities to help teach us to relax properly!
11. After assessing and addressing lifestyle issues then the next aspect of hormonal health is individualized herbs and supplements such as Rhodiola, Hypericum, Ashwaganda, and Phosphyltidyl Serine. A big issue around herbs is quality—I’ve found that only good quality herbs work so I have become somewhat fussy about my brands! Occasionally direct hormonal supplementation is required especially in the case of thyroid dysfunction.
RECOVERY is the 2nd step in our program and looks at the important areas of
  • Optimizing sleep
  • Optimizing activity and exercise
  • Education around the healthy home and the healthy kitchen
  • Recovering and optimizing relationships
The recovery part of the program we take the same principles of Sleep, Purpose, Activity, and Nutrition but take them to a more in-depth level especially as mothers are starting to feel better, think more clearly, and take on more in terms of the house, kitchen, and “self time.”
Education around the healthy home and the healthy kitchen usually begins with resources like Healthy Home, Healthy Family by Nicole Bijlsma and the Environmental Working Group.
The best type of exercise is activity, and if it is fun and social, mothers are much more likely to make this a habit.
Follow-up with a psychologist, life coach, or mentor: I think this is essential during the recovery phase to help re-evaluate a mother’s direction and purpose in life and to look at how to get a healthy balance between family life and personal self growth and support. This is very much encouraged and we are bringing more and more of this level of therapy within the clinic. This can also shed light and insight onto relationships with partners, families, and friends which may already be strained and neglected or at times broken leading to even less support in a mother’s world. The primary relationship between mother and other parent (if present) whether it is the father, stepfather or second mother often needs some special attention especially after the battering of the storm of early childhood. There are psychologists and therapists that specialize in this type of “relationship rebuilding.”
Fatigue is the most common symptom in postnatal depletion. Having vitality or boundless energy is the end result of a series of body systems being in sync. Having deep chronic fatigue is the end result of these systems being out of sync. I find a combination of addressing micronutrient deficiencies along with macronutrient imbalances is a good start. The most important initial micronutrients include iron and Vitamin B12, zinc, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D. With macronutrients increasing healthy fats and focusing on quality protein such as organic eggs, fish, and meats and also knowing which are the healthier carbohydrates. The best quality carbohydrates tend to come from the “above ground” vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage.
Sleep is a conundrum for many mothers as they are too tired and too stressed and busy to sleep well. Sleep hygiene is an important place to start where what you do in the hour before sleep can make a huge difference. This involves exposing yourself only to soft yellow to orange lighting, a soothing environment with calming music, and as much as children allow, to treat your bedroom as a “temple.” In fact, if there is only one room that you keep tidy in your house if should be the bedroom.
Once the lights are out, the room should be cool and as quiet and dark as possible. Computer use, TV, and emotional stress tend to hijack sleep quality and should be avoided in the hour of wind down to sleep.
Depending on your personal testing there can be a range of natural sleep enhancers that can be very useful including GABA, 5-HTP, Melatonin, and Magneisum salt foot baths.
If “switching off” is the problem then techniques such as HeartMath HRV-based relaxation and brain entrainment with binaural beats are a couple of the techniques that can be used to help “switch off the computer” and allow sleep to happen faster.
3. REALIZATION is step 3 in the program and is about understanding motherhood as part of the heroine’s journey and discovering self-actualization through this process
My intention is to publish a book this year that is partly a workbook to take women through the three stages of our program. There will be a fourth part of the book that explains what postnatal depletion is and how as a society we arrived at this point in history of having exhausted, disconnected mothers. There will be an associated website that will have numerous questionnaires with online scoring and protocol generation to supplement the book. The website will have all the aspects of supports, blogs, and information that you would expect from an intentional online community.
Why is this a new thing? Or is it not a new thing and just newly acknowledged? Have women been experiencing this since the beginning of time?
It is certainly much more common these days. Most of the so-called primitive cultures or first people of the world had very specific practices to ensure that mothers made a full recovery from childbirth. This is something that is not much talked about in today’s age. These are called Post-Partum Practices. From China to India, from Aboriginal Australia to the Americas, there have been centuries of very deliberate practices in nutritional recovery, spiritual cleansing, and protection as well as elaborate social supports.
In traditional Chinese culture they observe the sitting month “Zuo Yue Zi” where the mother would not leave the house for 30 days, would not receive any visitors, and would have no duties apart from breastfeeding the baby. Special “rebuilding” warm foods would be supplied and the mother would not be allowed to get cold or even shower in that time.
Ancient cultures have made the realization that Western society unfortunately has not: For society to be well and prosper, the mothers must be fully supported and healthy—in every sense of the word.
Oscar Serrallach graduated from Auckland School of Medicine in New Zealand in 1996 before moving to Australia in 1998. After doing the standard medical rotations he did further work in a number of hospital and community-based jobs including Emergency Medicine, Psychiatry, Aboriginal Men’s Health, and Addiction medicine. In 2003, he moved to Nimbin, NSW and began working in an alternative community which exposed him to nutritional medicine, herbalism, and home birth. He started a family and had three children in Nimbin before moving to Mullumbimby in 2011 to start the Mullumbimby Integrative Medical Centre. There, he focuses on Nutritional and Environmental Medicine with a special interest in helping women recovey from the postnatal period. Until recently, he was a board member for ACNEM (Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine) and is currently the college’s journal editor.