Health and Fitness

My Essential Eight


Eight things I consume daily to stay younger, fitter, healthier, longer…

I will literally eat steamed sweet potato at least 2, sometimes 3 times per day. I have it in my omelettes, salads, disguised in yummy snacks, with other veggies at dinner… I love it!

Although it shares a name with the common potato, it is actually from a completely different family of vegetables and is so much better for you! It is relatively low in calories, but high in fibre, which makes it a good “filler” rather than eating bread, rice, potatoes, pasta etc… all those starchy carbs that make weight loss/management difficult!

Sweet potatoes also contain a high level of beta-carotene, a carotenoid compound that has been found to protect against cancer and ageing. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that help soak up damaging compounds produced by the stresses and strains of life, especially when the body is fighting disease. They are also responsible for the red pigment in fruit and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes. Studies have shown that consuming a diet high in carotenoid-containing vegetables (sweet potato, most dark green veggies, carrots, tomatoes etc) will give you a better “healthy glowing skin” look that a sun-tan will! The test subjects also reported that they tanned more easily in the sun and held a sun-tan for longer as a result of the extra consumption of carotenoids. Beta-carotene is a fat-soluble vitamin, so eating with foods like olive oil or nuts can help you absorb these amazing carotenoids!

A female test subject's skin tone, left: with a suntan, middle: natural, Right: after regularly consuming more carotenoids. (Image: University of Nottingham)
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Which leads me to tomatoes! According to mum, these have been my favourite thing since I learned to eat. So for me, all these benefits are just a bonus:

Not only do they carry high levels of carotenoids, but also lycopene, which makes skin less sensitive to damage from UV light, a strong cause of wrinkles and fine lines. Lycopene can also reduce the risk of several cancers, including cervical, ovarian, stomach, mouth, pharynx, throat, oesophagus, colon, rectal, prostate cancer. Tomatoes’ antioxidants (vitamins A and C) fight the free radicals which can cause cell damage. Vitamin A found in tomatoes will also help make hair strong and shiny!

As well as many other vitamins and minerals, tomatoes are a very good source of chromium, which helps to regulate blood sugar. Tomatoes are awesome for weight management because they contain lots of water and fibre, which fills you up fast without adding a lot of calories or saturated fats (tomatoes are fat-free!)



Avocado intake is linked with increased nutrient absorption. A study suggests that, when participants ate salad including avocados, they absorbed up to five times the amount of carotenoids than those who did not. They are one of the best natural mouth washes, working by cleansing the intestine (which is the real cause of coated tongue and bad breath).

My Favourite ways to eat avocado is mashed up with a little fetta cheese and smeared on my veggie omelette, or combined with olive oil to make salads creamy without having to add dressing. I also love it with tomato, or even just on it’s own or with a little salt and pepper.

Avocados are also a rich source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that research has shown may help to limit free radical damage (that damages cells promoting cancer and wrinkles!) For this reason, avocado oil is added in many cosmetics because of its ability to nourish the skin and make your skin glow. It also helps to treat psoriasis, a skin condition that causes redness and irritation. Ancient Mayans (who possibly came up with guacamole) considered the avocado to be a food which keeps joints moving freely and the skin young-looking and supple.
Avocado can also be of benefit topically on the skin, as it’s oil is similar to human oils… Try this avocado facial!

– Remove makeup and wash your face with warm water and a cleanser

– Mash some avocado with a little milk or oatmeal and apply it on your face like a face mask

– Leave it for 10 minutes, then rinse it off thoroughly with water

As one of the oldest known and most powerful spices, I add cinnamon to my breakfast every morning.

When I’m not sweating it out at work or training, I’m swimming at the beach or laying in the sun, and especially in summer, this can be an invitation for nasty fungal infections. Cinnamon has strong antifungal properties, and it’s been said that candida cannot live in a cinnamon environment. Since including cinnamon in my daily diet, I have not had a single fungal infection.Also, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower your bad cholesterol (or LDL) for better circulation and heart health. Even just smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory!



Other than the fact that it’s stacked full of cancer-fighting, anti-ageing, blood-sugar regulating, body-cleansing vitamins and minerals… Asparagus is amazing for weight loss. How? Four asparagus spears have just 13 calories, 1g of protein, no fat, no cholesterol, hardly any sugar and just 8 mg of sodium. Asparagus is loaded with fibre, which means your body has to burn more calories just to process these 4 little spears!

I usually use asparagus in my daily brekky omelette, it goes in all my salads as well as being a key ingredient in one of my favourite snacks: tomato and asparagus wrapped in leg ham off the bone!

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I eat 3 eggs every day, and that’s just for breakfast… More if I have them in a salad later in the day.

Eggs are one of the best sources of protein around (needed for muscle and cell growth and repair). In fact, the biological value (a measure of protein quality) is often evaluated by comparing it to eggs, which are given the perfect score of 100. While most people are aware that “egg whites” are good for you due to their high protein content, what most people don’t know is that all the nutrients of an egg are actually contained in the yolk. And a LOT of nutrients at that… Egg yolks contain a small amount of almost every essential vitamin and mineral required by the human body!

What about the cholesterol?
One large egg contains 212 mg of cholesterol, which is high compared to many other foods. But just because a food contains cholesterol, doesn’t mean that it will raise the bad cholesterol in the blood. Your liver actually produces cholesterol every day. If you eat cholesterol, then your liver produces less. If you don’t eat cholesterol, then your liver produces more of it. Studies have shown that eggs actually IMPROVE the cholesterol profile. They raise HDL (good) cholesterol and increase the size of LDL particles, which should lower the risk of heart disease.



The first thing I eat each day when I wake up at 430am is my chia seed pudding. It’s an awesome high-protein, low-carb brekky, high fibre option, and 3 tbs keeps me full til around 8-10am when I have time to make a bigger breakfast. Other than the fact that these little guys are considered a super food, my favourite thing about them is that they absorb an incredible amount of water, so if you soak them for a few hours (I usually leave them overnight so they’re ready when I wake up), they turn into a jelly-like consistency. They’re pretty tasteless, so you can add whatever to them and give them any flavour you like!

Also, they don’t need to be refrigerated, so the chia pudding is a great snack to have handy when on the go!



Spinach is one of the most versatile vegetables and will go in or with just about anything! It’s also rated as the one of the most nutrient dense, lowest calorie vegetables in existence, so it’s perfect for a getting a huge hit of nutrients without over-doing the calories. One cup fresh spinach = about 7 kCal and one cup cooked spinach = about 40 kCal, with about 30% of those coming from proteins (varies in different types). And it’s another carotenoid vegetable! 

I put spinach in and with just about EVERYTHING. Salads, omelettes, breakfasts, dinners… Chopped up really small, you don’t even notice it’s there!


And although this isn’t a “food” as such, it’s still one of the most important things I do to look after my body.
I don’t smoke, I rarely drink, and I avoid taking painkillers every single time I have a minor ache or pain. I try to mostly eat unprocessed natural foods rich in enzymes, which means my body has to use less of it’s own enzymes to break down food… keeping me younger, fitter and healthier, longer!

Tips for Staying on Track with Healthy Eating


This week at Wickedbodz, we kicked off another one of our 40Days2Fit challenges. I wanted to know exactly what my challengers were going through, so I decided to follow the exact plan and all the advice that I give to them, and clamp down on my diet (and exercise, but I already do plenty so that didn’t really change)

It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but it definitely helped me to understand some of the mental battles that people go through, and more importantly how to overcome them. And after only one week, I’ve lost nearly 2kg…

  >> It’s ok to be hungry. Ok, so it’s not the most comfortable feeling and I don’t recommend that you are should feel like you are constantly starving, but you don’t need to go running for the fridge as soon as you feel it. In fact, I think it’s a good exercise some people should try for a couple of days; don’t eat unless you’re really hungry – like feeling sick and stomach hurting kind of hungry – rather than just eating because it’s meal time. This helps to understand and calculate portion sizes, many people eat just because it’s meal time and eat too much, so over a whole day it adds to a lot more calories than what was required, and difficulty losing weight. Our bodies are actually capable of surviving for weeks and months without food, so an hour or few until you can get to a healthy meal or snack is really not going to kill you. Don’t give in to the junk food because you feel “I just have to eat something”. You don’t.

>> With that said, Be Prepared, with healthy handbag / car snacks / heat and eat meals in the fridge etc, so you don’t have to be in that situation. Every week I steam up a but batch of veggies and leave them in the fridge ready to quickly heat in the microwave and eat if I’m in a rush, and if I run out, I’ve always got my back up frozen veggies in the freezer 😉

>> How did I stay away from yummy food temptations? Keep in mind that there is a healthier option that you like just as much, if not more. After training on Friday night, I was tired and a little time restricted to get ready for an appearance later that night. “I’ll just get a kebab” I thought, starting to salivate in excitement. As far as fast food goes, it’s not really the worst option, but I still felt a little guilty about going off the plan. So I thought, “what can I eat that’s fast, just as good, but healthier?” I compromised, and bought 1/4 BBQ Chicken instead and made a quick salad at home. It really was just as yummy as a kebab, but I felt a million percent better knowing I’d eaten something healthy, and my body showed it the next day.

>> As a real test to myself, I’ve had a chocolate sitting on the front of the top shelf in the fridge all week. It’s the first thing I see every time I go to make food, and when I’m at my hungriest. I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard not to eat it, as normally I would convince myself I’ll just train it off. But with this attitude I’d stay the same, and never progress. So instead I just think to myself “oh but Max Brenners is better, I’ll save myself for that on Sunday”, then I have a big glass of water and handful of grapes or cherry tomatoes to fix up my sugar craving while I’m making my main meal and all of a sudden I don’t really feel like that chocolate anyway. So now it’s become a bit of a game… How long can I keep it there for? And every day it’s still there, I feel a little bit more powerful 

>> Always keep your goal at the forefront of your mind. To kick off the 40Days2Fit challenge on Monday night, we had a sports psychologist Mark Edmondson come out and talk to everyone. Something I really got out of his talk was when he said something along the lines of “To get anywhere in life you must have a clear vision of where/what/who you want to be, and make daily decisions and actions in line with that vision. Without that you are just cruising through life and before you know it days, months, years will pass you by”. Doing this would have to be the single biggest thing that has helped me this week, in fact to the point where I don’t even care if I go to Max Brenner today or not (it’s Sunday today). I’m so happy with what I achieved this week without it that I’m happy to just had another handful of grapes instead, haha. Every time I’ve made a decision this week, whether it be to go to bed early so I get a good nights sleep, to push myself that little but harder in a training session, or to stick to my diet regime, I’ve had a clear mental image of my goal in the forefront of my mind and made my decisions accordingly.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish”

Happy Sunday xx

Seven Steps to Success (at anything)


It took me years to work out how life works, so I thought I’d share what I learnt and make it a little easier for you! For example, I have been doing modelling competitions/pageants for more than 6 years now. I started out sometimes placing, sometimes not. But once I started winning, I almost always won and most recently I just won the biggest swimwear pageant in the world, Miss Swimsuit USA International. It’s these attributes of learning how to be successful that I applied to not just my competitions, but in every other area of my life too, my fitness training, boxing, business, relationships… everything.  Want to know my winning formula?

1. Make Goals. Without goals, you have no direction and nothing to achieve. The more specific (and realistic) you make your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. Years ago, I used to train just to “look good”. Which was fine initially, but once I reached my goal, I found it very difficult to stay motivated. Unless I had a shoot or fashion show coming up, self control often went out the window and laziness would take over, which is not ideal from an overall general health perspective. When I took up boxing, this added a whole new dimension to my training. It was no longer about just doing “enough”, it was about going over and above in my diet and training to be the best I could possibly be, and I am tested when I spar or fight. So when you make goals, I find it helps to make them specific, with a time-limit and a way of testing yourself on them; eg. to run 400m in under 1 minute, or to make half a million $ this year. When you reach your goals, make new ones!

And remember: “A goal without a plan is just a wish”

2. Believe you can. Having the right mindset is everything in this little game called life, and if you can’t see yourself as a success, you’ll never be a success. True story. Since my big win at Miss Swimsuit USA International, probably the most common question I have been asked is “did you expect to win?”, which is when I realise that even though I didn’t “expect” it, the whole week I never really considered any other possibility. I didn’t think “oh she’s got a better dress than me” or “oh she looks better than me on camera” or “I think I’d be happy just to place in Top 10”. Even though all of these things may have been true to one girl or another, I just focussed on what I had to offer and never really thought of myself as anything other than being the winner. If you compare yourself to everyone else around you and look for reasons as to why they are better than you, you’ll never be the best. If you look at everyone around you, find your point of difference and exude positivity and the confidence that you have at least one little thing going for you, people will see that confidence, be attracted to it and start to believe it too. And when other people believe in you, it makes it even easier to believe in yourself.

3. Solid work ethic. Recognise that not everything comes easily, or is going to fall in your lap. Get off your ass and get stuff done, even when you least feel like it. When you don’t know the answer, find it out. If it doesn’t work the first time, try a different way. Find your weaknesses and turn them into strengths. And don’t stop until you reach your goal.

I learnt this lesson recently with a boxing fight I went into. After easily winning my first two fights, I underestimated what I would need to put in to continue to win. When I was tired (often) I would let it get the better of me, and become mentally weak in my training. Although I still improved my skills, my work ethic suffered and I believe this to be the reason I lost the fight; when I stopped for a break, I gave my opponent an opportunity. Which is why even though my next fight is not even on the caledar yet, I have been training harder than ever, especially when I don’t feel like it!

4. Prioritise. When you seriously want to achieve a goal, you must make that one thing priority. Contrary to what others may tell you, forget about “having a balance in life” until you reach your goal; you can’t have everything at once!

If someone told you they would give you $5000 not to eat crap for a month (or whatever steps you needed to take to reach your particular goal), would you do it? I bet you would. But people are willing to go and pay that and more for procedures like liposuction, before they’ve even put in the effort to try and get in shape naturally. Fair enough if you’ve done everything you can and are still unhappy, but for those that the lack self control to just eat properly, consistently, work out your priorities!

5. Dedication and Commitment. When you are amped about a goal, it’s easy to put in the extra time and effort to get there. But dedication and commitment is about working hard beyond the honeymoon period. Anyone can be an expert at something if you spend enough time studying or working on it, Bill Gates says 10,000 hours.

When I first started working as a personal trainer, it was one of the hardest things I’d ever done, because it was nothing like anything I’d ever done. There were so many things I completely struggled to understand or remember, I was put in situations way out of my depth. I thought about quitting. But I didn’t, because I visualised where I wanted to be and committed myself to my goal. And now 5 years on, I’m thankful 

6. Positive support network. This is more than just cutting the negative people and influences from your life, but also surrounding yourself with people that will help you get where you want to be. When I decided I didn’t want to be a wild party girl anymore, I stopped hanging around all my closest friends, who were also my encouragers and instigators. Yes, at first it was a little boring, but you find fun in other things and make new friends and strengthen other relationships by doing new activities.

Having a mentor, preferably one who is at the top of their field, is essential to fast-track success. Be willing to let them harshly critique you without taking offence; remember they have made the mistakes you don’t want to. The thicker your skin and more open your mind, the more successful you can be. Take everything on board, do your own research and ask as many questions as you can.

And one more thing – do things for other people. Like, go out of your way, without expecting a thing in return. Not only will it make you a better person and one that others will want to be around, but every now and again, one of them might want to help back. What goes around comes around.

7. Intrinsic Motivation. This is the one thing of all the above that will make or break you. You either want it or you don’t. This is the passion, the burning desire you must have from within to want to achieve whatever goal you have. If you don’t really want it, you probably won’t get there. So find your passion within your goal, the thing that really drives you, why you really want it, how it will make you feel when you get there.

Not set yourself some goals and go kick ass!!!!

The Most Effective Fat Burning Exercise

This is a question I get asked a lot, I guess mainly because people think if they could do just one thing, losing weight would be so easy. So I’ll explain to you in the most simple terms possible how and why I’ve come to my conclusion, and I think you’ll be surprised to discover that the most effective fat burning exercise is actually also a lot of fun! Sound too good to be true…?

Before I go on, it is important that I explain what bodily fat is, or more, how it gets there. The fat on our bodies is a storage of energy (measured in calories or kJ). It is healthy to maintain some body fat, more for women than for men. Among other important functions, it keeps us insulated, gives us padding to protect our organs and acts as an energy reserve. It increases when we consume an excess of calories (more than what we use) and vice versa. Food energy comes from molecules of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, organic acids, polyols and ethanol; but mostly from the first three. Water, minerals, vitamins and fibre are other molecules that are essential to our survival, however contain little or no calories.

Eating food containing high amounts of fat molecules will not necessarily increase your bodily fat, instead, eating too much food energy in general will make you fat. Our bodies are pretty smart; when they need nutrients, they turn on the hunger signals to make you eat and they turn them off again. As your body digests what you have just consumed it recognises if it has just received all the nutrients it was asking for. If you just ate french fries and a cheeseburger, chances are it wouldn’t have, and as well as having just eaten a seriously high amount of calories, you will probably be feeling hungry again shortly after. So basically, eating crap increases your chance of consuming too much food energy and therefore, getting fat.

If you had’ve eaten a piece of baked fish (high in healthy fats and protein for cell repair and regeneration and other important bodily functions) and a variety of lightly steamed, colourful veggies (full of carbohydrates for energy, as well as fibre and essential vitamins and minerals), you would have not only consumed far less calories, but your body will keep those hunger signals switched off for longer, and you probably won’t overeat.

There can be other factors that come into play when it comes to gaining and losing fat and I could go on about this point for another 12 pages, but basically, if you consume more calories from food/drink than what you burn in daily activity, then you will get fat. The opposite is similar, but this is where participating in the right type of exercise becomes important. If you consume less calories than what you burn, you will lose weight, but not necessarily from fat.

Carbohydrates are the easiest source of food fuel for your body to use (they are broken down fastest), so your body will choose to burn these first. Once it runs low or out, it has a choice of using either fat (from food or stored) or muscle (proteins). To ensure that this weight lost comes from fat rather than muscle, you need to load your muscles regularly to remind your body that you still need them, as well as consuming adequate protein to maintain their growth and repair. And as an added bonus, the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism, and therefore the more calories you burn at rest.

So with all this in mind, the most effective fat burning exercise is going to be something that burns a sh*t load of calories, as well as giving your muscles an intense workout, whole body over. The key to burning a heap of calories in a short space of time, is to get your heart rate up. A few things come to mind; lifting heavy weights, sprints, and boxing.

Lifting heavy weights will definitely give your muscles a serious workout. During the period of exercise, you will not actually burn so many calories, but the amount you burn over the course of the day as a result of your increased metabolism from lifting the weights will be more significant. With an effective weights program, you can work your whole body, and the more muscles you get working, the more calories you burn!

Sprints also give your muscles as awesome workout. Although arguably not as much as a big weights session would, for most people, it would still be enough have your body choosing to burn fat before muscle. Sprinting (whether it be running, swimming, rowing, whatever) will work your whole body, get your heart rate pumping and definitely burn a heap of calories, and likely more than lifting heavy weights will.

In my opinion, boxing is the most effective fat burning exercise out there and I’ll tell you why: not only does it give your muscles a solid workout, and get your heart rate charging, it is super fun and adds a competitive edge. What this means is that you are less likely to slow down or stop just because you are tired. In my experience as a trainer and as a boxer, people will always put in that little bit extra when it comes to punching the pads than they would ever do on a treadmill or weight stack. When boxing with proper technique, you push muscles from your whole body as hard as if you were lifting heavy weights, and at an intensity equal to all out sprinting. Boxing combines the attributes of two of the best fat burning exercises, which arguably makes it the most effective fat burning exercise around.

Simple Ways to Make Salad Taste Good.

Sick of boring old salad? Me too! So here are a few healthy tips I came up with to make it a little more exciting! Salad is now one of my favourite meals in the day!!!! (Bear in mind that all of these things together at once might not taste so good haha… pick a few and experiment)

– Grill/bbq your chicken/beef in Cajun spices/ sauté with some garlic and onion

– Add fetta, especially with boiled eggs; this tastes amazing!

– Add a little salt and pepper! Anchovies can also put a different spin on the saltiness… (Adding salt is not always a good option if you have a history of high blood pressure/circulation problems)

– Include some red onion, or green shallots

– Try it with some chickpeas and corn

– Add some nuts (walnuts, pine nuts or slivered almonds are my favourite)

– Use a natural greek yoghurt dressing; I make one of my favourites by stirring through some chopped up mint – goes awesomely with spicy stuff!

– Include some roasted garlic… Next time your are baking something in the oven, peel some garlic cloves and put them in the corner of your baking tray until they’re soft, maybe 15-20 mins? You can keep them in the fridge ready for your next week of salads!

– Add in your favourite fruit! Add a little sweetness to your salad with half a piece of chopped up fruit… far more nutrients and tastier than dressing!

That’s just a few to start you off and get you coming up with heaps more of your own! Where do I get my ideas? When I eat out, I take note of certain foods/spices that go well together and then try them together in a salad! You’ll be surprised at what tastes good together… eg. rocket and yoghurt, or egg and fetta! Or go to a great salad bar and see what the experts do… Then try adding a couple of the healthier ingredients to your own normal salad and see if you like it. Not everything tastes good together, so you may have to so a little testing, adding and removing ingredients!

Some of my favourites….

Rocket, Pear, Walnut and Greek Yoghurt (below)


Cajun chicken, corn and chickpeas, spinach, tomato, roasted garlic and fetta



Egg, anchovies, olives, fetta, asparagus, roasted garlic and spinach (below)


One last tip to get you loving salad…

I think many will agree that there’s nothing more annoying than trying to get your mouth graciously around a forkful of lettuce leaves/spinach/whatever you use. Plus it makes a small salad look huge, and you might find yourself hungry again soon after. Chop your leafy greens into tiny pieces and you’ll eat loads more of them, AND without getting tomato/yoghurt/whatever up the side of your face 😉 It takes 10 seconds!

I hope this helps to reignite your passion for a daily dose of the healthy stuff! Salad is one of the best ways to pack your diet full of raw veggies loaded with essential vitamins and minerals!

Beat the "Monthly" Cravings

You’ve got 3 weeks under your belt of training hard and eating clean, you’re reaching your goals and feeling amazing. And then it hits… that time of the month. Your moods are affected, you crave salty, sugary and fatty foods, feel bloated and if you don’t have a super strong level of self control, that healthy routine just seems to go out the window. Sound familiar?

Why? During menses, your body will experience a drop in both oestrogen and progesterone hormones, which affects brain chemistry; dopamine, serotonin, GABA and other brain chemicals. This can cause you to crave salty, sugary and/or fatty foods – or more so the emotional highs associated with eating these foods that your body knows will make it feel good again. It can also affect moods that occur around menses like wanting to cry, being overly emotional etc. However, as most of us are aware, eating too much salt, sugar or fatty foods can be a huge step backward when trying to reach your health fitness goals!

Understand this:

  • GABA: A calming or “peacemaking” chemical in the brain, GABA induces relaxation, increases focus, reduces stress and anxiety.

  • DOPAMINE is the chemical that mediates pleasure in the brain. It is released during pleasurable situations and stimulates one to seek out pleasurable activity.

  • SEROTONIN is a chemical that helps maintain a “happy” feeling, and seems to help keep our moods under control by helping with sleep, calming anxiety, and relieving depression.

So here’s some good news for you… there is another way you can “trick” your body into rebalancing your brain and not only help control moods, but also stave off cravings for unhealthy foods (that will only be a short-term fix and will leave you feeling worse off later on):


Mix a teaspoon of 100% cocoa powder in a mug of hot water (I also add a dash of milk to sweeten it a little, as the taste can be quite strong if you’re not used to it!) … and drink it!

Cocoa contains serotonin and phenethylamine, which acts as a releasing agent of dopamine. Plus pure 100% cocoa has no sugar or fat! Don’t be mistaken in thinking chocolate is the same… Yes, it contains cocoa, but generally has too much sugar and fat to be beneficial – Most milk chocolate is only about 30% cocoa, and even some of the stronger dark chocolates can be up to 30% sugar! 

100% cocoa may not taste as amazing, but will help ensure your training results are amazing! I have been using this tip for over a year now – It seriously works!

Happy drinking 

Make a New Year's Resolution that WORKS

Psychology research says that your chance of success when changing more than one thing in your life at a time is less than 10%, but if you change only one thing at a time you are more than 85% likely to succeed, because the human brain loves certainty and resists big change.

So when making your New Years resolutions, rather than saying “I’m going to lose weight”, think along the lines of:

“I’m not going to eat junk more than once a week” 


“I’m going to exercise for 30 minutes daily”. 

And you don’t need to wait for next year to make a new one! 😉 Research differs, but most say it can take anywhere from 20 to 60 days to change a habit. So after 3-8 weeks of living out your “small change”, make a new resolution that’s another step towards your ultimate goal eg. 

“I’m going to eat 5 green vegetables a day” 


“I’m going to see a personal trainer 3x a week”!

Wishing your happiness and good health in the new year!

Appetite vs Cravings: How to tell the difference

You’ve just spent 45 minutes of your day thrashing your body through an intense exercise session in an effort to lose weight and your metabolism is cranking! Even though you’ve drank copious amounts of water and eaten, you are sooo hungry, but are worried that eating more than normal will just counteract all the hard work you put into burning those extra calories this morning. What do you do?

Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that occur in our cells to sustain life. To carry out these processes, the body converts the food we eat into energy. Chemicals in our digestive system break down the food into fuel, which is either used immediately or stored in the body’s tissues as fat. The energy (calories) expended over a day for us to be able to survive is called our basal metabolic rate.

Although you can’t control your metabolism, it can be stimulated during exercise – when you exercise you burn more energy. Also the fitter you are and the more lean muscle that you have, (muscle requires more energy to function than fat) the more of these chemical reactions that take place, raising your basal metabolic rate (so you burn more calories when doing nothing!)

Hunger and thirst are physiological mechanisms the body uses to tell the brain that it needs nutrients.The often-unpleasant feeling of hunger originates from the hypothalamus releasing hormones that target receptors in the liver.

Physiological hunger can be recognized by a growling stomach or a slightly nauseous and/or light-headedness, and usually comes on gradually after a period without food (anywhere from approximately 2-6 hours). The appropriate response to physiological hunger is to eat and learning identify your hunger signals are important in weight loss and management. Eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re satisfied can have a huge impact on managing your appetite.

Try not to mix up physiological hunger with appetite. Appetite is the desire to eat food without a physiological need, but is often felt as hunger (psychological hunger). In some cases hunger can even be mistaken for thirst, which is one reason I encourage you to drink 500-600mL of water before you eat.

Appetite can be caused by a number of other psychological factors, some of which include:

Routine: Hunger can be stimulated by your biological clock (which is also regulated by the hypothalamus). So if everyday you eat lunch at 12pm, then at 12pm you may feel hungry just because your body’s clock says so.

Cognitive: When the sight, smell, taste, texture or talking about food you like, triggers hunger i.e, if one doesn’t like popcorn, the smell of popcorn doesn’t trigger hunger. Interestingly, people can also feel hungry for a particular taste; sweet, sour, bitter, or salty, and will keep feeling hungry until the particular taste is satisfied.

 How to fix: Distract your self with something else; go and DO something, change the subject, spray some perfume etc, anything to take your mind off it.

Emotional – Stress can lead to high levels of the hormone, cortisol. Cortisol triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and fatty foods because they give you a burst of energy and pleasure. The more uncontrolled stress in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief. This kind of hunger often comes on suddenly and can cause you to keep eating beyond the point of satisfaction, triggering feelings of guilt and powerlessness.

 How to fix: In order to stop emotional eating, you have to find other ways to emotionally fulfill yourself. Understanding your emotional triggers andemotional eating cycle is a good first step, though it’s not enough. You need alternatives to food that you can turn to for emotional fulfillment eg. When feeling anxious; pump some music and bust out dancing to expend some energy. If you’re bored; find a hobby, watch a good movie, or learn something. If you’re tired; have a hot tea, a bath or a nap. If feeling depressed; ring a friend or go through some old happy photos etc.

After a workout your muscle fibres are damaged and your energy stores depleted, so your body recognises a need for protein for muscle growth and repair, and carbohydrate (the fastest and easiest source of fuel for the body to use) to restock energy supply, which triggers physiological hunger and why you may feel hungrier on days when you work out. When on a weight loss diet however, you want your body to use your stored fat for fuel instead of carbohydrate, and this is why a lower-carbohydrate diet combined with an effective exercise program is usually beneficial for people with goals of fat loss. It is also important to make sure you are consuming enough protein (as I detailed in the BodyBAM Nutrition guide) so that your body can maintain and build your muscle mass. So if you eliminate the psychological hunger factors and thirst and you are still left with hunger, then EAT!! This is your body’s mechanism for telling you it needs nutrients, usually in the form of protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and/or carbohydrate. Depriving your body of the nutrients it requires can cause the body to break down, function at a lesser rate and unnecessarily store energy as fat in the body’s tissues. So, start with 500-600mL of water, then eat some salad/vegetables (favouring green ones) and a little protein and unsaturated fat; more often than not your hunger will be gone.

If after a short time you are hungry again, repeat the process, but the trick is to eat slowly, recognise when you are no longer hungry (don’t keep going until you’re full) and stop there.

Fit, Toned and... Bloated?

Can’t kick that bloated feeling? Try this….

Water retention, or bloating, can be caused by an unhealthy/unbalanced diet, not drinking enough water (funnily enough), certain medications, or can be caused by some serious illnesses. But if you’re not sick or on medication, here are a few tips that can help get rid of that constantly bloated feeling!!

Get your vitamins and minerals… Potassium (in bananas, apricots, avocados and raisins), Magnesium (in green vegetables, nuts and seeds) and Calcium (in oranges, yogurt and tofu) are nutrients the body needs to help balance fluids and can help to alleviate bloating.

Eat foods that assist with digestion and/or are high in fibre, like yoghurt, wholegrain cereals, brown rice, cabbage or cranberries. Ginger and dandelion have a mild diuretic effect and both come in a tea!

Eat five or six small meals to stay well nourished, instead of three big meals. Eating large and/or infrequent meals can cause a rush of fluid to the tissues.

Too much salt (sodium) causes fluid retention. The RDI of sodium for adults is 200 – 2300mg per day. This means you may have to do more than just throw away the salt shaker… avoid packaged/canned/processed foods like fast food, olives, salted nuts, pickles and many frozen foods, soy sauce, almost anything flavoured, ketchup, and deli meats. Stick to fresh or fresh-frozen foods… If it’s out of a jar/can (eg. Tuna, asparagus) make sure it’s in spring water!

Furthermore, the body’s ability to excrete sodium is decreased when too much sugar is consumed and as a result insulin levels are raised. (So stick to your 2 pieces of fruit per day as recommended by and avoid excess sugary/sweet foods eg. most non-wholegrain cereals, muffins, sweetened yoghurts, fruit juice, sports/soft drinks, etc)

A low calorie diet will help you lose weight, but if eating too little, you could create water retention. Eat more than 1,200 calories per day and include lean protein, an important nutrient in short supply in very low calorie diets that helps rid water retention.

Exercise and movement (at least four times per week!) allows your lymphatic system to drain excess fluid and salt out of tissues through sweating and increased respiration.

Swim, or exercise in water. Water pressure forces fluid out of tissues and ultimately, the bladder (even if only temporarily).

Make it a mocktail not a cocktail! At first, alcohol acts as a diuretic, making you lose excess water and leading to dehydration, causing the body to preserve it’s fluids and retain water. If you do have a drink, make sure you drink plenty of water before, during the night and the next day! I usually have a glass or two of water between every drink, guzzle a 600mL bottle water before bed and keep another beside the bed while I’m asleep!!!! And who knows, you might even feel like exercising the next day 😉

It may seem contradictory, but drink plenty of water – 3L+ a day – to flush salt and fluid out of your system. Your body is actually less likely to retain water if you are well hydrated!

If after (or before) trying all this you are still feeling bloated, it may be a good idea to see your doctor!!!!