10 Reasons Not To Skip Breakfast

Integrated Wellbeing - Food Matters - breakfast

Are you ever tempted to skip breakfast?  Here are 10 good reasons why that’s not a good idea …

1. Stress

Ever wake up feeling stressed about the day ahead? It could be that your “feel good” hormone (serotonin) levels have dropped and need a boost. Breakfast that includes oats and/or whole grain will lift serotonin levels, as well as provide you with a great source of the B vitamins that are essential for energy.

2. Mood

Sometimes when we wake up and our sugar levels are low (after all, it can be as long as 12 hours since the last meal), we can feel out of sorts. Eating a nutrient-rich breakfast will also help lift your mood.

3. Hunger

Choose breakfast that has a low Glycaemic Index (low GI indicates the rate at which the carbohydrates you eat are turned into sugar and released into the bloodstream as energy). Having persistently high blood sugar increases risk of type 2 diabetes and heart attack, as the number of destructive free radicals are raised in the body.

Eating lower GI carbohydrates such as oats and whole grain food help keep blood sugar levels in check which should help you feel fuller and more satisfied for longer. This approach to the most important meal of the day will also help you avoid the craving for high calorie, high sugar snacks mid-morning. Ghrelin, the hormone in the body responsible for increases in appetite, will remain lower during the day if you eat a satisfying breakfast and as a result you’re more likely to experience a steady feeling of fullness throughout the day.

A nourishing breakfast will also have an impact on levels of insulin, glucose, and fat in your blood, which can help lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

4. Hydration

Breakfast is a great opportunity to boost your hydration levels with a drink of nutrient-packed juice, smoothie (add a higher percentage of veggies than fruit to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels) or herbal tea. Check out my Get up and Go Green Smoothie recipe (link). Avoid too much caffeine which can cause irritability and also acts as a diuretic.

We all know how important it is to drink plenty of water throughout the day, but we often forget if our routine is interrupted. 

Best practice is not to let yourself get thirsty, but take plenty of sips through the day, so have an easy to carry eco-friendly glass drinking bottle with you. I never go anywhere without mine and I do try to drink at least the recommended 2 litres per day (that does include juices and herbal teas). As a rule, the more active we are in our daily lives, the more fluids we need to take on board.

5. Immunity

Breakfast is also a great opportunity to nourish ourselves with the nutrients that help maintain a healthy immune system and help us protect against and recover from illness, such as the A, B and C vitamins, as well as minerals such as zinc. Consuming freshly made vegetable juices and smoothies is a perfect nutrient-dense way to start the day (add a small handful of cashews or almonds to your favourite smoothies for protein and vital nutrients such a magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and calcium which will also help you feel fuller longer).

6. Concentration

Skipping breakfast can contribute to feeling foggy-headed and an inability to concentrate properly – not great when we know we have a busy day ahead of us.

After an overnight fast, the brain craves some carbs to alleviate tiredness, help concentration and stay focused at work.

Add oats and flaxseeds to your smoothie – honestly, the oats work really well!

7. Memory

The old grey matter needs a helping hand in the mornings too as a low GI breakfast refuels the brain cells that depend on glucose, by elevating blood sugar levels. This approach will help when we need to process and manage complex and challenging information as well as with the formation and retrieval of memories.

8. Weight

A nutritious, low GI breakfast helps to manage hunger and energy levels through the morning and at the same time encourages us to consume an overall lower number of daily calories as well as manage body fat levels.

9. Metabolism

Surprisingly to some, having breakfast actually gives the metabolism the encouragement to get going in the morning and helps us burn calories more efficiently.

Studies also show that eating the same amount of calories during the day, but switching the main meal from dinner to breakfast, actually aids weight loss.

The biological process that the body follows over a 24-hour cycle is called our circadian rhythm. Metabolism is impacted by this rhythm so the time of day we eat can have a big impact on the way our bodies process food.

10. Energy

Choosing a low GI breakfast will release energy slowly through the morning and help maintain energy levels. This in turn will affect our choice of food at lunchtime. If our energy levels don’t slump too much, we are far less likely to choose a high calorie, often high sugar meal.

 

The recipe for my current favourite breakfast option – the Integrated Wellbeing Bircher Muesli – is here: Bircher Muesli Recipe

And you can watch the accompanying video from the Integrated Wellbeing kitchen here: Chrissie TV – From the IW Kitchen

 

With love and wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

Post-Ride, Cool-Down Yoga Stretches

Chrissie Tarbitt, Cyclist's Lunge

It’s all too easy come off our bikes at the end of a ride and tend to other needs; grabbing something to eat or drink, or jumping into the shower.

Of course these are an important part of our recovery, but a few minutes spent on post-ride stretches can pay huge dividends with injury prevention and increasing our flexibility (warm muscles respond so much more kindly to being stretched than cold ones!).

So here are my top 4 stretches as part of your post-ride cool-down.

1. Back and shoulder release

I love this one as you also get a gentle hamstring stretch into the bargain (not unlike a downward dog pose in a yoga class).

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  • Steady yourself on the bar, hands approximately shoulder-width apart
  • Walk the feet back until you come into a 90 degree angle with the ground
  • If this feels too tight on the back of the legs, soften the knees
  • Keep the spine long and extended and your gaze to the ground avoiding undue tension in the neck
  • A gentle tuck of the tailbone towards the ground will prevent undue tension in the lower back
  • The key is to take a few slow deep breaths and enjoy this stretch along the sides of the body, and through the shoulders
  • Hold for at least 30 seconds, then walk the feet towards your bike and stand up slowly

 2. Glutes stretch

This is one of my favourite stretches in my yoga classes. It’s a preparation for the “eagle pose” and is fabulous for releasing tension in the glutes. Again we get to use the bar of the bike.

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  • Hold onto the bar approximately shoulder-width apart
  • Bend the standing leg and sit back as if going to sit on a chair
  • Lift the other leg off the floor, turn out the hip and place the leg (just above the ankle) on the standing leg
  • Again use the breath to help you relax and keep the oxygen flowing to the muscles
  • Try not to slump into the stretch by keeping the spine long and looking forward
  • Hold for at least 30 seconds on each side

As the eternal optimist, I’m offering these next two on the basis that it won’t be pouring with rain when you come off your bike through the summer season, so you can take socks and shoes off (although they do work with shoes on too!). It’s so good to be able to stretch out the feet after a long ride.

3. Front of the lower leg stretch

  • Chrissie Tarbitt, Integrated WellbeingHold onto the bar approximately shoulder-width apart
  • Really feel the standing foot connect with the ground so all the little muscles in the foot are fired up and ready to give you stability up through the ankle and the knee into the hip
  • Take the other foot back, keeping the spine long and avoiding any arching of the lower back
  • Gently place the toes on the ground (hopefully there is some grass nearby) and soften that leg very slightly to enjoy a gentle stretch through the front of the foot and shin
  • Take a few deep breaths and hold for at least 30 seconds on each side

4. Stretch out those tired digits!

Integrated Wellbeing, Chrissie Tarbitt,

  • Hold onto the bar, again approximately shoulder-width apart
  • Start with a firm foundation, a long spine and gazing forward
  • Rock back very gently onto the heels and lift the toes out in front of you
  • Raise the heels off the ground slowly and inhale

 

  • Slowly lower the heels to the ground on an exhale
  • Repeat at least 3 times

Check back soon for more sport-specific yoga, or sign up for my Integrated Wellbeing newsletter so you won’t miss a thing!  And please share your own favourite warm-down stretches in the Comments below.

With love and wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

 

Be More, Do Less

omyoga_oct2015

You may well be familiar with the 80/20 rule that’s often bandied about in business circles which states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, but can this principle apply to our daily conflict between “doing” and just “being”? 

Here are my thoughts, in an article first published by Om Yoga Magazine in their October 2015 issue.

During my years in the corporate world, the 80/20 rule (aka Pareto’s law) was often used to determine where we should focus our efforts and, sure enough, it showed that 80% of our sales would come from 20% of our clients.

We can apply this to so many other areas of our lives too. For example, of all the clothes in your wardrobe, you’re most likely to wear 20% of them, 80% of the time (the next time you put on a change of clothes, do a quick calculation – it really won’t be far off!).

So, let me just backtrack a few weeks. I found myself chasing my tail, juggling the proverbial balls in the air and essentially exhausting myself trying to “do” too many things at once.

Fortunately, having spent the last few years learning how to avoid the curse of multi-tasking, I was able to read the warning signs just in time. It was time for a brain break! I gave myself permission to have a day away from all the “doing” and, instead, spent it “being”, walking along the beach, away from my desk and all my digital devices. Just what my soul was asking for.

During this frantic “doing” phase (they come and go) it occurred to me, what if we applied Pareto’s law to our own personal growth strategy?

What if we just spent 20% of our time visioning (aka planning and creating) and 80% allowing (aka surrendering) on the basis that the 20% visioning (causes) will deliver 80% (effects) of what we want to create anyway!

I’m not suggesting that we simply work 2 hours a day and laze around the other 8, but I am suggesting that whenever we find ourselves going around in circles on the same old stuff (remember, our thoughts create our reality – negative in, negative out!), unable to make a decision or agonising over the outcome, then, honestly, just let it go.

You’ve done your planning, all the ducks are in a row, don’t then spend the next 80% of your time trying to figure out the “what ifs”. Move on to the next task or project (or simply take a break!) and keep applying the same principle.

You will soon realise that easing yourself into “allowing” or “letting go” 80% of the time, will preserve your energy and prevent your body from carrying a load of tension it hasn’t asked for; you’ll sleep better and, a real bonus, the anxiety-induced sugar cravings will be kept at bay!

So, the next time you’re in visioning mode, great – see it through to its natural conclusion and then free up the other 80% you would have spent on it, letting go of the outcome and enjoying the emotional, spiritual and physical freedom you’ve just allowed yourself in the process!

With love and wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

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Yoga with Chrissie – Autumn Term

integrated wellbeing, outdoor yoga

I hope you’re all having a great summer and enjoying some sunshine. I’ve been out early most mornings with a rather lovely view from my mat!

The new yoga term at the Ocean Physio studio in Woodbury starts on Wednesday 7th (7.15 – 8.15 am) and Thursday 8th September (9.30 – 10.45am).

I have decided to change the booking system slightly for ease of admin.  From September, the classes will be payable in advance, in blocks of 6 @ £42 per block.

The drop-in fee will be £9 per class.  If you’re unable to book a block, please call Ocean in advance of any class to check availability, as I can only take a maximum of 10 in the studio.

The first block’s payment will be for 7th/8th September through to 12th/13th October inclusive.  Please could you call Ocean Physio on 01395 239455 prior to the start of the classes to make payment and secure your place.

All equipment is provided, but if you prefer to use your own mat, then of course that’s absolutely fine.

You’ll find the Ocean Physio & Rehab studio at:
Woodbury Business Park, Woodbury, Devon, EX5 1AY.

Let me know if you have any questions.  In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to seeing you again in a few weeks’ time.

With wellbeing wishes,
Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

Warm Sweet Potato & Quinoa Salad

Integrated Wellbeing, Food Matters, Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Salad

Now that summer’s here, it’s time to mix up your salads and try something different.

This easy recipe for my warm sweet potato and quinoa salad is not only yummy but a nutritious veggie meal with carbs, protein and healthy fats thrown in!  And for those who like to support local growers and minimise food air miles, check out The British Quinoa Company in Shropshire.

The quantities below are for a salad that serves 2 people.

Salad Ingredients

  • quinoa (1 cup)
  • sweet potato (1 large)
  • courgette (1 large)
  • mixed salad leaves (4 handfuls)
  • cashew nuts (1 cup)
  • avocado (1 large)
  • cherry tomatoes (12)
  • fresh mint / coriander (1 small handful)
  • balsamic dressing

You can use a pre-made or shop-bought dressing but I prefer to make my own before each meal using the ingredients below. It really is easy and you can adjust it each time to your own taste.

Dressing Ingredients

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • Maldon sea salt
  • Dijon mustard
  • ground black pepper
  • tiny pinch of Stevia (or your own favourite plant-based sweetener)

Process

Start with the quinoa and the sweet spud. Once they’re prep’d and cooking, you can get on with the other stuff.

  • Rinse and cook the quinoa as normal then set to one side
  • Peel, dice and steam the sweet potato
  • Grate or spiralize the courgette
  • Dry toast the cashews on a gentle heat in a pan or skillet for no more than 5 minutes (either using them whole or roughly chopped, whichever you prefer)
  • Dice the avocado
  • Quarter the cherry tomatoes

Place all the ingredients (except the cashews) in a large salad bowl, then add the dressing and toss thoroughly.

Toss it well so that everything has a coating of that gorgeous dressing and quinoa.

Finally, sprinkle your toasted cashews on the top, and serve!

I’d love to hear your favourite summer salad recipes so we can try them at Integrated Wellbeing here in sunny Devon, so please post links or recipes below.

With love and wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

Mindfulness For Athletes

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Just “go with the flow” – seems like a ridiculous thing to suggest to fitness professionals or indeed to our clients! After all, we’re encouraged to have goals, to have plans, to beat a PB and, by definition, we’re pretty energetic individuals impatient for results.

This is the first in a series of articles I was invited to write for Personal Trainer Magazine and was originally published in April 2015.

For many years my life used to be ALL about deadlines and goals; I thought by making sure I had my running shoes in my suitcase, multivits, energy bars and my sachets of wheatgrass at the ready would be me sorted. I could still train for that half marathon, work long hours and be fit and healthy – wrong!

Enter stage – mindfulness practice

Ever wondered what the heck it is? Or, what’s that got to do with you or your clients? Mindfulness-based stress-reduction has been around for several decades as a therapeutic tool. By turning our attention to what is actually happening in the present, we’re able to see the situation for what it is, allowing us to have absolute control over how we react in any given moment. That’s mindfulness in a nutshell. We are invited to simply be aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different.

The benefits of introducing this practice into our daily lives as fitness professionals are huge: we learn to relax (allowing the body to heal), we learn not to dwell on the last bad training session or match, which can seriously affect our performance (it’s gone, it’s in the past!) and once we have a plan in place, we learn that the “how we get the results” doesn’t always come about in the way we expected.

How to get started?

The first stage is learning to relax. Try this the next time you’re feeling frazzled after a full day of coaching or weary from over-training. Take 10 minutes to sit or lie down undisturbed (we can all find 10 minutes) and connect with your breath. Inhale and exhale deeply, using all of the muscles involved in breathing: the abs, diaphragm, intercostal muscles, and up into the chest, noticing any areas of tension in the body and allowing yourself to simply relax. Just notice any thoughts that come into your mind, allow them to come and go (you can’t stop your mind having thoughts, but you can become an observer rather than a participant in them). With this technique, you’ll automatically switch on the parasympathetic part of your nervous system allowing you to relax naturally. You wait, 10 minutes will soon become 15 and so on.

Yes, it takes practice, but the rewards are instant and exponential. Every few minutes that we choose to direct our attention to the breath and relax into the body, is like having a 30-minute power nap, only much quicker and longer-lasting.

With love and wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

Yoga with Chrissie in 2016

Chrissie Tarbitt, Why Meditate?

This is just a quick reminder that my yoga classes at the lovely Ocean Physio studio in Woodbury begin again in January.

The first classes of the new term are on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st January 2016.

Classes are kept intentionally small (with no more than 10 students) to ensure maximum benefit.  All times are the same as last term.

Spring Schedule

  • Wednesday mornings (60 minutes): 7.15 – 8.15 am
  • Thursday mornings (60 minutes): 9.30 – 10.30 am

Prices are unchanged too. Adult classes are £8 for a 60-minute class or £42 for a 6-week block.

I still have a few available slots for private yoga tuition for individuals or small groups, either at the Woodbury studio or in your own home (where appropriate).

You’ll find the Ocean Physio & Rehab studio at:
Woodbury Business Park, Woodbury, Devon, EX5 1AY.

For class reservations, please call Ocean on 01395 239455. For other yoga or class content queries, drop me a line at chrissie[at]integratedwellbeing.co.uk.

With love and wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

Cashew Nut Yoghurt

cashew nuts, cashew yoghurt, integrated wellbeing

This incredibly delicious, dairy alternative has become a firm favourite in our household – I can’t keep up with the orders!

This protein (and healthy fats) rich yoghurt is equally at home on your morning home-made Bircher’s Muesli (click here for my easy Bircher’s recipe video) as it is “au natural” with a few blueberries and a dusting of cinnamon or a sprinkling of chopped pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup – yummy!  And it’s an easy recipe too …

Ingredients

I use an American cup measure as so many recipes these days are U.S. ones and it’s easier than trying to convert!

  • 2 cups of unroasted cashews
  • 1 cup of filtered water (add a little more if you prefer your yoghurt a slightly thinner consistency than Greek yoghurt)
  • 3 Tablesoons of maple syrup (vary according to desired sweetness)
  • 1 Tablesoon of pure vanilla essence (or bean pod if you have it) – again adjust to your preferred taste
  • ¼ Teaspoon of probiotic powder (this is necessary to thicken the yoghurt and provides the wonderfully gut-friendly bacteria in the end product)

Method

Soak the cashews in filtered water for about two hours, then drain and rinse.

Add all the ingredients into a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix or Nutribullet. It needs to be a pretty powerful machine in order to create the totally smooth consistency you need.

Blend for a couple of minutes until your yoghurt has a completely smooth and creamy texture.

It may well warm up during this process which is a good thing as it will speed up the fermenting process.

Add to a pre-warmed dish or storage tub with a firm lid (I use a click and lock type of tub) making sure there is an inch or so room left at the top to allow for some expansion.

Put the yoghurt into a warm place (airing cupboard is ideal if you have one or near a warm radiator). The probiotics will do their thing in 8-12 hours. I usually leave mine overnight (if we can wait that long!), then give it a stir and place in the fridge to cool.

Hey presto! An amazing, home-made fermented yoghurt that will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days (that’s if I don’t tell everyone that I’ve made a new batch!).

Incidentally, this yoghurt doesn’t taste of cashews which is the beauty of these fabulously versatile nuts. More on these little beauties in later posts.

Enjoy!

With love and wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

Rest & Restore Workshop

Chrissie Tarbitt, Integrated Wellbeing

I’m excited to share with you news of my forthcoming Rest & Restore Winter Workshop.  Join me in this lovely, peaceful, light and airy studio in Woodbury for a morning of “you” time.  

When?
Sunday 6th December: 10.00am – 12.30pm

Where?
Ocean Physio & Rehab Clinic, Woodbury Business Park, EX5 1LD

Timetable

  • 9:45  Arrival.
  • 10:00 – 10:45  Introduction to Mindfulness, Meditation and powerful Yogic breathing techniques which you can easily incorporate into your daily lives to bring about that all important sense of calm and peace just when you need it most!
  • 10:45 – 11:30  I shall then guide you through a gentle yin yoga session which will focus on allowing the body and mind to fully let go.
  • 11:30 – 12:00  Yoga Nidra – deep yogic relaxation.
  • 12:00 – 12:30  Finally, some time to share some home-made, cold-pressed juices and raw, vegan snacks before heading home.

Places are limited to 10 people per workshop so don’t miss out if you want to help banish winter blues or just need to rejuvenate before the busy festive period! 

The cost of the workshop is £25 per person with 50% of the proceeds being donated to Leukaemia Care as part of my various half-marathon sponsorship efforts. Book direct via the secure Eventbrite site here: Rest & Restore Workshop

No previous experience is necessary. I’ll provide mats, blocks and blankets. Please wear appropriate clothing.

I look forward to seeing you there!

With wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

Yoga & Relaxation in Gozo

Michelle Bartolo, Gozo Retreats, Hamlet 1

Those of you considering a yoga retreat or yoga holiday abroad should definitely add the week-long “Inside/Out” retreats with Michelle Bartolo to your short-list.

Set on the beautiful, unspoiled island of Gozo just off the north coast of Malta, the week-long retreats include morning and evening yoga and plenty of free time during the day to chill out and recharge your batteries.

An ideal week to escape the daily grind and relax your mind!

Guests arrive on Saturdays and gather for a vegetarian welcome dinner in the evening. Having flown from the UK to Malta, we took pre-arranged taxi transfers and a short ferry ride over to Gozo to reach the tastefully restored island farmhouse that would be our home for the week. After meeting the ever-smiling Michelle and the four other retreat guests, we were able to take a swim in the private pool before watching the sun go down across the valley from the farmhouse terrace.

Michelle Bartolo, Gozo Retreats, Hamlet 1Michelle Bartolo, Gozo Retreats, Hamlet 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each day began at 8am with an invigorating 90-minute yoga class, either on the private terrace or in the large sitting room (depending on the weather), followed by a nutritious breakfast and a healthy side-order of laughter as we chatted and shared experiences with each other.

With intentionally small groups and the relaxed, convivial atmosphere that Michelle encourages, breakfasts sometimes extended well past mid-morning!

Guests make their own arrangements for lunch and dinner. Sometimes we ate out, enjoying an evening stroll to nearby villages or going further afield on hired bikes that Michelle can arrange; other meals were taken at the farmhouse where there’s a fully equipped kitchen in which to prepare food purchased at the local store just a short walk away. Some guests hire a car, but taxis are a good alternative for heading into town.

Each evening at 5, Michelle taught a 60-minute restorative yoga class followed by 30 minutes of wonderful guided meditation.

With years of experience teaching across many countries, Michelle’s yoga is a blend of various styles with significant elements of vinyasa flow and kundalini. On our retreat, there were a couple of relative beginners and others who had been practicing yoga for some years. The teaching was intuitive and ensured that everyone enjoyed the class. A great deal of thought had obviously gone into planning the week’s sequences, as the level increased a little each day, allowing us to experience noticeable progress as our bodies responded to two daily classes and our minds quietened, away from the daily grind.

Michelle Bartolo, Gozo Retreats 2Michelle Bartolo, Gozo Retreats

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the daily free time, massages and other treatments were arranged for those who wanted them, and Michelle took some of us on a couple of guided walks round this delightful island. Towards the end of the week, she was even able to arrange a fabulous half-day aboard a local boat so that we could snorkel and feed the fish in the crystal-clear Mediterranean.

The Gozo Inside/Out retreats run monthly from April to November.

Check out details, pricing and availability at michellebartoloyoga.com

And you can watch Michelle teach a short yoga sequence at the fabulous cliff-top setting where she takes a sunset class in this video.

I, for one, can’t wait to go back!

 

With love and wellbeing wishes,

 

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing