Have a happy belly

Thoughts on life & what matters  – December edition

December for a lot of us is a month where we often eat a bit more than usual. A bit more of the good stuff (and there is a lot of good stuff to eat). In our little family planning good food (& drinks) around the holidays is a must. Merging our different cultures and traditions, French and Swedish, and our personal preferences means that there will be lots (!) of everything LOL.

Often this is also a time when our digestive system (and our bellies) might not be happy happy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are some simple things we can do to keep the belly happy while we still allow ourselves to indulge. 

One of the biggest reasons our bellies (our digestive system) does not fully enjoy this time of the year is that we are changing our habits. The digestive system is actually quite sensitive, and prefer things to be like usual. 

We might find routine boring, but OUR BELLIES LOVE ROUTINE. Especially of course, if/when we have a routine that is good for the system. So for the sake of this email, let’s say that your normal routine is good, and that your belly most days is happy and functions well. 

If you struggle with your digestive system, and/or find it interesting to learn more about that amazing body of yours, consider joining me for the Better Digestion-course that will start on February2nd.

Digestive issues, such as regularly being constipated, having lots of gas, being bloated, pain or cramps ‘for no reason’, not managing to lose/put on weight, not going to the toilet daily, are way more common then we think. Issues such as these we often prefer not to talk about with our friends, so we tend to think that we are alone having problems. A lot of issues can be helped by understanding what the system needs, and where we ourselves can create more balance in the system. 

Here are SIX SIMPLE THINGS to focus on, especially during this month when we often ‘give into temptation’ more often then the rest of the year (or perhaps that is just me??!)

Drink enough water

We still need about 2 liters of water every day, even in December. So despite you drinking some other stuff like gluhwine, champagne, beers and sodas, you still need your water. Start your day with 1-2 glasses of water. Have another in the late morning/around lunch, before your dinner, and a glass of water before bed. 

raw vegetables at least one meal a day

Preferably vegetables that you actually need to chew, they are the ones containing fibers which gives your intestines something to work with. Super simple is to have a carrot. Needs very little preparation. Other suggestions can be to make a coleslaw using some (red) cabbage. Or, if you haven’t tried it, sweet potato. Yep, you can eat it raw (peel it though).

Chew your food properly

Good digestion starts already in your mouth, as you chew your food. You want the stuff you swallow to not be in pieces, but more the texture of a ‘thick soup’. A bonus is that this often takes a little bit longer time ‘than usual’ which gives the brain more time to register that we’ve actually had enough. 

Continue to move

The human body is designed for movement, so do your body a favor and continue to move it. Take it for daily walks (brilliant way to be able to release gas without too much embarrassment). Maybe do some gentle movements to wake up the body & your digestive system in the morning. Don’t make it crazy complicated. 

Obey when ‘nature calls’

One common reason for people to have problems with their digestion is that they don’t go to the toilet when they need to. Or never allow themselves to fart. That can become a vicious cycle. Suppressing the signals from the body in the long term is not beneficial. So obey your body when it tells you to go to the toilet to empty the intestines. 

Take your time

When I was young(er) it was common that you had magazines and such in the toilet to provide with some easy reading while ‘waiting’. Stressing and rushing things to happen (to come out) is not helpful for a happy belly and well-functioning digestive system. 

I hope you find these tips useful.

Wishing you & your belly a happy December

Biggest reason we’re unhappy

Thoughts on life & what matters  – June edition

Recently I saw this quote that resonated so well with me. And I guess I am not the only one ‘over-thinking’ things & life… Wanted to share with you a technique that I am using regularly that I find very helpful. My hope is by sharing it with you that you too can find some much needed inner peace. 

“The biggest reason we are unhappy is that we think too much.” 

It’s now been a couple of months that I’ve regularly been brain-dumping my thoughts down into a notebook. In the beginning it was something I started doing because I had read that it might be a good way to become more aware of all the thoughts running on repeat in my head. In periods of my life I have wanted to be one of those people who journal regularly, and I’ve made attempts, buying fancy journals and started, only to rather quickly stop. 

I also had a period writing so-called ‘morning pages’ which I have to say I really enjoyed but in the end it felt like it took too much time. I just didn’t want to start every morning writing for half an hour (I will share about my current morning routines in another ‘newsletter’). Instead it has become my weekend morning routine. 

Every day begins for me with a cup of coffee, weekdays and weekend alike. But in the weekends I sit on the floor (yes literally on the floor in our living room, with my back against the sofa), and I light a candle. And while I drink my coffee I brain-dump. I write three pages in my notebook every Saturday & Sunday morning, literally dumping the content of my brain onto paper. I very much like the act of writing by hand, pen on paper. It is not about writing fancy or clever things. It is about putting the pen to paper and letting the thoughts come out, forming words and sentences. 

Lately it’s mainly been about me not feeling ‘good enough’. Letting the thoughts come out from the darkness, and onto paper, into the light. What is hiding in those thoughts of not ‘being good enough’ or not doing enough. How come those thoughts are there, what is it that they are really trying to say?! (If I’m brave enough, this too might become part of a story to share in the future, time will tell.)

I write these pages for myself, without the intention of ever going back to what I’ve written, or for it to be read by anyone else. They are thoughts & feelings, put on paper. And almost every time, at the end of my three pages I feel lighter. Sometimes having understood myself a bit better, sometimes coming up with a little ‘action-plan’ of how to handle certain situations. 

If you too feel that sometimes there’s just too much going on inside your head try putting pen on paper, and just write. Write what comes to mind, without worrying about the sentences making any sense. Just allow all the thoughts, feelings, emotions, worries, frustrations, sorrows and whatever else is filling up your brain to just ‘see the light’. Make yourself a cup of coffee (or whatever you prefer), find a quiet spot and just write. No corrections, no going back to make a better sentence. Just write. 

Stress, the root of most illnesses

All scientific research is pointing at stress being the root of most illnesses affecting us today. 

Your mind is in constant communication with your respiratory, digestive, reproductive and central nervous systems, and fully controls the entire health and functioning of your body. We automatically associate the term ‘health’ with physical well-being. Somehow, we skip the most crucial link: the mind.

The number of people affected by stress today is staggering; few of them do anything to cope with it. At the most, we talk to a friend or go for a walk, which temporarily helps, but only at the surface level. Many take to binge eating, drinking and smoking in the face of stress. More load on the digestive system, liver and the lungs will only put your body under chronic stress.

We’ve adapted to stress in a way that it has become a normal state of being.

* A common scenario is that our body can be experiencing stress physically, but because we’ve become so used to being in that state, we are ignorant of it on a mental level. 

* Stress originating from tiny everyday issues gains momentum over time and deters our ability to have clarity about our emotional and mental lives in the long run.  

* Managing stress will help you get a handle on many physical health problems such as chronic pain and gastrointestinal disorders to mention a few.

How To Handle It All

We cannot control the myriad of issues that come our way, but what we can control is how we respond to them. The first and the most important step is to recognise you are about to be stressed, and do something about it. 

Here are a few tips:

  1. Breathe: Take long and deep breaths for about two-three minutes, and breathe right. Your belly should expand as you inhale and retract as you exhale. This simple technique relaxes your body, thereby calming your mind as a by-product.
  1. Music ’therapy’: Pick a soothing track, and tune out of the stress and into your inner calm. 
  1. Pet-love: Hug and cuddle your beloved dog or cat. Having physical contact with your pet not only lowers your blood pressure, but also makes you feel loved, and calms your mind.
  1. Run/Exercise: About to have a tough meeting with your boss, or break-up with your partner in a few hours. Move your body to prepare your body. We know endorphins released post physical activity make your body happy, thereby giving you a happy and calm mind.
  1. Live in the moment: While all of the above are ways to get ready for the oncoming train, here’s what to do when stress hits you. The best way to combat all physical health issues is to deal with stress when it’s at its very beginning, with a Zen mind. More often than not, we stress crazily in anticipation of bad situations that never even end up taking place. Also, millions of people across the world use the binge-and-purge method in dealing with stress. They stress out all day, thinking they can wait until evening to release it upon hitting the gym or going for that yoga class. Wrong. ‘Repressing until later’ is the root of all diseases. “Unfortunately, when we delay going for our inner balance, our body has already activated the stress response — our health suffers at all levels, no doubt.” 

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Full article available here: https://www.hindustantimes.com/health-and-fitness/stress-the-root-of-most-illnesses-research/story-4VOG9pWDbzSO4QdiYR2rZN.html

Built for movement

Many health benefits of exercise

Your body is built for movement. When you move, a lot happens in your body that makes you more energetic and stronger. Physical activity such as brisk walking, gardening or outdoor activities can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health problems, among others.

Break your sedentary lifestyle

Prolonged sedentary behaviour increases the risk of disease, even if you exercise several times a week. That’s why it’s important to increase your daily movement if you sit a lot. Take several short movement breaks during the day.

Move for half an hour a day

You need to get active to get fit and build strong muscles. Half an hour of moderately strenuous activity a day is enough. It doesn’t have to be all at once. Fifteen minutes twice a day or several five-minute sessions work just as well. Remember that every step counts.

Exercise your muscles in everyday life

Two to three times a week is a good time to exercise the strength of your muscles. Climbing stairs is good for both your fitness and your leg muscles. For your movements to have a real effect, you need to warm up and get your heart rate and breathing up.

All forms of movement have a positive effect on your body

Moderate exercise can have major health benefits, both physically and mentally. Regular movement strengthens muscles, which in turn protect joints and bones. It also increases your mobility and balance, which in turn reduces the risk of falls and broken bones.

less stressed & sleep better

When you move, your blood circulation increases. This allows cells to take up more oxygen. This makes it easier for the body to deal with things that can be harmful to the body, such as elevated stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. You’ll feel better with less stress and get better sleep.

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This is an excerpt from a Swedish article. You find the full article here: https://www.1177.se/Kalmar-lan/liv–halsa/traning-och-fysisk-halsa/rorelse-ar-livsviktigt/

How to breathe better

Did you know that the diaphragm normally does about 75% of the workload when it comes to breathing??! And that this amazing muscle pretty much never gets tired?! It is our most important breathing muscle. And yet, so many of us are hardly even using it, which is a waste. And, in the long run, it can lead to other health issues. 

Primary Breathing Muscles

We have two ’groups’ of breathing muscles. There’s the primary breathing muscles and the secondary breathing muscles. The primary ones include the diaphragm, the muscles between the ribs (the intercostal muscles) and the abdominal muscles. 

These muscles are the ones we are primary suppose to use to breathe, hence the term ’primary breathing muscles’. The problem is though that a lot (!) of people are not using this group of muscles to breathe, but instead the ’backup muscles’ – the secondary breathing muscles. 

To this group you find the muscles in the upper chest, upper back and the neck muscles. These muscles are there for when we need extra capacity, when we need to take in more air because we are doing strenuous work such as running, working out, and so on. 

Constantly using the secondary breathing muscles can cause neck pain, lower back pain, pain in the shoulders and upper back, tension headaches, and poor digestion just to mention a few. 

Functional breath

So how should you then breathe?! In a normal, functional breath the chest and shoulders should hardly not move at all!! The belly and the ribs should softly expand on the inhale, and soften on the exhale. 

You can check your breath by placing one hand on your belly, and the other on your chest. Observe where your natural breath is. Don’t force your belly out (or in). Simply let the breath happen by itself. 

8 simple ways to sleep better

1. Daylight

Make sure to get daylight every day. Getting out in the daylight early on in the day help you to wake up & ‘adjust’ your internal clock.

2. Caffeine & nicotine

Be a bit restrictive with ‘stimulating substances’ such as caffeine and nicotine towards the later part of the day.

3. Dim lamps

A couple of hours before bedtime start dimming the lamps and choose slower and softer activities to begin to wind down.

4. Time before bed

Create enough time before going to bed to reflect, to plan and when needed also to worry, so that bedtime is not the only moment of the day slowing down and ‘reflecting on life’.

5. Physical activity

Being physically active during the day shortens the time to fall asleep and make the deep-sleep longer.

6. Avoid late work-out

Working out late in the evening is often counterproductive as it works ‘stimulating’ on the body & mind, which makes falling asleep harder.

7. Environment

Make sure your bedroom is dark, cooler in temperature, and quiet in order to have the best sleep possible.

8. Naps

Be restrictive with how you nap during the day. Mind how long naps you take and also how late in the afternoon/evening you do it, as this might decrease the need for a full night sleep.

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These tips are freely translated from a Swedish article by sleep researchers on how to sleep better.