Premature Death Statistic – Are You At Risk?

Another week – how’s yours been?

Last week I posted an entertaining piece about how life has changed over the last hundred years. Things we enjoy now could never even have been dreamed of in the early part of the 20th century.

What I didn’t inlcude was the top five leading causes of death. And I left it out because I wanted to do some research. Well I did, and here it is: Five leading causes of death in 1915 vs 2015

I created this graph to show how our health has changed over a 100 years.

What we see now is really a domination of lifestyle diseases on mortality rates (the 2015 statistics came from the National Health Scheme in the UK and the Australian Bureau of Statistics in Australia.)

Dementia aside (so much is unknown about this condition), our leading causes of illnesses are basically how we treat ourselves. No-one else is doing this to us – but us!

I think that is astounding information. Even more shocking, is that suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between the ages of 15 and 44.

What can be done about it? The answers are easy to find – but perhaps not so simple to implement.

Here are the top 5 things I do to make sure I don’t end up on this list:

Food – I eat whole foods – farm fresh as often as I can source fruits & vegiesthem. Small amounts of protein (about the size of my palm) and large amounts of plant foods. Lots of nuts and seeds.And I have treats, good quality dark chocolate, and home made things like my paleo mini-muffins are a great way to have something sweet without eating foods laden with highly refined sugars and chemicals. I also make sure I take  good quality pro- and pre-biotics so my gut health is supported.

 

 

SuppNutrisearch independent Comparative Guidelementation – I take a quality nutritional supplement – because no matter how good the quality of my food is, the quality of our soil and modern farming practices have reduced the minerals that are now in our food (more detailed information on this is in my upcoming book – I will certainly let you know when it’s coming out!)

This book on the left here (The Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements) is an independent study of the supplements on the market (there is one for North America, and one for Australia/ New Zealand.) It’s what I used to make my choice for pharmaceutical grade, athlete quality supplements.

 

Exercise – I exercise every day so I’m building muscle, strong bones and flexibility. This will help me as I age because I won’t be at the mercy of falling over, breaking bones and ending up sitting in a chair all day (or worse.) I’ve been sharing my progress on this blog so feel free to go into the Archives and check out what I’ve been doing.

As you probably know if you’ve been reading my blog, I have an exercise physiologist who I see every eight weeks or so, and she reviews my routine and makes adjustments. This last visit saw my weights training move up a significant notch – which I find really exciting and challenging! I’ve found having a ‘coach’ really helps keep me on track.

 

Active mind and social connection – I keep my mind active with reading, researching (for my book as well as for my own benefits), crossword puzzles and word games, sudokus. I keep socially connected through memberships so I get to hang out with interesting people, some who may not have the same ideas as me, which challenges my thinking.
newspaper crossword

 

 

Reflection and gratitude – I meditate regularly and keep a gratitude journal. woman meditating
Reflection helps me focus on quiet and silence, and helps me have a place where I can do some dedicated, mindful breathing. This helps my nervous system stay in the calm place, not the being-chased-by-a-tiger place where I lived in my corporate career.

Gratitude because, well, there is so much to be thankful for: my loving husband, the beautiful place where I live, my ability to travel, good friends – the list goes on. I believe it’s really important to acknowledge how thankful I am for the life I live.

 

What are you doing so you don’t become a victim of your lifestyle? I’d love you to share your suggestions and ideas – that way we can all learn from each other!

If you want to see something truly extraordinary, check out my EnrichYourEnergy Facebook page for the post I did on Thursday 24 March about Ernestine Shepherd, the oldest female body builder in the world. Then try to give yourself an excuse for not caring about yourself!!

Until next week,201507 me in green copy 200 pixel

Cheers, Meredith

Measuring For Success – My Story

Hi there,

I just have to share this because I’m so excited!

As part of my healthy for life focus, I’ve got myself an exercise physiologist. She helps me by giving me a program of weights and stretches that is customised for me. I have a number of stretches I do every day, and a weights program I follow at the gym 2-3 times a week.

Some of my goal is to shed kilos, but my main goal is to be fit and healthy – and strong – as I age. Strong bones and muscles are essential as you get older as they can stop nasty things happening – like a hip breaking then falling over (people think it happens the other way around, but often an older person’s bones are just too brittle to hold them up and they snap.) I really don’t want that happening to me!

_DSC0049Anyway, like I said, I have a program I follow. My beloved laminated each of the individual exercises/stretches for me, and I looped them onto a key ring and carabiner so I could keep them with me when I travel. Pretty nifty huh!

 

 

MEASUREMENT

Because healthy weight (not weight LOSS) is my goal,  I have been thinking about the best measurements to use to track my progress.  (Our brains are wired to want to find what we lose – maybe that’s why so many diets – about 95% – fail.)

The scales can be useless. Women sometimes retain water, which shows up on the scales and makes them seem heavier than they really are. I have even seemed to put on 2 kilos in a 24 hour period – which is pretty ridiculous really! The other thing to remember is that muscle is denser than fat – so as you strengthen your muscles, it can appear you are putting on weight, where what’s really happening is you are getting stronger. woman measring waist

So I look for other measurements. Such as measuring my waist, hips, upper arms and thighs. These have seen a decrease in the last six months, with my waist being 3 centimetres smaller than it was last October – a really good start. (By the way, this photo is not me, mine are below.)

Another measurement I use is the rowing machine. I row as fast as I can on setting 5 for 250 meters. In the last four months I have shaved 8 seconds off my row – going from 116 seconds to 108 (most recently again this morning. I have reached 106 once too – but really need repeated achievements before I use it as a new benchmark.)

girl-putting-bra-25487218

But even better for me is my flexibility is improving. And the best measurement for that is putting on a gym bra. I don’t know about you, but my gym bras just seem to be tighter around the chest than my other bras, so I usually do them up at my front, then twist them around so the catch is at the back. Twice in the last few days I’ve been able to reach around and do my bra up at the back! (I wear these bras when I’m going to run on the treadmill as I’ve not found a sports crop top-style that keeps me from bouncing.)

So there you are. Some tips on how to measure your success.

Here is a before and after photo of me. If you look carefully in the ‘before’ photo, you’ll see my very large middle.

Before
Before – see that middle!

 

After (well, during really - I'm still on the journey)
After (well, during really – I’m still on the journey)

Other measurements, thanks to the gizmo my exercise physiologist has, are my body fat reduction (down 1.4%), and my blood pressure – down from 132/84 (which isn’t too bad really) to 102/74 – hit that one right out of the ballpark!

So when you are working to achieve your goals, think carefully about the measures of success you’ll use, and choose a variety so you don’t get hooked on just one, as this can bring your mood down, and affect your motivation, if you don’t see a change.

Until next week,

Cheers!

Meredith Yardley

201507 me in green copy 200 pixel

Bad Habits – 5 Steps To Getting Rid Of Them

Of course, New Year’s resolutions are not just about establishing new habits – it can also be about getting rid of old habits. In this article from Success Magazine, (February 2015),  Jim Rohn, author, speaker, personal development guru and entrepreneur, suggests five simple steps to help you get rid of your bad habits.

Ditch Your Bad Habits in 5 Simple Steps

How to start the daunting process of changing negative practices into positive ones 

Your habits will determine your future, and if you keep doing things a certain way, you’ll be able to predict the results. It’s the simple law of cause and effect: Successful habits create positive rewards. Negative habits breed negative consequences.

If you ignore healthy habits in favor of lazy couch time or quick fast food, you shouldn’t expect to feel healthy. If you are in the habit of starving your most important relationships of time, energy and love, you can’t enjoy a great relationship. If you spend money recklessly or don’t save any money, you may have to expect a never-ending cycle of work.

Don’t like the way these scenarios play out? Then shift yourself out of your worst habits to guarantee yourself a happily ever after. All it takes is some applied focus. And this step-by-step plan will help you get started:

1.  Clearly identify your bad or unproductive habits. Write them down. 

Be specific—and totally honest. Remember to consider the long-term consequences should you continue in this bad habit. Consider habits at home, at work, in your free time, and in matters related to your physical, emotional and spiritual health.

2. Define your new successful habit and visualize its results in your life. 

Your new habit is usually the simple opposite of your bad one. Think about all the benefits and rewards you’ll enjoy once you adopt your new successful habit. The more vividly you describe the benefits, creating the new picture in your mind, the more likely you are to make changes.

3. Create a three-part action plan. 

For every bad habit, there are at least 15 action steps you can take to help you stop. Put some time into this and think about it. It might seem easy to come up with action steps, but they have to be customized for you, actions you know are within your realm of taking. Don’t list things that you know in your heart you won’t do.

4. For the next three weeks, schedule these action steps into your day. 

Whatever the new habit and its action plan, work each step into your schedule for the month ahead. Most habits—even the very ugliest ones—can be completely re-patterned in this short timeframe.

5. Take action.

Start with one habit that you desperately want to change. Focus on the three immediate steps you have and put them into action. Do it now.

Remember, nothing will change until you do.

Jim Rohn

 

Hope you enjoyed Jim Rohn’s suggestions. I’d love to hear from you if you implement any of them, or anything else that I’ve suggested in my last few posts.

Until next week, stay healthy and safe

cheers Meredith

Me in August 2015

How One Word Can Change Your New Year

As you might have gathered, I’m fascinated about how you can be successful in achieving your goals. 

I’ve just come across this article that looks at goal setting from a different perspective. I hope you enjoy it, please let me know if you follow the recommendations, and how it works for you. 

 

Experts say narrowing down your goals to one word, rather than making the same old resolutions, may point you in the right direction.

Odds are that you will fail.

According to a study by the University of Scranton, about 92% of us will fail at losing weight, saving money, getting organized, or anything else we resolve to do. But that won’t stop us. More than half of us keep trying year after year even if we don’t follow through.

Broken resolutions are what prompted Mike Ashcraft, pastor of Port City Community Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, to take a different tactic. Instead of making—and breaking—another promise to himself, he decided to pick one word and stick with it for a year. He chose “flow,” and used it as a lens though which he’d approach personal change.

“It felt doable, memorable, and sticky,” he says. “Choosing one word solved the attention problem I had with resolutions, and helped me become laser focused. The results were greater than I expected.”

Ashcraft took the concept to his congregation the following year, and the results were surprising. “I’d be in the grocery line or in traffic at a red light, and people would stop me to tell me what their word was,” he says. “They were excited about it, and I was amazed how quickly it stuck.”

The idea spread like wildfire, and Ashcraft shared the concept in My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word (Zondervan; 2012).

Coauthor Rachel Olsen believes the concept has been well received because resolutions are usually behavior based: “You’re going to go to the gym, stop yelling at your kids, sell X amount of units,” she says. “As soon as you fail, you’ve broken the resolution. A word can’t be broken. It serves as a reminder; a filter. It’s who you want to be instead of what you regret.”

The My One Word process involves three steps:

  1. Think about who you want to be:Instead of dwelling on your bad habits, ask yourself what kind of person you want to become. Olsen says the process shifts your mindset from regret to vision.
  2. Make a list of characteristics you desire: Once you have a picture of that person, identify their major characteristics and write them down using single words. Then take that list and look up each word’s definition.
  3. Pick one word: Using your list, pick the word that resonates with you most. Some of the most popular choices include trust, patience, love, discipline and focus. Ashcroft says it’s important to choose just one, and resist the temptation to do them all.

“A lot of people have paralysis, and worry that they’ll pick the wrong word,” he says. “It’s not a matter of right or wrong. There’s simplicity and beauty behind this. Often, one word can incorporate others in the way you frame things.”

Olsen likes to remind people that they can choose another word next year. “Make your choice and settle in,” she says. “One word reduces pressure to improve in a gazillion areas, optimizing everything. It’s a filter to make decisions. When you return to your word, you return to your focus.”

Sharing your word can put more power behind it, says Ashcraft, who suggests sending out a tweet, adding it to your email signature or posting it to the My One Word website.

“Talking about your resolutions can be an awkward conversation,” he says. “When you choose a word and share why you picked it, it becomes a matter of the heart. It’s about hope, and that feels different than sharing your struggles. Sharing also creates accountability.”

Adopt One Word At Work

The one-word technique isn’t just for people; companies have adopted the process, too. Popular choices include “integrity” and “character,” says Olsen. One company chose the word “honor” and displayed it in the office.

While the process has had profound results for its users, Ashcraft says there’s nothing magical about it. “When you do something long enough, it becomes part of who you are,” he adds. “It can be hard, but that’s part of process. Keep your word in front of you; it will make a difference.”

Thanks to Stephanie Vozza and Fast Company (fastcompany.com) for this article.

Happy New Year Everyone!

cheers Meredith

Me in August 2015

Ten Top Tips To Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick! (Part 1)

ny resolutions 4You start with great intentions. Drink less alcohol, lose weight, save more and spend less… the list goes on. And you start well, and then, by February, March things slip. And then slip some more. And before you know it, you’re back to where you were the year before, wondering how you managed to let yourself down AGAIN!

Despite the statistics, making resolutions, at New Year or any other time, doesn’t have to end in failure. There are some simple things you can do to identify the changes you want to make in your life, and ACHIEVE THEM! How exciting does that sound!

Tip 1 – The LANGUAGE

Let’s look a the language around resolutions, or goals.  HOW we articulate our goals can have a profound affect on whether we achieve them or not.

So let’s take one at the top of the list, Lose Weight as the example. If you don’t want to lose weight, just take the principals and apply them to whatever it is you’re wanting to achieve – save more, drink less….. you get the idea.

Firstly, the language ‘Lose Weight’ is suspect, because we usually try to find what we lose. Lost your cars keys, your sock, a book? You’ll want to find it, that’s for sure.

The way our brains work seems a bit weird sometimes, but basically if you tell it something, it will either believe you (it has no concept of truth or fiction); or it will try to make it happen so your outer world matches your inner world.

So you know you want to find what’s lost, then you ‘lose’ weight, and voila! Your brain will direct you to the ways in which you’ll find it again. So perhaps you could change the language to something like ‘Shed kilos’ or ‘Slim down’. Or, and this might be a bit contrary, but bear with me, don’t talk about the weight. Turn it into something positive such as:  ‘get fitter, stronger, more flexible’.

If you focus on a positive way of describing your desired outcome, your chances of achieving it improve.

Tip 2: PLAN AHEAD

Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Day (with a hangover) to make your resolution.

Think about it before NYE, and start to think how you’ll achieve it. So if you wish to ‘be fitter, stronger, more flexible’, then make the changes in your life to support your goal.

Find at least one movement you like and work it into your week. It doesn’t have to be the gym. It could be dancing such as zumba, pole dancing (which is great for your core and will definitely make you fitter, stronger and more flexible). It could be yoga, tai chi, swimming or tennis. It could even be dog walking – got any neighbours with dogs?ny resolutions LOTR

Haven’t done anything for ages and don’t really know what you’d like to do? Then write down the list of things you could do, and date one.

What I mean is just choose one and do it for a month, or a term (many of these types of movement activities run in terms, which is a great way to really check it out to see if you like it).

You’ll know by the end of that time if it’s something you enjoy. If it’s not, then, date the next one on the list. By the end of the year you might end up with two or three things you just love – and finding time for them in your week is no difficulty.

Tip 3: CHOOSE ONE

A further issue with resolutions is that people try to take on too much. If you have three things you want to change, prioritise them and  choose the one you want most. Just one, and schedule the others for later in the year.

Because once you drill down, there will be several different aspects to making this change and these will need to be incorporated into your life.

Let’s look at ‘be fitter, strong, more flexible’ example.

First there is an movement component. We’ve had a look at that.

There is also a quality sleep component – you won’t be at your best for a new movement program if you’re lacking energy. So there may be changes to make in the bedroom (not those sorts of changes – in fact, sex is great movement!).

Got a TV in there? Get rid of it. How about a computer? Yep, find somewhere else for that too, if you can. It may not always be possible, but wherever you can, reduce the amount of electrical items in your bedroom.  There are many scientific studies that point to the way electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) upset our sleep, and keeping your bedroom as free of these items as possible can only help.

And don’t go checking your phone or tablet just before bed either. The back light emits a blue light, and blue light is the enemy of sleep because it upsets your melatonin production. This is because exposure to EMFs impede melatonin production – and it’s melatonin that help regulate our sleep.

There is also the food aspect being fitter, stronger and more flexible.

Maintaining a movement program (notice I’m calling it a movement program, not exercise? Another brain trick – how many of us cringe at the word exercise!) requires your body to have the right fuel. So it may be you need to review what you eat, when you eat it and how you eat.

Yes, how you eat. Does your meal disappear quickly? Does your body have time to get the message from the stomach to the brain that you are full? If you start to chew your food more slowly, you will eat less. Between 30-50 chews per mouthful – the close to 50 the better. (Of course, if your food disappears or liquifies before then, you don’t have to keep chewing!)

What you eat is a bit of a no brainer. In case you missed the world wide news, whole foods (that is foods eaten as close to their original form as possible) are far better for you. Why? Because anything that is done to a food other than cooking it, that is putting it in a packet and storing it, or turning it into something else (like potatoes into potato chips) reduces it’s quality, and introduces a bunch of chemicals into your system.

When you eat is also really important. You really need to have three hours between your last meal, and returning for the evening. That gives you body time to digest and you’re not sleeping on it.

Tip 4 – BE REALISTIC

Make sure that what you want to achieve is realistic. If you want to lose five kilos, and you love ice cream, saying you’ll never eat ice cream again is not going to work. Instead, identify times when you can reward yourself with an ice cream. Incorporate it into your plan for the week and enjoy it. It probably won’t be too long before you’ll look at the ice cream and decide it’s not worth it!

Tip 5 – SHARE YOUR GOALS

It’s easier to achieve your resolutions when you have buddies to help you achieve it. They may not have to do anything with you, like the gym, but they will notice the changes because they are aware of them. Friends can also support you when you’re finding the going a bit tough.

Next week I’ll have Part 2 of the Top 10 Tips on how to make your New Year’s Resolutions STICK!

Please get in touch if you have any resolutions you want to share, or any questions you want to ask.

Until then, Happy New Year!

cheers, Meredith

Me in August 2015