Month: October 2015

Stories I loved this week.

Photo by Greg Rakozy Ah, that freelance life. It’s full of ups and downs that I’ve just gotten my head around after doing it for the last 18 months. I’m going into my last week of my current contract and I’m now at the point (finally!) […]

I Tried It: Foam Rolling

Foam rolling. It’s so hot right now, isn’t it? Goop’s talking about it, Kayla’s released her own branded grid roller and many gyms now have rollers as standard in their cool down sections. But what is foam rolling? in a nutshell, foam rolling or myofascial […]

What I’m Reading: Better Than Before


Photo by Charles Yeager

I love self-improvement books. There, I admit it. I’m a relentless self-improver and love finding out about new (to me) life hacks, cooking & nutrition tips and general health & wellbeing advice.

I had read two of Gretchen Rubin’s books on trying to find ways to happiness and contentment, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home and loved them, but didn’t pick up her new book, Better than Before, until I heard her interview on Underground Wellness. Side note: who else gets surprised when you hear an author’s ‘real’ voice after hearing what they’ve written in the ‘imagined’ voice in your head while you’re reading?

What a great book. Gretchen tries to answer the question, “how can we make good habits and break bad ones”, with a number of different frameworks and models (i.e the Strategies of Monitoring, Foundation, Scheduling and Accountability) , all underpinned by the Four Tendencies, which cover outer and inner expectations. She posits that everyone falls into one of these four distinct groups, with very little overlap.

Upholders: Respond readily to both outer and inner expectations.

Questioners: Question all expectations, and will meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified.

Obligers: Respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.

Rebels: Resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.

Want to know which one you are? There is a great quiz on her website and it confirmed that I am indeed a Questioner.

According to the book and quiz results, Questioners:

  • Question all expectations
  • Respond to an expectation only if they conclude that it makes sense
  • Are motivated by reason, logic and fairness
  • Decide for themselves whether a course of action is a good idea and resist doing anything that seems to lack sound purpose
  • Want to make well considered decisions and come to their own conclusions
  • Are very intellectually engaged and are often will to do exhaustive research

According to Gretchen, “Questioners come in two flavors: some Questioners have an inclination to Uphold, and others have an inclination to Rebel; the first type accepts expectations fairly readily, the second type is very hard to persuade.” I’m definitely in the first camp in some areas in my life and in the second in others. I’m not a people pleaser, but I am very aware of both inner and outer expectations – and sometimes chafe against both.

There is a specific call out to exercise and how a Questioner can make an exercise habit stick that i found highly relevant:

  1. Design an exercise habit that works for your character and lifestyle (Strategy of Distinctions):  I like variety, I don’t have a lot of time and I like knowing that others are doing the same type of exercise I am. This is why Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide has really been working for me these past 11 (!) weeks. I can do the workouts in 30 minutes during naptime, the exercises change each week and there’s a huge community on Instagram that are super supportive.
  2. Consider exactly why and how a particular habit should be kept (Strategy of Clarity): I like the way exercise makes me look and feel (the why) and I know there are windows of opportunity on Monday, Wednesdays, Fridays and the weekend for me to grab 30 minutes to workout at home.  I have all the equipment I need, so it’s very easy for me to change into my workout clothes and go!
  3. Get more information about your habits by wearing a pedometer or charting your exercise (Strategy of Monitoring): Kayla’s programme is broken into days and weeks, so I know exactly where I am in the programme and she encourages everyone to take progress photos to compare and contrast.

Better Than Before is chock full of wonderful information that will helps to understand good habits and bad ones.

From a nutrition perspective, the section on abstaining is fascinating. We’ve all heard truisms such as “a little of what you fancy” and “everything in moderation”. But one person’s moderation is another’s immoderation. Or to use a Samuel Johnson quote from the book, “I can’t drink a little wine, child; therefore I never touch it. Abstinence is as easy to me, as temperance would be difficult.” Some people just can’t moderate in food, in drink, in consumption of television, etc. They just aren’t built that way.

I’m one of these people. I can’t just eat one square of dark chocolate (what a cliche!)  or a scoop of ice cream to satisfy a craving. I know that I’ll eat the whole bar or tub, so it’s easier for me to totally avoid these types of foods. According to Gretchen, “abstainers do better when they follow all-or-nothing habits. Moderators are people who do better when they indulge moderately.”  That’s why elimination programmes like Whole 30 work well for Abstainers – the all or nothing principle makes sense and takes no mental effort once you’ve decided to be done with a certain category of food.

The abstainer / moderator and Four Tendencies frameworks take us nicely back to the ‘no one sized fits all’ principle for nutrition. Everyone has different backgrounds, lifestyles, hormone levels and genetics. We also approach things in different ways, which is why it’s so important that nutrition and wellbeing programmes are built and customised for the individual.

Have you read Better Than Before? What do you think?

P.S. Don’t forget to check out Happier, the weekly podcast that Gretchen puts out with her sister, the writer Elizabeth Craft.

Stories I loved this week.

Photo by Chris Liu-Beers The clocks go back this weekend and I for one don’t welcome the darker nights. There’s something quite depressing about leaving work at 6pm to find that it’s already dark. But it’s not all doom and gloom. After all of the […]

There’s no one sized fits all solution in nutrition.

Photo by Dan Edwards As I move through the second year of my nutrition course and learn more about the body’s many systems, inputs and output, I realise more and more that there is no one sized fits all solution with nutrition. We are all so […]

Stories I loved this week.


 Photo by Roman Kraft 

And just like that, the summer’s over, autumn is here and I’m back to the books for year 2 of my Nutrition studies. I can’t wait to dive deeper into vitamins, minerals and micronutrients amongst many, many other topics as I build up the knowledge and expertise to start my own practice. 

Feminism is for little boys too. Great points about the early conditioning of boys: “as the parent of young children I see the small ways the conditioning of boys starts. The sludge-coloured clothes in rough fabrics (WTF is the deal with baby denim and those tiny “occasion” suits??) or t-shirts covered in aggressive slogans and imagery.” (The Pool)

Given the increased danger of growing microbial resistance to antibiotics, this is a fascinating article on using fecal transplants to rebuild gut flora. (New York Times)

35 meatless Paleo recipes. (Well + Good)

Loved Jennifer Lawrence’s essay on her experiences with Hollywood wage gap. (Lenny)

Great interview with Rhian, the inspiring CEO of Psycle. (Psycle)

Jumping on the bandwagon and loving it.

Photo by Matthew Wiebe I was never really much of an an athlete when I was younger and it was only after I graduated university that I started to embrace fitness. I started with running, then moved on weights, amongst many, many other activities. I’ve never […]

Stories I loved this week.

Jet lag is a killer, isn’t it? We landed from Toronto yesterday morning and despite the common advice to just adjust to the timezone you’re in straightaway, we climbed into bed and didn’t wake up until 3pm. I’ll take dealing with a toddler that’s awake […]

On becoming a naturopath.


Nutrition is complicated, eating is easy. Food is medicine. Moderation. Keep it real. Just eat real food.

There are so many different messages about health, wellness and nutrition out there. What should you believe? Who is right? And if you have kids, how should you feed them and look after their general well being?

It’s complicated and it doesn’t have to be.

Everyone is different and needs a different approach. The ‘keeping up with the Jones” mentality doesn’t work when it comes to health. Everyone has a different background, has been exposed to different food / toxins / environments and has different tastes. There really is no one sized fits all. And everyone has a different goal, from the mum that’s desperate for their child to just eat something to the gentleman that realises that they need to get in better shape to the perimenopausal woman that wants to take control of her hormones. We all have different objectives when it comes to health, wellness, nutrition and fitness.

Moderation for one person is immoderation for another.

This isn’t a lightning bolt moment. Just a confirmation that I’m on the right path, that I want to help people find the right health and wellness solution for them.

Roll on year 2 of my naturopath studies.

Stories I loved this week.

Photo by Jazmin Quaynor O Canada! We’re here! Everyone is so polite and it surprises me every time I visit. Not just polite in an obligatory sense, but in a genuinely interested way. I miss that. We’re here in Toronto for the week and it’s been […]