“Do you know what breakfast cereal is made of? It’s made of all those little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners!”
― Roald Dahl

Learning to to move well

Do you ever feel like you are taking one step forwards, followed by two steps back? Or maybe you stumble over your goals and slide down the slippery slope of trying to do it all? Does it seem like no matter what you do, that niggle just keeps coming back or do you have a constant pain despite feeling like you’re doing ‘all the things’ your Pilates teacher recommends? Or maybe you were doing really well and out of nowhere you’ve had a flare up?

If you are nodding your head, I have a question for you  – Did you know that healing from an injury requires more than movement? And did you know that feeling pain can be associated with more than poor movement habits? Did you know that physical ailments including pain and inflammation can be your body’s way of telling you something (and you most definitely are not suffering from not enough Voltarenitis).

There is no doubt that good movement is plays a huge role in recovering from injury, managing pain and supporting good postural habits. Pilates is one of the best ways to strengthen, lengthen and build healthy muscles while learning how to move well. Moving well equates to feeling in control, developing more endurance and having the freedom to take part in activities that bring us joy. 

Moving well gives us an opportunity to be involved in life. It means we can say yes to more and put aside our fears of not keeping up with our friends, family and community. We all want to feel included, be valued, to be a part of our tribe and moving well gives us the power to say yes when we want to and the confidence to say no when we want time out. 

Moving well demands us to move with regularity. It takes consistent practice and long term commitment which is how Pilates plays a role in empowering you. You book in to your classes, we teach you how to move better and we guide you towards living an active lifestyle while taking into consideration your personal needs and goals. 

So why is it, even if you are totally committed, always showing up to class and attending regularly that your pain or discomfort flares up?

Remember the saying ‘you are what you eat’

Diet plays a huge role in muscle building, cellular regeneration and the body’s own ability to regulate inflammation. More often than not these inflammatory markers are dictated by dietary and lifestyle choices. 

Knowing what is an inflammatory food can be very confusing and food brands have gotten really good at mixing word salads to confuse and conspire against you for their own monetary gain. Not to mention our own health system is so out of date and the bureaucracy of passing information on to the public means that the hospital and health system is approximately 12 years behind current scientific evidence available to those of us who are looking for up to date data. And in case you didn’t realise it by now, there’s no money in you being healthy. Which means that the only person who benefits from you being free from inflammation is you.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is your own body’s response to a toxic environment. Toxicity builds up in the body and can lead to chronic, systemic inflammation or long term all over inflammation which can be painful. Inflammation can affect your joints, organs and arteries. Systemic inflammation prevents our body from healing, contributes to poor sleep, can be psychologically exhausting and can lead to a negative cycle of making more poor choices that take you into a downward spiral of self sabotage and seeking help from sources that may be doing long term damage.. 

Toxins also have e tendency to hone in and attack our most vulnerable parts so if you have a ‘bad knee’ you are more likely to suffer from dietary inflammation in your knee when you eat inflammatory food. It’s just the way it goes, the enemy (toxins) attack the weakest (arthritic joints, old injuries) part of your body in a plight to take over the entire system and unless you are ready for battle (eating nourishing, anti-inflammatory food) then you will lose the war on your own health. 

So before all out war starts on your body which may end up presenting as auto-immune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain or worse, your body was busy trying to tell you something. Those incessant niggles are important. They remind you to make better choices, not to reach for pain meds or anti inflammatory tablets that only mask the internal issues and lead to longer term problems. The body will always communicate to you, and it’s up to you to stop, listen and honour those internal conversations instead of pushing them aside in favour of a ‘treat’.

Top 15 inflammatory foods

  1. Sugar
  2. Soda & Sports Drinks
  3. Fully Hydrogenated Oils (margarine, seed oils, vegetable oil)
  4. Trans Fats (packet baked goods, frozen pizza, pre-made dough)
  5. Dairy
  6. Fried Foods
  7. Grain-Fed Meat
  8. Processed Meats
  9. Excessive alcohol
  10. Refined Carbohydrates
  11. Gluten
  12. Artificial Sweeteners
  13. Preservatives, Artificial Colours, Flavours & MSG
  14. Pre packaged meals/food
  15. Food Intolerances/sensitivities

Feeling overwhelmed?

The list could be exhausting and overwhelming so rather than running away, start by choosing 2 things from the list and eliminating them from your diet. Stick to it for a month and see how you feel. If your niggles start to go away, maybe you will be encouraged to take another step towards better health and eliminate more foods from the list. 

Eliminating food doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Swap something bad with something good. Make better choices when you eat out. Ask for your salad minus the dressing and replace it with a slice of lemon, salt and pepper. 

Quality matters

Always seek to buy the best quality food you can afford. Inflammatory ingredients are often used as fillers in food products because they are cheap and produced en masse with high toxicity in the growing and production phase. Look for certified organic and always use whole food options over processed food to avoid toxic overload. I often hear people say ‘I can’t afford organic’ or ‘whole foods are expensive’ yet they won’t blink at spending $10 on a glass of wine, $150 on a trip to the hairdresser or $50 for acrylic nails. Make good food and good movement practice your top priority. The money you spend today improving your health could save you tens of thousands on medical bills in the future. Ask anyone who has been out of work with an illness, a knee replacement, cluster migraines or auto immune disease. Chronic illness costs the population more than the money we spend on good food… millions more.

Farmers markets can be a cheaper solution to organic shops. Find out where your local food markets are and get to know the vendors. Ask them what is spray free and choose fruit and vegetables that are locally grown and chemical free.

Tips on getting started

Life can be busy for all of us so making your food a priority might mean slowing the process of purchasing and preparing food down. Making a conscious effort to put extra time into food buying, meal preparation and eating might help you make better choices. Instead of grabbing a box of wheat biscuits and cheese as a snack when you’re running out the door, try holding out for a few hours, sip on some herbal tea and make yourself a healing salad with nuts on top. Yes – fasting is part of the anti-inflammatory process and snacking is not helpful or healthy and potentially contributes to inflammation.

Grow greens at home. It doesn’t have to be tough and you don’t need to have acres of land. Spinach, herbs and sprouts are super easy and take up little space. They can be grown on a window sill or balcony and are great for snacks or adding to water for flavour. Join your local vege growing community and find out what is easy to start with in your climate. Some communities even have garden share spaces at various locations where you can learn to grow more substantial vegetables and fruits and share the experience.

Buy meat from the butcher rather than the big supermarkets. Get to know your butcher and ask them where their meat comes from, whether it is grass or grain fed (grass fed is best) and can they supply you with produce that is free range and as close to natural source as possible. In Australia it can be difficult to find grass finished meat so even if it is grass fed, the cattle are finished on grain for the last few weeks which can lead to inflammation in their body due to the change in Omega fats. Remember grain fed meat is one of the inflammatory foods so know how your meat is raised. Start the conversation with your butcher and see what they can source.

Have your own chickens! Chooks are a constant supply of eggs, they produce amazing fertiliser for your garden and you can feed them your scraps so you know for sure they are fed with quality produce. Two chickens will produce enough eggs for a family of four. And if you don’t eat eggs (like me) then you can swap them for other things with folks who grow food in your neighbourhood or sell them to make some extra pocket money to buy organic produce!

Wholefood is food that is as close to the growing source as possible. Always choose wholefood over prepared food. Stay away from vegetables that are pre cut (like bagged lettuce or salads) and steer clear of vegetables that are sold in unusual sizes (mini cucumbers, mini carrots). The latter are loaded with chemicals and are genetically modified and both are sprayed with preservatives which cause inflammation.

Buy vegetables in their natural form and choose certified organic or spray free. Instead of buying pumpkin pieces, choose the whole pumpkin and get creative. In this article I talk about ketogenic lifestyle and how to make a yummy pumpkin bread which can be pre cut and frozen.

Make your own milk out of real nuts or oats at home, create your own salad dressings minus the inflammatory preservatives, learn to bake treats using wheat alternatives such as coconut flour, tapioca, almond and buckwheat flour. Check out our expanding range of healthy, organic alternatives in studio including nut milk bases, nut flour, Lakanto monk fruit sweetener and herbal teas. Our products are Australian grown where possible and always certified organic.

Cook chicken broth using a whole chicken in the slow cooker and you will have meals for the whole week! Read here for my article and recipe for chicken broth.

Be careful the wolf in sheep’s clothing

Changing eating habits can be a big step and sometimes you will jump in head first without looking at what you are actually substituting. For example, eliminating processed cows milk is a great start but just know that the soy and nut milk substitutes substituted at cafes and sold in supermarkets are full of sugar and hydrogenated oil so while you may be eliminating one inflammatory substance you might also be unknowingly adding two! 

Reading labels is a must. Ask the cafe to show you the milk they are using and if it has something on the list in it, opt for a black coffee or tea or simply make your coffee at home and buy organic nuts to make your own nut milk or buy your nut milk base from us in studio! Instead of having a coffee at the cafe choose a juice of the day or herbal tea.

It’s your choice

I often enquire about peoples food choices when I am working with inflammatory issues and most people will reply ‘my diet is pretty good’. But the fact is, many of us don’t actually know what is in the food we are eating, how it is prepared or what an inflammatory food is. 

Learn to ask questions and be okay with speaking up. Realise that fast food is cheap for a reason – it isn’t actually food and is contributing to inflammation and disease. Have conversations with your fav cafe peeps and find out what oils, flour and milk products they use so that you can make an informed choice when you eat out. Read past the marketing campaigns on food advertising and look at the actual ingredients.

Be truthful to yourself. If you eat a slice of pizza, a croissant or at the cafe, own it and accept that it may be the cause of your pain. See your choices for what they are, know the consequences and be okay with some discomfort if you just can’t say no or if you are going to a party and want to indulge. But also know that you get to make the choices and that your choices matter every single day. Poor food choices are the number #1 cause of inflammation in the body and you are the sole person responsible for what goes in to your body.

Oh and before I sign off, what we drink is just as important as what we eat. Want to know more about inflammation and alcohol? Click here