After being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), women often feel isolated and aloneleft with little information and a lack of real support. The symptoms are embarrassing and it’s not something we as women tend to speak about.  It can be challenging to find other women with the same diagnosis. However, you are NOT alone!

Here are 5 things you need to know about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome:

1. DIET, EXERCISE AND MINDSET ARE THE BEST MEDICINE FOR PCOS

Hormones can be re-balanced if you change your diet, mindset and lifestyle. A lot of women have done it, and so can you! Research suggests that diet and lifestyle changes are MORE effective than medication in managing PCOS. The best “diet” is one that is nutrient dense, has a good balance of carbs, protein and good fats, has low glycemic index (low GI), and contains no diary, refined food and sugar.

2. DRINK SPEARMINT TEA

This is life saver, due to its anti-androgenic properties. A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that drinking spearmint tea can help reduce hirsutism, or excess body hair, by reducing free and total testosterone levels and increasing luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. I suggest having 1-2 cups per day and always look of organic brands.

3. MAKE SURE TO EAT ENOUGH FIBRE

You should always make sure you eat enough fibre through fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Studies show women with PCOS benefit most when eating 25g to 30g of dietary fibre. So make sure you fill up on leafy greens and fruits to add fibre into your diet.

4. EAT SOME PROTEIN

By eating lean protein through fish, lean meat and nuts you will satisfy your appetite so you feel full. Adding protein to your diet is also a metabolic booster which is helpful for women with PCOS. So make sure to add lean protein to each meal!

5. STAY POSITIVE

Just because you have PCOS does not mean you cannot lose weight, and get in the best shape of your life. Stay positive and realise you can accomplish anything. Obstacles are only there if we allow them to be. So get on a healthy plan that works for you.

 

Featured photo credit: Contemplate via photopin (license)

 

Melissa-Madgwick-Leaders-in-HeelsMelissa Madgwick
Melissa Madgwick is a 30 year old woman who is on other side of healing from polycystic ovarian syndrome. Her life now revolves around health. She is an avid health advocate who specialises in working with women who suffer from PCOS and eagerly helps others overcome the PCOS disease holistically. She teaches other women to heal and recover from PCOS naturally.  For more information go to How To Heal PCOS Naturally – A Real Life Story or www.healmypcos.com.


Recently, Dr. Michael Thorn from the Foundation for Alcohol Research sat down with the ABC’s AM program to discuss Australia’s heavy drinking culture, which is showing little sign of abating.

“The number of deaths is four times Australia’s road toll,” he said.

“If we were talking about 5,500 deaths on our roads, I’m sure that all governments and all communities would be much more motivated to do something about it but it seems in alcohol’s case, that we’ve got a tin ear to the problem.”

The medical profession may ask patients to drink less alcohol due to concerns about the liver and physical health, and, of course, this is true. However, I believe there is a deeper and more concerning issue – a drinking problem, which secretly people are worried about.

I believe the Australian Government should be looking at why people drink, rather than the standard glass measurement. Reducing alcohol has incredible emotional benefits that I believe, once better understood, will help Aussies to train their brains to drink less.

Think of this winter as an opportunity to create new healthier habits about you and your drinking relationship.

It is the emotional freedom of living life without relying on alcohol that makes a person feel better about themselves. Cutting back on the booze may help to increase self esteem, clarity, calm and an emotional sense of balance. So let’s stop the scare mongering and crack on with a healthier drink less winter. Think of this winter as an opportunity to ditch the wine in favour of a healthier INNER YOU!

Following are 6 ways to ditch the alcohol this winter:

1. Replace that glass of wine for something that benefits you in the long run

Decide on a few alcohol free days a week, and replace that drinking time with something that empowers you like reading that book you’ve been wanting to start or that on-line course that you know you want to do.

2. Stay hydrated during the cooler months … without having to give up wine completely

Have ready a nice bottle of sparkling water with you before you sit by that lovely log fire sipping red wine. Then sip your wine, put it down and have a sip of water. Keep alternating. The more you practice this when you drink alcohol the more your mind will learn how to drink less. And the bonus is you are hydrating yourself at the same time too.

Reducing alcohol has incredible emotional benefits that I believe, once better understood, will help Aussies to train their brains to drink less

3. Trick your mind into thinking wine is not “attractive”

We tend to associate the longer, darker nights with drinking more alcohol, but it is just a perception. Instead of reaching for that glass of wine, put the wine in a mug. Your mind will not find it as attractive and it will put you off drinking it as quickly.

4. Try to disassociate alcoholic drinks from past events

Alcohol like music can trigger emotional memories – positive and negative. So if you feel a gin & tonic makes reminds you of when the love of your life broke it off with you, try to avoid drinking that alcohol. Put music on that livens you and makes you feel healthier about you, so you don’t want to drink.

5. Learn to relax and relieve stress in other ways

Alcohol does not improve sleep quality, in fact it does the opposite. For those who feel the need to drink to aid sleep, it means they have an overactive mind that needs to learn to be more quiet. So rather than the booze, a great way to do this is to listen to relaxing music or learn to meditate before sleep.

6. Analyse why and when you feel the need to drink

Keep an emotional diary of when you feel the drive to drink. Recognise that loneliness, boredom, anxiety and low self esteem are usually the culprits. Think about resolving this emotional problem without alcohol there. This will liberate you and inspire you as a person who doesn’t need to drink alcohol as a way to deal with life.

 

Note: When people cut back on alcohol, they will sometimes crave sugar. It is not that they have transferred their habit from drinking to sugar, but rather the brain and body have been used to a certain amount of sugar in the blood stream. When it can’t get it from alcohol it will demand it from food. This will pass as the body adjust itself over a week or two.

 

Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0

 

Georgia-Foster-profile-pic-Leaders-in-HeelsGeorgia Foster

Georgia Foster, originally from Melbourne, is a qualified clinical hypnotherapist who specialises in the Voice Dialogue psychology theory. Georgia has been a practicing therapist in London UK, since 1994 and runs regular seminars on alcohol reduction, self-esteem and anxiety around the world.


We all value our health, but many Australians do not make the right financial decisions to protect their health or ensure they are financially covered when they are sick or injured. Positive Lending Solutions provides insurance options for these types of situations. Here, Positive Lending Solutions Director Tom Caesar gives us his top 5 list of financial health decisions all Australians need to consider.

1. Do You Have The Right Health Insurance?

More than 47% of Australians have health insurance for a number or reasons, ranging from reducing tax, to ensuring they are treated in a private hospital, to reducing the costs of treatment. For overseas visitors such as 457 visa holders, it is a visa requirement to have adequate health insurance.

Anyone who has health insurance should regularly re-evaluate their policy to ensure they understand:

  • If they are covered for the treatments they are likely to actually need,
  • What out-of-pocket expenses they may incur if they do become sick or injured,
  • What additional benefits exists within their policy (such as discounted gym memberships)

The key is to be covered only for what you are actually likely to need, while ensuring you plan for future events such as having a baby.

2. Do You Have Income Protection?

While most Australians have an insurance policy to protect their house from damage, they are 45 times more likely to lose their house due to defaulted loan repayments (due to illness or injury) than in a fire. Most people do not account for periods when they may not be able to work and how it will impact their financial position.

Income protection can provide a ‘safety net’ for these periods, which is a great way to protect your assets through tough times.

Many Australians do not make the right financial decisions to protect their health or ensure they are financially covered when they are sick or injured

3. Do You Have Life Insurance?

Similar to income protection, Australians rarely consider the financial impact of unexpected events. In the case of your or your partner’s death, or being diagnosed with a terminal illness, it may become impossible to make ends meet.

Life insurance can cost as little as $5 per week, so it is an affordable way to achieve peace of mind. There is also Total and Permanent Disability Insurance to consider.

4. Are you up to date with immunisations?

Immunisations are relatively cheap compared to the cost consequences of being sick. A yearly flu immunisation (costing about $30) will protect you against the illness, and save you the days of work you are likely to miss with a nasty bout of the flu. Prevention is always better than cure, so make sure you regularly discuss this with your doctor, especially before each winter or when travelling overseas.

5. Are you up to date with health tests?

For many illnesses or diseases, early detection is key. There are many tests that you should regularly schedule (especially if there is a history of certain diseases in your family), such as mammograms and prostate checks. The differences between early detection and discovering issues later may mean less medical expenses, less time off work, and a faster, healthier recovery.

This post was written with the assistance of Positive Lending Solutions

 


Ahhh wholefoods. The word conjurs up images of blissfully sipping on roasted dandelion tea, plucking unrecognizable things from brown paper bags purchased in funny smelling stores and mindlessly stirring away at big pot of barley stew slow-cooking on the stove.

Wholefoods are for hippies, for people who can tolerate bland food, and for people who have a lot of time on their hands – not for a busy working (and hungry) woman, am I right?

Luckily, these outdated ideas about whole food eating are just that – outdated. I can’t remember the last time I bought anything from a store that smelt funny, I’ve tried dandelion tea once, and I don’t eat barley. Ever.

I do, however, love juicy lamb cutlets, I’ve recently discovered the joys of cold drip coffee, and you just try and take that brie from out of my hands. THIS is wholefoods.

In my world, there are plenty busy women who easily incorporate wholefoods into their lifestyle. They’re not some breed of superwomen – they’re just like you and me.

So where do you start? How much money will this cost? What if you try it and you don’t like it? What are ‘wholefoods’ anyway?

Wholefood eating isn’t as simple as “eat meat, don’t eat carbs.”

Wholefoods is not Raw, it’s not Vegetarian and it’s not Paleo. It’s not about low GI eating. It’s not a weight loss diet (although you might lose weight, and you can lose weight on wholefoods. Just ask Lola Berry).

A ‘whole’ food is one that hasn’t had too much done to it since it was pulled from good quality soil, plucked from a tree or came from an animal that fed happily and freely on grass before it was humanely slaughtered. There’s an absence of chemicals and anything else unnatural in its growth and processing. Wholefoods undergo natural processing that enhance the nutritional value of the food and improve the body’s ability to assimilate those nutrients– fermenting foods, soaking grains and legumes, and cooking at low temperatures.

A ‘whole’ food is one that hasn’t had too much done to it since it was pulled from good quality soil, plucked from a tree or came from an animal that fed happily and freely on grass before it was humanely slaughtered

The wholefood way naturally lends itself to the well-educated and the worldly because it requires ongoing thought, questioning and consideration.

Opting to go wholefoods could be the best thing you ever do for your health and the planet. Once you do away with the chemical concoctions commonly referred to as food in favour of real food, you can say hello to glowing and youthful looking skin, balanced hormones, better moods, regular toilet habits and weight maintenance without really trying (truly).

You could leap boldly with both feet into the world of wholefoods, but you’ll likely keel over within a week, having blindly wasted time, money and energy. Or you can accept my gentle offer of guidance and take, in this order, these 5 steps:

1. Adopt a wholefood mindset – know what wholefoods are and the positive impact that adopting a wholefoods lifestyle will have on your health

Wholefood eating starts first in the mind.

It begins by defining ‘food’ as something that should nourish the body, which should naturally lead to a search for the most nourishing foods, which will naturally lead you to focusing on the source and processing of produce.

That will make sense – eventually. My wholefood journey took five years to cultivate, and as my understanding has deepened, I’ve found it easier to make choices I once struggled with.

Visit the Weston A. Price Foundation website for a better understanding of wholefoods (Doctor Price is attributed with the return of wholefood eating), or read Sydney naturopath Anthia Khoullouros’s book I Am Food, and Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions.

Stop obsessing over carbohydrate and fat count, but rather source and processing. Ask of everything you eat: “Where did this come from?” and “what has been done to it?”. Look for foods as close to their whole and natural state as possible, that have been processed in ways that nature lent a hand to, rather than a machine in a factory or a bunch of synthetic chemicals. Realise the toll mass produced convenience foods has taken on your body.

The more informed you are, the less “but I’m so busy” will be a valid excuse, and you will naturally make the time in your day and the room in your budget for wholefoods.

2. Get familiar with the basics

If you’re unfamiliar with wholefoods, chances are you’re unfamiliar with a lot of its basics – grass-fed meat, fermented vegetables and drinks, bone broths, soaked legumes and grains.

Bone broth is really simple. I overcomplicated it in the beginning, thinking there had to be more to it. There isn’t. Learn from my mistake.

For the busy woman, bone broth is actually a godsend because you don’t need to watch it while it’s cooking and then you can use it for so many things.

All it involves is simmering bones (without or without the flesh) in water for around 8-12 hours (or longer), to draw the minerals out of the bones. I leave mine on overnight. When refrigerated, the end result should look and feel like jelly (except for fish broth, which doesn’t gel). There are loads of recipes floating around online. I recommend starting with chicken, then moving onto red meats, then fish (I personally don’t do fish broth, but if you love fish stews and soups, you’ll be right into it).

Stop obsessing over carbohydrate and fat count, but rather source and processing

This will become a daily staple – you’ll drink it plain, you’ll use it as a base for soups, you might even just eat it like jelly. Die hard wholefood lovers have it for breakfast. I promise you, a chicken soup made with store bought stock will never taste the same again.

Why eat bone broth? Two words: “nature’s botox”. Bone broth is the Ultimate Super Food, providing a host of minerals in a form the body can easily assimilate. It’s also healing for the gut.

Fermented (or “cultured”) foods and drinks

We’re not talking the yoghurt that you buy at the supermarket here; we’re talking the real stuff. If you haven’t tried probiotic rich foods and drinks like home-made sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha before, now is not the time to try to make these at home – you’ll find it fiddly, time consuming and wonder what the heck it’s all for. Instead, visit a wholefood grocery store and buy a few different types to see what you like. Cultivate an appreciation for something fermented first. Eventually, you’ll be including something fermented at every meal.

Once you’ve become accustomed to reaching for these foods often, you’ll become resentful of the hole they’re leaving in your wallet. Now you’ll be motivated to learn how to make them yourself (for about a third of the cost!).

My tips: If you like soft drinks and iced tea, Kombucha is a wonderful introduction to fermented drinks. If you don’t have any dairy allergies, milk kefir is also a delicious start. If at first you don’t like a brand of fermented veggies, try others – they all taste very different.

3. Start with your budget and work back from there

Once you know all the foods typical to a wholefood diet, figure out what your wholefood diet looks like – the foods you’ll eat regularly and the foods you’ll decline. This is where budget comes into play.

You don’t need to blow out your budget with expensive cuts of meat every night to do wholefoods right; in fact, wholefoods can be a very budget-conscious way of eating because you’re encouraged to use every part of the produce.

A chicken soup made with store bought stock will never taste the same again

Once you’ve transitioned almost entirely over to wholefoods, your grocery bill will probably only be slightly more expensive than it is now. If it’s not, you can easily make it so by eating more offal meats, more fruits and veggies that are in abundance that season, shopping at farmers markets, joining a co-op and making more things at home. It’s in the transition period, when you’re mixing things up and you’re still buying your commercial cereal as well as your kombucha that things will be expensive.

Depending on where you live and your access to good wholefood stores, you won’t have to spend any more time in the kitchen than what you do now BUT know this: the more time you spend in the kitchen, the more money you will save. Only you can determine that trade-off.

4. Invest in the right equipment – these will become your best friends

By now you know what you’re regularly eating and enjoying, and most importantly, where you want to save money by making things at home.

Save yourself some serious time and energy by investing in the right equipment.

Wholefoods can be a very budget-conscious way of eating because you’re encouraged to use every part of the produce

To ferment veggies at home, use regular mason jars and a culture starter or go pro and purchase Pickl-It jars with an air-lock. I can’t recommend these jars highly enough – you’re virtually guaranteed to get a good, non-spoiled ferment every time.

Do a workshop (and there are plenty of them around) in cheesemaking, fermenting, sprouting – whatever it is that interests you – because it is the fastest way to learn how to do things yourself. The experts offer plenty of tips when it comes to equipment and ingredients for your budget.

5. Keep it fun –there’s a wholefood world waiting to be discovered!

Don’t get all bogged down with seriousness and don’t beat yourself up if you nipped off to Coles for your veggies this week – you’re only human and this is a journey.

Wholefood restaurants, cafes and bloggers are springing up all over the place, providing an endless source of inspiration for your own wholefood journey. Have fun exploring!

Featured photo credit: DPerstin via photopin cc

 

Ilona-Marchetta-Leaders-in-Heels-profile-picIlona Marchetta is a freelance writer and publicist who founded A Wholefood Lover’s Guide to Sydney in 2014.

Ilona’s wholefoods journey began in 2010 when she sought help from a macrobiotic counselor for lifelong digestive issues. Finding herself in better health than she had ever been, Ilona began a quest to learn more about the connection between diet and health, and the idea of food as medicine. It led her to the wonderful world of wholefoods.

When she’s not eating her way around Sydney, Ilona teaches women entrepreneurs how to write media releases and do their own PR.


To goji or not to goji?

Hmmm, what a question! We now have access to many super powders, seeds, nuts and berries that guarantee you will lose 5kg’s in half an hour, and enjoy everlasting inner peace and eternal youth.

If only.

So, is it all a sham? Are they really worth the bank-breaking investment? Well my view is, if you do a bit of research into each of their health benefits and nutrient content, why not give your body the extra vitamin kick delivered from a natural source rather than a synthetic, fowl smelling pill?

“Let food be thy medicine”

Hippocrates said that in 460BC so it’s a notion that has been around for a while. Why not add a nutritional turbo booster to your favourite meal, smoothie or snack? If you buy them in bulk it can be cost-manageable too, you don’t have to go nuts (pardon the pun). It’s not hard to sprinkle a few chia seeds on your morning oats. They don’t even taste of anything and they pack a power punch of Omega 3 which, I’m reliably informed, is pretty good for your brain – and quite frankly, I need all the help I can get with my overworked head organ.

Stay Organised

So what else can we do to make it easy on ourselves? It is rather exhausting being so bloody healthy, but also just as much fun!

Back in my first post I mentioned that being organised is key to being a successful clean eater. This is probably a slight understatement. It has been much publicised that men think about sex every 7 seconds, well that’s probably how often I think about food.

Not necessarily eating but cooking, ingredients, recipes, researching, sourcing and shopping. If you think that’s a little excessive, well I guess it’s only the thing that keeps us alive and if you eat the good stuff, it also helps to keep us healthy. Of course procreation should be up there in terms of importance too but I have a feeling that’s not what the statistic about men is referring to.

Anyway, I’m with Hippocrates. He’s the man, shame it’s only taken 2500 years for people to listen to him.

Back to some tips for being a super organised super clean eater

Here it goes:

  1. Shop at Farmer’s Markets to buy fresh, organic sustainable produce
  2. When home from the markets, chop up vegetable and salad items and store in reusable containers
  3. Think at least two meals ahead at all times
  4. Keep a well-stocked pantry with clear labelling including emergency items such as wild Alaskan tinned salmon and Slim Pasta
  5. Bulk buy dried berries such as Goji and Inca and seeds such as Sunflower and Chia
  6. Try and keep a few hours set aside on Sundays to ‘prepare’ and plan meals for the week
  7. If you can, soak your grains, nuts, seeds and legumes overnight in filtered water ,with a little acid such as apple cider vinegar to ‘activate’ them to be used for lunch or dinner the next day. This sounds really poncy but it actually removes phytic acid, which is bad (just ask a Paleo)
  8. Multi task – use baking times to prepare other snacks such as seed crackers or no bake balls (link to last month’s article)
  9. Download clean eating apps or bookmark clean eating websites for ideas and inspiration
  10. Do not ever walk into a supermarket starving hungry, which means you need to take special note of points 3, 4 and 8
  11. Finally, if you are short on time or can’t get to a Farmer’s Market, you can order organic vegetables and pastured (grass fed and finished) meat online – you can even have them delivered!

So for a recipe this month, I am going to share one of my favourite wholefood chefs’ creations. Janella Purcell is a naturopath, nutritionist, wellness coach, author, environmentalist and TV presenter and these seed crackers are full of wholefood awesomeness.

Seed Crackers (that don’t break the bank!)

 

Seed Crackers made by Sally Harding

Seed Crackers made by Sally Harding

Ingredients

1 cup of water
1 cup mixed seeds like hemp, chia, sunflower, poppy and sesame seeds
Flax meal and pepitas.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 100oC.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the ingredients well, then season with 1/2 tsp good salt. Leave to sit for about 10-30 minutes to allow the chia and flax to get gooey. This holds the cracker together.
  3. Line a baking tray and using wet hands or a spatula, evenly flatten the mixture – getting right into the corners. Make it about .5cm thick. So really thin.
  4. Score into rectangles (whatever size you want them) and bake for an hour, then turn them over & bake for another hour. Then turn the oven off and let them cool in the oven.

Check out Janella’s recipe here: http://janellapurcell.com/2014/04/hemp-crackers-for-protein-week-these-litt/

Featured Photo Credit: Mourner via Compfight cc


Once upon a time, the best way to keep track of your fitness was a pedometer. It was nothing more than a small screen with a number that listed how many steps you’d taken since you last reset it. These days, as we’ve learnt to compress more and more technology into smaller spaces, we now have “smart” pedometers, or to use a more accurate term, fitness trackers.

These little babies do so much more than measure how many steps you take. These days, they can measure your heart rate, detect when you’re walking up stairs instead of on flat ground, provide an estimate of calories burnt, and even track your sleeping patterns. This data can be uploaded online, where you can add additional details such as the food you ate or other activities you may have done during the day such as cycling or swimming.

As you can guess, all this data combined makes for a very comprehensive overview of your overall health. So below is a quick round-up of some of the most popular ones on the market to date.

Fitbit One

(Image Source)

During the day it measures the steps you take, stairs you climb, distance you travel and calories you burn. At night, it can be strapped to your wrist to keep track of how well you sleep (by the amount of movement it detects). It even wakes you up with an alarm in the morning!

Behind the scenes, it also automatically syncs with any iDevices and Samsung Android devices via Bluetooth, or with your computer via wireless.

The app also allows you to log everything you eat and drink, as well as other workouts, and displays everything in simple charts and graphs.

Basis

(Image Source)

Basis is designed to look like a watch, and it’s able to show the time. However, it has sensors underneath that measure your heart rate, perspiration, and even skin temperature. Like the Fitbit One, it can also measure your sleep patterns and syncs wirelessly or via Bluetooth.

But where the Fitbit One focuses on slicing and dicing the collected data, the Basis app is all about identifying patterns and habits in your routine. It suggests weekly goals based on this analysis, tailoring them depending on whether you’re managing to hit them consistently.

Although the form factor is chunkier than a normal watch, and certainly more noticeable than a small device you can slip into your pocket, the sleek design means that you can still wear the Basis in most situations without it looking out of place.

Motorola MotoActv

(Image Source)

This nifty little fitness tracker is more focused on the running group. Unlike the others listed here, it uses GPS tracking to calculate the distance of your run, though it does count the steps you take and estimates calories burned. The other differentiating feature is the MP3 player, so you can listen to music as you run. If you get lost, a glance at the map on the display should get you back on track.

The MotoActv can be attached to a watch band, an arm band, or even a bike mount if you prefer. It can also connect via Bluetooth to a heart rate monitor, headphones, or your smart phone. Like the others, data syncing is automatic, and you don’t even need a computer; it can upload the data directly to the MotoActv web portal via your router. The standard option of a Bluetooth sync through your phone is also available.

If you have it paired with your mobile, the MotoActv can display notifications of incoming texts, calls, and calendar alerts.

This is only a glimpse into the large range of fitness trackers available. Nothing is ever one-size-fits-all, and it’s important to do your research to determine which one best suits your lifestyle and exercise choices.

Do you have a favourite fitness tracker? Share with us in the comments!

Leanne Yong

Leanne Yong is an aspiring author currently working in the field of IT consulting. She loves games, gadgets and technology in general.

Featured Image Credit