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The Brown Fat Secret to Weight Loss

“If I continue to follow the TKS food plan once I’ve reached my goal weight, will my metabolism slow down due to the calorie intake being lower than that of a ‘standard’ diet?” This is a question I have often been asked over time. Well, it is definitely a very valid question, with so much misinformation around ketogenic eating and how it affects metabolism circulating on the Internet. 

Let me assure you: The answer is a definite “no”! To maintain at a healthy weight long term, it is important to keep a healthy lower-carb, higher-healthy fat balance. There are plenty of options to achieve this on a program like TKS once you’re reached your goal weight, by cycling in and out of keto and including higher-carbohydrate and lower-fat days.

To explain how this process works, let’s talk brown fat for a bit. This cutting-edge field of science is currently under a lot of investigation worldwide, and is not yet fully understood. But it is becoming more and more evident that brown fat has many ground-breaking benefits when it comes to our health, including weight loss and our metabolism.

Previously, we used to believe that there were only two types of fat: the adipose tissue or visceral fat around our organs – the bad, toxic fat that causes health issues – and then the subcutaneous fat that coats our skin. What we now know is that there are two types of fat within the subcutaneous fat. The one type is called white fat, which are the holding lipids or fat cells stored as energy for later use, such as that accumulated when you’re on a sugary, high-carb diet. Have you ever watched one of those horrible medical shows where they perform liposuction? The white or yellow fat that’s extracted is the stored white fat I’m talking about! 

The other type of fat found in the subcutaneous layer is brown fat. Brown fat has the miraculous effect of burning energy fast; in fact, it will burn twice the intake of carbohydrates. This is why once you are fat-adapted, carb cycling has no impact on weight gain. This is due to brown fat. 

Brown fat is packed with mitochondria (the powerhouse of our cells) and also so-called ‘uncoupling proteins’. What these do is they take energy from the food we eat and go through an uncoupling process with the mitochondria, which then creates heat in the body. So each time we eat our body temperature rises and, rather than converting energy into white fat cells for later use, it burns the energy straight away. So essentially, brown fat is the fat that burns fat; it’s a bit like a little energy machine!

If you’re eating a ketogenic diet and feel hot when you’re having a meal, this explains why! You’re most probably in brown-fat burning mode! I’ve had to shed a layer of clothing each time ever since I’ve started eating a ketogenic diet 20 years ago! If you can relate to this, remember it’s only normal! 

But wait, there’s more! There’s actually another form of fat within the subcutaneous layer called beige-ing fat, which promotes the browning of white fat into brown fat. You can promote this by upping the ante on omega 3 fatty acids (such as those included in TKS), like salmon, fish oil and coconut oil, thereby stimulating uncoupling proteins and activating fat-burning heat in the body.

Looking at some of the science around brown fat I have a theory which is heavily backed by anecdotal evidence within our TKS community: that during plateaus where we see reductions in our waist circumference, it could be due to a shift from white to beige to brown fat! Hence our waist shrinks while the number may remain the same on the scales. So keep taking your measurements ladies! 

With all this in mind, the lower our body weight gets, the more brown fat cells we accumulate, which then increases our fat-burning capacity and metabolism. Kids are the best example of this. They naturally have high amounts of brown fat in their bodies, and so can eat a lot more as they burn fat straight away. 

What I have experienced, as someone who’s been doing keto for a long time, is that this uncoupling process is working extremely well for me. When I went to Fiji with my daughter (a long time ago now), I ate and drank whatever I liked, including pinacoladas! I laughed to myself at the time, thinking I was going return home 5kgs heavier, but found that I was exactly same weight as before I’d left. Keto really is the secret to increasing brown fat and keeping that little fat burning machine running!  The same thing happened a few years ago when I spent a week in Rome enjoying pizza, pasta and Aperol Spritz. It seems I am immune to weight gain these days!

Nutrition aside, there are a couple of other interesting key factors to keep in mind when it comes to brown fat. One is that people who live in or are exposed to colder climates, naturally start producing brown fat cells. That excludes obese people who already have good insulation and so don’t require brown fat to heat up their bodies. 

In addition, there are two ways that can quite significantly increase our brown fat production other than maintaining weight that scientists have looked at. The first is to decrease temperature in our home. One study reduced the home temperature from 24 to 19 degrees Celsius and found it resulted in weight reduction of the people living in this environment. So this means, we can literally lose weight by living in a colder environment! 

The second way of increasing brown fat production is to turn our shower from hot to cold. There a many health benefits to this such as improved lymphatic and oxygen flow in the body, increased mental clarity and better mood, but exposing our body 2 to 3 minutes of cold water per day regularly can also produce brown fat production. Ice baths and cold water plunges are great, too; in fact 5 to 10 minutes is optimal. Our body remains cold for up to 5 minutes; then it begins to regulate. Think Wim Hoff here, as combining conscious breath work into our regime regulates the nervous system. Shivering is GOOD for brown fat production!

If you don’t want to freeze your butt off to increase your brown fat production, milder temperature-reducing methods will do the trick. One is to reduce your heating around the home in the colder months and also in bed. Keep your room cool at night, use blankets instead of a heater and don’t sleep with an electric blanket on! Also don’t be one of those cooped-up people who are afraid to go for a walk on a brisk winter’s day! My family and I love to sit wrapped up outside in the cold at night watching the moon and stars… and it works wonders for the soul, too!

Another trick to kicking those brown fats into action is by including the equivalent of one jalapeño, 1/3 tsp cayenne pepper or half a tsp chilli flakes in your daily meals. This will create thermogenesis (heat production) in the body, stimulate the uncoupling process and serve as a browning tool for white fat into brown fat. Curcumin and turmeric also help turn white fat into brown fat, while arginine-rich foods such as seeds and nuts are worth including, too, as they contain uncoupling proteins and can increase brown fat production.

Remember, self-preservation has very little to do with calorie intake. If we give our body the required nutrients, it’s not starving. This is why I don’t like the whole ‘calorie in, calorie out’ argument and believe we need to take a paradigm shift around it! 

If you give your body the nutrition it needs, combined with the little tricks I mentioned above along with a bit of cold shock therapy, then you’re well on your way to keeping our metabolism in good working order and maintaining your weight long term. Go the brown (and beige-ing) fat!

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The Elixir of Fasting!

Until recent times, fasting has been a natural part of human evolution. In our modern world, however, there is an abundance of food choices and the supermarket provides us with an endless supply of not only fresh, but also processed, ultra-processed, preserved and chemical-laden foods. The abundance of food in our culture means we now have no ‘downtime’ in our eating for a start.

And, because of our ultra-processed diet, the body isn’t getting the building blocks it needs to grow strong and healthy. Think of nutrition and food as the ‘information’ the body needs to thrive. If we give it the wrong information, it will develop disease; if we give it the right information, it remains healthy.

Sometimes we need to sweep clean the toxins and reset our health. And fasting is great start to achieving just that!

Traditionally, we would feast on foods during harvest months, when they were in ample supply. And then, during winter, we’d move to rations and limit the amount of food we ate. It is estimated that women gained around 7 to 10kgs during summer and the harvest months, and lost that same amount during the ‘famine’ months. This led to the evolutionary process of storing and losing weight, and was considered healthy, normal and expected. 

Today, however, there are no ‘lean’ or ration months, and we continue to consume pretty much the same diet of three meals a day plus snacks, all day; every day of the year. The result of this is that humans are storing more and more body fat (preserved energy in case there is a famine), and are never allowing the evolutionary process of returning their bodies to a normal and healthy weight. From this viewpoint, one might begin to see why ‘dieting’ or restricting energy intake so that the body can access stored fat (energy) is a normal part of human evolution.

Today, however, instead of being forced to reduce energy intake due to famine months, we have to decide to consciously reduce our energy intake to give our body that necessary break. When we eat high carbohydrate diets, the body is switched into a store fat mode.  And if this mode is constantly switched on, we find ourselves gaining weight, becoming obese and moving into metabolically unhealthy territory where we increase our risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, heart disease, cancers and more. 

In recent times, there has been major interest by the scientific community to research the health benefits of fasting. It has long been documented that people with the lowest caloric intake have a longer average life expectancy compared to those who eat the most.  So why is that? 

The longest documented fast was in 1965 when Angus Barbieri fasted under the guidance of his doctor for 382 days, consuming nothing but water and supplements. He also shrunk from 206.7kgs (456 pounds) to (81.6kgs) 180 pounds.

While this is an extreme case, it demonstrates that the body has a miraculous ability to metabolically adapt to accessing stored energy (ketones) and using it as a safe source of fuel for the body.

Some of the scientifically proven results of fasting include improvements in blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol; a rejuvenated immune system, reduced visceral (unhealthy) fat, a lower risk of cancer and extended life expectancy. 

One of the major benefits of fasting is the body’s ability to achieve autophagy. This is when the body goes into a catabolic state and breaks down old damaged cells and waste into amino acids before reassembling these into healthy proteins to heal and repair the body.  It’s as though the body goes into recycling mode and re-grows and repairs itself. 

This state of autophagy can be induced while on a ketogenic diet, but you’ll experience the full benefits when a complete fast (in other words consuming just water) is performed.  The good news is, even a 1-day fast can stimulate these effects. This may be hugely beneficial for those who are on a weight-loss journey, as autophagy helps to break down excess ‘saggy’ skin and tissue that the body no longer requires after weight loss.

That said, longer fasts do have more health benefits, such as a 3-day or 5-day fast. 

Over the course of a fast, the body goes through a series of metabolic changes that increase day by day. Once the body is in a state of nutritional ketosis and autophagy sets in, the body will then begin to ramp up its ability to access stored fat cells and burn them as a healthy fuel source.

The fat cells are released and sent to the liver, where they are converted into ketones. The ketones then penetrate our cells where the mitochondria convert them into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which provides our body with the ‘electricity’ it needs to keep the cells alive, thriving and healthy.

Fasting is also known to increase the number of mitochondria in each cell, thereby improving our overall health, longevity and basically winding back our biological clock. Ketogenic diets have the same effect of building mitochondria, but fasting can really speed up this process. In fact, a healthy fat-adapted person could have thousands of mitochondria in each body cell.

I personally aim to do a 5-day fast at least every six months. I know the fasting protocol for cancer patients is to do a 5-day fast once a month. The advantage of doing a 5-day fast versus a 1- or 3-day fast is that on around day 3, the so-called mTOR pathway, which potentially allows cancers cells to tap into protein metabolism to fuel themselves, is shut down.

This means that, between days 3 and 5 of a fast, the body may be literally starving the cancer cells to death, while the healthy cells thrive of ketones for energy. Many cancers feed off glucose (sugar and carbohydrates) as their main energy source, however some cancers prefer protein or mutate into protein consumers. When the body is in a state of nutritional ketosis, these cells can longer access glucose, and when fasting for longer than 3 days, they can also no longer access proteins. 

Given that cancer cells are frequently found in healthy bodies, a healthy immune system can attack these cells and destroy them before cancer has a chance to grow into a problem. I like to think of doing 5-day fasts every six months as an insurance policy for my immune system as it ensures we are giving the body the best chance of destroying what shouldn’t be there!

For those who have never fasted before, the mere thought of it may have immediately created fear of having no energy and feeling hungry. In reality, the opposite is true.  When we fast, the hunger hormone Ghrelin, which sends feelings of hunger to the body, is shut off, and as the body is now burning stored fat as fuel, it has an abundance of this energy to burn. So we aren’t ‘starving’ ourselves, we are just accessing the energy we store through an abundance of food and overeating, thus helping the body shed excess weight in the process. 

Last year during my Coded for Growth 8-week program, Grace and I guided around 50 women through an online fast. It was the first time we had done anything like this online, and it was a huge success. One of the greatest positives to come from this, apart from the physical improvements, was that these women found an enormous sense of self-empowerment having achieved something they didn’t think they could. I went live every day of the fast and guided them not only through the expected physical changes, but also the psychological challenges and how to overcome their mind.  

Fasting has long been associated with religious practices, and one thing I know to be true is that it takes meditation and prayer practices to an entirely different level. It’s as though fasting speeds up the energy in the body (you literally feel so energised and alive) while quieting the mind. There is a sense of calm and wellbeing at the same time as feeling invigorated. I fast prior to live events and speaking engagements as it makes my mind super focused and alert, and helps me access my ‘flow-state’ more easily. As a highly distracted person (ADD to label it), fasting seems to enable me to focus in a more powerful and intentional way. 

On 1 October, Grace and I start a 10-day Switch Fast program, designed to teach, educate and inspire participants to go through a 1-, 3- or 5-day fast with us. I will be fasting with you, doing Live broadcasts every day, testing my blood ketones on camera to show you what to expect, and guide you through your own fasting journey. If fasting for health, longevity and wellbeing is something that interests you then this is an outstanding opportunity to learn how to fast safely under our expert guidance, alongside a community fasting at the same time as you. Fasting could just be the reset you need to get or stay on track!  

Click here for more information: https://deborahmurtagh.com/switch-fast

Love,
Deborah xxx

 

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Challenging the Beauty Myth – “I am enough”: From ‘body beautiful’ to unconditional self-love

Have you ever gazed at a child with admiration while they run around completely comfortable in their own skin? A baby never plays with their feet and criticises their delightful rolls, they never stop to question if they should hold their tummy in, or hide their body; they simply feel free with how and who they are. Oh, the innocence of prepubescent youth before society threw self-love under the bus!  

As girls start to develop, we begin the lifelong struggle of body image and self-worth.  While we are all born loving our body unconditionally, as time goes on we begin to develop our human ego and with it arise the perils of ‘the body beautiful’. 
That’s when question such as “Am I good enough?” or “Is my body beautiful enough?” rear their ugly head. Well, who bloody told us otherwise and why did we listen?

Me as a toddler. At this age, we had nothing but unconditional love for ourselves.

According to German-American psychologist Erik Erikson our “ego identity is developed by human interaction and how an individual becomes more conscious of themselves and their surroundings”.  It is at this stage that we begin to compare ourselves to others. 

By the time we reach our teens our body is no longer something we love unconditionally and can become the subject of harsh criticism and an object we judge rather than love.

Have you ever looked back at an old photo of yourself from 10, 20, 30 or more years ago to find the younger you looking healthy, youthful and slim yet at the time you felt overweight, fat or even ugly? Basking in the wisdom of later years, you may then think to yourself: “I looked great – what WAS I thinking?”

What would you tell your younger self now? 

As an experienced weight loss coach, I know we would all love to tell ourselves to stop worrying about what we look like and to love our body with far more compassion. So why is it so hard? What happens to our body and our self-image as we age?  

Our teens and 20s tend to be years where we are more self-conscious of our body than any other time in life. As we develop sexually and begin seeking a partner, we tend to take conscious care of ourselves. Seventy percent of gym goers fall into the age group of 18 to 34 years; it is at this age that we are especially mindful of our weight and figure. 

During our 20s we tend to compare ourselves to others and care more about fashion trends and what other people think of us.  

However, for most women, our 30s are spent running around after children and/or building a career. These are the years we have the least time for ourselves, have the least sex, experience the most stress, and our weight battle truly begins! 
No longer do we have the time to attend to the gym, we are tired and worn out from running after our precious little people and/or the boss, and we simply fall to the bottom of the list.  

Our pre-baby body that responded so well to weight loss efforts begins to slow down, and the energy we used to have fades. During these years a number of hormonal shifts occur and our body composition (fat/muscle ratio) begins to snowball into oblivion so that, as we reach our 40s, our lifestyle catches up on us. 

Our 40s are the years we seek to reclaim our body! At this time, health becomes a major motivator, and we become less concerned about being seen naked when  we change into our bathing costume. We begin to reflect on the kind of relationship we’ve had with our body, and start to reframe our self-image and body image. But for most women it’s a struggle.  

Reclaiming our body requires more than a simple diet or balancing of hormones; it requires a shift back toward self-love. Not to throw words around lightly, this is a challenging feat and begins with self-reflection.  

As age hits us and our beauty starts to fade, we begin a life review, which forces us to reassess both what we think and feel when we look into the eyes of the person we see in the mirror. We now know it’s time to heal and make peace with ourselves, so we begin to rebuild our relationship with our body.   

Culturally, this can be more challenging for some than others. I know having spent a year in Los Angeles, where youth and ‘the perfect body’ are rated so highly, that women over 40 can become almost unseen wallflowers. It’s sad, but a well-known fact in LA, and if I’m honest, I found it extremely confronting and triggering that certain pockets of society can be so shallow and ego-driven. Let’s face it, I’m a country girl from little ole New Zealand and my LA experience was enough to put me off living there. The bottom line? Surround yourself with people who appreciate and respect authentic beauty.

I believe that when we truly love ourselves and want to live the best life possible, we will take great care of being. We will want to be the healthiest version of ourselves and to do this, it’s vital that we approach weight loss holistically. We cannot separate the physical body from our mental, emotional or spiritual selves. While we may seek answers in the physical world, it is our emotional and spiritual world that will determine the long-term outcome of any diet.  

Having worked as a weight loss coach for three decades, there is nothing I haven’t heard and what I know to be true, is that weight loss is ultimately a mental, emotional and spiritual journey. We must heal our lives in order to truly love and accept ourselves. Sometimes that means facing our demons and challenging our inner critic; it certainly involves healing our self-image and our body image so we can return to the self-love we experienced as babies before the world told us we weren’t enough, and we started to believe it.  

The truth is, you are enough, no matter what you’ve been through and what you’ve done or haven’t done. You are enough and worthy of love, and you are worthy of living a healthy and long, happy life. So what can you do for yourself today to hush the inner critic? Whatever you tell yourself, you will eventually believe. So start each day by putting on some upbeat music and telling yourself how jolly fantastic you are! 

Love, 

Deborah xxx

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Mind over Matter: Say “Yes” to Life by Committing to a Mission Impossible!


Last week I embarked on an epic adventure that not only challenged my physical endurance in a major way, but was also the biggest mindset test I’d put myself through in years. A few months ago, Eric and I met an incredible couple who are true adventurers at heart, and they invited us to join them for a trip to their favourite hut on the top of a snow farm.

Our new friends had told us that some cross-country skiing was involved and that the hut was simple, but had a large fireplace and space where we could cook dinner together, play cards, have a few vinos and enjoy each other’s company. A couples getaway in an alpine environment sounded like absolute bliss. What could possibly go wrong? 

There were some questions around how good I was at skiing (it’s been 25 years since I’d skied), and they did mention it was quite an adventure to get to the hut. But being the ‘yes’ person that I am, I didn’t overthink things and before I knew it, the four of us were at the base camp of a snow farm, strapped into cross-country skis with an 8km trek ahead of us. It was late in the afternoon with a snowstorm brewing and a deadline to reach the hut before dark. To say our mountain crew was a bit concerned was an understatement.  

Eric and I had never cross-country skied before and let’s just say that my 6 foot 4” significant other isn’t only vertical challenged, he’s also a toe walker, making this journey even more of a challenge for him. In fact, as we ventured out into the elements, our friends weren’t convinced Eric would get the hang of it in time to get to our destination – the furthest hut on the mountain – in time before the dark of night and storm arrived.

So, as we made our way up and down the slopes of the trails, they sent out several search parties to check up on us. At one point, the snowmobile even dropped our bags off at a closer hut. However, our adventurous friends know this snow farm like the back of their hands, and so the hut they had on their radar was the one they were taking us to, no questions asked! 

That said, failure was not an option! Eric and I trusted them, so we pressed ahead in sub-zero conditions, with almost no visibility, and a few hours later, we finally arrived! That last kilometre up the hill, with my body aching beyond belief, was by far the hardest and I knew the only option was to dig deep and get my butt up there as the sun had already set and the hut was finally in sight!

Now let me be honest, I have not done that much hard-out physical exercise in years! Every single neglected muscle in my body was screaming in protest; some were even cramping, while others were simply laughing at me! But what do you do when you’ve committed to a challenge? You set your eye on the prize!

This experience took me back 22 years ago, when my second oldest daughter, Zoë, was born. During the toughest part of the labour my midwife had looked me in the eye and said in a deep, slow voice: “Deborah, Deborah, I need you to be strong in your mind about the pain you will feel.” Those words have stuck with me ever since, and again served me well in this gruelling yet epic adventure I’d found myself in.


Several years after Zoë’s birth, I got into running and the biggest lesson I learned during that time was to not think about how far I had to run but to stay in the present moment. Every single step forward and one foot in front of the other is all it takes to reach a destination. Back in my days of running, I’d reach for some of my favourite mantras to keep me pushing forward. Verse 64 of the Tao was a favourite: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.  I’d also hear the great Wayne Dyers voice kick in, telling me to ask myself, “Can I take one more step?” To which my body said: “yes”.  On our recent snow-challenged journey, I again used these mantras to see me through. 

At this point there was no turning back anyway. What it took was a strong mind and let me tell you, the mental challenge was intense at the best of times. There were moments where I just wanted to sit in the snow, cry and call for rescue! However, not only was I not going to let my friends down, I wanted both Eric and I to be proud of me. 

So, instead I focused on how great I was going to feel having overcome my mind and inner critic. I was determined to beat that negative voice, so it knew to never underestimate me again! It really was a case of overcoming my body and mind to reach my goal, and I knew that it was mind over matter and what was required was determination and a winning mindset. And that is why, instead of focusing on the screaming muscles, fatigue, freezing conditions and limited visibility, I tuned out the pain and set my mind on each step forward and the final rewards!

For many woman on a weight loss journey, it feels as if Mount Everest is standing right in front of us. The task at hand just seems so insurmountable that it’s often easier to find comfort in the distraction of television (or social media) with a bag of crisps or a block of chocolate that enables us to switch off from the Everest in front of us. We put it off until tomorrow, Monday or worse, the beginning of the next month or even year. We convince ourselves that just one more indulgence is required so we can give ourselves more time to prepare to muster on through the deprivation of giving up our comforts using willpower, so we can finally conquer Everest!

– The following morning on our way home

But when Monday (or another set date in the future) rolls around, another one of life’s stressors will inevitably come screaming. And then, once again, we find ourselves making excuses and justifying why this week or month isn’t the time we should embark on something so seemingly monumental.  

Sometimes we have to be our own coach in life and give ourselves a serious talking to. We need to get honest with ourselves about the stories we are making up, the excuses we believe are real and the self-defeating garbage that prevents us from taking action, and start saying “yes” to life!  Doing things totally outside of our comfort zones pushes us to grow. 


That night up at the hut in the middle of a huge snowstorm, the four of us danced and played and rejoiced in our achievements, and Eric and I were initiated into “Hut life”.  Our friendships deepened, and we talked about what other adventures we could experience together, and the love between Eric and me grew even stronger. We made a decision to stretch ourselves further and bring more adventure (variety) into our lives. 

So, whatever you do, I encourage you to say “Yes” to life, throw yourself in the deep end and test yourself beyond the edge of where you think your comfort zone is. I hadn’t felt prouder of myself or alive in years. It’s never too late in life to dive deep into the unknown.  Don’t overthink things, stay in each single second and eventually, you’ll arrive in a place you only ever dreamed was possible!  

Love,
Deborah xxx

PS. As day broke, the weather cleared and we decided to snow trek out rather than push our fatigued bodies back in cross-country skis. GOAL ACHIEVED! Hut Life initiation – complete!

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‘Keto’ – It’s Not a Diet, It’s a Natural Metabolic State – Dispelling some common misconceptions around ketogenic eating

It is not uncommon for many of my clients to hear comments from their doctors and friends about why they shouldn’t be on a ‘keto diet’. These include comments such as:

“Oh, you’re not on that diet, are you?”

“Oh, that diet is dangerous.”

“That diet is bad for metabolism.” 

“How can you put that much fat into your body?”

“That diet is not good for adrenal health and can cause thyroid issues.”

“You must go off that diet as it’s bad for your cholesterol.”

In reality, not a single one of these statements has any truth to it. Let me explain why.

Nutritional ketosis is a metabolic state whereby the body burns primarily ketones over glucose to fuel the body. When we follow a standard supermarket diet rich in refined carbohydrates and processed, additive-rich packaged foods, the body will convert carbohydrates into glucose. In response, the pancreas produces insulin to bond with glucose molecules and transport them inside our cells where organised structures called mitochondria convert them into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP delivers energy to the body and keeps our cells alive. 

As a side effect of this conversion process, harmful free radicals are produced, increasing our need for antioxidants to clean up the damage. Burning glucose is a bit like burning old lead petrol: it causes ‘environmental damage’ which the body must then compensate for.  

However, there is a much cleaner fuel option, which is healthier and far less taxing on the body. If we don’t consume enough dietary carbohydrates, our body will go to stored body fat, or dietary fat, and convert it into ketones in the liver. Then, instead of burning glucose, ketones will penetrate the cells and be converted into ATP by the mitochondria to become our major fuel source. 

One benefit of this is that far fewer free radicals are produced as a result of burning ketones; it’s more like a ‘clean, green, energy source’. Another plus is that the body does not require insulin to transport ketones into cells, as ketones are able to do this on their own. The positive spin-off of this is that the body no longer has to navigate constant adjustments of sugar and insulin levels in the body, thereby stabilising bloody sugar levels automatically. This explains why many type 2 diabetics are able to control and even completely reverse their condition within weeks of being in a ketogenic metabolic state.

So, the ‘keto diet’ isn’t a diet at all; it’s a natural metabolic shift that switches the body from burning glucose/sugar as fuel to using stored or dietary fat as fuel.

As such, to judge a keto diet is no different to judging a standard supermarket diet. Let’s say people walk into a supermarket and load up their trollies – one filled with unhealthy, chemical-laden, ultra-processed foods and another with vegetables, meats, dairy and natural, unprocessed whole foods. I can guarantee that these parties will eventually have very different health outcomes. So in reality, you can eat a healthy or unhealthy supermarket diet. 

The same applies to those modifying their carbohydrate intake, in order to induce a state of ‘nutritional ketosis’. One person’s trolley might contain a load of fake keto foods like Quorn, cheap fats such as canola and plenty of processed nitrate-rich meats, while the other person’s trolley may be filled with vegetables, quality meats, whole dairy, unprocessed whole foods and healthy fats, with a few modifications and limits on high carbohydrates. Again, these two people will eventually have very different health outcomes. And again, the truth is that you can follow a healthy or unhealthy version of a ketogenic diet. 

It is also important to understand that a ketogenic ‘diet’ is not a fad. It is possible to follow a ketogenic paleo, Mediterranean, vegetarian, pescatarian, carnivore, whole foods, shake-based or processed foods diet – and combine it with any kind of ethnic cuisine. Just as you can when you’re being metabolically fuelled primarily by glucose. 

Here are a few facts everyone should know about nutritional ketosis: 

  1. It’s not a diet, it’s a natural metabolic shift.
  2. Our bodies produce ketones and glucose all the time – they will always maintain a level of ketones and glucose. 
  3. When our body is in a state of nutritional ketosis, it will always maintain a healthy glucose level, as some organs require both. Our body will convert protein and even fats into glucose to maintain a healthy glucose baseline.  
  4. Babies are born in the metabolic state of ketosis and will remain there while fully breastfed.
  5. Breast milk is a ketogenic meal. 
  6. If a baby eats a high-carbohydrate food such as a banana, their body will usually revert back into ketosis within an hour (adults take 2 to 3 days). 
  7. Nutritional ketosis is a natural metabolic state. 
  8. Before excessive levels of grains and sugars were introduced into our diets, most traditional diets were very low in carbohydrates. Hence, our ancestors would have been in a state of nutritional ketosis, at least some of the time.
  9. Humans are designed for ‘metabolic flexibility,’ which means our bodies can easily switch between adapting to one primary fuel source or the other (glucose and ketones) while always producing both. It’s simply the ratios that will differ. 
  10. The number of daily fat servings you require (from as little as 3 to as much as 20) depends on our individual health goals and needs. Eating too much fat will prevent weight loss as the body burns dietary fat before it unlocks its own fat reserves; that’s why not all ketogenic plans are created equally. If someone is eating to control a medical condition and weight loss is not required, then they must increase fat servings to ensure they consume enough energy. If someone wants to lose weight, on the other hand, they have to reduce their fat intake to encourage the body to break down excess fat reserves. 

My program, The Ketogenic Switch (TKS), is a healthy, natural whole foods ketogenic diet that contains a moderate amount of just 3 to 5 servings of healthy fats per day. I teach people how to ‘fat cycle’ so that they can maximise their weight loss and health outcomes. For long-term maintenance, I encourage regular healthy carbohydrate cycling to help maintain metabolic flexibility whilst enjoying a wide range of ‘food pleasures’ in life. 

TKS is not a lifestyle of deprivation, but one that is focused on longevity, vitality and peak performance of body and mind. I hope this blog has helped dispel some of the myths you may have come across, and encourages you to give this lifestyle a go.  

Nature doesn’t get it wrong and we were born in a state of ketosis for a reason. And, with many modern diseases now proving to be the result of metabolic dysfunction caused by excessively high-carbohydrate diets, I believe this type of eating provides a solution for many struggling with metabolic diseases. 

Love
Deborah xxx

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WHY SOME OF US BINGE EAT AND HOW TO NIP THIS HABIT IN THE BUD


Do you habitually over-indulge on certain foods or beverages? Then rest assured: you’re definitely not alone! Many of us can relate to being obsessive-compulsive ‘closet’ bingers, who secretly raid the pantry of its not-so-healthy contents, or simply eat beyond our body’s needs. For some of us this happens occasionally, while for others, mindless eating becomes the order of the day.

Whether we’re overdoing it on the potato chips or can’t seem to function without a vino at the end of the day, there is a lot of shame around the topic of ‘over-eating’ as it’s easily frowned upon as something we ought to control. It’s not quite as simple as that. More often than not, bingeing is our way of unconsciously trying to cope with a negative emotion that we don’t know how to deal with otherwise.

In order to understand this concept, and learn how to overcome binge behaviours, let me start by explaining the main triggers and reasons for over-eating.

1. First, there are the psychological triggers, such as the stresses and anxiety we experience in our daily lives. A demanding job or tension in a relationship, for example, can lead to a negative emotional response that has us running to the cookie jar in an attempt to cope. 

2. A biochemical addiction to certain foods can also lead to over-eating. This is because certain foods release the feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin, which stimulates a calming sensation in the brain and gives us a temporary buzz or high. Refined carbs are the biggies here, because they’re full of sugar and sugar is even more addictive than cocaine! So it’s easy to see why a chemical addiction to food can get us into a binge-eating cycle.

3. Our cultural environment also greatly influences our eating behaviours. If we routinely catch up with friends every week for drinks and a meal out, it can be easy to over-indulge, or our family at home may have certain food habits that aren’t conducive to good health. Many cultures also celebrate their connection through food, and get-togethers often involve ‘feast environments’ where we may feel obliged to consume rich, traditional foods so as not to offend people.

The thing is, if we learn to define the triggers for why we personally over-eat, then we can begin to reframe these behaviours accordingly and instead turn them into an healthy approach. A great way to explain this in context is by giving you a run-down of some of our TKS ladies’ top personal issues for over-eating.


Boredom eating: If you eat because you’re bored, then you’re likely to be unfulfilled in one or more areas of your life and trying to fill the void with food. Plus you’ll probably be low in energy, lethargic and unmotivated as a result as all of the above!

My advice: Find a hobby or activity that inspires and fulfils you, something to get super jazzed about! When we are in a creative zone and focused on living our passion, we don’t think about food because it puts us in such a high vibration that we’re buzzing. Ideally, I’d recommend doing something that keeps your hands busy, such as painting, playing the guitar or exercising outdoors.

Now, if you’re a boredom eater, finding something inspiring to focus your energy on can be challenging. In that case, maybe revisit a hobby from your childhood or try something new you’ve been wanting to do but never got round to. And don’t make excuses such as “I have no time”. Creating a little bit of space even 5 minutes a day to investigate the possibility of a new inspirational pursuit will be well worth it.

“I like the taste of certain foods”. Okay truth serum alert: Those foods don’t like you! We all like certain foods, but it is NOT a reason to over-indulge, especially when we’re consciously aware that ‘certain foods’ don’t contribute to the positive outcome we want. You have to reframe this story in your mind. “I used to like the taste of that food, but it doesn’t really resonate with me any more!” You will be amazed at how this works because the brain does what you tell it to do!

How does this work? So, a while ago I bought a cronut (one of those donut-croissant combos), to find out what the buzz was about. Admittedly this custard-stuffed morsel was amazing. Not only did it taste delicious but also contained all the sugar and fat to stimulate that temporary dopamine high! Still, I only had a couple of mouthfuls. Why? Because I have retrained my brain and you can too! I was aware of the cascade of things that could happen if I allowed myself to eat like this and fall into those habits, especially over a year (increased weight, bad skin, lack of concentration, lethargy, feeling bad about myself afterwards…).

Instead of thinking of a food that sabotages your health with ‘love’ (as something that you relate the taste of to a temporary dopamine hit to lift you out of a state of depression), rephrase it to “I love the taste of the freedom and the energy level I have” – by omitting this food. Again, it’s our inability to deal with a certain emotion that drives this kind of eating.

Fatigue – The thinking here is “I feel tired/am exhausted after my busy day so I deserve to reward myself with food.” A lot of this stems from how we’re conditioned in childhood around being given treats as a reward for good behaviour.

Instead of actioning default behaviour (ie over-eating), it pays to sit with the emotion. I highly recommend soaking in bath with pen and paper and trying to identify the behaviour; then replacing the unhealthy food ritual with something that enhances your life. Remember, it’s not a matter of just ‘stopping’ old behaviour, but putting in a new daily action to get your place where you want to be.

With regards to fatigue, the TKS programme is the fastest way to overcoming just that, as going through the first detox phase is guaranteed to transform you energetically. Getting quality sleep is also a must. That’s when our body repairs itself – and we lose weight in the process.

Numbing out to unwind from stressful events. Over-eating could be seen as a reward for surviving a stressful day. Again, this is when food becomes a substitute for the lack of fulfilment. Instead, if we switch into passion mode by doing something we love, even when we’re exhausted after a long day, we will have energy to burn – thriving instead of surviving.

Emotional eating. Many people eat when they are happy, sad, anxious, depressed, angry, or all of these. As with the psychological triggers above, we get stuck in an addictive trigger-habit-reward loop. We experience the emotional trigger which activates our desire for our chosen habit, and just with the thought of eating a particular food, dopamine is released in anticipation of that food. This triggers us to seek that food ‘at all cost’. And so the reward to is the pleasure from the indulgence as we escape the emotional pain of the trigger. In other words, we avoid pain and seek pleasure. At the heart, this is addiction. The real damage however, many not be just what we do to our body, it’s the psychological aftermath of guilt and even shame that occurs when we feel like a failure, yet again.

So, to successfully overcome over-eating, it is essential that we change our vision, expectation and standards of what we want to achieve. And to change our approach from ‘should’ to ‘must’ and from wish list to action!

Begin by creating a new vision. List your reasons for that vision – that’s why the 50 Mindset reasons are pivotal to succeeding on this programme, and to living your best, healthiest life! Visualise your vision so that it’s clear what you want to create, and bring up the emotional intensity of how you would feel when living and realising it. Envision yourself emotionally free and enlightened. The more you can feel that, the more you will switch. And then look at daily habits you need to instil to create this vision.

Finally, a vision board is a great motivator and inspirational tool for changing your life around and achieving your goals. Look at images and words that inspire you in all areas of your life, including finances, relationships, social, career and health. At the centre of your vision board, put something central to your life that you want to manifest emotionally. Mine, for example, is a kids’ teepee that represents sacredness, the opportunity to go inward and create stillness.

Once things become a must-have in your life, you will find the resources to achieve the desired outcome – and that’s also the recipe for successfully beating over-eating.

Love

Deborah

Xxx

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Deborah’s Top Ten recommended books every woman should read

Our brain is designed to continue learning – it keeps us youthful – and our soul growing and expanding in awareness and wisdom. The following reads are some of my favourite ways to achieve just that! Many are oldies and goodies, and I’m sure you’ll gain as much from them as I do. 

I aim to get through one audio book a week. Generally, instead of playing music in my car (unless I have my teenager with me who insists on playing her music), I choose to drive around in ‘car university’ and take that time to absorb new information. On long road trips Eric and I often listen to relationship books together. When I drive to each retreat I lead, I always listen to Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. This always gets me in the zone to hold space for groups of women. 

Committing to your personal development takes nothing but the conscious decision to do so. I love listening to podcasts and educational You Tube clips while I’m cooking dinner; it’s a great way to multitask in a meaningful way. Several times a week, I also soak in the bath while watching a documentary or some of my favourite spiritual teachers in action. Ninety-nine percent of my ‘background noise’ or ‘entertainment time’ is non-fiction. 

With such a finite amount of time on this planet, we have a choice in how we spend our time.  Instead of blobbing on the couch binge-watching the latest series (I occasionally do that too when my brain needs a break!) I am always looking to use my time wisely by developing my intelligence and growth. At the moment, I am up-skilling myself in business, so am indulging in podcasts, online courses and audio books around next-levelling my business and its impact in the world. 

Whatever your biggest life challenge is right now, I recommend starting to absorb information from the experts and immersing yourself in it. And, regardless of the weakest area in your present life, that’s a great place to seek out ways to improve and expand in that area, too. These are often areas we don’t value as much as others, so it’s good to look at what you haven’t mastered yet and learn about it. Money is a big concern for a lot of people. When I was disempowered with money, I read countless books on changing my relationship with it, and learning about how to invest wisely to secure my financial future.  


Here are my top ten books I’ve selected to inspire you: 

  1. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
    This is my most read book. First published in 2005, I have read it every year since I first obtained it in 2007.  It is the quintessential book of learning on how to live completely in the moment and comprehensive teaching about the human ego. The teachings in this book prepared me for the loss of our home in the 2008 property crash and my ex-husband’s bankruptcy, which enabled me to let go and walk this challenging part of my life with dignity and grace. 
    Click here to view: https://amzn.to/3o83t0X

  2. Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton
    This is an essential tool for understanding the science behind how our belief systems impact every cell in our body. It covers epigenetics and demonstrates that we ‘are not our genes’ and that our own consciousness has the ultimate power to activate and deactivate genetic expression. This book will transform the way you look at your body and help you understand the power of thought.
    Click here to view: https://amzn.to/3IKQ0Wh

  3. Power versus Force by David Hawkins
    First given to me by me my dear friend and colleague, neurologist Dr Matthew Phillips, this book explains the science of vibrational frequency and the power of the emotional frequency scale. It demonstrates the purpose and power of unconditional love and I believe that is our primary mission on this planet: to obtain the frequency of unconditional love. Dr Hawkins passed away a few years ago and his teachings around consciousness are some of the best in history.
    Click here to view: https://amzn.to/3zes8Yf

  4. Why Won’t You Apologise by Harriet Lerner
    Humans make several communication mistakes that can rip families and friendships apart. This book has helped me both learn how to consciously apologise and also recognise why I couldn’t accept apologies from others. An example of conflict and apology is someone saying, “I’m sorry you feel that way”. This often evokes an emotional trigger in the receiver because they still feel unseen and as though their pain is not fully understood by the perpetrator. This book helps us realise that authentic apologies are about taking ownership and making someone feel truly heard, and it teaches us the skills to mend relationships and protect the ones we have.
    Click here to view: https://amzn.to/3uVxTaJ

  5. Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza
    Joe Dispenza is a ground-breaking forward-thinking author and teacher I have been following for decades. He covers quantum physics, neuroscience, brain chemistry, biology and genetics, to show you what is truly possible. He bridges the gap between science, neurological aspects and spirituality. In this book, he teaches the step-by-step process to change any aspect of yourself.
    Click here to view: https://amzn.to/3ogQoSV

  6. Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life by Dr Wayne Dyer
    The Tao Te Ching is an ancient book of wisdom written by Lao Tzu. There have been dozens of interpretations of this book over the years, however Wayne Dyer’s book makes these teachings relevant and digestible. The Tao comprises 81 verses of spiritual philosophy that really teaches us how to live in peace. One famous quote is ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’.  His are all pearls of wisdom that should be taught in school. 
    Click here to view: https://amzn.to/3IKPHe5

  7. Attached by Amir Levine and psychologist Rachel S. F. Heller
    This is a foundational book based on adult attachment theory, which I believe everyone should read. It helps humans understand themselves and others, which can instantly create deeper connections with the most intimate people in your life. As you learn about your own attachment style in love and relationships (secure, anxious or avoidant) and that of your partners, children and friends, you will quickly see between the lines of someone’s emotional patterns and needs. 
    Click here to view: https://amzn.to/3PwBgN5

  8. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
    This short but essential read will help you understand the way you like to give and receive love, as well as recognise the love languages of those around you. It has been a tremendously helpful book throughout my adult life that’s enabled me to speak in the love languages that are important to my partner, children and friends. When we feel frustrated that our partner isn’t showing us as much love as we desire, this book enables us to see that they are demonstrating love through their own love language and helps us bridge the gap in love communication styles, so both people feel appreciated.
    Click here to view: https://amzn.to/3yRgf9f

  9. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz 
    This little book is a crucial guide to communication. Don’t make assumptions, don’t take anything personally, be impeccable with your word – and always do your best. It has really helped me clarify communication before jumping to conclusions, to live in integrity with my word and to trust that while things may not be perfect, we can still do our best – and that that’s enough. 
    Click here to view: https://amzn.to/3yKL3rX

  10. Boundaries by John Townsend & Henry Cloud 
    The title says it all! This is a great book for people who suffer from ‘the good girl complex’ and teaches the art of setting and communicating boundaries. 
    Click here to view: https://amzn.to/3PeNYjN


Bonus: Quit Like A Woman by Holly Whitaker
If you are struggling with excessive alcohol consumption or even just want to cut back, this book covers the science of what alcohol does to the body and how crazy our accepted drinking culture is. It will make you think twice about how we socialise.
Click here to view: https://amzn.to/3ATG0YT


By committing to reading (or listening to) a book either once a week or month, we begin to expand so much. And it enables us to have more interesting conversations! I love chatting with people about the books they’ve read as it teaches us a lot about that person, too.

Happy reading and/or listening!


Love
Deborah xxx

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STARTING AGAIN

You’ve done it before and now you’re starting again – I hear you! Whether it’s jumping on the weight-loss wagon after falling off, or the lost kilos slowly creeping back on, you are not alone! In fact, it’s common for women (and men) to lose and regain the same 20 to 50 pounds many times throughout their lives. Think about your own journey: how many times have you ‘started again’?

And what about your physical fitness? How often have you gotten fit only for life to take over and have you slip back into lazy habits, resulting in loss of cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, and finding it’s a major effort to get going again? Plus now your body is older, you have more creaks to iron out and maybe your muscles have somewhat atrophied over the years…


The latter is one of the hardest restarts because our brain still thinks it can run 10 km, lift a certain weight, have us jump around a cardio class for an hour like we did in your 20s, or bend into a yoga pose that was once so easy. I feel you! There’s a deep sense of dread that arises as we realise that we’ve fallen off the wagon, are out of practice and condition, whilst knowing deep down that we HAVE to start again.  

We tell ourselves we will reach some goals, feel fabulous and never let ourselves slide sideways ever again! But then our brain searches for proof that this is possible before it realises that in the past, we’ve always eventually slipped sideways. That’s usually when the inner critic starts niggling; telling us: ‘why even bother; what’s the actual point?’  

So let’s look at the facts at hand. Maybe you’re not as bad as when you last started your weight-loss journey, or perhaps you’re even in a worse place. Either way, starting again is never easy and it takes a lot of courage to admit to ourselves (and sometimes others) that we’re dreading taking action because we’re afraid that we might fail again, won’t stick at it, or can’t even face the reality of where we are at right now. Yet deep down, there is a desperation and yearning to restore our self-esteem and wellbeing. 

Let’s face it, we all want to live a long and healthy life; no one wants to spend their days sitting on a couch pigging out on junk food whilst distracting ourselves from reality in front of the TV. The decades can slip by and before we know it, we’ve spent our lives in the world of make believe instead of living our true lives in reality. We don’t want to live the wrong life and then die! The thing is, to live a phenomenal life, we have to get into the arena to play!  

Speaking for myself, I recently started my yoga practice again after a couple of years of doing very little. It was petrifying to realise that as a woman counting down the months to 50, my body was so crooked and creaky, and shockingly weak! I guess the past few years of lockdowns between New Zealand and the USA, where I was stranded for a year, resulted in me spending way too much time inside and getting comfortable with it. My fitness, strength and mobility all seemed to have hit an all lifetime low; it was quite a wakeup call!

My first class was over a live zoom beaming in from a yoga studio here in Queenstown. I followed through an easy Hatha class (with my camera off) and couldn’t believe that not a single joint in my body was in balance with the other side. But I got through that class, collapsed into a hot bath afterwards and it was freaking bliss! My body was so grateful!  


So, my strategy to starting again was to book in and show up several times a week without excuses. I had to make these non negotiables and my inner critic (Miss Excuses) didn’t complain much after that. While getting started was the hardest part, the rest was easy and even pleasurable; it came with enormous benefits to all areas of my life. It also served as a reminder of how important it is to make ourselves a priority over everything else swirling around in our world.  

It’s interesting to acknowledge though where the mind often takes us. While many of us will relate to ‘Miss Excuses’ who needs no introduction, I bet as many of us can relate to an archetype I call ‘Little Ms Perfect’, who suffers from perfectionism. Luckily for me, I’ve done a lot of work on her over the past couple of decades and she rarely bothers me anymore, but she does like to add a couple of things to my excuses list that have prevented me from taking action for a few months. These include having to have all the right gear, setting up my space beautifully and vacuuming under the couch (you experience the dust covering under your furniture rather intimately when you’re in downward dog or child’s pose in your living room!). 

And the following morning, as I woke up with a few sore muscles, I remembered how I do love the feeling of soreness that exercise brings. So, instead of telling myself I needed a day’s rest to recover my body from the shock, I booked in that very same day for a Vinyasa Slow class (the beginners Vinyasa). I am aware enough of mindset psychology as to not create an excuse to let myself off the hook, so I didn’t! So, two days later, while my body was tired and my schedule full, I took my lunch break to do a full Vinyasa class and from there I was up and away! I was finally back into the rhythm of yoga, something I’ve loved on and off for over 30 years. Throughout that first week I felt an enormous sense of calm and wellbeing, my body was relaxed and the switch was made!  

Well, I tended to ‘Little Ms Perfect’s’ basic needs by finding all my yoga gear and having it ready and in one place in a basket so I didn’t get frustrated looking for things, which would inevitably lead to a ‘stuff it, I’m running late now, so may as well flag it’ attitude. I also did a basic clean of my lounge so I didn’t fixate on dust under my couch causing inevitable sneezes, and set up a candle on my coffee table with a jug of water so my soul felt that little bit more nourished… and in I stepped!  

So what does your inner ‘Little Ms Perfect’ say to you that might stop you from getting started? Sometimes she can literally overwhelm the nervous system causing us to grind to a halt and take no action at all. She’s the worst for convincing us that unless all our ducks are in a row, we can’t possibly start! If this sounds like you, maybe it’s a good opportunity for you to write her nonsense down and give her a bit of a talking to! This is a great strategy for figuring out what is real versus her way of giving you a long list of excuses to sabotage yourself with. She can be sneaky like that!  

Here are my tips for starting over:

  • Don’t let your mind negotiate or overthink things. It’s easy to talk ourselves out of things by making up excuses, valid or not. Just show up and follow through without thought! 
  • While starting over does take some mental and physical effort to begin with, repetition of new routines and habits do reprogram the brain in a very short amount of time and before you know it, your body takes over and it becomes an effortless process. From being a runner, I know that when I started going out for a morning 6 km/4 mile run, the first three weeks took some effort. But I distinctly recall a turning point moment when one day I woke up, put my running gear on and was out the door before my mind even came online! It was as though my body literally got me out of bed and out the door and that feeling stuck for years. I’d found that switch in my brain and it became a seamless exercise.
  • Get organised the night before. I knew that if I laid my exercise clothes, socks and shoes out before I went to bed, that one-minute habit left very little room for ‘Miss Excuses’ to talk me out my morning run, especially when there was snow outside and I required three layers of clothing plus a hat! On the flipside, if I had to wake up and think about where everything was, the bed would have felt too warm and cosy, which would have left way too much room for my mind to kick online and talk me out of it. So, make sure you make things easy for yourself by setting up your day of success the night before. And when it comes to your food, cook extra at dinner and place it in a lunch box ready for the next day; clean your kitchen before you go to bed so you wake up stress free. It’s also a good idea to up a beverage bar and have your morning rituals ready to do. Whether that involves a shot of coconut cider vinegar, psyllium in vitamin C and/or your favourite wake up beverage, have it all in a cool spot by your kettle so your morning ritual space is a pleasure to visit, setting the scene for a good day!
  • Trust that things will become effortless. Change does require a little conscious thought and a bit of negotiation to quieten the inner critic and her army of archetypal trolls. That said, within no time your body will crave these new habits and you’ll be feeling so much better for it; when that happens you know that you’ve made the switch! 
  • Stack as many reasons for making this change in your favour. Go back to basics on mindset by writing or revisiting your ‘50 Reasons Why’. Your brain responds to direct commands and in seeing the benefits of change. If you can’t think of 50 reasons why you want to make this change, write down 5 each day for 10 days when you first wake up in the morning. It’s a great practice to start your day with and get you into a positive, ‘kick into action’ mindset. You can add this to your morning gratitude practice.

    Five things I am grateful for are….
    Five reasons my life will thrive by making this change are…

  • Get support from a likeminded community, ask for accountability and then make sure you follow through by showing up! 
  • Stop wasting time by making excuses! You have one life on this planet SisStar, so stop wasting precious time and step into your best life by doing the things you might not want to do now, but that will give you the life you truly desire to be living. Ultimately, you’d only be making those excuses to yourself, so pull your big girl socks up and take action NOW!
  • Don’t wait for the perfect time as it doesn’t exist. The perfect time is right now.  ‘Little Ms Perfect’ will try and get her way with you! But remember that perfectionism results in only one thing: the opposite of good. Learning to live with 70 to 80% instead of 100% will result in a calmer, more productive and fulfilling life.  So drop the need to get your ducks in a row and just step into it knowing that nothing will ever really be perfect, but will always be enough. And believe in your soul that imperfections are what make you perfect just the way you are.
  • Surround yourself with inspiring people, books, podcasts and support groups that will elevate and hold you in a place where anything is possible. We are tribal beings who need each other to give us strength, hope and belief that change is possible. 
  • Just do it! Stop negotiating and overthinking it, keep it simple and easy, and find the ways of achieving success that fit your lifestyle. For me, that meant starting live online yoga classes because I was too busy to drive to town, find a park and walk across town to class. This strategy meant I could save myself at least an hour each day (5 hours a week and around 20 hours a month) and, being a live class, I had to register, say hi to my teacher and participate in an actual class. Scheduling a video or following an exercise app doesn’t work for my brain. I needed to show up, be fully present and have some level of accountability.

We don’t achieve living our best life by having money, ‘the’ body, the accolades, the relationships and so on. Living our best life comes from self-love and being able to accept where we are right now; where we want to be in the coming days, weeks, months and years, and knowing our why’s. No matter what challenges we might be facing, we always have the choice to care for ourselves, feed ourselves well, give ourselves incredible energy and build our sense of self-worth and self-esteem by showing up to nurture our wellbeing.  

Self-love is as much an action as it is a belief. It takes loving actions over time, to be able to authentically and truly love ourselves; without action, nothing changes. 

So what can you do today, to take action to start again? Leave your excuses at the door and step towards your best life one foot at a time! You’ve got this!

Lots of love
Deborah xxxx



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Chasing Happiness versus creating Inner Peace

Over the years of running retreats, I’ve asked hundreds of women what it is they truly want from life. It’s natural for most people to respond with “I just want to be happy”. Now I don’t want to blow anyone’s bubble here, but happiness is not what we truly want – it’s a myth. 

Happiness comes and goes, and is fleeting. We might obtain a goal that gives us a temporary ‘good feels’ rush of dopamine and we think, “Oh, this is happiness”. But that rush of dopamine that we experience in anticipation of achievement or reward will subside, leaving us in the same state of mind we were in moments earlier. In reality, we can only know happiness by experiencing contrasting feelings. What we really yearn for is inner peace.  


When life’s chaos circulates around us, bringing peace rituals into our life can make an enormous difference to our stress levels, and can help us cope with the most intense storms we might be facing. It could be as simple as playing calming spa music, diffusing essential oils, or watching a sunset. 

June’s full moon was called a Strawberry Supermoon. This is when the moon is the closest to earth over the course of a year. My family and I were fortunate to be snowed in during that time and ‘wow’, not only was it a beautiful full moon that appeared, its light hit the snow and illuminated our backyard to magical proportions. 

Just prior to that we’d experienced the most stunning sunset imaginable, filling our sky with pink and purple hues. So we bundled up in our warmest clothes, sat outside in our snowy winter wonderland and watched the sun set behind the mountains for a couple of hours! 

This video was taken in my backyard just before June’s Strawberry super moon, and is not colour enhanced!

Later that evening my daughter Amélie suggested that we head outside into the moonlight to build our snowman for the neighbourhood competition. Turns out we were a little over-ambitious and it took us an hour to just complete the base! 

Full moons can remind us to pause. In fact, the moon during various stages of its monthly cycle, gives humans a natural rhythm that has been used for millennia in farming, for example, as there are better times of the month to sow seed, harvest, fertilise and prune. Likewise, fishermen know when to fish based on the ocean’s tides and light on the lakes. 

Full moons can also stir up intense emotions. It is unknown why, but crime and suicide rates go up around full moons. I know I can be deeply affected emotionally by this energy. 

I remember having dinner one full moon evening with the head psychiatrist at Auckland hospital many years ago and he told me that he expected to be called out to multiple suicide attempts that evening. The police are well aware of increases in crime during this time – odd, but true. 

The full moon can affect our monthly cycles, too. Having raised three daughters, we’d usually all be in sync to menstruate at the same time around this time. You, too, if you live or have lived with other women, may have noticed that your periods coincided.

So in essence, nature and even our bodies are affected by shifts and changes to the magnetic pulls of the moon. 

Thanks to the magic of new phone cameras this was a shot taken at night in the dark!


My daughter Amélie collects crystals and cleanses them under the full moon; we frequently do this together as a family. She also journals and sets her intentions for the month. Things like “what am I letting go of,” “which affirmations do I need for the coming month,” and “what would I like to invite more of into my life”. 

The full moon invites us to pause to the rhythm of our planets and to check in on our mental, emotional and spiritual worlds. I really don’t think we do enough of that anymore. 

Creating morning rituals is one way of starting your day with a sense of inner peace,  while nighttime rituals can help calm your nervous system and increase your quality of sleep. Which rituals do you incorporate into your month to invite more richness, stillness and calm into your world? Below are six of my favourite peace rituals that may inspire you, too.

  • Start a journal and set intentions for what you want to focus on and create in your life. Writing down our thoughts is also a great way of processing our feelings and emotions, alleviating stress and giving ourselves permission to let go.
  • Set time aside for a bathing ritual, think bubbles, bath bombs, essential oils such as lavender, Epsom salts and a cuppa of relaxing herbal tea.
  • Play calming spa music, burn incense and light candles to set the mood in your space.
  • Factor in a digital detox, by creating clear boundaries around when you check your phone, and keep your phone on silent for a set time when you don’t want to be disturbed. 
  • Practise presence. Meditation is one way of being present and stilling your mind. That said, the aim here is to bring that same sense of peace into your everyday life. So for example when you’re in the shower, try to visualise all your muscles relaxing and the stress in your body being cleansed and swept down the drain. Or, when you are washing the dishes, take time to focus on how the water feels on your skin and how it moves.
  • Move with presence. Any kind of movement can be practised consciously and mindfully.  I used to run every morning for an hour in silence and a meditative state. But waking up in the morning and stretching in bed for just five minutes can also be a great way to land in your body and bring a sense of presence into your life. Yoga, walks, hiking in nature, stop and watch the sunrise or sunset, or any other kind movement offers a wonderful opportunity for calming your mind.  

Try compiling your own personal list of peace rituals that float your boat, and bring these practices into your daily life by setting notifications in your calendar to remind you to follow through. And remember, no matter what life throws at you, you can always bring a sense of peace into your world if you choose to. 

Love
Deborah xxx

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Conscious Sweetness – Do you have any?

Last night, I had a funny conversation with my family about the six tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent. 

Did you know that if you don’t satisfy each of these sensations in a day, you might end up craving them? 

Your body is designed to seek various tastes and variety. If you eat the same bland food over time, your body will eventually scream at you! 

Let’s take sweet for example. If you never eat anything sweet you are far more likely to fall off the wagon and overeat, or worse, binge on sweet foods. 

My partner, Eric, has a thing for chocolate and vanilla ice cream. It’s not an everyday occurrence or even a weekly one anymore. I’ve chipped away over the past couple of years at his dirty little habit and now its frequency has subsided. I did start making the joke that his vanilla ice cream craving was a childhood urge for mother’s milk, and that certainly made him reframe things in his mind! 🤣

That said, Eric doesn’t like sweet foods any other than these two. I will have a few thin slices of Granny Smith apple with a little smear of honeycomb, a bit of blue cheese and a walnut on top. He won’t eat the honey. 

If I add raspberries or strawberries to summer salads, he will pick them out. 

I’ll eat my keto chocolates, made with a tiny amount of maple syrup. He prefers milk chocolate! 

When I make Brussels sprouts, par boiled then roasted with free-range bacon, with a small slosh of pomegranate molasses, sliced almonds and a few dried cranberries, he will pull the cranberries out! 

People raised in the USA don’t seem to add sweetness to savoury meals the way Brits, Kiwis and Ozzie’s tend too. Mint sauce with roast lamb? He thinks I’m weird! 

However, last night I explained that by adding just a little conscious sweetness to your diet, you can prevent sweet cravings for ice cream and chocolate, and I think the penny finally dropped…

So, for those of you out there eating bland food, beware of the cravings. You are far better off adding just a tad of conscious sweetness to your daily meals, before your subconscious mind takes over and you fall off the wagon when the muffin in the café becomes too irresistibly tempting to say no to! 

Love
Deborah xxx