My Konmari adventures begin…..

All year, much longer than that if I am honest. I have been weighed down with the clutter and junk in my house. I am a bit of a hoarder and love to keep things just ‘in case’. I was told about  Konmarie and The Japanese Art of Tidying  in January and have been procrastinating ever since. After my last child moved out I really began to feel the urge to do something about it.

9781607749721

Click to buy

Last weekend when visiting a dear friend, she began the process in her wardrobe with me as bystander and cheer squad. She was quite pleased with the results and I could see how easy it was. Later in the week I watched a few YouTube videos on the Marie Kondo’s methodology.

I rushed out to buy the book hoping that I would be able to act on the knowledge within and not just add one more item to the clutter. I began to read it and realised that I had all the signs of needing a major overhaul in our house.

Where this method is different to others that ask you to throw items out, Marie asks you to choose the items to keep by deciding if that item brings you a spark of joy. She has a very regimented program beginning with clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous) then sentimental items when you get good at the process. This way your house will be filled with all the things that you love- no guilt and no regrets.

Wardrobe Detox

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Today was day 1 and I began on my clothing. I am embarrassed to say that these items had managed to infiltrate 3 of the 5 bedrooms in our home! I am also sorry to say that I did not take any before photos – I knew I should but I was embarrassed.

Unlike the suggested approach I did not take everything out at once but instead decided to do one category of clothing at a time (shirts, jeans, jumpers, scarves etc). I cleaned each drawer and shelf as I went and added some beautiful drops of my favourite blend of essential oils

  • Hormone Balance for my intimates,
  • Instant Calm for my PJ’s,
  • Energy and Vitality for my exercise gear

all from Twenty8.

 

It took most of the day but I am pleased to say that the back is now IMG_4803broken on my clothing addiction and I have greatly reduced the items in my wardrobes but I can see there is still a way to go. I also still have another days work ahead of me to complete the clothing task #1.

 

Cupboards are still full but not in the 3 bedrooms anymore. I am loving her folding techniques and have quite a few bags and boxes to donate.

 

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An individual’s genetic make-up and its effects on the likelihood of obesity.

Why is it that some people eat anything they like and never put on weight and yet others restrict their calories exercise regularly and yet still remain overweight? The answer could be in their genes.

dna 1

Current research has found that the most common reasons for obesity are results of how our genes work together and their interactions with the environment (Smith, 2015). Each of us has a unique set of DNA inherited equally from our father and mother. I have recently had my DNA tested and the reports for me were quite surprising! I have quite a few genes that predispose me to obesity – hence my lifelong battle with the bulge. It is the combination of these genes determines how our body acts such as “urging us to eat more, manipulating our metabolism, organising our fat-burning potential, mobilising the fat and our fat burning potential” (Smith, 2015).

epiEpigenetics overlays this structure as it is the interaction of environment on the DNA either turning it on or off -gene expression (AEpiA, 2015). Ideally a person would want to switch on the genes that assist us with body weight regulation and switch off those that deregulate the normal homeostasis of weight control.

Epigenetic influences begin as individuals are developing in the womb. Maternal nutrition during pregnancy has been found to affect the phenotype of the unborn child by means of epigenetic regulation of genes (Burgio, Lopomo, & Migliore, 2015). Obesogens such as the flame retardant BDE-47, BPA in plastics, PAH found in spray cans, and others have been studied by looking at the effects on obesity following exposure in mice. It is now considered irrefutable that early life exposure to these can alter the epigenome over multiple generations (Stel & Legler, 2015).

Therefore mothers need to be acutely aware that what they ingest, apply and the environment around them has subsequent effect on the developing foetus with long lasting consequences. We are very careful to regulate these factors in our house (we cant help outside or other places though).

Methylation and histone modifications are some of the known regulators of gene expression. They could been seen as the conductor of the body’s orchestra signalling to genes when to play (produce enzymes) and when not to (Smith, 2015).These are thought to play an integral part in the development and predisposition to metabolic diseases including obesity and type 2 diabetes (Kirchner, Osler, Krook, & Zierath, 2013). Methylation has recently been studied and it has been discovered that this process has the ability to turn genes ‘off’. The exact role is yet unknown but it also appears significant in embryo development (Phillips, 2008). Knowing about one’s DNA would identify genes that affect weight regulation and methylation needs and assist with weight management.

Some of the genes associated with obesity include FTO which affects 40% of the population. This genes signals when to stop eating. It causes people to overeat. Found in 25% of the population MC4R is known as the snacking gene, it affects the hypothalamus receptors that detect when energy levels are low signalling to the body to eat. I have this gene and need to be mindful when eating and regulate the amount of food that I consume.The LEPR gene is a regulator of leptin. It reduces leptin control. By knowing that you have this gene you might employ strategies to limit your food intake rather than relying on the ‘full’ feeling. I have used the Changing Habits 4 Phase Fat Elimination diet to regulate my leptin responses and to lose 30kg.
Changing Habits 4 Phase Fat Elimination Protocol
Emotional eating genes include DRD2, and OPRM1. These affect the reward systems of the brain and can have a role in food addiction. Metabolism is knepigeneticsown to assist with weight management but what if you have the genes ADIPOQ and UCP2? These genes are known to slow metabolic rate and how efficiently an individual uses energy from food. There are many more genes that affect the way that we respond to food and process it in our body (Smith, 2015). Genes play and integral part in our relationship with food and subsequent body shape.

So, weight management is not just a matter of self-control. DNA switched on and off through the epigenetics plays a role that has only just been recently realised. People who understand their genome are able to put into place some life skills to assist with weight management. It is important to know your own individual DNA blueprint to tailor your lifestyle and food choices accordingly as this is where ‘off the shelf’ diets will often fail.

AEpiA. (2015, January 5). So what is epigenetics? Retrieved from Australian Epigenetics Alliance: http://epialliance.org.au/what-is-epi/

Burgio, E., Lopomo, A., & Migliore, L. (2015). Obesity and diabetes: from genetics to epigenetics. Mol Bio Rep, 799-818.

Kirchner, H., Osler, M., Krook, A., & Zierath, J. (2013). Epigenetic flexibility in metabolic regulation:disease cause prevention? Trends Cell Biol, 203-209.

Phillips, T. (2008). The Role of Methylation in Gene Expression. Nature Education, 116.

Smith, M. a. (2015). Gene Genius. Sydney, Australia: Harelquin Enterprises.

Stel, J., & Legler, J. (2015). The Role of Epigenetics in the Latent Effects of Early life Exposure to Obesogenic Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals. Endocrinology, 3466-3472.

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Try something new… The first 6 months of 2016

This year I have endeavoured to stretch myself and try new things to increase my brain plasticity, encourage new relationships and hopefully live a longer and more fruitful life. My goal is to try at least one new thing each month. I see it as a sort of advanced form of gratitude as I am preparing myself to be thankful for new experiences and entering into the experience with an open mind. We are now 1/2 way through the year so it is time to report in about some of the activities I have tried. Some have already been blog posts!

January 2016- Engage a personal trainer

Moses has been looking after me all year. He listened very carefully to my goals and he tells me that my strength and fitness is improving. I wrote about why I exercise here

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February 2016– Complete my Nutrition Course and

Set up this Blog!

I had set February as the completion date for the Changing Habits Online Nutrition Course. I just made it to get my certificate at the graduation weekend on the Sunshine Coast QLD, Australia. This year long course set me up with so much information to assist me to optimise my health in this rather damaged earth. It challenged me to not to accept media claims and advertisements and to research, research, research for the latest ideas and little known truths about health and nutrition. From this I am able to mentor others and assist them to achieve their health goals.

After completion of this course I had the confidence to set up this blog and commit to regular writing.

March 2016– Two fun things

Shibori and Pickling Cucumbers (the last of which we are consuming this month!). Each of these had a blog post of their own.

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FullSizeRender 6April 2016-Coffee Enemas

Now this is something I have hesitated to write about! I have embarked of regular coffee enemas to detox my system and allow my body to deal with what it needs to do more easily. Surprisingly these have been very easy to do and if I get enough comments here I will write more fully on my experiences here.

May 2016 – visit an Asian island in a weekend, get off the plane and go to straight to work!

Visit Batam in Indonesia in a weekend. This year my husband and I decided to forgo the BIG holiday for lots of little weekends away. We have had lots of lovely times away, but the most ambitious of these was me visiting a friend in Batam just below Singapore. You might remember these posts.

June 2016- Start a new job

You might have noticed that I have been a little quite around here! This is because in June I suddenly decided to apply for another job and to my surprise I got it and started it all within 3 weeks!  This new job similar to my previous job as Teacher Librarian in a rather large ecumenical P-12 school but this school is a beautifully small P-6 Catholic school that is much closer to home. This has allowed me to adjust my lifestyle even further towards my goals. As you know exercise was one of my goals this year and now I am able to ride to work (all on bike paths) and stop for coffee with some other cyclists and wives on the way to work. Win/win as I get to both exercise and socialise and I am finding that this feels like a little holiday on the way to work!

Another reason it has been so quiet here is that I continued my other job as well for the first 5 weeks. This made me really busy. But it was worth it as I was able to properly hand over and say goodbye and attain closure to my old workplace of 10 years.

So what is in store for the next 6 months?

I plan to continue to enrich my life with new experiences, keep the pace of life under control, develop new relationships and meet new people while enjoying the freedom and comfort of all my existing friends.

Some of my planned endeavours

July 2016– Set up an area in my house to host missionaries on furlough as well as becoming an airbnb host.

August 2016- Attempt my biggest cycle challenge yet! A 270km fundraiser in the farming district of QLD (I have only ever been 77km in one go!). This is to raise funds for our drought stricken farmers and as a locally grown food fanatic – I need to support them in any way I can! You can contribute here JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

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Lifestyle Changes to assist with raising HLD levels naturally

You may have heard that we need to be raising our HDL Cholesterol for better health. As drug therapies have not proven that effective in raising HLD (Mahdy, 2012), people need to look towards dietary and lifestyle adjustments to assist to raise their HDL. It must be noted, however that these lifestyle changes are not considered universally beneficial and individualised treatments should be developed for each person (Davidson, 2002) based on food intolerances, allergies, DNA and gut health.

HDL

Reducing inflammation is the main goal (Amet, 2010) (Changing Habits, 2014) therefore dietary inclusions and modifications and other lifestyle factors should be implemented to raise HDL levels.

Dietary inclusions and modifications shown as beneficial to increasing HDL. So what does this mean…..how can we change just a few habits and increase our HDL?

Consider these little dietary and lifestyle inclusions to assist your body to manufacture and use HDL

  • Consider eating a moderate intake of butter (Engel, 2015), and saturated fats. These are the foods that make things taste yum!
  • butterTheobromine (found in cacao) (Neufinger, 2013) This is quite easy in our house as we love chocolate and drink Crio Bru daily and I make my own chocolate as well using quality ingredients that I trust and a recipe on Changing Habits,
  • moderate alcohol consumption (Eapen, 2010) Do I need to say more?
  • a low carbohydrate Mediterranean diet (Eapen, 2010), this does not mean lots of pasta and pizza, but rather lots of fish, seafood and vegetables with liberal amounts of olive oil.
  • water soluble vitamin B – Niacin foods (Eapen, 2010),download
  • anti-inflammatory foods including high omega 3 foods such as oily fish, tuna, mackerel, sardines, salmon, walnuts, green leafy vegetables, flaxseeds, and virgin olive oil (Eapen, 2010) (Awad, 2015)(Changing Habits, 2014),
  • carbohydrates restriction (with energy restriction for men but not women), (Amet, 2010)
  • reduce sugar and processed foods (Mahdy, 2012)(Changing Habits, 2014)

Other lifestyle factors include

  • giving up smoking (Awad, 2015) (Eapen, 2010) (Mahdy, 2012),
  • aerobic exercise (Awad, 2015)(Changing Habits, 2014)
  • weight loss if overweight (Awad, 2015)

All of these suggestions will assist with getting the optimum health we all strive for.
Changing Habits
 

Sources:

Ahmet Selçuk Can, C. U. (2010). Short term effects of a low-carbohydrate diet in overweight and obese subjects with low HDL-C levels. BMC Endocr Disord.

Changing Habits. (2014). Good fats, bad fats. Sunshine Coast: Changing Habits.

Eapen, D. J. (2010). Raising HDL cholesterol in women. Int J Womens Health, 181-191.

Frostegård, J. (2013). Immunity, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. BMC Med.

Ghose Bishwajit, M. -A. (2013). Insights on cholesterol nutrition: shift to a new paradigm for better cardiovascular. nternational Journal of Innovation and Applied Studies, 512–523.

Neufingerl N, Zebregs YE, Schuring EA, Trautwein EA. (2013). Effect of cocoa and theobromine consumption        on serum HDL-cholesterol concentrations: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. Jun;97(6):1201-9

Mahdy Ali K, Wonnerth A, Huber K, Wojta J. (2012). Cardiovascular disease risk reduction by raising HDL cholesterol–current therapies and future opportunities. Br J Pharmacol. Nov;167(6):1177-94.

Davidson MH, Maki KC, Karp SK, Ingram KA. (2002)Management of hypercholesterolaemia in postmenopausal women. Drugs Aging.;19(3):169-78.

Awad F, Contreras-Duarte S, Molina P, Quiñones V, Serrano V, Abbott E, Maiz A, Busso D, Rigotti A.( 20.15) [ANTIOXIDANT DYSFUNCTIONALITY OF HIGH-DENSITY LIPOPROTEINS (HDL) IN DECOMPENSATED DIABETIC PATIENTS]. Nutr Hosp. Sep 1;32(3):1131-8.

Engel S, Tholstrup T. Butter increased total and LDL cholesterol compared with olive oil but resulted in higher HDL cholesterol compared with a habitual diet. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Aug;102(2):309-15. Mahdy Ali K, Wonnerth A, Huber K, Wojta JCardiovascular disease risk reduction by raising HDL cholesterol–current therapies and future opportunities. Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Nov;167(6):1177-94.

Davidson MH, Maki KC, Karp SK, Ingram KA. Management of hypercholesterolaemia in postmenopausal women. Drugs Aging. 2002;19(3):169-78.

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What’s with Wheat?

I have just finished looking at this free screening of this video. It helped me to really understand the reasons why I feel so good when I am not eating wheat. Please take a look.

THIS DOCUMENTARY INVESTIGATES

  • What has changed in our wheat that is now causing a huge increase in celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
  • How modern agriculture has affected our wheat crops.
  • Why we as a society are getting sicker and sicker, including a rise in autoimmune diseases.
  • What we can do to make change to not only improve our own health but the health of our children and future generations.

It is free this week until the 30th June 2016.

What's With Wheat Documentary - opt-in page

And if you have specific questions go to
What's With Wheat Live Q&A opt-in

I can help you kick the habit with the 6 Weeks No Wheat program. I am qualified to mentor you through this course with my study at Changing Habits.
6 Weeks No Wheat Program

And if you miss the free screening, you can buy the video here-

What's With Wheat Products

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A weekend in Batam: Living on the edge!

The people and islands of Indonesia exemplify the saying ‘living on the edge’.

The Riau Malay people were traditionally fishermen who needed to be living close to their food source.It was only  35P1010117 years ago that Batam consisted of jungle, mainly uninhabited with probably only 6000 coast dwelling inhabitants.

 

Many of the islands still look and feel very traditional.

Batam though, is now an island whose center has expanded way too fast with unfinished high rise building projects littering the land, mass clearance of vegetation with little regard for conservation of the natural habitat all mingled with a potpourri of nationalities who arrive, sometimes illegally from the close neighbouring countries.

When we were able to get out of the frantic pace of the hastily made roads that pothole easily and visit the coast we saw the true personality of this beautiful place. The stilt houses protrude out from the island over the water and form small suburbs..

People live in community and when walking around the edge of the islands you experience a labyrinth of over water lanes and a maze houses all linked by bridge like structures. It is amazing!

 

Their behaviour too is living on the edge. Other than the relaxed road rules previously discussed, their parking lots – all manned by parking attendants show a clear disregard for order with cars all parked higglety pigglety in a dirt lot outside the ferry terminals.

Their building sites display a bold and courageous way of living life. Rickety shanty towns built of reclaimed second hand materials house families.

download (22)Building sites that are all over the island show disregard for what we take for granted as workplace health and safety. Houses  have few straight walls and dubious plumbing as they were probably hastily created. My friends tell me that it is very difficult to find skilled tradesmen.

Work sites too show workers precariously perched on buildings with no scaffolding nor

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This man working 4 floors up for a day.

safety harnesses.

 

This little island has tried to grow up way too quickly to be like its neighbour Singapore. It seems to be everything that Singapore is not!

I am saddened that the traditional cultures and way of life in Batam have become so Westernised so quickly. They have become another casualty of the world we now all live in -living ‘Out of Eden’.

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Views from Batam with Singapore in the distance.

 

 

 

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A Weekend  in Batam – Bikes and Boats and a Bridge

Getting around Batam, like many Asian cities I have visited is an adventure. Road rules are more of a suggestion and red traffic lights only mean stop if you feel like it. Lanes are flexible with cars and trucks travelling down the center line creating two lanes into three which, if you think about it, is a very efficient way of moving more traffic forward!
It is the motorbikes that reek most havoc. Appearing from nowhere they scoot around and through the traffic, often sneakily turning around corners on your left hand side – exactly where you are NOT looking.


My friend, Lee is a great Batam traffic driver, though it takes all of her concentration to navigate the chaos and mind read what the other motorists might be about to undertake. She has also become proficient in the center lane manoeuvre to assist with traffic flow. Very Batam!
It is the bikes that keep me amused as passenger on the roads. They carry all sorts of items with them on their bikes, large parcels under their arms, small children asleep heads propped on the the handlebars, bottle feeding babies nestled between mum and dad, large long objects on shoulders large woven basket panniers and some even are their workplace workplace with pie warmers or drink fridges traveling to wherever work might be for the day.

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Adults on bikes generally wear helmets but they are nearly never done up and I am yet to see a child with a helmet on! I was also amused to see some men and women travelling with their coats on backwards. It is hot and I certainly would have appreciated the breeze created by travelling but these men and women firmly believe that they would get sick by wind if they allow a breeze to hit their chest.

img_4237Along with the motorbikes the other vehicles to watch out for are the yellow vans who seem to be running a bus like taxi service and pull up whenever they like and pick up people from the street. This can happen with no indicators and at any point on the road. We assumed that there was some sort of system and payment for these services but it was all very irregular and seemingly unplanned with very few marked stops and no route signs.
As for island hopping one needs to go by sea. With hundreds of islands around getting from island to island requires one to travel by pancung a long timber boat with a canvas roof and sides that can be rolled up and down.

Somehow, and we don’t exactly know how, people just seem to know which boat is going where and when to get onto it! They just suddenly up and get on after sitting for a while, there is no announcement, no signage or declaration from the boatman it just all happens. As we don’t have this inner Riau sense, we needed to ask.
The seats are a plank of wood and spacing is definitely for a shorter race than we two tall Aussie girls! A quick island trip to a neighbouring island, cost about $1.50AU and it was wonderful to feel the cool ocean breeze as we sped towards the little isle of Blakang Padang ( Back Paddock in English)

The pier a long cement and steel structure was lined with motorbikes and an Asian Venice type scene  visible as the boats are moored to sticks protruding from the sea. In the distance, on a good day you can see Singapore’s skyline over the unfinished buildings and trash floating at the shorelines.sing batam

A great juxtaposition of cultures living so close together.
This particular island was a trading island so markets lined the streets around the pier. We took our thirds style of transport for the day, two becaks. As we are tall, even by Australian standards, and it was a very hot day we each had our own poor peddler and set off for an island loop. The day was hot and muggy as usual. It was good that the island was fairly flat though those poor men still had to work very hard on the uneven cement paths that wove through a variety of housing and mangroves as we circumnavigated the island. A few gears would not have gone astray to assist with the slight inclines as we went over small cement bridges.

Back to Batam, we visited our last stop for the day, Barelang Bridge. A smaller golden gate like structure that links two of the islands together. It is one of 4 bridges that allow people to drive from island to island rather than using boats. The most amusing part of thisP1010148 bridge were that mobile street vendors lined the bridge selling satay sticks, cool drinks, all manner of fried foods as well as a mobile photo labs to support the budding tourist bridge photographers. We were able to just pull up and stop on the bridge and get out to take photos! We were, of course offered all sorts of food and photographic packages and one enterprising young man tried to sell us a parking ticket!
We ignored him but in hindsight we may have needed to pay him as they can just decide to be a parking assistant, pay some money for a jacket and start policing their area. This is what we think happens but it is all so unclear.

What a diverse and confused culture for those not in the Riau-know! I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience it!

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