Getting into shape

It’s not only the journey of getting into shape, but also the journey of staying in shape that is important. This transformation will improve your physical well-being and your mental and emotional health.

To follow a healthier lifestyle, you have to firstly decide why it’s important to you, so the goal is more than wanting a number on the scale. By defining this, it will help you keep focus in achieving your health and fitness goals.

Guidelines to assist you along the way

  1. Set realistic goals

Before you start any health journey, you need to know where you’re heading. You’ll feel like you’re running in circles if you have no clear goal. Decide what you want to achieve and set a realistic time frame by looking at past experiences and talking to experts.

Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, improve fitness, increase endurance or just improve overall health, clear goals will provide you with motivation and a sense of direction.

Instead of having the goal to lose weight, define it better. For example, I want to lose visceral fat (fat around and in between organs), reduce body fat percentage by 5% and be able to walk 5km without being out of breath. I want to do this in a period of three months.

Also add in goals for general health, not just weight loss. This may include increasing fitness levels, lowering blood glucose levels or improving energy levels and sleep.

  1. Start with smaller changes first

Most people follow an all-or-nothing approach which may put you at either end of the spectrum. Both can be damaging. This leads to confusion, exhaustion, depression, and burn-out.

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, start with smaller, more manageable changes. Slowly introduce healthier habits into your daily routine while cutting out bad habits. For example, reducing coffee intake to two cups per day and adding in two glasses of water rather than trying to cut out all coffee and drink three litres of water a day. This way you build in doable changes, and it will be easier to maintain in the long run. Then slowly build on that foundation as you go.

  1. Incorporate an exercise routine

Make sure that you start off with or incorporate exercise that you enjoy in small amounts, to keep you motivated. Then build on that by working in variety and a balance between cardiovascular exercises (running, cycling, swimming) that are good for heart health and fat loss as well as strength training (weights, body weight or high intensity interval training) that helps to prevent muscle and bone loss as you get older.

The more muscle you have, the more energy your body uses to maintain it versus fat that is dry mass and not adding any benefits. Stretching is also important to prevent injuries and keep the muscles flexible.

Start of small with 10 – 15 min of exercise three times a week. Then increase to daily exercises, including stretching of 10 – 15 min. Next you can increase the duration of the sessions to 20 – 30 min three times a week while still doing 10 – 15 min stretching in between.

Depending on your health, you can ask healthcare professionals or personal trainers to assist and work with you on the level you are at.

  1. Follow a well-balanced diet

Most people see this as the most important step in getting into shape, but if everything else is not in place and you don’t have clear goals, unfortunately, you won’t see progress or won’t able to stay on track.

Together with exercise, sleep, water intake and managing stress, a nutritious diet is important in improving health and getting into shape.

With every bite you take, you make a choice between: health or harm. Start by reducing or cutting out processed foods and focusing on incorporating more whole foods (food in its most natural form).

Ensure you add in variety of food groups including fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and grains. Unhealthy foods like sugar, fats and processed foods can negatively affect your health and prevent or slow down progress. Also focus on eating smaller more regular meals with snacks like fruits, nuts, seeds or Fabulite Fat Free Yoghurt. The key to adopting a healthy balanced diet is moderation.

Allow yourself the occasional treat but ensure to eat healthy foods most of the time. Fabulite Fat Free Yoghurt Range is the perfect treat as it has the same sweet taste without the guilt.

  1. Drink enough water

This might sound like a simple thing to do, but the impact of drinking enough water during the day can be massive. Your body consists of about 70% water, so you need to maintain these levels as the body is consistently using water in all body processes.

When you don’t drink enough water, your body has to compensate in ways to try and maintain these processes. This causes unnecessary stress on the body. Constipation is prevalent if you aren’t consuming enough water. Any drinks that contain sugar or caffeine can’t be counted as water as caffeine dehydrates the body. Also ensure that you drink enough throughout the day (especially during and after training) and not all at once.

  1. Ensure sufficient rest and sleep

Sleep helps your body recover from stress and exercise; it’s the healing and recovery time for your body. Thus, if you don’t sleep enough, your body can’t function properly, leaving you exhausted and causing more stress on it. You need about 7 – 9 hours of good quality sleep at night.

You can always build up to this by making a few changes in the house to allow your body to switch off earlier. For example, this can be by turning off electronics earlier in the evening, dimming the lights, closing the curtains, having a cup of chamomile tea before bed and avoiding eating before bed.

Rest is another piece of the puzzle where you’re relaxing your body and mind to better handle the rest of the day or week. Rest includes spending time in nature, reading, listening to music, sitting in the sun with a cup of tea, spending time with loved ones, or going for a leisurely walk. Both rest and sleep are important in losing weight as well as improving health.

  1. Consistency and patience

Consistency is key in anything you want to change. You can’t do everything perfectly one week and then the next all the good intentions go out the window. Rather make the changes slowly and maintain them so that when times get tough, it’s easier to sustain.

You also need to be patient with yourself and the process. Your health didn’t decrease overnight, so you can’t expect your body to heal and get into shape overnight. The more you feed it with the right habits, the better and faster it will also heal and the more progress you’ll see.

Stay focused on your goals by keeping them where you can see them and celebrate small achievements, not only the end goal. P.S – just not by eating more chocolate.

  1. Tracking you progress

Find ways to track your progress so you can see how far you have come throughout the journey. You can do this through measurements (weight, centimetres, blood glucose readings) or you can take before and after photos to measure goals visually as well.

Tracking helps you to adjust where you might not be seeing the results. Keep a journal of diet, exercise, sleep, water intake as that will allow you and your healthcare professional to find ways where you might be lacking or overdoing something.

Every bit of progress adds up, so don’t get discouraged if you only lose 1kg in a month.

  1. Find a support system

Doing anything alone is not easy or fun. Add in the fun by doing it together with someone. Who said healthy competition can’t be good? You can also identify someone close to you to stay accountable to, to keep you motivated when things get hard. They can also celebrate the small achievements with you. These positive enhancements will help you stay on track and continue moving forward.

It’s a rewarding journey

Getting into shape can sometimes be a tough but rewarding journey. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people to walk the journey with you, keeps you motivated and helps you stay focused on your goals.

Everyone’s journey is unique so don’t compare yourself to others, and monitor your progress for where you are at. Keep consistent and one day you’ll look back and see how far you have come and thank yourself for the decision you made. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Go out and get into shape today.

Estée van Lingen is a registered dietitian practicing in Randburg and Fourways, Gauteng. She has been in private practice since 2014 and is registered with the HPCSA as well as ADSA and served on the ADSA Gauteng South Committee for 2020 – 2022.


Estée van Lingen is a registered dietitian practicing in Randburg and Fourways, Gauteng. She has been in private practice since 2014 and is registered with the HPCSA as well as ADSA and served on the ADSA Gauteng South Committee for 2020 – 2022.

This article is sponsored by Parmalat in the interest of education, awareness and support. The content and opinions expressed are entirely the health professional’s own work and not influenced by Parmalat in any way.

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Food, elements and seasons

Veronica Tift enlightens us on the food to eat based on seasons and elements.

Ever heard the saying, Feed a cold, starve a fever? How about chicken soup is a cure for a cold, or an apple a day keeps the doctor away? These old wives’ tales all have merit to them: food is medicine. Food is the fuel that you put into your body. The type of fuel and the quality and quantity you put in makes a difference to the energy that your incredible body runs on. Using good appropriate fuel is vital for longevity and for good performance.

Food is fuel and medicine

There is a lot of information on nutrition and there is widespread controversy on what is the right way to eat. By sticking to the flow of nature and eating what works for you as an individual, based on your element, could go a long way to simplifying and navigating the sometimes complex world of nutrition.

Health costs are rising and during lockdown there was a shift to many of Grandma’s remedies and alternative medicine like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Now the science is catching up proving why these remedies have stood the test of time.

The idea of food as medicine goes way back, to quote Genesis 1:29, “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.’”

Fast-forward to Hippocrates who believed in treating his patients in a holistic manner, with proper diet, fresh air and looking at lifestyle habits. 

Natures healing ability

Today there are numerous books on the power of food and the healing ability. Ancient healers and modern practitioners understand that everyone is different and that we each have our own connection with the earth and its elements.

As humans, we are wired to prefer nature. Everything about being outdoors is calming to the nervous system. Trees, plants, running water, rocks and wood are way more calming to the human nervous system compared to high-rise buildings.

Simply put organic beats plastic, both in the body and out. This also helps to understand the power of treatments like reflexology. Before the treatment has even begun, the setting is healing, taking the body out of being overwhelmed or over-stimulated to a natural rest state.

The body has its own wisdom and if you take a minute to listen, you will see that your body speaks to you. Think about being thirsty, your body has sent a signal to the brain which then makes your throat dry and you feel thirsty. This is where good choices come in, you can choose a sugary drink or glass of water.

Elements and seasons

The TCM system of medicine has stood the test of time because of its beauty, simplicity and because it looks at balance. The age-old concept of seasonal changes affecting human growth and well-being was rooted and developed in ancient China.

The five-element theory is key in the Chinese system, with each element Fire, Earth, Metal (or Air), Water and Wood all being associated to a season.

Everyone has the qualities of these elements living in them. It’s more of a metaphorical way of explaining and understanding the unique person each of us are. Usually, a person is dominant in one or two elements. However, we require a balance in all elements to thrive.

There are many online sites where you can find out what element you might be dominant in. This can give you insight into not only what food would better suit your element but will allow you to understand yourself and work on new strategies on how to best take care of your health. A good nutritionist or ayurvedic practitioner can help you find the right balance for you as an individual. Consult with your healthcare provider.

Once you have determined which element you are most dominant in you can allow it to guide you on what to eat in each season. Remember as with everything in life, balance is needed. Eating foods in season and minimising the number of processed foods is a great start in balancing the body.


Spring is a time to dance and shine like the sun and is connected to the Wood element. It’s the opportunity to look at what is old and not working, it’s time to bring new awareness in, making changes for good. More whole foods, fresh fruit and vegetables, salads, seeds, nuts and beans will give you the vital life force needed to make changes.Keeping things light, avoid fried foods, alcohol and chemical foods.

This is a great time to start reflexology if you haven’t tried it, helping your body with relaxation and clearing. Fasting could be another great addition to this time of year as a way to spring clean your system. Please only consider fasting under the supervision of a dietitian.


Summer is natures season of growth and is connected to the Fire element. Being more active during this time, you need a diet that helps to keep it cool and light. Nature to the rescue with fruits and vegetables on hand with fruits being the most cooling. Eat fruits during the morning and heat of the day, vegetables are perfect for night. Seeds, nuts and grain and good quality water, cucumber and citrus fruits are especially good; all add value this time of year. Be careful not to over-burden your liver with high caffeine and alcohol.

Ever seen someone eat burnt toast or love strong coffee? This could point to an imbalance; a craving for bitter flavours is associated with this element. A good way of satisfying this need for bitter flavours could be to munch on some green leafy vegetables.

Late summer, the Earth element, is the beginning of harvest time. Vegetables are growing big and plump; fruits are falling ripe to the ground. Natures gifts at this time year are apples, grapes, tomatoes, beans and zucchini. Grains are close to harvest and pumpkins and squashes are close behind.

Whole grains and good quality protein, seeds and sprouts, nuts, beans and dairy products, eggs and red meats, can all be part of the late summer diet that can continue right through to winter, helping keep heat and strength balanced.

Craving sweet things and not just sugar, but high carbs like potato chips can be seen when this element is out of balance. Learning to understand labels and reading ingredients becomes a key to unlocking what your body is craving.


Autumn is associated with the Metal element. This is the season for harvest; people who don’t like autumn show an imbalance in this element by having a hard time harvesting their personal energy. This is the season of gathering all the seeds that you have sown throughout the spring and summer, before the rest of winter.

Citrus fruits, grapes, apples, pears, walnuts, sunflower seeds, brown rice and wheat are already around this time of year. If you crave hot spices or strong cheeses, or maybe you can’t stand curry or peppery foods, either of these can point to an imbalance in the Metal element.


The season of winter is connected to the Water element. Find balance in this season with body warming foods, rest and plenty of good wholesome root vegetables, preventing cold from settling in the bones.

Using plenty of salt can show an imbalance in this element or finding food way to salty. With the colder weather, it’s time to eat warming foods, fruit will be less available, and vegetables are right there to take their place. Cooked whole grains are a great stable in winters and don’t forget those soups. Plenty of garlic, turmeric, ginger, and good quality proteins are also encouraged.

TCM principles about food

  • Don’t over eat. This causes stagnation in your body. Thinking about how lazy I feel after eating a big meal, I can totally agree.
  • Overeating or eating foods that aren’t aligned with what your body needs effects your vital energy.
  • How you combine food can also play a role in digestion. Eat fruit by itself, ayurvedic medicine tends to agree with this, your body uses different enzymes to digest grain and meat, so eating berries, for example, on their own is easier to digest.
  • Sleep is important for many functions including digestion.
  • Eat with gratitude and joy, appreciate your food. This can be done with prayer, or a deep breath before a meal. Put down the phone and take a minute to feel gratitude for food, it’s life-giving fuel and powers every cell in the body.


Inge Dougans Reflexology the 5 elements and their 12 meridian’s a unique approach; Thorsons

Axe, Dr Josh. 2021, Ancient Remedies for modern Life

Haas. Dr Elson M. 1981, Staying healthy with the seasons

Mary-Ann Shearer; The Natural way – a family guide to vibrant health, Ibis Books Jhb 1995

David R. Hamilton Ph.D.; Why the Woo-Woo Works; Hay House 2021

AYURVEDA Lifestyles Wisdom; Acharya Shunya; Sounds True – Boulder, Colorado 2017

Veronica Tift is a therapeutic reflexologist, registered with the AHPCSA, based in Benoni. She continues to grow her knowledge through attending international and local courses on various subjects related to reflexology. Veronica has a special interest in working with couples struggling with infertility.


Veronica Tift is a therapeutic reflexologist, registered with the AHPCSA, based in Benoni. She continues to grow her knowledge through attending international and local courses on various subjects related to reflexology. Veronica has a special interest in working with couples struggling with infertility.

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Eating right doesn’t have to be boring

Lynette Lacock explains that by starting small and choosing low-GI food options can ease the transition into eating right.

Your doctor has confirmed that you have diabetes. Eating right along with all the dietary changes you need to make have been discussed. On your way home, all you think about is how you’re going to have to worry about what you eat, how you cook, what to buy and how this will impact your family meals.

Where to start

Instead of focusing on all the foods you’ll have to avoid, start thinking of all the exciting new foods you’ll be trying. Everyone gets stuck in a cooking rut and ends up making the same meals that the recipe is longer needed. Now you get a chance to try new foods that you can share with your family and friends.

First you need to understand how to make better food choices. You need to learn which foods are diabetic friendly and why. The great news is that you don’t have to memorise everything or carry around lists of healthy food. You can google glycaemic index charts or download an app, such as Glycemic Index. Diabetes Diary that can help you make better food choices on the spot. Another good website is

What is a glycaemic index?

A glycaemic index (GI) rating lets you know on a scale of 1 to 100 how quickly the food will elevate your blood glucose. As a person living with diabetes, you need to consume foods with a low-GI rating (1 – 55) that won’t cause your blood glucose to rise quickly. You’ll soon learn that there are healthier substitutes for almost everything you’re currently eating.

For example, a white cooked potato has a GI of 90 but a sweet potato has a GI of 50. By changing the type of potatoes you eat, you can already begin to lower the overall GI of your meal.

Another example of something most eat every day is bread. White bread has a GI of 100 and brown bread has a GI of 55. So, by changing they type of bread you and your family eat everyday can have huge health benefits, even if you don’t have diabetes.

Glycemic Index. Diabetes diary

There are many ways to adjust your food choices without sacrificing the taste you and your family are used to. The free app,  Glycemic Index.Diabetes diary, has the GI ratings of most foods. It allows you to look up the GI ratings of foods you’re eating, and you can search for a similar alternative with a lower rating.

You can use it while food shopping until you learn which foods have lower glycaemic indexes. Plus, this app also allows you to add your glucose, weight and blood pressure readings.

There are other similar apps on the market. Find one that you like and familiarise yourself with the low-GI foods.

See the chart belowfor a few examples of foods and their GI ratings.

Start small

Start with a few simple substitutions and your family won’t even notice. Stews and soups are the easiest way to introduce new vegetables because either you puree them and no one is any wiser, or they are mixed in with everything else and go unnoticed.

Another easy way to make your stews is to use a slow cooker. The meat is always tender, and the vegetables start to disintegrate which is great news for those with kids who don’t like vegetables.

You can find plenty of low-GI recipes to suit your family’s taste. Even though you might hear a few complaints about all the new foods, your family and friends will never be able to say your cooking is boring.


Sr Lynette Lacock


Sr Lynette Lacock received her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and Biofeedback Certification in Neurofeedback in the US. She has over 30 years’ experience in healthcare which has enabled her to work in the US, UK and South Africa. Initially specialising in Cardiothoracic and Neurological ICU, she now works as an Occupational Health Sister. She is passionate about teaching people how to obtain optimum health while living with chronic conditions.

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Diet and job performance

Estée van Lingen, a dietitian, explains the importance of a healthy balanced diet to enhance job performance.

The modern workplace is often fast-paced and demanding, requiring you to be at your best both mentally and physically. Achieving peak performance in any job, requires more than skills and knowledge, it also depends on the foundation of good health.

A healthy diet plays a crucial role in fuelling the body and mind to help support focus, productivity, and overall job performance. It also prevents staff from being off sick regularly.

The relationship between diet and job performance

What you eat has a direct impact on your energy levels, mood and cognitive abilities. The food you eat can provide your body with the necessary nutrients that helps it to function optimally. Just like a car needs fuel and oil to operate, your body needs the right nutrients to provide it with the best energy possible.

The opposite is also true where the lack of the right nutrients can prevent you from performing optimally and having the correct energy, leading to mistakes in your job. Several studies have linked diet to job performance showing that individuals who maintain a healthy diet tend to have better productivity, decision-making skills and emotional well-being.

A balanced diet for optimal cognitive function

A well-balanced diet consisting of a variety of nutrient-rich foods is essential for maintaining optimal cognitive function. Nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals are known to support brain health and enhance cognitive abilities. Including unprocessed foods like fatty fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, pilchards and sardines), nuts, leafy greens as well as a variety of vegetables and fruits (especially berries) and whole grains in your diet can significantly contribute to improved focus, memory and problem-solving skills.

Balanced energy levels help to sustain focus

Maintaining steady energy levels throughout the workday is vital for sustaining focus and concentration. Consuming complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and vegetables, can offer a gradual and consistent energy release. This helps to prevent the energy crashes that are frequently experienced, particularly during the late afternoon, following the consumption of sugary snacks or heavily processed foods.

A steady energy supply ensures consistent productivity and mental clarity, enabling you to perform at your best throughout the day. Small servings of high fibre or complex carbohydrates can be consumed throughout the day, instead of all at once which can lead to a drop in energy levels.

Managing stress and promoting mental well-being

Work-related stress is a common issue that can negatively affect job performance and overall job satisfaction. A nutritious diet can play a role in managing stress by supporting the body’s ability to cope with stressors. Foods like avocados, dark chocolate and green tea contain compounds that have been shown to reduce stress hormones and promote a sense of calmness.

Other activities can also be incorporated to assist in managing stress like breathing exercises, going for a short walk during your work day, doing hobbies or exercising after work.

The importance of hydration

Hydration is another critical aspect of maintaining optimal job performance. Since your body consists of more than 75% of water, and all body processes uses water in some way, dehydration can lead to decreased cognitive function, reduced focus, and impaired decision-making abilities. It’s essential to drink enough water throughout the day to stay hydrated and keep the brain functioning at its best.

The requirements for each person are different and you can slowly build up to your unique goal. Start where you are at, for example, two glasses of water then slowly increase it with another glass per day for the first week then with two glasses the next until you get to about 1,5 – 2 litres of water per day.

If you have very light-yellow urine, it’s a good indication that you are well-hydrated. The darker it is, the more water you need to incorporate. Coffee and caffeinated drinks don’t count towards your water goal as it also dehydrates the body.

While you’re increasing water intake, you also want to decrease intake of caffeinated drinks. Herbal teas can count towards water intake as long as it doesn’t have sugar or honey added.

Customising your diet to your job.

While general dietary guidelines can be helpful, it’s essential to recognise that your needs may vary based on the nature of your job, activity level and personal health conditions. Consulting with a registered dietitian can provide personalised advice on tailoring a diet to meet specific job demands and health goals.

Basic dietary changes to improve the quality of your diet

  • Eat a healthy balanced breakfast. Breakfast doesn’t necessarily refer to eating as soon as you wake up. It’s basically the first meal you have. The key is to choose a time when you regularly have your first meal e.g. daily at 8am or 10am. Include a lean protein with breakfast, for example: eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, high protein cereal or nuts and seeds. Avoid refined and processed starches (white bread, pasta, baked goods) that will drop your blood glucose and spike it during the day, leaving you drained.
  • Have smaller more regular meals instead of one large meal per day. Regular meals can be anything between three to six times per day, but still sticking with your total daily allowance.
  • Don’t replace meals with coffee.
  • Avoid sugary or processed snacks during the day. For example, sweets, crisps, donuts, croissants, muffins, fizzy drinks, energy drinks, etc.
  • Have healthy snacks available that you can snack on when needed e.g. fruit, nuts and seeds, yoghurt, low-carb protein bars, eggs, Provitas with peanut butter or low-fat cottage cheese, avocados (mashed as a dip for raw vegetables or on a Provita).
  • Include protein with most meals as well as fibre in the form of vegetables, grains or legumes. Also add healthy fats to the meal such as olive oil, olives, avocados, nuts and seeds.
  • Plan and pack meals and snacks ahead so that you don’t end up at the office ravenous and ordering in or buying take-out.
  • When take-out is the only option, opt for healthier options e.g. grilled, not fried; have salads without dressings; leave out the chips; don’t add a fizzy drink to the meal; and decrease the portion sizes.
  • Take a break when eating (even if it’s just 10min) and don’t eat while you’re busy working. When you do these two things together, the brain doesn’t register you have eaten or how much you have eaten, and you can easily overconsume food. You’ll also eat much faster when you’re busy working compared to when you focus on what you’re eating which can again affect your digestive health.
  • It’s good to take breaks in between working. For example, when consuming snacks as this will also give a break to your brain so you can be more productive when returning to work. During breaks, you can consume water or walk around which will help you achieve your water and movement goals.

In summary

Maintaining a healthy diet isn’t only beneficial for overall well-being but also plays a crucial role in enhancing job performance and preventing illness and sick days. A well-nourished body and mind can lead to increased focus, sustained energy levels and improved cognitive function, all of which are vital for excelling in any job. By making conscious choices about what you eat, you can pave the way for success in your professional life while prioritising your long-term health and happiness. Remember, a well-fed mind is a powerful tool in conquering the challenges of the modern workplace.

Estée van Lingen is a registered dietitian practicing in Randburg and Fourways, Gauteng. She has been in private practice since 2014 and is registered with the HPCSA as well as ADSA and served on the ADSA Gauteng South Committee for 2020 – 2022.


Estée van Lingen is a registered dietitian practicing in Randburg and Fourways, Gauteng. She has been in private practice since 2014 and is registered with the HPCSA as well as ADSA and served on the ADSA Gauteng South Committee for 2020 – 2022.

Header image by FreePik

Making fitness fun

Monique Marais explains how you can make fitness fun and shares tips on where to start depending on your fitness personality profile.

Fitness means different things to different people. For some, it means taking the dog for a walk while others train for marathons and extreme challenges. Fitness programmes are followed for various reasons, ranging from health-related benefits to weight loss management.

Fitness is not a one-size-fits-all concept and you need to know what your personal goals are to achieve your desired fitness level, and you need to find the motivation to stick to the plan.

Finding that motivation can be difficult, especially when you’re trying to balance a busy work schedule and raising children. The main reason reported for irregular exercise regimes is the lack of time. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you are, however, more likely to stick to it in the long run. The key is to make exercise fun.

F – focused

U – unique 

N – new normal

Focused fitness

Have a clear goal of what you want to achieve. This will help you to stay motivated and identify exercises that will help you achieve these goals. Sometimes you may need some external motivation, so find a fitness buddy that has similar goals to you and motivate each other. Look for group classes or activities in your area that suits your time schedule, pocket, and goals.

Also make sure your goals are achievable. If you continuously miss the target, you’ll become demotivated with the process. Having someone to exercise with gives accountability, which reduces your chance of cancelling at the last minute.

Unique fitness

Find a form of exercise that is unique to your needs. Just because everyone jumps on the latest bandwagon, doesn’t mean it will be suitable for your needs, or enable you to meet your goals.

There is a wide variety of exercises available that cater for different levels of fitness. If you’re a beginner, identify a form of exercise that matches your level of experience and goals. If you’re more experienced, find a new challenge and commit to it. There are also various online fitness programmes and challenges which you can tailor to your needs and schedule.

If the conventional ways of exercising don’t motivate you to get moving, consider options such as trampoline fitness, pole fitness, rock climbing, trapeze, or aerial skills or even horse riding.

New-normal fitness

To achieve sustainability, you need to identify a form of exercise that can fit into your routine and that you will stick to. This might mean exploring different options before settling on something specific. For others, variety is the key, and they want to do different activities.

Know yourself and know your goals. A mind-shift is, however, required; this needs to become part of your routine, your new-normal, a lifestyle change. If you have children, remember that you’re modelling healthy lifestyle choices when you’re choosing to exercise regularly. Include your children when you do physical activities, this way you get to spend quality time with them while working out.

Exercises for all levels of fitness and ages

Benefits of physical activity

 What fitness personality profile are you?

Dr James Gavin (Ph.D.) formulated the following fitness personality profile to help you identify the best fit for you that will be fun and sustainable.

Remember to follow a healthy balanced diet when you exercise to further contribute to your health and weight loss goals. By eating healthy and regular physical activity, you’ll reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes, and manage symptoms of hypertension and diabetes more effectively.

You need to provide your body with the necessary fuel to continue in this fitness journey to prevent injuries and complications. Also check with your healthcare provider if you have any chronic conditions before starting a rigorous exercise regime.

Go out, get fit, get healthy, and have some fun while doing it!


6 Ways to Put Fun Back in Your Workout | MyFitnessPal

Fun Ways to Exercise: 23 Unconventional Workout Ideas | Bulletproof

Starowicz, J., Pratt, K., McMorris, C. & Brunton, L. 2022. Mental health benefits of physical activity in youth with cerebral palsy: a scoping review. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Paediatrics, 42(4):434-450.

Ntwanano, A.K. & Pule, E. 2016. Psychosocial and psychical benefits of exercise among rural secondary school students. European Review of Applied Sociology, 8(11):14-18.

Hosseini, S.A., Salehi, O., Keikhosravi, F., Hassanpour, G., Ardakani, H.D., Farkhaie, F., Shadmehri, S. & Azarbayjani, M.A.  2021. Mental health benefits of exercise and genistein in elderly rats. Experimental Aging Research: An international journal devoted to the scientific study of the aging process, 48(1):42-57.

Monique Marais is a registered social worker at Care@Midstream sub-acute, specialising in physical rehabilitation for the past 11 years. She has a passion for the medical field and assisting people to understand and manage their diagnoses and the impact on their bio-psychosocial well-being.


Monique Marais is a registered social worker at Care@Midstream sub-acute, specialising in physical rehabilitation for the past 11 years. She has a passion for the medical field and assisting people to understand and manage their diagnoses and the impact on their bio-psychosocial well-being.

Header image by FreePik

The water element and winter

Veronica Tift enlightens us on how the water element plays a role in the winter season and how to achieve balance with this element.

Let me take you on a little journey, you’re sitting nestled by a warm, glowing fire, crackling away. The blankets wrapped around you are comforting and make you feel held. You have in your hand a warm soothing drink and your beloved pet is comfortably nuzzled in a little ball near your feet. Why does this sound so completely ideal, as the cold weather starts to settle around us?

Because deep down we know that winter is the time for this kind of rest and restoration. Winters are like that, a more inward and sensitive time; its natures resting season, quieten down, deep in the earth and the roots preparing for spring. This is also a great time for you to go deeper within yourself, resting, reflecting and looking for replenishment.

The water element and winter

Are you feeling a little more emotional these days, craving salty foods or maybe everything tastes a little too salty, possibly feeling more fearful, especially in the evenings you can feel the anxiety creeping in?

According to the Chinese Five Elements, winter is related to the water element. Winter is the season in which the water element is most dominant. The kidneys, adrenal glands and bladder are the organs associated with the water element and the winter season.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view, people with deficient water energy may struggle to slow down, rest or relax. A balanced water element allows fluidity and flow, there is the ability to nourish and rest, not only for themselves but others. Both water and emotions are unpredictable, when flowing, all is well, but when blocked or stagnant, great pressure can develop, or disease can set in.

Water is amazing; of all the qualities that are needed for life on earth, water is in all living things, whether they live at the bottom of the ocean or the dry desert. Water has made life possible on earth. It is adaptable, taking shapes of its container, changing form with cold and heat.

Having a water element out of balance doesn’t mean drinking large quantities of water. While you need to look at the quality of your water, the intention in which you drink it and being mindful of how much you drink or don’t drink, there is more to this season and the water element.

The kidneys

In TCM, the kidneys house our jing or in the Western world this would equate to your DNA and longevity. The building blocks for physical vitality are responsible for our aging. Jing is also responsible for fertility and reproduction, growth and development. So, when you move against the flow of life, you are exhausting out your own precious life force.

Use your Jing wisely. Step into flow rather than against it, this does not mean being complacent, but rather spending time and energy on things that align with your true desire and authentic expression. Warm yourself emotionally with family and friends, doing things that bring you joy.

Overworking, stressful or traumatic events, overexertion, emotional stress, spending energy on things that drain you, poor diet and lack of sleep will all make it harder to handle the cold and feel balanced during the winter season.

The emotion fear relates to the water element. The kidneys and urinary bladder organs can reflect as we see when anxiety and chronic stress correlate in scientific literature to frequent urination or painful urination as well as pelvic pain. In Chinese Medicine, the stress is specific to the emotion of fear and urgency to release pressure.

The kidneys can be thought of as your batteries, they can give you horsepower that is needed to move towards your ambitions, but only when they are in alignment. The changing of each season can bring stress to the body and illness itself can give you the opportunity to re-evaluate your life.

Questions to ask yourself  

  • Am I over-reacting in situations and do these situations really require this much stress from me?
  • Do these actions align with my natural gifts, talents and interests? Does it feel like my authentic truth?
  • Is this the right time for me to act? Is this the season of my life for this intention to flourish?
  • Am I forcing anything, pushing past signs that this is not right and acting outside my authentic self.

Ways to balance the water element

These include resting, walking in nature, moving your body, journaling, meditation, prayer, eating whole foods that are in season, reducing alcohol and drug use, and prioritising sleep.

Be with feelings of grounding, breathe and feel your body. Bring love to your fear, have compassion for how hard it has been and send yourself some kindness. Listen to your authentic self and wisdom of your body, feel what feels right for you.

Winter diet

As you move into winter, it’s a good idea to shift your diet to create more heat internally. Fruits should be eaten less. Vegetables should be steamed or baked. Eat hearty vegetable soups with root vegetables like carrots, turnups and onions. Not forgetting warming spices like ginger root and garlic while cayenne pepper adds heat to your meals and warmth to your toes.

Cooked whole grains can also be an excellent staple in winter and roasted nuts can be a good snack. The most important thing is to listen to what your body is really telling you to consume. Brewing an herbal tea with ginseng roots or ginger are also traditional energisers.

Exercise in winter

Winter is the season of storage and preparation, take care of your activity level during the winter month and don’t run your batteries down. Move every day with stretching and dance, deep breathing and keeping that circulation moving. It’s a good time for indoor exercise like yoga, even a short practice can be beneficial.

The KD-1 point

The Yong Quan or KD-1 is the first point along the kidney meridian. It’s found between the second and third metatarsal bones on the sole of the foot. This point connects you directly with the vitality of the earth/yin energy and can aid in grounding and elevating energy, depending on what the body needs. It can bring up a deep well of energy or calm energy down, just like a fresh water spring emerges from the darkness of earth.

The KD-1 point gives access to the energy that is balanced and harmonious, and can be useful for fertility, easing anxiety and panic, restlessness, memory and insomnia. This is just one reflex point on the feet and regular treatments are key during the winter months.

Massaging this point, especially before bed, making contact with the earth when walking barefoot if possible and gripping your toes slightly in the earth while imagining energy flowing up into your body and reflexology are all great ways to keep your water element in balance.


Inge Dougans Reflexology the 5 elements and their 12 meridian’s a unique approach; Thorsons

Haas. Dr Elson M. 1981, Staying healthy with the seasons

Axe, Dr Josh. 2021, Ancient Remedies for modern Life

Veronica Tift is a therapeutic reflexologist, registered with the AHPCSA, based in Benoni. She continues to grow her knowledge through attending international and local courses on various subjects related to reflexology. Veronica has a special interest in working with couples struggling with infertility.


Veronica Tift is a therapeutic reflexologist, registered with the AHPCSA, based in Benoni. She continues to grow her knowledge through attending international and local courses on various subjects related to reflexology. Veronica has a special interest in working with couples struggling with infertility.

Header image by FreePik

Love your menstrual cycle

Veronica Tift advocates for women to love their menstrual cycle and explains how reflexology can ease the moody blues.

The menstrual cycle temper tantrum of 2022 will go down in our house as the big one. It was a day, like any other, except this day my kids used my yoga matt in their fort and while they had cleaned up, they had neglected to put my mat away. My Rottweiler had the audacity to casually walk on the matt, her nail nicking a little hole into my beautiful matt.

Well, this set me off and it spiralled, it was no longer about the tiny tear in my matt, it was about the kids not packing away, my husband for not fixing that thing, the expired tin of baked beans. Nothing was off limits.

My husband stood by and watch this scene unfold; 18 years together has given him extra special PMS sensors and he slowly picked up his keys and headed out the door.

Later that day when I got home, a new yoga matt was waiting in our room, I immediately burst into tears. The next day I started my period and my melt down suddenly made sense, PMS had struck again.

What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

PMS is a somatic (bodily or physical) and psychological (mental and emotional) collection of symptoms (hence my emotional meltdown) that occurs late in the post-ovulatory phase. This is usually a week or two before the start of menstruation, the luteal phase.

Signs and symptoms can include oedema, breast swelling or tenderness, abdominal distension, backache, joint pain, constipation, aggression, skin breakouts, food binges, fatigue, anxiety and irritability, mood swings, food cravings, headaches, sex drive changes and even clumsiness.

According to Christiane Northrup’s book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, the high consumption of certain dairy products, excessive caffeine consumption, rapidly elevated insulin levels, changing hormone levels, hormonal imbalance and the associated cellular inflammation, excessive body weight, a deficiency in the diet, lack of exercise, emotional stressors and unresolved trauma are all contributing factors that she has seen in her practice.

The reason there isn’t a one-time magic solution for PMS is because the causes are so varied from person to person. We can dive into the science of PMS, looking at the biological changes that happen in the body. However, it doesn’t give us the whole picture. Looking back, the days before my PMS emotional explosion, I can see how I had been neglecting myself and what my body was trying to communicate with me. Plus, I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet.

Creating balance 

Medication that balances hormones can help some women with PMS. There are also solutions for managing the emotional roller coaster that for some women can become extreme. Never ignore these symptoms and find a doctor or healthcare provider you trust and can communicate openly with about how you are feeling.

A nutrient-rich whole food diet can add in the balancing of insulin and glucagon, why is that important? Dr Katharine Dalton’s work on PMS treatment showed that poor-eating habits can cause PMS symptoms and that when blood glucose levels were stabilised, it not only helped with PMS, but also with fertility. This is because when your blood glucose levels zoom up and down chaotically, it can have an effect on your hormones and spark off sugar cravings, creating a vicious circle of bingeing habits and weight gain.

Stress has an effect on your menstrual cycle and PMS symptoms. Deep relaxation like meditation and breathwork have been shown to help reduce PMS within three months of regular practice.

Learning your cycle and loving it

We all have cycles, ebbing and flowing in our bodies and in nature, night and day, breathing in and out, our heartbeats. Being conscious of these cycles can help you better adapt to the changes they bring, seasonal or hormonal.

If you can find a way to welcome and appreciate your menstrual cycle, then the transition into phases like menopause could be much easier. When you start to use encouraging language around your cycle, positivity can be injected into these changes and make this inner guidance system part of your life, you can then start to heal both emotionally and hormonally.

See each phase as a gift

If you break down your menstrual cycle, you can see each phase as a gift. The luteal phase happens in the second part of your menstrual cycle. It begins around day 15 of a 28-day cycle and ends when you get your period. The luteal phase prepares your uterus for pregnancy by thickening your uterine lining.

 This phase is when you can use the opportunity to be in tune with your inner knowing and use this time to witness what is working and isn’t working in your life.

Studies have shown that women even experience more frequent and vivid dreams during this phase. So, you have access to parts of your unconscious during this time of the month and this can then aid in your ability to recognise and transform the more painful and difficult areas.

While you might feel more emotional in this stage of your cycle, I think that what you feel more emotional about is usually something that has more meaning in your life and this increased sensitivity can be a gift of insight. Taking a look at what you might need for full personal development.

According to American author, Louise L. Hay, emotionally you can heal your life. PMS is a result of emotionally allowing confusion to reign and giving power to outside influences or the rejection of the feminine process. Part of her new thought pattern affirmation is I am a powerful, dynamic woman! Yes, you should be saying this all the time to yourself and loving how your body functions, falling in love with its wonderful cycle.

Respect your body

How you feel about your body matters and the level of respect you pay to your menstrual cycle; honour your body’s needs. Things like rest, nutrition and replenishing when feeling PMS taking hold.

In my case, slowing down, taking a deep breath and making a cup of tea would have been a much wiser choice in that moment, possibly a good breakfast.

PMS is not just medical and is related to other areas of a woman’s life. If you are able to learn how to tune into the languages of your body, you can make decisions that are informed, listening to the wisdom of your body.


According to author Frankie Avalon Wolfe, PMS is one of the most studied uses of reflexology and the results have been positive. How does reflexology help for such a host of symptoms?

One way is the promotion of endorphin production that can relieve pain and can help with relaxation. Reflexology can help the hormones, encouraging them back into balance, and the swelling and bloating symptoms can be helped when working on the lymph system reflex. The reflexes that a reflexologist would work to aid in PMS would be the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes working on relaxing the whole pelvic area. Not only the reproduction reflexes are worked and looking at the body as the beautiful connected being it is, the solar plexus reflexes, relaxation techniques and the brain reflex are worked to aid the whole nervous system. The process of addressing the emotional and psychological stresses can directly result in biochemical changes to the body.

A systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of reflexology on premenstrual syndrome was conducted; in the results, 6 to 10 sessions of reflexology could decrease the severity of PMS. Reflexology had a significant impact on the severity of PMS.

Reflexology could also significantly affect somatic and psychological symptoms arising from PMS. The study also concluded that with each session the efficiency of the reflexology also increased.

No more temper tantrums

I can report that there has not been another PMS tantrum as fierce as the one of 2022. However, I can honestly say that I haven’t been free from all symptoms and this was clear when my husband hysterically laughed at my mentioning that I thought my PMS wasn’t that bad this month. It’s all about balance and some months are better than others in the busyness of life.

However, paying attention to these moments always brings me back to the importance of taking the time to ask; what are my emotional needs right now and do some inner work. I encourage you to do the same, you might be very surprised at the answer.


Ruth Hull the complete guide to reflexology second edition Lotus publishing.

The complete idiots guide to Reflexology – Frankie Avalon Wolfe, Ph.D., Alpha books

Woman’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating physical and emotional health and healing – Christine Northrup M.D 5th edition Hay House

Natural solutions to Infertility, how to increase your chances of conceiving and preventing miscarriages – Marilyn Glenville PhD published in the UK in 2000 by Judy Piakus (Publishers) limited

You can heal your life – Louise L. Hay – Hay House Inc

Veronica Tift is a therapeutic reflexologist, registered with the AHPCSA, based in Benoni. She continues to grow her knowledge through attending international and local courses on various subjects related to reflexology. Veronica has a special interest in working with couples struggling with infertility.


Veronica Tift is a therapeutic reflexologist, registered with the AHPCSA, based in Benoni. She continues to grow her knowledge through attending international and local courses on various subjects related to reflexology. Veronica has a special interest in working with couples struggling with infertility.

Header image by Adobe Stock

Eating for steady glucose

Dietitian, Felicity Black, offers guidance on how to get off the glucose rollercoaster by clothing your carbs for steady glucose.

Do you sometimes feel as if you are riding the rollercoaster of blood glucose spikes and crashes and not getting steading glucose readings? Unfortunately, this leaves you moody, exhausted and reaching for that next cup of coffee to get you through the day. Maybe you are struggling with cravings for sweet things or are finding you are constantly hungry. You have been riding the glucose rollercoaster.

How does the food you eat affect the ride?

Some foods lead to a steep ascent; they speed up the release of glucose into your bloodstream. Other foods put on the brakes; slowing down and stabilising the blood glucose levels. 

What goes up, must come down

Foods that cause glucose to climb then cause it to plummet leading to low moods, fatigue and cravings. Refined starches and sugar are the driving force behind these steep spikes. Think of a fluffy piece of white bread, minimal chewing and digestion is required while glucose is rapidly flowing into the bloodstream.

Breads, pasta, crackers, pastries, crisps, pizza bases, rolls, biscuits, rusks and cereals. How to tell if starches are refined? Well if it is made from mostly flour, has gone through many processes, has many ingredients listed, has no naturally occurring fibre or nutrients and won’t be found in nature; then yes it is most likely refined.

Synthetic vitamins and some bran fibre is often added in during manufacturing to make these products look more desirable by health-conscious shoppers.

Sugar speeds things up, especially in a liquid form. Smoothies, fruit juices, fizzy drinks, chocolate milk, flavoured drinking yoghurt, hot chocolate-type drinks can all cause glucose levels to rise quickly.

Which foods slow things down?

Protein, fat and fibre-rich foods all slow down your digestion which slows down the release of glucose into your bloodstream.

Protein-rich foods are mostly from animal sources. Think meat, chicken, fish, seafood and eggs.

Cheese and other dairy products don’t actually have all that much protein and are not a suitable substitute for the above foods. Whole unsweetened dairy has been shown to provide glucose stabilising effects even in small amounts.

Fats are wonderful at keeping glucose steady and help you stay fuller for longer.

Healthy fats to include are avocados, olive oil, olives, nuts and seeds.

Berries, green vegetables (such as broccoli) and legumes (beans and lentils) are great fibre-rich foods to include daily.

If you make sure to include either or all of these foods in your meals then you are sure to avoid post-meal glucose spikes.

Fibre – where should we get it from?

Many people assume high fibre means high starch. Fibre should be mainly be sourced from vegetables, not from breads and cereals. Fruit can also provide fibre but we need to manage how and when we eat it. If fruit was to be your main dietary fibre source then you would end up consuming far too much natural sugar.

As humans we are not made to eat starch without fibre. In nature we would find tubers, roots, nuts, fruits, whole grains – all of which have fibre alongside starch.

This fibre acts to slow down the release of sugars into your bloodstream, giving you a steady supply resulting in stable blood glucose levels.

In our modern world, we have breads, cereals, pastries, crisps, pasta – all without adequate fibre and consumed in large quantities.

There is a common misconception that brown refined starches are far superior than their white counterparts. Believe me, six slices of brown bread a day will not do you any favours. Clients need to be educated on lowering total refined starches regardless of the colour of said starch.

Most low-GI breads, cereals and pasta do not contain enough fibre to slow down the resultant spike. Therefore, reduce your overall carbohydrate and cut back on refined starches, they are not nutritious regardless of the colour.

Breakfast – setting a good foundation

Starting the day off right is very important for steady blood glucose levels. We are most sensitive to high sugar intake in the mornings than any other time of day. Therefore, if your blood glucose is not stabilised early on in the day, then you will struggle to manage it as the day goes on. Think of it as setting a solid foundation for the day.

A breakfast made up of only starch especially simple refined starches, such as bread and cereal, is sure to set you up for a rollercoaster of hunger, fatigue and cravings.

A good concept is the idea of clothing your carbs and this is also mentioned in the book The Glucose Revolution by Jessie Inchauspé. When you eat carbohydrates by themselves (without protein, fat or fibre) then your blood glucose spikes rather high and quite quickly.

Dessert vs sugary snack

If you are going to eat something with sugar, then have it as dessert after your meal and not between meals. Sugar that lands in a full stomach will lead to less severe glucose spikes. Rethink that afternoon coffee and cake. Bring out some fresh fruit to end off your meal.

Clothing for your carbs for steady glucose

Carbohydrate should be combined with either protein or fat or both. That includes fruit, do not eat fruit alone as a snack. The French have it right – cheese with fruit. The fat and protein in cheese (it’s mostly fat) helps reduce the spike from the fruit.

Other combinations are: biltong, nuts, full fat yoghurt, avocado, sugar-free nut butters and seeds. So, do yourself a favour and clothe your carbs.

Felicity Black is a registered dietitian at the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology and is based at the Port Elizabeth practice in Mill Park. Having completed the in-depth CDE Foundation Course in Diabetes Care, she has been able to treat her clients holistically and with a greater understanding of their individual needs.


Felicity Black is a registered dietitian at the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology and is based at the Port Elizabeth practice in Mill Park. Having completed the in-depth CDE Foundation Course in Diabetes Care, she has been able to treat her clients holistically and with a greater understanding of their individual needs.

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Your 24-hour plan to get more energy

Monique Marias shares a constructive 24-hour plan to get more energy every day.

The modern era requires you to move at the speed of light, to get things done and meet your targets. This is exciting but can also be exhausting. To do your best, you need to be the best versions of yourself to prevent burnout, fatigue and despair.

Your energy levels need to be sustained throughout the day. Energy drinks might give you an immediate lift, but it will soon wear off, leaving you feeling sluggish and drained. How do you then maintain your energy levels? By implementing a 24-hour plan that will boost your energy levels and keep you motivated throughout the day.

Increase your energy levels on a daily basis

  1. Sleep well

Good quality sleep is critical for good health and overall quality of life. It’s important to get enough sleep as well as quality sleep. By getting enough sleep and prioritising good sleep habits, you can support your immune system and reduce your risk of infections and illnesses, such as cardiovascular problems and diabetes.

Monitor your sleeping habits; get to bed at roughly the same time each night, as well as waking up around the same time each morning. You need to train your body and mind to slow down; do specific things before getting to bed that will let your mind and body know its time to settle in. This can include listening to relaxing music, turning the lights off, reading, or drinking a warm drink to help you relax.

  1. Stay hydrated

One of the symptoms of dehydration is fatigue. Make a point of staying hydrated during the day (this excludes the cups of coffee you’re drinking). The amount of water you need varies based on factors like your body weight, activity level, and climate. However, a general guideline is to aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water per day, and more if you are physically active or in a hot climate.

Find a rhythm that works for you, whether that is having one large bottle that you need to finish by the end of the day or having multiple glasses of water throughout the day. You can also add different fruits to change the flavour, if this helps you drink more water. Healthy options include lemon, ginger, cucumber, mint and different forms of berries.

By staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water and other fluids, you can support your immune system and reduce your risk of infections and illnesses.

  1. Eat balanced meals

Eating a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. A balanced diet provides the body with the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that it needs to function properly which improves your immune system and aids in maintaining healthy blood glucose levels.

This means including foods from multiple food groups: whole grains, lean protein, fibre-rich fruits and vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat dairy. Choose foods with a low glycaemic index (where sugar content is broken down by your body at a slow rate), such as whole grains, nuts, bananas, grapes, apples, peaches, beans, peas, and leafy greens.

  1. Get moving

Regular exercise can help to reduce stress levels and support immune function. In addition to these immune-boosting benefits, regular exercise has many other health benefits, including improving cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes, and improving mental health and mood.

Not everyone has time in their schedule for daily exercise sessions, but it’s important to keep moving. This is especially important if you have a job that is mostly desk-bound. Make a conscious effort to stand up regularly, walk around and do stretches. If you have access to a smart watch or an app on your phone to track your steps, set your daily target for 8000 steps per day. Having a visible reminder will help with motivation and keep you focused to meet your daily goal.

If you have a water dispenser at work, combine your walking with drinking water, get up every hour and walk to the dispenser and refill your glass. If your daily routine allows for exercise, all the better.

  1. Control your stress

Stress can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infections and illnesses. Chronic stress can also have long-term effects on the immune system, increasing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders.

The first step is to identify aspects in your daily life that cause you stress and the second step is to find ways to reduce it or control the situation. Break it down to stress at work and stress in your private life, then look at what you can control and what is out of your control; focus on the aspects that are within your control.

Learn to delegate tasks at work and to say no and prioritise tasks that need to be completed urgently and what can wait until the next day. Find ways that reduce your stress, such as exercise, hobbies, meditating or spending quality time with friends and family.

We all experience times that are more stressful than others, but if you know how to identify your triggers, and you have implemented ways to deal with it in your daily routine, it becomes easier to fall back on those techniques that will help you relax.

  1. Do something fun

Do something you enjoy, every day! Know what makes you happy and make a conscious effort to do small things each day that leaves you feeling happy and energized at the end of the day. This can include cooking a hearty meal, exercising, checking in with a friend or family member, buying yourself flowers, learning something new or listening to a podcast. This doesn’t have to be a long activity, 10-15min is enough to give you that mental boost.

  1. Use caffeine sensibly

Many people rely on their morning cup of coffee to get them started, whereas others rely more heavily on their caffeine boost to get them through the day. It’s wise to remember; the more you drink coffee, the more you need to give you the same level of stimulation. Studies have also shown a negative impact on anxiety levels when used in excess. It can also adversely affect your mood and increase insomnia, and these all impact on your ability to maintain healthy lifestyle choices that will increase your energy levels.

Caffeine in itself isn’t harmful and can definitely give you that much needed boost but use it in moderation. Try to not exceed three cups a day, don’t drink coffee late in the afternoon and try to alternate the time of day that you drink coffee so that your body doesn’t become dependent on that “kick” the same time every day.

  1. Light up your life

Daylight queues the brain that it’s time to get up, time to be active and get things done. The more natural light you are exposed to, the easier your brain adjusts to the routine. Where possible, ensure that natural light enters your workspace as much as possible.

Studies have also shown that blue-enriched white light improves alertness, positive mood, work performance, concentration, and irritability. If you have a desk lamp at the office, switch the globe to blue-enriched white light bulbs. If your office space doesn’t allow for you to alter the light-type, go outside at least three times per day for short periods. Not only will you be exposed to some helpful vitamin D, but you will also get moving.

  1. Be mindful

This aspect should form part of all the above steps you take on a daily basis. Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment and accepting your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This can help to reduce stress and promote feelings of calm and relaxation. The more you are aware of your surroundings, your stressors, what brings you joy and what your dreams are, the easier it’s to manage the days that are more stressful and appreciate the good days even more.

Although there are many ways that you can boost energy levels, you need to find a rhythm that works for you; pick sustainable tasks and make it a habit. Some days might be easier to sustain your energy levels, other times might be more challenging, and that is when you need to fall back on healthy habits to sustain you. Once these habits form part of your healthy lifestyle, it will be more sustainable, and you will see better results.


An Official American Thoracic Society Statement: The Importance of Healthy Sleep. Recommendations and Future Priorities | American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (


The Relationship of Caffeine Intake with Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and Sleep in Korean Adolescents – PMC (

The Effect of Coffee and Caffeine on Mood, Sleep, and Health-Related Quality of Life | Journal of Caffeine Research (

Blue-enriched white light in the workplace improves self-reported alertness, performance and sleep quality on JSTOR

Monique Marais is a registered social worker at Care@Midstream sub-acute, specialising in physical rehabilitation for the past 11 years. She has a passion for the medical field and assisting people to understand and manage their diagnoses and the impact on their bio-psychosocial well-being.


Monique Marais is a registered social worker at Care@Midstream sub-acute, specialising in physical rehabilitation for the past 11 years. She has a passion for the medical field and assisting people to understand and manage their diagnoses and the impact on their bio-psychosocial well-being.

Header image by FreePik

Body Stress Release

Kathy Heapy educates us on the benefits of Body Stress Release.

What is Body Stress Release?

Body Stress Release (BSR) is a unique, gentle and non-invasive health profession that originated in SA over 30 years ago. According to many client testimonials received over the years, BSR has served to make a difference in the lives of people around the world.

This complementary technique that works in co-operation with other forms of healthcare has a supportive role to play and may provide relief from pain and discomfort for those struggling with health challenges, ranging from mild discomfort and vague symptoms to diagnosed conditions.

BSR is a health practice that limits itself to its own area of expertise, locating and releasing of body stress. It’s not involved in diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions, thus does not duplicate medical services. BSR has thus always enjoyed a co-operative relationship with medicine and enjoy receiving referrals from the medical fraternity who entrust their patients to us in a complementary role.

The benefits

BSR may enhance quality of life and is suitable for all ages, from the very young to the elderly. Facing daily onslaughts of mental, emotional, mechanical and chemical stress may have a negative impact on your body as it was designed to handle some stress, but as stress accumulates over time, the stress overload becomes locked in.

This may contribute to symptoms such as neck and back pain, pins and needles, postural distortion, muscle weakness, headaches/migraines, indigestion/heartburn, restless sleep, fatigue, numbness, stiffness, to name but a few.

Body stress overload is a powerful factor that may undermine health and well-being in a myriad of ways and may underlie and aggravate many health problems.

How does it work?

You lie down fully-clothed. The practitioner performs a series of pressure tests using the feet as a bio-feedback monitor. Using a light but definite pressure in the indicated direction releases the sites of body stress which may assist to improve and stimulate nerve communication.

We often find that after a BSR session, some clients report back that they had the best sleep ever, felt an emotional lightness, became aware of a greater mental clarity, or felt a surge of enthusiasm for life.

Diabetes case studies

In Gail Meggersee, BSR co-founder’s book, Self-healing with Body Stress Release Unlocking Stored Tension, she includes a case study submitted by a BSR Practitioner about two gents, Maarten and Graham titled: Diabetes: Revival in the 60s.

“After one BSR session, Maarten’s indigestion had improved so much he could hardly believe it. After six weeks of BSR the feeling in his feet had returned completely, no more pins and needles or numbness. Graham’s lower back pain improved considerably.

After about two years after their first BSR appointments, they came into the practice room laughing like two little excited boys. They told their story: at their annual check up with their physicians, she tested their urine samples with the ‘sugar sticks’, declared them to be faulty, and took out a new box of sticks. These were evidently not working either, so she took blood samples and sent them off to the pathology lab for testing.

The results

The results of these tests astonished everyone. Maarten and Graham, no longer had Type 2 diabetes. Their doctor was confused, but they were delighted. They said they knew BSR had assisted their bodies to heal themselves of their chronic condition.

Their cases illustrate some basic principles of BSR; tension stored in the lower back may adversely affect the functioning of the legs and feet.  Such tension may remain locked into the body for decades. By releasing the body stress, the body is assisted to heal itself in more ways than one would have imagined, in both cases the capacity of the pancreas to produce adequate insulin had been revived.

The evidence in these cases would not have been quite as conclusive if:

  • Only one of them had had diabetes.
  • They had not lived together and eaten the same diet.
  • They had not both come regularly for BSR maintenance.

“Their faith in BSR was sealed and they continued with the sessions. Ten years later, they appeared at least 10 years younger than when I first met them. They enjoyed regular exercise and had even improved their eating habits to a degree.”

How many sessions are needed?

Initially three sessions are recommended; for example – day 1, day 4 and day 11. This allows the body to go through necessary adaptations as the body adjusts to lines of tension being released.

At your initial session your practitioner will take your full medical history and during the consultation will also share with you on how to sit, sleep and bend correctly thus working with the natural bio-mechanical design of the body.

He/she will then guide you with regards to suggested intervals between sessions going forward, depending on individual case requirements. Maintenance sessions are usually looked forward to by our committed clients who recognise the value of self-care, and we often find a close friendship develops between the emphatic practitioner and client over time. Should a client be too weak to visit their practitioner, they may enquire about house visits in the comfort of their own home.

To find a dedicated BSR practitioner close to you, visit

Kathy Heapy left the travel industry in 2010 as she always had a yearning to work with people in a healing capacity. After only her second BSR session, she decided to apply for the annual practitioner course held at the BSR Academy. She currently runs a successful Body Stress Release practice at a wellness centre in Midrand, Gauteng and looks forward to a continuation of a fulfilling and enriching future, assisting folk with a compassion and a sincere belief that BSR can offer hope in their world.


Kathy Heapy left the travel industry in 2010 as she always had a yearning to work with people in a healing capacity. After only her second BSR session, she decided to apply for the annual practitioner course held at the BSR Academy. She currently runs a successful Body Stress Release practice at a wellness centre in Midrand, Gauteng and looks forward to a continuation of a fulfilling and enriching future, assisting folk with a compassion and a sincere belief that BSR can offer hope in their world.

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