The Twelve Days of Christmas – With A Healthy Twist

Thanks to three kids, I have a lot of Christmas books. One in particular that has been a huge favourite over many years with them is ‘The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas’ by Heath McKenzie.

A number of years ago, I decided to write twelve daily performance tips inspired by this book and shared them through my then newsletter.  It has been quite a while since I last did that and because they were great fun to write, I have decided to share them again this year, starting today.

This means that you will receive an short post from me each day over the Twelve Days of Christmas. Each will contain a tip or idea that can help you manage your health and wellbeing over this crazy festive season.

Are you in?

The Twelve Days of Christmas Are Fabulous But What About The First Day of Christmas When My True Love Gave To Me…. A Kookaburra In A Gum Tree.

Clearly this means that we should get active and climb a tree or fly a kite maybe? Just in case your body says NO, choose a form of physical activity that you enjoy as it’s time to start putting some exercise in the bank.

We all know that the festive season means party, party, party. It’s just like managing a bank account and if you are budgeting for a big ticket item (like a party or event), this means doing some saving.

Given that the light streams through the windows before 5am, it is so much easier to get up at the moment and get moving. Remember the key elements of a successful workout include:

  • Don’t hit the snooze button like koala’s do – it always seems like a good idea at the time but we all know deep down that it does not equal more sleep.  No, no, no – you are kidding yourself.
  • Put your alarm far enough away from you so that you HAVE to get out of bed to shut it up. I have put it down the hallway many times before.
  • Find a buddy – someone who will stick with you thick and thin and won’t let you down even if they have a hangover. You can read about my thoughts on the buddy system here 
  • Put your clothes and shoes out the night before, there’s nothing like prior preparation to prevent PPP.
  • Oh, and just do it!

Try This Snappy Tis’ The Season Workout

Warm up

5 minute walk 

Workout (Repeat four times)

20 pushups

20 squats

20 dips using a park bench

20 abdominal crunches (check out this video for how to do them safely and effectively)

1 minute step ups on stairs at home or work OR 1 minute of skipping with a rope

Cool Down

Spend five minutes stretching out the muscles you have used by walking around the block.

 

If you are still trudging the shops for Christmas presents, don’t forget about my Christmas Giftpack, my book ‘truth, lies and chocolate’ combined with a delicious WineBar Espresso Martini Chocolate – all beautifully wrapped and ready to go!  Click here for all details.

Legs Up the Wall – The Daily Yoga Pose for Instant Calm

Legs up the wall may seem like an odd phrase, but for me these words conjure up a feeling of calmness. Legs up the wall is one of the handful of yoga poses that I actually felt comfortable attempting when my LONG journey into this age old activity began several years ago.

Funnily enough this article you are currently reading is one that I wrote almost 12 months ago. At that time we we collectively had no clue that in 2020 we were going to be presented with super gigantic challenges to the way we live our lives.

In view of this, it seems like the perfect time to remind you all of legs up the wall. 

Although the popularity of yoga continues to grow worldwide,  many people perceive that yoga is something potentially difficult and boring and would rather get stuck into a boxing session or other high cardio activity. Once upon a time this was me (although I do still love running, walking and stair climbing) but after finding my groove with yoga, I now understand that it is one of the best workouts available to us all.

I won’t lie and say that it has been all unicorns and rainbows.  It hasn’t and yoga and I have had a long history of shared emotions running both hot and cold. For many years I loved the idea of yoga but the actual reality of being able to do it, did not align with my physical (in)capability.  The turning point for me came with the right teacher, which then led to calm and acceptance of what my body could do, not what it couldn’t and the balance of these two is ever-changing believe me!

We will get to legs up the wall in just a moment but there are three things I have learnt through my yoga adventures, applicable to anybody trying to change any aspect of health and life that might just be handy to you right now. Especially now.

What We Want Or Need Is Not Always Available To Us

I will never forget a yoga class that I attended some time ago when the teacher asked us to align ourselves into a position that looked even trickier than usual to me.

While we were all silently attempting the impossible (to me), the teacher announced that this particular pose was ‘not available to him today.’ I had to smother hysterical laughter at this point because for me, it was never going to be available, that day or any other. But you know what? We all have days when a particular behaviour, skill or practise is simply not available to us and sometimes we just need to accept it.  This doesn’t mean you have failed, it just means that investing your energy in something else that IS available to you and achievable today is a wiser choice. Plus, what is not available to you today might just be there for you tomorrow.

There Is Always Turbulence In Our Lives

A howling easterly wind roaring around outside scattering dust and leaves every which way is one kind of turbulence but there are many ways disruption and distraction turn up in our lives.

The turbulence that we experience in our day-to-day lives can obviously be a lot more serious than a strong wind. It could be problems with your family, friends, health issues, financial concerns, job insecurity, moving house, relationship breakdowns or any one of life’s stressful events. All of these and more, represent turbulence. Quite often, turbulence or a shake-up in our lives is just what we need to take the first step toward real change for our physical and mental well-being. It is possible and often vital to acknowledge the turbulence and do it anyway.

Of course, right now in 2020, the kind of turbulence we are all experiencing will be go down in the history books.

Use Your Edge

A few years ago I was standing in line waiting to order in a cafe and noticed an interesting quote scribbled along the front of the coffee machine.  The author was anonymous but it simply stated,

“If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room.”

To me, living on the edge has a negative connotation.   However, renowned Yoga Master and author Erich Schiffman, talks about ‘the edge’ in another way in relation to stretching in yoga. Schiffman explains that, “If you don’t go far enough, there is no challenge to the muscles, no intensity, no stretch, and little possibility for opening. Going too far, however, is an obvious violation of the body, increasing the possibility of both physical pain and injury. Somewhere between these two points is a degree of stretch that is in balance: intensity without pain, use without abuse, strenuousness without strain. You can experience this balance in every posture you do. This place in the stretch is called your edge.”

But what about applying that edge to other aspects of our daily life, where we tend to remain within a familiar but limited comfort zone by staying away from both our physical and mental edges? Schiffman suggests that staying within that zone would be fine, “Except that as aging occurs these limits close in considerably. Our bodies tighten, our range of movement decreases, and our strength and stamina diminish. By consciously bringing the body and mind to its various limits or edges and holding it there, gently nudging it toward more openness with awareness, the long, slow process of closing in begins to reverse itself. The range expands as the edges change.”

Legs Up The Wall

What is this legs up the wall you say?  

This yoga pose would have to be one of the most accessible to us all and can be achieved anywhere and anytime as long as there is a wall.

I could explain to you in writing how to do legs up the wall but it would much easier and less confusing for you all if you watch Adriene in action here as she demonstrates this pose perfectly.

Legs up the wall is an excellent restorative pose that improves circulation and is instantly restful for your legs, feet and lower back.  It is also such a wonderful pose to do just before you go to bed for a restful sleep or even during the night if you wake up and can’t back to sleep.

It is also perfect during the day if you are at work and need to take a breather – close the door and take just 10 minutes to regroup and reset before tackling the next part of your day. Especially important right now if you are finding it hard to carve out any space in your mishmash of working and living from home.

Resting in this position will greatly improve the flexibility in your hamstrings and is a stealthy way of getting some meditation in your day too – you can’t go anywhere else at the same time and it puts you in the perfect mindset to do so.

What about you – do you have a wall in mind?