No more excuses; introduce ‘fitness’ into your life!

Ross Loughran 5/11/2016Pic : Lorraine O'Sullivan

Ross, Pharmacy Technician, Rowlagh

Change your health direction. What does it mean to you? To me, as a pharmacy technician and a personal trainer, it means changing your outlook on fitness, and not just physical fitness, but also your mental wellbeing. It’s about making positive little steps and changes to ensure you improve your overall fitness. From a personal point of view, this is what I did. I underwent that change 5 years ago. Making that shift towards positive healthy habits and I’m all the better for it.

People tend to come up with all sorts of excuses not to exercise… a popular myth out there at the moment is ‘if I’m sick, I can’t work out’ and yes, in some cases this is the truth. I’d never accept a client if they hadn’t got the all clear from a doctor. BUT fitness starts at home. By this I mean, what’s on your plate. It’s about making those small changes. Any commitment too big will never last. Start small… swap your cereal for oats. Swap that chocolate bar for a banana. Do something enough, it becomes a habit. Do it long enough, it becomes part of your life. The same can be said for exercise. Start small… take that flight of stairs to the next level, walk to the shops instead of driving.

Look at the simple habit of sitting down, yes we all do it, BUT even the action of sitting down is part of a very popular gym move; a move that works all muscles of the leg by sitting down and standing up, a move that has one of the highest calorie burning stats of any resistance move… the squat. Try this, before sitting down in front of the TV, go to sit but stop RIGHT before your bum touches the cushion. Then stand. That’s one rep. No barbell, just your own body weight. Repeat it 10 to 12 times. That’s a set. Something so simple but then you’ll have earned that seat. You’ll have raised your endorphins, making you feel good and you’ll have boosted your metabolism, getting the most out of your food. It’s making these changes that help improve fitness. Not just your body but also your mind.

Make 2018 the year of the small but mighty changes!

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Good health’s not just for January, it’s for life!

Laura Dowling

Laura, Supervising Pharmacist Manager, Stillorgan

New year, new you! …. Screams every second Facebook post and magazine article that I have read over the past couple of weeks. The post-Christmas bulge and general feeling of guilt after a month (or more!) of over indulgence during the silly season generally encourages people to jump on the health bandwagon. Dry January, gym memberships and dieting can all contribute to a healthier lifestyle but a proper understanding of nutrition and portion sizes can lead to a healthier you for life.

Here at LloydsPharmacy we can help you to achieve your health goals with nutrition and exercise advice as well as taking regular measurements of your weight, waist circumference and upper arm. We can guide you through our eight week programme with enthusiasm and understanding. But our aim is to ultimately arm you with the tools that will help you to carry on with your new, healthy lifestyle for the months and years beyond our programme.

We will encourage you to set realistic goals when it comes to weight loss. Most calorie restrictive diets flounder after five weeks as calorie restriction in the long term is very unachievable. Life just tends to get in the way! Nights out, weddings and parties often end up with our patients falling off the weight loss wagon. Sometimes people just find it too difficult to get back on it again and they are plagued with feelings of guilt and self-loathing which in turn can lead to more overeating.

I always give my patients the following tips:

  • Meal planning and preparation with lots of vegetables, whole grains and lean meats is so important. It prevents you from overeating the wrong kids of foods when you are very hungry.
  • Experiment with new recipes: herbs and spices add delicious flavours to food, chickpeas are nourishing, very versatile, cheap and so easy to add to recipes.
  • Alcohol provides empty calories that does not satiate and often causes overeating, so limit your alcohol consumption.
  • Correct weight loss involves 80% diet and 20% exercise. Pounding away in the gym is of little benefit if your diet is not healthy and portion controlled.
  • Portion size is so important. The correct portion size for rice, pasta and potatoes is the cooked amount that would fit in the palm of your hand. This is considerably less than the large platefuls of pasta that we have become used to eating. You can bulk up your plate with fresh veggies and salads to satiate your appetite and fill your belly!
  • Increase your activity levels. Get your heart rate going and break a sweat! For some this can be as simple as a 20 minute brisk walk every day. You will achieve your weight loss goal quicker and healthier if you do this.
  • Focus on inches lost rather than kilograms/ pounds lost.

The ‘feel good’ factor of living a healthier life should not be underestimated.  A healthy lifestyle can lead to elevated mood, increased energy levels and libido. Clothes will fit you better and you will look much better too. The health benefits are numerous:  lower blood pressure, less likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, lower cholesterol, lower incidences of depression and anxiety… the list goes on.

Vitamin and mineral supplements can really help you to achieve your goals too, especially in the first few weeks of the program. They can boost your energy levels (Revive Active, Quinton Cell Nutrition, Oxylent), decrease your sugar cravings (Miss Fit Crave, Pharma Nord Chromium) and help to increase your overall feeling of wellbeing. A good Vitamin D supplement can also help with mood elevation as we definitely do not get enough sun in this dreary part of the world, especially during these cold and dark winter months.

I will end by reassuring you that everyone falls off the wagon at some stage. At LloydsPharmacy we are here to help you to get back up onto it. We don’t judge, we just offer sound advice and empathetic encouragement. Good luck!

Laura Dowling is the Supervising Pharmacist Manager at LloydsPharmacy in Stillorgan Shopping centre.  She is a health and wellbeing enthusiast and mum to three young boys.

What is ‘Change Your Health Direction’?

Lisa Walsh Headshot Corporate

Lisa Walsh
Life Coach and Training Specialist for LloydsPharmacy

Change Your Health Direction (CYHD) is a FREE 8-week programme offering you the opportunity to visit your local LloydsPharmacy, where one of our trained in-store coaches will speak with you on a weekly basis about your health goals. Our instore health advisory services include smoking control support, blood pressure and BMI checks, weight management diary, lifestyle and health coaching sessions. 

The New Year is a wonderful opportunity for us all to align our health goals and lifestyle habits to keep us on track with everyday healthy living and wellbeing practices. Rather than taking something away from your life as a resolution, I love to ‘take on’. This year I am taking on healthy habits that will improve my lifestyle and wellbeing.

So I am super excited to be part of the ‘Change Your Health Direction’ 8 week programme. What I adore about CYHD is that it gives me 8 weeks to monitor the healthy habits I wish to commit to with the support of a Health Coach in my local LloydsPharmacy and it’s for FREE! Yes, I can have a one-to one mini consultation session with the CYHD coach on a weekly basis all for free!

After the Christmas eating, TV watching and couch cuddling, I am ready to increase my exercise levels again, monitor my immune system, care for my skin more and focus on eating a balanced nutritious diet.  The first step is to meet with my LloydsPharmacy Health Coach and set realistic achievable goals. I can’t wait to ‘take on’ the CYHD programme.

Small changes can make a big difference. Whatever change you choose to ‘take on’ your LloydsPharmacy Health Coach is there to support you as you introduce healthier habits into your lifestyle.

Happy New Year to you all and best of luck with whatever you choose to “take on” for 2018.

 

Sharing Lamb with Ribbon Courgette, Mint Yogurt & Hazelnuts

This sharing lamb with ribboned courgettes, rocket leaves and minty yogurt dressing is a real treat and bursting with flavour.  You can barbecue, griddle or grill the lamb but at this time of year it feels great to cook (and eat) outdoors, weather permitting.  Meat can absolutely be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet but its important to prioritise nutrient-dense and fibre-rich whole foods on a daily basis (think green leafy and starchy vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and some fruits). You could very easily substitute with sirloin steak or butterflied chicken breast depending on personal tastes, but lamb works particularly well with these flavours. This dish is a lovely treat and proof that healthy does not equal boring…..I hope you enjoy it!

Serves 2 | Preparation Time: 10 minutes | Rating: Moderate

You Will Need:

The Lamb:

  • 2 lamb steaks
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • A good pinch of sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano leaves (or 1tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary (or 1tsp dried)

The Courgette & Rocket Salad:

  • 2 medium sized courgettes
  • 2 cups rocket leaves
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 oz (about 1 tbsp) finely chopped, toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

The Mint Yogurt Dressing:

  • 30g plain, low fat natural yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and crushed (optional)

To Serve: 2 small wholemeal flatbreads (optional – add approx.130 calories per serving, check brand info)

Method:

  1. Prepare the salad: Trim the ends of the courgette and use a vegetable peeler to cut the courgette lengthwise into ribbons.  Scatter onto a large serving plate with sprinkle of sea salt.  Rinse and drain the rocket leaves, and scatter on top of the courgette with the sliced spring onion.
  2. Prepare the mint yogurt: Put the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, mint, capers and water into a bowl and stir well with a fork to combine. Season lightly with a little salt set aside.
  3. To cook the lamb: pre-heat a grill, barbecue or griddle pan to medium. Season the lamb steaks with salt and pepper, rub with olive oil and the finely chopped fresh herbs. Sear the lamb on both sides for 3-5 minutes each side (3 minutes for medium, 5 minutes for well done).  Remove from the grill and leave to rest before trimming the fat off the meat and slicing into strips.
  4. To assemble: transfer the lamb onto the serving plate or board on top of the courgette and rocket leaves. Sprinkle over the hazelnuts and a few dollops of mint yogurt. Serve alone as a salad or with wholemeal flatbreads.

Nutrition Approx.

Created by: Pamela Ryan Qualified Nutritionist*

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

* Pamela Ryan (Dip.NT, NTOI) is a Qualified Nutritional Therapist recognised by the Nutritional Therapists of Ireland (NTOI), the professional association supporting qualified nutritional therapists. All NTOI members study biomedicine and nutrition for a minimum of 3 years at a recognised college, are trained in clinical practice and must comply with NTOI requirements for Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Nutritional Therapy is an evidence-based approach to maximising health through individually formulated nutrition and lifestyle strategies. Pamela continues to attend training and lectures on a regular basis through various bodies including The Institute of Functional Medicine and The Institute of Health Sciences. These trainings help her to gain increased expertise in the ever advancing field of nutrition.

Let us help you control those Bad Behaviours!

donal blog image

Donal – Pharmacist Aylesbury

The more i read from the latest research articles the more it seems that the old sayings we’ve heard repeated again and again about food, sleep and exercise are true. We should go to bed early, eat natural foods and exercise every day.

But often in the media we see people who break these rules idolised and celebrated. People who work around the clock, who party through the night, people who binge and diet in repeated cycles. These behaviours are enticing and misleading. Often we believe we can accomplish something greater, meet deadlines by pushing through walls of fatigue, or that we can make up for bad eating behaviours afterwards by upping our exercise regimen.

I  will often hear people relate and discuss behaviours such as late night snacking, insatiable appetites and craving snacks, remarking on them as inexplicable and unavoidable. Night binging can leave a person with low energy levels the next day. People who regularly do this often have high insulin levels which can lead to diabetes and they find it difficult to exercise from fatigue and lack of sleep. Without knowing how our bodies work it can be difficult to understand where these cravings come from. Being now in my thirties some of these bad habits have already caught up with me and I see the effects of poor diet and snacking in my energy levels and some of my blood tests. Not a good scenario to be in at such a “young” age. LOL.

What I have found helpful in trying to control my own bad behaviours is an understanding of what exactly is going on in my body to drive these unhealthy habits I seem drawn to constantly repeat. In this blog I will briefly discuss one aspect of the body’s many mechanisms that control appetite, weight fluctuations and as researchers are currently finding out potentially a lot more.

Ghrelin is an appetite stimulating hormone released from the empty stomach. It signals our brain to encourage anticipatory and goal-directed behaviours. This basically means it makes us look out for our next meal, make us think about food and it affects what we crave in terms of sugar, fat, protein and carbohydrates. On its own ghrelin seems to direct us toward a more nutritious meal than we might choose without its influence. This might sound familiar if you think of what you crave when you are really hungry. Usually the ice cream, chocolate or biscuit treat (my personal favourites!) doesn’t seem sufficient and we actually want a heart slap up meal with more nutritious ingredients. This is actually a good effect of the hormone.

However studies have shown that as ghrelin levels rise, the amount of eating it encourages rises dramatically. This makes sense in the natural world. The longer the period between eating the more our body is going to want to stock up on energy the next time food is available. However this effect is contributing to our modern day obesity problem. We have such busy lives that people are often jumping from the bed out the door skipping what the old maxim calls the most important meal of the day. Breakfast. Breaking the fast.

As we sleep our bodies are stilling whirring away with countless processes like a laptop on standby. In fact the energy our body would use if we were to simply lie on the couch all day accounts for up to 60 to 70% of the energy we spend each day even when we move around and work as normal. That is why it is so important to supply your body with a source of healthy energy soon after waking up in the morning. Otherwise the body will demand an even greater meal off you later in the day.

Studies have shown that  ghrelin, the hunger hormone, will not be suppressed without a proper breakfast. People who skip breakfast think they are cutting out part of their day’s calorie intake but it is proven that those people eat more for lunch, dinner AND supper partly due to higher ghrelin levels the skipped breakfast causes.

Also sleep deprivation has been shown to increase cortisol (our stress hormone) and in doing so mimic starvation and hunger. Both stress and cortisol increase our hunger hormone ghrelin which increases our cravings and likelihood to overeat. Poor sleep is another of the factors linked to increasing obesity in Ireland.

There are several ways we can affect our ghrelin levels. One large egg provides varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin yet regular consumption of eggs is still met with uncertainty. In the 1970s excess cholesterol in our blood was linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Many scientists assumed that eating high-cholesterol foods like butter, red meat and eggs must then be bad for our health. In fact sugar, trans fats or excessive saturated fat is more harmful to use and produces more cholesterol in our blood that dietary cholesterol.

In a study comparing eating eggs for breakfast versus a bowl of healthy oatmeal on the symptoms of heart disease (a change in the cholesterol and lipid balance in the body) there was not a huge difference between the two. The eggs did raise cholesterol levels somewhat compared to the oatmeal but not in an unhealthy amount and the sugar levels, liver function and fat levels in the body were the same. The eggs did seem to keep the person eating them fuller for a longer time than the porridge. I have tried alternating both porridge and a boiled egg into my breakfast regime and from my experience I can see how an egg can help space out meals across a day and prevent the urge to snack in between. But the benefits of porridge on health are also proven so if anything I would recommend fitting both into your morning diet if possible.

Being a daily porridge devourer I want to explain how it can benefit you. When food enters the stomach it lowers your ghrelin but it doesn’t stop you from eating. The signal for satiety and to stop eating is actually located twenty two feet or almost seven meters into the intestine! Naturally it takes time for food to travel this far. The Japanese have a saying which is “eat until you are 80% full” which is basically allowing your food time to reach this point. Alternatively trying to eat with chopsticks will get you there! The best way to get food moving faster through the intestine is through fiber.

Ever notice how a plate of pasta or chips and cheeseburgers doesn’t always make you feel full? This is because fast food and processed cereals have had their fibre stripped away to improve taste and shelf life. They sit into your stomach instead of moving into the intestine where they should be signalling the brain that the stomach is full. Anything that speeds food transit through the gut will make you feel fuller faster and reduce hunger and the amount eaten. The insoluble fiber in porridge does this. Its soluble fiber also helps by forming a sticky gel that delays stomach emptying which makes you feel fuller faster. Processed foods and cereals contain little of these or have it artificially added back in which doesn’t seem to work as well as when it is in its original form.

There was a study I found interesting on how water, milk, a yogurt drink and fruit juice drunk either before or with a meal would affect appetite, satiety (feeling full after eating) and the amount of food eaten. Milk reduced the overall  food intake and appetite while increasing the satiety (feeling full after meal) compared to a sweetened yogurt or fruit drink. But in all cases drinking water meant the overall calorie intake was less before and after the meal. One esteemed dietician in America suggested keeping to milk, water and tea only as the beverages of choice and leaving the rest out of our diets. Sugary beverages and even fruit juice are thought to be unnecessary additions to our diet that we might be better avoiding. Fruit it appears is best eaten whole rather than juiced or pulverised into a smoothie. Also I will add in here that fructose which is known simply as sugar when it comes to talking about our modern processed foods does not affect ghrelin release unlike other carbohydrates and proteins which lower ghrelin levels. So sweets and sugary drinks in the morning will not reduce the amount of food you are likely to consume later for lunch and dinner compared to the egg and porridge discussed earlier.

Is it better to spread out calorie intake over a period rather than breaking the day into say three solid meal times? One study used liquid meals of protein, fat and carbohydrates taken in a single go versus splitting it up into five smaller portions taken every half hour to examine this idea. No difference was found in how the food was burnt off meaning that splitting meals up across the day has little effect on avoiding hunger later in the day or keeping up your energy. In fact where the food was consumed in a single go the people reported great and longer lasting fullness.

We often hear about losing weight by different approaches (intermittent or irregular dieting versus continuous dieting). A study tried to determine the effect of this on the body’s systems and discovered little difference in how the body was reacting to the weight loss. The people who achieved the same weight loss by dieting on and off seemed to be under no greater or lesser drive by their bodies to regain weight than those who had dieted in a more consistent manner. To me this study shows the power of habit. Studies have shown that consistent dieting has a greater chance of success but this study shows there is no biological measurement (in terms of hunger hormone, insulin levels) to account for it. Making lifestyle changes your everyday practice is the way to sustain weight loss because the likelihood that all lost weight will be regained is simply the reflection of how likely you are to return to old habits if you haven’t been practicing new ones.

So in summary breakfast is still the main meal of the day. Don’t skip it and try to have healthy oats and maybe an egg as a large part of it, though don’t forget your daily intake of whole fruit. We in LloydsPharmacy are here to support you in attaining a healthy lifestyle and so we can advise you on your diet, help motivate you and supply a range of products that will boost the positive changes you make in your daily life. Chromium is supposed to aid in reducing cravings by enhancing insulin function and effect in the body. Our pharmacies can supply this in more than one brand (Sona or Pharmanord). Products such as Miss Fit Skinny Tea and XLS Medical have proven popular among customers who are making healthy changes in their diets. We have Change Your Health Direction experts in each store so please pop in and tell us how you are doing and ask us how we can help.

 

 

Coconut Fish Fingers + Smashed Peas

This classic combination gets a healthy overhaul! Coconut, a hint of cayenne pepper, fresh lime, mint and sweet peas make for a light, summertime dish. Serve with a big salad of fresh leafy greens or stuff them inside wholegrain pitta breads for a great picnic lunch. We won’t mind if you add a little tomato ketchup on the side either!

Serves: 2 | Cooking Time: 25 minutes | Rating: Simple

Free From: gluten, wheat, cow’s dairy, refined sugar and meat

Ingredients:

  • 2 fresh cod fillets (about 250g – 300g)
  • 40g coconut flour, almond flour or gluten free plain flour
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • A good pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp Optima raw virgin coconut oil*
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4-5 fresh mint leaves
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 2 tbsp water
  • A pinch of sea salt

To serve:

  • Fresh mixed leafy greens
  • A good quality natural tomato ketchup (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F).
  2. Crack the egg into a small bowl and lightly beat. Lay out two small plates, one with the coconut flour and the other with the desiccated coconut.
  3. Slice the fish into finger-width strips.
  4. Coat the fish strips with the flour, dipping them into the egg and then coat them with the desiccated coconut.
  5. Lay each coated strip carefully onto a non-stick baking tray. Sprinkle the goujons with sea salt, cayenne pepper and drizzle over the coconut oil.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden.
  7. Meanwhile prepare the smashed peas. Place the peas into a large bowl and cover with boiling water until thawed. Drain in a sieve and plunge into cool water to stop the peas from losing their colour.
  8. Tip the peas into a blender or food processor. Add the mint leaves, water, lime juice and a pinch of sea salt. Pulse the peas a few times until crushed (you could also do this with a fork, just make sure to finely chop the mint leaves first).
  9. Transfer the smashed peas to a serving bowl. Remove the fish goujons from the oven and pile onto a serving dish with mixed leafy greens. Serve.

NutritionInformation

Created by: Pamela Ryan Qualified Nutritionist

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

We’re here to help you Change Your Health Direction

Laura Dowling by City Headshots Dublin

Laura – Pharmacist, Stillorgan

May is here, bringing with it the official beginning of summer (and the launch of our FREE 8 Week Change Your Health Direction Programme). May is the month when we traditionally start to plan our summer holidays and mentally prepare for the ‘bikini body big reveal’. We naturally consume less calories as the weather warms up and many people take up some form of outdoor exercise because it is just EASIER to do so with the brighter, longer days.

It is so important to take a proactive approach to our health but it is also very easy to jump on the fad diet band wagon to lose weight. I always tell my clients that losing the pounds steadily over several weeks is preferable and much healthier than dropping half a stone in a week only to pile it all back on once the holidays come. Nowadays there is so much information out there and so many different people (some of whom are entirely under qualified to be giving advice) that one can feel overwhelmed when it comes to deciding which plan to follow.

I was raised, and am raising my own children with the mindset ‘everything in moderation’. It is impossible to stick to many of the current popular diets for prolonged periods of time and enjoy a decent work-life balance. People then have an overwhelming sense of guilt when they ‘fall off the wagon’ and this only reinforces their bad relationship with food.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a 99 on a hot sunny day- just ask for a children’s size! Even ‘healthy’ foods, if eaten in copious amounts can pile on the pounds. A teaspoon of Meridian cashew nut butter for example in porridge, natural yoghurt or spread on wholemeal bread is a delicious, nutrient dense snack and a staple snack in my house.  However, if you are shoveling tablespoons of the stuff into your mouth you WILL put on weight!

I am a big fan of taking high quality nutritional supplements to give yourself that extra boost that you might need energy-wise, especially if you are exercising more. Nutritional supplements, as well as helping you to achieve a healthy heart, bones, skin, hair and nails can also help to sustain energy levels and contribute to a restful night’s sleep. Revive Active is an Irish supplement, produced in Galway, that I recommend regularly in my practice. Quinton Cell Nutrition is another high-quality product that gives your body’s cells all the trace elements that they need to keep your body working optimally. People can really benefit from taking vitamin and mineral supplements when taken as part of a balanced diet.

The NUA Naturals range is another Irish brand with many organic superfood products that are nutrient dense and easy to add to baking, smoothies and cooking. I love their organic cacao which makes a much healthier  alternative to traditional hot chocolate. My kids love it too! Ashwagandha powder, known as ‘the Indian ginseng’ has been used for centuries in India where it is thought to relieve anxiety and periods of stress and fatigue. The NUA naturals version can be added to warm milk and honey as a night cap.

If you are unsure about which products to take to help you to achieve your health goals or if you need any dietary or exercise advice, your local LloydsPharmacy is a wealth of knowledge. There are Pharmacists and health coaches on hand seven days a week to answer your questions and give you the professional advice that will help to guide you on your Change Your Health Direction journey. Come on in, we are waiting for you!