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Before your After

Before your After

How often do we set goals for ourselves? "In five weeks I'll be x weight..." "I'm going to buy this dress in a size 10 because I'll fit it next month."

Often we are so fixated on the result that we forget to think about the process. What the journey to reaching your goals might actually look like. Here at Feel Fresh Nutrition, we like to call this the “before your after”. 

Media hasn't helped this phenomenon. Before pictures are juxtaposed against svelte, joyous after photos. Often with better lighting, more flattering clothes, smiling faces and hashtags designed to motivate others. #thiscouldbeyou. Except it couldn’t be, because that’s them and not you. 

This may seem pretty harmless, but the thing we see time and time again working with clients is that weight loss is less about what you eat, and how much you exercise and more about your MINDSET. Our most successful clients are those with the right mindset and those who make consistent changes over a period of time. When we focus solely on the end results we can’t appreciate the positive changes we are making regardless of the outcome. I.e we create the wrong mindset.

If we buy into the before/after picture scenario, it implies that the person - or you - is less in their before. Less healthy, less happy, less worthy. Some of these things may be true, but your outward appearance actually isn’t the best judge of this. What actually matters is your health behaviours.

If you change your mindset towards health, with weight loss as a byproduct, you will undoubtedly be healthier and you will still be as worthy as a person at every stage of your journey. 

The other reason thinking about weight loss as a before and after process is flawed is because it implies that we MUST have our own after picture in order for our life's work to have been a success. It also suggests - not too implicitly - that the process was easy, linear and sudden. Logically we know the person did not simply exercise for a week, eat some salad and wake up with washboard abs. 

In all likelihood, their journey had more downs than ups and it was only consistency over time that led to good results. But before's and after's don't show this. What we think is most helpful is to think about what YOUR life is going to look like BEFORE your AFTER.

  • Is it going to be a straightforward process? 
  • Are you never going to eat cake again?
  • Are you going to avoid every single social setting until you can wear that size 10 outfit or 34" jeans.
  • Are you going to avoid a glass of wine or beer on a Friday night with your colleagues or friends?
  • Or are you going to develop habits that are enjoyable and sustainable but will still get you there?

I hope you can tell from this list that at Feel Fresh Nutrition we strongly support the last statement.

We do not have to hate the process or even what our picture or context looks like 'before'. When you set goals you are working towards achieving something that is important to you. It isn't necessarily about making yourself better. You as a person, right now, are perfectly imperfect as you are. 

You are not less worthy of love, especially self-love, than the person who 'appears' to have it all because they are tall and slim. You don't suddenly earn the right to be happy and love yourself when you finally get to publish the 'after' picture. 

To some people this may seem like common logic. Some people know that small but consistent changes will lead to the results they want. But, because of our current culture and the dieting industries claims that we can lose “10kg in 2 weeks” some people get discouraged and proceed to indulge in self-destructive behaviours. 

So it’s important to tell this message. Even if we were to give people the best nutrition plan in the world, geared towards aggressive weight loss, it’s not going to be a simple equation of "do this" to convert your before to your after. 

Goals are good. They provide context and remind us of what's important. But they shouldn't come at the expense of sanity, rational thought and uplifting practises of self-respect and enjoyment. The thing about goals is that they aren't always a destination. Between where you stand now and those goals is this thing called life, and it's for living. 

So what does this all mean? How do we learn to enjoy the time before the after?

  • If your goal is weight loss, don't weigh yourself every day. Weigh no more than once a week.
  • If your happiness is pinned on a number decreasing solely based on your personal relationship with gravity, don't weigh yourself at all.
  • When working with clients in the clinic we use weight as a reference point, but we also check body composition, energy and other factors such as improvements in hormones, acne, fertility or digestive issues. You’re not necessarily going to lose weight every single time you jump on the scales. And that’s ok. We can adjust and change your plan based on the new information we have gathered. Because really, that’s all that weight is. Information about your body. 
  • Set yourself some non-scale barometers. We call these non scale victories. Do I have more energy? Is my skin better? Are my IBS symptoms improving? How many compliments have I received? Are my clothes looser? Is my relationship with food or myself better?
  • Set yourself micro goals. You aren't going to get there overnight so break up the journey. At the one month mark, regardless of your results, take yourself out for a nice lunch, massage or pampering session. Buy yourself tickets to a show or game you've been wanting to see.

Do not compare yourself to others. This is the biggest part of putting your journey into perspective. You don't know what stage someone is at on their own journey. You don't even know what their journey is. For you it might be weight loss and you resent their apparent ease with weight management. They may be grappling with anxiety or confidence or any number of things that have nothing to do with weight. Again, their worth as a person isn't less because they haven't reached their own after. 

They are awesome as they are, just like you.

Thanks, from Team Feel Fresh Nutrition.

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Image: Julia Caesar

What your Poo says about you!

What your Poo says about you!

Did we really just say that?

Yes, we did! And here’s why. The gut microbiome – the delicate balance of billions of microorganisms living inside of our gastrointestinal tract – is really having its time in the lime-light in terms of its role in our overall health and well-being, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing. It seems like new journal articles are being published almost daily about how these critters can influence everything from the obvious (like our digestive health) to the less obvious, like our mental health. Our bodies are 10 to 1 bacteria; you have more bacterial cells residing in and on you than you have human DNA. Think about that for a moment… most of the DNA in your body isn’t human!

Why should you care about the health of your gut, and how can you tell whether or not yours is in tip top condition?

Our guts are our ‘second brain,’ with the bacteria that reside there producing a whopping 95 percent of the serotonin in our bodies. (1). This serotonin is responsible for regulating both mood and gastrointestinal activity. Ever wonder why you get butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous? That’s the gut-brain axis at work.

The balance of bacteria in the gut can also be a powerful player in terms of how well you do or do not digest your food. They help regulate everything from transit time, to nutrient absorption, and gas, bloating, and stool consistency.

Your gut is also your best defence against attacks from the outside world – bacterial infections, viruses, and foodborne illness. It is responsible for an enormous amount of your immunity – whether or not you get sick. Frequent illness could be a sign of a compromised gut! Even mild stress can be enough to tip the balance between health promoting bacteria, and disease causing bacteria.

So, with the health of the bacteria that reside in our guts being so crucial to our health, how can we tell if our guts are healthy or not?

1. Transit time

This one is fairly straight forward and involves eating something that passes through the digestive tract relatively unchanged. This is a measure of how long food takes to pass through your digestive tract. A transit time that is too slow could indicate constipation, and an overly rapid transit time could indicate poor nutrient absorption. Some options include:

  • Sesame Seeds: Mix a tablespoon of sesame seeds into a glass of water and swallow them whole. They should reappear in your stool mostly intact.

  • Beetroot: In addition to being an awesome source of many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, beetroot also turns things purple – your poo included! You need to eat about a cup either cooked or raw, and on its own. Watch for the change in colour in your stool.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a study conducted in the 1980s showed significant differences between men and women in terms of transit time, with men having a much faster rate (33 hours compared to 47 hours for women). A normal transit time is anywhere between 12 to 48 hours, with anything more than 72 hours likely indicating constipation. (2).

2. The Bristol Stool Form Scale

Developed by a team of researchers at the University of Bristol, the Bristol Stool Form Scale classes bowel movements by form and shape. There are seven ‘types,’ all indicating different degrees of bowel health.

The longer faeces stays inside our bodies, the more dried out and hard it becomes. The Bristol Stool Chart is essentially another way of measuring transit time.

  • Type 1: Indicates constipation. The stool is hard and scratchy, and painful to pass. There will be little gas, as there is inadequate fibre to ferment.

  • Type 2: Also indicates constipation, but is more severe than Type 1 owing to the size. Considerable straining required to eliminate. Common in sufferers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Stool in this form has been in the colon for several weeks.

  • Type 3: Has all of the same characteristics of Type 2, but transit time through the colon is faster. Also common in sufferers of IBS.

  • Type 4: Normal! Common in people who have a bowel movement daily.

  • Type 5: Also considered normal, but not if there is incompletely digested food visible (this could indicate a transit time that is too fast).

  • Type 6: Abnormally fast transit time, but comfortable to pass. Can be caused by excessive stress, laxative use, or gut disorders.

  • Type 7: Classic diarrhoea. Transit time is far too rapid to allow for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. (3).

So, Types 1, 2, 6, or 7 could indicate gut issues that require further investigation.

3. Just looking!

Does your poop float, sink, or contain undigested food particles? All of this tells you something about your digestion, and the overall health of your gut.

  • Floating stools can indicate flatulence and gas in the stool, and is not caused by too much fat in the diet (as is commonly believed). However, an increased fat content of stool can indicate a pancreatic disorder, as the pancreas is responsible for emulsifying dietary fats. (4).

  • Undigested food in your poo can be harmless, or a sign that something is wrong. For example, not chewing thoroughly, swallowing a lot of air, or eating hard to digest foods can all cause food to be incompletely digested, but are harmless. However, it can also be a sign of inadequate hydrochloric acid production, intestinal inflammation, or malabsorption. If this happens to you frequently, see your doctor.

4. Frequency

Although everyone is different and there is no set ‘ideal’ bowel movement frequency, it can tell us a lot about our gut health. As stated above, there is considerable variability between individuals influenced by factors such as fluid intake and diet. There is also much variability between men and women, with men passing stool more frequently. (5).

It is generally accepted that having a bowel movement every day to every three days is considered normal. Any less frequently than this could indicate serious constipation. Frequent loose or watery stools can also indicate malabsorption, or digestive disorders such as IBS.

5. Listen to your gut

Symptoms such as pain, gas, and bloating can all indicate abnormal digestive health – especially if experienced frequently. However, there are many lesser-known symptoms of poor digestive health as well. If you experience any of the following symptoms frequently, it could warrant further investigation:

  • Indigestion and/or heartburn

  • Bad breath

  • Food sensitivities and intolerances

  • Mucus in the stool

If you experience any of these symptoms, there are a number of things you can try at home to help health your gut and restore digestive health, such as:

  • Increase your fibre intake – especially from fresh fruits and vegetables

  • Increase the amount of fermented foods you eat, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha

  • If you suspect you may have food intolerances, try an elimination diet to single out the food or foods

  • Increase your fluid intake

  • Get a good probiotic supplement

  • Get enough sleep, and reduce stress as much as possible

If you suspect you may have a more serious condition such as Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Colitis, or a bacterial (such as SIBO) or fungal overgrowth (such as Candida), it is essential that you see your doctor for testing.

Healing the gut and optimizing gut health can be a complicated process with many moving parts, but it’s well worth the investment of time and effort for the sake of your physical, mental, and emotional health. We’re still learning just how important our gut health is in achieving optimal well-being.


Thanks, from Team Feel Fresh Nutrition.

For more information please email us here, or book here - we look forward to working with you! 

A Lesson on Self Love


A Lesson on Self Love

Every day, everywhere we look, we’re bombarded with images of beautiful bodies. Bodies that are toned, muscular, and lean. These bodies smile, and look happy. They tell us that if we only worked hard enough, wanted it bad enough, we could look like them, and we too could be happy. As if true happiness depends on being smaller, no matter the cost.