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Upper Cross Syndrome

This could be you? To be honest we all have to a degree, and I would like to mention it just briefly.

If you stand yourself or your partner, up against the wall with your back to the wall and your feet just 2/3 inches away, you should be able to get you back, from the base of your spine up through your entire torso and the back of your head to almost meet with the wall. Try it…

If you find that when your lower back comes close to the wall and your shoulders lift off, or when you put the shoulders back and in contact with the wall, it leaves a big gap at your lower back, you are probably someone who has the above.

Is it bad? No, not necessarily, but it can lead to many problems and you may be suffering with its negative effects now. Because of the rotation it causes in the shoulder girdle, it can cause tension headaches, dizziness, shoulder pain, pain when lifting the arm, numbness in the fingers, pain in the upper back between the shoulder blades (scapula), to name a few.

Is it easily rectified? With education and a little hard work and dedication, in most cases it is! The cross (X) part refers to the muscles being tight in one section of the cross and loose in the other, therefore creating an imbalance in the way we function in the upper torso.

If we move and posture incorrectly for a long time this causes the body to compensate and over use one set of muscles and renders the opposing muscles inactive. To improve the situation, you need to first become aware of what is occurring and then set about correcting it, by stretching the tight set of muscles and then strengthening the weak (loose) set.

Simple? It really is! But you will need someone who is a specialist in anatomy and movement to help you to build a plan to correct it.

If you are suffering with any of the above, clinic and posture are my passion and I would love to help. There, so now you know a little about upper cross syndrome and how to test for it.

Love and energy,
Liz and Jessica x

Chicken and Quinoa Balti Curry

Who said all curries were bad for you? Try this healthy take on an Indian classic – you won’t be disappointed!

SERVES 4
Ingredients:

4 skinless Chicken Breasts (1 per person)
2 Large Onions, sliced
200g Quinoa
400g tin of Chopped Tomatoes
4 tbsp balti curry paste
1tbsp Olive Oil
Bunch of Fresh Coriander (roughly chopped)

To make:
1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and fry until soft and golden – about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan.

2. Add the chicken breasts, brown for a few minutes on each side, then add the Balti paste, quinoa and pop the onions back in.

3. After a few minutes of sizzling, pour in the tomatoes, stock and give it all a good mix. Leave to cook for 25 minutes.

4. Just before serving, add most of the coriander to the mix and stir.

5. Pile onto a plate or wide bowl, and sprinkle the remaining coriander on top and around – for that decorative touch!

Serve as is, or with some Garlic and Coriander Naan to mop up the juices!

Love and energy,
Liz and Jessica x

Do you want to look like a healthy cow?

Healthy calves grow into healthy cows by drinking milk in its natural state just as nature intended.  Calves fed our pasteurized milk fail to thrive and their internal organs are sickly.  And dogs drink natural dog milk, natural horse milk is for horses…do humans need pasteurized, homogenized cows milk in order to be healthy humans?

Worldwide it is a minority of humans who consume milk after weaning, quite possibly because of a lack of enzymes to digest it.

Scientific papers do not support the notion of milk as a ‘perfect food’.  Indeed scientists have linked milk with health problems including intestinal irritation, allergic reactions, heart disease and an increased risk of some cancers.

As someone who carries out food intolerance and sensitivity testing and advice, I know many people have problems digesting milk and feel so much better without it in their regular diet.  How about going dairy free for a while and see if any unpleasant symptoms subside?  This is especially recommended with a cold and / or congestion.  Rice milk, oat milk, almond milk and coconut milk are healthy alternatives which you can try.

Love and energy,
Liz and Jessica x

Positive quote of the month…is a poem!

THE DASH

I heard of the man who got up to speak at a memorial to his friend,
He mentioned dates on her tomb stone, 1934-2000, the beginning and the end.
The first of course, recorded her birth, the second he spoke with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all was the dash between the years.

For the dash represented the time that she had spent on earth,
And now only those close to her knew what that was worth.
What does it matter what we own, the cars the house, the cash?
What counts is how we live and love; just how we spend our dash.

So think about it while you can; are there things you’d like to change?
You never know what time you’ve left to try and rearrange.
Just take more time to listen, understand how others feel,
Getting the priorities right on what is lasting, true and real.

Be less ready to sit in judgement; show appreciation more
of the people in our lives who we’ve taken for granted before.
Treat everyone with due respect; more often wear a smile,
Recalling that this little dash might only last a while.

So when you’re eulogy’s being read, a life time to re-hash,
Will you be proud of the things they’ll say about how you spent your dash?

ANON

Love and energy,
Liz and Jessica x

Salt or no salt?

‘Low salt’, ‘no salt’, ‘salt substitute’ – you’ve heard it all before.  There are hundreds of salts in nature, so it is left to our assumption that these references are to the common salt used in your kitchen.  So how can salt be worth its weight in gold in some cultures? Or have been used by healers for centuries?  Or why do animals need a salt lick?

Our body holds water inside and outside cells and salt is needed to keep the balance.  To read up on over 25 functions of salt in your body pick up a copy of ‘Water & Salt your healers from within’ by Dr F Batmanghelidj.  You can also listen to some recorded interviews with the Dr and Tony Robbins on this link  http://www.watercure.com/media/interview.html

Regular table salt has had its minerals removed (and maybe sold to animal food processors) and its chemical structure altered by intense heat, leaving a poison which you will need to flush out of your body.  So yes, avoid this salt like the plague.  Be wary of rock and sea salts which can also be mineral deficient and subjected to heat processing.  Stick with unrefined sea salt (Celtic or Atlantic) or Himalayan Rock Salt and you will be consuming a natural product, processed by nature and still retaining over 80 minerals to feed your body and bones.

I have found Atlantic Sea Salt in Canterbury Wholefoods and Wingham Farmers Market.  Celtic Sea Salt in shaker tubs is available from me, Nicola at Plus Nutrition!

Love and energy,
Liz and Jessica x

Pork and Chili Noodle Soup

20 minutes to prepare, start to finish – this recipe serves 4

400g (14oz) pork fillet (can use chicken or prawn, or both)
¼ red chilli, finely chopped (add more if you want it spicier)
1tbsp vegetable or olive oil
2.5cm (1in) fresh root ginger, cut into slivers
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
400ml can coconut milk
700ml (1 + ½ pints) hot chicken stock (or use veggie stock cubes)
175g (6oz) medium egg noodles
50g (2oz) spinach
Large handful of coriander, roughly chopped

You can also add small whole sweetcorn sticks, mange tout, chopped cabbage, mushroom etc.

1. Cut meat into strips. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the meat until golden. Add the chilli, ginger, paprika & pepper and cook for a further minute. (If using prawns, add at the same time as the noodles)
2. Add the coconut milk and chicken stock and simmer for 5 mins. Stir in the noodles, add extra veg (i.e. chopped cabbage, spinach) and coriander and cook for 4 mins.
3. Serve

Love and energy,
Liz and Jessica x

Easy Peasy Butternut Squash and Chilli Soup

butternut squashes,food,produce,vegetablesThis is the perfect dish if you’re pushed for time and don’t fancy cooking. (Not to mention it’s filling and delicious – and healthy too. Winner!)

SERVES 4
Ingredients:
1 Large Butternut Squash (or two smaller ones)
1 Large White Onion
1 Litre of Vegetable/Chicken Stock (or Bouillon Powder made into stock – my personal favourite)
Salt and Pepper to season
Dried or Fresh Thyme (Add according to taste – 1 tbsp will probably be enough)
Paprika or chilli flakes – add as much as desired
Drizzle of Olive oil

To make:

  1. Chop the squash into smallish cubes (about an inch square) and chop the onion fairly finely.
  2. In a large saucepan, add a drizzle of olive oil, and cook the onion until soft, add the paprika or chilli flakes, thyme and seasoning. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Add the Squash and cook for about 3 minutes
  4. Pour over the hot stock, and leave to simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the squash is soft (but not mushy!)
  5. Transfer the soup into a blender / food processor and whizz until smooth. Should be a nice silky consistency. (You can also use a hand blender straight into the pot.)
  6. Transfer back to the saucepan and reheat until hot enough to serve

Serve with a crusty wholemeal roll or for a change – try dipping in some toast!

Love and energy,
Liz and Jessica x

White rice v Brown Rice and the winner is…

Evidently in this nation we eat about 9 times as much potato as rice.  This is hardly surprising given our agricultural heritage; furthermore those of us of European ancestry often lack the enzymes needed to digest rice on a regular basis – once or twice a week is usually enough.

Most rice we buy is white rice which has had its’ outer germ layer and bran along with their nutrients removed. Further polishing removes the essential fats leaving a nutrient deficient product that will spike your blood sugar levels while failing to satisfy or feed you.

As an example, polished white rice has lost 90% of its original vitamin B6 and 60% of its iron. However, brown rice won’t keep as long as white, so ideally store it in the fridge for up to 6 months and keep an eye on its ‘use by’ date so it doesn’t go rancid.

Do yourself a favour, buy brown rice and you will eat more healthy fibre too. You will soon get used to longer cooking times and more chewing – and chewing food thoroughly is good for your digestion!

Love and energy,
Liz and Jessica x

Pilates exercises (not for first timers!)

A little routine for my own clients, please do not use this if you do not normally do Pilates with us at BackFit. This is a mix of exercise to practice and perfect at home. Good luck, do not strain or push past your normal ability; everything will improve with practice, determination and continual repetition.

One of the most frequently asked questions about Pilates is: Will Pilates help me lose weight? The short answer is yes, Pilates is supportive of weight loss. In many cases just beginning Pilates class, or a home routine, is enough to jump start weight loss. However, as time goes by you may find that your body becomes accustomed to your workout level. Then, you will need to increase the intensity of your workout enough to help you continue to burn extra calories. Here are some ideas to help you amp up your workout:

1. Pelvic Tilt from a neutral position

 (courtesy of Peak Pilates)
The warm-up exercises are very important in teaching the foundations of Pilates movement. They also prepare the body for safely executing more challenging exercises later. I suggest that you choose at least two or three to begin each Pilates routine you do.

2. Chest Lift

 (by Peter Kramer, courtesy of Kolesar Studios)
Muscular focus: abdominals – especially upper abs
Tips: This is not a crunch. The abdominals must be pulled way down into a deep scoop as you use them to control a slow, smooth curl up and roll down.

3. The Hundred

 (courtesy of Peak Pilates)
Beginners please use the knees in a table top position.
Muscular focus: abdominals, breathing
Tips: Your abdominals will be deeply pulled in, so you will have to use your full lung capacity by breathing into your back and lower ribs. Use your abs to hold yourself up–don’t get caught up in your shoulders and neck.

4. The Roll Up 

 ((c)2006 Marguerite Ogle)
Beginners please bend your knees
Muscular focus: abdominals
Tips: Use your abdominals to roll up and down with control. Do not rely on momentum or letting your legs lift off the mat.

5. One Leg Circle

 (courtesy of Peak Pilates)
Beginners bend the non active leg.
Muscular focus: abdominals, thighs, hip flexors
Tips: The abdominals keep the pelvis stable as the leg moves. No rocking and rolling!

6. Rolling Like a Ball

  (by Peter Kramer, courtesy of Kolesar Studios)
Beginners put your hands behind the thighs. Round the back and breath in as you roll back, breath out on the return to balance point.
Muscular focus: abdominals
Tips: Stay in your curve for the whole exercise. Initiate the roll back with the abs and not by throwing the upper body back.

7. Open Leg Balance

 (courtesy of Kolesar Studios)
Practice from the balance point you used with the roll back position and start by straightening one leg at a time.
Muscular focus: abdominals, hamstring stretch
Tips: Use you abdominals to control the pose. Try not to pull on your legs for balance.

8. The Side Kick Series

  (by Peter Kramer, courtesy of Kolesar Studios)
Do not over stretch the leg, focus on keeping the leg long and strong.
Muscular focus: abdominals, all thigh muscles – especially inner thigh
Tips: The ribs should stay lifted throughout each exercise. Do not let them sink to the mat.

9. Front Support/Plank  the press up the position.

 (courtesy of Peak Pilates)
Muscular focus: back extensors, abdominals, shoulders, arms
Tips: Stay in one line from your heels to your ears. Though the focus is somewhat on the upper body, if you engage the legs and imagine squeezing the sit bones together, the exercise will be easier.

10. Saw 

 ((c)2006, Marguerite Ogle)
Beginners can soften at the knee and just do rotation, without the flexion (moving forward to the toe)
Muscular focus: hamstrings, inner thigh, oblique abdominals, back stretch
Tips: Keep your hips anchored and level as you turn to the side. Extend energy through the back arm even as you reach forward.

Neck and Back Stretches

All these stretches must be done in a slow and controlled movement, no bounce and keep the spine in neutral for all these stretches, always do both sides.

Start with an upright position, drop the arm on the side you want to stretch, then place the opposite hand over the top of your head and just rest it there. Now apply a downward pull on the arm toward the floor, until you feel the stretch and hold for 10-15  seconds.

This is similar to the above but start with the head rotated to the side before applying the downward pull. 7-10 sec

Start with the head in neutral, pull your chin in, then lower your head towards your chest. Place your hands on the top of your head and let them rest. You should feel a stretch from the base of the skull and down the centre of the upper back.