7 Weight Loss Tips You Should Avoid

Friday, 28 February 2020
It's still relatively early in the year, which means some people are still on their weight loss journey new years resolution. It seems like every time you open social media, there is a new weight loss product, a new weight loss diet, or changes to what we know about food in general. With all the misinformation going around, it can be hard to know what in the world we actually should be doing. 

Now, let me preface this post by stating, I am not a nutritionist, physical trainer, nor do I hold degrees in biology, kinesiology, or anything relating to physical health. The tips I'm sharing are solely on my own health and wellbeing mistakes as well as information that has been given to me by actual professionals. So take it with a grain of salt or trust my word, it's up to you. 

Trying to up your overall wellbeing but have no idea what advice to listen to, I have some times on what weight loss advice you should absolutely avoid. 

1. Miracle Weight Loss Pills
I'm not sure why we still believe that any diet pills are actually going to work. Sure there are medications prescribed by a GP that do assist with weight loss, but these are not the products I'm talking about. 

We're talking those products you find when you go to the chemist that claim to help burn away the fat. Or those posts you see from people from high school who have joined an MLM. Or even those 'skinny lollies' and 'skinny teas' that you find being promoted by celebrities on Instagram. There are just so many issues with these products.

If you follow Jameela Jamil on Instagram, you are well aware of the dangers of these products. Never are the side effects discussed, none are FDA approved, and the people trying to sell you these products are only showing you a slice of the picture. Most celebrities are also given personal chefs and trainers in collaboration for promoting the products. But you damn well know they're not sharing this information with their viewers. Just stay away. It's a waste of money. 

2. Cleanses
Cleanses are another big seller in the weight loss industry. There are big promises that a cleanse will restart your system, cleansing away all the harmful toxins and junk from your body. Now I understand that some people do find cleanses super helpful, especially to jumpstart a major health change. But please be cautious. Whilst cleanses typically tend to be natural fruit and veg juice, there are a few issues. 

First, depending on how long the cleanse is, it can be highly restrictive. This means you have a higher chance of going on a binge once the cleanse is finished (if you manage to finish). So all the cleansing of toxins you just did, quickly goes out the window. 

Cleanses can also strictly have a laxative effect. So you're not really removing toxins from your body instead you're lucky if you manage not to poo your pants. You need to make sure you're pumping your body with water to ensure you do not become dehydrated. And carry an extra pair of pants with you if you choose to go out in public. 

3. Fad Diets
It seems every year there is a new fad diet. Paleo, keto, 5:2, fruitarian,  the list goes on and on. Now, whilst some of these have a fair bit of science behind them, others not even close. Often people start these diets and report either no weight loss or, in some cases, weight gain. Why? Probably because they're not in a calorie deficit. Most people start a fad diet but then neglect to account for their caloric intake. Regardless of how much science backs the benefits of a diet, if you're not in a caloric deficit, you're going to either maintain or gain weight. 

4. Give Yourself a Cheat Day
When people start their health journies, they'll often be told to allot for a cheat day. This is supposed to help ensure they're not restricting themselves too much. When there's too much restriction, there's a higher chance you'll stuff up. However, when you give yourself a cheat meal or a cheat day, it can be quite easy to go way over the top and way over your caloric intake. 

Rather than scheduling a cheat meal or a cheat day, adjust your viewpoints on food. Ensuring foods aren't 'off-limits' will lessen the likelihood you'll stuff your face with 8 servings worth. It also creates a more positive outlook towards food and the way it interacts with our body. 

5. Certain Foods Have Negative Calories
I remember being in high school and only eating celery for a fair bit of time because I was told it had negative calories (I had a very unhealthy relationship with food, but that is a story for another day). There is a myth that some foods have negative calories because it takes more energy for your body to digest than the food actually has. Yea that is a big fat lie. All foods have calories, some foods are just more calorie-dense than others. Nutrient-dense foods typically have lower calories meaning you usually can eat a higher volume of these foods. But keep in mind, there are still calories in these foods, so you need to account for them in your daily caloric intake. 

6. Using a Food Log App
Ok, ok, hear me out. I have nothing against food diary apps. In fact, I use one pretty regularly. But I do have one major issue with a food diary app, it doesn't always accurately reflect your actual caloric intake. This is where you have to be very real with yourself. If you're not accurately logging your caloric intake, you may find yourself struggling to lose weight. 

It's easy to search the food and just select the generic option. But what we think is a serving size is not always an accurate serving size. This is where weighing your food to help become a bit more conscious about what you're eating can be beneficial. You may also start to notice trends. Are you snacking while you're cooking? How much oil are you actually using to cook your foods? Are you tracking the drinks you consume? All of these little things can add up. 
7. Waist Trainers or Wraps Will Shrink Your Waist 
Waist trainers, wraps, or even lotions that claim to shrink your waist are going to just shrink your wallet. Unless you've invested in a proper corset (which has its own health risks and dangers), you're not going to change the shape of your waist. Waist trainers may temporarily decrease bloating, there are health risks associated with them. Wraps and lotions really aren't doing much of anything. They may temporarily dehydrate the skin giving the appearance that they've done something, but in actuality, they haven't. 

Diet and exercise are really the only safe ways to shrink your waist. But also remember that every body is built differently. Don't strive to achieve an hourglass figure when we damn know half the celebrities and influencers photoshop their waist to look that way. 

With so many social pressures to look a certain way, it's no wonder the weight loss industry is a billion dollar industry. Social media and photo editing apps do nothing to help promote body positivity and being comfortable in our own skin. We are literally being shown unachievable standards of beauty. 

How many of these 'tips' have you fallen for? In the comments below I would love to hear everyone's body positivity journey. 

And until next time...
Stay curious!

8 Amazing Inclusive Activities in Melbourne

Friday, 21 February 2020
Summer break can be a fun and exciting time. School break means getting to spend quality time with your little ones. However, for some, the summer break can be nerve-wracking. Neurodiverse families often struggle with the increase in crowds, noises, and sensory input this time of the year. It can be quite isolating for these families. 

Thankfully, Melbourne is taking steps to make the summer break more inclusive for all families! Several local activities are perfect for all families and all abilities. Here are some of our favourites:

**Please note, due to the fires in Victoria it may not be safe to access some of the activities mentioned. Please make sure you do your research before taking your family to any of these suggestions. If you haven't already, download the VicEmergency app to keep yourself informed**

1. Sensory Friendly Movie Sessions
Village Cinemas frequently hosts sensory-friendly movie sessions. These sessions help make the movie experience more positive for individuals with sensory processing challenges. Some of the theatres also offer discounted movie tickets for these screenings. 

Now, not all Village Cinemas participate in sensory-friendly sessions. To date Airport West, Knox, Fountain Gate, and Century City Walk participate in the sensory-friendly sessions. If you're wondering whether or not the session is sensory-friendly, you'll find an orange icon near the film title. 

2. Climb Around at We Rock the Spectrum
We Rock the Spectrum is a sensory-safe play centre and gym suitable for all children. This multifaceted gym offers yoga classes, ninja classes, as well as OT and speechie consults. The gym was specifically created for neurodiverse children to have a safe, comfortable environment to explore gross motor movement. If you want to take your little one to a location where you'll be free of judgement, this is the place for you. 

We Rock the Spectrum also holds information sessions for parents and carers. They collaborate with local specialists to prove the most current information. It is a brilliant way to build a solid support network. Make sure you check their Facebook for session availability as they sometimes have private sessions.  

3. Visit Melbourne's Brimbank Park
Parks Victoria and Victorian Autism group collaborated together to assist in decreasing the anxieties individuals with autism may face when going to unfamiliar areas. Within this program, photographs of the park and activities have been uploaded online. There, parents can create a social story explaining what may be experienced when they visit the park. 

As the park is located in Keilor, near the airport, some of the images show children looking up to the sky with an aeroplane. This is to help explain the sounds that they may experience whilst at the park. If you do travel to Brimbank Park, Parks Victoria asks that you give your feedback about the pilot project and how the visit went. 

4. Visit the Fairy Caves
The Buchan Caves, also known as the Fairy Caves, is another incredible place to take the family. Like Brimbank Park, Parks Victoria has worked hard to make the Fairy Caves as inclusive as possible. A social story has been created in collaboration with AMAZE to help show children what they may experience or hear. The park staff also have received training to work with neurodiverse individuals. Some reviews state that when on tours, the staff can make adjustments to help everyone feel more comfortable. The Fairy Caves should definitely be high up on your list this break.  

5. Sensory Sessions at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre
The LEGOLAND Discovery Centre has created private, inclusive events for neurodiverse children and adults. Sensory sessions are held in the morning. To help individuals with sensory challenges, lights and sounds are dimmed, quiet spaces are available, and fewer individuals are allowed in the Centre. The staff have received specialised training to best support all individuals who attend these sessions. Social stories are also available to help familiarise children and adults before the outing. 

It is recommended that you book online to secure your spot. The Discovery Centre honours Carer Cards; however, it is asked the carers do not book online. 

6. Explore the Melbourne Museum
Melbourne Museum advertises that it is an autism-friendly museum. This means they do not hold specific sensory sessions for neurodiverse individuals. However, they have created a number of resources to help ensure everyone has the most fantastic experience. 

On their webpage, you can find a map that details all the high and low sensory areas. This can help families plan out which exhibits will be best to see. In addition, the museum states when low traffic times tend to happen. If your family likes a bit more intimate and quiet atmosphere, researching these times is incredibly helpful. Additionally, various social stories can be found on the website to help ensure everyone is prepared for the best trip. 

7. See the Animals at Myuna Farms
Myuna Farms is a safe and welcoming environment for neurodiverse families. The farm encourages children to see and pat the animals, go on a pony ride, and explore the grounds on a train. Research has shown significant benefits for neurodiverse individuals who visit the zoo and farms. Besides, who doesn't love cute, cuddly animals? 

8. Become a Ninja at a Risky Kids Gym
Like We Rock the Spectrum, Risky Kids is an inclusive program for all children. Risky Kids takes the concept of play and challenges and puts those skills into parkour, ninja warrior, and obstacle course racing. Research has shown that children who engage in risky play show increases in self-esteem, communication, and socio-emotional wellbeing. Staff are trained to support neurodiverse children so that all children can actively participate in the program. 

Places around Melbourne are genuinely starting to create inclusive atmospheres for all their visitors. There still is a way to go, but the more knowledge, education, and understanding that is created, the more likely we are to creating an inclusive community. What are some of your favourite inclusive summer activities? Please share them in the comments below!

And until next time...
Stay curious!

7 Reasons You Shouldn't Be Afraid to Tackle a Spartan Race

Friday, 14 February 2020
Exercise, the one word that many people living in a western country either love or hate. It can be quite a divisive word. People are proud of the fact they do not exercise whilst others find extreme power and pride in the exercise routine. Regardless of whether you're the former or the later, most people shudder at the idea of running a Spartan race.  

But y'all, Spartans really aren't as unattainable as you think! Can you walk/run 5kms? If so, you can probably do a Spartan. Now I know that statement will cause people to absolutely LOSE THEIR SH*T, Spartans are by no stretch easy, BUT they are 100%, absolutely, attainable. Your biggest obstacle is your own mind! So whether you think I'm batsh*t crazy, lying through my teeth, or spot on, here are my reasons why you shouldn't be afraid to give a Spartan race a go. 

1. It's Not Only for Elite Athletes
Whenever I talk to friends and family about Spartan races, their first response is "That's just for elite athletes, I could never". Guys, I don't know if you've seen me, but I am in NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM an elite athlete. I am the captain of Slow Turtle USA. Even with training, speed ain't my thing, and I'm ok with that. 

I ran my first Spartan after a few years of minimal physical activity. By minimal, I mean, I only walked when I was at work. I have friends who signed up for their first Spartans at almost 200kilos and freakin killed it! Your initial fitness level SHOULD NOT BE AN OBSTACLE! Get out there and try. I guarantee you'll be shocked at what you're actually able to do. 

Does this look like the body of an athlete?!

2. Your Body is Stronger Than You Think
Unless you're super new to this blog, it's no secret that I have a few chronic health conditions. For the longest time, it was my excuse. I refrained from doing certain activities because I was afraid of my own body. Guess what, I was so wrong. My body is so much more capable than what I ever would have guessed. 

Do I have limitations that other Spartans don't, hell yeah! But I prep for those challenges before the races and listen to my body. I'm looking at you people who think no one needs a hydro pack during a Sprint jerks. For me to have a successful race, I make sure I don't ingest caffeine, I always carry a hydro pack, I always pack my meds, and 90% of the time, I'm walking up hills (no one wants to see a grown adult flare in the middle of the woods). Does this slow me down, yup! But it does ensure my body stays functional so I can cross that finish line. 

Your body won't fail you. Get out of your own head and try! 

3. The Distance Really Isn't That Far
Look, I'm not saying go straight for an Ultra. That's just crazy talk but a Sprint, that's totally doable. Think about it. The average person can walk a kilometre in about 10 minutes. So ask yourself, can you walk for, let's say 2 hours straight? If you can, chances are you can do a Spartan. 

Bright, VIC

Get bored with walking or running? Here's why Spartan could be the perfect race for you. You're never running for long periods at a time. In most races, the max you're running without an obstacle is about 1 km. You've got this! 

4. You'll Always Find Help
We've all been there. It can be impossible to find people to run a race with you. But the Spartan community is absolutely incredible. As long as you're racing in the open heats, you'll always be able to find a race buddy or help at a challenging obstacle. Even the volunteers shout encouraging words to you. 

I have raced in about 20 Spartans to date, and in every race, I meet new encouraging people. I never feel alone during the races. We're all enduring the process together. And there is something even more motivating, and exciting watching random strangers become your friend in the span of a race. You celebrate the successes and you power through the failures together.

5. Even Your Failures Will Help You Improve
We, as a society, are petrified of failure. This often impedes us from giving things an actual go. Our mind psychs us out before we've even tried. During a Spartan, this is where the burpee penalty can be quite motivating. I don't know about you, but I hate burpees. They are the bane of my existence. If I have to choose between flinging my body over an 8-foot wall or 30 burpees, someone best better be ready to catch my flailing body on the other side of that wall. 

But even when you attempt and fail an obstacle, you learn so much. You can highlight areas of improvement, acknowledge fears, and know exactly where you could have tried harder. It's motivation for the next obstacle and possibly your next Spartan. 

6. It's a Great Excuse to Travel
Spartan holds races all over the world. The US, Greece, Australia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Austria, Dubai, Sweden, the list goes on and on. So why not link a Spartan race to your holiday? It gives you the chance to explore the area a bit more, get a little exercise in, and feel super accomplished. It is still a big goal of mine to do the trifecta weekend in Sparta. How cool would that be? 

7. How Many Other Unknowns Have You Feared?
Think about it, how many other activities have you been nervous about or were afraid to attempt? Once you gave it a go, how did you feel? Your mind is a powerful tool. Overcoming that apprehension will only leave you feeling stronger while boosting your self-esteem and self-confidence. Spartan does exactly that! I cannot tell you how incredible you feel crossing the finish line. The overwhelming sense of accomplishment is probably one of the best feelings on the planet!

When you break it down, a Spartan race really isn't that intimidating. It's simply another obstacle you are sure to overcome. Even if you're racing solo, you're never actually alone on the course. The comradery you face on the course will flow into your everyday life. Who knows, maybe you'll even join the Trifecta Tribe!

Have you ever raced a Spartan before? What were your thoughts before, during, and after the race? Share your Spartan story in the comments below!

And until next time...
Stay curious!


All-Inclusive Resorts: Are They Worth It?

Friday, 7 February 2020
Let's be honest, I'm very much a budget traveller. But as I've started getting older, I've found, on occasion, I much prefer convenience over saving a little bit of money. However, for some reason, I was never drawn to all-inclusive resorts. 

All-inclusive resorts typically include all your meals and beverages within the rate. Occasionally, these rates will also include activities around the resort. This can take the hassle out of trying to find the perfect restaurant within budget. But are they really worth it?

Recently, I had my first all-inclusive resort experience. Here are some of the pro's and con's I found about staying in the resort. Now, a small caveat: I have only ever stayed in one all-inclusive resort. My opinions are solely based on this. I'm sure not all resorts are the same. 

Pro: You Don't Have to Worry About Carrying Around Money
Are you worried about carrying around money? I'm sure we've all misplaced valuables whilst on holiday at one point in time. Me personally, I HATE carrying around any significant amount of cash when I travel, I just feel too vulnerable. When staying in a resort, you don't need to worry about this. You can even tip restaurants and bars by billing it to the room. The only time you'll really need to carry cash is if you leave the resorts or if you want to tip resort drivers. 

Con: It's Easy to Lose Track of Your Budget
Did you book all-inclusive because you were hoping it would keep you on a budget? Be very careful! Since you're typically not carrying cash, billing all the tips to your room can add up. It can be quite easy to overtip or forget that you did tip. You also have to be cautious as not all restaurants, drinks, or activities may be included in your all-inclusive package. From my experience, the staff is not always upfront about what is or is not included in the package. It isn't until you've eaten or done an activity that you see the bill. 

Pro: You Can Relax and Stay In One Spot
One of the most nerve-wracking aspects of travelling is navigating a new location. It can be scary worrying about which cab companies are reputable, where the safe areas of the town are, or where to find some good eats. When you stay in a resort, you don't need to worry about any of this. Most resorts are gated, so you don't need to worry about anyone other than guests being present. Depending on the size of the resort, there may be golf carts to shuttle you around from place to place. And, unless you're me, it is tough to get lost in a resort. All of this makes it very easy to rest and relax on your holiday. 

Con: You Miss Out on Local Culture
I'm not sure about you, but I don't like travelling to a different culture and merely living in my own. To me, that defeats the point of travelling. Whilst you can still get a touristy version of the local culture in your resort, it is nothing like getting out and exploring. Most resorts cater to US and European guests, so there is a high probability that there will be menus that reflect this. You may miss out on some incredible local dishes. 

Pro: There Are Lots of Activities for Families and Children
Are you travelling with kids and worried about how to keep them entertained for the entire trip? Many resorts have kids clubs with tons of activities to keep the little ones entertained. Within this, there may even be child care options to give the adults a much needed break. Many of these activities are included in the package, so you don't have to worry about spending extra money. This is especially helpful when your little ones think they want to do an activity and quickly learn it's just not for them. 

Resort in Borneo

Con: You're Confined to the Resort
If you really want to get your money out of an all-inclusive resort, it's best you keep your holiday confined to that resort. Leaving and going anywhere local is just added costs. If you're budgeting, this is a sure-fire way to blow your budget. Depending on where the resort is located, you may also be quite far from the local town. Taxis to and from the resort are often more expensive so keep this in mind. 

Other Things to Keep in Mind
Make sure you check the fine print before booking. Some resorts will charge more for certain amenities. Whilst one would think shuttle service to and from the airport would be included, this is not always the case. 

When researching, it appeared that in most cases, you would be paying almost double to stay in an all-inclusive resort. I'm not really sure that would be worth it to me. I would much prefer to spend my money on more experiences. However, if I am travelling solely for a relaxing holiday, all-inclusive is precisely what I would be looking for. 

When my partner and I stayed in an all-inclusive resort, we found that we would EACH need to eat and/or drink roughly $275 per day to break even. Y'all that's a lot of freaking food! We made sure to get good use of the pools and gym. Unfortunately, other activities were not included, so that made it hard to reach the $275 per day goal. By the end of the trip, we were NOWHERE near that target. It definitely was quite ambitious.

So is an all-inclusive resort the right choice for you? Well, it really depends on what you're looking for in a holiday. For some, this is absolutely the right choice. The security and activity options for families might be perfect! For the traveller looking for a more cultural experience, this may not be the right fit for you.

Now I'd like to know, what are your thoughts on all-inclusive resorts? Are they worth it or not? If you've ever stayed in one, please share your experience in the comments below. 

And until next time...
Stay curious