5 Things To Know Before Starting Whole30

Unlike other diets, the focus of Whole30 is to identify intolerances that you may not have realized were negatively affecting your health. The diet, founded by Melissa Hartwig Urban just over 10 years ago, came about when a 30-day diet experiment “transformed Urban’s health, habits, and emotional relationship with food.”

It’s something that takes dedication and commitment for the entire 30 days, but really isn’t too difficult once you’ve made the commitment. Here’s our top tips if you’re thinking of investing in your health for the next 30 days.

  1. It’s not about weight loss

Whole30 is about figuring out what does and doesn’t work for YOUR body. It’s essentially an eliminatory diet that helps you figure out your food intolerances as well as “reset” your midset when it comes to food.

DON’T weigh yourself during the 30 days. That’s not where your intent should lie, but rather take not of improvements in sleep, energy levels, mood, digestion, skin reactions etc. Whole30 aims to manage inflammation and nurture your gut; ultimately nurturing your relationship with food.

  1. There’s no measuring or restricting calories (Eat as much as you want!)

Yep. This is our kinda diet. All you need to do is stick to the guidelines of what you can eat. There’s no counting calories needed or measuring cups that need to be pulled out at every meal. You’ll be eating lots (TONS) of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, herbs & spices. Whole foods that nourish and sustain.

  1. Yes, vegans & vegetarians CAN do Whole30

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ve probably read the ‘no’ list and thought, “No Legumes?? Where am I supposed to get protein??”. And now you’re wondering if this is even feasible. The answer is yes, but, you’ll need to put a bit of work into planning your meals well.

Luckily, not ALL legumes are excluded. You’re able to enjoy green beans and sugar snap peas which have good protein value as well as nuts & seeds like cashews & flax.

Ultimately, you need to listen to your body & ensure that you’re getting enough nutrients (which might mean leaving legumes and beans in the mix for the time being). Check out these handy shopping lists to help with your next visit to the grocery store.

  1. No Slip-Ups!

This is 30 days that you really need to take and invest in yourself. It’s only effective if you fully commit to eliminating specific foods so that you can accurately test how your body responds. A new diet is always an adjustment, so being prepared will make it harder to slip up and meal-prepping can go a long way in helping you stick to it.

Be prepared to turn down plans & explain to friends and family, but remind yourself why you’ve taken on the challenge. This is for YOU.

  1. The reintroduction phase is just as important

The end of the 30 days is really the most important part of the process. You’ll need to reintroduce foods back slowly & mindfully to really figure out what foods are trigger foods and cause reactions (whether that be bloating, rashes, asthma, breakouts, diarrhea etc).


Keep these things in mind & you’ll be equipped to make it through 30 days of whole eating without a hitch and be better off for it!


What is Whole30?

Whole30 Recipe Inspiration

What is Whole30?

You’ve most likely heard the term Whole30 by now and may even know someone who’s risen to the challenge. Created by a pair of nutritionists in 2009, it’s a month-long program that involves eliminating the most common craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups from your diet.

Translation? No sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy, legumes (and plenty of other fine print) for a month. Sounds intense, right? But it can be done!

Unlike other diets, the focus of Whole30 is to identify intolerances that you may not have realized were negatively affecting your health. And it goes beyond just the food you eat; it’s also about resetting your habits & emotional relationship with food.


YES. Eat Real Food

Eat meat, seafood, and eggs; vegetables and fruit; natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with a simple or recognizable list of ingredients, or no ingredients at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.

For a full list of what you CAN eat, have a look here.

No. Avoid for 30 Days

  • No added sugar (real/artificial). This includes maple syrup, honey, agave, date syrup etc.
  • No alcohol. In any form, not even for cooking. (and ideally no tobacco)
  • No grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and all gluten-free pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat.
  • No legumes. This includes beans of all kinds, peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy: soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy lecithin.
  • No dairy. This includes cow, goat, or sheep’s milk products like milk, cream, cheese, kefir, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.
  • No MSG, carrageenan or sulphites.
  • No junk foods or treats with “approved ingredients”. Even if the ingredients are technically compliant, these are the same foods that got you into health-and-craving trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, even if it’s made with coconut flour.
  • Do not step on the scale or take any body measurements for 30 days. If you focus only on body composition, you’ll overlook all of the other dramatic, lifelong benefits this plan has to offer.



These foods are exceptions to the rule, and are allowed during your Whole30.

  • Ghee or clarified butter. These are the only source of dairy allowed. Plain old butter is NOT allowed, as you may be sensitive to the milk proteins found in non-clarified butter.
  • Fruit juice. Some products or recipes will include fruit juice as a stand-alone ingredient or natural sweetener, which is fine for the purposes of the Whole30.
  • Certain legumes. Green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas are allowed.
  • Vinegar and botanical extracts. Most vinegar (including white, red wine, balsamic, apple cider, and rice) and alcohol-based botanical extracts (like vanilla, lemon, or lavender) are allowed. (Just not malt-based vinegar or extracts, which will be clearly labeled as such, as they contain gluten.)
  • Coconut aminos. All brands of coconut aminos (a brewed and naturally fermented soy sauce substitute) are acceptable, even if you see the words “coconut nectar” or “coconut syrup” in their ingredient list.
  • Salt. Did you know that all iodized table salt contains sugar? Sugar (often in the form of dextrose) is chemically essential to keep the potassium iodide from oxidizing and being lost. Because all restaurants and pre-packaged foods contain salt, salt is an exception to our “no added sugar” rule.


Your only job during the Whole30 is to focus on making good food choices. You don’t need to weigh or measure, count calories, restrict calories, or purchase everything organic or grass-fed. Your only job is to stick to the Whole30 rules for 30 straight days… no cheats, no slips, no “special occasions.”

It’s only 30 days. It’s for you.

5 Things To Know Before Starting Whole30

Whole30 Recipe Inspiration

New Year = New Me: (ECO)nstructive Resolutions for 2020

New Year = New Me (ECO)nstructive Resolutions for 2020


FTN is trying to rid the world of single-use plastic one straw, grocery bag, and roll of cling film at a time. We’ve run campaigns trying to educate consumers of the effects plastic waste has on the environment. Earlier this year, Capetonians met a fish named Faithful at the V&A Waterfront. The 4.5m-long by 2.5m-high installation was intended to show the public that plastic ends up in the ocean and pollutes our marine life.

We don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk too. 

Giving up plastic entirely is incredibly tough – our whole world has built around the use thereof – but times are changing, one product at a time, and this means that – so can you. Bring your awareness to the ways in which we use and interact with plastic is an incredibly mind-opening experience. Starting with some of the main (and easy to tackle culprits) like a takeaway coffee cups is and great start. And from there the use of plastic products, in general, will start to drop drastically – and logically. It’s not impossible. One of our Faithful journo’s has some practical and actionable tips on how to replace single-use products with more sustainable ones. 

REMEMBER: when you get rid of your plastic items, do so responsibly. If there’s a way to repurpose them, then do so, if not then definitely recycle.


For some reason, we’ve stopped talking about the devastating fire that consumed California and the Amazon for weeks. And now, Australia is experiencing fires on an even larger and more catastrophic level. The belt of forest in the Amazon can be seen as the earth’s lungs and we need to consider how to deal with the aftermath because when we lose it, we will begin to feel the effects of our CO2 emissions in distressing ways.

Planting a single tree might not save the world, but if we all decide to sow a single seed, we are investing in our future.

In Mozambique there were mango trees lining the streets and, it being summer, the fruits were ripe enough that any passing pedestrian could pick to their heart’s delight. Why not cultivate a fruit of vegetable plant until it becomes a seedling, then re-pot it in municipal land that is accessible to the public. It might take a year or two to bear fruit, but when it does, homeless people will have the option of feeding themselves something nutritious. While it is developing, your little project will be doing its part to inhale carbon dioxide and exhale breathable air for humans. A bonus is that the humble honey bee has something to pollinate and there is nectar for it to feed on, who knows how many organisms your initial action will be helping.


Eco-shaming is a bit of new concept but you get the idea. We have walked around for long enough politely letting people know what kind of reckless behaviour is no longer appropriate for the successful growth of the earth. It is time the politeness goes out the window. The plight of the planet is now fully known, we’ve been singing this song for long enough for ignorance to no longer be a thing. And furthermore, the plight of the planet is a shared one. It requires collective thinking and action to create the shift needed.

So you no longer need to worry about the awkward moments created or the demoralising interactions shared with retailers who refuse to accept any responsibility. 

Show people how and continue to educate with the eco-fire that is needed to set our hearts and actions alight. We don’t have the time to place and shift blame as to who is responsible for the state of our planet. We have to act. Right now. Collectively.

Educate your loved ones and you’ll be amazed at what they begin to do with the information. 


Full cups overflow. When you are at your best, you are your best for those around you. The planet needs your best efforts. Don’t wait until your burnout to get help, you’ll only end up reaching for quick-fix solutions that aren’t sustainable for yourself or the planet. 

Have you considered incorporating micro self-care practices into your day-to-day? Something like spending just one hour a day outside. And not outside as in dashing from my apartment to the deli downstairs for a cup of hot chocolate or waiting five minutes at the MyCiti stop. No, I intentionally put my phone on aeroplane mode and spend 60 uninterrupted minutes walking along the R27. It’s mostly at sunset because the view of Table Mountain across the bay is magnificent. The fresh air and Vitamin D make my lungs and skin happy. The cardio gets my muscles working; I also get a healthy dose of endorphins and dopamine. It’s all absolutely free and beats wasting electricity binging Netflix on the couch.


An ex of mine once told me that we are given things to share. He didn’t know it at the time, but he had planted a proverbial seed. Now, I make it a point to get rid of as many new things that I buy. Last month, I treated myself to a beautiful jumpsuit from poetry, and two pairs of earrings. When I got home, I placed a pair of sneakers, a sweater and a summer dress into a paper bag, dashed to the store and bought a loaf of bread, a carton of milk as well as a toothbrush and some toothpaste. The care package I put together went to a homeless person who frequents the park near my apartment building.

If we all donate, regift or repurpose things we don’t use anymore, the demand to keep producing will certainly decrease drastically. Most of the clothes in my wardrobe are hand-me-downs from my mama. My cutlery and crockery are antique items she’s collected over the years too. The only things I really spend any money on are food and cleaning items. Heck, I sold my car because the public transport system in Cape Town is so impressive. 

Get into the habit of getting rid of things that you don’t use habitually. You’ll find you’re less stressed, you save more money and help Mother Nature in the process.

New Year’s Resolutions for a Greener Future

New Years Detox Tips to Flush Your System

Robyn shares some simple but life-changing New Years solutions

The Science Behind Eating for Race Running

The Science Behind Eating for Race Running

Eating the right foods at the right time is an essential science when it comes to race running, both before and during are key times to maximize on all the hard work you’ve put into training.


Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles, and are the body’s most easily accessible form of fuel. You want to make sure your glycogen stores are as full as possible at the start of the race to give your body ample fuel to use before having to refill. Think of it like getting your car ready for a road trip – the fuller your petrol tank at the start, the longer you can drive before having to stop to refuel.

Two to three days before the race you should eat more carbs than normal to stock up your glycogen stores. It is recommended that you aim for 8 – 12g carbs/kg/day.


For the day before your race, go back to eating as you normally would. This gives your digestive system a chance to revert to normal after the increased work it’s been doing to digest those extra carbs. You also want to ensure that you don’t have any extra waste in your digestive system at the start of the race, this could lead to digestive discomfort once you begin.


The meal you eat 3 – 4 hours before your race is the most important of them all. The purpose of this meal is to top up your liver glycogen from your overnight fast. Getting this meal right will set you up for a good race but getting it wrong could ruin your race. It should be predominantly made up of easy-to-digest carbs – fruit, cereal or potatoes – however, be sure to include a small amount of protein to stabilise the blood sugar and a small amount of fat to make you feel full.

When it comes to drinking before and during the race, this is where things can get a bit trickier. Luckily the body has an inbuilt feature which lets you know when you should drink, and it’s called thirst. For races shorter than an hour, your thirst signals are exactly what you need to follow. Before and during the race, just sip on water whenever you feel like it. Your body is easily able to withstand that amount of exercise without consuming liquid. For races longer than an hour you will need to plan your fluid intake. The amount of fluid will depend on the individual and the weather conditions, but the rule of thumb is to aim for 100 – 200ml every 20 minutes.

It is also recommended that you consume a small amount of carbs during races longer than an hour, to top-up your fuel sources. Again, think of your car while on a road trip. While you may have started the trip with a full petrol tank, you will reach a point where you will need to top it up to keep going. Your body works in the same way. The recommendation is 30 – 90g of carbs every hour, and try including some easy to eat snack bars.

Test out your body’s reaction to intake and running in pre-race running trails. Use the longer runs to create a food and drink regime that works for you. Try out different food combinations for your pre-race meal, and different fluid and carb quantities during your run. When you’ve found a routine that makes you feel good – stick to it as your go-to.

What’s the Real Deal with Post-Exercise Stretching?

Tracking Your Fitness Progress

2019 Yoga Trends That Won’t Get You Bent Out of Shape

Farm-To-Fork 101

farm to fork

You are what you eat. Everything from the soil your produce is planted in, the calibre of the seed being sown, to the pesticides used and harvestings process – it all feeds into the quality of the product. Because we are beginning to really understand that the state of our produce directly affects our health and wellness, more consumers are educating themselves on how their fruit, veg and meat is being reared.

Though the social movement of replacing GMO’s with nutrient-filled ingredients that were grown organically and locally isn’t a particularly new concept, it has gained a great deal of traction in the last 3 – 5 years. So let’s break it down:


Farm to fork emerged out of concern that we were eating too much processed food. We needed to change our lifestyles or we would, quite literally, end up eating ourselves into early graves. Health fundis got the ball rolling by encouraging consumers to make the switch to organic produce, but it was dedicated eco-warriors that managed to get the farm to fork movement off the ground.

In essence, farm-to-fork is a direct channel between agronomist and consumer. By growing your fruits and vegetables in the same place you will use them, you meet certain ethical and environmental standards. Once you claim to do this, consumers are guaranteed that you are being green about the way you farm – from using organic/natural pesticides and insecticides to the ethical treatment of your livestock.


If you read my piece about the benefits of buying local, you already know why farm to fork should be something we all try to pursue. The produce is fresher because it hasn’t had to travel far to get to you – which also means the carbon footprint between you and the farm to fork establishment is minimised too. Fruits and vegetables are generally organic, though the agricultural practices really are up to the farmers themselves to decide. This is why I tend to prefer farm-to-fork’ers who let the public walk through their grounds as the transparency puts my mind at ease.

Eco-benefits aside, many farm-to-fork fundis also believe that if you know where your food is coming from, it adds to the experience of eating it.


The heavy-hitters in local food distribution have claimed to stock organic products for over a decade, but when you thoroughly investigate their criteria, you can see for yourself that they are misleading.

Challenge yourself to switch out your weekly shop at the chain grocery store and visit your local farmers market instead. While it may not be farm-to-fork in the truest sense of the word, you can have a conversation with the vendor sourcing your butternut squash, or pick the brain of the baker to see how he farms his own wheat or oats that is later ground into flour.

Restaurants have really taken to this concept, and there are a few farm-to-fork eateries all over the country that you can support. Westerncapers can patronise Babel at Babylonstoren for a 100% guilt-free and green dining experience, while those in the Gauteng area have Fermier Restaurant and Leafy Green to enjoy. Knysna can look forward to the weekly forages of Brett Garavie at VegTable, and East London-based diners can pop into Earth Forrest for food farmed through permaculture. 




Eating Seasonally: The 101

Honey: The Bee’s Knees or a Sticky Issue?

Should We still Eat Seafood?


Dealing with Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD)

Dealing with Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD)

As the leaves begin to fall and the temperature drops, it takes the sun a little longer to get out of bed in the morning. Because humans, like all creatures of the world, are heavily dependant on the fiery ball in the sky, its sluggishness translates to ours. Though some would love to take a three-month nap, our bodies aren’t wired to hibernate until Spring’s warmth thaws the Winter chill; so people might experience SAD which is just your body having to adjust to the changing environment.

Identifying SAD is extremely important if you want to adequately treat it. And this disorder is more common than you think, with it affecting 1 in every 9 people. You might be struggling with describing your symptoms because you think your restlessness is as the result of Monday blues, for example, or your fatigue is just because you’re stressed. Take a look at the bigger picture. If you’re experiencing more than one of these symptoms over a prologued period of time, it’s okay to admit that you’re struggling with SAD.


One-off days versus an entire depressive episode is what distinguishes SAD from being ‘sad’. You know yourself; you know when you’re under the weather and when you are feeling incredibly unhappy. If you’re feeling like this for more than two weeks, it’s a sign of depression. If you’re only going through hard times over winter, it may be a sign of SAD.


People with SAD tend to sleep a great deal more during winter. But don’t think that the extra z’s translate to you feeling more rested. The fatigue is symptomatic of a hormone imbalance as a result of your physiological condition.


If you notice that you are either more irritable and/or having trouble concentrating, it is a cause for concern. Because SAD tends to affect women and youths more than any other group of society, there is a surge of emotions that cause the discomfort SAD sufferers experience. Depression and SAD also tend to affect the way your brain works, so if it takes more effort to settle into work, you know why.


When you’re feeling upset, sex is the last thing on your mind. When you’re either depressed or suffering from SAD, your libido will definitely dip.

There are many natural ways of dealing with SAD that don’t need you to take chronic medication (though if you find you really can’t manage, I suggest consulting a healthcare professional about anti-depressants). It is important to give SAD the attention it needs. Left untreated, SAD can escalate and cause weight gain, social anxiety and hopelessness. Here are a couple of ideas on how to treat it naturally:


One of the leading causes of winter SAD is the lack of natural light. The sun is an amazing source of both Vitamin E and D, when we can’t get our daily dose of it, our bodies are affected. Though you can plan your diet around the change in season, you still need to get natural light (or the closest substitute). 

“When light hits the retina of the eye, it’s converted into nerve impulses that pass back to specialised regions of the brain that are involved in emotional regulation,” explains Dr. Rosenthal, who is responsible for classifying and explaining SAD. 

Light- or phototherapy will go a long way in improving your mood. Spend 20 – 60 minutes a day in front of a lightbox with cool-white fluorescent bulbs.


If you’re a firm believer in mind over matter, then CBT will help you rewire your mindset and get you to replace your negative thought patterns with positive ones. Remember, SAD is not a personal failing. There are chemicals and hormones in your body that work out of your control that affect your mood. Replace the time you would’ve spent being negative about yourself with a productive exercise. The more you do, the more you’ll feel you can do – this will in turn improve your entire outlook.


Living in an area that gets little to no sun during the winter months is hell for anyone who experiences SAD. If you can, spend a few days in a warmer and sunnier area. I strongly suggest a camping trip, because not only are you being treated to all the natural light you desire, but you are in the heart of nature, and that serenity will be a godsend for your mental health.


You’re going to want to gorge yourself on ‘comfort food’ because you think it’ll make you feel better. Make wise food choices. Anything with high fructose sugar and saturated fats will end up making you feel much worse, and the added weight might compound the feelings of SAD. Swap out the pizza and doughnuts for fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates; exercise when you’re feeling sorry for yourself, and you will notice the release of endorphins which will make you feel much better.

2019 Yoga Trends That Won’t Get You Bent Out of Shape

2019 Yoga Trends That Won’t Get You Bent Out of Shape

The yogi revolution is growing by leaps and bounds. As more people come to appreciate the benefits of a crescent pose, sun salutations and the warrior sequence, the bigger the community gets. Not only does yoga increase your flexibility and aid in weight management, but through the conscious breathing and stretching of your body into these positions it actually strengthens your central nervous system. 

With such impressive health and wellness benefits, it’s no wonder people are colouring outside the square of different variation and locations to get their ‘om’ on. While we are familiar with ashtanga (focus on the pelvis and belly with swift movements), vinyasa (considered ‘flow’ yoga because of the extending postures) and Bikram (done in a humid room to accelerate cardiovascular activity), a few peculiar practises have now popped up. I’m always happy to try something at least once, but what do you think of the yoga trends created in 2019:



When I stumbled across goat yoga I thought I’d seen it all, but it seems serpents are sliding onto mats thanks to Canadian reptile-enthusiasts Tristan Risk and Joshua Burns. 

The idea behind this daring variation is to chip away at fear to reach complete calm and relaxation. While there is always a snake wrangler on hand, the creatures wrap themselves around a yogi’s body – moving as you do. Ideally, the added weight challenges your balance and ability to distribute weight. After a session, you might find you’ve bonded with the snake because of the intimacy of your proximity, Tristan and Josh encourage that too.

Here’s a 50-second clip of snake yoga in action:


Yoga instructors try to find ways of making the exercise accessible to all ages and lifestyles, so you might’ve heard of this one a few years back as an alternative for the elderly. It’s grown increasingly popular and inclusive in the last few months. 

Most professionals spend hours seated at their workstations – the perfect setup for a session. Break the mundanity of an eight hour day by indulging in a few minutes of chair yoga to improve your concentration and posture, as well as increase mood levels. You needn’t worry about breaking into a sweat at the office either. This kind of yoga focuses more on breathing, mindfulness and ease of movement, less on form and technique.


Hammocks are heavenly. I never go travelling without mine; ready to tie it up at the beach or secure it close to the campsite when I venture off the beaten path. They’re a kind of adult swaddling device, and a yoga session in a sling sounds like a great idea. Being suspended in the air will feel like you’re flying! 

But it’s not all fun and games because the variation has incredible benefits too. Your joints will get a break – hello spinal decompression – you’ll improve your balance and alignment; plus, all that spinning and curling will improve your core strength.


To restore your natural circadian rhythm (which is your internal sleep/wake cycle), this revolutionary variation simulates a 24-hour day through light, sound and smell.

The session begins in blue light. Your body registers this at dawn, prompting your stress hormones to ‘wake up’. During this time your energy levels increase. Throughout the session, the light slowly warms and certain scents become pronounced until a red light brings melatonin rushing into your body to induce sleep.

Chroma yoga has been met with great scepticism, but the science about audio manipulation is sound. Not to mention, we know that light therapy is effective with people who experience Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) and the benefits of aromatic healing treatments are rarely contested.


If you thought pulling your teen away from their tablet was a challenge before, this trend is going to make it a whole lot harder.

We can shop, work, chat online; you never have to walk into a bank, pop into a post office, or ask your friends to set you up with a date to your cousin’s wedding because there are apps for that. Now, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home to get the attention you need during a workout class. 

A friend of mine has been skyping into yoga classes himself for a few months now. Admittedly, I thought it was a bizarre concept, but when I joined him for a class, I understood the appeal. Essentially, you can roll straight out of bed and onto your yoga mat on a Saturday morning and still be monitored by a professional. Digital yoga would be ideal for people who travel a lot but still want to maintain their health. If you have a tight schedule, you can slot a session in without worrying about wasting time on the commute to the yoga studio either.


Just when we had resigned ourselves to lathering our skin with collagen to ensure it retains its youthful tautness, we stumbled across this wonderful trend. Spend just 20 minutes, every morning, on wrinkle-shrinking, muscle-tightening exercises and you’ll start seeing results in no time. 

The regal Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, swears by face yoga and so do Giselle Bunche, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston. 




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The Effects of Stress on Your Body And How to Deal with It

The Effects of Stress on Your Body And How to Deal with It

Stress is seen as a negative thing that we need to avoid at all costs. This is not true. A healthy amount of stress is what wakes us up in the morning, keeps us adhering to our daily schedules, encourages us to meet deadlines and other important professional obligations. It is the excess of stress that causes a great deal of physiological problems. Let’s talk about how being too stressed and strung out can affect your body.



Remember your parents and pre-school teachers telling you that you’re unique when you were little? Consider that when confronting the amount of stress you can handle. Just because someone two cubicles down from you can thrive under pressure, doesn’t mean you have to throw out your meticulous time management routine to match her work style. While it excites her, it certainly might tap into your anxiety because people handle different amounts of stress in different ways. 

Having said that, there are physical, mental, and behavioural symptoms of stress that you should look out for:

Physically, if you are experiencing headaches, muscle tension, altered sleeping patterns or fatigue, you might be experiencing increased levels of stress. People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) might also notice their symptoms flaring. These include painful bloating, increased flatulence, and constipation or diarrhoea. 

Be sensitive to anxiety, restlessness or irritability, feelings of being overwhelmed, or lack of motivation as these are mental symptoms of heightened stress.

Particularly social individuals who become more reclusive are already being affected. Other behavioural symptoms include undereating or overeating, and substance abuse.

It is imperative we be able to identify our stressors. Once you have an idea of the things that trigger a great deal of stress, you can either avoid them altogether or tread with caution. I, myself, am a control freak. My life runs better on a strict schedule so environments with a laissez-faire atmosphere are incredibly stressful for me. While I understand that life tends to have wonderful moments of unpredictability, they are rare. When said moments do occur, I can appreciate them for their infrequency because I enjoy order in all aspects of my life generally.



Aside from burnouts or mental breakdowns – which are common amongst people who experience high levels of stress on a regular basis – when we are stressed, our adrenal glands release cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) as well as norepinephrine. An excess of these hormones in our blood has been known to cause hypotension, or high blood pressure (HBP). Scientists have also discovered that norepinephrine can line your blood vessels that build up cholesterol plaque in your arteries. HBP and clogged arteries both increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Have you noticed that you get sick easier when you’re extremely stressed and that it takes longer to heal? Well, the stress hormones I’ve just mentioned tend to inhibit or damage immune cells too. 



Accumulated stress is dangerous. This is why it is important to schedule time for activities which you enjoy. ‘Self-care’ is a term buzzing around a lot of holistic circles because more people are beginning to see the value in ensuring rest and relaxation. Full cups overflow. It is important to actively prioritise your physical and mental health to best perform in all the different areas of your life. This, like stress levels, differs from one individual to the next. When I’m incredibly stressed, I like to disappear. Not only will I turn off my phone for a few days, but I tend to book a trip out of town so I can physically remove myself from the site of stress. The unplugging gives me a chance to reconnect with myself, and I return feeling rejuvenated.

Staying positive is easier said than done right? But if the body really is mind over matter, you need to make sure you have complete control over the battlefield that is your consciousness. We tend to be our own worst critics, beating ourselves up when we make the slightest mistake. That pressure to perform can create a great deal of unhealthy stress too. This is why it is important to change the way we speak to ourselves. Replace, “that was pathetic, you can do better than that,” with “do your best; you got this.”

A decent Netflix binge never hurt nobody! Treat yourself to a movie marathon every once in a while. If you begin to notice that binges are happening on a daily basis, it might be time to find another form of inactive stress release. As I’ve asserted before, too much of anything – even downtime – is unhealthy. Harmony exists in balance, yin and yang, so your like must be equal parts productivity and relaxation. 

It’s important to note: we are all guilty of indulging in unhealthy coping mechanisms, which include denial and procrastination. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. Instead, it will compound our feelings of stress because we know that we have to eventually face the beast. By the time we return to whatever is stressing us, chances are it’s grown in our minds making it an even more Herculean task to tackle.

Consult a psychologist or psychiatrist if you’ve tried to self soothe and things still feel overwhelming. There is no shame in asking for help; if anything it displays an incredible amount of self-love and self-awareness. 

Contact a medical professional immediately is you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or dizziness during moments of immense stress as it might be symptomatic of a cardiac episode.





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Winter Blues: How to Survive Cabin Fever

The sun is rising later, setting earlier, and it’s gotten too cold to leave the house unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s completely understandable if you find yourself in a little bit of a funk, being cooped up at home. Though there are the little pleasures that make the chilly season a little easier to bear, a crackling fire and a hot cup of cocoa isn’t going to remedy the claustrophobia you feel. Let’s take a moment to talk about cabin fever and the few ways we can combat the discomfiture of winter. 


Cabin fever is a euphemism for the restless and irritable feeling some get when they’ve been indoors for too long. Some might be triggered because they need a change in scenery while others have a reaction to a lack of Vitamin D usually received from exposure to natural sunlight. And while cabin fever might not be considered a medical disorder, Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) certainly is. This is why it’s incredibly important that you don’t underestimate what you are feeling. 

Symptoms include irritability, low mood and energy levels, fatigue, restlessness, excessive or little sleep (disturbed sleeping patterns), social isolation, trouble concentrating, increased or decreased appetite (altered eating patterns). 

Note: You know yourself well enough to gauge your ‘normal’ behaviour. Once you start acting out of character for more than just a day or two, it’s fair to assume something might be up. Booking an appointment with your GP might not be absolutely necessary, but talking to someone — possibly a friend or loved one if not a counsellor or therapist — is a good idea. There is absolutely no shame in admitting you’re having a tough time. You’ll often find that the more honest you are with yourself and what you’re feeling, the easier it’ll be to deal with.


The negative temperature makes leaving the house more punishment than anything else. While I tend to stay indoors, hosting dinner parties and game nights reminds me that I can still have fun despite the weather. Appealing to friends who, like you, don’t want to venture out into the cold will be much easier with a warm pot of mulled wine as a bargaining chip.

If your cabin fever merely needs a change of scenery why not consider taking a sunny holiday? Kwazulu-Natal is South Africa’s secret site of endless summer. Book a flight, and within an hour or two (depending on where you’re flying from), you can be dipping your toes in the warm Indian Ocean. The balmy weather, sublime sunshine, and tropical – often spicy – food will lift your mood, making you feel renewed for when you decide to return home.

When you’re feeling low, it’s important to be mindful of the bigger picture. Not only will setting goals help you feel more in control of the cabin fever, but having a project is a great distraction. Whether you choose to get a headstart on spring cleaning or task yourself with knitting a quilt for next winter, if you keep yourself busy you’ll have less time and energy to feel frustrated about being indoors.






4 Great Exercises To Keep Your Body Fit During Winter

Keeping Your Body Fit During Winter With These 4 Great Exercise Alternatives 

When the temperatures begin to drop and the storms hit more frequently, it is safer to stay indoors as often as possible to ensure you don’t end up getting sick. So what does that mean for hikers, park runners, swimmers and surfers who still want to continue with their desired form of exercise but can’t risk exposing themselves to the elements? Being an enthusiastic hiker myself, I tend to struggle this time of year. Thankfully, here are fun fitness alternatives that we can all consider if we want to stay active during this season.


Consider signing up to your local gym. Not only will this serve as a safe place to do your morning exercise during winter – since the sun rises a little later and sets much earlier – but once you have a membership, you can pop in whenever the weather isn’t conducive to your choice of cardio. The treadmill can get quite monotonous if you’re used to being distracted by street signs and dog walkers. What I tend to do is focus on a fixed point, whether it be a smudge on the wall or a number of the clock, and let my mind wander from there.

Swap out the stationary bike for a spinning session. The interval training structure might take a little getting used to, but the energy is always so invigorating during a spin class so you will definitely love it in no time.


Apart from shopping around for an indoor swimming pool, you can visit on a regular basis, I would suggest yoga as an adequate alternative. You might appreciate that many have misconceptions about your form of exercise – I know I didn’t think yoga would be nearly as grueling on my body when I started, but my toned thighs are happy I stuck it through – the same can be said of swimming. 

Yoga is a full-body workout, which is something swimmers are all too familiar with. The level of intensity depends on the type of yoga you want to pursue (Ashtanga, Hatha, Bikram, Iyengar, etc) so take your time finding a discipline that will work with your body. Join a class as opposed to buying a workout video, just because a trained instructor will ensure you don’t hurt yourself in the beginner’s stages. You’ll come to appreciate how yoga will improve your posture and breath control – two vital components of swimming.


There are four surfers in my inner circle; I get that it isn’t just a form of exercise but rather a lifestyle. Unfortunately, when a storm is brewing and waves are swelling to double their size – that lifestyle needs to be traded for exercise that is safer. 

Spend the three winter months improving your flexibility and endurance with some pilates. There are classes cater made to help you with your perfect your pelvic alignment and sort out your spinal structure.

You’ll be learning how to move your body in a healthy balanced way, strengthening your core for those quick springs to your feet, and getting a decent amount of cardio done at the same time 


What I’ve come to appreciate about hikers is that they are fairly adventurous. It’s easy enough to go walking along the Emmarentia Lake, but the thrill of traversing a hiking trail to enjoy a spectacular view from the summit is a key selling point. Use the opportunity as a kind of palate cleanser, by substituting a weekend hike with some indoor wall-climbing. This strength and cardio combo is one you’re certainly used to if you’re regularly jumping up and down the boulders of Lion’s Head, but now you can enjoy the same thrill from the comfort of a rock-climbing center.

You’ll be engaging a lot more core and upper-body strength than you might be used to. Keep at it and you’ll be scaling the walls in no time.


Though we do nest during winter, human beings aren’t hibernators. Your fitness will inform your vitality this season, so it is important that you exercise in some form or another. Remember to complement your regular exercise with a balanced diet and healthy work routine, and you’ll find yourself winterproofing your lifestyle effortlessly.