We need to disconnect to reconnect

Step away from the devices and start making real connections

Step away from the devices and start making real connections

We are all aware by now about the technology addiction and lack of human connection that is taking over our society. Whether we are at work or on the subway, we see it everywhere, people choosing to stare at their phones and eat alone than to make connections with another human and there is no other city to best observe this than where I live, New York City.

In Manhattan we are constantly surrounded by people, personal space doesn’t exist here. But despite the constant physical element of being surrounded by other humans, emotionally and spiritually we are all checked out. Everyone is heads down staring at their devices and New York ettiquette seems to be that the person next to you is allowed to be right under your arm pit, but don’t say hello and don’t make eye contact. We are a lonely bunch because of this and it seems we are not the only ones. A third of Americans are suffering from anxiety and depression and if it’s not you, there is someone close to you who is suffering.

The problem is that people are relying on technology too much for connection and not forming any real and lasting human connections. We should be using our devices as a bridge to form new relationships not as a barrier. It’s scary, but statistics show that we touch our cell phones every 15 minutes, that’s 2600 times a day!

Not having your phone has become the new vacation. We are overworked and burnt out because of these devices permanently attached to us. When you think about it, we are all working “on call” jobs now. We can be contacted 24/7 and we are expected to answer that work email even if it’s 6am on a Sunday, it has become the new normal.

People are paying thousands of dollars for disconnect retreats just so they can have an excuse not to be on their phones. Our phones have literally become a “job” we need a vacation from and not disconnecting is making us miserable.

So many people talk about doctors and how hard it must be with the long hours and constantly having a pager alerting you back to work. Well what do you think that little device in your pocket is right now? It’s a pager. Constantly buzzing, alerting you that there is a situation you need to deal with and look at. We tell people you can page me anytime, it’s on us 24/7 and we even sleep with it.

Our work environments and how we engage with the people we work with on a daily basis is extremely important as we spend a third of our lives at work. Globally, 85% of the workforce is disengaged or actively disengaged, due to the fact they don’t like the people they work with or they hate their job. Most people don’t have any real work friends and they are feeling isolated even in large corporations. Emloyees will get lunch and eat it at their cubicle instead of asking a co worker for lunch because they would rather be emailing or texting. It’s much more convenient to use technology than going and having a face to face conversation.

The problem with this is that if you don’t like your work environment, you are going to be disengaged and unhappy and it will 100 percent affect your personal life.

The average work week for an American is 47 hours, but that doesn’t take into account the amount of unpaid over time and your boss having constant access to you via your “pager”. Europe has recognzied the importance of work/life balance and in France they have a right to disconnect, you cannot email an employee after work and if you do you will be fined and in Germany they are fighting for a 28 hour work week.

When I lived in Berlin, I had a friend who worked as a mechanical engineer. The corporation he worked for required their engineers to come in everyday, but they could set their own hours. They could come in for 8 hours or two hours, it didn’t matter, just as long as they got the work done for that day. Their moto was if you can get the work done in four hours instead of 8, why would we want you sitting around not being productive for those extra four hours. My friend said there was no less productivity, in fact he thought there was improved productivity, as the employees didn’t feel trapped in their cubicles trying to pass time. This freedom and flexibilty led them to have more time with their families meaning they were happier in their personal lives and that spilled over into their work lives. So everyone was happier and more productive.

I thought this was genuis as we are all so different and we work differently. For instance, I am extremely productive from around 6am to 10am everyday, but some of my friends hate mornings and are much more productive later in the day. If you are forcing people to come in and work when it’s not their best productive hours, you are pretty much just paying for them to not work. If you work around someones productivity schedule, you will have more alert, happy employees and productivity will increase.

This all comes back to building a healthy lifestyle.When going into the workforce you need to figure out where your strengths and passion lies and be in an organization that supports that. Be in an environment where the leaders emphasize with you and understand where you are coming from. Be in a workplace where you can show up 100% human meaning you are not expected to decompartmentalize your life. Make sure you can talk to your co workers about your emotions, what’s going on outside of work, other projects you are working on and share ideas with them.

Big companies are realizing the importance of healthy employee mindsets and having therapists in the workplace are becoming more common. The old saying “leave it at the door” deosn’t apply anymore because not talking to your employees about something that is going on in their personal lives and being empathetic will affect their work productivity. In turn that energy will flow through the rest of the workplace creating a toxic environment and this means having less people engaged and more people looking for other jobs which will cost businesses more money and time training new people.

Leaders can learn to use technology properly by using it to get people together, but once they are all together, put the phones away, so they are all present and engaging with the people around them. Brainstorming and ideas will be flowing much stronger.

When it comes to our personal lives, the use of technology and forming relationships is just as bad. Someone with the average of 100 facebook friends only has 3 real friends they could rely on in an emotional crisis. Facebook and social media has given us the illusion that we have all of these friends, but think about how many of those friends you would call if you were in the hospital or were going through a tough time emotionally. I would guess, maybe a handful.

It gets worse when it comes to romantic relationships. We are a generation that comes to expect instant gratification, we want everything yesterday and we have forgotten what it’s like to have patience and put in the extra effort to get better results. So we are actually taking less and less time to get to know people on a deeper level and form strong, lasting connections.

Men have traded their legs and mouths for their phones and thumbs and women have agreed and said it’s totally fine for you to swipe right, send a “hey what’s up” text and you get to date me. But what’s worse, are the conversations people are having through their devices with people who they haven’t even met yet and creating fake attachments. I often hear of people in a text exchange sometimes for weeks and then say they got “ghosted” because the other person stopped responding to their texts.

This makes me laugh because to me they were always ghosts. If you look up the definition of a ghost, it is an unknown person who is only heard, never seen, always hidden. Isn’t this a normal relationship via dating apps?

So many people are having ghost relationships that are taking up so much space in their heads and they haven’t even met face to face. If you had to describe this person you would only be able to describe their superficial details, hair color, eye color, breast size etc. But you couldn’t tell me anything about their laugh, their mannerisms, how they treat you, how they treat others, how you feel around them. Yet so many people form strong bonds with these “ghosts” and what’s scary is that it’s real for them and something they need to recover from like any breakup.

I have nothing against using the dating apps as I have a couple of friends who did end up having a successful relationship after meeting on them. I would just like to see people using these apps and also approaching people in real life.

I for one have never been on a dating app. I am a hopeless romantic and a big believer in serendipity and I love the romantic stories the older generation tells us about how they met their partners. It’s always sweet or funny and more often involves the man serenading and using romantic gestures to whoo the woman. I fear the stories we tell our future grandkids of how we met will sadly be all the same, “Well darling dad thought mum’s picture was hot, so he swiped right.”

I know we are a hard working generation and we have much less time than our parents did, but I know we still have enough time for romance and true connections. We just need to put down our phones, look up and and interact with the people right in front of us.

If we don’t start forming these real, emotional bonds, I fear as a society we are going to spiral into a deeper depression, and romance and real human connection will be in a museum next to the dinosaurs.

So please stop having device relationships with ghosts and instead put down the phone, smile at the cute guy or girl at the coffee shop and have a real connection with a real human. This is what you need, this is what they need and this is what the world needs.

~Allira xxx

Are you in an instant relationship?

How well do you know your partner?

How well do you know your partner?

I am a massive coffee snob. I can smell a good coffee as soon as I walk into a coffee store and I will have no shame in leaving if I know they are burning the beans. My friends know not to mention the S word around me…Starbucks.

Now this may be due to the fact I was raised in Australia and we are a country full of massive coffee snobs. Hell, we are the only country where Starbucks failed so miserably they were forced to close and never return. I feel as a nation we were offended they even tried.

You see Australia is full of independent coffee roasters teaming with highly trained, coffee bean sniffing, latte artist baristas that take pride in their coffee making skills and you can definitely taste the love.

By now you’re probably thinking ok Allira, we get it, you’re a little bouge when it comes to coffee, but what has this got to do with relationships. Well I have come to think that just the way I like the time and investment put into my coffee, we should expect the same time and investment from our potential romantic partners. However I know this is something that doesn’t sit well with my instant generation.

In NYC it is extremely common to move at cheetah pace. People move in with each other moments after knowing their last names, mostly because of real estate. It is expensive to live in New York City and it is cheaper to live together. I have literally overheard a girl on the subway say “well no I don’t love him, but you know its New York, we will save so much money if we move in together”.

The problem with this is that we actually never take the time to develop a strong connection with the other person and actually decide whether this is a person we want to co habitat with, which is a challenge even for married couples, because trust me, humans are strange little creatures and no one is easy to live with.

We rush dating stages that shouldn’t be rushed and move in with people while we are still in the pretending to be someone else phase. What ends up happening is six months in, you start to see things about the other person you don’t like and realize that you really aren’t compatible for a long term relationship. Now you are trapped in an awkward roommate situation from hell. No wonder statistics are saying we are the most depressed and lonely generation to have ever lived.

For me, I first need to work out if I even like you as a friend first to even consider moving forward, because if I don’t like you as a friend why in the hell would I want to date you, let alone share my intimate living space with you. If your partner is not someone you would love to have in your life as a friend, you need to think about why you’re dating them in the first place.

As cliche as it sounds, I truly think the most successful relationships came out of friendships first. Think about it, how did you choose your best friend. You had the same interests, morals and mindset and your bond become so strong because you took the time to get to know each other. You spent countless hours getting to know them first and then decided to be friends. It took you some time to open up and tell them your inner most secrets, you didn’t just go for one dinner and say, now we are best friends.

Think about your best friend, you love her so much and would defend her to the death, you would never say anything to hurt her and would kill anyone who did. That is how you should treat your partner. The problem is we look at our partners as something different because we have sex with them and we treat them with less respect and demand more from them, when really we should be treating them with the same respect and love as our best friends.

This is why I am one of those rare girls that is actually a fan of the long distance relationship and experts tend to agree, some even saying it’s actually one of the best ways to start a new relationship.

One of the greatest benefits of a long distance relationship is that you do a lot more talking and learning about each other, since you spend more time having conversations than you might if you were sitting side-by-side watching Netflix, or out running errands or doing activities together.

A study by Cornell University told 63 heterosexual couples, half of which were a long distance relationship, to keep a communication diary and spend the next couple weeks completing questionnaires about their relationships. Those in a long distance relationship reported feeling a stronger bond than couples who lived in the same city. They also claimed to feel their partners shared more of their thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

The other benefit is you definitely can’t have a “friends with benefits” long distance relationship because long distance relationships are more like “friends without benefits.” You rarely have to worry that your significant other is only putting up with you for sex. By definition, long distance relationships are anything but physical.

They also force you to be independent in your relationship. We all know those people who lose themselves in romantic relationships. They become an extension of their significant other and, to be honest, lose that special “spark” that made you want to be friends with them in the first place. Couples in long distance relationships rarely have that problem because it’s difficult to live vicariously through your significant other when you don’t share a zip code.

Living apart from your partner is a great way to preserve the essence of who you are even though you are in a relationship. You have your own friends, jobs, and social life.

I am not saying everyone should be in long distance relationships, they are hard and not for everyone. They are just a great example of how getting to truly know someone is the best starting point for a great relationship.

Another thing to consider when engaging in an instant relationship is how differently men and women fall in love.

There are certain chemical processes that happen when we fall in love and they are completely different with men and women. Scientists call it the tipping point. There was a study done on the prarie vole, who when finds a suitable mate, stays monogamous and mates for life.

The first thing they noticed was when the prarie vole found a mate there was an increase in dopamine. This is the same in humans, when meeting someone we like it’s really new and exciting, so dopamine levels rise in both sexes. However what they also found is that Oxytocin increases with females by 51% which is the bonding hormone, the one that mothers have with their newborn babies.

So when a woman finds a man she really likes her Oxytocin levels go way up, but if they block it she will lose that loving feeling. Men can’t produce Oxyticon because of testosterone which blocks the effects of Oxytocin. So they discovered Vasopressin which is similar to Oxytocin is released in men when they find a female they really like. So it is a combination of dopamine, Vasopressin and a little bit of testostertone for males and scientists have confirmed that this is all applicable to humans.

So for females dopamine and oxytocin increases. The dopamine is released when you are dating and you are excited about finding the possibilty of love. So as long as you are out there dating and having fun your dopamine levels will be raised. Oxytocin the cuddle hormone or the trust hormone goes up when you are kissing, cuddling and having fun and the longer you date and trust him the more your Oxytocin will increase.

But theres a catch, Oxytocin slowly builds up that way, but it skyrockets at orgasm. Men are on the same page with dopamine levels if he is out dating and happy having a good time, his dopamine levels will be high. His Vassopressin goes up when he is sexually stimulated, so if he is dating a woman he is sexually intersted in, his vassopressin increases. But unlike Oxytocin in females, the Vassopressin drops after men have sex.

A study from the United States Airfoce followed over 2000 service men for more than a decade. Taking various tests, one of the tests they took was for testosterone. What they found was when a guy came in who was single his testosterone levels were relatively high, but as soon as he gets married it drops. Remember testosterone is a blocker of Oxytocin and Oxytocin is the bonding hormone.

Harvard University took it a step further and did studies on married men, men in committed relationships and single men and tested their testosterone and what they found just like the air force study was that the men that were single had high testosterone where the men who were married or in commited relationships had lower testostertone. The testosterone levels did not differ in men that were married or in committed relationships.

That means that testosterone didn’t drop when they got married it dropped prior, when he committed. These studies show that women tend to take a bigger risk and fall in love when she has sex and men tend to fall in love when he has commitment. So there is literally scientific evidence of how chemically different men and women fall in love.

Women are constantly complaining about how men won’t commit and open up to them and the prarie vole study may very wel tell us why.

So ladies, if you want a truly lasting long term relationship with your guy, you may have to slow down and get to know him a little better first. If you feel like it’s going too fast for you and you suddenly realize he’s being an instant guy, spit him out faster than a Starbucks Frappuccino (or whatever it is they sell there) and order the espresso, trust me, it’s worth the wait.

~Allira xxx

Are you suffering from gym anxiety

So many women see the gym as a place of judgement and distress

So many women see the gym as a place of judgement and distress

According to a recent article Sixty-five percent of women avoid the gym altogether because of anxiety and fear of being judged. Not surprisingly in comparison, only 36 percent of men felt that way.

This doesn't shock me, because even though I’m a personal trainer and very confident on the gym floor, I am definitely not immune to gym anxiety.

I am a member of one of the bougiest gyms in New York City (if you live in NY you know who I am talking about). This gym attracts a certain type of clientele and most of the that clientele is men. It baffles me how many men just blatantly ogle at the girls at my gym and seem oblivious to the massive mirrors that are reflecting their stares.

I was doing deadlifts one morning and I kept noticing the guy behind me staring at my ass the whole time. After a few reps of this, he came over, tapped me on the shoulder and said “hey, I really like your vibe.” (insert eye roll emoji) He literally stood there smiling and staring at me. I’m pretty sure he was waiting for me to ask him to marry me after that beautiful line. Instead I said thanks and promptly put in my headphones and continued my workout. I watched him as he went around the gym, staring at other girls asses.

Now I know that not every male that goes to the gym is a creeper like this guy was, but all men do stare. I know it’s hard. There is a bunch of girls bending over, sweating and wearing ass hugging leggings, trust me, I get it. But when you are a girl coming out onto the weight floor and there is a group of guys staring at you, you can’t help but feel like a lamb heading to slaughter and it’s really annoying.

Women are there to workout just as much as the men are and we would like to do it in peace. I would love to see the men incorporate what women have perfected over many years, which is the quick gawk. So many men think women don’t check them out at the gym, this isn’t true, they just don’t notice it. Women can check out a hot guy with lightning speed and afterwards tell you every detail, including what shoes he was wearing. This is why the percentage of gym anxiety is so much lower with men, because women don't make them feel uncomfortable with long, obvious stares.

Now I know there are some women who do join a gym to try and find a potential partner and this is fine. But even the girls who come to the gym to do this could improve their confidence. I see the girls at my gym who are obviously there to attract a mate. They are fighting over mirror space, fussing over their makeup and hair before heading out there like it was some sort of Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

This upsets me for two reasons. The first is that in my opinion women look their most beautiful at the gym when they are fresh faced and make up free. Not to mention that exercise brings oxygen and nutrients to your skin, which gives you that healthy glow. The second reason is because working out with makeup is so bad for your skin. The sweat while you are working out gets trapped under your makeup and causes your skin to breakout and skin conditions to worsen. This over time will give you bad skin which you will want to cover with more makeup, it will make you more self conscious and the vicious cycle will continue.

I know you think you have to wear a lot of makeup to attract a guy, but the truth is most men prefer women without makeup and I don’t know about you, but I would much rather a guy approach me because he thinks I look beautiful naturally than with a ton of makeup. Plus if you do get a date with him, there will be more of a wow factor when you are all dolled up with a full face of makeup. So this week try going make up free at the gym.

If you are suffering from a chronic case of gym anxiety, I have some tips to help you deal with it.

  1. Have a workout plan before you get to the gym

Most women hit the gym with no plan as to what they are going to do for the hour they are there. This makes you feel less confident as you are just aimlessly walking around the gym and you don’t know where to go or what to do next. By having a set program and a plan before you go, you will know exactly which machines to use and which areas to go to. You will feel so much more confident navigating around the gym.

2. Train with a personal trainer first

The best way to feel more secure at the gym is to be confident in knowing how to work out properly. A great trainer will show you proper form and set you up to be able to plan your own programs. I suggest hiring a personal trainer for the first time you plan on working out to give you a solid foundation for your training going forward. You will stop questioning your form and thinking everyone is judging you for it.

3. Pick a gym that is right for you

Most people make the mistake of joining up to gyms because they are prestigious or have a reputation. Then they walk in and are surrounded by instagram models, actresses and bodybuilders with six packs. They feel intimidated because they are not at that fitness level, so they leave and never come back.

I chose my gym beacuse it’s full of people around my age and at my fitness level, so I feel comfortable in that environment. If you are just starting out or you feel intimidated by super fit people, then find a gym where you do feel comfortable and where you feel inspired to work out. You will want to keep going back to that gym and best of all, because you are working out with like minded people, you will end up building a really nice fitness community of friends.

4. Get some new gym clothes

Now I am not telling you to go out and drop all your savings on lululemon, but updating your gym wardrobe can help with your confidence when working out. Not only will you want to workout because you look and feel great, but it will give you that little confidence boost when walking around the gym.

5. Hit the gym earlier

I hate being stared at when I’m working out, so I always go as soon as the gym opens, as there is less men and less people in general. I love it, I get to workout in peace before the crowd rolls in and it really is worth it. If you are suffering from gym anxiety, it may be because you are going at peak hours and it’s just too overcrowded.

I always encourage my clients to get up every morning earlier than usual anyway, as getting things accomplished while most people are still sleeping makes you feel amazing. Instead of sleeping in that extra hour, get up and head to the gym, you will not only avoid the crowds, but you will be so much more productive. For instance, I have already updated my website, answered client’s emails, read two chapters of a book, worked out for an hour, had breakfast, showered and got ready for the day and it’s only 9am. The saying, “there is never enough hours in the day” is total bs if you ask me. There are plenty of hours, most people are just sleeping them away.

It honestly breaks my heart to know that feeling self concious at the gym is stopping so many women from doing something that is so important for their bodies and brains. I hope some of these tips will boost your confidence to walk out onto that gym floor, because you belong there just as much as the boys.

Increasing your confidence at the gym will not only reduce your anxiety, but after a while you won’t even care about the boys staring, because you will know you are a strong, beautiful woman so who wouldn’t stare!

Allira xxx

You don't want kids...that's ok

It’s ok if fur babies are the only species you want to raise

It’s ok if fur babies are the only species you want to raise

I remember telling my mum when I was 13 years old that I didn’t want children. She laughed and told me, oh darling, you’re so young, of course you don’t want them now, but you will.

Well the desire to not have children has only become stronger the older I get. I used to lie to everyone and myself by saying the maternal instinct just hasn’t kicked in yet and I am undecided, just to keep everyone happy and not sound like a lepper. But thanks to the feminist movement and women speaking out about their decsions not to have children, millenial women for the first time feel safe to admit we actually are happy living a child free life.

I battled with my decision thinking something was wrong with me. I would constantly should all over myself. I would say things like, I am a woman I should want babies, I should want a family, I should want to make my partner and my family happy. But that’s the problem I was shoulding all over myself. Shoulding yourself or anyone else for that matter is just shaming and needs to stop. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do and especially something that goes against what you really want as a woman.

The moment I stopped lieing to myself and others I felt so free. I gave honest answers at parties to why I didn't want kids. I had women speechless looking me over like some weird alien they didn’t know how to communicate with. But I didn’t care anymore, I had finally come to peace with my choice and I was tired of defending it.

I rememeber when I was with my first boyfriend, we dated for three years, we had a house together and were very much in love. I remember I was late taking my contrcaeptive pill one night and freaked out. I went to my family pharmacist the next morning and asked for the morning after pill. My pharmacist laughed and told me I really didn’t need it, saying I had been on the pill for so long the chance of me being pregnant was extremely low, if at all.

The thing that shocked me was how calm my boyfriend was about the whole thing. He was making jokes saying how cute our babies would be. The thought of me being pregnant at 22 was absolutely horrifying to me and sent me into a panic attack, so I didn’t understand his calmness about it at all. Later we talked about it and it was because he knew he wanted to be a dad and he wanted to marry me and have children. So as much as it was earlier than planned, it wasn’t such a big deal for him. I lied to him and myself saying that I thought I wanted kids too but much later. I told myself my anxiety attack was just because I was so young and I probably would want them later.

However when I look back it wasn't my age at all. I already knew deep down I didn’t want kids, but I felt so guilty about having those thoughts as a female.

As time went on my friends started getting more and more maternal pointing out cute babies at coffee stores and talking about baby names they had thought of since they were 8 years old. Truth be told, I felt so guilty because baby names had never crossed my mind and so I forced myself to choose one to be a “normal” girl. I chose Audrey, as I loved the name and I also loved breakfast at Tiffanys and Audrey Hepburn as an actress and philanthropist. Ironically I did have a little girl named Audrey come into my life. My sister gave birth to a little girl earlier this year and named her Audrey. I laughed because she didn't know that was my fake baby name, but I also wasn’t mad at all. I was kind of relieved, because as silly as it sounds, I felt the pressure was off because my baby name had been taken.

I had different dreams when I was a little girl. I didn’t dream of a wedding or baby names for my future imaginary babies. I dreamt of escaping the country town I was in, traveling the world, having an amazing career and building an empire with a partner who was not only my best friend but my travel companion too. I imagined a life as we say in Australia, DINKS, which means double income, no kids.

I used to battle with this decision for years, as I knew it was going to be a harder life for me. Finding a man who doesn’t want children would be harder and what’s worse is that some men think you’re lying and that you will change your mind later, which only leads to heartbreak down the road.

There are recent studies showing there is a worldwide drop in babies being born, as more millennial women are choosing to opt out of motherhood. The studies also show that it’s the men who want children more than women. I wonder if men would want all these kids if they were the ones who had to be pregnant for nine months, give up alcohol and most foods they enjoy, damage their bodies and then give birth to a tiny human.

Whether you want children or don’t want children, it is such a personal and individual choice and it is entirely up to you. My sister loves being a mum and I love seeing how happy she is being one. But I never envy her life or feel I might be missing out by never having them.

So women who have children please accept that some of your female couterparts really don’t want them. Stop telling them they will change their minds, because this is shaming and making them feel like there is something wrong with their decision. And women who don’t have children and know you dont want them, it’s ok, there is nothing wrong with you. You’ve made that decision, so start creating an amazing life that doesn’t involve kids and please stop shoulding all over yourself.

Allira xxx

Change your life before it changes you

Eating right and moving your body has major brain-changing benefits

Eating right and moving your body has major brain-changing benefits

I remember when I was little, visting my great grandmother in the retirement village. Grannels, as we called her, suffered from dimentia and had lost her memory completely, she had no recollection of the amazing life she had lived. Because I was so young, I didn’t quite comprehend what was wrong with her and thought it was quite funny when she would ask my mum if she had tied the horses up out the front. She didn’t know who my mum was and was confused by all these strangers in her room.

I can now only imagine the sadness my grandmother felt as her own mother couldn’t recognize her anymore. I hear people talk about their family members that developed signifigant memory loss in old age. They often say we lost them before we actually physically lost them, as the loved ones they knew and cared for could no longer remember who they were or anything that happened in their lives. To me this is such a cruel thing to watch your loved ones slowly forget who they are and who you are as the years go by.

The great news is that researchers have discovered something you can do to not only prolong the effects of memory loss but actually reverse it. And the best thing of all…it’s free.

The human brain is the most complex structure known to human kind. If you could look into the brain of someone who has Alzheimers, what you will see is that in between the brain cells are these unusual looking structures called beta amolode protein which comes out of the cells and accumulates in these little meatball like structures. These structures shouldn’t be there and they are a hallmark of Alzahemers disease which affects 80% of the human population. Alzhemiers is usually caused by old age and genetics, the gene is called Apolipoprotein. If you have this gene from one parent your risk is tripled of getting Alzheimers and if you get it from both parents your risk is 10–15% times higher than it was before.

You can’t change your parents, but it turns out, you can change your destiny. In Chicago, researchers started something called the Chicago health and aging project. They looked at what Chicago people were eating and did very careful dietary records in hundreds of people and recorded which participants stayed mentally clear and who got dimentia over the years. What they found was that the risk of developing Alzheimers was three times higher with the participants who consumed high saturated fat diets than those who ate low or very little saturated fat. Saturated fat is bad fat and is found most commonly in dairy and meat products. However they also found that trans fat, the fat you find in pastries and donuts, has the same pattern.

People that were avoiding the trans and saturated fats were actually avoiding them for cholestoral and heart disease purposes, but what they didn’t realize was that they were experiencing a positive side effect that was affecting their brains.

Researchers from Finland took it a step further and studied a condition called mild cognitive impairment. This is a disease where you are still you, your personality is still in tact, but you are having mental lapses mainly for remembering names and words. They studied the diets of over 1,000 adults with the average age of 50 over 21 years and looked to see who overtime developed mild cognitive impairment. Fat consumption varied between participants, some ate very little fat and some ate a fair amount of fat. After looking at who’s memory started to fail, they found the exact same results as the Alzheimers study. In other words, it’s not just will you get alzheimers, it’s will you get old age memory problems.

They did the study again and focused only on the people in the group who had the alzheimers gene and found the same results. If you are avoiding the bad fats, even if you have the gene, your risk of developing memory problems is cut by 80%.

Researchers also found a correlation between Vitamin E and brain health. There are plaques in the brain that not only contain B-amyloid protein, they also contain Iron and copper. We get alot of these metals through the food we consume. If you have a cast iron pan or have copper pipes you may actualluy be consuming too much metal, beacuse Iron and copper oxidise in your body and as they do, they cause the production of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are swimming around in your blood stream and get into your brain and act like sparks that singe through the connections between one cell and the next.

Using your iron cast once a month is fine, but if you are using it everyday you are getting more iron than the body needs and they start producing these free radicals that go to the brain. We used to think the amounts of iron and copper in meat was great for us until it was discovered that iron is a double edged sword. You need a little bit, but if you have too much it becomes toxic.

That’s the danger with Vitamin manufacturing companies and why I’m personally against taking vitamins and supplements. Unless you are that rare percent of the population who is truly vitamin deficient, you don’t need them. Vitamin companies will throw in iron and copper to their multivitamins, because they think we need them, not recognizing we are already getting enough through food and adding them to your supplememt means you are getting way too much.

Researchers have found that getting enough Vitamin E can help reduce these free radicals. Vitamin E is an extremely powerful antioxidant, and you can find Vitamin E in many foods including spinach, mangos, nuts and seeds. A study out of Chicago showed that people getting 8mg a day of Vitamin E, reduced their risk of getting Alzheimers by half, compared to people who were getting less than that. But before you run to your nearest Duane Reade to get some Vitamin E supplements, keep reading.

Nature has eight forms of Vitamin E. It is found naturally in a variety of nuts and various plants and fruits. Vitamin manufacturers only have to include one form of Vitamin E to legally call it a Vitamin E supplement, as dietary supplements are not regulated. This is a problem beause if you are consuming only one form of Vitamin E it actually reduces your absorption of all the other forms. So you definitely want to get it from your food, as this is what nature intended and how we have elvolved to consume it.

Researchers of Cincinnati took all this research a step further and looked into the color of foods we consume, looking mainly at blueberries and grapes. The beautiful blue color of blueberries and grapes are not to just to look pretty, they are called antho cianines. These powerful antioxidants not only give the fruit it’s purple color, they protect them against extreme temperatures.

When you consume them, they go into your bloodstream and as in Vitmain E, also act as a powerful antioxidant against free radicals . Researchers studied a group of participants with an average age of 78 who were already experiencing memory problems. They asked them to drink a pint of grape juice a day and after three months, every participants memory and recall improved.

In 2009 the physicians commitee for responsible medicine went to the department of Agriculture to convince them to throw out the food pyramid. They argued that meat and dairy should be taken out because of all the research that has shown people who don’t consume meat and dairy are much healthier than people that do. So they devised a plate that comprised of fruits, grains, legumes and vegetables. The government years later agreed and in 2011 replaced the food pyramid with My Plate as the new US government policy.

There is no longer any meat section in federal guidelines and the dairy section is to the side of the plate and very small. So when it comes to keeping your brain healthy and to delay the effects of memory loss, make sure you are staying away from the trans and saturated fats and sticking to a mainly plant based diet, eating an array of colorful fruits and veggies and getting your Vitamin E intake through your food.

Now just when you thought it couldn’t get better, it does. If you couple your healthy diet with a regular exercise regime, you will have one powerhouse of a brain.

University of illinois researchers studied 120 adults who were told to go on a brisk walk three times a week. After a year, participants went into the laboratory for a brain scan. They measured the hippocampus, which is at the centre of the brain and is the seat of memory. This part of the brain sits deep in the temporal lobe and is a key structure critical for your ability to form and retain long-term memories for facts and events. It literally decides what should be let through into memory and what shouldn’t be. What researchers found was that this organ, which is gradually shrinking in older adults suddenly stopped shrinking. Simply by exercising, participants found their hippocampus was getting bigger and actually reversed brain shrinkage and they did substantially better on memory tests.

They increased walking time every week by five minutes until participants were at 4o minutes of brisk walking three times a week. They concluded that this is all you need to to improve memory and reverse brain shrinkage.

There is so much literature on the positive effects on the brain with exercise. Wendy Suzuki who is a professor of neuroscience, decided to completely switch her research program after experiencing first hand the brain-changing effects of exercise on her own brain and knew this information could change so many peoples lives.

After several years of research she came to the conclusion that exercise is the most transformative thing that you can do for your brain today. She discoverd that exercise has an instant effect on your brain, a single workout that you do will immmediately increase levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline, which automatically increases your mood. Her lab also showed that a single workout can improve your reaction times and your ability to shift and focus attention and that focus and improvement will last for atleast two hours.

Increasing your cardiorespiratory function through exercise has long lasting effects because exercise actually changes the brain’s anatomy, physiology and function. Wendy Suzuki says to think of your brain like a muscle. The more you’re working out, the bigger and stronger your hippocampus and pefrontal cortex gets. That’s important because the pre frontal cortex and the hippocampus are the two areas that are most susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases and normal cognitive decline in aging. So with increased exercise over your lifetime, you’re not going to cure dementia or Alzheimers disease, but what you’re going to create is a stronger, larger hippocampus and pre frontal cortex, so it wil take longer for these diseases to actually take effect.

Adding extra exercise throughout your day is easy, you just have to change your habits. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, if your destination is walkable, walk instead of driving, don’t watch that extra Netflix series, go for a walk around the block or get off the couch and do a quick floor workout.

This research shows that your genes are not your destiny. Incorporating a healthy diet and exercise regime into your life will protect your brain from incurable diseases and in this way will change the trajectory of your life for the better.

I am sure your family will support you on a journey that will not only give you a healthier, happier life, but will also enable you to enjoy time with them ,with a clear, strong mind for many more years to come. I don’t know about you, but for me, that is worth every step.

Allira xxx

Getting better sleep to improve your life

A bad nights sleep can affect your life in extremely negative ways

A bad nights sleep can affect your life in extremely negative ways

Sleep is the most important component when it comes to your overall health. I believe it is more important than nutrition and training combined. A lack of sleep affects our hormone levels which can lead to a weakened immune system, difficulty concentrating and carbohydrate cravings during the day. If you wonder why you can’t control your morning muffin cravings stop beating yourself up, it’s your body telling you it needs more sleep.

To understand this more, lets look at sleep and the effects it has on body composition and our physical appearance. There are two basic types of sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM.

Non-REM sleep includes what is commonly known as deep sleep or slow wave sleep. Dreaming typically occurs during REM sleep. Generally, non-REM and REM sleep occur in a regular pattern of 3 to 5 cycles each night.

Your ability to function and feel well while you’re awake depends on whether you’re getting enough total sleep and enough of each type of sleep. It also depends on whether you’re sleeping at a time when your body is prepared and ready to sleep.

You have an internal “body clock” that controls when you’re awake and when your body is ready for sleep. This clock typically follows a 24-hour repeating rhythm (called the circadian rhythm). The rhythm affects every cell, tissue, and organ in your body and how they work.

Sleep deficiency can interfere with your productivity, social functioning and you will also find it hard to judge people’s emotions and reactions. Sleep deficiency can make you feel frustrated, cranky, or worried in social situations, Which means you will be more senstive and more likely to blow up over nothing.

Sleep is also critical in weight loss and generally staying on track with your health and fitness goals. There was a study where two groups of participants were put on the same diet and the same training regime. One group were sleep deprived, geting 5 and half hours of sleep and the other group was getting 8 and a half hours of sleep. At the end of the study they found that the sleep deprived group lost far less weight and far less body fat. Not that shocking. But The University of Chicago took it one step further and put a group of participants on a calorie restricted diet. One phase of the study they sleep deprived the group allowing them to only get 5 and half hours of sleep. Then they took the same group, same diet, but they slept for the recommended 8 and a half hours.

At the end of the study they found when the group was getting 8 and a half hours of sleep, they lost an amazing 55% more body fat than when they were sleep deprived. 55% more body fat loss simply from getting more sleep! There is no sort of training or diet out there that can get those kinds of results.

A key component to why sleep affects our weight is a hormone called human growth hormone (HGH). This hormone is very powerful and the greatest production and secretion of HGH happens in the first stage of sleep or anabolic deep sleep. So the more time you spend in this anabolic deep sleep the more HGH you will produce.

HGH is so important when it comes to fat loss as it is a growth hormone which helps you to build lean muscle tissue and it’s also muscle protective and it gives you alot more energy. It is sometimes referred to as the youth hormone, as kids have a lot more HGH, which is why they have a lot more energy. You can’t get HGH from a supplement, but you can slightly increase your HGH through strength training like heavy squatting, deadlifts and bench presses, but not nearly as much as you can produce through adequate sleep.

Cortisol is another critically important hormone to your health and well being. It gives you the energy to get up and start moving for the day and it is responsible for helping to build your thyroid hormone. Your thyroid is literally the metabolic centre of your entire body. Contrary to popular belief, cortisol is only bad if it is produced at the wrong time and in the wrong amounts and sleep deprivation has an immediate corelation with an elevated level of cortisol levels.

If you are up at 3am on your laptop working most nights, your cortisol levels are naturally elevated. Here’ s why this is a problem. Cortisol is actually the opposite of HGH in that it breaks down your muscle tissue. The process is called gluconeogenesis which is when your body converts the proteins or dietary fat you eat into blood sugar for energy. This process can spike your insulin levels, which can lead to your cells storing more fat. Thus sort of turning your muscle into fat, it biochemically doesn't work like that but cortisol is the trigger.

Melatonin the sleep hormone, has also surprisingly been found to have a massive impact on fat loss. Melatonin was found to increase your bodies brown adipose tissue (BAT). Brown adipose tissue, or brown fat, is one of two types of fat that humans and other mammals have. Its main function is to turn food into body heat and functions very similar to muscle in that it burns white adipose tissue (WAT). WAT is a type of fat which is the result of storing excess calories and is usually stored around your stomach, hips and thighs. By increasing your bodies BAT ratio you are increasing your metabolic rate and will increase your ability to burn fat. But if you are not getting adequate sleep you are not producing the adequate melatonin levels to achieve this.

Lastly the Leptin and Grehlin hormones, which are your hunger hormones. Grehlin is the hormone that tells you when you are hungry, and the Leptin hormone tells you when you are full and should stop eating. Both of these hormones are are heavily affected by poor sleep. Studies have shown that after just one night of bad sleep, there is a dramatic supression of your leptin hormone and a 15% increase automatically in your grehlin levels. Individuals who have poor quality sleep on average consume 250 more calories the next day because your brain is trying to get more energy to keep you up because you’re tired.

Brain imaging shows that poor sleep quality has in an increase in the activity in the amygdala which is the more primitive part of the brain and decreased activity in the frontal and insular cortex which is the more evolved human brain, used for decison making, social control and distinguishing from right and wrong. Glucose is your brains main fuel source and they found that there is a 6% decrease in glucose reaching your brain when you’re sleep deprived.

So when your brain starts to starve, survival mechanisms are going to start to kick in because our design is still very primitive. Only a few thousand years ago lack of glucose in your brain could lead to death, so your cells are screaming at you to get glucose back to your brain as soon as you can, or it thinks you will die. Your brain after years of downing Ben and Jerry’s tubs of ice cream in front of the TV, knows exactly where to tell you to go to get glucose quickly. So before you know what happened, you have your hand deep inside a pack of cookies. This is why so many people are struggling with their fitness goals, we are an overworked, overstressed society and we are unconsciously being run by our primitive brains as a consequence to this lifetyle.

Not getting enough sleep will also dramatically affect your memory and overall productivity. Your brain has its own system for getting rid of metabolic waste called the glemphatic system and your brain is doing a million processes every second to clean out dead cells and all the metabolic waste. During sleep your glemphatic system is ten times more active than during the day to help clean out the dead cells to make room for new cells. They have also found there is a 60% decrease in your brain cell size when you go to sleep to make more room for detoxification. If you are not getting enough sleep your brain isn’t detoxifying itself properly and there is a huge correlation between Alzheimer’s disease with an inability for the brain to detoxify itself. So without adequate sleep over time, you may be increasing your chance of developing memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Sleep deprivation affects your relationships. As we have discussed we get an amygdala high jack when sleep deprived and you basically turn into a primitive, angry and selfish version of yourself. There are actual studies showing that in romantic relationships if just one of the people in the relationship has a bad nights sleep, there was a dramatic increase in arguments the next day and for that argument not to be resolved. This is because the most rational and compassionate side of your brain is turned off. Your amygdala doesn’t care, it just wants to have problems and eat cookies. So to stop yourself from going to the dark, Smeagol side, get some sleep.

I for one, put sleep as a top priority. My friends and family know they can’t reach me after 9pm most nights and my sleep routine actually starts in the morning. I make sure I get at least twenty minutes of natural sunlight in the morning to re set my cortisol levels and I make sure I get my workout in first thing in the morning.

The hardest and most important step for getting a good nights sleep is getting away from all your devices at least an hour before bed. The blue light emitted from our technical devices is so detrimental to our sleep patterns. Blue light sends signals to our brains that it is still day light and it will inhibit your body’s natural way to get ready for sleep. Research has found that exposure to blue light suppresses the production of melatonin more than any other type of light. It is believed that the shorter wavelengths in blue light is what causes the body to produce less melatonin because the body is more sensitive to this type of light.

So this means no phone, TV or laptop an hour before bed and I know this is a hard habit to form, as we all suffer from phone addiction. To help me from doing the “just checks” on social media late at night, I put my phone on aeroplane mode and take it out of the bedroom so there is no temptation.

I read under soft candlelight to make myself sleepy because artificial light, including fluorescent bulbs and incandescent bulbs, can interrupt normal sleep patterns. The body’s biological clock works in rhythms that are set by the amount of light and dark the body is exposed to. While these bulbs are helpful in many ways, they have a negative effect on sleep.

I live in a NYC high rise building, so the whole Manhattan skyline is streaming through my windows at all times. I used to love waking up naturally with the sun and rarely had curtains on my windows. However my new apartment is like living in a snowglobe which in turn was affecting my sleep, so I had to get black out curtains to help me get a better nights sleep. Natural light, like the moon is fine, but you need to block out any unnatural light as our skin has tiny receptors that are able to detect light. Your skin will alert your brain thay it’s light out and it’s time to wake up. So if there is light hitting your skin, you will not go into deep anabolic sleep and you will constantly be tossing and turning.

Finally, I make sure to set my room at the right temperature before I get into bed. During the course of a normal day, your body temperature rises and falls slightly. This pattern is tied to your sleep cycle. As you become drowsy, your temperature goes down, reaches its lowest level around 5 am and climbs slightly as morning begins. This is why the air in your room can affect the quality of your sleep. If it’s too hot, it may interfere with your body’s natural dip and make you more restless through the night. Studies indicate that some forms of insomnia are associated with an improper regulation in body temperature.

Of course each of us has a slightly different optimal temperature for sleep, so experiment with keeping your room cool and find what makes you most comfortable. Some experts suggest a room temperature of 65 degrees is the best, but I personally set my AC to 68 degrees as I find this to be the perfect sleeping temperature for me.

These are just a few habits that you can incorporate into your life for a better nights sleep, but experiment and see what works for you and your lifestyle.

I can’t stress enough how important sleep is for your overall health and well being. If you know you are not getting enough quality sleep, insted of dunking your head into another bucket of coffee, change up your nightly routine.

Trust me, just by getting a better nights sleep, all areas of your life will improve dramatically and I don’t know about you, but I am yet to have a latte that does that.

Allira xxx

Cut off all your dead ends for growth and I’m not talking about your hair

It’s time for a life trim

It’s time for a life trim

Every 6–8 weeks, we women go to our hairstylists to get our hair cut. Why do we do this? To get rid of all the dead ends so our hair can grow back healthier and stronger. We don’t get upset about the strands and length we are losing because we know what will grow back will be much better than anything we lost. How amazing do you feel when those wiry dry strands have been cut. You feel great! Your hair feels lighter and bouncier and overall healthier. I use this metaphor for living your life, as I believe we need to reguarly trim the dead ends in our lives, so we are free to grow back healthier and stronger.

We all know the dead ends in our lives we need to cut that are weighing us down. A dead end job, a dead end relationship, dead end friends, dead end family, dead end eating habits, dead end mindsets, I could go on and on.

There is an amazing quote contributed to the great psycho analyst Sigmund Freud that goes “before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, surrounded by assholes.

I love this quote because the people you surround yourself with affects who you are substantially. If you are finding yourself depressed, unmotivated and not succeeding at life look around at who you are surrounded by, who you reaching out to and the most important who are you getting advice from.

I see so many people taking relationship advice from people who are bitter and hate men and think they are all cheating assholes, so what do you think that girl is to think about men, that they are all cheating assholes too. That will be her new reality and it will stop her from creating the actual reality she wants of having a loving relationship with a man.

If your friends are all negative and constantly laughing at any dream you bring up, do you think you are ever going to achieve your dreams?

There comes a time in your life when you have to do a weeding per say, of your social garden and you need to get rid of any of those toxic plants taking over so the flowers can grow and bloom.

This is what I did. Write a list of all your friends and family and beside their name write a feeling you feel associated to them. Be honest! If there are words like, not worthy, stressed, draining, demanding, ruthlessly put a strike through that name. By the time you are done yo are only left with the people in your life that bring you positivity and support your goals.

Now I am not saying cut the people out of your life that sometimes give you a kick in the ass to get you out of your funk. One of my best friends does that and as much as I hate hearing it sometimes I need that kick in the ass and it always triggers me into action. So I keep him around.

But if there is someone in your life you feel you can’t truly be yourself around or tell them your real dreams because they will tell you to be realistic. Cut them. Just so we are clear, I don’t mean physically cut them, just stop talking to them.

If they are really close childhood friends or family, that you would like to keep in your life, then be brave enough to have an honest conversation with them about how their negative mindset is not serving you right now and you need to take some distance.

I actually had a conversation with a close friend who was overly sarcastic all the time and I would laugh along but deep down I hated it and it didn’t make me feel good being the butt of the joke all the time. I ended up having an honest conversion with him about it and he actually apologized and admitted his overly sarcastic nature had affected his relationships in the past and he went cold turkey and stopped. He is still in my circle of friends and one of my biggest supporters.

So if there are people on your list you would like to give a second chance, have an honest open conversation about it and see if they are willing to change, because sometimes we don’t know how bad our vices affect people until they tell us.

Another big one is block those people on social media that make you feel bad about yourself. You know who I am talking about. The Instagram models, the ex partners, your partners ex partners. I went through and blocked every person that when they popped up on my feed gave me negative emotions. I blocked certain influencers and guys I had dated that just reminded me of the rejection and failures and do you know what, it felt amazing. The great thing about blocking and not just unfollowing is when you are feeling particularly lonely and nostalgic you can’t stalk them. They just aren’t there anymore.

This was a game changer for me because now when I do look at instagram I feel inspired and empowered because I follow all my beautiful amazing friends, successful business women, inspiring fitness influencers and entrepreneurs.

Also get a tribe that like to socialize and do the things that bring you joy. For instance, standing at a bar and drinking bores me to death, so most of my tribe doesn’t drink and we catch up for brunches, movies, picnics in Central Park, we work out together, or we go support them at an event they are in.

Socialize on a platform that makes you happy and if your tribe is always suggesting to catch up doing something you hate and aren’t open to your suggestions, it’s time for a new tribe.

It’s not that easy you say to make new friends. Bullshit. I have lived all over the world and had to start over again and again and again and I have made amazing friends everywhere I lived.

The problem with humans is we are so scared to start conversations with strangers from fear of being rejected. But this is the very key to making new friends. Go do something you love doing that brings you joy and then start a conversation with the people that are there doing the same thing. It’s that simple.

The key is to get off your couch turn off Netflix, and go out into the real world and connect with real people. There are so many amazing people to meet in this short time we have on earth, you just have to say hello and take it from there.

Allira xxx

Not exercising will kill you faster than smoking, diabetes and heart disease

Pick an activity you love and start moving!

Pick an activity you love and start moving!

A recent study revealed some shocking results to the public, but not so shocking to the fitness industry. Health and fitness industry experts have long known the incredible health benefits from exercise, not just for your body but your mind. The main reason I dove into the fitness world was discovering this amazing key to longevity and happiness and I made it my mission to motivate the masses to move.

The general population knows that to lead a healthy long life we have to eat healthy and exercise, and even though we know this, we still don’t do it. There are many factors to why we are so complacent to living our sedentary lives and it comes back to the fact most of us don’t really know why we should do it in the first place.

According to the study published in the journal JAMA Network Open, researchers must now convey the risks to the general population that being unfit should be considered as strong of a risk factor as hypertension, diabetes and smoking, if not stronger than all of them.

In the study, researchers retrospectively studied 122,007 patients who underwent exercise treadmill testing at Cleveland Clinic between January 1, 1991 and December 31, 2014 to measure all cause mortality relating to the benefits of exercise and fitness. Those with the lowest exercise rate accounted for 12% of the participants.

Fitness leads to longer life, researchers found, with no limit to the benefit of aerobic exercise. Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker and comparing those with a sedentary lifestyle to the top exercise performers, the risk of premature death was 500% higher.

Comparing somebody who doesn’t exercise much to somebody who exercises regularly still showed a risk 390% higher. The study showed there actually is no ceiling for the benefit of exercise and there’s no age limit that doesn’t benefit from being physically fit either. The benefits of exercise were seen across all ages and in both men and women and were a little more pronounced in females. The study revealed whether you’re in your 40s or your 80s, you will benefit in the same way.

What I liked and that made the study so unique, is that researchers weren’t relying on patients self reporting their exercise which can be very subjective at best. Researchers instead tested the patients and figured out objectively the real measure of what they did.

As a fitness professional I am happy when studies like this come out that make the general poulation aware of the amazing benefits of exercise. However I know as much as you can shock people with statistics, they actually have to be the ones to decide to take the steps to start moving and change their lives for the better.

I choose to workout first thing in the mornings, usually around 6am as there are so many studies and research on why morning workouts are so beneficial. One factor is Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumptions (EPOC) this basically means that your body burns more calories after your workout, even when you’re sitting at a desk or driving in your car. One study showed that participants burned an extra 190 calories in the 14 hours after exercise when compared to those who didn’t exercise at all.

Working out in the morning will keep benefiting you throughout the day because whenever you eat your body does 1 of 3 things with the calories you take in. It can use it as a source of energy, it can use it to replenish your body or it can store it for later (fat). So by working out in the morning, what you eat after is replenishing your body and providing calories to meet your higher metabolic needs. You do not get this benefit when you exercise later in the day.

Moving in the morning can also be a tremendous source of energy, something many of us need when we start our day and exercise has been shown to improve focus and mental abilities all day long. Not only will you feel awake and have more energy after your workout, but your mind will be ready to take on whatever tasks you have lined up that day. Some research has measured the effectiveness of exercise to “wake up” the mind, and the results show that it does a better job than coffee!

Lastly you will get better sleep by moving in the morning. A recent study had participants exercise at 7am, 1pm or 7pm three days per week. The participants that consistently worked out at 7am had the deepest, longest sleeps. Morning exercise not only improves the length of sleep you will enjoy, but also your quality of sleep by promoting deeper sleep cycles. Evening exercise can actually have the opposite effect. Exercise is a form of stress, and your body reacts to stress by releasing hormones including adrenaline which is the same hormone you would release if a bear was chasing you. Not really something you want released right before trying to get some shut eye.

Just to be clear. I am not saying don’t work out at night. I am a huge advocate about getting your workouts in however your lifestyle allows you to. It is definitely better to work out at night then not at all, you will just miss out on the major benefits of a morning workout.

Now I know most people aren’t like me who loves working out and eating right. I need very little motivation to get me out of bed in the mornings to hit the gym. However most of my clients don’t have the same drive and I have worked with them to help to get them motivated.

First have some nice gym clothes. I know this one is a little superficial, but it works. Splurge on some nice leggings, sports bra and some proper shoes and you will feel great and confident in your workouts. Second do not hit snooze! Based on all the above knowledge I dropped on you, you are doing yourself a major favor by getting out of bed and moving. It has been shown that just 4 minutes of tabata in the morning is all you need to get some amazing health benefits.

What the hell is Tabata you ask. Tabata training is one of the most popular forms of high intensity interval training (HIIT). It consists of eight rounds of ultra high intensity exercises in a specific 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off interval. When the Tabata Method was performed four times per week for six weeks, participants in one experiment increased their anaerobic capacity by 28 percent, and their VO2 max (an indicator of cardiovascular health) and maximal aerobic power by 15 percent.

This is in contrast to the control group, who performed an hour of steady cardiovascular exercise on a stationary bike five times a week. These participants improved their VO2 max by just 10 percent, and their regimen had no effect on their anaerobic capacity.

The workout even activates mitochondrial biogenesis, or the formation of new mitochondria, in skeletal muscle, a decline of which is common in aging. Tabata not only burns the same calories in four minutes as an hour of steady state exercise like biking or jogging, but there is a signfigant after burn affect where an additional 150 calories are being burned up to 12 hours after you leave the gym. Tabata can be an amazing way to start your day when you are crunched for time.

Another thing that even worked for me to form a morning workout habit was jumping out of bed without letting the thoughts of, no stay in bed it’s warm, go tomorrow take over. To achieve this you need to start putting your phone away from arms reach so you have to phyiscally get out of bed to turn it off. Look at that, you’re grumpy, but you’re out of bed. Now next make sure you have laid out your gym clothes, underwear, shoes and packed your gym bag. You want to make as little decisions as you can in the mornings. Wash your face put your clothes on, grab your bag and get out the door.

Make sure you chug some water before you start your workout and put your headphones in and listen to your favourite motivational podcast or songs that make you happy and you feel empowered because this will get your mind into workout mode.

Lastly pick an activity you actually enjoy doing. This one is key. The risk of not enjoying your chosen activity is the moment you feel it isn’t fun, will be the moment you associate working out with negative thoughts and it will be even harder to motivate yourself as time goes by.

I have lived in different cities with different climates all around the world, so I have changed my activities accordingly. For example I grew up in the country riding horses, moved to Bondi Beach and fell in love with paddle boarding and surfing, moved to Berlin and because it is cold most of the year that’s when my love of the gym started, horses again in the Netherlands, kickboxing in Nashville, hiking and strength training in Los Angeles and then finally yoga and crossfit in NYC.

So as you can see I have had many different fitness loves throughout my life, but the thing they have in common is that all of them challenged me in a way that I loved and that kept me coming back for more.

That is the key to success, nothing new is going to be easy at the start, nothing in life is, but if it’s something you love despite the challenges, keep going, as the progress you see will keep you motivated and you will feel so proud as time goes by.

So make it your mission to go out and try an activity or sport you have always wanted to try and see if you love it. It may just become your daily exercise routine and hell, it might just save your life.

Allira xxx

Familiar love doesn't mean forever love

Are you really attracted to that bad boy or is it just what’s familiar?

Are you really attracted to that bad boy or is it just what’s familiar?

While sitting in my favorite coffee store in Brooklyn this morning, a couple sat down at the table beside me and for some reason the obvious display of affection from the male partner was making me so uncomfortable. I could clearly see the woman didn’t want the display of PDA and it was quite obvious to me, a simple bystander, that this man loved her more than she loved him.

I wanted to tell the guy to tone it down a little, that he was being a little too much for her. To me her body language was so obvious that she was forcing herself to hold his hand and be affectionate, but it wasn’t to him.

It made me realize he was in cognitive dissonance. This is a state of believing in one behavior or belief, but accepting or doing another thing.

I could see this guy wanted just the same amount of affection back and was to me so desperately trying to get it. By constantly making psst sounds to get her to look into his eyes and constantly putting his hand out for her to hold his, which she begrudgingly did.

He was accepting a lower standard of affection and love because he obviously was so in love with her.

If he was conscious to the situation, he would have a more frank conversation with her about her feelings for him and if she didn’t feel the same way about him and felt massive displays of PDA were embarrassing, as hard as that pill is to swallow, he would need to pour a bloody big glass of water and gulp that sucker down, not only for his sense of self worth but for his future happiness.

So many of us are petrified to have that “awkward conversation” because our unconscious brains already know the answer. We all know that “gut” feeling we have at the start of a relationship with someone who is not compatible with us but we all ignore them. We say oh but they are hot or tall or beautiful or whatever it is we tell ourselves to stay in the relationship.

But honestly it’s these tough conversations that will set us free and on a path to find someone who is actually compatible with us and who we won’t have to force to hold our hand over coffee.

Can you imagine the difference to that guys self esteem and general outlook on love and life if he had chosen a mate that returned his affection and made him feel just as secure and loved back.

He would feel on top of the world, like he could conquer anything and that would trickle down into every other aspect of his life. Everything in his life would improve just because he picked the right mate.

Now a lot of us put up with this sort of behavior because our brains are on auto pilot searching for anything familiar. So if we were raised by parents who’s love we always had to chase and were not told that we were loved and appreciated, guess what our brains are going to look for in a mate.

This seems “normal” to us, but in the long run it’s not going to make us happy or feel empowered at all. The answer is that have to rewire our brains to what is normal and tell it what we want and let it work out how to get it, as the brain loves problem solving.

So you need to rewire your brain in what you find as attractive traits in the other person and what is now normal. For instance I was always attracted to the aloof, bad boy types. Tall, dark, handsome, tattoos, mysterious and if there was a beard and some emotional baggage in there even better. I also just described my father.

Now I have dated men who were blonde, blue eyes and super sweet and loving and do you know what happened. I got bored and left. Or that’s what I told myself happened.

It wasn’t because they weren’t great guys or a match for me, they just didn’t stir up the danger and insecurities in me that I associated as “familiar” with love so I thought this isn’t love. It sounds weird but I actually felt uncomfortable when I felt safe and loved because I didn’t know how to act in those situations with a male because I had never felt it. I had no implicit memories to conjure up to deal with this behavior. So I would leave them and find a tall dark handsome guy, who would be aloof, not really commit to me, I would stress, doubt my worthiness of being loved and I would be like pheeewww this is better.

I know that sounds crazy but I felt comfort in the drama and detachment from my partners. My brain knew how to cope with these type of men and it was on auto pilot, with the great guys my brain was freaking out. I could just picture the little neurons in my brain screaming at each other “ We are experiencing safety, love and security from a male and there is nothing in the system showing us what this is!!” The master brain thinks and says hmmm it must be a trap, lets stop it at once, it will probably kill us!”

So unconsciously I sabotaged every loving relationship I had. Have you ever said something to someone that you have been so confused where it came from or who said it. I have many times when men have been sweet to me. I remember after our first date, my ex walked me home and said to me “ I want to do this again, you’re so lovely and I really like you.” Do you know what my brain decided to say back to that. “Well you’re weird.” I laughed and ran inside to my apartment. When I got inside I literally said to myself WTF did I just say.

But I now know it was my brain responding in a way to repel this weird unfamiliar feeling of feeling love and vulnerability. My brain was like hell no, danger, danger, shut this down. You’re probably thinking this guy ran, but no to my surprise, he stayed and we had a beautiful relationship which was a massive growth period for me and my coping mechanisms. I remember when we would fight about something I had to override my desire to want to run away from the situation and leave, block him and never have to deal with it. Instead I learnt to stay through my fear and work on being vulnerable which believe me takes a lot of strength and courage. I told my brain that this wasn’t scary and this was a great guy in my life and I wanted to stay and talk things out. Over time I became more open and vulnerable and talking about things and letting him in felt safe and familiar and I came to despise the drama I used to crave.

So next time you are having a fight or feeling the urge to run away and put up your defense mechanisms. Ask yourself is this person in front of me really acting as badly as my perception is telling me they are, are they worth staying for and working this out with or am I experiencing cognitive dissonance and I need to walk away because the reason I am feeling uncomfortable is because they are really not treating me the way I want to be treated.

You really have to think about this, because as much as our brains are a fascinating and amazing piece of machinery, it is there to protect you and usually it’s fact checking is through your perception of what you have told it. It’s rarely based on reality. So all I am asking is that you take a moment and think whether your perceptions and actions are actually true and just.

Being more vulnerable and not living in fear of having honest conversations and telling our partners what we want is a positive step in having healtheir relationships. If you want to be hugged more tell your partner you want to be hugged more and if you want more affection but it feels unnatural to you, hold your partner for a little longer, get out of your head and just feel how good it feels. The dopamine will release and now you have an implicit positive memory to affection and your brain will now seek it.

However remember we are all wired differently. For instance I am very much a stage 5 clinger when it comes to snuggling at night. I dated someone who when we were intimate told me that he doesn’t hug at night because he sleeps better. He said he cuddles before falling asleep and then in the morning otherwise it ruins his sleep and affects his productivity the next day.

Now this is fine, he has a system that works for him and he shouldn’t have to change that. But I knew myself and my koala clinging ways, so having a relationship with someone who doesn’t cuddle through the night was not going to work for me. So we were not compatible. That is the thing, don’t try to mold people to become compatible and think you can change them. Get in tune with what you really want and what will make you happy in the long run and if you find someone who has found what makes them happy and it’s not the same as you, that is fine. Don’t say it is ok with you when it’s not or worse, ask them to change because that’s when resentment will raise it’s ugly head. If making a change is going to have a negative affect on either partners long term happiness, then you need to be strong enough to recognize the incompatibility early on and part ways so you can both find the right partners.

The non snuggler and I remained friends after realizing this incompatibility and he did find a girl who hates snuggling at night and they are now married with children. If we had forced our relationship it would have been disastrous. I would have been resentful not being able to show affection that I love and he would have always felt like he was disappointing me by doing something that doesn’t bring him joy. Instead we walked away and he found absolute bliss with a non hugger and I found happiness with a stage 5 snuggler too.

So the good news is like any other aspects of our lives we can rewire our brains into what is the “new” normal and familiar when it comes to finding a romantic partner. I did, and that is how I have never dated emotionally unavailable men since discovering this hack.

Whenever my eyes wandered to the leather jacket wearing, motorbike riding, tall dark and handsome, tattooed guys. I quickly stopped my thoughts and said no, thats not what we like anymore. It’s fun what happens, now when I see this type of guy, my brain recognizes he’s attractive, but then I look away again because it knows that I don’t want that type of partner anymore. I hear you saying, oh but I can’t help it, that’s my type. I like bad boys or bitches. I would like you to actually stop and think about that. Are they really your type, do you really like being treated lower than you want to be treated or is it your brain taking over so you stay with what is easy and familiar.

This is why it’s so important to have solitude in between your romantic relationships and recover completely emotionally. Because if you don’t, you will seek the same people and end up with the same results again and again and dating these types of people will just kill your self esteem and you will never live up to your full potential while you are in them. As hard as it is, we need to stop living with a scarcity mindset by telling ourselves, well I can’t walk away because what if I don’t find someone. I will be all alone.

Living in constant fear that if you show your true self and express your true needs that you will be abandoned is a more terrifying way to live than being happy on your own if you ask me.

When you are brave enough to walk away from a partner who is not good for your mental health, you may actually be doing the person you’re walking away from a favor too. Unless the person you are dating is a true sociopath, when you set boundaries and walk away, you are telling them their standards of giving and love is not enough. They may actually think about it, take some solitude themselves and be a better loving partner in the future.

We can all help to break the cycle of bad relationships just by letting go of ones that no longer serve us. So please, if you know for sure that you are in the wrong relationship, please let go, not only for you, but for humanity.

Allira xxx

Stop putting bandaids on your wounds

Which bandaid are you using?

Which bandaid are you using?

No I’m not talking about actual physical wounds. I’m talking about the trauma wounds you want to cover up as quick as you can, so you don’t have to go through the pain of dealing with them.

Some of my old bandaids I turned to were starting new relationships when I wasn't ready, binge eating, binge drinking and excessive exercise. Even though these bandaids did their job pretty well, all they did was give me temporary joy, and that’s the problem with bandaids, they are all temporary.

No matter how well you apply that bandaid, after a while it wil lose its stick and slowly fall off exposing the weaping infected emotional wound and sooner or later you are going to have to treat it properly in order for it to heal.

Now I know it’s normal for our friends especially when we are heartbroken, to want take us out and get us drunk so we can forget about being dumped. One of my friends classic lines was “to get over a man, you need to get under one.” As much as I love her, this was horrible advice.

Getting drunk, partying and “pretending” you’re having a great time is so awful for your recovery that it will actually set you back months. You will wake up feeling depressed and lonelier than ever and what’s worse is your physical body will feel awful too from all the shit you have been poisoning it with. How are you supposed to heal when you mentally and physically feel like shit?

The reason these bandaids never work is because as much as you don’t want to look at it, underneath that bandaid is still an oozing, gaping wound that needs immediate attention.

I remember when I had a wound as a kid, my mum would tell me to take the bandaid off and let it breathe in the open air, so that it could heal. Now I hated doing this because I could see how ugly it was and I felt vulnerable that everyone else could see it too. Every time someone talked to me, I was paranoid they were staring at it. My mum was right though, every time I took the bandaid off, it did heal quicker.

This is exactly what we have to do with our emotional wounds, take the bandaid off, let it breathe and air it out. I know it’s ugly and you don’t want to look at it, but you have to look at it and you have to let everyone else look at it too. Be honest with your friends and tell them you don’t want to go out drinking because it makes me you feel like shit and it’s not helping. If they are great friends they will understand. Then get to work on healing that sucker.

Trust me, It’s a lot harder dealing with heartbreak and trauma, with no bandaids and no numbing for the pain. My past break up I refused to use any of my trusted bandaids, I didn’t throw myself into dating again, I didn’t binge eat, I kept to my normal workout routine and most importantly I didn’t drink.

It was interesting to say the least. It was like taking a security blanket from a baby, because I was forced to feel ALL the feelings and I didn’t like it one bit. But I pushed through it and it was life changing. Trust me feeling ALL the feelings is necessary for you to truly heal and yes this means ALL the feelings, even the horrible ones.

Solitude is necessary to truly find yourself and what you want out of life and especially in a romantic partner. You must take this time out to be on your own and date yourself. Get comfortable with going on your own to the movies, turning up to events on your own, discovering new parts of the city on your own.

Throw yourself back into the hobbies and interests you love to do. Finish a project you started but never finished, start that business, whatever it is, do something that gives you a sense of achievement. Use this ending of something as a new beginning of something else. A chance to grow and learn more about yourself, because once you do, you will choose a much more compatible partner for you in the future and even if you don’t you will be in an amazing realtionship with yourself. So there are really no side effects.

Do not sleep in. I repeat do not sleep in. To me after a breakup the mornings are the hardest. Waking up on your own when you are used to waking up to forehead kisses and snuggles is hard. As soon as I felt the nostalgic emotions come through and the desire to just pull the covers over my head, without thinking about it, I threw the covers off of me, got out of bed, got dressed and started my day.

Laying in bed daydreaming and missing them will make it worse believe me. And please stop romanticizing them, they weren’t as wonderful as your mind likes to tell you, snap out of the fantasy, remember you’re not together anymore for good resaons and get out of bed! And if you feel like crap, and you most likely will, don’t look like crap. I found that by putting in a little extra effort into my physical appearance in the mornings lifted my spirits for the day. So throw on some lipstick and mascara, it’s small and silly, but it works.

I also kept a book by my bed for different affirmations in the morning before I left my apartment. My go to was Rupi Kaur’s book, Milk and Honey. I would choose an uplifting poem she wrote about moving on and it helped me realize that the love I thought I was missing was still inside of me, I just needed to find it again.

I encourage you to think outside the box of how you usually work through your feelings. Writing has always been a release for me, so I actually wrote something similar to a poem, which surprised me as I don’t usually write poems. I am also a pro journaler, as I really feel that getting your feelings out on paper and out of your head is an amazing way to heal.

The day I stopped using bandaids seriously changed my life and I can honestly say I love being on my own for the first time in my life. I don’t feel like there is a void that needs to be filled anymore. I know that if everything goes to shit and all that is left is me, thats ok, because I took the time to really get to know me and you know what, I really love her. I ripped off all my bandaids and looked at them until I didn’t feel uncomfortbale anymore and I was at peace with my past.

I still have scars from where they healed, we all will have scars, but we need to learn to love them. The scars are there to show you that it happened and remind you that you were strong enough and had the courage to face them and heal them. They are a beautiful reminder that you showed up for life. You lived and loved with everything you had and you have the scars to prove it.

Allira xxx