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Berry Berry Good or Berry Berry Bad

Mind, Body & Soul Fitness - Saturday, March 14, 2015

FEED IN more berries 

Berries are more than just fresh, sweet and juicy?

 Berries - Sweet, fresh and juicy

Berries have been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently, following the Hepatitis A outbreak caused by imported product grown in China. This has reinforced the message to eat fruit that is home-grown in Australia and to understand that the Food Industry use misleading labeling to entice us to buy their product.  By buying fruit that is a 'Product of Australia' you are helping our local economy and ensuring a higher level of food standards.  

Who would have thought that something that is 'Made in Australia' can actually be grown in China and merely packaged in Australia? It's plainly not berry good, pardon the 'pun'net of strawberries grown in China.

I love berries, and there is a whole range of brilliant varieties that can provide you with a wealth of minerals and nutrients: Strawberries, blueberries, loganberries, gooseberries, raspberries, bilberries... Berries are a great source of dietary fibre and are loaded with Vitamin C which support our immune system and provide for strong connective tissue.

Ensure you include some purple-coloured berries: Blueberries and blackberries are very rich in antioxidants and can help to prevent cancer and heart disease. Rasberries are also a great choice.  Antioxidants help neutralise harmful by-products called "free radicals" that can lead to age-related diseases.

Have you tried these berries? Add them to your next shopping list!
  •   Goji Berries - A  Superfruit with antioxidants (aka Wolfberry)
  •   Acai Berries - pronounced “ah-sigh-ee” Acai is  known as an energy booster
  •   Bilberries - Associated with improvement of eye-sight and improved night vision

My Tip:  Ensure that your berries are listed as a 'Product of Australia.' This  will ensure that the berries are grown here under Australian Food Standards.  Beware that 'Made in Australia' on the packaging can mean that they are actually a 'Product of China' but merely packaged here in Australia.

I like to mix some berries into some muesli, yoghurt or a fruit smoothie to increase the nutritional value. 

Freeze your fresh berries in a snap lock bag to to avoid spoilage.

Try a palm-full of berries today for a delicious, healthy snack!

Brett Smith, Wellness Coach (Mind Body & Soul Fitness Studio).

50-Day Summer Challenge

Mind, Body & Soul Fitness - Friday, February 06, 2015

Take the 50-Day Summer Challenge and create a fitter, healthier you!

Stop wishing.  Create yourself.  Better things are coming...

Are you ready to take the challenge?

The 50-Day Summer Challenge provides you with a guiding light to achieve a healthier lifestyle in 2015.

Join the next 50-Day Challenge from February 9th to keep yourself accountable and learn how to create everlasting change.

Do you want to avoid another year of not reaching your full potential?

 There will be times when we can easily lose focus & motivation when working towards our health & fitness goals.  The 50-Day Challenge provides a renewed focus and keeps you more mindful about making the right choices to achieve your best.

Chat to us, participate, set a goal, build a plan and take this opportunity to make life better. YOU set your own goal. We assist YOU to make it happen.

50-Day Summer Challenge details:

Start-up Week: Monday 9th February- Saturday 14th February 2015 (Enrolment Week)
Final Week:   Monday 30th March- Saturday 4th April 2015 (Dependant on start-up day)
Venue: Initial check-in and 50th day check-in to be completed at Mind Body & Soul Fitness Studio in Bicton.

Investment: $50 commitment fee to cover the full 50-days.
Contact Us today to join the next Mind Body & Soul 50-Day Challenge

More information: Find out more about the 50-Day Challenge on the MBS Facebook Page.

Learn how to clean up your diet with a 'Weed & Feed' approach

Mind, Body & Soul Fitness - Thursday, September 04, 2014

What is Weed & Feed Nutrition?

Put simply, it is all about 'Weeding Out' non-core foods and 'Feeding In' more of nature's goodness...

Nutrition is far from an exact science. Nevertheless, healthy eating is purely a collection of healthy choices; to achieve a healthy outcome. A great place to start 'eating clean' is via a Weed & Feed approach:


Start out by identifying the 'non-core' foods & beverages that currently exist in your diet.

*By description 'non-core' products are energy dense and nutrient poor and include:

  • Highly processed foods (includes most packaged & take-away food options)
  • Coffee
  • Soft drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar

**'Non-core' food & beverages provide little or no nutritional value and do not belong in the five food groups specified by the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

By 'Weeding out' or eliminating some of these non-essential options from your diet you can expect to have a positive impact on:

  • Reducing your calorie intake
  • Stabilising your blood sugar levels
  • Reducing the prevalence of nutrition-related chronic disease
  • Improving your health and well-being


Over the years it is more likely than not, you have had it drummed into you by your parents, naturopath, dietician or fitness trainer to 'EAT MORE FRUIT & VEGETABLES.'

If you are looking for a brighter future it is time to 'Feed In' a rich abundance of colorful fruits and vegetables. The potential benefits associated with eating more fruits and vegetables stack up quickly: Reducing your risk of certain chronic diseases is only the beginning.

The Power of Fruit and Vegetables extends to:

    • Increased energy levels
    • Improved skin appearance
    • Weight loss
    • Improved digestion
    • Mineral & vitamin booster

The thing I love about the 'Weed & Feed' approach to nutrition is that it is a practical way to 'Eat Clean.' With a little desire, commitment & mindfulness, you have the power to make the healthy choice:

 'Weed Out' the nasties, that have a leaching affect on our bodies and 'Feed In' some more of nature's goodness.  

I can guarantee that your Mind, Body & Soul will thank you for it!

Brett Smith, Wellness Coach (Mind Body & Soul Fitness Studio).

4 Nutritional Ways to Balance your Brain Chemistry

Mind, Body & Soul Fitness - Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I was introduced to the topic of 'Brain Chemistry' by keynote speaker Matt Church at a Sydney Fitness Conference in 2004.  It was certainly not your normal topic to kick off a a 3-day FILEX conference but to this day it continues to keep my mind attune to 'Better living through brain chemistry.'

You do not have to be a 'chemistry lover' or 'chemistry expert' to embrace the concept that;  Balancing your brain chemistry will Maximise Energy, Stamina, Mental Sharpness and Emotional Well-Being.

I would like to share with you to 4 simple ways you can better fuel your brain and discover your 'Chemistry for Success.'

  1.  (1) HYDRATION

are you suffering from dehydration-related fatigue?

Those who complain of fatigue may say that they lack energy or motivation, they get tired easily or their muscles tire easily in a workout or doing daily tasks.  Mentally speaking they may complain that they can't concentrate or struggle to focus.  Other words they might use include: tired, worn out, exhausted or run down.

We can all relate to one of these symptoms or words from time to time.  Fatigue is a very common complaint and the list of potential causes is extensive.  However, it is important to acknowledge that fatigue can commonly be  a symptom of dehydration.


In a study by Szinnai et al. (2005), moderate dehydration negatively affected short- term memory and working memory (temporarily storing information for use in various cognitive tasks), as well as subjectively increasing tiredness, reducing alertness and perceived effort and concentration necessary to complete tasks while dehydrated.


  • Always carry a water bottle with you. Whether stuck in a car in traffic, or stuck in a meeting at work, you can avoid dehydration by assuring you have fluids available.
  • Be sure to consume fluids when you exercise. Often we are in a rush to complete our workout or our run or walk. So make sure you adequately hydrate before, during, and after exercise to avoid dehydration.
  • As soon as you wake up, grab a glass of water to start your day on the right note.
  • Look for dark colored urine. If your urine is dark yellow, you are likely dehydrated. The goal is straw colored or clear.
  • Consume more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are mostly water and fiber. Therefore, increasing your fruit and vegetable intake can increase your fluid intake. Other food and beverage options you may consider include: soups, fruit juices, yogurt, low fat milk, iced or hot tea, coffee-in moderation. Sports drinks can be more effective for long, strenous exercise bouts of beyond an hour due to their electrolyte (mineral) content.

Glucose is the primary fuel for brain function. If we have long periods between meals/ snacks it is likely our blood sugar will decrease which can lead to a reduced supply of glucose to the brain (neuroglycopenia).  As per a diabetic suffering from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) the symptoms can be profound.  You may have experienced some of the following symptoms yourself if you skipped breakfast and then completed a tough workout:

  • Anxiety
  • Moodiness
  • Fatigue & weakness
  • Confusion & dizziness
  • Reduced exercise performance


  • Eat regular meals and snacks, including a balanced breakfast before you start your workday. Not only will this help to keep energy levels constant, but it will also help prevent cravings and overeating later in the day. Smaller, more frequent meals can also allow for easier digestion.
  • Avoid simple sugars, and instead opt for high-fiber, nutrient-dense carbohydrates that will supply glucose to the working muscles and the brain, but do so in a more sustaining fashion versus a sharp rise and sharp drop. Examples include: whole grains, grain alternatives like quinoa, high-fiber fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes.
  • Exercise regularly with a combination of strength & cardio exercises included in your workouts.
  1.  (3) VITAMIN D 


Research has shown us that there are receptors for vitamin D throughout the brain. Ganji, et al. (2010) noted in their large population-based study, that the likelihood of having depression in persons with vitamin D deficiency is significantly higher compared to those with vitamin D sufficiency.

Researchers at the National Institute for Mental Health have found links between low serotonin and seasonal affective disorder syndrome (SADS). SADS often occurs in countries with fewer daylight hours- by not getting enough sunlight, people become depressed.  Using light boxes, specially designed solariums, the people who suffered form SADS were able to improve their mood considerably.  The link is still not clear but probably has to do with the relationship between exposure to sunlight and the pineal gland.  Located in the middle of your brain this tiny pea-sized gland manufactures the sleep drug melatonin and is sensitive to daylight.  Because serotonin and melatonin work hand in hand, they ensure you sleep when you should (melatonin) and that you wake and move when you need to (serotonin).


There are limited sources of vitamin D in our diet. We do make vitamin D in our skin with the presence of sunlight; however, in certain areas of the world like the United Kingdom, adequate sunlight is nonexistent, especially during the winter months. Due to low UV exposure many people are subject to vitamin D inadequacy or even deficiency. There are some whole food and fortified food sources of vitamin D, including oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, fish oils like cod liver oil, egg yolks, and fortified foods like milk, cereals, orange juice and yoghurt (Holick, 2006).  If your Vitamin D intake is proven to be insufficient your Doctor may request that you take Vitamin D supplements.



Omega-3 fatty acids are stored guess where? In your brain, among other places, but each synapse in your brain has a lining composed partially of DHA, one of the primary omega-3 fatty acids our body requires. Our bodies cannot make these fatty acids, thus their term, 'essential fatty acids.' The following bullets show the extreme importance of essential fatty acids on the brain:

  • If you look at any baby formula container, you will find fortification with Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), due to the importance of omega-3 fatty acids on neurological and visual development.
  • A review of essential fatty acids released by the Linus Pauling Institute (Oregon State University), indicates that low DHA may be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia. This review also reported rodent studies indicating a connection between omega-3 fatty acid deficiency and learning/memory.
  • Also reported by the Linus Pauling Institute, is a noticeable inverse association across countries between rates of depression and seafood consumption; seafood being a primary source of omega-3 fatty acids in our food system.


Church, Matt, 2004. 'Adrenaline Junkies & Serotonin Seekers.'

'Your brain is very complex, and therefore there are many ways in which nutrition can affect your brain chemistry, mood and energy levels.  Think about the above four nutritional recommendations in your own diet and see if you can better fuel your brain for a healthier, happy you!'

The 5 key lifestyle factors to instantly improve your quality of life

Mind, Body & Soul Fitness - Monday, July 15, 2013
If  you could have more energy, increased positivity and be healthier & happier would you be willing to commit to positive change in '5 key lifestyle areas'?

The obvious question you are likely to ask is...what are the '5 key lifestyle areas'?

Read on and all will be revealed on what truly creates the perfect body chemistry to be your best...

How well you sleep, the food you eat, how active you are, the way you think and how you manage stress are the 5 key areas of your life that directly affect your internal body chemistry and your chances for a naturally high life.


When you SLEEP well; your body naturally:

  • Restores chemical balance
  • Repairs muscle tissue damage
  • Processes memories from the day
  • Stores long-term memories of those things that you perceive as important
  1.  (2) THE FOOD YOU EAT

When you EAT well; your body responds to:

  • Maintain cellular balance
  • Boost energy levels to get you through the day
  • Enhance all of its systems & functions (muscular system, digestive system etc.)
  • Ensure chemical balance (controlled release of hormones, elevates serotonin levels and limits adrenaline and insulin spikes).

When you EXERCISE regularly; it has a profound effect on your overall wellbeing:

  • Like food, exercise has both a foundation and a trigger effect.
  • A good fitness foundation allows you to manage daily pressures with less adrenaline response. 
  • You can also use exercise to immediately burn off excess stress chemicals (eg. cortisol) and rapidly restore your internal balance.
  • You feel brighter and more energetic due to 'happy hormone' release (endorphin's).
  • The longer term (chronic) effects of regular exercise on your mind, body & soul can be extremely positive.

When you THINK positively; your body chemistry responds to:

  • Create an essential balance of hormones that assist in the pursuit of a naturally high life.
  • Reduce adrenaline kicking in when you are scared or anxious
  • Keep you motivated because you have hope
  • Ensures a better chemical balance (elevates serotonin levels).
  • Put out certain 'emotional signatures' with each prevailing positive emotion.  You can then become chemically addicted to positive thoughts and your body chemistry then seeks an environment to create more positive thoughts. 


When you control STRESS effectively; you are essentially:

  • Providing  a stable platform to balance your body chemistry and avoid burnout.
  • Reducing the excess build up of stress chemicals (eg. cortisol).
  • Controlling feelings of fear, edginess and anxiety. 
  • Helping to avoid the the build up of inflammation and muscle tension within your body
  • Keeping blood sugar more stable and the fat cells less receptive.

In my next post I will be providing tips on how you can make positive change in the 5 key lifestyle areas.  In the meantime, try to use some of your own proven strategies to sleep better, eat healthier, move more, think positive and control your stress levels.

Enjoy the challenge!

Active Nutrition- How to be your healthy best

Mind, Body & Soul Fitness - Sunday, July 07, 2013

Many of you would have experienced an increase in appetite when you are more physically active...but what does this mean?  Is it simply our body telling us that we need to increase our energy intake to match our additional energy expenditure? If so, what is the best fuel for active bodies...?

Our 50-Day Winter Challenge participants and our City to Surf RunFit team have been committing to extra exercise sessions to increase their fitness and endurance levels over the next couple months. Whilst this is a great way to boost their health and fitness and get the energy flowing through their body- it is vital that they do not overlook the importance of nutrition within their 'ramped up' training program. Training for any event or outcome takes planning and perseverance, especially if you are pushing your physical boundaries. An increased training load not only puts your body under extra stress but also amps up your nutritional requirements.

Over the next few weeks, with the assistance of the Healthy Chef we will give you the nutritional tools to assist you to achieve peak performance – Including how to:

  • Nourish and fuel your body during training
  • Choose the best pre-training snacks
  • Hydrate effectively
  • Assist your post training recovery


Eating a nourishing diet will help you to:

  • Meet your nutrition and energy requirements
  • Promote recovery and tissue growth and repair
  • Prime your body for optimal health during your fitness training
  • Improve endurance performance
  • Reduce or delay fatigue during training and events

As recommended by the Healthy Chef, Teresa Cutter- 'a healthy meal should be made up of quality carbohydrate, protein and healthy unsaturated fats.'

CARBOHYDRATES – (primary source of energy)
LEAN PROTEIN –  (growth, repair of lean muscle, immune health)
HEALTHY FAT -   (vitamin absorption, immune health, fuel source)

 are the preferred energy source for the body as they will satisfy energy needs and support muscle recovery afterwards. We store small amounts in our liver and muscles as glycogen, which our liver breaks down into glucose during exercise and releases into the bloodstream for energy. The muscles and brain use this glucose, as well as their own residual glycogen supplies, to fuel their work. When our glycogen stores are depleted we become fatigued, making it harder to sustain higher intensities. Blood sugar levels may drop, compounding fatigue and leaving you feeling pretty awful – anyone who has ‘hit the wall’ would agree. Adequate carbohydrate intake is very important and will determine how much glycogen is stored ready for use during training. The amount of carbohydrate you need depends on your activity level and duration of your training sessions and what is important is the quality of the carbohydrate that is eaten. Natural wholefood and unprocessed sources are best such as vegetables, fruits, oats, beans etc.

Whenever the body is growing, repairing or replacing tissue, proteins are involved. They are found in your skin, bones, muscle and all your organ tissue. The body prefers to reserve its protein stores for functional purposes rather than breaking them down to use as energy. Training for an endurance event increases your protein requirements, as your body is continually repairing and adapting in response to each session. Adequate protein intake is very important to keep up with these changes and ensure that protein synthesis is supported for quick recovery and optimal performance. Your protein requirements will depend on many factors including gender, size, muscle mass, activity level and training intensity. Check out the Healthy Chef protein calculator here to work out your individual daily requirement as well as the best sources of protein.

Fat’s are essential for digestion, vitamin absorption, hormone production and immune health. Fat is the other primary fuel for working muscles during exercise. Fats are the building blocks for cell walls and hormones, transporters of vitamins A, D, E, K and essential for bone and immune health. Inadequate fat stores and intake can lead to major health complications. My favourites are the Mediterranean style mono-unsaturated (oleic) oils and omega 3 oils which are anti-inflammatory to the body and can help the fight against diabetes, cardiovascular disease, help lower cholesterol, reduce high blood pressure, nourish the immune system and reduce symptoms of arthritis and depression.  Studies show that these healthy fats are associated with a longer healthy life. Top of my list are cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, macadamia nuts, avocado, flaxseeds, walnuts and almonds.


Think of your body as a high performance Formula 1 car with a finely tuned engine; premium fuel is needed for optimal performance! During training, you want to give your body the best quality fuel possible. Include a variety of delicious wholefoods to ensure you are getting the full nutrient potential of each meal and snack.

Your diet should be jam-packed full of colourful vegetables and fruits; the more colour, the more anti-oxidants! Natural antioxidants are really important during periods of increased physical activity, as your cells are exposed to greater levels of oxidative stress. Fill up at least half your plate with colourful salads or vegetables at meal times and munch away on fresh fruit in between if you’re hungry.

Aim to have 3 regular meals and adjust snacks around your activity levels for the day. If you do a long or really intense training session one day, your energy requirements will be higher than on days with much lighter sessions. To bump up your intake on more strenuous days, keep your main meal sizes the same and add in a couple of extra nourishing snacks (including post workout). This will help you to meet your energy needs and also counteract any dramatic increases in appetite, which can lead to overeating and weight gain for some. Be mindful of your appetite and listen to your body.

Like any great performance, planning and preparation is the key to healthy nutrition. 

I would like to acknowledge the Healthy Chef, Teresa Cutter for providing some of the nutritional guidelines in this post.

Are liquid calories tipping you over the edge?

Mind, Body & Soul Fitness - Sunday, March 31, 2013

WEED OUT calorie containing drinks 

How much of your calorie intake is contained in liquid-form?

If you’re looking for a simple way to reduce your calorie intake- then strongly consider 'weeding out' calorie containing drinks.  Not only will this help you maintain a healthy weight but it will also save you money too!

It is predicted that the average person consumes approximately 20 percent of their total caloric intake in the form of beverages – this includes juice, smoothies, soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, alcohol and coffee. For instance, if you are currently consuming approximately 1500-2000 calories per day it is possible that you are getting between 300-400 calories from beverages alone. So imagine the weight you could lose if you changed tactic and consumed only water or green tea...

Juice: Many people have the misconception that fruit juice is healthy because it’s derived from fruit. Unfortunately juice is high in sugar and calories and contains little of the nutrition you get from consuming the whole fruit. By eating an apple you will consume only one third of the calories of the same portion of apple juice – and you will feel fuller. Furthermore, by eating the whole fruit your body also gets the chance to digest the fibre, vitamins and antioxidants it contains – all properties that are more or less eliminated during the commercial juicing process.

Alcohol:  Most of us drink it without considering the added calories that are contained within. One 375ml bottle of beer contains around 280 calories, and one standard glass of wine contains 100 calories. A rum and coke will provide about 300 calories. So by dropping that one glass of wine with dinner each night you are immediately reducing your weeks caloric intake by 700 calories – wow

Coffee:  There is considerable confusion over the caloric content of coffee. Not all coffee drinks are high in calories. Coffee - without additives - is almost a zero-calorie drink. According to the USDA nutrient database - an 8 ounce cup of coffee (brewed from grounds) has just 2 (yes two) calories. The calories come from a tiny amount of protein and some mono-unsaturated oils.

So: coffee beans + water = virtually calorie-free?!

Yes, but It's what you add to the coffee that really matters. Products containing caffeine are traditionally bitter in taste - so to sweeten them up - we often add milk, sugar, chocolate or syrups. 

Perhaps you need to drop the sugar (48 calories per teaspoon!!), change to a black coffee or low-fat milk option.

Water:  is the only drink that can guarantee zero calories.  It will keep you hydrated, regulate your body’s thermostat, keeps your bowel functioning effectively, flushes out nasty toxins, enhances your metabolism, and improves overall organ function. Furthermore, all the new cells your body produces daily use the fluids you put into your body to create the basis of those cells. You may want to think about what chemicals or other nasties that are contained in the everyday beverages you drink and therefore what is forming the foundation of your body’s cells. 

My Tip:

When it comes to getting leaner, there isn’t a more simple tip than to cut out the calories you are consuming from beverages. This doesn’t mean cutting them out altogether. Over the next week write down everything you have to drink. Review it and make a plan for what drinks you can 'weed out' to help you reduce your calorie intake . If you are currently drinking three or four drinks a day that contain calories, try cutting out two or three of these – every little bit will make a difference. Remember to replace calorie-containing drinks with water.   Small changes can really make a difference- commit to it for at least a month and assess the change to your energy levels and waistline.

Is alcohol stopping you from being your best?

Mind, Body & Soul Fitness - Sunday, March 03, 2013

WEED OUT or cut down on alcohol 

When was the last time you had a lengthy break from alcohol?



As part of my 50-Day Challenge I made a commitment to eliminate all alcohol for the month of February.  I also challenged a few of my personal training clients to join me on Feb Fast to assist with their overall health and wellness.  Here are a few reasons why you may also consider taking a break from alcohol for a month, a week or even just a weekend.

I can report that we were all successful in getting thru the month of February alcohol-free.  We all shared similar stories of temptation when attending weddings, parties and anything where drinks were readily available.

Drinking too much, too often, due to social programming over many years can make you unaware that you are drinking purely out of habit alone.

Not only does regular drinking lead to weight gain, but the mood issues, poor sleep, lethargy and non-productive hours that surround a high regular intake of alcohol have been known to cause relationship issues, work issues, health issues and life issues.  That's enough issues to make you want to go cold turkey!

From a nutrition standpoint,  alcohol is a non-core product which provides an abundance of empty calories (ie. energy dense & nutritonal poor).  When you drink alcohol your body changes the way it processes energy.  It burns the simple sugars first (ie. alcohol) and the carbohydrates and fats then take a back seat, that are then more likely to be stored as fat on your back seat! (ie. gluteus maximus).

So if you know that drinking a little too much, a little too often is negatively impacting on your life in more ways than you would like- now is a good time to live more and drink less.