home to watch some TV and de-stress!” How often have you heard this? But lying
like a couch potato in front of the television doesn’t lower blood pressure at
The easiest way to de-stress is to do some deep breathing exercises.
They recommend around half an hour a day, but actually, even a few minutes help.
bargain! It doesn’t cost anything and we all do it anyway. Even better, we don’t need a special place or
fancy equipment. In fact, if you catch a taxi, bus or train home, you can do it
on the way and be all nice and relaxed and de-stressed by the time you get
There are several different methods of breathing to relax but the American Institute of Stress recommends a technique called the “Quieting Response”. It only takes 6 seconds to do and apparently it works like a bomb.
smile inwardly, with your mouth and your eyes. We all know the benefits of
smiling outwardly, but this is something different, it somehow makes you relax.
(Go on; try it quickly while you are
reading this.) Then they tell you to imagine holes in the soles of your
feet. As you breathe in (a nice deep breath) you visualize hot air flowing up
through your body to your lungs. You relax each part of your body as the hot
air hits. Then you breathe it all out again, imagining it flowing down, down,
down—back out through the holes in your soles!
easy, right? I’m going to try it next time I’m stressed. Kids get stressed too
often when we are stressed we tense up and it takes a concerted physical act to
release that tension.
Did you know?
If you opened up your lungs flat, they would
cover an entire tennis court?
In people, the left lung is smaller than the
right lung. Why? So that there‘s space for your heart.
The average person breathes around 27 litres of
air a minute.
Children laugh about 300 times a day whereas
adults only laugh around 15 times. We’ve talked about laughing before – it
releases all those good hormones.
Last bit of useless information… when you
sneeze, the air comes out of your body at around 16 km per hour!
Hah! You didn’t really think you were going to get away without a blog on exercise during women’s month… did you? (No! Power posing does not count as exercise.)
Whilst smiling and complimenting might exercise your soul (as well as those of other people) and laughing might be great for your belly and face, it is important to stay fit.
Exercising releases those endorphins that make you feel happy and lessen the perception of pain. Apparently it does not matter how long you exercise for to release those hormones – the effect is the same, whether you go for an hour long jog or jog on the spot for ten minutes.
If cycling, jogging or gym is your thing – then great – you don’t have to read any further. However, if you are one of those ladies who groan at the thought of doing some physical activity – then this is for you.
Hula hoop people!
It’s the most awesome activity that the whole family can do.
It strengthens core muscles and improves posture no end, in addition to shaving centimetres off the squidgy bits of body and defining leg muscles.
Kids can happily use the normal hula hoops that you find easily in shops.
But ladies… here’s the good part – you can make your own, extra-large hula hoop, very cheaply!
Toddle off to the local hardware store (or nursery) and buy five metres of 25mm black piping. Yup – the stuff that gets used in the garden or irrigation. At the same time, get a 25mm connector and some insulation tape.
Lay the piping down in the sun for an hour or so to soften it slightly. Then chop off approximately 50cm from either end.
Boil the kettle, pour some boiling water into a mug and quickly dip each end of the piping into the water, then plug them together with the connector whilst the plastic is still soft.
Voila! You have a huge hoop.
You are probably going to look at it and gasp… NO WAYS CAN I USE THAT THING!!
But try it. Go on. Try. You’ll see that hula hooping with an enormous hoop is much easier than one of those small ones.
Taping it up to look pretty is optional. It does make it a little heavier, which is even better for losing weight.
Whilst you are hooping, you can do arm exercises to further tone up.
The 7th of April is World Health Day! I can hear you all groaning… oh no – she’s not going to blabber on about eating healthily and getting exercise AGAIN… is she?
Hahhahaha – indeed she is. I know it’s really irritating but the thing is – if you feel good – your whole life just gets better from all different angles.
So here are a few simple ways that you can adjust your life style without having to bother too much.
Eat breakfast. The old saying goes – eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and supper like a pauper. This is because your body has fasted overnight (duh… break-fast) and you need to kick-start your body again. If you are not a fan of eating early – at least try a banana and a glass of milk.
Snack on fruit or carrot sticks. Dump the packets of chips and sweets and rather snack on fruit or veggie sticks. Celery sticks filled with peanut butter are pretty delicious too.
Eat smaller meals. If you can, eat five smaller meals a day rather than three huge ones.
Read the labels. Yup really – start reading the labels on cans, packets – whatever. You’ll be amazed at how much sugar, salt and other nasties you are chomping down without even realising it.
Let your kids help in the kitchen Making food, that is, not washing dishes or laying the table. Figure out some tasty, simple, easy to make recipes and let them help… chop, peel, mix and stir. (And yes – do teach caution when it comes to hot surfaces and sharp knives.)
Eat together as a family. If you know you are all going to sit down in the evening and discuss the day – it makes sense to prepare a healthy balanced meal to enjoy together. (And turn those cell phones off tooplease.)
Practise what you preach. No good being those parents who make your kids eat healthy food if you stuff your face with cruddy stuff on the sly.
Get some exercise. Walk, run, dance, hula hoop, rebound (aka jump on a trampoline), play a sport, cycle, weight lift, roller-skate, go to the gym or whatever. If you really hate exercise – the very least you can do is park your car at the furthest spot in the parking lot and walk to the entrance. Use the stairs instead of the lift or escalator.
Since 2005 South Africa has been officially celebrating transport month in October. I thought we’d celebrate buy making not one, but two of my books available to read online. Both “Sibo Looks Right” and “Sibo on the Move” involve transport. Head on over to my website and click on the links to read either book.
Road safety is such an important topic. Every year thousands of people die on the roads. There are various reasons for this – some really stupid ones like drinking and driving, speeding, talking on a cell phone or texting and often un-roadworthy vehicles are also to blame.
Sadly, often children are fatally involved in accidents and they are totally blameless – just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s not like we have control over who we drive with. Wish our parental agents would be a bit more responsible when it comes to taking chances with their children’s lives. We only have one, after all!
But children also have to take ownership of their own lives and make sure that they know the rules of the road and use it responsibly.
If you are not sure what these are, ask your teacher or an adult. Or you can read all about them in my book. If you can’t be bothered to read the whole book – there’s a list at the back that is easy to read.
“Sibo on the Move” deals with etiquette when using public transport – especially things like the Gautrain system – buses and trains. They have some rules to specifically keep people safe – like standing behind the yellow line when the Gautrain is approaching. Did you know that you should always wait for passengers to get off the train first, before you get on? A thing like putting your feet on the seat is a real no-no too – you would not like to sit on a dirty seat – would you? Sticking chewing gum under the seat is also just revolting. Listening to loud music on your cell phone is rude because it disturbs other passengers. Being kind and considerate on public transport is important.
If you have not already been on the Gautrain – you should make a plan to go on a little trip – like my class did – we went to the National Zoological Gardens for a school outing. It was such fun!
The other day I had a bit of a crash whilst riding my bicycle round the garden! Thought mum would be very sympathetic but it turns out she wasn’t. She asked me how I crashed and I inadvertently admitted that I had not been concentrating properly. I’d seen a pretty bird fluttering around the place and was trying to check it out – did not see the hump in the garden, fell off and hurt my arm.
Instead of dishing me loads of love and tender words, mum yelled at me. She said imagine if I was riding in the road and got side-tracked – I could get hit by a car.
I wanted to tell her that I’d never do that – but it was a bit difficult when I had already done it – although luckily not in the road.
She threatened to stop me from riding to school on my bike. That gave me a big scare. I promised to be ultra-careful in future.
My arm was sore for quite a few days and I realised how we mostly take our body bits for granted. I had trouble doing all sorts of things that I never usually even notice that I am doing – turning switches on, opening doors, writing, sleeping (it was the side I usually lie on), carrying my backpack, even eating properly with a knife and fork was a challenge.
I tried not to show mum just how sore it was because I was worried that she might have a hissy fit all over again and really ban me from riding to school.
There are 206 bones in a human body – and any of them would hurt like crazy if you broke or cracked one. Well, actually we are born with about 270 bones but by the time we reach adulthood some have fused together and there are 206 left. The crazy thing is – more than half of these bones are in our hands (54) and feet (52).
Luckily I did not break anything – just bruised my arm and a bit of muscle or something.
Bodies are precious things – we should remember to take care of them, eat properly, exercise (and look where we are going) and get enough sleep.
You can read “Sibo Looks Right” – the road safety book – on the website (www.sibo.co.za) anytime you want to.
Hope you all have survived the first week of school.
I was so tired the second morning that I almost did not make it to breakfast. Sadly my mum nagged me so much that I did not have a choice.
Sibo! She said. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
Whaaatttt? I am not even hungry yet at breakfast time. I have done nothing but sleep all night.
You’ve been fasting all night, she said. That’s where the name comes from – “Break Fast”. You must eat to have energy to manage for the rest of the day.
I yawned and staggered off to the breakfast table.
Okay – I’ll just have a piece of toast.
No ways – she smiled at me. You will have cereal, egg on toast and a piece of fruit!
I glared at her and she wagged her finger at me. No attitude from you missy! Eat your food.
Research shows that you can remember things better when you eat a decent breakfast. This is because the food restores glucose levels, an essential carbohydrate that is needed for our brains to function. I suppose that this is important so that we can remember what we learn at school.
Also – they say that if you eat breakfast as your biggest meal of the day – you are more likely to lose weight. Probably because then you are not always hungry and snacking on junk food all the time instead of eating a proper meal.
Not only does my mum make me eat breakfast, but she also makes me eat it at the table. Sitting properly too, not slouched all over the place. I’m not even allowed to have my elbows on the table to prop my head up.
She and Dad sit and eat breakfast with me. Dad tried reading his newspaper once and Mum gave him a very evil eye. No ways – she said. This is family chat time.
She’s always very chirpy in the mornings. Dad tends to answer with just one word. I don’t really think he’s such a morning person.
Must admit though – I do feel a bit more sprightly after eating breakfast – maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all. And remember how good eggs are for you – we’ve talked about that before.
Last week you had to get off your phone – this week you have to get off your butt!
Yip – we’re talking about exercise.
It‘s so important. Like getting enough sleep – remember – we covered that a while ago ago.
Getting enough exercise applies to big people just as much as it does to little ones. Often I ask my friends if they want to come and ride bike with me and they say… nah – I’m having fun watching TV.
Yet there are so many fun things we can do that can be counted as exercise.
Like hula hooping . That’s my favourite. You can either buy one or make your own hula hoop out of irrigation pipe and a hose connector. Then tape it up to look pretty. Moms can do this too – it’s really good exercise, strengthens all your core muscles and gives you nicely toned arms and legs – especially if you learn some tricks. There are loads of how-to-do-tricks videos on the internet.
Another form of great exercise is jumping. Of course if you have a trampoline, or access to one, then it’s really easy to jump – but you can also skip using a skipping rope or play hop scotch. These all count as jumping.
You are wondering why jumping is good for you – aren’t you?
It releases toxins and builds bone mass. Obviously it also increases flexibility too. Bouncing around on a trampoline develops motor skills – because it allows a child’s brain to function bilaterally. That means it gets both sides of your brain and both sides of your body to work together so that you don’t lose your balance and fall over while bouncing! Apparently it also helps improve cellulite – that should get your mom’s attention.
Never forget – when you are outside having exercise, the sunlight encourages the production of Vitamin D – which is responsible for a healthy immune system and brain.
Our brain chemistry is also affected by posture, positioning, as well as specific movements. Try this next time you are stressed and feeling a bit like you cannot cope.
Stand up straight with your feet apart and your hands on your hips for a few minutes. Breathe deeply and imagine you have super powers… let me know if it works please.
All in all exercise makes you feel better – no matter what you do. Plus it’s good for your body too.
I suppose most of us must have seen or heard something about the Olympics that are going on in Brazil at this current time. Especially with that fabulous Wade van Niekerk breaking the world record – how awesome is that. I’m seriously holding thumbs for Caster Semenya as well.
All those athletes participating must be really fit, strong and tough – don’t you think?
Strength is actually a funny thing. No matter how strong a person is – you would imagine that everybody is strong enough to crumple up a few pieces of newspaper – right?
Here’s something to try out – see how strong you really are.
You need 5 full sheets of newspaper to do this experiment (and you better make sure your family has read it first).
This is what you do…
Hold your arm out straight and hold one piece of newspaper in just one hand. If you are right-handed use your left hand. If you are left-handed use your right hand.
Now crumple that sheet of paper up into a tiny ball – using just one hand.
Do it again with the next piece of paper – and again and again until you have crumpled up all five pieces of newspaper.
Is your arm tired?
I bet it is. See, we don’t use those muscles in our arms to do hard-crumpling jobs very often so your crumpling muscles tire out quickly. If you practice crumpling newspapers up like that – your whole arm will grow stronger. (Maybe you better do it with both arms though – otherwise you might land up lopsided!)
We all have 656 different muscles in our bodies. Exercise increases their size and strength but will never add to their number. Even something as simple as walking involves 200 different muscles. Something to think about… you use 40 muscles when you frown… but only 15 when you smile!
Here’s your funny fact for the week… the fastest muscles are those that blink your eyelids. They allow you to blink up to 200 times a minute. We normally blink without thinking. Actually it is really hard NOT to blink and impossible to manage not to blink for as long as a minute. Go on – grab a friend and time each other trying not to blink for more than a minute.
A year or so ago my daughter, Emma, came to visit. She’d only been here for a day when she started whinging that she was missing her hula hoop.
I rolled my eyes and said we could go trawl the shops and find her a hoop (thinking to myself what kind of nonsense is this – being addicted to hula hooping).
She sighed, then remarked that we would not be buying a hoop – we would be making one.
So off we went to the hardware store and bought all the necessary paraphernalia to make a couple of different hoops. I looked at the roll of five metres of irrigation pipe… how many hoops can you make out of that then – two or three?
Just one – she replied.
Opened my mouth to argue but the look in her beady blue eye told me to shut the hell up as I had no idea what I was talking about.
I was flat out busy organising a conference at the time so took myself off to my office and left the business of hula hoop making to Emma.
When I emerged a few hours later I was amazed to see a circus creature dancing on our lawn.
The general misconception is that hula hooping is for kids. You see those little hoops for sale in the stores and don’t even give them a second glance. Yet there was my child (okay, she’s 25 but she’s a tiny skinny little thing) rocking this enormous hoop – taller than she was.
Doing tricks nogal!
I watched in amazement. She was so good at it. Flipping that huge hoop around and about. So graceful.
Here, she said. Have a go.
It looked so easy.
I grabbed the hoop and waggled madly. It plummeted to the earth. I tried again. And again… and again.
Hmmm… handed the hoop back to Emma – hula hooping is not for me.
Don’t be a wuz Mom, the nasty little weasel scoffed. She took the hoop and demonstrated where my feet should be and how I should stand up straight, shoulders down, tummy tucked in tight.
I had another go. Then stomped back up to my office in disgust. Next morning I noticed there were bruises on my ribs. I was horrified but according to Emma this was perfectly normal.
It took me two weeks to get that wretched hoop to stay around my middle. And there was none of the graceful hands thing either – rigid dinosaur paws more like it.
Gradually I relaxed and let it flow. Fudgie (the dog) and Ralph (the cat) could stand under the hoop without getting clonked on the head every few seconds. (They consider this a new form of play.)
One day I hauled out a skirt that had gone from being loose and comfy to a tad on the tight side. Zipped it up and immediately noticed that the squidgy bits of body that used to hang over the sides of the skirt had considerably diminished. In fact, it looked halfway decent again.
Realised that I must have sneakily lost a centimetre or two.
I’m not a gym person – have never set foot in one and don’t plan to either. Can’t do yoga because Fudge thinks I’m playing with her and running would surely make my heart attack me. I like walking – but not uphill. The best exercise I’ve come across to date is rebounding – or jumping on my mini-trampoline. That’s great for building leg muscle and toning your butt!
I was totally delighted. Just when I’d resigned myself to being 52 years old and taking up more space in the world than I’d ever done before – here was a magical way of doing something about it.
In my own yard and in my own time!
And let’s be honest – it’s not like I’d been doing it all day every day either – maybe 10 minutes a day in several small sessions.
Emma smirked. See – hula hooping is not just for kids. It’s great exercise.
Gave her the evil eye – right – now show me how to make these flabby arms not-so-flabby in time for the conference.
She gulped – the conference was less than two weeks away. She demonstrated some arm crunches and stretches. Three sets of those – three times a day. Get going Mom!
My eyes lit up – I envisaged going to the conference with nice firm, brown arms – you can’t help but get tanned whilst hooping outside. (Of course it rained almost the whole conference and my half-toned, tanned arms never even saw the light of day.)
Emma was here for two months. In that time I shaped up – lost a couple of kilos plus a good couple of centimetre’s around my middle and upper body. My arms look better than they have done in years my back has those nice muscly bits. I have improved my posture no end.
Last year our dog was sick and I had to lug all 29kg’s of Fattie Fudges up the stairs to my office – I could do it – thanks to hula hooping and strengthening my core muscles.
I now hula around the grass each day. It’s a great way to relax, have fun and keep in shape at the same time.
And it’s not just for ladies either – Chris, my husband, is also busy mastering the art.
The big hoops are great for toning up and losing centimetres – but if you want to lose more weight the smaller hoops are better – because you expend more energy keeping it up. However, the kids hoops that you buy in the shops are good for doing tricks, but are too light for weight loss – you need a heavier larger hoop.
It’s really easy to make your own hoop too! Not expensive either.
I even managed to sneak into the South African Book Fair by promising to read Sibo in Space while hula hooping in my giant space ship.
If you want the hoop making receipe… email squigglez(at)telkomsa.net and I’ll tell you how .
I’ve come to the conclusion that we all probably just take our health for granted. I know that the powers that be are always telling us to look after our bodies, but when we are feeling healthy it seems like a silly thing to have to worry about.
Until we get sick. Then it is a really big deal and we are sorry that we did not pay more attention.
Here are some of the things that you can do to look after your body.
After all… you only have one.
Eat less sugar. Sugar is bad for you on so many different levels. The worst thing is… they sneak it into all sorts of different types of food and you don’t even realise you are having sugar.
Like baked beans! Who would have dreamed that a tin of baked beans has sugar in it?
The problem with added sugars (like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup) is that they have no nutritional value at all and yet they contain a whole lot of calories. This is why they are called “empty calories”.
Instead of grabbing chips or sweats eat healthy snacks like fruit and nuts. Try and drink water instead of carbonated drinks that are full of sugar.
Exercise is also a way to stay healthy. For one thing – it reduces stress and anxiety. So next time you are going to write an exam or something, go for a walk or a bike ride (or you could hula hoop) before hand– it will make you feel calmer and more in control.
Exercise boosts creativity. Plus it helps you sleep better. Never mind that – it also makes you feel great and look good too.
A significant benefit of exercise is that it strengthens your heart. This is very important. If your heart does not beat properly – it can cause all sorts of problems.
Exercise strengthens your bones. Means you won’t break them so easily and for those who have broken bones already – you know it is a huge pain in the butt and really inconvenient.
Exercise makes your brain work better – this means it makes you smarter! It can even make you a better reader.
They say that if you exercise 150 minutes a week it will add years to your life. That’s not so hard to do – is it? Just over 21 minutes a day.
So… all we have to do is eat less sugar and exercise to help our bodies stay healthy. Easy peasy!