Some meditation on meditation

By Antoine Denoix

 

After a week’s holiday or a Bank Holiday weekend, the return journey isn’t so easy… and what is there afterwards? You may enjoy holidays, serenity, silence, relaxation... but what is there beforehand? The prospect of an avalanche of emails, days filled with meetings, and projects led to the rhythm of a beating drum... Decisions and resolutions pass by far too quickly. So let’s try some mindfulness meditation! Lots of things have been said and written on this subject, and from this we’ll try to illustrate what it could bring to you, and above all how to practice it, in your daily life.

 

In your professional life, you often have to struggle with difficulties: with your colleagues, with complicated problems, in urgent situations... And your natural reaction is to flee or to persevere. When persevering, by ‘overdoing’ your usual resources: your character, instincts, intuitions… your mind then has the tendency to speed round and round in circles until you run out of energy. You look for speed, while the most sensible option is (ironically) to stop! This is where mindfulness meditation steps in.  The technique was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts. To carry out this technique you must stop, fall silent, turn your gaze inwards, and observe. Distance yourself from the situation so that you may emerge renewed. Mindfulness meditation is therefore all about concentrating on your sensations, your breathing, your emotions... and distancing these from your thoughts. These tactics only have the power to work if you grant them it. Upon reacting in this way automatically, the rational response will be replaced.

 

What about the effects? It has been proven that regular practice of meditation will improve your emotional intelligence, your creativity, and your capacity to concentrate. This latter point is hardly an old wives’ tale. The abundance of screens all around us considerably decreases our ability to concentrate. It takes only a matter of seconds to lose concentration... yet it takes several long minutes for it to return!

 

So how do we get started? Find a few minutes every day to practice. One important point to remember: meditation is within everyone’s reach. It is not a privilege enjoyed only by Buddhist monks; far from it. It lends its progress to taking small steps.

Beyond strict meditation exercises, there are some simple principles to help you maintain your general concentration. First, avoid the natural reflex to read your emails in the morning. Make an effort during the first moments of the day (you should still have a clear mind), in particular for the positive activities such as reflection and decisions. Then, delete all the notifications from your phone (emails, SMS...) which oblige you to react immediately to them. And lastly, only do one thing at a time! Of course, this is all easy to say, but difficult to carry out... in as much as our natural gradient pushes our mind to wander, far from our main task.


Recipes for after your workout/training

Unsure about what to eat after working out/training? Is a banana enough? Is it better to train/workout without eating? Should recovery be solely done with a focus on protein? Today, we offer you a reminder of the main rules to follow concerning nutrition when you are active physically. Bonus: a couple of recipe ideas to make for after working out/training!

 

Before working out/training

Before starting your training/workout, you should fill up your energy reserves. So that digestion does not interfere with physical activity, it is recommended that you eat at least two hours prior to working out/training.

 

What to eat?

  • Complex carbohydrates (like pasta, rice or whole grain cereal)
  • Lean protein, for muscles (chicken, turkey, eggs…)
  • Fruits to hydrate and for their vitamins
  • Water and natural fruit juice

 

If you are going to train or workout right after a meal, think about eating something light, like a fruit and yogurt, or an energy bar and juice.

 

After training/working out

 

Replenish the principal nutrients that you need after playing sports or conducting any kind of physical activity.

 

  • Exercise and heat cause a greater loss of water. That is why the first thing to do is to drink some natural fruit juice, a smoothie or a milkshake to replenish the liquids and mineral salts lost.

 

  • Your muscles need proteins to recover after an effort, but try to not have them come solely from animal sources. You can get proteins from dairy, like cheese or yogurt if it is for a snack or light lunch, or from vegetables, lean meat or fish if it is for a main meal.

 

  • Carbohydrates are essential for replenishing glycogen stores. It is recommended to eat pasta, rice, cereal or potatoes. In addition to satiating yourself, you will avoid spikes of high blood sugar.

 

  • Avoid eating sugars. Glucose is important, but will cause you to be hungry again soon after.

 

  • Watch out for fats. In addition to making the food indigestible, it will give you too many calories. However, dry fruits are good and bring good fats to your heart.

 

 

Bonus: a couple of delicious and inescapable recipes for after your workout/training

 

  1. Rye bread toast with avocado puree.

On the avocado toast, you can add cherry tomatoes or scallion. The toast will provide cereals, proteins, good fats, omega 3 and vitamins A, B and C.

 

  1. Quinoa Paella, chicken and vegetables.

Cook the chicken as you like, same with the onions and the peppers. Cook the quinoa as you would rice. One portion of quinoa for every two portions of broth. The meal gives you complex carbohydrates, fibers, vitamins and minerals.

 

  1. Campagnarde salad.

The traditional campagnarde salad of potatoes, green pepper, chives, tomato and chopped lettuce, with a boiled egg or tuna for protein, vitamins and carbohydrates. It is a fresh meal and will be beneficial for your intestinal balance. In central Europe, it is eaten with mayonnaise or parsley.

 

  1. Salmon papillote.

Oily fish made papillote style is easy to make and very healthy. You can sprinkle parsley or add some pesto (made with basil, garlic, a pinch of parmesan and olive oil). You can also use trout, hake or tuna. You’ll receive plenty of proteins, vitamins, minerals and mono-unsaturated fats.

 

  1. Complete salad.

This salad is a complete dish and delicious. Toss arugula and lamb’s lettuce together, add cherry tomatoes, fresh cheese or feta and cubed cooked ham along with avocado and dry raisins. Season with balsamic vinegar from Modène (which you can have in a tiny bottle and add at the end). If you are vegetarian, replace the cheese and ham with tofu and add some quinoa or sunflower seeds. The salad will provide you with water, fibers, vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium, iron, carbohydrates and protein. Super simple!

 

To benefit from your favorite physical activity, create a healthy menu so you can recover quickly!

 

References:

  • Content validated by Dr. Trallero.
  • Vitonica.com. Josemi del Castillo. Lcdo. Sciences Activité Physique et Sport (CCAFYDE). Aliments à consommer après l’entraînement.
  • Revue Contigo Salud. Dra. Adriana Alvarado. Repas post-exercice.

Own your capacity for happiness

 Happiness depends more on you as a person than the outside world, and you can create happiness every day. And yet, you must always keep improving on your capacity for happiness.

What is happiness?

 

Philosophers have defined happiness as ‘a state of complete satisfaction characterised by its stability and durability. The happy man is fulfilled and leads a full life. »

 

In 2015, a magazine asked women what was essential to their happiness. Their responses were:

  • their children (91%),
  • their families (63%)
  • their love life (60%),
  • their health (57%),
  • and their friends (50%).

 

Only 48% wanted more money. 82% described themselves as stressed and 30% had seen a doctor for a depressive episode. 64%, however, remained optimistic, as they found that they had not come out too badly from the experience...

 

IN YOUR WORKPLACE

Some companies have a Chief Happiness Officer who tries to create a 'cosy' atmosphere within the company. What can you yourself can do at work? Try to love what you do; don’t imagine a worse or better future, but build it.

 

The key ingredients of happiness

You have a natural capacity for happiness within you, but it is your responsibility to decide whether you give this capacity a chance or not.

If you are only waiting for the weekend, your holidays, or your retirement to be happy, then you will spend a large part of your life just waiting for something to happen.

 

Every day is a new day; consider your renewed energy as a revival which will help you to awaken the best of yourself.

Instead of searching for happiness, make yourself available to it.

Open yourself to the small joys of daily life: a light, a smell, music, a taste, or a smile. Consciously savour these moments. Happiness is not about ‘having’ something, but ‘feeling’ it. Be thankful every day for three things: for life, for others, and for yourself.

 

Enjoy your passions, as they protect you from old routines and habits. Happiness is found in movement, change and creativity.

Every night before falling asleep, review and savour the positive moments of the day.

 

How to overcome the obstacles to happiness:

  • accept changes to society;
  • learn how to hold yourself (‘give and you will receive’);
  • free yourself from your fears;
  • accept yourself for who you are;
  • believe in yourself;
  • do not give in to your own illness;
  • do not be impatient.

 

For more information, see the free wellbeing guide from AXA Prevention by visiting the following web page: https://www.axaprevention.fr/concours/formulaire-commande-guide-bien-etre

 


How to identify a CVA. Must-know signs and symptoms

A cerebrovascular accident (CVA), or stroke, is a serious and urgent medical event, which happens when the normal flow of blood to the brain is stopped or drastically reduced. Several signs and symptoms warn the body of this event, which we should know how to identify, so we can seek immediate medical assistance. We’ll teach you the basics below.

 

Types of CVA

There are two types of cerebrovascular accidents (CVA):

  • Ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blood vessel in the brain getting blocked by a clot. This can happen for two reasons:

-Because the vessel is very narrow (for example, due to plaque buildup in the atheroma) and the slowed blood flow causes a thrombus. This is called a thrombotic stroke.

-Because a clot breaks loose from another part of the body (typically the heart) and travels through the vessels until reaching the brain, where it becomes trapped in a narrow area and remains blocked. This is called an embolic stroke.

 

  • Hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by the rupture of a vessel in the brain, thus preventing these areas from receiving normal blood flow. In addition, a hemorrhage irritates brain tissue, causing inflammation. Bleeding leads to a hematoma that displaces normal brain issue. A hemorrhagic stroke is frequently associated with hypertension, the rupture of an aneurysm or the buildup of a protein called amyloid in the arterial walls, especially in the elderly. This makes arteries more susceptible to bleeding.

 

Risk factors:

 

  • High blood pressure.
  • Atrial fibrillation.
  • Hypercholesterolemia and as a result, arteriosclerosis.
  • Family medical history.
  • Cardiac diseases or blood circulation complications.
  • Unhealthy habits: sedentary lifestyle, smoking, alcoholism, obesity...

It’s more common in people who are over 60 years old and those with three or more risk factors.

 

Signs of a CVA

Although a CVA can sometimes occur suddenly, there are a few signs that warn the body of blood flow problems.

 

  • Loss of strength in an arm or hand, or even one side of the face.
  • Sudden loss of vision, in one eye or both.
  • Intense headache for no apparent reason, with sudden onset and greater intensity than usual.
  • Difficulty articulating words, or finding the words to express oneself, or even babbling, which the listener can’t hear or understand.
  • Tingling sensation or loss of feeling in the fingers. Accompanied by numbness in the hands.
  • Vertigo, dizziness or imbalance, as if the ground were moving.

 

These symptoms usually appear right before the CVA, but some nonspecific symptoms may occur days beforehand, warning us that blood flow to the brain isn’t adequate:

  • Sudden changes in the person’s intellectual ability, including forgetfulness, confusion, absent-mindedness…
  • Sudden and inexplicable migraines.
  • Frequent gagging.
  • Clumsiness when walking.
  • Inability to sleep.

 

An early warning approach is key to reducing long-term damage and mortality due to these medical events.

 

Sometimes, transient cerebrovascular accidents occur, which are blood supply failures that are spontaneously resolved within minutes and don’t leave lasting damage. They’re important to note, because they can warn us of a more significant CVA down the road (just as chest pain may warn us of a later heart attack):

  • Memory loss or temporary disorientation.
  • Dizziness or headache.
  • Difficulty following a conversation or paying attention.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Tripping or falling.

 

However, it’s important to emphasize that these warning signs don’t necessarily indicate the onset of a CVA. Some of them are clear (limb paralysis, sudden loss of speech, intense headaches…), but others are much more nonspecific (dizziness, tingling, gagging), especially in the elderly.

 

If you’re experiencing clear warning signs (loss of vision, loss of speech, paralysis), seek immediate medical assistance. If the symptoms are more nonspecific or you’re unsure, consult your family doctor.

Early diagnosis can save lives.

 

References:

  • Content edited by Dr. Trallero.
  • Texas Heart Institute. Signs of a stroke.
  • NISA Hospitals. NeuroRehabilitation Service. Warning symptoms of ICTUS.
  • MD. Health. Dr. Pedro Pinheiro. Medical specialist in Internal Medicine and Nephrology. CVA - CEREBRAL STROKE - CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS.

Heatwave: watch out for heat stroke!

In the last couple of years, heatwaves have been multiplying all over the world. States have been circulating warnings and tips and we all know to drink a lot of water, cool living spaces and help older individuals who are the ones most at risk.

 

Warning signs

We should also know how to spot the warning signs of dehydration such as weight loss, dryness of skin, fatigue and drowsiness. Heat stroke can occur suddenly on the first day, without being preceded by a severe dehydration. The symptoms are immediately severe with violent headaches, nausea, and neurological signs ranging from confusion to loss of consciousness or convulsions… The victim’s body temperature is high (over 39 °C) and their skin is hot to the touch.

 

What to do in cases of heat strokes

Emergency services should be immediately called after placing the person in the shade. While waiting for the ambulance, you should undress the victim, cool them with water and fan them by creating air flow close to their skin.

In addition: heat strokes can affect everyone, including babies (for example when confined in cars). It can also affect those who work in the sun or conduct significant physical activity (long walks, sports).

 

Source: http://www.urgences-serveur.fr/prise-en-charge-du-coup-de-chaleur,2266.html


30 Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Obesity is responsible for many health problems, and our eating, leisure and exercise habits are strongly linked to this. We'd like to take the opportunity to remind you of some of the habits of a healthy lifestyle which can help you to combat obesity. Ready?

 

Healthy lifestyle habits

A lifestyle habit is something you do regularly, not just every now and again. This means that sticking to a diet for a month or joining a spinning class during winter is not a habit. We know that the habits we genuinely practice on a daily basis are a large part of the reason for us being healthy or, conversely, suffering certain illnesses – in particular those which cause most deaths per year, such as obesity and problems arising from this i.e. cardiovascular issues and cancer.

 

What is obesity? The consequences of obesity

Obesity is the great evil of the 'developed' world, and is responsible for millions of deaths every year. The WHO defines overweight and obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A BMI (remember, BMI = weight/height2) of over 25 indicates overweight. Higher than 30 is considered obesity type 1, obesity type 2 or severe obesity starts from 35, and morbid obesity at over 40.

 

We’re all aware of the effects this can have on our health:

 

  • Risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperlipidaemia
  • Coronary heart disease, cardiac insufficiency or stroke
  • Sleep apnea
  • Problems with bones and joints
  • Kidney and liver disease
  • Higher risk of developing certain types of cancer

 

30 habits of a healthy lifestyle

A balanced diet is important if you want to avoid becoming overweight. You already know what this implies. But it's not the only worthwhile healthy habit. Pay attention and see how many of the habits below you already do and can tick off, and how many will take a bit more time. Let's go!

 

  • Don't eat large amounts. Eat less, more often.
  • Drink water. Forget about soft drinks.
  • Fill your plate with colours. The more colours, the more vitamins.
  • Go outside every day. Sun and fresh air breathe life into you.
  • Don't complain. Be proactive.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake. It does nothing for you.
  • Read more. Clear your mind.
  • Don't self-medicate. Take only what your doctor prescribes.
  • Eat more oily fish. Your heart will thank you for it.
  • Don't smoke. No more. What's the point?
  • Sleep as much as possible. Recharge your batteries.
  • Walk more. Fewer lifts, more stairs.
  • Go for medical check-ups (eyes, teeth, gynaecology, prostate…). It's for your own good.
  • Don't isolate yourself. Surround yourself with people who love you (friends, partner, family...).
  • Sweets are for rare occasions only. This means they are still 'treats'. Diabetes is no laughing matter.
  • Hug and let yourself be hugged. It'll give you a positive energy boost.
  • Whole grains. They're just as tasty and much healthier.
  • Relax. Meditate or do yoga or tai chi. You'll get rid of stress and anxiety.
  • Seasonal fruit. And it's better to eat it whole than drink it in juice.
  • Learn to listen. This will teach you to be less extreme.
  • Grill your food. You'll enjoy more authentic flavours.
  • Dance to your favourite music. You will secrete endorphins, the 'happiness hormones'.
  • Always use olive oil. Look after your heart.
  • Learn to say NO. You are master of your own decisions.
  • Dine early, and light. You'll sleep better.
  • Improve your posture. This will help you to achieve a flatter stomach.
  • Don't skip breakfast. Get the day off to a good start.
  • Doing sports isn't a fashion. It's essential for ageing healthily.
  • Eat a varied diet, but only things that are good for you. Don't fool yourself.
  • Try to be happy and make others happy too :)

 

''Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live.'' Jim Rohn.

References:

  • FAO.org. Healthy habits and lifestyles.
  • WHO. Healthy eating.
  • Sanitas. Health library. Healthy lifestyles.

7 everyday mindfulness exercises to reduce stress

In a world of never-ending to-do lists and rushing from here to there, it’s hard to give your full attention to anything. To learn how to pay attention to every moment, there’s mindfulness. This discipline, or philosophy of life, uses meditation and relaxation as paths to achieving greater awareness and fuller attention. We’ll show you a few mindfulness exercises to cope with anxiety. Ready to get started?

 

Mindfulness basics

The practice of mindfulness has nothing to do with religion. In Western cultures, mindfulness is aimed at improving quality of life and learning to manage stress. Stop living on automatic pilot and learn that nothing – good or bad – lasts forever. If we live in the present, we’ll be more aware and make better decisions.

 

Mindfulness exercises to reduce stress

 

Exercise 1: Take a moment to be thankful.

Set your cell phone alarm for a time of day when you’re not overwhelmed, such as before going to bed. Stop and think of something to be thankful for. This gratitude will immediately send good vibes to your brain.

 

Exercise 2: Stop for a minute.

Put a sticker with a red dot around your workplace, your home or on everyday objects. When you see the dot, stop, breathe and pay attention to what you’re feeling at that moment (are you nervous, calm, annoyed…?) and why you feel that way.

 

Exercise 3: Give a candle your full attention.

This exercise challenges you to focus your attention for at least a minute. Sound easy? Well, you’ll soon see it’s not. Light a candle and spend a minute looking at it. Without thinking of anything except it. If you want, you can set an alarm so you don’t watch the clock. If your thoughts drift, bring them back to the candle. At first, you’ll constantly lose focus, but as you keep training, you’ll get better.

 

Exercise 4: Leave behind your cell phone.

Disconnect from your cell phone for an entire day. Notice when you get the urge to look at your phone and how you feel about not having it (uncomfortable, insecure…?). On the flip side, try to pay attention to things you missed out before because you were staring at your phone.

 

Exercise 5: Count backwards.

Count backwards, only paying attention to the numbers. If you get lost in thought, you can start over from the top.

 

Exercise 6: Clean up.

This exercise should be completed using your full attention. You can choose a closet, drawer or room. Cleaning has a hidden benefit of getting rid of emotional strain, thus reducing stress and anxiety. Throw away anything you don’t need anymore. Seeing that clean drawer or closet afterwards will give you a sense of relief.

 

Exercise 7: Breathe.

Whenever we talk about yoga or meditation, we emphasize the importance of breathing. It’s also key for mindfulness. This exercise consists of paying attention to how you breathe. First, identify where you feel your breathing: in your chest, nose or throat? Set a timer or stopwatch on your cell phone and spend a minute focused on your breathing. Concentrate. If you change positions or start thinking about something else, stop and start over, giving your full attention.

 

You can do one of these exercises every day of the week. In no time, they’ll become easier and you can try more advanced exercises.

 

References:

  • Content edited by Dr. Trallero.
  • Wellness goals. Prisma Publicaciones 2002 S.L. 20 mindfulness exercises to achieve inner peace.
  • Psychology and Mind. Jonathan García-Allen. Psychologist and personal trainer. 5 mindfulness exercises to improve your emotional wellbeing.

5 recipes for light and easy-to-cook vegetarian dinner

How many times have we heard that dinner should be a light meal, eaten early? This allows you to go to bed having already digested all your food, avoiding interference with your sleep patterns, and means you won't have consumed a load of calories that you're not going to use. Today we'd like to show you some light and healthy vegetarian dinners that you're sure to love.

 

Vegan diet

This is more than just a diet. It's a lifestyle in which no products of animal origin are consumed, even if the animal doesn't die in order to produce them (such as in the case of eggs, honey or milk), with animal by-products such as leather, wool or ivory also avoided. When it comes to vegetarian diets, there are many variations (ovolacto-vegetarians, raw vegans, etc).

Anyone can follow a vegetarian diet, even sports people. But it's crucial to do so properly.

 

Foods for a healthy dinner

A balanced and healthy dinner should feature:

  • Preferably cooked, as this makes them easier to digest. Stewed, in soup, mashed, smashed, grilled, baked...
  • Lean protein, such as turkey, chicken, white fish (which is lighter than oily fish) or eggs. Consuming pulses in the evening can lead to indigestion, so it's better to eat them mashed or as soup. Soy, whether sprouted or in tofu and tempeh, is also a great source of protein.
  • Starch or grains. This could be a hunk of bread, preferably wholemeal, or a side portion of rice, or boiled potatoes.
  • For dessert, a dairy product – ideally fat-free, or a piece of fruit.

 

Foods that contain tryptophan (turkey, chicken, bananas, pineapple, avocado, plums, nuts, whole grains, broccoli, cress, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, etc) help us to sleep, because tryptophan boosts the production of melatonin, which regulates our circadian rhythms and aid a good night's rest.

 

Light dinner ideas

Today we'd like to show you some light, easy and quick vegetarian dinner ideas, packed full of essential nutrients to make your evening meal healthy as well as tasty.

 

  1. Courgette spaghetti with avocado sauce.

To make courgetti you need a spiraliser, julienne peeler or simple grater. Next, mix a small glass of water with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, an avocado, some pine nuts and a few basil leaves. Mix everything using a blender to produce a paste. Put the pasta in a bowl, add the sauce and top with some cherry tomatoes, cut in half. Easy and delicious. Finish with a soya yoghurt.

 

  1. Vegan miso soup.

Cook some noodles in boiling water. Stir 3 spoonfuls of miso in 1 litre of boiling water until dissolved. Put to one side. Boil some wakame seaweed for around 5 minutes. Mix the seaweed with the miso water. Add the noodles at the last minute. For dessert, a slice of pineapple.

 

  1. Vegan Greek salad.

Chop half a red onion, a cucumber, four tomatoes and some black olives. Add a few cubes of vegan feta cheese (made from tofu marinated in oregano, lemon and vinegar). Make a dressing with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon and oregano. Serve cold. Finish off the meal with a fruit salad.

 

  1. Vegetarian pizza.

On a pizza base, spread a tapenade that you've whipped up by mashing olives in olive oil. On top add some slices of tomato, garlic powder, and a few spears of green asparagus. Bake at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes. This pizza is flavour-intense. If you prefer something a little milder, spread tomato paste or sauce on the base, add slices of courgette, green pepper and onion. Sprinkle with oregano and bake.

 

  1. Yoghurt with fruit and cereals.

Beat a plant-based yogurt (made from soy or almond milk, for example) and put a little in the bottom of a glass. On top add a layer of sliced banana. Then another layer of yoghurt. Then sliced strawberries, more yoghurt and lastly 2 teaspoons of muesli. Put in the fridge until chilled. This dessert also works great as breakfast.

 

As your nutritionist about combinations of vegetables and pulses or grains that achieve more complete proteins.

 

Remember, the more varied your diet, the less risk there is of nutritional deficiencies.

 

References:

  • Content revised by Dr. Trallero.
  • Familydoctor.org. American Academy of Family Physicians. Vegan diet: How to get the nutrients you need.
  • Mayo Clinic. Vegetarian Diet: How to Get the Best Nutrition.
  • Nutrionvegana.org. The vegan healthy eating plate.