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The FitsBits.com Podcast – Episode 3 – Kris Abbey – Organic Health Industry Pioneer

Kris Abbey Podcast Show Notes

Introducing Kris AbbeyKris Abbey podcast

Imagine growing a really successful fitness business at just the young age of 15, then growing to the point it employs 15 staff. Then after university going to work for a multinational pharmaceutical company to focus on cognitive health neuroscience.

Kris Abbey has a Batchelor of Education (Physical Education & Science) and a Post Grad Diploma in Exercise Physiology & Sports Science.

She regularly consults to large organisations such as Coles Myer, Apple and TNT Couriers Just to name a few.

Kris has unique perspectives on physical and cognitive health, that I hope you find inspiring.

Kris’s website is KrisAbbey.com and her book on The Low Human Interference Diet is here.

Highlights / My Favourite Points:

[0:43] Learning to listen to your body.

[5:27] An entertaining look back at the Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons years.

[9:30] Qualities to win and secure more clients.

[12:40] How the obstacle was the way & the gifts that were on the other side.

[23:35] The problem with eating by clock.

[26:20] Triggers to watch out for in regards to your cognitive health.

[27:41] Some ideas on food for handling stress.

[35:05] Food for fuelling courage and cleaning your mind.

[36:55] A daily meal plan that Kris follows.

Books Recommended

 

Questions:

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[1:03] 1.        As a 13 year old young girl you gave up junk food. Cold turkey. Full Stop. What was driving you & what were you thinking?

[ 5:47] 2.       In the early years when you started your health and fitness business can you tell me what was the fitness industry like?

[7:40] 3.       By 22 your business quickly grew to 15 staff members. What were the best methods of attracting and keeping clients turning up for you? (part 1) What did your clients think differently about that made them keep coming / telling others (part2)

[13:00] 4.       If you had time to go back and find a classroom of young girls just like you what would you teach them?

[15:25] 5.       Rolling forward to today, having been a the forefront of the industry for almost 30 years,  what are the top 3 biggest challenges you see facing women’s health?

[15:05] 6.       If you had a million dollars to spend on these 3 issues how much budget would you allocate to each and why? What would you do with the funds?

[18:30] 7.       Having authored a number of books on nutritional change, such as “going organic – your guide to a healthier life” & The low Human Intervention Diet – how to get clean and get lean” can you tell us a little about some of the successes your readers have achieved. (part 1) What were the 1or 2 things that these people did better than anyone else? (part2)

[25:55] 8.       You mentioned to me that you firmly believe that mind and body act as one. Can you explain to the listeners what that means? (part 1) What are the practical applications to personal trainers or fitness enthusiasts who may or may not compete?

[25:36] 9.       Do you think that certain foods fuel courage, as opposed to unhealthy foods fuelling apathy, and if so what things can people consider eating to clean their minds?

[36:55] 10.   What does a typical day’s eating look like for you?

[41:25] 11.   Thank you for your time today, as a last question where can people go to find out more about your work and health practice?

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Transcription

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Announcer: Welcome to the FitBits.com podcast where we show people who want to be happy and healthy how to get the maximum from their training and nutrition even if they hate to exercise or diet.

Anthony: Imagine starting a really successful business at the young age of just 15 and growing it to employ 15 staff, then after university, going to work with a pharmaceutical multinational to focus on cognitive health neuroscience. Kris Abbey has a Bachelor of Education Physical Education and Science as well as a post-grad diploma in Exercise Physiology and Sport Science. She regularly consults to large organizations such as Coles Myer, Apple, TnT Cruise, just to name a few. She has unique perspectives on physical and cognitive health that I hope you find inspiring. Hi Kris. How are you today?

Kris: I’m well thanks, Ant, how are you?

Anthony: Fantastic, thank you. Thank you and welcome to the FitBits.com podcast. As a 13 year-old girl, you gave up junk food cold turkey, full stop. What was driving you and what were you thinking?

Kris: Look, it’s interesting. I think at that point that was when I was put on my…the journey that I’m still on now and that’s learning to eat for your body. Just to rewind back, before I was 13 I…even though I grew up on a farm and a lot of our food was paddock to plate, we had an awesome veggie patch and orchard and my dad was a cattle farmer and, yeah.

Anthony: Sounds really fun, yeah.

Kris: Oh, yeah. Look, it was an idyllic childhood but for some reason I was just a sickly kid even though this healthy lifestyle and played a lot of sport and super active. But if there a ‘flu or a cold or something, I would get it. And as I was getting older when I say older, at 12, 13, I’d just feel constantly bloated or I had all this chest pain and it was quite an unusual thing. And so my mum…and just certain foods I just couldn’t keep down and I felt like, I guess, a really bad heart attack or indigestion. So my mum went down to the Mainstream Medical Park just to try and find out what the problem was and this was maybe six months in the making…

Anthony: Yes.

Kris: Of trying to work out what the problem was and finally it was through an invasive procedure that they worked out I had a hiatus hernia, which is probably more common in elderly people, which meant that my diaphragm or my stomach would creep up through my diaphragm…

Anthony: Wow.

Kris: And then lots of foods that I was consuming a lot of didn’t agree with my digestive system so my stomach would swell up and then push up through my diaphragm. So that was one issue, and then I had this thing called irritable bowel syndrome which back then was very unheard of because we’re, I’m giving away my age, we’re talking 30 odd years ago. So, yeah. So finally after six months that was the diagnosis and the only solution that we knew of was to take an antacid to help the reflux as a result of the stomach swelling and just basically put a band aid over the problem. So then I was put on this antacid and I use to have to take it and other tablets as well for my IBS but every time before I’d eat I’d have to take this antacid and it was, I don’t know if you’ve ever had it but it’s like chalky water.

Anthony: Yeah.

Kris: It’s disgusting and it got to the point that I was almost heaving at the thought of having to have that. So I just sort of got to the point of, “Oh it’s too hard to eat.” And I was losing a lot of weight so my mum thought, “Look, there’s got to be something more.” As mums do mums will put up a big fight for their kids and, you know. As I said, back in the day a long time ago we, in our local newspaper we read about this new therapist that had arrived in Carrara which was a town 100 kms away and her specialty was treating IBS. So thankfully my mum thought, “What the hell. Let’s give it a shot.” And we both went in with open minds because she was a little bit, let’s say a bit of a yogi/guru/…I don’t know. Back 30 years ago, yoga was not at all mainstream. It was very…

Anthony: It was very alternative, yeah.

Kris: Totally alternative.

Anthony: Yeah.

Kris: So for me, we go and meet this doctor. She was the one that sort of got me off the antacid and started getting me towards this, okay well, basically an elimination diet. So eat certain foods and then see how they feel. And then, so I was able to pinpoint the foods that were making me feel really sick. And so she taught me to listen to my body and it was the foods that my body really didn’t need like the junk food and all of those foods. So within, look, it was a long six months to really work out exactly what the cause was, what foods to avoid, that I really then started to go, “Well, hang on. My body’s telling me something here.” And I got off all my medication and I was put on a really clean healthy diet and then to eat something that didn’t agree with me, the consequence was so bad I just, I stopped. So that’s why I just stopped junk food, I stopped all sorts of things that just didn’t agree with my body.

Anthony: Really interesting. And I wonder about the exercise part of the lifestyle? So I know in the early years when you started your health and fitness business not long after that, can you tell me what was the fitness industry like back then? I think you were what, 22 or something or around there or…?

Kris: Yeah. Look, I actually, when I was 15 I was taking aerobic classes just at school for after school hours and helping the P.E. department out when I’d run aerobic classes and, so that was at 15 but just self-taught by one of the P.E. teachers who was an aerobics instructor. And then when I moved to Sydney, I was studying Phys Ed so the best way for me to supplement my uni for, to get some money was to work in the health and fitness industry. So it’s evolved to be a lot more holistic. Back in the day when I started out it was all this “No pain, no gain” mentality and it was a lot more exterior.

Anthony: Yeah.

Kris: For want of a better word. It was like how buff you could be or it was very put all this stuff in your body that, you know. And look, today I still see that, you know. You see these PTs walking around with the big muscles and all the rest and they’re drinking a Red Bull and to me it’s like, “Well hang on. Are you in the health industry or not?”

Anthony: Yeah.

Kris: So the fitness industry back then was definitely not, and I’m generalizing here, part of the health industry, you know. It was all about putting these synthetic proteins in your body, looking good, sweating hard it was just gritty sort of, not a lot of injuries, a lot of burnout, that sort of thing.

Anthony: Was it more about the appearance industry rather than the health and fitness industry?

Kris: Oh, totally. Yeah.

Anthony: Yeah.

Kris: So, but and we did what we knew.

Anthony: So you quickly grew too, didn’t you? You had at one stage something like 15 staff members.

Kris: Yeah.

Anthony: I wonder, what were the best methods for attracting and keeping your clients turning up?

Kris: Well look, just the fact was I think to, like from about 13 I was absorbing every single book on nutrition you could, you know. Any, the Scarsdale diet I was reading inside out, the Diamond Fit for Life diet all the, I was just reading all of them so that I could be well rounded in nutrition and I think… So when I started my business, it was also in the day where the government would actually reimburse companies who were doing things like, it was under the Recruitment and Training Levy basically.

Anthony: Oh, Okay.

Kris: So any company that was doing things in a positive way for their staff, which is sort of coming back in again now…

Anthony: Corporate health, yeah.

Kris: Yeah, corporate health, it was a tax deduction for them. So I was a tax deduction. So I think partly that’s a reason for my business growing quickly but I think, too, the other part was I offered a three dimensional solution. I wasn’t just coming in and running fitness classes, I was doing workshops at lunchtime to show their staff how, or teach their staff how to eat better, you know. I was doing newsletters way back before newsletters were even trendy and so it was educating as well as providing a more rounded service I guess. So it wasn’t just fitness and I actually say I’m more in the health and wellness industry because there is still that sort of just churn and burn mentality in the fitness industry so I do align myself probably more with the health and wellness industry.

Anthony: Yeah, interesting. And I wonder back in the day when you are teaching people at lunch times how to eat better and how to live better that must have been a substantially different way of thinking for them than what other people were telling or sprouting as the latest fad. What do you think…?

Kris: Yeah.

Anthony: What do you think was going through their minds when they kept coming back?

Kris: I think the biggest thing for me is I’m so, I’m really passionate about this and I really walk the talk. And so I’m almost a role model for what I, what I’m talking about. Don’t get me wrong, I, it’s balance for me. So I…chocolate thankfully is one thing that I can eat and have no ill effects from. So, but it’s just balance and I think too at that time it was all about low fat, low fat, low fat and if you wanted to lose weight it would be low fat. And I was sort of going a little bit against the grain back then and saying, “Well, low fat equals high sugar.” And sugar is, because thankfully Syndrome X was something that was coming in and people were starting to talk about and Syndrome X is like a metabolic problem which is often a precursor to Type 2 diabetes. But the result of that is diets that are high in sugar and people get so much sugar coming through their body their body can’t cope. And so I was talking about things like that. And also I try not to make people feel, like I don’t like to patronize…

Anthony: Yeah.

Kris: Nor do I like to be an evangelist. So as much as I’m talking about what I love talking about, I still think at the end of the day life is to be lived and people will make the choices and either they’re good choices or they’re not but it is their choice.

Anthony: Yeah. I guess people would have to respect the fact that you aren’t just going along with the crowd, you’re willing to stand up and say what you believe in and why rather than just following the herd I guess.

Kris: Well, again, my education has taught me to look at the science as well as my listen to your body because sometimes what your body is saying might contradict what science is saying. So I’m very passionate about what might work for me may not work for you so you need to actually listen to your body and see how you feel. And if you’re eating pizza five nights a week and then going out and just having a big bender, you’re body’s probably not working at its optimum and it’s probably trying to tell you that.

Anthony: No, it’s not going to feel very good after that.

Kris: Right. But then if your body, if you’re having four nights of eating lots of green leafy salads and good lean protein and you might have a glass of wine or whatever and then maybe having one meal where it’s a little bit like a rich, richer sort of your body will actually reward, like tell you, “Hey, this is pretty good. I’m feeling energized, I feel good”. And so when you start listening to your body it’s not rocket science. It’s, and that’s the big thing too. It’s we get so caught up in the trends and the fads and all of that, we forget to strip it right back to basics, you know?

Anthony: That’s an interesting question, I mean, or point. You really have a passion for teaching and I wonder if you had time to go back and find a classroom of young girls, just like you were when you were 12, 13, what would you teach them?

Kris: Oh man, there’s so many things you’d want to teach them. I think, I will say this. For me, having this hiatus hernia and the IBS was a blessing and I’m a big believer good comes from bad. So for me, it put me on this journey and it really gave me a real taste of what it’s like to be ill and then now I just feel so good and so healthy, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. And I think young girls, I would need just again what I just said, “Listen to your bodies and feel how you feel. Don’t get caught up in the social media hype of fad diets or looking a certain way.”

I’d really want them to just have more confidence and not put so much onus on the exterior think about how they’re feeling on the inside and have their own self-confidence and, but that’s hard, you know. We all go through a little bit of self-doubt and wanting to be like everyone else or we put a lot of thought into the exterior and how we look. But I think I’d love to sit these girls down and just say, “Look, it’s your body is the one body you get for life and now is the perfect time to start looking after it because this is when your habits develop.” So for me not to eat junk food and giving that up at 13, I don’t people sit around me and just indulge in chips and dips and I’m not at all. And they go, “Well how can you be so disciplined?” and I said, “It’s not discipline. It’s my lifestyle.” You just, well, I wouldn’t rather look, I don’t know. It’s something that’s a lot more nourishing for me that I know won’t make me feel sick. And I, so I’d sort of love to get these kids in a room and just say, “Develop your habits now because they’re the ones that you’re going to carry through and I know when you’re a kid you can eat whatever you want and you never put on weight and all of that but guess what, it will actually come back and bite you on the bum.”

Anthony: Yeah, interesting.

Kris: Literally.

Anthony: I guess picking up a point you made there about rolling forward to today where we have the Instagrams of the world, with you being at the forefront of the industry for almost 30 years, what would you say are the three biggest challenges you see facing women’s health at the moment?

Kris: I think we’ve forgotten about the meaning of health and we’ve put it more into aesthetics. I read this crazy statistic that Australian women are spending over a billion dollars just on cosmetic procedures per year and I think, “Wow, imagine a billion dollars going, yeah, towards eating well or good health information?” But you know what, that industry is always going to be there and I think, and I have no judgment around that. If people, if that makes them feel better, that, so be it. But I just think there’s a lot of pressure on women on the exterior and on the whole aging process and to be a certain shape and a certain weight. I think there’s also a lot of pressure on women who have babies to bounce back and be this super mum not just in trying to manage a family and a career and a baby and their body weight and their everyone else’s nutrition, they also have to look good so I think there’s pressure around trying to be all things to all people.

Anthony: There’s certainly a lot of conversation about when people bounce back from having a baby how quickly they bounce back, isn’t it? It’s almost like, yeah…

Kris: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Anthony: It’s a trophy.

Kris: Yeah. And I think the other thing is women need to support women more, you know. We can be very judgy of the other female and I just think if we were to support each other… There’s this great movie and it’s a lovely movie, and it’s called The Intern. And there’s a scene where Robert de Niro has to take his boss, who is Anne Hathaway who runs this big internet, look I’m sorry if you’ve seen it, but she runs this internet clothing business and she’s killing it.

Anthony: Yeah.

Kris: And he comes as an older man, there was this intern program, and becomes her right hand to the point that he takes her daughter to a play date and he’s sitting there in all the parks and, in the park with these other mums who were having a go at, “Oh what, so she’s too busy to take a child to a party or…” and he sort of turns around and defends her and basically says, “She’s conquering the world. She’s built this massive empire, like she’s doing some really good stuff. She’s employed me.” And he goes, “And you can’t appreciate that? You can’t say something good but you’ll criticize the fact that she’s not here at a birthday party that her child’s doesn’t even care whether she’s here or not,” sort of thing. So I think women, and this is a little bit off the topic of health but it’s still around emotional health, which is one of the big things I think we neglect we can be our worst each other’s worst enemy and I just would put a shout out to all the women out there, let’s just support each other a lot more.

Anthony: It is a complete package I guess and… Having authored a number of books on nutritional change, such as “Going Organic: Your Guide To A Healthier Life” and “The Low Hi Diet: How To Get Clean And Get Lean”, can you tell us a little bit about some of the successes your readers have achieved?

Kris: Well look, in the “Going Organic” diet, I did that… Oh sorry, the “Going Organic: Your Guide To A Healthier Life”, I did that in 2000 and that was when the organic industry was just really grassroots, literally, I’m punning, but it was really… Even in the back of the book I have a directory and I think I have 70 organic retailers, suppliers, brands listed in the back of that book. And then it went really well and then all of a sudden this whole organic movement just became, everyone’s aware of it now and everyone will try and have something in their diet organic. And so the publisher said, “Can you do an updated version?” So I did an updated version. And then, about two years ago, they said, “Kris, we need to update it again.” And so it was then at the point where I actually said to the publishers, “I cannot put a directory in the back of this book anymore because it’s gone from 70 suppliers to 700.”

Anthony: Wow.

Kris: So the growth of that industry has been massive. And so the success for me is when I get notes from suppliers who say, “Look, thanks for listing me in your very first book, for acknowledging us as an industry.” So that for me is a really cool thing. But then as far the “Get Clean, Get Lean” or “The Low Hi Diet”, and basically that’s what I touched on before it’s again it’s not rocket science. It’s getting people to remember how food was before humans really got in and intervened which is HI’s Human Intervention. So eating foods that are fresh and whole and seasonal and local as opposed to eating something in a packet that you boil it up and it’s not food or stuff that sits on your pantry shelf for months and months and months and that, in a box and you pour it into a plate and put milk on it. That is not food.

Anthony: Something that glows in the dark.

Kris: Yeah. And seriously, so let’s, it’s, you eliminate those sorts of food and fill your body up with good fresh local food, you’ll feel much better and, so basically the “Get Clean” part is getting all those toxins out of your body and I’ve had some awesome feedback from that and people who have been overweight and battling and yo-yo dieting all their lives who’ve written in and I think I’ve got this on my website, this one lady in particular, you know. She said it’s just changed her whole way of thinking about food and her body. So for me, even if that’s helped one person, that’s a really it’s a good thing and I put the information out there and I try make it easily digestible, no pun intended, but so anyone can pick it up, they can learn and understand and I include all the science why we need protein and why we need carbohydrates and why we need fat, yes we need fat. So then they go, “Oh, Okay, that makes sense”, and then applying the actually diet is that’s the easy part because now they understand food and that whole stigma around it has gone.

Anthony: Gee whiz, that’s a very big call saying, “Applying the diet is the easy part.” I myself having been on many a diet, I always think sticking to them is the hardest part. That lady that you mentioned had fantastic success. Was there one or two things that she did differently or she did better than anyone else?

Kris: Look, she wasn’t the only one that had success. Let me, I’ve had some awesome, I’ve got one client now that she just does it every April, she does it because it just makes her feel so good. I think it’s, just, again, and I really hate harping on it. It’s about how you feel.

Anthony: Yeah.

Kris: And I think once you start doing eating clean or eating foods that’s had little human intervention or not processed, you do it to feel alive. And I think you sort of, for someone that’s been eating rubbish all their life, to start eating good food, to feel fantastic, why wouldn’t they keep going?

Anthony: Yeah.

Kris: So for her it was this massive leap in how she felt and I think that’s the thing too. It’s not, it’s trying to educate people it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. And I don’t, even in my hardcore detox programs, if you want a coffee in the morning because that’s your one vice and it’s going to get you through the next four weeks, you know what, do it.

Anthony: Yeah.

Kris: One coffee a day is not going to kill you. So don’t put milk and sugar in it or put almond milk or something in it and but modify it to be a little bit healthier but don’t deny yourself. Life funny enough, life is short.

Anthony: Yeah.

Kris: So, and that’s my philosophy.

Anthony: Kris, it seems to me that what you’re…the point that you’re making is that listening to your body is as different an approach as either eating by the clock having a meal at 10 o’clock, at 12 o’clock, at 4 o’clock and then dinner at 8 o’clock as opposed to listening to your body and only eating when you’re hungry. Is that how you see it?

Kris: Look, I, yeah…we’re a society that is so dictated by three meals a day, breakfast, lunch, dinner and you have all at certain times of the day and so we tend to eat…and even at school this happens, you know. You have to have recess at this time and lunch at this time. I’m a big believer in listening to, as you know, you listen to your body and if you’re hungry, eat. But if you’ve just eaten lunch and you’re still hungry, have a big glass of water because maybe it’s your body saying you’re thirsty not necessarily hungry and then if you still get the rumbles and you still can’t concentrate because you’re hungry, then yeah, absolutely you obviously didn’t eat enough. But yeah, look, there’s so much around when to eat and what is the optimum fasting time and things like that and there’s no doubt that the longer you have between say your last meal of the day and breakfast… You know that they’re finding more and more research to show that that fasting period which allows your body to recover is really important. So if you consider have your last meal, which should be a lighter meal, before you go to bed, not go to bed on a heavy meal, it then allows your body to, you’ll sleep better because your body’s not caught up in the whole, “I’ve got to digest this meal.” And then you toss and turn because you’ve eaten too much. Your body can actually put its focus on recovering and regenerating and then when you wake up the next morning, you actually feel, yeah, you do, you bounce out of bed and you probably should be hungry at that point. To wake up hungry is a good thing.

Anthony: You might touch on some of the signals in this next question. You mentioned to me that you firmly believe mind and body act as one. Can you explain to the listeners what that means?

Kris: Sure. I think anyone that’s had any mental illness would understand that they’re not healthy and for a lot of people they put health around how your cholesterol’s in the right range and your blood sugar’s in the right range and you function well, your body’s functioning well, and that to them is health. But I sort of think, well, just because someone has all the physical signs doesn’t mean that they’re 100% healthy. If they’re suffering from depression, for example, or anxiety or things like that and a lot of, and they do go hand in hand and if someone’s suffering depression, there’s a fair chance they’re putting on weight because they’re so depressed and they they’re not motivated to get out there and do things. So now they’ve put on weight brings on these other physical health issues so they are very much a part… And you can be the happiest person on, sorry the healthiest person on the planet, but if you’re not happy or there’s something going on in your life that’s sort of playing on your mind, you’re not the complete health picture. So I do think they do go hand in hand and I really think optimal health is not just a physical state of being but it’s also an emotional state of being. And I know that sounds really esoterical but again it goes back to if you think of the time when you were your most healthiest, I bet it correlates with the time when you were your most happiest.

Anthony: Yeah. Absolutely. Question, how would you treat that with diet?

Kris: Well, stress like I was saying, often we indulge in food that is calming and soothing but those foods are the very negative things that we should be eating such as chocolate or a big tub of ice-cream or all the cliché things we have when we’re stressed or a bottle of wine or something like that. So what happens when we, our body experiences stress, which is generally an emotional reaction to something, you just, you go, you can almost see people hold their head and say, “Oh my God! I’m so stressed.” And their breathing becomes accelerated and then that’s when the physiological responses set in. It’s like this “fight or flight” response that we have and generally it’s an in-built mechanism to prepare us to fight. “Okay, well you’re stressed, there’s obviously a fight coming on, let’s prepare the body to fight.” So you have all these hormones released and your heart rate goes up and your body will take…internal functions like digestion and things like that will sort of slow down to put the…all your resources towards fighting. But generally what happens, we actually don’t fight. We just sit in our chair and contemplate and procrastinate. So we’ve got all this energy ready to be burned, to fight, but no, we do nothing with it. It just sits there and accumulates and then all of a sudden we put sugar in the system and that just heightens all this effective stress even further. And so it goes nowhere and when, because all of our digestive mechanisms are a little bit reserved because we’re ready to fight, a lot of that sugar, it becomes fat because that’s the [inaudible 00:29:28] for your body. And so we start, and look, I’m explaining this in a very simplistic way for the general listener to understand but it’s this stress response that causes a lot of people to put on weight.

Anthony: A lot of damage. I wonder if, rather than reaching for the packet of Tim Tams, what would you suggest people should reach for?

Kris: I’d say go for a run, go for a walk, get fresh air. Your body’s ready to do that. It’s primed and nothing will clear the head than a bit of fresh air. I’d say do that rather than put anything in your body that… Or, if you do want to have something sweet and something soothing, go for an orange or an orange juice and that will calm you down as well. But I definitely would say use all that energy that your body’s just produced for you, for good.

Anthony: Go for a walk around the block.

Kris: Go for a walk around the block, clear the head and even if you’re in an office, just say, “I just need a bit of stress time, a time out for stress.” And have a punching bag or something in the corner and give it a good box or whatever is going to just help you deal with that situation. But to sit down and consume a tub of ice-cream is not helping. It’s exasperating.

Anthony: No, that wouldn’t help.

Kris: Yeah. But unfortunately that’s a lot of the issues that we face with stress because stress puts such a “fight or flight” response on our body, nine times out of ten we don’t fight. We don’t use that to fight, we use it to eat ourselves, or beat ourselves up and…

Anthony: Sit a little bit lower in the lounge.

Kris: Yeah, that’s right, and get the remote and settle in.

Anthony: And you make me think about, you’re making me think a whole lot about triggers they say, “Stop eating when you feel full.” But it might be we recognize we’ve got a cold when we start to have a runny nose, you know. Maybe some of those depression or mental health symptoms or triggers are there as well but we’re just not tuned into them and people don’t really, really think about those in that manner.

Kris: Yeah. And look, it’s funny, food gives so much pleasure and it sets off so many like your serotonin triggers and things like that. So, and sometimes depression is, this is going quite deep now, is a lack of zinc in your body which is a precursor to tryptophan which helps your serotonin. So again some of these mental illnesses are a result of your health and your diet and things like that. So it’s very integrated and the pleasure you get from certain foods and often those foods are high in sugar because sugar has a very, very calming effect on the mind. They’re the foods that you automatically reach out to when you’re stressed and to be honest, it’s the last thing your body needs.

Anthony: You’ve just given a really practical application of food working to help, I guess, mental health. Are there any other practical applications that come to mind that personal trainers or even the fitness enthusiasts, who may or may not compete, could apply in their nutrition?

Kris: Oh man, there’s so much. I think, just again, it goes back to trying to eat a really colorful wholesome diet. That’s how simple it is. And again, it goes back to starting your day with a really solid meal. The other thing I would say that does get lost in translation a lot is, “Every meal, have protein.” We’ve got this, “I don’t eat red meat because it doesn’t agree with me.” But it doesn’t mean that when I smell bacon being cooked that I just don’t start salivating.

Anthony: Yeah.

Kris: But I just feel that people sometimes see protein or fat as the enemy and I would definitely say every meal, protein and fat must be included.

Anthony: Yeah, I see.

Kris: Yeah. So, and we tend to forget about that or we think, “I want to lose weight. I’m just going to have a salad.” But you know what, if you want to lose fat, as opposed to lean muscle, include those proteins. And proteins fill you up and proteins…when I say proteins, it could be nuts, it could be seeds, it could be fish or lean cuts of meat. I’m not referring to bacon or a sausage or something like that, I’m actually talking about good proteins. So, yeah. And that’s, I think, for any aspiring PT or nutritionist out there when you’re dealing with people who want to lose weight, is just ensure that you don’t take away good groups of foods like a protein, like a fat.

Anthony: Yeah, interesting.

Kris: Yeah.

Anthony: I wonder about, there’s a lot of talk about good fats and I wonder if there’s certain groups of foods that fuel courage as opposed to unhealthy foods fueling apathy and I just wonder, in talking to you, will there ever be a book written someday about the brain cleanse diet as opposed to the liver cleanse diet?

Kris: Yeah.

Anthony: Is there certain foods that you think help fuel or clean up the mind?

Kris: Well, you know what, this is a really good question and I love it, foods that fuel courage as opposed to apathy. Foods that actually cause you apathy are your high sugar foods, believe it or not, because you do have this instant rush of energy but then your body has to fight extra hard to bring it back to normalization and because it’s then fought so hard, it goes below normal to this apathy. It’s like when you’ve had a big meal and all of a sudden afterwards you feel like you need to sleep. That’s your body’s just going overtime, like, “I’ve got to put so much energy into digesting this and getting my body back to normal, you just have to relax and sleep while I do that.”

Anthony: Absolutely.

Kris: But the things that fuel courage or things for your min…obviously Omega 3 fats are amazing, anything around…because that’s…your brain is composed of a lot of fats so you do want to have foods like coconut oil is awesome, any fish like your salmons and things like that are really good, avocado, nuts again. But one thing that’s, they’re finding, and I was pretty happy with this research actually, that coffee is a really good…it brings clarity and it brings focus and there’s links to coffee and Alzheimer’s and things like that now showing that it has a beneficial effect on Alzheimer’s and that sort of thing, but coffee really does bring clarity and focus. And when I say coffee, again, I’m not talking about your sugar-fueled triple espresso with full cream or anything like that. I’m actually just talking like a cup of long black or something that’s not sugared.

Anthony: A neat shot.

Kris: Yeah. Yeah, it will, it does bring focus and, but again things that make you feel good are going to give you that little skip in your step anyway.

Anthony: Yeah, interesting. I wonder, what does a typical day’s eating look like for you?

Kris: Look, I do have a very typical diet, occasionally I mix it up a bit particularly if I’m travelling, I do travel with work. But breakfast… So normally when I get up, I exercise first thing in the morning and my little sneaky trick is that’s when I have my coffee just before I exercise because it does help release your pre-fatty acids so you get straight into your fat burning mode a lot quicker and plus it wakes you up. So, and I take classes in the morning so it’s always good to be focused and alert. So I have a coffee and again, any, some people in their health and wellness field might say, “What? That’s not the best start to your day.” and I can also appreciate their opinion, but you asked me what my typical day is like and this is what it’s like. So we’ll have a coffee then I’ll go and have a workout, then I’ll come home and mind you, when I’m working out I’ll have at least two liters of water. Then I’ll come home and I generally then have an apple cider vinegar shot.

Anthony: Yes.

Kris: And that’s really good, liver enzyme stimulating. Apple cider vinegar is awesome and that’s one of the things I’ve been doing since I was 13. And then I’ll have breakfast and breakfast can be, sometimes if I’m feeling industrious I’ll make a batch of muffins on the weekend and when I… Muffins, they’re, again, the recipe’s on my blog but I generally use oatmeal. We’ve got chickens in our backyard so I then put in fresh, four fresh eggs and ten dates, Medjool dates, and that gives it a little bit of fiber and sweetness, banana for sweetness and for stickiness and then whatever else, like I might grate a carrot or pears or put chia seeds in or anything like that and just, and then I might have one of those or I’ll have eggs with spinach and mushrooms, I might make a smoothie with coconut water. I don’t have a lot dairy, I’ll have cheese but I don’t have, milk just makes me feel blah.

Anthony: Yeah.

Kris: So that’s pretty much breakfast and that’s…that really does fill me up to lunch and then lunch can be… I like to have a salad a day and so generally lunch is a big salad for me or I’m travelling and I’m at a resort…like I still work in the spa industry as well. It could be beautiful spa cuisine or something like that. I’ll have a lot of raw food because I just love it. Then mid-afternoon, that’s when I might, again, I make protein balls and I might have a little sneaky protein ball or might, fruit, might have a fresh juice and then dinner, because I’ve got a family and they need a good meal, I don’t have a tiny little meal, again, I generally have a good sized meal and that can be, oh anything. But there’s always protein and vegetables and a carbohydrate. So, and we just vary that up and there’s lots of things you can do around that. So, one of the things that we all love in our house is we do a salmon and then I do an avocado salsa that goes with the salmon. We get a nice crusty loaf of bread and we dip it in olive oil and a massive beet salad.

Anthony: Sounds delicious to me.

Kris: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s really easy, like it’s fast food but, yeah, I’m not big on packet food. Yeah. And then we might, I always have a little bit of dark chocolate or something or a cup of tea with liquorice or something like that, that’s a little bit sweet, I don’t know, but I just like to have that last little sweet thing in my mouth before I go to bed. It’s just a habit and if there was one thing I could clean up out of my diet it would be that. But then I’m not… People will look at that and go, “Oh my God, that sounds so bland.” But I really like to flavor things with fresh herbs and use lots of different vinegars for my salad dressing and good oils and we’ll spend money on good olive oil and that sort of thing because they’re really important to us.

Anthony: I really value flavor myself, you know. I…

Kris: Yeah.

Anthony: One of the reasons I abandoned certain diets is because of the lack of flavor. It’s…

Kris: Yeah.

Anthony: Yeah, interesting.

Kris: Yup.

Anthony: Thank you for your time today. As a last question, where can people go to find out more about your work and health practice?

Kris: Well, they can go to krisabbey.com and there’s quite a lot of information there or if they’re more interested in the spa and wellness side of things, it’s spaandwellnessinternational.com.

Anthony: Sounds like you’ve got some yummy recipes out there for people. I might put a…

Kris: Absolutely.

Anthony: I’ll put a link in the show notes to get people across there and what about on the social media site?

Kris: @spagirlkris.

Anthony: Wonderful. All right Kris. Well thank you very much again for your time. Thanks for being on the FitBits.com podcast.

Kris: Thanks for having me, Ant.

Anthony: It’s a pleasure.

Kris: All right. Take care.

Anthony: Bye.

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