Earlier this year, I did my first visit to a wellness retreat since COVID put a halt to travel, especially the kind that required a passport! I’ll be honest, I had let several good habits slip away to be replaced by bad. I needed to break the cycle. So, now with the ability to travel abroad again, I set off to Thailand to stay at Amatara Welleisure Retreat to start to undo the COVID Damage.
One of the first things that happens when you arrive at a wellness retreat, certainly at Amatara Welleisure, is you have a consultation with one of the wellness experts. During the consultation they perform a variety of tests to determine your state of health, your biological profile as well as chat about diet, stress, lifestyle and other factors that can’t easily be measured.
I’m never too phased by this as I usually have a biological age (how old your body appears) well below my chronological age (your age).
But then there was COVID.
And for the first time ever, both age determinants were extremely similar… OK, they were the same! I felt the blood drain from my face!
Can I just say, seeing that result in black and white was a real ‘come to Jesus’ moment for me! You think the odd bit of this here and a little bit of that there, doesn’t have an impact. It does. And depending what it is, can mean a negative or positive impact.
I needed to break cycle I had got myself into… the wine at night (just one, sometimes two), the more frequent snacks of chocolate (a treat turned into my day is not complete without you) and less frequent sessions at the gym (I’m still doing my cycling, so that’s something).
It’s funny what we will tell ourselves, to justify or to feel better about ourselves, in the face of something we know isn’t good for us!
In that moment – seeing my two ages side-by-side – the SAME, made me draw the line in the sand and commit (to myself) to be better.
I know, many people have a biological age much older than their chronological age, but I don’t want to be that person… and this news was shocking to me. I’ve always been really healthy. Seriously, I’ve paved my career out of health and wellness, even written books on the topic. I know the deal. The hacks. And what it feels like to be totally well.
Dr Jitu, what’s our plan?
For me (and likely, many middle aged women) it boiled down to two things I could do that would make a big difference:
- Have more protein in my diet
- Include more strength (or resistance training) in my exercise routine
I knew that, but it’s always more convincing when you hear it from someone who has Dr in front of their name.
Armed with a program for the next 10 days – one filled with good food, gym sessions, spa treatments and several workshops, I was suitably motivated. The two (just two) things I needed to change, more protein and to do more strength training (the non-negotiables) were interwoven as well.
The Nuts & Bolts of Protein
After water, our body is mostly composed of protein – it is the main component of cells and are essential to life. So it stands to reason, that protein is an essential part of our diet and we need to eat a variety of foods that contain protein.
Protein rich foods include flesh foods (poultry, beef, lamb and fish), eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes (beans and lentils) and some grains. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you will need to get your protein from plant sources. And as we now know, plant sources are highly nutritious and less toxic on your body.
When protein is digested, it is broken down into amino acids, which are chemically linked to each other by peptide bonds. There are about 20 different amino acids that can be put together in different combinations to make up the millions of proteins found in nature. The two broad classes of amino acids are those that can be made by the body (non-essential amino acids) and those that must be supplied through your diet (essential amino acids).
Why More Protein
To keep things simple, protein is an important component of every cell in the body. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is also an important constituent of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore has no reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply. Which is why I always recommend you eat protein at every meal.
Here’s the kicker, as you age your ability to make non-essential amino acids declines. What’s more, at around 50 years of age you will begin to gradually lose skeletal muscle. This loss is known as sarcopenia, and is common in the elderly. It is also worsened by chronic illness, poor diet or inactivity. Increasing the amount of protein you eat to the upper end of the RDI range, as well as weight bearing exercise, can help maintain muscle mass and strength. This is vital for your ability to stay mobile and reduces your risk of injury. Not to mention, reduces your biological age!
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, only 14% of Australian’s over 55 are getting enough protein!
To maintain muscle and all the wonderful things having muscles allows us to do, is to exercise the muscle (resistance training) and include good sources of protein in your diet. There is plenty of research suggesting diets where red meat is the primary protein source and/or eaten in excess have a higher prevalence of bowel cancer. I am not suggesting you forgo the odd meal containing lean red meat, not at all… I’m just suggesting you look at all the protein sources available to you. Likewise, some of the ‘fake meat’ vegan options are unhealthy and full of cancer causing chemicals!
Be smart, choose the best protein option for your health. How lucky are we to have so many good quality options? Remember, your body will not store protein, so you need to ensure you eat protein at every meal or supplement between meals. Not only will it help you retain muscle mass, strength and meet cellular needs, it will also ensure you keep a nice healthy metabolism. While our energy needs might decrease as we age, our needs for protein increase. If you want to age well and strong, keep your protein intake up. It is that simple! Get creative with how you do this. There is so much more available to you than meat and three veg!
Gaining Back the Years
While I was at Amatara, I was having a protein smoothies as snacks between meals or just after I exercised. It was usually a pea protein and I would have in coconut water with berries or other tropical fruits. It was easy on my gut and quite delicious. It was a great combination of protein, antioxidants and fibre.
I stuck to the program set by Dr Jitu – weight trained every other day, even had a wine on three nights of the 10. To be totally truthful, the two big changes (more protein and more resistance training), weren’t that big of an adjustment for me, yet they made a huge difference.
On my final day, I had a follow-up wellness consultation with Dr Jitu. The same tests were completed and the result… exceeded expectation. My biological age had dropped by 2 years, body fat down, muscle mass up… in just 10 days.
Two Years in 10 Days.
Seeing the result was all I needed to make this the new norm and have the motivation to continue back at home. In the real world, with life swirling around.
So, if you want to maintain your longevity it can really come down to two very simple things, easy to do and available to everyone… exercise which includes Strength Training (muscle enhances your biological age) and ensure you are eating enough protein (vital for muscle growth and maintenance).
Back in the Real World Hack
I can recommend KAILO NUTRITION. I start my day with KAILO NUTRITION – Feel Well. It get’s my digestive enzymes going as well putting protein in my body to start the day. After lunch or exercise, I enjoy the Look Well (it definitely conquers any 3pm slump) and end my day with the delicious chocolate Sleep Well. The Sleep Well formula not only has calming herbs, the chocolate flavour has kept me from slipping back into my nightly chocolate snack habit I had formed.
I’ve even created some recipes with the Look Well formula to turn the smoothies I create into something more filling, which sometimes becomes a meal. Although it should be noted that KAILO NUTRITION isn’t intended to be a meal replacement, rather to make up the short-fall of nutrients you don’t get when you’re busy.
I also have a mat and dumb bells set up in my office. They are a constant reminder to lift weights. And there is nothing like having them stare me in the face and motivate me to exercise when I’ve been at the computer too long!
Six months post Amatara Welleisure, I have continued on the path, albeit adapted ever so slightly to my lifestyle (not having a chef, Spa or trainer at the ready) and I am happy to say I’m continuing getting younger!
WHY I CHOOSE KAILO NUTRITION? Besides being well-researched, Aussie made and really tasty, I like products that give you more bang for your buck! KAILO NUTRITION (Feel Well, Look Well and Sleep Well) contains high amounts of Collagen, as well as vitamins and minerals recommended for healthy aging plus well-researched herbs. Other goodies include fibre, prebiotics, chia seed flour, goji berries and Camu Camu. You are actually getting a lot more than protein, you’re getting really valuable nutrients your body needs as you age.
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