Archive for June, 2019

Oh Anxiety- Thou art a heartless bitch!

Posted by Amy Aquilini

Anxiety is becoming so much more prevalent in the world each year – is it because life in the 21st century is lived at a speed so fast, not even the cheetahs can keep up? – you know… because cheetahs are really fast!

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, one in four people, being one in three women and one in five men, will experience anxiety at some stage in their life. In a 12 month period, over two million Australians experience anxiety.

Anxiety is a common factor in life these days, but the sooner people with anxiety get support and learn to deal with the disorder, the more likely they are to leave it in the past.

If you suffer from anxiety disorder, it’s important to remember you are not alone. There are services, health care professionals and online support tools available to help those that suffer from a anxiety disorder. The first step is to get a proper diagnosis. Discussing these issues with a doctor can help you in taking this first step.

The treatments for anxiety that work for you depend both on you and the type and severity of anxiety disorder you have. Mild anxiety may be helped by making lifestyle changes (diet, people/situations that occur in your life), whereas more severe cases may require medication – On that note, I will tell you that twice in my life I have required antidepressants to help me deal with my own life at that particular time. Once was from a break-up that ruined my life for years and the second time was when I was pregnant with my second child and had a lot of family issues happening.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) involves working towards changing any problematic thinking patterns that are causing anxiety. Behaviour therapy is a component of CBT and includes ‘desensitisation’, a method of slowly and safely exposing you to feared situations to reduce the anxiety that comes with them.

Breathing and relaxation techniques are especially important for physical symptoms, and deep breathing exercises can stop panic attacks effectively. Mindfulness and other types of meditation are also helpful for anxiety management.

Exercising – even a 10-minute short walk – can help to improve how you feel and may make you feel less tired. Exercise helps boost your levels of serotonin – these are ‘feel good’ hormones. Try a brisk walk every day if you do not feel ready to undertake a rigorous exercise regime. Try to get involved in activities and pastimes you previously enjoyed – even if you don’t feel like it.

There may be small tasks in the house or garden that you can do. Tackling small tasks that you have been avoiding for years may help you to feel better about yourself.

Caffeine can increase anxiety in some people. It can alter your sleep patterns so you are not fully rested. It also speeds up your heartbeat, which can make anxiety worse. Try to reduce the amount of caffeine in your diet. Cutting back on tea and coffee and replacing them with water or fruit juices can help. Avoiding caffeine products, like chocolate, cola or energy drinks after 4pm may help you feel more relaxed when you want to go to sleep.

Treatment for anxiety can take time, and a good support network makes the process easier. But letting go of and recovering from anxiety is achievable.

Online tools may be suitable if you have mild to moderate anxiety. There is a range of different programs, most of which are backed up by phone, email, text or web chat support from a mental health specialist. These online therapies can be particularly helpful if you are living in a rural and remote area where access to health professionals may be more difficult.

It’s a frustrating routine: Your mind starts racing as soon as your head hits the pillow. You’re thinking about your to-do list, that thing you should (or shouldn’t) have said to your boss, or how expensive your child’s braces are going to be. Then you catch a glimpse of the clock, and realize how late it already is.

At some point it’s hard to tell whether you’re having trouble sleeping because you’re anxious, or you’re anxious because you can’t sleep. The answer may be both. It’s a two-way street: Stress and anxiety can cause sleeping problems, or worsen existing ones. But lack of sleep can also cause an anxiety disorder.

Still not sleeping? If you think that you might have more serious sleep problems, clinical anxiety, or clinical depression, talk to your doctor. A specialist can help you find a treatment plan, so you can manage your symptoms and get the sleep you need.

Julia Christina is from Vancouver, Canada. You can follow Julia Christina on YouTube or her blog at https://juliakristina.com/blog/ or on any social media platform – @juliacounsellor

Julia Holds an MA in Counselling Psychology and is a Registered Clinical Counsellor.

At any time, if you feel that you may harm yourself or have thoughts of suicide, talk to family or friends and inform your doctor as a matter of urgency. You can ring a phone service such as Lifeline 13 11 14, available 24 hours a day. If you are the loved one or carer, dial triple zero (000).

Aquo Xx

Hiho hiho It’s off to work he goes…

Posted by Amy Aquilini

As many of you know – The cane harvest season starts this Tuesday 15/06/2019 and as such, I have decided to drop back to posting only every Friday. In doing so, the quality of my content will not lessen. I’m doing this so I can devote a lot more time to my boys & because for the next 5 odd months, I become a single parent. Meaning, if I want things done at home, I do it, and I’m OK with that!

A-Z of Pregnancy

Posted by Amy Aquilini

A-nkles – Swelling is a normal part of pregnancy that is caused by blood and fluid. Normal swelling, which is also called edema, is quite common in the ankles.

B-ladder – Train your bladder to behave. Urinate every 30 minutes, before you have the urge, and then try to extend the time between trips to the bathroom each day.

C-affeine – Caffeine should be limited to less than 200mg a day once a woman falls pregnant. This is equal to about one 12 oz cup of coffee.

D-iet – During pregnancy you need more iron because the volume of your blood increases and your baby’s blood is also developing. For an iron rich diet, include at least two serves of meat, chicken, fish, legumes or nuts every day. eat wholegrain breads, cereals and green leafy vegetables regularly.

E-ndorphins – You may have higher levels of endorphins near the end of pregnancy. For women who don’t use pain medication during labour, the level of endorphins continues to rise steadily and steeply through the birth of the baby.

F-olic acid – Taking a prenatal vitamin with the recommended 400 micro-grams (mcg) of folic acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of your baby’s brain and spinal cord.

G-ynecologist – A trained practitioner who’s had post-medical school training in only women’s reproductive and general health. They are the practitioners that deal with high risk patients, multiple births, etc.

H-umidifier – If you have the flu during pregnancy, you can treat yourself effectively at home by investing in a humidifier.

I-mmunity – the immune system is lowered slightly during pregnancy, making pregnant women more susceptible to coughs, colds and flu.

J-aundice – Mild jaundice occurs in about 60% of full-term newborn babies, and in up to 80% of premature babies. You’re most likely to notice it from the third day after birth. Jaundice is usually harmless and disappears after 1 to 2 weeks.

K-egel exercises – Pregnant women who perform Kegel exercises often find they have an easier birth. Strengthening these muscles during pregnancy can help you develop the ability to control your muscles during labor and delivery.

L-ifestyle changes – Healthy lifestyle changes pregnant women should make during pregnancy include eating energy-giving foods, body-building foods and protective foods. They should avoid foods that are more likely to contain harmful pathogens (e.g. processed meats). Alcohol and caffeine may affect foetal development and should also be avoided.

M-idwife – A midwife is a health professional trained to support and care for women during pregnancy, labour and birth. They help you to stay healthy in pregnancy and, if no complications arise, to give birth with little intervention. Midwives also care for you and your baby in the first few weeks following the birth.

N-utrition – Good nutrition during pregnancy can help to keep you and your developing baby healthy. The need for certain nutrients, such as iron, iodine and folate, is increased at this time. However, pregnant women may need supplements of particular vitamins or minerals. Consult your doctor before taking supplements.

O-rgans – To make space for a growing baby, our organs move during pregnancy and they move again after birth. It all starts with the uterus which enlarges and pushes out of the pelvic cavity. Eventually, the body rearranges vital organs such as the stomach, liver and intestines.

P-lacenta – The placenta is an organ that develops in your uterus during pregnancy. This structure provides oxygen and nutrients to your growing baby and removes waste products from your baby’s blood. The placenta attaches to the wall of your uterus, and your baby’s umbilical cord leads from it.

Q-uestions – It is important that you feel well-informed about your antenatal care and have accurate expectations about what will happen when you go into labour. You should always ask your obstetrician or midwife any questions you may have throughout your pregnancy regardless of how silly you think they are.

R-est – Your sleep isn’t as deep and refreshing as usual, and you’ll wake more often throughout the night. You need more than usual – as much as you can get. Resting during pregnancy is needed more than usual as you are growing another life-form inside you.

S-leep – The best sleep position during pregnancy is “SOS” (sleep on side). Even better is to sleep on your left side. Sleeping on your left side will increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby. Keep your legs and knees bent, and put a pillow between your legs.

T-oiletries – Your toiletry bag for after you give birth should include nicer products than you would usually use including  body wash, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, deodorant, and your favourite perfume.

U-ltrasound – Ultrasound is used during pregnancy to check the baby’s development, the presence of a multiple pregnancy and to help pick up any abnormalities. The ultrasound scan isn’t 100 per cent accurate, but the advantages of the test are that it’s non-invasive, painless and safe for both mother and unborn baby.

V-itamins – Prenatal vitamins are multivitamins that are specially formulated to meet the increased demand for micronutrients during pregnancy. They are intended to be taken before conception and during pregnancy and lactation. Since prenatal vitamins contain the vitamins and minerals that pregnant women need, taking additional vitamin or mineral supplements may not be necessary unless suggested by your doctor. Prenatal vitamins are often prescribed by doctors and also available over-the-counter.

W-ater – Your recommended daily water intake is higher during pregnancy but really varies based on your body type and size, how active you are, and so on, the general rule of thumb is somewhere between eight and ten 8-ounce glasses of water a day.

X-rated fun – Not running a business time schedule when trying to fall pregnant is more times than not more effective. Those that have more fun in the bedroom when trying also may experience less tension in their relationships.

Y-oga – If you’re attending a regular yoga class, be sure to tell the instructor you’re pregnant, and which trimester you’re in. Don’t do any poses on your back after the first trimester – they can reduce blood flow to the uterus.

Z-ygote – A zygote is the union of the sperm cell and the egg cell. Also known as a fertilized ovum, the zygote begins as a single cell but divides rapidly in the days following fertilization.

There you have it, my A-Z list of pregnancy. It was fun composing this list and the different resources I used to research the information used in this list.

Aquo Xx

The science of sleep…

Posted by Amy Aquilini

I have been studying sleep for a while as after my accident, I would get very little, interrupted, chaotic sleep. I had the hardest time ever falling asleep! I would get very little blocks of sleep throughout the night and would sleep most of the day. Unless somebody was home, I didn’t eat because of how much effort it took to make something and how far away my bedroom was from the kitchen. Ice-cream became my best friend – Sara Lee Rocky Road to be exact!

I learnt that while you are asleep, your brain and some body parts are in overdrive. When you watch people sleep, they look peaceful – unless you have a two year old and a six week old and you pretty much awake 24/7. But underneath that calm exterior, the brain and some other body parts are hard at work.

Once our neurons tell our bodies that it’s time to go to sleep, we pass through four stages until we are in a deep sleep.

Our brains are on overdrive during sleep, as it clears itself of toxic byproducts that naturally accumulate throughout the day. Many neurological diseases are associated with a lack of sleep, because when you don’t get your sleep, your brain doesn’t have this chance to clean itself – it’s like a robo vacuum in a way!

We tend to think of sleep as a time when the mind and body shut down. But it is the complete opposite; sleep is an active period where a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening happens – That’s why sleep was such an important part of my recovery, when I slept, my brain was healing itself.

Overnight, bits and pieces of information are transferred from more tentative, short-term memory to stronger, long-term memory—a process called “consolidation.” Researchers have also shown that after people sleep, they tend to retain information and perform better on memory tasks. Our bodies all require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesise hormones.

Healthy sleep is critical for everyone, since we all need to retain information and learn skills to thrive in life. But this is likely part of the reason children—who acquire language, social, and motor skills at a breathtaking pace throughout their development—need more sleep than adults. While adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, one-year-olds need roughly 11 to 14 hours, I’m lucky with my 2 year-old, he sleeps from 12-14 hours at night! The baby however – not so much! During these critical periods of growth and learning, younger people need more sleep for optimal development and alertness. So when the hell will the baby sleep more?!

Unfortunately, we can’t just accumulate sleep deprivation and then log many hours of sleep to make up for it (although paying back “sleep debt” is always a good idea if you’re sleep deprived). The best sleep habits are consistent, healthy routines that allow all of us, regardless of our age, to meet our sleep needs every night, and keep on top of life’s challenges every day.

Poor sleep is linked to weight gain – the reason my ass is growing at a rapid pace at the moment! Gosh I can’t wait for the baby to start sleeping better – I need to get back to training again! A lack of sleep is actually one of the main causes of obesity. In one extensive review study, children and adults with short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to become obese.

Studies show that sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories. Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation. This includes higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite.

Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function. This includes cognition, concentration, productivity and performance. All of these are negatively affected by sleep deprivation – That’s why us new mums walk around like freaking zombies! A study found that short sleep can negatively impact some aspects of brain function to a similar degree as when we are drunk.

Good sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and enhance memory performance of both children and adults. So when the baby starts sleeping through I’m praying to the big man upstairs that my brain will strengthen again and it will start to function like a boss!

Sleep has been shown to enhance athletic performance. In a study on basketball players, longer sleep was shown to significantly improve speed, accuracy, reaction times and mental well-being.

Less sleep duration has also been associated with poor exercise performance and functional limitation in elderly women. A study in over 2,800 women found that poor sleep was linked to slower walking, lower grip strength and greater difficulty performing independent activities – This is why my ass is growing at a rapid pace! I worked so hard after my first baby to become fit, healthy and athletic. After having second bub, I was smaller than what I was when I fell pregnant with him – but now, lack of sleep has got me getting all large again!

I’m not happy in myself.

Weeks before second bub came along I was supposed to get out all my plans & info Jaydon (my trainer) had put together for me – yeah that didn’t happen! I just need to sit down, start our meal plans, go back to not having certain things in the house, set some pretty strict guide lines when it comes to food & drink, write out in my diary when I will be exercising – this way, no matter how tired I am, I will do it. I lost over 30kg last time! I can do it again! Another 10kg and become fit again.

My true inspiration are these awesome people! Queenslanders Sharny & Julius! Fitmum & Fitdad. I work out our own diet etc. but follow these guys for inspiration and they really kept me on track last time, I’m hoping they will this time too!

It’s known that sleep quality and duration can have a major effect on many health risk factors. These are the factors believed to drive chronic diseases, including heart disease. A review of 15 studies found that people who don’t get enough sleep are at far greater risk of heart disease or stroke than those who sleep 7–8 hours per night.

Experimental sleep restriction affects blood sugar and reduces insulin sensitivity. In a study in healthy young men, restricting sleep to four hours per night for six nights in a row caused symptoms of prediabetes. I am mega concerned about my husband. He sleeps very little as he’s always stressing or worrying about something. I would love for him to join me on my fitness journey this time – but, I can’t see it happening.

Poor sleep habits are also strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar in the general population. Those sleeping less than six hours per night have repeatedly been shown to be at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Mental health issues, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders. It has been estimated that 90% of people with depression complain about sleep quality. Poor sleep is even associated with an increased risk of death by suicide. Those with sleeping disorders like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also report significantly higher rates of depression than those without.

Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function. One large two-week study monitored the development of the common cold after giving people nasal drops with a cold. They found that those who slept less than seven hours were almost three times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept eight hours or more. If you often get colds, ensuring that you get at least eight hours of sleep per night could be very helpful.

Studies show that sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories. Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation. This includes higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced levels ofleptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite.

Sleep can have a major effect on inflammation in your body. In fact, sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage. Poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, in disorders known as inflammatory bowel diseases. One study observed that sleep-deprived people with Crohn’s disease were twice as likely to relapse as patients who slept well. Researchers are even recommending sleep evaluation to help predict outcomes in individuals with long-term inflammatory issues.

Sleep loss reduces your ability to interact socially. Several studies confirmed this using emotional facial recognition tests.

One study found that people who had not slept had a reduced ability to recognise expressions of anger and happiness. Researchers believe that poor sleep affects your ability to recognise important social cues and process emotional information.

Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health.

You simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.

I really need to get my head back in the game! but not to just start exercising again, to go in 150% guns blazing, full hog healthier lifestyle! Force myself and get up everyday and do it for myself, to regain my confidence and boost my energy levels.

Truth is – at the moment I’m tired. Every night when I sit down for dinner I look at my plate and feel physically sick. I’m tired to the point of exhaustion but my days not over yet. I still have to clean up after dinner, possibly put the washing on and go for a bath – god it’s hard to force myself into the shower!

Aquo Xx

My love of cooking

Posted by Amy Aquilini

Since I was a little girl, I have loved being in the kitchen cooking up a storm. I loved going to cooking bees with mum or being involved in a big cook up at home. At nine years of age, I could prep and cook dinner for our family (6 of us). Still to this day, there’s nothing I love more than planning a cooking day at home, especially now I have a Thermomix AND a Bread Maker!

I love planning a cook up – planning what I’m going to make, in what order, what ingredients I already have at home and the ingredients I have to buy. I love grocery shopping these days, all hail click & collect! – Find a park, go in, walk to the front desk, sign and collect your trolley full of your shop, push trolley out, pack groceries into car – Done! In record breaking time!

Before I start, I get out every kitchen tool out and I wash up as I go. Having a clean work space makes you so much more productive! I find being as organised lets you fit more in to your day. I recently went and had a cook-up day at my mother-in-law’s and because I didn’t know were anything was, I only had time to make 3 of the six dishes (in 8 hours!)

I love how still to this day, mum and dad praise my cooking. I have never been afraid of experimenting with different flavours and I’m always looking at how I can improve my favourites, or anything I cook really.

Once I had my first child, I was always looking at what baby food I could make him. He ate from three months, and I mean he ate anything and everything! Pea & pear, pumpkin & sweet potato, apple & raspberry – just to name a few. I always said “your not going to be as fussy as your father!” Still to this day, he eats very minimal processed anything, I make him different snacks and he LOVES his veggies & fruit – at 2 years of age!

About 6 months ago my husband and I got a Thermomix, it legit changed my life! It’s worth every penny. It saves me up to $70 a fortnight shopping as I make most of the basics myself. Things like like bread, rice flour, pizza dough, spaghetti, you name it!

I make a mean spaghetti sauce, curried sausages, greek style baked fish (omfg!!!), banana bread, salmon, dill & caper pasta, quiche (which I make & freeze for my boys’ lunch), weetbix slice, choc chip muffin’s chocolate cookies and rocky road – just to name a few. My newest craze is Woolworths mudcake hacks! A cake that tastes amazing, chop the top off, add some prities & call it your own! win win!

I’ve started to pass my recipe book around to family members for them to write their winning recipes in, that way once their gone I will still be able to have my favourite foods.

If you enjoy an activity, make time in this busy world to do it! There is nothing I love more than a big cooking day! To make lunch snacks, dinners, the basics

Aquo Xx

Aquo’s Bucket List

Posted by Amy Aquilini

OK… so I hope you have an hour or two to read through this post – it may take a while. Many of these things I planned on doing before my accident, but never got around to doing it. This list was composed by jotting down the first thing that came to mind, so it’s in no particular order:-

Skydiving – I have always wanted to go skydiving, ever since I saw Point Break way back in ’42’, well… maybe not that long ago – but you get my point! I was planning of jumping at Mission Beach for my 21st birthday, mum drove me to the place you go to sign up, I was all ready to go when the wind blew up to the point where the planes wouldn’t go up. It was the biggest let down! but that night black Sambucca helped dissolve that memory, if only for a short time. 

 Travelling – So this may take a while – there is a lot of travel I want to do! My number one travel goal is to see snow, not just the paper crap they have when you go to get your Santa photos at the ‘North Pole’ at the end of the year, but full on freeze your ass off, wet & slippery – SNOW! Ever since I was a kid I have wanted to go see snow, dad has always talked about going to Canada to see one of my grandmother’s pen pals that dad hasn’t seen since he was a wee lad. It would have been awesome to go on an overseas trip together (were really close) but as far as we have gotten is South Mole Island when I was grade 6 or 7. 

Since my accident, I have wanted to travel to different parts of Australia to experience as much of our wonderful country as I can. I’d especially like to experience the Northern Territory. My husband, myself and our two boys struggle so bad with the heat in North Queensland – so lets just agree that we will have to go in the cooler months! Ayers Rock, Berry Springs Nature Park, Finke Gorge National Park, pretty much explore as much of Alice Springs as possible!

Click here to visit the Northern Territory

Grow a successful blog & making a living out of writing – My idea for starting this blog came early on after my accident knowing I couldn’t work again due to my fatigue, along with other factors. Now, two kids later, and a disability the only way I will ever be able to return to the workforce is if I work for the family business (agricultural). I’m really enjoying writing, I would love to study journalism or something like that, to further my knowledge in the field.

Achieve my body goals – Between giving birth to both children, I started working away to achieve my body goals and I got there (a fit size 12), but then – I fell pregnant again. This time I had so much more of a healthier pregnancy all round and at 5 weeks postpartum I’m a size 14 so I was pretty much all baby. I would love to tighten everything up, get fit again and get back down to a size 12. Once I have achieved that I would love a mummy makeover – the mummy makeover is a maybe… but my fitness goal is a must. I’m really bummed that I can’t find my before photos, when I first started my fitness journey. I am so grateful that my trainer Jaydon helped me to reach my fitness goals I had for 2018, I was able to train for 1/3 of my second pregnancy. Jaydon is the founder of Tweak Fitness.

Click here to visit Tweak Fitness – the page directs you to Tully as Jaydon no longer runs the Ingham branch.

Play soccer again – Since primary school I have played social soccer on and off till right up to my accident. I would love to get back to being fit enough to play again. I loved standing on the field with my friends playing soccer and talking… mostly talking haha!

Make a difference in someone’s life – I would love to be the reason that helps change someone’s life for the better, whether it be a family member or a complete stranger. It would be the best feeling knowing I helped change somebody’s life for the better.

Publish a book – I started to write a book just after my accident, back when I was nothing but a flaming ball of hate, angry at everyone and everything – So it was nothing more than something of a hit list. Now – I’m past all that, those from my past are barely a thought these days. I feel I would now be able to write about my accident and injuries to let the world know my story and how I have had to overcome what I have had to.

Grow confidence with public speaking – It has always been a thought to go around to schools in rural towns and discuss the way my life has changed because of a wrong decision and the dangers of quad bikes. I still have to figure out the angle I want to work on. But – problem being – I struggle with speaking to crowds and I would love to be able to be more confident with public speaking.

Get featured in media for my writing – I would love to get noticed by the radio stations firstly, to get my blog out there and to start getting more followers.

Create a documentary – I’ve been watching more and more documentaries and I’ve been thinking for years to possibly do one of my own about my story, what I’ve been through and my life now, to show others you can always turn aa negative situation into a positive.

Create my dream house – I would love to create my dream house layout so when we are ready to build (in like ten years) it’s what I want – a well thought out and functional home for us.

Take kids to Disneyland – I’ve always wanted to go to Disneyland and we have decided that if we don’t take the kids to do Movieworld and Seaworld on the Goldcoast when our oldest boy is five we will take them over to Dreamworld when our oldest is ten. I hope this is defiantly something we can do! the big kid in me is screaming to go! haha.

Go on a health & wellness retreat – Since started living a healthier lifestyle years ago, I have really been interested in health and wellness retreats, namely those that are more about detoxifying the body and learning about looking after the mind, body & soul. Some teach you about the benefits of safe and effective detox methods through proper nutrition, balanced diet and specialised holistic therapies. Proper trained clinics offer detox programs that understand how your body is the perfect machine for cleansing, and offer a health boosting holiday designed to optimise the complex detoxing mechanisms of your body. They allow you to work with experts to identify different approaches that best suit your needs. Located on the most stunning destinations in the world, you are bound for a detox journey you will never forget, it’s all about what destination and price attracts you as they range from $3000.00-$12000.00, it all depends how long you want your stay to be and what you want included in your program.

Finally go on a honeymoon – I would love one day to actually go on a honeymoon. We got married just before the sugar cane crushing season was about to start in the Herbert River District in 2018 so we couldn’t go anywhere. Now – I don’t want to leave my babies for a few weeks… ARE YOU MAD?! So it may end up having to be a family-moon if ever there is one.

Well, that’s my bucket list and these are just the things I really want to do. I never had a bucket list until my near death experience, my very, extremely near death experience. If money wasn’t an issue and I had to choose just one thing I could tick off, I would have to go with travelling. There is just so much more of this world I want to see. I was surprised to see how much I learnt from writing this article. I never took the time to think through the things I would like to do before I die and I never thought it could reveal something about my personality that I did not already know.

Aquo Xx

Retraining your brain…

Posted by Amy Aquilini

Recent advances in the field of neuroplasticity have been able to prove how your brain is hardwired and genetically designed to heal, change and even rewire itself after all types of traumas, including but not just limited to brain injuries. Research also explains how your brain changes, and how, with the support of a rehabilitation team, you can retrain your brain to be similar, if not better than before the trauma.

Brain injuries are quite common. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 700,000 Australians have a brain injury, with daily “activity limitations” and “participation restrictions”. Three in every four of these people are aged 65 or under. As many as two out of every three acquired their brain injury before the age of 25. Three-quarters of people with a brain injury are men.

The fastest improvement happens in about the first six months after injury. During this time, the injured person will likely show many improvements and may seem to be steadily getting better. The person continues to improve between six months and two years after injury, but this varies for different people and may not happen as fast as the first six months. Improvements slow down substantially after two years but may still occur many years after injury. Most people continue to have some problems, although they may not be as bad as they were early after injury. Rate of improvement varies from person to person.

It is common and understandable for family members to have many questions about the long-term effects of the brain injury on the injured person’s ability to function in the future. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine the long-term effects for many reasons.

The more severe the injury the less likely the person will fully recover. The length of time a person remains in a coma and duration of loss of memory (amnesia) following the coma are useful in predicting how well a person will recover, I guess I was just an exceptional case.

Over the past 5+ years, I have had to work extremely hard to get to where I am today. Four years ago, if you told me in four years time you will be married with two kids I would have laughed in your face. I had to retrain my brain to walk, talk, eat, communicate – you name it. I still have trouble at times trying to say what’s in my head. When I’m tired, I slur when I’m speaking – it’s as if I’m drunk. AND on top of all that I suffer at times with my fatigue, I get so run down it’s hard for me to do anything.

No matter what age you are, your brain has the ability to form new connections and neurons, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. In a way, your brain is like a muscle – the more the use it, the stronger it gets! Did you know that every time you learn something new, your brain forms a new connection? Participating in leisure activities that keep you thinking and learning (such as reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments or dancing) will help keep your mind sharp over time. However, cognitive abilities like memory and mental focus aren’t the only ways that you can exercise neuroplasticity – you can also train your brain to think happier thoughts, stop eating bad foods, or turning to alcohol or drugs during stressful moments by using a technique called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Retraining your brain isn’t an easy task, and it can take time to overwrite old neural pathways with new ones, below are some ways to achieve a stronger brain.

I chose to add the next video, I really admire Andrew’s attitude – he reminds me so much of myself. Even with Cerebral Palsy he pushes himself and takes on challenges that people without a disability wouldn’t take on. He was transferred to a normal high school from a special school which is amazing in itself and is currently completing a masters degree in disability studies – GO ANDREW! His outlook on life is quite amazing for a person with a disability, I know myself how hard it can be at times to think positively about our situations.

Regular physical activity has so many benefits to every part of the body… well, close to. Some benefits include:-

Controlling your weight. Along with diet, exercise plays an important role in controlling your weight and preventing obesity.

Reducing your risk of heart diseases. Exercise strengthens your heart and improves your circulation.

Helping your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels. Exercise can lower your blood sugar level and help your insulin work better. This can cut down your risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. And if you already have one of those diseases, exercise can help you to manage it.

Helping you quit smoking. Exercise may make it easier to quit smoking by reducing your cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It can also help limit the weight you might gain when you stop smoking.

Improving your mental health and mood. During exercise, your body releases chemicals that can improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed. This can help you deal with stress and reduce your risk of depression.

Helping keep your thinking, learning, and judgement skills sharp as you age. Exercise stimulates your body to release proteins and other chemicals that improve the structure and function of your brain.

Strengthening your bones and muscles. Regular exercise can help kids and teens build strong bones. Later in life, it can also slow the loss of bone density that comes with age. Doing muscle-strengthening activities can help you increase or maintain your muscle mass and strength.

Reducing your risk of some cancers, including colon, breast, uterine, and lung cancer.

Improving your sleep. Exercise can help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Improving your sexual health. Regular exercise may lower the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. For those who already have ED, exercise may help improve their sexual function. In women, exercise may increase sexual arousal.

Increasing your chances of living longer. Studies show that physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers.

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