Sleep Secrets – By Malaak

Baby Sleep Secrets (0 to 6 months)

Let’s face it, caring for a new baby can be exhausting, with what seems like an endless stream of sleepless nights. No surprise then, that most of our mamas want to know the best way to get baby to sleep better. But it’s not only adults who struggle without enough ZZZZs – your little one does too, they just need a little help to regulate their sleep patterns. We asked Malaak’s Lead Parent Educator and ‘UAE Baby Whisperer’ Cecile de Scally for some tips.

What role does sleep play? Did you know that your baby needs twice as much sleep as you? The Central Nervous System (CNS) develops as a result of the sleep your baby gets and it affects their moods, immune system, brain development and ability to interact too. In fact, sleep is as crucial to babies and toddlers as good nutrition and it’s your job to ensure they’re getting enough quality sleep on a consistent basis.

Sleep sense 0-6 months old

There’s so much going physically and mentally for baby in these first few months that we need to break it down into different phases. From 0 to 6 weeks, their brain is developing on supercharge mode, plus they need frequent feeds, meaning they usually only manage short, one cycle sleeps. It’s typical for newborns to sleep for an hour and then feed for an hour. In the next 6-12 weeks, they start to stay awake for longer periods of around 90 minutes (including a feed) and then sleep for 90 minutes.

Aim for 16-18 hours of sleep in the first 12 weeks, split into a 12-hour night and 4-6 hours during the day. After 12 weeks, day sleep is around 4 hours and reduced to 2-4 hours after 6 months. As they develop, they will learn to recognize the change in times better, sleeping less during the day and more at night.

Remember, babies need to be fed at least 2-3 times a night up to 6 weeks and at least twice a night up to 12 weeks, they will only drop to 1 night feed after 12 weeks. And when we talk about “sleeping through the night”, in reality, that means around 5 straight hours of sleep. And not all babies fall into these patterns easily – wouldn’t that be great?! But don’t be hard on yourself, there’s plenty of help available.

Spotting the signs It might sound illogical, but one of the biggest hurdles to your baby getting a good sleep is when they’re overtired, so you need to get them down before that point. Start looking for signs of tiredness while they’re playing and in the minutes before they sleep. Common ones include hiccupping, sneezing, blinking, frowning, rubbing eyes, random and jerky movements, and crying. Young babies are mostly relaxed and sleepy after each feeding.

Getting baby to sleep

It usually helps to have a bedtime routine that includes feeding, bathing, feeding again after the bath and some form of singing or story-telling. You should put your baby on their back to sleep and when they’re tired, place them in the cot awake so they will learn to sleep on their own. Babies prefer different environments, some sleep well with lots of noise, whereas others prefer a quiet dark place and you’ll need to get to know their preferences.

Top Tips:

  1. Have constant noise like humming, family conversations or even singing. You can also see if vibration/white noise works.
  2. Most babies enjoy the security of being swaddled and will start to prefer having their arms out only after 8-12 weeks.
  3. Settle baby in the cot on their back or side, use patting or rocking and as you slow down they will relax and drift off to sleep. Try to avoid rocking them in your arms.
  4. Babies under 6 months usually prefer someone close when they fall asleep.
  5. Check that the room temperature is cool before you leave. You can layer clothing and use sleeping bags/ light covers so they are comfortable. You should also ensure the baby is not wrapped too tight and can still move their arms.
  6. Some babies like sucking a dummy, while other like a massage before sleeping.
  7. Ensure you follow a similar sleeping pattern every day or night, this will help your baby get used to the regular routine more quickly.
  8. A soothing voice and calm talk works miracles in getting babies under 6 months to sleep.

Head over to their website for more info at

Child Development – Early Intervention What? Why? How?

Early childhood is the most rapid period of development in the lifespan of an individual. Birth to 8 years is vital to the emotional, physical, cognitive growth of children.

Early Intervention is all about getting in early. Why? Because we don’t play the maybe game – especially when it comes to the development of our children. And we know too much now about the brain and how it develops to ignore early signs.

The following article was written by Aalia Thobani who is a Specialist Speech-Language Pathologist, Learning Development Specialist, a Certified Life & Executive Coach and NLP Practitioner.

Her professional career has seen her amass international experience in the USA, and local UAE experience, in multiple settings and across a variety of age groups and diagnoses.

Aalia passionately believes in an all-inclusive, all-round education for each child. She is up-to-date on recent research and intelligence and uses the latest technologies to help develop the most relevant and effective therapies.

Having worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist for many years, I have come across my fair share of parents who have been instinctively concerned about their child’s development, however upon asking trusted parties in their lives – including doctors, educators, parents etc., have been advised that it is just a phase and that one needn’t worry until the child is older.

“His dad didn’t speak till he was 3 years old and he turned out fine” –Parent. Based on real facts.

“Your child is not even 18 months old. You don’t need to worry about his language development. You’re being an over-anxious parent.” – ENT (to me a Speech-Language Pathologist!). Really Happened.

“Listen to your doctor he’s not worried about the fluid in Arman (my son)’s ears” – My mom. Really Happened.

“He seems to be getting along fine in class. He’s following what the other children do so it seems as if he understands the directions.” – Teacher. Based on real facts.

And maybe they’re right and maybe they’re not…but we can’t afford to play the maybe game when it comes to our children.

Therefore – arm yourself with the correct knowledge and professionals to help you make the correct decisions.

I say all of this to emphasize the point that you must choose the sources you trust based on their believability. This is a term by Ray Dalio, the American billionaire investor, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist, and it basically has you question the following: What are the credentials of the people I am asking? Are they experts in the topic of discussion? Are they the best people to advise me on the concerns I have?

Is your mom a specialist? If not, listen but confirm with a professional.

If you’re concerned about movement development, yes your doctor has basic understanding and can make the correct referrals, but (depending on the situation), a Pediatric Physical Therapist or Occupational Therapist has more in-depth knowledge and information that can supplement the doctor’s knowledge and information and provide a more complete picture.

What if you had a team of believable people who could give you the best holistic advice for your child? Wouldn’t this be IDEAL?

Speaking of IDEAL, The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) in the U.S is a law and within it, is Clause C for Early Intervention, providing services to newborns from 0-3 years with delays in the areas of: Special education, physical, speech and language, vision, hearing, nursing, health services, assisted communication. And in these earliest years, it is a family centered approach that includes a plan called an IFSP – Individual Family Service Plan so that professionals can work with families and create goals that are relevant to environmental, social, and cultural needs. It also includes information about the child’s milestones and goals for parent training.

If tax money is being utilized for these programs to be implemented, they must be  rooted in evidence and necessity, with the potential of reducing the financial burden at a later stage in a child’s life.

So why is Early Intervention part of the public system in the U.S.?

Research has shown that half a person’s intelligence potential is developed by age 4 years. Early childhood is the most rapid period of development in the lifespan of an individual. Birth to 8 years is vital to the emotional, physical, cognitive growth of children.

Early childhood is when the role of a child’s environment is critical in determining how the brain grows and develops. Environmental factors can affect the number of brain cells, number of connections, and the way they are wired, based on a child’s sensory experience in the outside world. Scientists say that if the brain does not receive the appropriate stimulation during this critical window, it is more difficult for the brain to re-wire itself at a later time. That being said, it is important to note that the brain is “plastic” i.e., it can change based on input and experiences no matter what the age of the individual.  The brain is however more “ripe” during the early years.

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has summarized this research:

  • Neural circuits are most flexible (plastic) in the first three years of life.
  • Stable relationships with caring and responsive adults, supportive environments, and nutrition are important
  • Early social/emotional development and physical health provide the foundation upon which cognitive and language skills develop.

Addressing the Taboos:

Early Intervention is all about getting in early. Why? Because we don’t play the maybe game – especially when it comes to the development of our children. And we know too much now about the brain and how it develops to ignore early signs.

Where I work at The Developing Child Center (TDCC) in Dubai, we use the terminology – Skill Development. For my former role, we had changed my title from Director of Therapy to Director of Skill Development because that’s what it’s all about. We care about the symptoms and the pain points so we know what skills need to be taught to maximize the potential and confidence of the child we are working with. Diagnoses are helpful and have their place in giving an overall picture of what to expect, but symptoms are what guide the necessary, individually-focused skill development areas required in intervention. And the key is to identify the symptoms early so that intervention can begin and your child has a higher likelihood of success in developing the skill sets to improve his/her functionality, and thereby his/her confidence.

A mother that I guided to begin intervention early has the following to say:

“Early intervention (EI) is nothing short of a miracle. I had, for many years, read and heard about the importance of EI. It was not until my husband and I went on our own journey with our son that I truly understood the magnitude of recognizing and addressing developmental delays as early as possible. If you have any doubts regarding the development of your child, just take action. EI takes a lot of hard work and patience, but the results are beyond belief.” 

Another one of my clients’ mom’s e-mailed me recently. She had been over-anxious about her child who was 2.5 years old and still not talking. With Early Intervention and correct environmental nudging, he scored solidly in the average range on his language skills one year later.

It makes a difference.

Steps to ensure that you catch a skill development need early:

1. Be an informed parent (the purpose of my blog is to inform you!)

2. Document basic milestones and areas of concern

Speech and Language: When did your child babble, say his first words, start stringing words together? Please refer to this link to gauge your child’s speech and language milestones:

Motor: When did the child roll, sit, crawl, stand, walk?  Be aware that there are ranges of normal development. Some children will walk at 9 months, some at 14 months. Please refer to this link for motor milestone ranges:

Document what has been worrying you more than normal – your child is a picky eater, your child is not putting on weight, your child is very sensitive to loud sounds, your child does not look at you etc., It is important to know the milestone ranges so you don’t become overly anxious but so that you’re sure when to seek assistance from a professional.

3. Be preventative where you can be e.g., if you read my other posts, you will see recommendations from an audiologist and an ophthalmic surgeon on when you should take your children for general screenings of their ears and eyes. 

4. Seek advice from “believable” professionals – not just people you trust because you’re supposed to trust them or because you trust them about other subject matter. But really identifying who are the professionals that are the experts in the aspect of development that you are concerned about. 

5. Trust your instinct and if your child does need to start intervention, the best thing to do is to take action now. Many parents blame themselves and focus on answering the “Why did this happened to my child?”  question. As difficult as it is, it’s important to start focusing your energy on finding the right professionals to help your child maximize their potential through action. It’s hard work but it’s worth every penny and every tear. 

The action plan is:

  1. What are the symptoms I am noticing in my child?
  2. How does my child’s development compare to other children in the particular category I’m concerned about.
  3. Maybe you haven’t noticed anything, but your teacher has brought something to your attention.
  4. Identify the professionals that can best guide your journey. A Clinical Psychologist or a Developmental Pediatrician can help to Case Manage your child for you and guide you to the right professionals.  
  5. Check credentials and experience, go by recommendations
  6. If you need to see multiple professionals, it is important that they are all connected to form a “team.” There must be collaboration. And it is important to have 1 person case manage all the professionals for you – someone who can see the whole picture (as mentioned in line 4).
  7. You, as parents, are an integral part of the team. Your active participation in the treatment of your child is what can really make a huge difference – refer to the Individual Family Service Plan above. You are critical in creating the right environment of growth for your child.

Intervening early is easy to say but it may not always be easy to do. As a parent this is going to be hard. You may be stressed, nervous, anxious. But know that you are doing the best you can. It is very critical to take care of yourself, to be kind to yourself, to take time for yourself and to do what you need to be a good parent, including seeing a psychologist or counselor to help you along the way if you need to.

For some of you, this may be a quick journey. And for some, it may be a marathon. Pace yourselves.  


Tomasello, Nicole M et al. Family Centered Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities. 18 Mar 2010. Journal of Family Social Work.

Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2008). InBrief: The science of early childhood development. Retrieved from /view/64/

Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2010).

The foundations of lifelong health are built in early childhood. Retrieved from king_papers/foundations-of-lifelong-health/

Aalia is particularly interested in brain research and ways of changing brain patterns to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in helping combat speech challenges and learning challenges.

As a coach, she is passionate about evoking transformation on a personal level with every individual she works with so that they may maximize their personal/professional/educational potential. Her target coaching client is older High Schoolers (11th, 12th grades), University Students, Parents, and Professionals,

You can contact Aalia where she works at the Developing Child Center in Dubai or through her Instagram page.

Child Development, Health and Well-being

This article was written by Nicola Tuke – Occupational Therapist – UK

This is a really complex and vast area to cover in one article but stay with me!

Let’s start with intelligence. Intelligence is often associated with academic success but comes in so many forms. Think about a world class footballer, these guy’s brains are functioning during a match at top capacity!

Any activity requires an amalgamation of what we call “performance skills”. To explain this further let’s stick with the football…

Performance skills used by footballers:

SPATIAL AWARENESS – footballers have to be able to judge the space between themselves, other players and the goal posts.

PROPRIOCEPTION – This relates to the ability to know where parts of your body are in space. For example, if you were asked to touch your nose with your eyes closed you are relying on proprioception instead of vision to do this.

MOTOR PLANNING – Footballers need to strategically plan their movements. As the ball comes towards them they are judging the angle, the speed, the power and the position of other players as they plan that next movement.

VISUAL MOTOR INTEGRATION – This relates to taking visual information and turning it into the correct motor response. A football player may SEE what direction they have to kick it in but they also have to produce the right movement to make that happen. Like when football fan’s are watching a match and shouting “that kick should have been more left of centre” the player probably knew that too but just didn’t perform the right movement.

COMMUNICATION SKILLS – The ability to take instructions from their manager and play harmoniously with other team members. You could be the best footballer in the world but if you can’t communicate with the rest of the team what use is that?!

The best footballers in the world are the ones who have all these skills functioning at a high level and fluidly in harmony with one another. That’s what sets them apart! People who do not excel in all these areas may make amazing football coaches or football managers.

Other performance skills can be better explained through other fine motor activities such as:

Playing the piano….

MANUAL DEXTERITY – This relates to the ability to produce small, precise movements in a synchronised manner and requires muscular, skeletal and neurological functions. A piano player requires these skills to manipulate the piano keys succinctly and accurately, in order to produce beautiful music.

AUDITORY PROCESSING SKILLS – A piano player requires these skills to be able to process the differences in musical pitch. We have all heard the phrase “tone deaf” and this relates to whether you hear what others hear. For example people who think they’re good singers when they actually sound like wailing cats!

VISUAL PROCESSING – Think about reading musical notes in a complex piece of music. What your eye sees and your brain processes can be two different things. Think about children who have dyslexia and interpret letters or numbers incorrectly. There is nothing wrong with their “vision” but what they’re brain interprets what they see incorrectly so they may struggle to read musical notes.

An amazing pianist will have all these performance skills functioning together perfectly. Let’s think about a person who has amazing music reading skills and auditory processing skills but has hyper-mobility in their joints (bendy fingers) and struggles to accurately manipulate the keys. This person could potentially become a successful songwriter. Or a person who has visual processing difficulty may be an amazing performer but from memorizing the music rather than reading the music.

As they say in the L’oreal commercials – that’s the science bit!!!

Now let’s relate this to real life and child development, health and well- being. All of the above performance skills are developed in early childhood through play and activity. The development of these skills are very much dependant on a child’s exposure and natural interest.

One child may have loved table-based activities such as colouring as a toddler. Let’s call him Zac. This results in Zac being so familiar with holding and controlling a pencil or crayon, that by the time he starts school he’s very much ready to learn to write.

Another child may have been more into outdoor play as a toddler such as climbing and ball games, let’s call her Jasmine. When Jasmine starts school, she may excel at sports but clumsily hold a pencil and find it difficult to write.

All this means is further development and support in this area of function is required but this can be achieved through means that suit the child. For example, Toni might enjoy playing a game in a sandpit where her Mum asks her to draw certain words with a stick. This is a much more multi-sensory approach and a style of learning that Toni is much more likely to engage with. Forcing her to sit at a table with a pencil is more likely to make her feel far less motivated to develop these skills.


How many times have you heard people label children as “The Sporty One” “The Clever one” The Artistic One”? This is dangerous territory and can have long term consequences. There is evidence that shows children take on board comments when they’re being spoken about more than when being spoken to as the comments can feel more genuine.

I remember as a child hearing my parents talking to teachers or family members not realising, I could hear everything they were saying and internalising it as fact. If you’re overheard saying to a teacher “yes she’s never been very good at that”, it can stay with the child for life and become a self-fulfilling prophecy that they could carry around with them for life!

What is a broad, final and quite frankly damaging comment, could affect their well-being long-term. Imagine if a child hears someone say “they’re not very sporty” this could result in a loss of engagement in physical activity. This may then lead to weight gain and physical health implications, which impact their well-being for the rest of their life. This sounds extreme but really can happen! If a child isn’t naturally adept at sports then just explain to them that no-one is good at everything and try to find them activities which fit their level of performance balancing challenge and mastery – not too easy, not too hard. Set them goals and reassure them no-one is good at everything and DO NOT compare.

It is also easy to assume that if your child struggles with handwriting …. they should practice handwriting, not the case! The action of using scissors, doing jigsaws and colouring will all benefit a child’s handwriting ability without them even realising and if these are things they enjoy and prefer to do, then encourage this!

Always allow your child the time to practice what we perceive as simple tasks and communicate to them that to keep trying is all you ask of them; this is what should be praised. Acknowledge their strengths and engage with them to develop areas of difficulty.

Please don’t think as someone who works in this profession, that I am not guilty. I am first a parent and human being, and second an Occupational Therapist. I’ve stood by the door first thing in a morning saying “get your coat on…. oh for heaven’s sake, I’ll do it myself!!”…. as they struggle with the zip. But as we know as adults, an apology can mean everything. I will often say to my children “I’m Sorry for the way I reacted this morning, Mummy was in a rush and was worrying about work, but you know what? you’re getting better, let’s practice together later when we’re not in a rush”. An explanation like this can make a world of difference.

As mentioned earlier, this is a huge subject to cover and took me four years of a degree to learn about, so I hope it makes some sense. This is a subject I am very passionate about and so have a tendency to ramble on! If any area has taken your interest and you’d appreciate more detail then I would be happy to expand on and explain further.

In the meantime, enjoy your children as the individuals they are, and spend time with them – you are their world! Every action, comment and affirmation can give them a Psychological discourse that will stay with them for the rest of their life.

This is a huge responsibility but you can do it!

The 21-Day Challenge: My Journey

The following was written by Maria, a busy mother of three living in Dubai, who’s wellness journey began with us in February this year.

I was always the thin and slender type. Not size-zero, but someone who could afford to wear short skirts, tight tops, skinny jeans and high heels, and feel good about myself. During my first pregnancy, I flaunted my bump in bikinis and horizontally striped maternity dresses, the staple wardrobe of any mom-to-be (don’t even remind me!). Note to the so-called designers behind those ‘creations’ – whoever thought that horizontal stripes would be flattering on an ever-expanding belly, think again! But apologies, I digress …

Fast-forward five years, five pregnancies and three babies later, those form-hugging dresses began to look a little less flattering. A muffin top here, varicose veins there – you get the picture. Luckily, my height and constitution allowed me to (somewhat) hide the extra pounds. I wasn’t my old self, but surely I didn’t look that bad? Or did I? If you’re stuck in a mommy rut, you know where I’m coming from. As luck would have it, a friend’s post about her amazing transformation with Kerry’s 21-Day Challenge caught my eye, becoming the catalyst for my own wellness journey and weight loss. Reflecting back, three factors played a part in my successful outcome: the realization that I needed an ass kicking, the Covid-19 lockdown, and ultimately, my (interim) results.

The ass kicking

Not necessarily one of my proud moments, but I came to a stage in my life when my old wardrobe didn’t fit, the thought of going shopping became a chore, applying make-up was no longer a necessity and bad hair days became the norm. I. Just. Didn’t. Care. I was a mom of three kids below five. Was I depressed? No. Tired? That would probably be an understatement. My usual dieting and occasional exercising weren’t effective enough, and somewhere along the way, I’d simply lost the motivation. I needed a change, a drastic one, and Kerry’s 21 day challenge ticked the right boxes. No dairy, refined sugars or any kind of processed foods for 21 days. Farewell Greek yogurt, Weetabix, the occasional jellybeans I’d sneak from the kids, caffeine (for the first week – my self-proclaimed lifeline), Caribou muffins and a whole load of other ‘nasties’. Even for a relatively healthy eater life myself, this was a whole new level.

The Lockdown

Ironically, the Covid-19 lockdown played out to my advantage. For one, with the whole world seeming to fall apart, my diet was the one thing that I could control. If I was to make any changes, now was the time. Secondly, as social distancing and an enforced curfew became the new norm, our (frequent) dining-out was completely taken out of the equation. Who remembers those school runs with a mandatory coffee and muffin on the go from the school café? Or two restaurant visits – lunch and later coffee (with dessert … yes, please!) – while out and about at the mall with the family? And I’m not even going to talk about socializing during the weekends … I’ve actually had the time to hone my culinary skills over the last couple of months, becoming a bit of a cooking machine in the kitchen (who’d have thought?). I’m not going to pretend that I enjoy it, but I do love to eat. A veg-heavy diet requires more prep, especially if you, like me, appreciate variety, but fitting into those skinny jeans is so damn worth it!


Losing the extra inches and seeing the scale move downwards was, and still is, a huge motivator – so much so that I’ve even revised my initial goal after having reached my original target weight. This is the third round of the 21-Day Challenge and I’ve shed 10 kilograms in a span of two and a half months (thirteen kilograms if I’m talking post-lockdown). If you haven’t seen me in a while, I’m a brand new (or old) me. I’m not hungry, I (mostly) don’t have weird cravings, I feel energized, my skin’s clear and I can fit into my wedding dress. These are definitely motivators to keep me going.

What next?

Is this the end of my wellness journey? No, and I have a further one to two kilos to go. I’ve also realized that there’s no final destination. From now on, this is just my way of life. Will I ever eat dairy, ice-creams and cakes? Absolutely! As far as I know, I’m not intolerant to anything. I believe in a healthy balance, the 80/20 rule. Life’s too short to deny yourself the little joys … But if anything, this little journey has been a great learning curve and a little reminder of what I’m capable of achieving if I just set my mind to it. And, of course, my plate will never look the same again. Pile on those veggies!

Learn ways to decrease Anxiety and Stress…

Did you know that healing your Vagus Nerve can naturally help to decrease anxiety and stress?

Kelly King specializes in helping people overcome emotional eating, insomnia and anxiety, to excel their mental and physical health – naturally, without medication.

Living in Dubai for 10 years, Kelly encountered the extreme life pressures that expat life can bring. She struggled with Alopecia, weight loss and insomnia during her life, that were all related to stress and anxiety.

Watch this video to find out more about how the Vagus Nerve Affects anxiety and health and how we can heal it naturally.

Kelly studied the mind and body connection to qualify as a Rapid Transformation Therapist in London, UK and now works online with clients all over the world.

Her program will identify and remove the root cause of issues in just 1-3 sessions, bringing about fast and lasting results. It combines Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), mindfulness and neuroplasticity. She offers online sessions, with client’s experiencing amazing results.

Contact her to discuss how quickly and easily you can get your life and freedom back.

Animals and Wellness…

Hey I’m Hamit, Certified Dog trainer living in Dubai and Puppy dad to 3 amazing but very different French Bulldogs…

We have known for some time of the many health benefits that come from owning a pet, however recent studies now show they can help us on a much deeper level. Our pets are spiritual beings and can be far more in tune with our emotions than we ever realized. Their free spirit, acceptance and unconditional love can both teach and heal us and because of this we can create a unique bond with them. They seem to know when we are excited, sad, lonely or depressed.

Rupert Sheldrake in his book, “Dogs That Know Their Owners are Coming Home” talks about the telepathic connection between humans and animals, particularly dogs. He documented several cases that showed dogs and cats anticipating the return of their owners by waiting at a door or window; anticipation of them going away; the anticipation of being fed; cats disappearing when their owners intend to take them to the vet; dogs knowing when their owners are planning to take them for a walk; and animals that get excited when their owner is on the telephone, even before the telephone is answered. Sheldrake explained this further, “When a dog is strongly bonded to its owner, this bond persists even when the owner is far away and is, I think, the basis of telepathic communication. I see telepathy as a normal, not paranormal, means of communication between members of animal groups.”

Dogs have been used as service dogs for decades. Not only have they helped those with disabilities but are now trained to detect for serious autoimmune conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy and even cancer. They can sense in advance dangerous drop or increase in levels of sugar in their owners or if they maybe about to have a seizure, allowing them to signal and give pre warning through learned language. It has been proven that dogs can help humans in overcoming various forms of depression, anxiety as well as PTSD. Their unique ability to sense our deepest emotions and body functions have helped saved the lives of millions of people around the world who depend on them daily.

In times of uncertainty, you want to be around those that you love. And for many that may include your furry family members. Humans and pets alike can find comfort in companionship with one another. In fact, the benefits of having pets may impact you more than you may know.

Studies have shown that owning a pet can increase opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialize. Regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels as well as bringing happiness to their owners. Most households in the United Kingdom have at least one pet.

Scientifically proven health benefits of having a pet include:

· Decreased blood pressure

· Decreased cholesterol levels

· Decreased triglyceride levels

· Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities

· Increased opportunities for socialization

· Help manage loneliness by offering companionship and routine

· Be a positive influence on the children by teaching them pet care

Choosing the right Pet for you and your family.

Many times, a pet may unexpectedly come into your life or you may find or rescue a stray. A family member may surprise you with a pet. Some believe that these wonderful creatures may have suddenly arrived into our life a for a reason, a reason that we may not be aware of at that time. We may not be aware of how much we need them at that time. Some would say despite what you believe, they choose you and not the contrary.

Before choosing your pet, thorough research is recommended, sitting with family members beforehand and asking these important questions to ensure you choose the right fit of animal for your lifestyle:

· Which pet, considering that a cat requires less commitment than a dog?

· Do you have the proper time and commitment to allocate to their wellbeing?

· How long will this animal live?

· How much exercise does the pet need?

· How large will it become?

· How much will veterinary care cost?

· How much space is required, ie Apartment or Villa?

· Is your current community pet friendly?

· Who will look after your pet during vacations?

· Considering young and elderly family members?

It is always recommended to check with your local rescue centres for adoptions and trial adoptions. You can also offer to pet sit for friends and family to ensure that you are making the right decision for you, your family and the pet that comes into your life.

Living my best life at 40!

Hey I’m Mitch Co-Founder and Wellness Coach at Loving Life with Lemons.

I Just wanted to tell you all a little about how my #wellnessjourney began. All my life I’ve battled with trying to stay on top and focused with both my fitness and nutrition. Living in Canada and being a very social guy, my twin brother and I always enjoyed being the life and soul of the party! This often led to making poor choices with perhaps a little too much ‘grape’ and ‘potatoes’ alongside a greasy burger. Fast forward to 2018 when I was expecting my second child, a baby girl and just about to turn 40! I weighed around 100 Kilos of pure lovin, but I wasn’t feeling the greatest!

Bali Honeymoon 2015 – I weighed around 98kg here, and I was breathing in for this picture!

It was at that moment I decided to go on a mission to get my body strong & mind healthy through food and exercise. I found a program which put me on the right path to my wellness journey but there were a couple things were just not right for me.

So, together with my Wife (a certified nutrition coach) we developed our Nutrition and Fitness program called The Wellness Zone. (Read more about TWZ here)

During my journey to complete #wellness, my biggest hurdle was TIME. I believed there was never enough time to spend with my 2 year old son and pregnant wife as well as try to incorporate fitness into my everyday schedule. But once I learned to add elements of self-care into my thoughts, I was able to start allocating the time I needed to focus on my own health and well-being. Just 15-30 minutes a day changed everything for me!

I began wanting to #fuel my body with the #rightfoods to support my #workouts and really started to love these foods. Thankfully my wife supported me by removing inflammatory foods from my diet and with her kickass cooking skills before I knew it, I had dropped around 10 kg and was starting to feel like a younger, more energetic version of myself. Who doesn’t want to feel like their younger selves, right?

So, what it took for me to light that fire under my ass was one of two things, or perhaps both! I was going to have a baby girl and/or I was about to turn 40? I was never one of those guys to overthink about age or turning the big 4 O until then. I guess the difference this time was that I was going to be a father of 2 and I thought to myself, “I want to be able to play sports with my son when he’s 15 years old (he was 2.5 yrs old at the time) and I wanted to be healthy and fit so when my daughter started dating, I could still be able to kick some butt of anyone that didn’t treat my baby girl like a princess…..

I want to do everything in my power to live a long and healthy life to be there for my wife and kids and be the best version of myself for them, so I had to make a couple of changes in my life. And it’s all been worth it.

My thoughts go something like this now….As long as there’s progress, commitment, consistency and the desire to learn, you know you’re on the right path for #success!

I hope to see you all in The Wellness Zone with me, Kerry and our awesome Fitness Expert Warren Conolly!