Can I Still Have My Cake & Eat It?

So much is in the media nowadays about a healthy lifestyle and the benefits of this phrase for our overall wellness, vitality and longevity. However, what’s not talked about enough, is the importance of balance and moderation and what a healthy lifestyle actually means.

The fact of the matter is, being healthy isn’t a goal or target to reach before you then you focus on the next task at hand. Being healthy is a lifestyle, a way of living and being, which ebbs and flows just like the tide, and so is sometimes gentle, easy and smooth and at other times, tumultuous, stormy and a real challenge to navigate. Overall though, the idea is, the combination of choices you regularly make are actually supporting your overall happiness, vitality and life in a mostly positive, nurturing and sustainable way so that you can live a healthy life according to who you are as an individual.

As I’ve mentioned before in musings about myself on my website, I grew up with a few health challenges, which meant I learnt from a very young age what was going to support me and what was going to hinder my overall happiness and enjoyment in life. I needed to be mindful about the foods and drinks I chose, because if there was any kind of emotional stress trigger going on for me as a child, young person and even into adulthood, then food just exacerbated my physical symptoms, one of which was rather irritating (and to me, ugly), eczema.

What used to annoy me a lot and still does a bit now too, and it’s something we need to talk about and stop doing to one another, is calling people out when they do reach for a piece of cake, packet of crisps, chocolate bar or similar, when their usual choices are what’s considered healthier. I’ve experienced this a lot in my life, due to having to eat a rather plant-based natural diet, where avoiding refined foods like white bread, cakes, cookies, fizzy drinks and sweets was the norm for me, to support my health and wellness. And yet, I’d often then be teased by other children or judged and ridiculed by adults (including family in these groups) if I did then indulge in a rich dessert or pizza with cheese on top for example.

Let’s make one thing clear here folks…it’s about balance and moderation.

A lot of research has been done around the subject of lifestyle and what constitutes a healthy one. Basically though, positive changes in physical activity, dietary choices, nutrition and supportive lifestyle patterns such as including regular meditation or prayer-type activities into your daily routine have all been proven to contribute to profound and effective differences in the health and wellbeing of people.  We’ve got to begin gently though if this is something new to us. And if you know someone who’s doing their best to improve their health and wellness, support them rather than judging them, especially if they make some indulgent choices. It’s about balance remember.

Leading research in what constitutes a healthy lifestyle include the likes of The Blue Zones Team and Dr Dean Ornish. Along with living and working in a supportive environment (which I wrote about in my last article), they all highlight the following as key components to help sustain a healthy lifestyle:

    • a plant-based diet – this does not mean being vegan before anyone gets angry and starts shouting at their screen or messaging me…it just means what it says, consuming a plant-based diet i.e. mostly vegetables and fruits, legumes and natural grains. It can include aspects like fish, meat and dairy. What is advised, however, is these additions are not the mainstay of any meal you consume. They are additions. Therefore, most of your plate should be plants…not meat, dairy, fish and potatoes or chips, white bread rice or pasta, with the odd carrot and pea as a garnish. To find out more, a good place to start is here and the graphic below from Blue Zones.

    • regular daily movement supports our sustained health and longevity – this will vary from person to person, depending on age, ability and where you are. It’s vital for us all though, that we include suitable daily physical activity into our lifestyles.
    • As I also mentioned in my last article, healthy relationships in our social life, at home, at work, including people of faith, all help sustain our health and wellness. Now, to clarify, when I say people of faith, this does not mean we all need to join a church, though for some this will be their preference. People of faith includes those who follow religious doctrine, as well as those who may take time to pray in their own way, be it in a formal building or at the beach, or in the mountains…it can also include people who meditate as well. The scope is huge. It’s about faith in something bigger than ourselves though, a trust in this life we’ve all been blessed with and the positive path it will take for us all. When we surround ourselves with positive like-minded people, who share in our faith, which is rich in love, joy and happiness, it helps us all to thrive. It’s about that community spirit as well.
    • Lastly, which I will focus on more in my next article, having a purpose in life is also vital for our sustained health and wellness.

To be able to sustain this kind of lifestyle, we need to have a ‘why’ which is intrinsically ours and motivates us to take positive action regularly. I’ve been exploring this very concept myself in a lot more depth lately, across many areas of my life. The King of knowing your ‘why’ is Simon Sinek, whose work really has helped inform some of my thinking, motivation and actions. Though he focuses on leadership, the principles can be applied to any area of life. So I’d encourage you to watch his TED talk to get your creative juices flowing. Once you know your ‘why’ for taking positive action about your health and wellness, we can then look at what actions you can take. See if you can list 20 ‘whys‘ for making positive changes towards your healthy lifestyle.

Now we have your ‘whys‘, let’s look at diet and nutrition in a bit more detail, to see what the basics are and what we can do now. As mentioned above, the research is clear, a diet based on plants is best for our overall health and longevity. You do not need to be vegan…adding in some animal products is acceptable. The portion size and quality of this protein source are worth investing in, however. Where possible, avoid the processed, fast-food type food sources. They are what we call empty foods because you’ll most likely feel hungry again soon afterwards. Not only that, they are processed with ingredients which are not going to support your health and wellness goals. Rather, they’re more likely to contribute to your inflammation, pain, swelling and skin conditions for example. So it’s best to avoid them.

A good habit to get into when faced with a decision around your food and drinks choices is asking yourself this question, “Will this food/drink take me closer to or further away from my health and wellness aspirations, based on my current daily patterns and choices?”. And remember, we can all enjoy some indulgences, just keep the regularity and portion size of these indulgences in balance. Be honest with yourself, because it’s only yourself you’re fooling otherwise. Think of your food as medicine, as fuel to support your overall health and wellbeing. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change e.g. eating cake or cookies every day is not going to give you the medicine and fuel you need to sustain a healthy body at a healthy weight. Therefore if you look at them as the enemy to your goals, their appeal lessens. It’s also important we ask ourselves why we may be reaching for these empty comfort foods or drinks regularly…what is the emotion behind these choices? What are we masking, hiding or trying to blank out when we eat to comfort ourselves? Understanding these choices also helps to rebalance our way of doing things…and a great tool which I use all the time in my practice is EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), which helps to rebalance the mind-body-social aspects within us again, thus supporting our return to health and vitality once more.

Remember, what you eat is important…but it isn’t the whole picture, as explained in previous posts. Your emotions, your beliefs, your environment, your organ health all play a part. What you eat and drink is just a part of the greater whole. Here are some ideas to help get you started on making healthier choices:

    • Start to take action, experiment and learn what supports you and what hinders you.
    • Fully remove fizzy, sugary drinks and alcohol from your daily routine. It may work for you to enjoy them occasionally further down the line, once you’ve got a firm grip on your habits again. For now though, fully remove them.
    • Reduce or better still, remove tea and coffee for the time being. They are diuretics (increase your need to urinate and dehydrate you) and do not support the journey towards health and vitality when you’re in recovery.
    • Remove processed foods – learn about this by reading labels on anything you buy. If it has ingredients which are not natural or pronounceable, it’s a sign these are additives, so put the item back on the shelf.
    • Swap your white carbs for whole grains e.g. eat brown rice, rye sourdough bread, wholegrain pasta.
    • Make each meal mostly about fruits and vegetables. Most of your plate or bowl should be plants. We want to increase your fruit and vegetable intake here.
    • Learn about healthy fats and proteins for you and increase these e.g. flaxseeds, avocados, oily fish like salmon or sardines are all good examples of healthy fats and proteins. Others include beans and legumes such as red lentils or mung beans, or nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, sesame and pumpkin seeds. The latter need to be consumed in moderation. Do not make the mistake I’ve made (a few times) and think you can eat a lot of nut butter because it’s homemade or heaps of nuts because they’re natural and unsalted. We only need a few nuts or a small handful of seeds a day to benefit. More than this each day and you will pack on the kilos and not help yourself.
    • Drink natural water. Tap water is fine if you know it’s not polluted with chlorine or other such additives like fluoride, which are claimed to be helpful. They are not helpful. DO NOT be fooled. If in doubt, install a water filter system at home or buy a water filter jug. Avoid buying plastic bottled water. Aim for eight glasses of plain water per day.

Now, what about movement, physical activity, exercise…? We all know regular physical move and activity is good for us for many reasons e.g. it helps to control our weight; it’s good for our brain and reduces stress, anxiety and depression; it also supports a healthy heart and helps to reduce symptoms which contribute to conditions like diabetes; it helps to improve your sleep quality and thus also helps to improve your longevity; it sounds counter-intuitive, but exercise improves bone health and thus also helps with muscle strength too; and how about it helping to improve your sex life too, not to mention having a healthier bowel as well. So what’s not to love about getting some regular movement and physical activity into your daily routine…?

We don’t all need to be ultramarathon runners, Olympic champions or super flexible yoginis. There is a scale and we all fit on it somewhere. Where we fit will all depend on your current vitality, health and age. None of these need be a barrier to beginning to get more active, however. In fact, they can act as a motivator to get you going. What you choose to do is up to you…the best place to start however, is with an activity you know you will do regularly, no matter what. The trick is to start small. A while ago, I read a book titled Mini Habits by Stephen Guise which is all about creating and starting with smaller habits for bigger results. e.g. if you want to begin exercising, start with one sit up a day. It may not sound like a lot, but after 100 days, you will have done at least 100…and in all likelihood, you will have done a lot more…and improved by a huge percentage over that time.

So if you enjoy walking but haven’t walked in a long while, begin with just 100m per day and see how you get on. As you master that distance, increase it over time. An easy way for many of us to monitor this with distance or steps these days is via the smartphone. Most of them have an inbuilt health app, which counts your steps and distance walked over the course of a 24 hour period. It can be an easy way to keep track of what you’re doing.

Some other ideas to help get you moving with daily physical activity include swimming, pilates, tai chi, dancing, weight training, boxercise classes, aerobics, Zumba, cycling, tennis and hatha yoga to offer just a few examples to try out. There are of course many many more. The key is to find what works for you on a regular basis and stick to it. If you’re like me, you need a variety of activities to stimulate and motivated you to keep going. So I mix things up. I walk regularly, I attend boxercise classes, I also do some of my own sessions at home (HIIT and yoga), I am also currently loving skipping and with the weather (slowly) improving, I will be in the ocean a lot more for swimming too. I also like to get out on a bicycle, as well as attend group HIIT classes when I can too. It’s up to you though. The key is finding what you love and doing it regularly, even you just start with 30 seconds per day. This is how I have built up my skipping. I was tripping up a lot, to begin with, as well as getting out of breath quickly too.  However, I dedicated a small amount of time to it regularly and can now easily skip for 10 minutes with only a few trip-ups.

You too can achieve the results you desire by making small and regular changes to your daily routines. Simple changes like taking the stairs instead of the escalator or lift; getting off the bus or tube one or two stops earlier and walking the rest of the way to/from work; getting together with a few trusted friends and joining an exercise club or group together, to help motivate and hold each other accountable. The list is endless. Beginning is key however. And the key to beginning is in your hands.

Day one or one day…you choose.

And if you would like a partner in your journey, this is part and parcel of what I offer in my practice. Together, we can find the root cause of your symptoms and then co-create a bespoke plan for you, to help you get on track towards your health and wellness aspirations. Then you too can not only have your cake but also enjoy eating it too.

So what are you waiting for? Get in touch now to begin your new journey and a new you. What better time than the new moon in Gemini, which arrives on 3rd June. New moons are a well-documented time for setting new intentions, goals and plans to work on. So let’s get started today.

How the Social Aspects of Life Impact Us

It’s not new news that aspects such as the air we breathe and water we drink, or relationships that bring us down or even the way we see ourselves in the socioeconomic climate all have an influence on our health and wellness and how we fair fundamentally when it comes to thriving or just surviving. 

Just this week, during a discovery consultation with a client, it was clear that social aspects of her life would dictate how she would proceed forward in being able to continue further work with me. She felt unable due to her socio-economic status and it was a stark reminder to me that basic needs are sometimes not even closely met by some people, as a consequence of their social standing, which has such a huge knock-on effect with the manifestation of symptoms in the mind and body.  

Poor living conditions in the home and environment, surviving on low incomes, unsupportive relationships and low standards of education can all be contributing factors to our health, vitality and wellness, from mental health issues such as paranoia to heart disease, respiratory ailments and skin complaints. 

Though our world has positively developed enormously even in the last 50 to 100 years, we have also seen a massive decline in the way our societies and communities operate and are structured, such as the decline in family units, which used to be such a massive support to each member, to help them thrive and achieve well. 

As a result, we’ve seen an increase in those who feel lonely, isolated, depressed, outcast and forgotten in our societies and communities…and from this, we’ve seen a greater number of physical and mental symptoms, which reflect these changes. 

Meta-Health approaches the health paradigm to include how these social aspects can and do influence our degree of vitality and wellbeing in its analytical process to find the root cause of symptoms so that a plan can be created for the individual, which supports and helps a rebalancing for them in their overall wellness aspirations. 

Research by Dr. Dean Ornish also proves that our ability to connect with ourselves and others and truly love ourselves and others does have a primary impact on our health and wellbeing, dictating how healthy we are or not, what makes us happy or down and out, or what helps us thrive, be healthy and vital or unwell.

On that social level, it’s important we remind ourselves regularly that we are all living energetic beings in an energetic living environment. Everything is intricately connected and impacted by the next thing. None of us are excluded from the fact that everything is energy, as Einstein taught us…everything, absolutely everything is connected. We cannot separate ourselves from it and so it’s important we learn to understand and move within it, to best support our health and wellbeing, so that we can all live our happiest and healthiest lives. 

We view the world, not as it is, but as we are…so it’s vital that we realise that what we think about, we bring about…what we perceive we achieve, whether we want it or not. 

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.

~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

How it’s all connected. 

As discussed in previous posts about how our emotions and beliefs are also deeply connected to our organs and tissues and the symptoms they manifest, our social influences also play a part in our overall health and wellbeing. For example…

  • Upper Oesophagus Mucosa: You want to support your husband in his new business partnership, but instinctively know there is something fundamentally out of alignment with his chosen business partner…however, you have to live with your husband’s decision and choice anyway…but you just can’t swallow the idea and reality of it all and develop symptoms in your oesophagus. 
  • Bladder Mucosa: Your new neighbour has built a wall, which is clearly inside your property and boundaries and you feel as though your territory and boundaries have been overstepped, invaded, disrespected…and your bladder reacts with symptoms. 
  • Periosteum Innervation (nerves): You feel the pain and need of separation from a loved one, who has deceived you, so you want to kick them away…and you develop symptoms in your feet around the periosteum nerves. 
  • Vagina Mucosa: You discover that your wife or husband has been having an affair and feel the rejection sexually…and develop symptoms in your vagina. 

The power and influence of what goes on around us in our social environment cannot be underestimated and we need to start talking about this more openly and honestly, with ourselves and our health professionals. 

Do you live in a home where there are regular arguments, which make you feel inadequate or worthless? If so, is it worth exploring how to heal the relationships within this environment or move out? 

Is there a colleague who is constantly nipping at you, digging at you, making fun of you and putting you down? Is so, do you grow a thicker skin and buckle down with positive affirmations all around you, or change your workplace? 

Do you live in a community where you feel threatened, unsafe and like you always have to watch your back? If so, can you see if changing your view of this community will help or do you move to a new town, city or country? 

When we change, remove and create real-life solutions and soul-utions, we begin to see and experience powerful change within and around us as well. Anything is possible when we change the way we look at things. 

So what can we do? 

I for one can be a great procrastinator. I am the best cleaner, washer-upper and tidier when I want to avoid something which desperately needs and is calling for my attention. Like so many of us, I play games with myself, pretending and almost believing that things will get better if I don’t look at the problem…and as a result, my desire to engage with it grows more and more distant. The truth is, the issue is still there though and likely getting worse, the longer we ignore and dance around it, as if it’s some bonkers game of reverse hide-and-seek. 

I can fully put my hand up and admit that I have been and still am afraid to step outside of my comfort zone to deal with and look at some of my symptoms. It can be daunting. Eventually though, I realise that I need to help myself and the best way to do that is to seek help from another, who can support and guide me. 

This is what Meta-Health is all about…in the analysis process, together, we explore which specific social situation(s) is/are affecting your symptoms and then create a plan specific to you, to focus in on building real-life solutions and soul-utions. 

For example, what could be the social stressor triggering your knee pain? 

  • Is it your fear of moving forwards? 
  • Is it the stress you feel about being supported financially, when at this age, you feel you should be supporting yourself? 
  • Or, do you feel as though you are just not good enough? 

A client I have worked with in the past found his biggest light-bulb moment, in the entire healing of his symptoms, when he realised what his body was doing for him to help, protect and support him, even when his symptoms weren’t pleasant and how these symptoms were fundamentally connected to what was going on around him on a daily basis. 

Our body has an innate ability to regain homeostasis, balance, health and wellness, when we become aware of what is impacting us and we then create specific, individual plans to achieve our health and wellness goals.

It’s time we acknowledged that a one-size-fits-all approach to health and wellbeing does not work when we are all so innately different. No two people come to have the same illness or disease via the same stress triggers, so it makes sense that we all have individual plans to regain our health again as well. This is the backbone of Meta-health ~ it works with you as an individual, exploring what has triggered your symptoms, based on your life and its path, not a general paradigm or template, which hopefully will fit what’s going on for you. 

So where to from here?

Raising your awareness is key. When we understand just how sponge-like we actually are in our social environments, absorbing what’s going on around us, we can then take positive actionable steps to change things for the better. 

Improving the support, help and positive connections around you will create changes you didn’t realise were possible, as will increasing your self-love and the love you allow yourself to receive from others. 

Ask yourself these questions too and begin to positively shift things accordingly: 

  • How do your daily relationships at home, at work at play impact you? 
  • What could you change or let go from the above question?   
  • How can you shift your living, working and play environment so that it supports you more on every level?   
  • Who or what can you remove now from your life, who is simply not a positive influence at all? 
  • What other conscious action steps could you take, which would help improve your social environment for the better? 

If you would like further guidance, insights and personal coaching on how to improve your health, wellness and vitality, learning what has triggered your symptoms, please get in touch. Where this is a will, there is always a way. 

I offer a free discovery call, to explore how I can support you and your challenges, as well as session bundles for those ready to commit to change in their health and wellness journey. 

I also appreciate that it is a new and sometimes challenging concept for us to invest time and money on ourselves. I didn’t for years…until I found I wasn’t getting any better or enjoying life and how I was feeling…and then I changed my priorities about what was important to me…fashion and phones or health and wellness? 

It was a no-brainer for me because ultimately, I could have the former, when the latter was in balance and I felt like I had the energy and vitality to go out and be the best version of myself in what I do. I now love my life what I do on a daily basis and have enabled myself to make choices and decisions I wasn’t able to make when I wasn’t at my best in my health. 

Day one or one day…?
You choose.