Tick tock, tick tock. Goes the clock.
That's the moments of your life passing by.
Doh, there goes another! Am I freaking you out right now? GOOD, BECAUSE YOU SHOULD BE!
Every day that goes by is one less day in the bank pal. Of course we never know if we have a 1980s bankers account, or we’re a shareholder in Enron circa 2001.
You could say thats the excitement of life! Or if you’re more risk adverse you might say "that’s definitely something I do not want to be thinking about!"
Yes, I get it. I mean really get it, because when I had cancer I had to contemplate the very real chance that it wasn’t going to end well.
Since then I’ve dedicated an awful lot of my resources to looking after this body of mine to stay alive for as long as possible. And I think it’s prudent that we all did. But at the end of the day, what exactly are you keeping yourself alive for?
I mean really.
(And when I mean "really", I mean "really" and not "should be".)
I’ve been trying to explain this to my 7 year old son, for whom the whole “bell tolling” penny has just dropped. “What do you mean that we’re all going to die one day? I don’t want to die.” “No neither do I pal. But the only certainty, is that one day, it will happen. So you’ve got to make sure you make the most of your life whilst you’ve got one. (This invariably ends up with him telling me why he shouldn’t be wasting his time at school then).
Death is scary. But its also reality. And reality can often be useful at waking us up from our daydreams.
This is your life! Are you really living it the way you want to be?
Life is filled up with annoyances, and aggravations, and doing stuff we don’t really want to be doing. Plus some awesome bits like cuddles and laughing and doing something that makes you feel really proud.
But how much time have you actually dedicated to thinking what you want to get out of life, or perhaps “put into” life?
What do you want to look back on at aged 101, on your plumped up death bed? Whats gonna make you smile, and think….
”Yep, [that] was awesome?
I’m so glad I spent my time and energy doing [that]
[That] was the best thing that ever happened!”
Probably it won't be all the selfies you posted on Facebook. Or the money you have in the bank. Or what you imagined other people thought of you. Or all the other things that you thought you "should" be doing.
So what will it be?
(If this is a bit morbid for you, I don't apologise, instead I encourage you to sit down and really think about those questions, its actually rather liberating! Failing that its probably time to unsubscribe!)
Need some help being healthy so you can figure out what you want your life to really be about?
Contact me for a free health discovery session today!
Sometimes life can get stressful. Some months the s**t of life just seems to keep on piling up until you feel like your head might explode from stress, that you’re constantly on the verge of bursting into tears of frustration (or punching someone in the face), whilst trying to hold it altogether with your “No, it’s all good in here” smile.
If this sounds familiar, here’s something to try, that has a surprisingly big impact on feeling more like “you” again.
Put your hands on your belly.
And take a deep breath. One so deep that your hands move, and your belly expands.
Then let it out (let it out with a sigh if that feels good).
Then take another breath. Right down deep.
And let it out.
Follow all the sensations of the breath coming in and out.
Keep doing that that for one minute.
Count how many deep belly breaths you do in one minute.
Remember that number.
This is your mindful minute.
Repeat this number of breaths in this way every time you feel your head, lower lip, or fist wobbling. Then do it a few more times for good measure.
You can do it in your car. On the couch. Walking the kids to school. Cooking dinner. At your desk. In a waiting room. With your eyes closed or open.
This my friend, is breathing. And its surprising how often we forget to do it!
You might not believe that something so simple can have such a big impact. But it does. Your body isn’t necessarily as complicated as your to-do list.
It takes in some pretty straight forward messages. So when you’re stressed you tend to breath high in your chest - much like a gazelle being chased by a nasty old Lion. Your body gets flooded with stress hormones so its ready to act, inflammation increases ready for imminent wound attack. And it makes you feel wobbly.
So sometimes we have to remind ourselves to breath like a big old buffalo rolling around in the mud. Our body gets the message and steps down, reduces its inflammation response, digests some food, switches to repairing any niggles, kills some viruses. Then it relaxes in the sunshine.
Oo doesn’t that feel better.
Speaking of feeling better. One of the things I’ve been doing this last year is becoming a certified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher.
I'm a big fan of mindfulness and MBSR because I used it to help me get through cancer treatment, and now 6 years later to be able to levitate and heal small children.
Okay those last two aren't actually true.
But it does enable me to live a more rich and deeply fulfilling life than I otherwise would, or as Jon Kabat-Zinn says "to live life as if it really mattered".
I know mindfulness is a bit of a “buzz” word at the moment, but MBSR is where it all began. It’s considered the gold standard of mindfulness that all the research is based on. You know the research that shows how your brain structure changes (frontal cortex gets bigger); stress, pain, inflammation and blood pressure go down, and immune function goes up to name just a few.
If being less stressed, getting sick less and having a giant brain sounds interesting my next 8-week course runs in May.
This works… not just because I say so (which I do) but because we got participants to take a perceived stress scale before and after the course and on average they had a 42% reduction in stress. And that was right before Christmas! Imagine the effect in May!
Until next time peeps, remember to breath!!!
When it comes to cancer there’s often a lot of mumbling about having to “stay positive”. This aspect of mind and emotion control is given a lot of gravitas.
It’s interesting to note that the most committed advocates of this “positive or die” mentality have never actually had cancer. Because if they had, they’d realise a) it’s absolutely not that easy, which is very much related to fact b) a lot of the time you’re actually sh*& scared!
Holy crap, you’ve just been staring down the barrel of a gun at a bullet with your name on it! And then some buffoon tells you that the most important thing you can do is to “stay positive”!
You really want to tell them to p*^% off, but a little teeny part of you is worried in case its actually true, and if you don’t “think the right thoughts” often enough then you’ll be in all sorts of trouble.
The problem of course, is that it’s impossible to stop those creeping very-non-positive-doubts popping in your mind. Or that sinking feeling deep in your belly.
Ahhh, thank the universe for the soothing simplicity of my old statistical friends - the numbers. The reliability of science just soothes all that crazy business away like a trainspotting crack hit of goodness.
Numbers are beautiful. I’ve loved them ever since I was 16 and Mrs Woodhouse made me trudge back and forth to her house on a Sunday, clutching my formula of x’s and y’s trying to equal z’s. Back and forth I grumpily went until - like suddenly slipping into nirvana - their simple, elegant logic was revealed. And I was hooked.
Numbers are as reliable as the sun rising. They don’t depend on your mood that day, or whether you view them positively or not. They reflect the item they are applied to. Apply it on a Monday, apply it in Russia, apply it on the moon. They still come out the same.
Even though you feel scared and anxious, and wonder if eating more vegetables will really make a difference, it doesn’t matter what you think because you can look at the research and see that a load of scientists have found that it does make a difference*. Whether you believe in it or not. It doesn’t matter if your thoughts are for or against broccoli, they don’t change the properties of broccoli.
Just like gravity holds us to the earth whether we believe in it or not. We don’t need a positive attitude or a grateful mood to make gravity work. It just does.
What this means is you can do something nourishing and useful for yourself and your health, without having to be responsible for every thought you feel and every emotion you have. What a relief!
It’s actually entirely irrelevant what you happen to be thinking about as you do some exercise (which just for the record will be reducing your risk of breast cancer recurrence by 24%, breast cancer death by 34%, and your risk of any cause of death by 41%**). You just do it anyway, because those stats rather convincingly tell you it’s worth it too.
You don’t have to do it positively, gratefully or joyfully. You could do it grumpily, grudgingly and resentfully, it will still help you.
And weirdly enough, over time you do actually start feeling more positive. Not by forcing or coercing yourself to think or feel a certain way, but because Mrs Woodhouse made you understand statistical significance.
And then you read some studies about some things that can influence your health. Things that you can have some control over.
And then you go and take some action.
And by heck, taking some action feels goooooood!
If you’ve finished cancer treatment recently, you might be noticing that moving forward isn’t as straight forward as you expected.
In fact it can sometimes feel like you’re standing on the edge of a void and the future is hazy, or blank, or just plain dark. That can feel scary.
I know because I’ve been there, but the good news is that you can take control back over your life and body again and I created Life 2.0 to show you how. The first Life 2.0 - how to live life after cancer treatment course finished last year, it was huge success and we’re planning more over the coming months. If you’d like to find out more then click here.
Kathy who was on the last course gave this feedback:
“This course has helped with my sleep and work life. I am happier, feel healthier and my energy levels have really picked up. Do it! It's definitely been productive in moving on after cancer for me.“
For my fellow science nerds!
*Just for the record plenty of science has shown the importance of vegetables in reducing cancer risk. Here are just a few!
**Among breast cancer survivors, physical activity after diagnosis has consistently been associated with reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence and breast cancer-specific mortality. A recent meta-analysis demonstrated that post-diagnosis exercise was associated with a 34% lower risk of breast cancer deaths, a 41% lower risk of all-cause mortality, and a 24% lower risk of breast cancer recurrence.
We all know that feeling good, feels…well, good. But did you know that positive emotions are actually good for you as well? As good for you as eating-raw-vegetables-in-a-yoga-pose-after-running-a-marathon, good?
Yes, you heard that right. Not only are positive emotions quite pleasant but they give you energy, improve cardiac rhythms, glucose levels, inflammation and your immune system (fellow science nerds check out below*).
So where are we supposed to find these elusive positive moments that make us feel good and improve our health? Great question - because this definitely sounds more enjoyable than running a marathon - for real!
Well the great news is, you don’t actually have to do anything, because it turns out they are already there. All the time. Everyday. Like oxygen.
Okay, I know it might not feel like that a lot of the time. Or perhaps even most of the time. But that’s just what you think. And what you think also happens to be the problem. Confused? I’m sounding kinda cagey here so I’ll get to the point.
If you can manage to turn the volume of your thoughts down for 5 mins you’ll notice that most moments in your day are actually positive - I'm not just making this up! There’s scientific data proving it! In fact, those helpful scientists even named it – it’s called the “Positivity Offset” (terrible name, but marketing isn’t their strong suit).
Me and you, we’re here today because humans have survived as a species due to pessimism and looking for the danger in any situation - AKA “Negativity Bias” (another poorly named, but useful fact thanks to our scientist buddies). What this means is that our brains are always looking for the negative, for what is - or more usually what might - go wrong. So this explains why your first thought might be to see the glass is half empty. Because if it is almost empty, you need to find some more milk quick smart or WE’LL ALL DIE!
You can’t blame your brain for this tendency. It's useful. It’s always looking to keep you safe and alive. If you're a glass half-empty kinda person it probably means you're a pro-survivor and in times of apocalypse will be one of the last left standing!
But the problem with negativity bias is that it tends to paint a less-than rosy picture and make life look one way (you know, stressful, dangerous, troublesome) – and that way is not usually accurate. Because our useful and friendly scientists have shown that on any one day, moment by moment more good stuff happens than bad. We just tend to notice and dwell on the bad.
Our life is made up of moments. Stacked on top of one another. If we were able to experience our day and instead of thinking, worrying, imagining and generally getting all wound up in our negativity bias – then our day would be a lot more pleasurable. AND we would be improving our health! That my friend is win-win.
Now, just to clarify, this isn't about denying the negative. Of course sh*t does happen. You're alive, ergo you’ll have some trouble to deal with. Plus, some days we just feel in a bad mood, and have negative thoughts and feelings. Also okay. It’s not pretending none of that is there – but it’s about spending a lot more time experiencing your day, instead of thinking about it (or last week, or 10 years ago, or 5 years in the future). Get out of your brain and into your skin! (See the Bad Day Box below for Bad Day Strategy!)
Let’s also clarify what a positive emotion is. It does not equal always “being happy” (in that always smiling, hugely annoying over the top way – argh I feel sick). Positive emotions include joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love.
More good news! It’s the frequency of the positive emotions that counts, not the intensity. So you pat a cat, and notice it feels quite nice. Tick, positive moment (good for health). You have a friendly chat at the cash register in the supermarket, and you feel quite connected to another person. Tick, positive moment (good for health). You like the feeling of sun on your skin, you get through the lights before they change, you find $1 on the ground, your friend invites you for coffee, you have a cuddle, you smile at a thought-provoking yet humorous blog 😉, you listen to a good song on the radio, your washing doesn’t get wet, you see a beautiful picture, the kids have gone to bed and its quieeeeeettt…. all ticks! And your life is probably already filled with loads of them plus a lot more meant just for you.
You get the point? It’s in the ordinary transactions of every day life that positive emotions grow.
MORE great news, the more you notice the positive moments and emotions, the more there are! If you can just stop always thinking and be present with them.
So give it a try and see what you can notice.
Now if you want a bit of help with practicing being more aware or present in your day, then contact me for a complimentary chat. Mindfulness is close to my heart. I’ll be offering a few resources to my lovely newsletter subscribers soon that you may find useful (so if you aren’t one yet, sign up!).
Lastly, make sure you add some things to your to-to list that are just for the fun of it. Just purely because you enjoy doing them. It’s good for your health!
How do you know you're spending your precious time on the things that count? And not just running around like a headless chicken?
Find out my top time management secret plus learn why it's so important to know your lemons!
I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
(It's my first ever video blog, so let's rejoice that there can only be future improvements!)
Ever have a month that felt like an over-indulgent Christmas day on repeat?
My recent UK holiday to visit friends and family was one of those. Twenty-nine of the 30 days involved alcohol, three-course meals and my mother-in-law’s chocolate almond cake (impossible to resist!).
Great fun at the time, but my return to ‘reality’ (aka jeans too tight, puffing up hills, feeling a bit ‘blah’), required immediate action! I’d fallen off the wagon and was at least a good 3 days walk behind it.
So here is my no nonsense 3-step plan to catching up to and securing oneself back on that wagon!
Read on pioneers, read on! (Hmmm, have I taken that metaphor to its limits…?)
Step 1: DO NOT PANIC AND CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK! (Sorry for shouting, but this is so important it requires capitals).
Giving it the ‘I’m so rubbish, I hate my thighs’ spiel is unproductive and pointless. The fact is: you’re human and you’ll veer wildly off track now and then. Don’t freak out. Otherwise you’ll find yourself in a slipstream of:
‘I’m so useless. Why do I bother? I may as well give up and just let myself go, I’m never going to change in a million years....I’ll end up dying fat and alone in a dark damp flat with 50 cats, starring on the TV reality show Hoarders…”
And those thoughts make it hard to get motivated. Remember, it’s normal to not be perfect!
All that’s needed is a couple of small adjustments. So keep calm and imagine what your best mate would tell you. Click here for more tips on bigging yourself up. Then move to Step 2 below.
Step 2: High five anything (I mean anything) that you are doing well.
Concentrate on the stuff that you’re good at. Chances are there is at least one thing you’ve been doing that’s good for you (even if its just reading my blog! ;-) . Find that thing, be glad about it and concentrate on doing more of it.
This is all about ‘leveraging your strengths’ and ‘accentuating the positive’. Perhaps you did eat half a packet of chocolate chip cookies by 11am (not ideal) – but you also went to yoga (ideal!). Or walked to the shop. Or did....etc
Focus on that good thing and do more of it, and you’ll start to get moving!
Step 3: Set some small and clear goals.
Make em modest. Small reachable goals work best. Instead of swearing you are going to lose 10kgs in 2 months, you might start by committing to drinking x-amount of glasses of water a day for 10 days, or going to bed at x-time or eating some veg at lunch x-days a week. (I have purposely left the numbers out because it depends on where you are now to what goal you should be setting!)
Why is this important? Because it’s all about momentum! When you achieve a goal you’ve set, you feel all warm and glowy and you’re motivated because you feel good! You realise you can make a change.
One thing builds on the next and before you know it you are riding bareback on the lead wagon horse, your pilgrim bonnet flapping in the wind…..
It’s the little changes that accumulate over time that makes you the person you are with the life you’ve got. So it’s okay to have an-out-of-control period. It’s not a disaster. You can definitely rectify it and get back on track.
Tweet, tweet, tweet.... what's that I hear? Yes, spring is just around the corner! If the idea of taking the kid’s swimming, summer outfits and bare flesh is filling you with horror, then now is a great time to get some new good habits on the go! Contact me now for a free discovery consultation to find out how we can get you feeling all flirty and free in the sun!
(Psst…it’s about making great new habits and not another fad for you to fail!)
I'd love to hear from you in the comments below about what makes you fall off the wagon every now and then, and exactly what helps get things going again. Or just post a pic of your best bonnet!
So the reason I became a health coach is because I got a really bad illness – one that could have had me lying 6 feet under by now. Or sitting in a china urn on a mantel somewhere.
Following that I learnt a lot of things that are really important and useful to help prevent said illness reappearing and thought ‘shoot I better share this info, kinda important!’
Scary but interesting fact alert! Did you know that chronic illnesses (like the ones we are all statistically most likely to, ahem, die from) like heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers are largely influenced by the way we live our life? As in, lifestyle and diet can help prevent that beast being born? As in, what you do on a day-to-day basis has a massive impact on your health? I bet right now you are nodding your head thinking ‘Yes I know that’, but also totally thinking ‘but that doesn’t matter because I won't get one of those though’.
I know you are thinking that because I did too, until I got one of course.
But there is another side to all this. Its one thing to try and keep yourself alive for as long as possible, but what’s the point if you aren’t living a good life? By your definition. I mean deep down in your pants how you really want to be.
Not in a job you hate, surrounded by people you don’t like, numbing yourself with food, drugs and digital screens whilst ignoring all those things you truly love doing.
I mean what’s the point of living longer if you aren’t actually enjoying it?
I know from experience that there is freedom in realising that you aren’t actually going to live forever. Certainly puts things in perspective. Certainly focuses your attention.
So today instead of telling you the secret to living to a ripe old age, I want you to answer this question:
What would you do differently if you found out you only had 18 months to live?
How would that knowledge change the way you live? What would you stop worrying about? What would you start doing?
Would you care how you look? Would you care if you did x well enough? What y thinks of you? How annoying z is?
What have you always dreamed of doing that you would plan to do before you departed? A trip to Italy? A sky dive? Spend more time with your mum? Go fishing? Tell someone how you really feel about them?
What is it you wish someone would give you a permission slip to do?
Why not do those things now? Really, what is stopping you? Are you waiting until everything - including you - is miraculously perfect? Babes, it’s never going to happen.
No need to wait until you realise you are about to drop dead. Give yourself that permission now. Or ask me and I’ll handwrite you one.
We only have so much time and energy to use in this world – where are you directing yours?
It’s never too late to make a change...as one of my favourite sayings advises: Just Do It (even if you suck).
I'd love to know what you would change, so please tell me in the comments below - go on I dare you!
Oi you! I know you’re thinking you need a ‘health kick’. You’ve got great intentions, but no actual plan. You need to know where to start. And how to keep it going.
What you really need is a good kick in the backside to get the ball rolling. A painless, healthy kick in the backside. And like magic here it is!
I feel qualified to help in this matter because I used to eat ham and butter sandwiches for lunch. Every day. Now I eat vegetables at every meal, can levitate, and heal small children of leprosy (okay the last two aren’t actually true, yet).
But I have dedicated the past 4 years of my life to finding out what constitutes good health and then put that knowledge into action. And now I want to get you going on your own health transformation. So where to start?
The secret is in the glass!
And exactly what is in the glass? Smoothies and juices.
Yes, the fastest way to hook yourself up to some top grade nutrients and immune boosting health is by drinking them. Daily if possible. If that sounds too off the wall crazy then make it weekly.
I promise you this is the Holy Grail. It’s easy. It’s incredibly healthy. And it’s tasty. What more do you want? I mean really.
You don’t need to know how to cook. Or buy 50 recipe books. Or try and make bland foods taste good.
You just need to know how to plug in an appliance and press a button.
When I was faced with the challenge of increasing my veg intake from 1.5 to 10 a day, I realized that I wanted to enjoy my life. I didn’t want to eat raw broccoli crudités. So instead I juiced them.
If you don’t like vegetables - juice them. Blend them. It makes them tasty and you feel great when you realise how many you just consumed.
When you juice and blend your veg the digestion starts in the machine. This means the nutrients are ready to go - you get the hit straight from your stomach into your bloodstream. Boom. No digestion effort required. This is great if you are ill, recovering from being ill, or just plain lazy. Try it first thing in the morning. No need for coffee I swear!
No time for healthy eating? You can whip up a smoothie in the time it takes to boil a jug of water.
When you have your smoothie grove on, before you know it you’ll be experimenting with the top shelf stuff. The Big Daddies. Often referred to as the Superfoods. The bee pollen, the spirulina, the chlorella, cacao, hemp powder, maca powder…
These are the most potent, super-concentrated, nutrient-rich foods on the planet. These guys are like Arnold Schwarzenegger turning up in Terminator 2 and declaring, “My mission is to protect you”. Then blowing away the freaky-unkillable guy by shooting missiles of nutrients around your body. Boom. Boosting your immune system. Boom. Elevating serotonin production. Boom. Getting you in a saucy mood. Boom. Lowering inflammation. ‘Hasta la vista, baby’. You get the point.
It’s all a slippery slope from there. Before you know it you will be craving salad for lunch, and broccoli crudités for afters.
Vegetables – they are the drug of choice when you are old enough to realise you actually have to start looking after your body.
If you are a health newbie, still skirting around the edges, considering whether to poke a finger into some daal or beetroot humus for the first time. Not too sure you have the commitment, or stamina, or interest…then juicing and smoothie making is for you!
You could be the unhealthiest person in the world and get some life-changing goodness in under 5 mins.
How does that sound for a healthy kick in the backside?
All my newsletter subscribers have automatically received my Beginner’s Backside Kicking Guide to Juicing and Smoothie Making - if that's not you and you want to get your hot little hands on it email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get one. I'll also add you to my newsletter list so you never miss out again!
Have you ever found that instead of feeling inspired after reading a health-related blog you actually feel worse off? That those ‘healthy’ people can actually be really annoying? Nauseating in fact?
All the earth mothers with a delicate rain of chia seeds falling all around them, their kids pleading for more broccoli – agitating?
Sometimes the only illumination has been that in comparison to health-officiando you are a bit of a health-failure, low on self-discipline and you still don’t know what the hell a spiralizer is anyway?
To top it all off, on facebook there is always someone posting about how they ran 15kms in 20mins or just completed a 300-day juice detox. Does a tiny bit of you just groan inside?
Well don’t let your blatant inadequacies put you off your quest for good health and self-improvement!
The message is still clear - good health = energy and clarity of mind to live an awesome life. But we don’t want it to become another unobtainable item on our to-do list to feel guilty about (like how I still haven’t sorted out my photos from my trip to Africa in 1997, or sewn the tassel back on the cushion in the living room). My to-do list is already as long as my arm and it stresses me out!
Forget all that. There is no need to be an overachiever (and just for the record I’m not sure that overachievers are actually more healthy or happy than the rest of us).
Don’t let your desire to do-it-all backfire into a stressful pit of despair that has you knocking back a pack of chocolate biscuits and bottle of wine in a oh-why-bother-rebellion.
Health, much like life, is a journey. Way over there in the distance with all the vegans, where the cakes are made of dandelions and kumquats, and everyone leaves a trail of pumpkin seeds in their wake - that’s where we are headed.
But right now, most of us aren’t in that place. Most of us are still trying to eat a few more vegetables each day. Most of us are struggling to pay the bills, get on with the important people in their lives, and squeeze in one exercise session a week on a regular basis.
Wherever you are now is totally okay. Instead of berating yourself for not making your own pasta out of courgettes I want you to join me on the One-A-Day-Healthy-Haworth-Challenge!
Each day, starting today - I want you to ask yourself "What is one, tiny – hell, even enjoyable - thing I could do for myself, my health, my body today?"
Now for some tips – the biggest of which is that being healthy is not actually that complicated. Here are some basic guidelines:
That, my friends, is it! If you do one thing from that list everyday then super high-fives, you have taken one step down that path to the big V-land!
Now I know you still have the entire social media world of health fanatics to contend with. So, if you are willing to take on the One-A-Day-Healthy-Haworth-Challenge (or OA-DH-HC as I like to call it), instead of posting it for the world to see (and making other people feel bad about your achievements in comparison), email me what you did, I will reply with a personalised email bursting with positive reinforcement and adoration.
If you actually manage to do this 7 days in a row, I will send you a personalised video of celebration at how amazing you are – and you definitely will want to put that on facebook.
By all means continue to search for healthy inspiration and ideas (many of which you can find right here!). But if it feels too much for you - don’t be put off, don’t compare yourself, take a deep breath, eat that apple and give yourself a pat on the back and think – yup, that was pretty cool.
(Of course you may notice that after continually following the OA-DH-HC, over time your choices become more and more healthy as you build on what has come before, so this time next year, you may look back and be surprised at how far you’ve come – but shhh, that is just between me and your subconscious!).
If you have ever stuffed your face with chocolate until you actually broke into a sweat then you know Easter is coming up! So I figured a bit of gentle discourse on the mystery and magic of chocolate would be in order.
Fact 1: Did you know that chocolate is the only ingredient that is its very own food group?
Okay that’s not actually true - but it seems as if it should be. Powerfully comforting, delicious, actually I’d go as far as to say pretty much irresitable – of all the treats, in all the world, chocolate is the one true love for me (am I alone here or what?).
Which begs the question...
Is chocolate good for you? The answer is both yes and no.
YES - Chocolate has been used for centuries to treat bronchitis, sexual malaise, fatigue, hangovers, anemia, depression, memory loss, high blood pressure, poor eyesight, and more (see the science at the end of this blog if you don’t believe me!*). It also helps release the feel-good neurotransmitter - serotonin - in the brain. You aren’t just imagining the way you feel after a delicious bite of top-quality dark chocolate - it makes you feel good!
NO - But all chocolate is not created equal! Eat the wrong kind and you’ll get loads of sugar, calories, and junky ingredients completely cancelling out all that goodness. I'm afraid the good guys aren't those old favourites like Cadbury's Dairy Milk, Toblerone or Snickers (did you know that Snickers is the world's favourite chocolate bar?!).
Tips for chocolate addicts
Chocolate begins life as raw cacao (pronounced kah-kow) beans. Loaded with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and plant phenols, cacao has often been described as one of the most powerful superfoods there is. The more processed cacao becomes, however (as in most commercially produced chocolate bars) the fewer healthy components remain.
So how to get the most out of your chocolate fix?
- Don’t be afraid of the dark. The darker the chocolate, the more beneficial cacao it contains (all those studies below refer to dark chocolate, so don’t get confused and go on a sugar eating rampage!).
- Know your percentages: the number on dark chocolate packaging refers to the percentage of cacao bean in chocolate. For maximum health benefit, look for dark chocolate that has 75% to 85% cacao. A great option you can pick up easily in your local supermarket is Green and Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate 85% (they also have a 70% option which might be a nice bridge from the milk to the dark if 85% seems to scary!)
- Try raw chocolate - or as unprocessed as possible.
Less is more when it comes to the good stuff. Go for top quality - you may baulk at the price, but the taste is worth it (and so are you!), then when you eat it, sit down, stop reading/watching/listening to anything else and just suck on that bad boy until its all gone!
You will find that just one piece of the most decadent top quality dark chocolate is all you need to feel satiated. (Ok realistically its probably 2, but you might be surprized about how satisfied you feel!).
So this Easter avoid the sweats and go for a little guilt free gorgeousness in the darkest best quality chocolate you can find – get your orders in now with loved ones! (Also check out my recipe for Scrumptious Lunch-box Balls for kids and adults alike made with cacao).
If this has got you curious about how to choose chocolate - and other delicious super foods - to keep you healthy (and your taste buds happy)! Let’s talk! Schedule a complimentary health coaching consultation with me today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about!
*Here are just a few studies into the benefits of dark chocolate:
- The potential benefits of eating chocolate are said to include: lowering cholesterol levels, preventing cognitive decline, and reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems. A study in Germany this year found that about a square of dark chocolate a day lowered blood pressure and reduced risk of heart attack and stroke by 39 percent. Most of the credit goes to flavonoids, antioxidant compounds that increase the flexibility of veins and arteries.
- The lead researcher at the University of L'Aquila in Italy says the flavonoids in chocolate increase nitric oxide production and that helps control insulin sensitivity.
- A study found the theobromine found in chocolate quieted coughs almost as well as codeine and without the negative side effects of drowsiness. This chemical, responsible for chocolate's feel-good effect, may suppress activity in a part of the brain called the vagus nerve.
- Canadian scientists carried out a study involving 44,489 people and found that people eating chocolate were 22% less likely to suffer a stroke than those who didn't. In addition, those who had a stroke but regularly consumed chocolate were 46 percent less likely to die as a result.
- Swiss scientists found that when very anxious people ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks, their stress hormone levels were significantly reduced and the metabolic effects of stress were partially mitigated.
- There is also evidence of chocolate polyphenols having some anti-inflammatory properties
- Both South American and European cultures have a history that dates back to the 16th century of treating diarrhea with cacao. Scientists at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute found that cacao flavonoids bind to a protein that regulates fluid secretion in the small intestine, potentially stopping diarrhea.
- The University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolate is far more filling, offering more of a feeling of satiety than milk chocolate. That is, dark chocolate lessens cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods.
So I spent 5 months planning a 3-day city break to Sydney with the girls. Child and husband free, there was to be lots of shopping, eating, and general carefree living like you see in one of those tampon commercials. My friends travelled over the day before, and as I skipped into the airport at 6.30am on a Friday morning I was full of excitement and the occasional giggle. Nothing could get me down! But as it turned out, due to a series of comedy-film-esque errors by the airline – nothing could get me up! After 13 hours at the airport I found myself back home exhausted very annoyed and wondering what happened to Day 1 of my 3-day tampon commercial. And that begs the question, how can something so well planned and looked forward to, go so horribly wrong?
Cue part one of Post-Apocalyptic Life Lesson 2: the truth is we don’t control s***.
Yes, we tell ourselves that if we account for every variable, make lists, analyze and develop contingencies that everything will be tickety-boo. And sometimes it is, and it is important to plan – just as long as we remember that even after all the planning and the effort, we don’t control the outcome.
When we don’t remember this, we start to rely on these plans and feel that we are totally in control of our lives. The problem being that as things start falling apart, so can we! We find ourselves somewhat shell-shocked asking ‘How did that happen?’ - well I believe that’s what they call life just happening!
The idea that we aren’t controlling it all can be pretty scary but there is good news. Whilst we can’t control all elements of the world, there is one thing that we are the sole keepers of. In fact the only real thing we have a say in - ourselves.
Cue part two of Post-Apocalyptic Life Lesson 2: we don't control s***, except our own s***.
I’ll give you another example from my life. Getting a serious illness. I do a lot of things in an effort to prevent a recurrence of my very aggressive cancer. I have read all the research. I know the stats of the benefits of exercise, the ideal health promoting diet, how handling stress and emotions and environmental toxins can all have an impact. And I have made changes and taken necessary precautions in accordance with the research. And it’s sensible to do this. And sometimes I can convince myself that it guarantees I’ll live to be 110. But really, that is just my mind making itself feel better. Because the truth is, I can’t control all the variables, I can do what I can do, I can ask myself honestly every day if I am living the best way I can to give myself the best chance. But then I just have to surrender and let go. I can’t control everything. And shoot that is pretty scary to acknowledge. It’s so much easier to pretend that I can.
But the only real thing I can control is my response to what happens in life. And the only way to really do that is to work on being present and awake. Yes, it’s as cheesy as a Valentine’s Day greetings card. You hear it everywhere, but that’s because it’s so damn true!
Only when we are here, noticing what we are thinking, feeling, experiencing can we be aware enough to decide how we want to act, what our response will be to what happens in life (and of course, to be aware enough to actually enjoy ourselves when things are happening).
That’s where our real power lies. Not in trying to control every thing/person/event that occurs in our life (or in the lives of others!), but in creating ourselves using our experience as the putty. Yes, think of your everyday life as a big pile of putty or playdough. The question then becomes, what aspect of myself can I build out of this event? Who do I want to be in relation to this? That is what you control. That is what makes life pretty exciting.
Who shall I mould myself to be in relation to that rude obnoxious airhostess who couldn’t give a monkeys about my child-free 5-months in the planning 3-day weekend away that she is about to crap all over? Do I want to be rude, assertive, compliant, angry, patient, resolute?
There is no right or wrong answer, there is only reacting (because that is how I did last time), or responding (by experimenting, and using my senses and mind for good use). The first makes me feel like a crazy person, the second makes me feel powerful and creative. I know which I prefer!
In the end Sydney was all I hoped it would be, but with a big reminder along the way. That I don’t control s***, except my own s***
Lesson 2: You don’t control s***, except your own s***!
Click here to check out Post-Apocalyptic Life Lesson One!
As always I would love to hear what you think, so please comment below on your freaky control issues or if you think I am nuts?!
The other night was hot, sticky and full of mosquitoes. Those annoying %*&^ers kept me awake half the night. Critter v Woman (and electric fly swat) was a euphoric battle until almost dawn. The early morning alarm did not feel great.
I was knackered, and it wasn’t due to the body count I had inflicted. I missed out on sleep. Good quality sleep. Which, it struck me, just like good health, we only notice when we don’t have it.
Sleep is a bit mysterious isn’t it? When all is well, we go to bed when we’re tired, drift off immediately and awaken feeling refreshed and rejuvenated like we just slept in the arms of an angel. But when its not - its like existing in our own private hell of dark, duvet-rolling, heavy-sighing aloneness!
Part of that middle-of-the-night-pain, is the knowing of what’s coming the next day. Tired, grumpy, with endless daylight hours yawning before us and every task a huge effort. We know we aren't on top of our game, and we can trust our body on that assessment; the research shows we definitely aren't!
The evidence is clear - lack of sleep equals higher risk for illness and accidents, more likely to feel stressed and irritable, to have mood and relationship problems, a poor performing brain, poor work performance, and weight gain.
So exactly what happens when we are asleep? Well just about every critical body activity you can think of! Our internal organs rest and recover, tissues repair, muscles grow, memories consolidate, and the hormone leptin that regulates appetite control and metabolism is released (i.e. no leptin means a stronger appetite and more cravings the next day leading us to overeat!). Its safe to say that sleep quality is as important as diet and exercise for our well-being.
When we have a good night’s sleep we have more energy and are more likely to make better food and lifestyle choices. For instance, cooking instead of takeaway, exercise instead of couch. Our immune system is strengthened, we feel more alert focused and creative, it improves our mood and increases our sex drive.
So I think we all agree we want it. So how do we ensure we get it?
If you are one of the 30% of people who report sleep troubles, then there are some things to consider.
The main one is how are we ‘shutting’ ourselves down at night? In the ‘olden days’ when Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were still in nappies, we couldn’t pay our bills, catch up on work and emails, order our brother’s birthday present, obsess over Facebook or act on any other random thought that might pop into our head at 11pm. In the olden days, before 24/7 access to the world, we would jot a thought down on a piece of paper and look into it tomorrow. In the olden days we wouldn’t watch a thriller in bed at 10pm. It got dark, and we all went to bed at 9pm because there was nothing else to do.
Modern life means we tend not to get winding down time. And our bodies aren’t used to it. Even though we are intellectual mental beings, it helps to remember that we are also still physical beings. Our body moves to the rhythms of the world in which we live. They need the message and the time to wind down. Artificial lighting, flickering of screens and our rampant thought processes don’t do this. So if you can’t sleep, try making a conscious choice to slow down as bedtime approaches.
Other things to consider if you’re struggling with sleep are:
If you notice that you are having problems sleeping, try keeping a journal noting what things do and don’t work, and see if you can identify any patterns.
Sleep is crucial for your health and well-being. Wouldn’t it be great to just bound out of bed, focused and ready for your day? Addressing your sleep can help make that a reality. If you need some help working out what’s affecting your sleep then make a health consultation with me today.
I'd love to hear your favourite mysterious sleep-making tips, comment below!
Last week I turned 40. Considering that I was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer at aged 36 it was quite a moment to celebrate - the fact I was still alive and all!
But even as I tucked myself down to sleep the night before, still holding on to that 39 card, I must admit I felt a little bit of apprehension… like I was somehow coming to the end of something… Was I going to wake up bang in the middle of a mid-life crisis? With 40 slapping me in the face with a message of you are at the end of your 30s, is this what you thought? I wondered to myself if this was what a mid-life crisis began like?
Anyway, happily none of that happened. Because when I woke up on the 29th Dec, aged 40 - I felt great! Why? Well overnight a 0 had replaced that 9. Suddenly I felt like I was right back at the beginning of something again, and as we all know, being at the beginning of something is much more exciting than being at the end.
It’s so funny how we can write our own stories based on random details like this. And knowing that we can decide where to put the title and end over any part of our life is wonderfully freeing.
Take all our favourite stories; they always start with something either mundane or terrible happening. Harry Potter abused by his distant family members, if that was the end of the story it would be depressing, but it happens at the start and we know this is something just to be got through, and he will go on and have amazing adventures. But imagine if they ended in other places, Hansel and Gretel, lost in the woods, The End. Han Solo being sold to Jaba the Hut, The End. No! When the terrible thing happens that story is just getting going. We can also apply this to the stories in our own life. Not that I am equating being frozen in carbonite with turning 40, but that turning 40 is a great reminder that I am at the start of a new story again.
Last week also happens to be the start of a new year, so whilst it’s a terrible time to have a birthday in terms of organising a party, it’s a great time of year to consider starting a new story. And this is where this all becomes more relevant to you.
I know a lot of people slate resolutions, and I'm in agreement when some rather unbelievable and over the top challenges emerge like doing 150 crunchies a day for the rest of the year. Stuff we start with a spurt of (slightly unrealistic) enthusiasm, can't maintain, give up after a week - not so helpful, but where a new year can be so useful is as an opportunity to reflect and contemplate our lives and where we are headed.
Now those are some old fashioned terms that we don't hear bandied about much these days, particularly in our high tech fast moving worlds. But they are just as important now as they were before we could watch the Best of YouTube annual wrap-ups.
Perhaps the term ‘check in’ is a bit more modern than contemplation. Where am I right now in life? What’s going on around me? The people in my life, the work I do, my health, all these things are they what I want for my life? Because this is the beginning of my story and I can influence where I want my story to go. What do I want to have happen in my story? In a year’s time, in 5 years time, in 10 years time, in 20 years time?
Wherever you are, whatever you have achieved or haven't achieved, however happy you are or aren't, this can be where you start. The question isn’t what has happened up until now, but what’s going to happen next?
This New Year, whilst coming up with a list of 10 impossible things that you know deep down you will probably never realistically manage is not useful, taking some time to check in and realise that you are the author of your life is. All you need is a little intention and a little reflection. And so, place the beginning chapter of this new story of your life here, now in Jan 2015. Chapter 1. Oo goose bumps of excitement already!
Happy New Year!
As always I would love to hear from you below in the comments. What’s your opinion on New Year resolutions and your favourite story?
I love it when my old uni mate comes around to hang out. The other day, not only did she bring me a delicious freshly made coffee but she also spurted words of deep wisdom and brilliance that needed to be shared!
I told my friend - let's call her ‘The Sage’ - about some constructive feedback I had recently received about a piece of work I did. I knew they were well-intended comments, filled with nuggets of truth, but since hearing them I’d noticed I'd started becoming a giant procrastinator and excuse-maker!
Suddenly I was a prisoner to my own worst fears about doing it ‘wrong’ again.
Even my super successful businesswoman friend told me she sometimes struggles with a lack of confidence in what she is doing. In fact I have heard the same thing from some of the most successful woman I know – the fear that they might be found out as rubbish (even though they are actually totally brilliant).
And that fear can be crippling (stopping us trying all sorts of awesome things), not to mention agonising. (I’m sure this is a woman thing, but please male readers tell me if I am wrong!)
It is so much easier to fumble about with what we know we are good at and play it safe, or do a lot of planning and proposing and putting-off instead of following those little urgings tempting us out where its all a bit mysterious and unknown.
So what to do when you feel too scared to step forward?
Now I love a bit of self-analysis! I’m all about noticing what’s going on in those dark creepy corners we spend most of the day running away from! And the psychology behind why we do and don’t do things is fascinating. But whilst this information is thought-provoking, you don’t want to fall prey to the old ‘analysis paralysis’.
You can ponder the 'whys' and plan the 'whats' until the cows come home. But at the end of the day you still have to act!
And when I told my friend Sage-o I had been putting off my next move, she gave me some great advice, she said:
“Jan, you just have to suck it up and start it.”
And she is so right! Even if you feel scared and you aren’t 100% sure you are doing the right thing, or a thing right, the worse thing you can do is no-thing!
At least if you act, you can get some feedback.
Especially if you are trying something new - you won’t do it perfect, or right or even probably that well to start with. But at least you have somewhere to step from next. Then you can reflect, make adjustments and try again.
And every time you act, you are slowly moving yourself from here to wherever you wish to be. Instead of existing in stagnantsville (which lets face it, is about as depressing as it sounds).
So this week I have a challenge for you. To take whatever that thing is that you are procrastinating over, that you are umming and ahhing about and trying to decide whether to do it or not, and take a punt and do something towards it. Anything!
Just experiment with going with your gut (even if you aren't completely sure what your gut is saying). Make a decision, take an action, despite your concerns, and then see what the feedback is.
As The Sage says - suck it up, start it and see!
I would love to hear from you below in the comments, what are the results and repercussions from following the advice of The Sage?!
When I had cancer it was like being slapped in the face with a wet fish. AKA a ginormous, unattractive, clammy wake up call. Nothing like a life-threatening illness and facing your own mortality to put things in perspective and focus your attention.
So I thought it would be useful for me to occasionally share with you what I like to call my Post-Apocalyptic Life Lessons (not too dramatic I hope!).
Lesson 1: Death avoidance is not the point, making sure you are living when you are actually alive is!
You feel me? It is waaaaay to easy to operate from a position of risk avoidance and seek those seemingly easy secure options. Like when you try not to do anything that could cause you to feel uncomfortable, scared, embarrassed, or worst of all could make you look stupid! But living this way has some serious collateral damage.
The worst of which is making life feel kinda dull, stuck and boring – instead of rich, diverse and exhilarating. The truth is there is no such thing as living risk-free and with security. That’s just something your brain made up to stop you freaking out all the time. Those concepts aren’t real, they are just pretend like watching The Muppets, being alive is risky! What is real is getting off your arse and doing something with it. Whether that be shaking it, getting someone to pat it or taking it somewhere it has never been before.
I don’t mean to be a downer on a sunny afternoon but there is something I really want you to know, and that is that someday you are going to die! How long until that will be is like the proverbial piece of string. The point isn’t to get morose, morbid or depressed about that, the point is to go "okay what the hell am I going to do then when I am still alive?" And only you can answer that.
It’s different for everyone, because we are all different! You are in charge of finding something that expresses you! Some people want to climb a mountain, some people want to have long loving lunches with family on a Saturday. Some people want to learn to salsa, and others want to get through the entire series of The Wire without requiring subtitles to understand what the hell everyone is talking about.
The possibilities are endless, but you have to put some intention into it. I bet almost no one wants to run through life on automatic-pilot, stressed with an endless to-do list of crap that deep down you question the importance of, following another’s idea of an ‘ideal’ life and feeling kinda hollow inside. And yet, that weirdly seems to be what a lot of us do! Crazy no?
Damn TV and the movies for making it so easy to live life vicariously! Life is short! Best to wake up now and start living it. The alternative is not security, its waking up on our deathbeds, surprised at how we got there, wondering what the hell just happened and why we ended up in a version of our life that wasn't anything to do with what we really wanted. And when there, I suspect it’s the things we always wished we did but never even attempted that we will regret.
It’s the life that we didn't live, that we will mourn. This is what having cancer taught me. I'm not saying its easy, and the point certainly isn't to be perfect, but wherever you are, you can start. So what is one small thing you could do today, to start living your life - your way? That expresses who you are? Now, take a risk - and do it!
Here endeth lesson 1 in the Post-Apocalyptic Life Lessons series!
Lesson 1: Death avoidance is not the point, making sure you are living when you are actually alive is!
NB: Taking a chance, or making a change can sometimes be scary. It can help to have someone beside us, giving us a little prod here and there, supporting us move toward where we want to go. If you feel like you are waking up wondering who's life you are in and know you are ready for a change, but it seems too much to do on your own, then schedule a free initial consultation with me to get things moving! Remember a thousand mile journey begins with one small step (and clicking your mouse doesn't even mean moving your foot!).
Do you ever get that 'fat' feeling? When none of your clothes seem to fit and it takes you 45mins to try and find something to wear (and then you wish you were just staying in after all). When you are convinced everyone notices that your stomach is gianormous and the thought of getting your legs out in the summer sun makes a tiny part of you wish it was still winter?
Yup? Well you aren't alone. In fact so many of us feel this way that a billion trillion quzillion dollar diet industry has grown to separate you from your money for just that reason. Endless magazines promise you they have discovered the latest quick-fix-guaranteed-weight-loss diet. You can find out what your favourite celebrity did to lose 10kgs, 'healthy' diet pills, meal replacements, calorie counting apps, juice detoxes, plus a hundred different zany diet books all promising they can make you lose weight and fast.
And actually perhaps some of them can, the problem isn't necessarily in losing the weight, but in keeping it off. And in case you hadn't heard - diets don't work! In fact studies show that not only do most dieters gain back 1/3 of the weight in the next year, most are back to their original weight after 3-5 years and many weigh even more! That doesn't sound like good maths!
So why don't diets work? Well the thing is, your mind may have made a logical decision to go on a diet, but how the heck does your body know that? When you go on a diet, all your body notices is the food is suddenly drying up. Food it relys on to get you from A to B, to function, to survive (often despite the quality of it!). Perhaps you are in a famine? Or one of those zombie apocalypses. Either way it is clinging to any morsel of food that happens to cross your lips like its the last meal it might ever get.
On top of that it starts sending you some fierce food cravings just to make sure you are still looking for food. Then it attempts to shut down any non-essential functions, like the energy to socialise, have fun and exercise - no way, conserve, conserve, conserve! It doesn't take long to descend into a battle of your self-will versus the desire of every cell in your body and its instinct to survive. Until you find yourself in a last bloody siege at the fridge door, starving, lacking energy and ending in an uncontrollable lust for food and a massive episode of binge eating! And just to make sure, your body is going to hold on to every calorie from your binge extra tight 'just in case'.
You never stood a chance! The diet battle is like your version of the Middle East conflict. It seems endless and ongoing, and we all know more guns aren't gonna solve it. So if any of this is ringing little bells of recognition in your head it's time to send the peacekeepers in! Don't be angry at your lovely gorgeous body, its not your enemy, it's just trying to keep you alive!
So if you don't diet what do you do? (I hear you ask, via one of those secret listening devices that are apparently everywhere on our computers!). What's required is a complete rethink and change in tactics, starting with throwing out those obsessive lists of food baddies and goodies. Along with those labels of I'm a paleo/raw foodist/macrobiotic/eat only on Tuesdays, or however you like to define the way you eat. Instead it's time to open the channels of communication and start listening to your body and finding common ground, to discover what makes you and your body feel good, provides boundless energy, and is nourishing and pleasurable (yes that is possible!). Believe it or not, you can agree!
(Besides you want to make sure its in peak condition in case of zombie apocalypse.)
So tell me, what is your favourite thing to eat because it tastes great, and you know instinctively that your body loves you to eat it?
NB: I am aware I have a certain conspiracy/apocalypse theme going on here, which I must apologise for and is definitely related to my current choice of tv series which no doubt will end soon.
Last night, whilst babysitting for a friend, I got locked in their bathroom. For 1hr and 25mins. It didn't really fit into my plans for the evening, but I did have some surprising insights and I thought I would share my findings.
Phase 1 (on realisation of 'locked in' status) was denial, followed by mild panic. I.e., WTF, you must be kidding me, I cannot believe this is happening.... you know that kind of thing. Phase 2, or 'Operation MacGyver' involved about 20mins of various MacGyver moves, including removing a picture hook from the wall to try and unscrew the door handle, ripping up a child's hair tie to attempt to thread around the gap, and a lot of door handle shaking and mild cursing - but all to no avail. Eventually in Phase 3, I resigned myself to my solitary confinement of undetermined length, and hoped that my friends were having a terrible time and would be home soon.
Eventually Phase 4 kicked in and I relaxed and went with it. And I noticed lots of things that I hadn't noticed all during that day. I noticed that I was really thirsty. I noticed that I had eaten something that made me feel a bit gassy (sorry for sharing), and I noticed that I was extremely tired. And I just sat there noticing things, and my thoughts drifting this way and that until my friends were back.
They felt awful, but weirdly I felt kinda great and refreshed. We don't very often give ourselves time to just sit and do nothing. Even when we intend to sit down for a break, quite often we check our email, look on our favourite social media, call a friend, or start planning our next activity. Always some distraction. When was the last time you intentionally just stared out the window. Or at a wall for that matter. For no other reason that just to do nothing? Guilt free. When did you last take some down time to check in with yourself, notice how you are feeling, what you are craving?
I meditate a lot, but I was still panicked about being forced to do nothing when I really wanted to be doing a whole lot of something. Attacking that never-ending always-growing to-do list. So it struck me that some solitary confinement could be just what we need every now and then. It can be amazingly rejuvenating.
So my friend is grateful that I am philosophical about being locked in a bathroom for so long, but I figure perhaps sometimes life is sending me a message, so this week I'm gonna try and switch off, do less, sit around more - and maintain an open-door bathroom policy when appropriate!
As always I would love to hear what you think. What do you do to switch off, and do you notice that sometimes its really hard to give yourself that time?
NB: No kids were harmed during this event! They were all tucked up safely in their beds. Also these pictures have been recreated for your enjoyment and dramatic effect and were not taken at the scene!
When I was 10 this is what I was asked to eat, one pea on a plate, yes that's right, just one, little, tiny green pea, on a plate. But you might as well have been asking me to eat a bucket of sheep droppings. I mean really, it felt like that.
So imagine me, three years ago being told that five servings of veg a day is way under what I should be aiming for, and really it should be 10, and I don't mean 10 peas, but 10 actual portions of veg a day (well perhaps you could make two of those fruit). I was lucky to eat 10 a week! How on earth was I going to manage that?! And, for that matter, how on earth are you going to as well?!!
Some of you at this point might be 'yup, sounds reasonable'... you probably marvel about the vast array of lettuce types available and can stop reading from here. This post is more for those wondering if you can count the bag of chips/crisps you had at lunch because frankly vegetables are worse than beige. Well I want you to know that this story - and your story - can become a very happy love story!
The thing is, vegetables get a bad rep. They are all 'healthy' and 'good for you' which of course equates to must taste awful/be boring/only eat if your mum tells you too. And so I am not going to tell you any of that. And I'm especially not going to act like your mum. Instead I'd like to share how someone who went from eating one pea a day started eating vegetables at every meal and ended up falling madly and passionately in love with them!
(If you are already in a downward spiral of 'I could never do that', 'I hate vegetables', 'That's for healthy weirdo's not people who ate 3 chocolate biscuits for morning tea' etc etc - then please revisit last weeks blog on self-kindness for a time out and then come straight back!)
Point one, is that I didn't do it overnight. No one (well no one normal anyway) can go from eating one pea a day to eating 10 servings of veg - just like that. Baby steps people, baby steps! Eating should be pleasurable, and that includes vegetables. You need to go slowly to get to know these mysterious life forms. If you can just about eat one pea on a plate, then go for two. Can you squeeze a bit of lettuce or sprouts on your sandwich at lunch? Fried mushrooms with your bacon and eggs for breakfast? Change takes time, and you are more likely to stick with it if you set yourself small goals and then are able to give yourself a big pat on the back for actually doing it.
Point two, if you try increasing the veg in your life you might be surprised at what happens. You see I ate them because someone told me I had better do in order to try and stay healthy, but when I did, I realised that I actually felt amazing! My body actually LOVES veggies! Ten minutes after my morning juice I feel like I've just jacked up 3 lines of something illegal! I have come to realise it wasn't my body that I had to convince; it was my mind that saw sheep droppings (and perhaps my taste buds, but some adventurous cooking can solve that). And actually vegetables can be as pleasurable as eating a cream donut, no really - I mean it! So, I want to challenge you to fall passionately and beautifully in love with your vegetables!
When you cut up your broccoli tonight, I want you to whisper it sweet nothings. 'I love you, you are divine! Thank you for sacrificing yourself for me! I love the feeling of you on my lips. I can die happy with you in my tummy.' You know, that kind of thing.
Its possible that I am crazy, but it doesn't deny the truth that vegetables are your friends. The more you love them, the more they will love your body. So why not start imaging them that way, it's surely better than just seeing a pea on a plate as a pile of poo!
If you are looking for some inspiring recipes then stay posted, in the coming weeks and months I will be adding a recipe page on my website with my all time faves. So if you are lacking inspiration you might find some here - and don't worry if you aren't a good cook - neither am I, so if I can do it, so can you!
I would love to hear your comments below on your favourite way to eat and speak to the veggies in your life, or any other vegetable related matter!
Okay, so the truth is, this week I freaked out a little bit. Okay a lot. I got a little bit overwhelmed and then slightly panicked about my larger than expected newsletter subscribers (yes, that's you!)! After high-fiving myself and feeling pretty pleased, it didn't take long to get to..."Oh, but now I have to write something really amazing...but what if I pick the wrong topic?...what if people don't like what I write?...what if people think this...or that...or blah blah blah blah". You get the point. Suddenly something I was really excited about became something overwhelming and like the worst idea I ever had! Does this sound familiar to you?
If not, howabout.... 'why did I say that?....why did I /didn't I do that?...why can't I be more like (fill in the blank)?' Okay by now you are probably wondering if I have mistaken this blog for my diary. And if not, then what the bejeezus has any of this got to do with good health?
And I see your point, this might seem a slightly odd place to begin our health journey. You're probably expecting my favourite immune-building-earth-shattering-green-smoothie recipe and 50-fun-ways-to-cook kale (don't worry there are plenty of those on their way) - but I wanted to start at the very, very, very beginning. And for me, this is it. I turn 40 at the end of this year, and I feel pretty darn good. It's true a lot of that is because I do a lot of 'healthy stuff' in a cancer avoidance type way - but one of the biggest changes is in the way I think about myself....because I learnt to notice and be kind to myself.
So that's why I'm sharing. Sometimes its easy to look at others and think they have got it all sorted out and its just you, plugging away, going around in circles. But its not just you, its all of us! We all have our huge measuring sticks reserved only for ourselves. But if you are serious about good health and getting the most out of your life, its time to put that puppy down. Just asking the question 'am I being kind to myself here?' (or if thats a bit lame and hippy for you 'can I cut myself some slack here?' ) can make all the difference. The truth is, you aren't perfect and you most likely won't ever be, and to top it off you are going to make some monumental f**k ups in life, so you might as well accept that now! There, doesn't that feel better?
'Well, not really' you say? What I mean is, that in order to make good healthy choices you have to meet yourself where you are. Accept yourself where you are. And you'll find it much easier to take a step forward from there. You might wish you were thinner, healthier, less ill, better at writing blog posts, but you're not (at least not right now). You are, where you are. So notice it, accept it, be kind to yourself about it, treat yourself like you would your best friend....and then take a step forward from there. So what are you giving yourself a hard time about right now? And could you cut yourself some slack?
As always I would love to hear what you think, so please comment below with your best self kindness tips, self-acceptance speech, or any other strange voices in your head!
Hello! Welcome to my new blog! Intros are always a bit awkward, so I thought I would start off with the question 'Why?'......Why am I writing a blog on good health?..... Why are you going to read a blog on good health?.......
Well the answer is, I would love for you to come to my 110th birthday party! Okay there is a bit more to it than that, but it seemed a good way to start.
I want to explore what life could be like if we took better care of ourselves and our bodies. I think we sometimes forget that we are in our body. What would life be like if we actually noticed this amazing bit of kit that we happen to be sitting in right now (I don't mean your new BMW SUV by the way), and actually gave it a bit of TLC? What pleasures could be had from living in a body that is operating at its most vital, energetic level, and that continued to do so for as long as possible? Why is this even important? Well, from experience I can tell you it ain't fun when your vehicle breaks down. Breast cancer, age 36, is quite a big break down! I learnt pretty quick that owning a vehicle means you have to spend some time looking after it. I've had to pick up some tips on maintenance, and as I continue to experiment and learn, I want to share it with you.
So now, I'm aiming for 110 years, to finish my morning yoga class, pop out for lunch with my BFFs and then that evening drop dead, face down in my bingo card (possibly due to finally winning the jackpot of $10,000). That is what I'm aiming for, and I tell you what, I don't want to be the oldest person at my own 110th birthday party, I want you to be there with me. I know there is no guarantee of a long life, but even if we don't get to 110, how much better could our lives be if we put a bit more love, kindness and care into our body?
Learning to look after this amazing body of ours, to reconnect with it, and to experience all the many pleasures there are to be had in it - it's a journey. And I want you to come with me, I want us to do this together, me and you, on a journey to good health.
So come and join me......and step one is to move your mouse across to the right hand side of this page and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Let the fun begin!
I'd love to hear what you think about the idea of our bodies as vehicles, and what you do for 'maintenance', or even just to say 'Yes, you would like to attend my 110th party' - please comment below!
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Ready for change, but don't know how:
Health coach, Mindfulness teacher, Mother, Bee Pollen consumer. "You want health? Well, health costs, and right here is where you start paying in sweat" (tee hee - actually its really rather pleasurable and fun!)