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.
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!
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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!)