What works for you may not work for someone else. What works for someone else may not work for you. A health journey is an individual thing, based upon your history, your preferences, your situation, your likes and dislikes, and where you would like to be.
And so it should. There is only one way to great health its its your way.
When we start a health journey, we are often plagues by questions such as “which diet is right” and “what exercise should I do”. This is seldom a good place to start and instead I prefer to begin at the right place:
Where am I now?
This is always the first question to ask, with no judgement. This is about taking a deep breath and asking: where am I right now? This is what is happening to my body, to my mind. Because of it, this is what is happening in my life.
Where do I want to be?
Secondly, where do I want to be? It is more than simply seeing yourself as the healthier you, the more capable you, stronger, handling life’s little stresses and challenges. It is also about asking: how would that make me feel, if I were that person?
What is standing in my way?
And then asking: what is standing in my way? Is it a peer group, the busyness of my life that prevents me from doing something to care for myself? Is it my eating habits, my exercise? Only you know what is holding you back from the ‘you’ that you could be.
My approach is to strip out all of the chatter and return to basics, based upon the Five Elements of a Healthy Body, Mind and Soul: nutrition, meditation, sleep, hydration, and physical activity. When one suffers, they all suffer. A balance must be struck.
This is quite simply the process by which we consume food and drink, how our body breaks down and absorbs the nutrients contained in that, and how we use those nutrients to grow, to develop, and to maintain our physical life. It’s a lot more about the actual food we eat; more importantly, it’s about our relationship to that food and how we can choose more positive, rather than negative, ways of eating.
“You need to stress less,” say doctors and well-meaning people. But how? No one tells us this. We’re left to figure it our for ourselves. As a long-time meditator and group facilitator, I bring these learnings to you as practical and meaningful ways to manage your day-to-day stress. Sometimes this is as simple as being mindful, being aware, of being present with who we are, where we want to be, and how we approach things on a daily basis.
When we’re stressed, our sleep suffers. When we don’t sleep, we don’t make the kinds of choices that are the best we could make. Our physical activity suffers because we are too tired, and we tend to make bad food choices because we pick the ‘easy’ over the ‘healthier’. Saying “sleep more” is not helpful, because it is part of a cycle and if one part suffers, all parts do. Good sleep starts elsewhere.
“Drink 8 glasses of water a day,” they say. They don’t tell us that it is not as easy as it sounds, that drinking 8 glasses slips by pretty quickly and we forget. And is this old piece of wisdom even true? So let’s look at ways to rethink how we hydrate, and work it into the circle and cycle of your own health and habits.
For many, exercise raises thoughts of sweaty people in gyms, parading the latest outfits…and judgement. We feel looked at, watched, analysed and scrutinised. So, let’s redefine what we mean by physical activity and how we can make this work without thinking of it as ‘exercise’, something which many of us shy away from. It remains, though, a vital element of your own journey and need not mean what you think it means.