I’m excited to share with you my current personal health philosophy. I originally published this post four years ago but my health philosophy has changed so much since then that I wanted to completely re-write it. Over the years I have learnt that I need to balance the following ten areas in my life to be optimally healthy and maintain a body I can feel good in.
1. Eat Nourishing Real Food
- 90% of the time I like to eat foods that are highly beneficial to my body. These foods are: vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, whole grains and natural fats.
- 10% or less of the time I eat foods that are not so beneficial for my health. These are foods containing: free sugars, ‘bad’ fats (vegetable and seed oils and trans fats) soy and food additives. Social engagement and pleasure are very important to health which is why I don’t exclude them all together. Also, depriving yourself of the foods you love all the time can cause a negative relationship with food and eating disorders.
- Never eat gluten (I’m gluten-intolerant). A few years ago whilst on holidays in France, I had a chocolate croissant. This was the first time I had intentionally consumed gluten in two years since being diagnosed. I was extremely tired, head achy, irritable, grumpy and depressed for two days afterwards. It reminded me it really isn’t worth it! Gluten effects everyone differently but for me I get very fatigued, eczema, a fuzzy head, headaches and a negative mood.
- Eat something to benefit my gut health every day e.g. sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, kombucha, yoghurt, kefir and bone broth.
- To reach my health and body composition goals I like to use a mixture of intuitive eating and flexible dieting.
I believe that supplements are the least important part of a physical transformation and a healthy lifestyle. I take different supplements during different seasons of life. Currently I am taking:
- With breakfast: one high strength fish oil, 1 multivitamin and 1 probiotic.
- Pre-workout: Coffee and acetyl-l-carnitine.
- Before bed: 1 magnesium.
3. Be Physically Active
- Stand – I aim to take a five minute standing or movement break every hour when doing seated activities. A high amount of sitting increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and back problems.
- Low intensity physical activity – I aim to walk or do other low intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day. Examples of low intensity physical activities include gardening, cleaning, shopping and playing with your children. You may have heard low intensity physical activity also referred to as low intensity moment or low intensity stead state cardio (LISS).
- Workout – I aim to complete moderate to vigorous physical activity three to five times a week. Each week I write the workouts I intend to do on my weekly planner so they don’t get forgotten. I try to make sure I have lots of variety to prevent my body plateauing, becoming bored and developing overuse injuries. My favourites are resistance training, Body Attack classes, beach sprints, mountain biking, wake-boarding, snowboarding and spin classes.
- Recover – I aim to look after myself by doing something for recovery at least once a week. Some examples are a stretching session, massage, yoga class or epsom salt bath.
Yes there is more to optimum health than just diet and exercise! These are the healthy lifestyle behaviours which I believe are just as important if you want to pursue a wellness lifestyle.
Good quality adequate sleep is so important for ensuring you have plenty of energy, look your best, crave junk food less and have a strong immune system. To prioritise sleep in my life I:
- Avoid caffeine after 4pm
- Avoid screens from 9pm onwards
- Have a simple relaxing bedtime ritual (shower, moisturise, read, lights off 10:00pm).
5. Spend time in nature
Spending time in nature makes me feel amazing. There are well-acknowledged health benefits for spending time in nature including receiving adequate vitamin D, reduced stress levels and improved cognitive functioning. I try to spend at least 15 minutes every day immersed in nature whether it’s going wake-boarding on the river or just taking my daughter to the park.
6. Manage Stress
Chronic stress is associated with all sorts of health problems from increased risk of death to infertility to weight gain. Some coping skills which help me when beginning to feel stressed or overwhelmed are:
- Sniffing or diffusing lavender oil
- Doing something outdoors
- Putting on my favourite feel good song
- Focusing on what I can control and accepting what I can’t.
I also think it’s extremely important to prevent stress in the first place by following strategies such as these:
- Don’t check emails unless you are going to reply to them
- Practice good time management (think using a diary, lists, reminders and planners)
- Be ok with saying no to things which you know are not a good use of your time.
7. Do Something I Love Everyday
Taking the time to do things that we love every day is important for our happiness and wellbeing. It gives you increased energy and better mental health. What makes you happy is unique to you. Some of my favourite simple things to do which make me happy are getting a massage, swimming in the ocean, getting a coffee with a friend and taking a long, hot bubble bath.
8. Social Connections
Strong social connections affect your mental and physical health and your longevity. The benefits of connecting with others include a strengthened immune system, increased life expectancy and increased mental health. A few things I do to foster these social connections in my life are:
- Let people know I appreciate them (e.g. a thank you text or note)
- Putting my phone away when spending time with people
- Asking for help when I need it (this is a great opportunity to strengthen connections)
- Being intentional to catch up with family. We have a regular fortnightly dinner which is a great way to stay up to date with what’s happening in each other’s lives.
9. Low-toxin living
Toxins alter the normal functioning of the body and are found everywhere, from plastics to cleaning products. Here are a few steps I take to reduce my exposure to toxins:
- Use natural personal care and cleaning products. Some of my favourites brands are Lust Minerals, doTerra essential oils, Sukin and ecostore. They are all paraben, SLS and SLES free.
- Make my own cleaning spray. It is 1 cup water, 1 cup white vinegar and 10 drops On Guard essential oil.
- Store and heat food in glass containers ( I love decor).
- Use non-toxic cookware. I write about this here.
10. Healthy Mindset
Mastering the right mindset is essential for living a healthy lifestyle. The mindset aspects I particularly try focus on are: discovering and living out my purpose, not comparing myself with others, building healthy habits into my day and having a positive attitude.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my personal health philosophy. I want to emphasise that this is a philosophy. There is not one true science around health which shows the best way to live for everyone. What works for me may not work for you. I hope to have inspired you to think about what your own health philosophy is, and to have maybe given you some ideas for where some changes could be made.
If you’re keep to transform your own lifestyle to make it healthier, then I would love to help! I am putting all my experience and knowledge into a 12 week program to help you become the healthiest version of you. My program “Lean & Well” will be launching Monday 19th February so stay tuned :) If you don’t want to miss the launch make sure you’re signed up to my mailing list and following me on instagram.