Keeping it simple

As I pack for my Camino trip tomorrow, I felt inspired to share my thoughts on what’s really started to resonate with me lately, keeping it simple!camino trip 2

I love walking, spending time in nature, meeting new people and when a good friend asked last year if I would like to join her and a few of her friends for a week’s walk on the Camino in Spain I jumped at the opportunity.  It was at the back of my mind for a while and I had a feeling it would happen when the time was right.  I certainly feel its good timing.

It’s a simple holiday, no fancy hotels and restaurants, simply walking. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the journey I’ve taken so far in life.  It’s time for some head space and to get some inspiration for my business in the world of health and wellbeing.

I changed career in 2012 after 15 years working in various marketing roles and took the plunge to set up business as a Nutritional Therapist.  The job title was a bit alien when I started my studies in 2007 but thankfully awareness of the health profession is growing, especially with the growth of Functional Medicine.  Functional Medicine is based on the principles of Nutritional Therapy (looking for the root cause of an illness).  It has arisen out of the fact that the standard medical model is simply not working to support the growth in chronic illness. Medical professionals (the likes of Dr Mark Hyman) in the States are training in it, getting results and hence it’s growing.  Functional Medicine awareness is starting to grow here in Ireland too.  I have a client who travelled to the UK a couple of years ago with her son to avail of a practitioner, and as she sang its praises, she is now following the same route with her current health problems.

When I started my studies, we were taught about the importance of our digestive system (the master system when it comes to good health) and we learnt all about the roles of our gut bacteria.  This was back in 2007 and in the last year it’s become mainstream thanks to growing scientific peer reviewed research and the publication of books like the Psychobiotic Revolution.

Through my 3 years of study in Nutritional science and therapeutics I covered nutrition, and the anatomy, physiology and pathology of all of the key body systems e.g. digestion, liver, endocrine, cardiovascular, muscular etc.  I learnt how each system is interconnected and how when one becomes imbalanced it can have a knock-on effect on the health of our other body systems.  This leads to an array of symptoms that interfere with the body’s ability to feel well.  I learnt about the nutrients (that we know about so far) that may get depleted when we feel unwell.

Keeping it simple

But when it comes to applying all of this learning into practice the advice is often very simple.  It needs to be simple so as not to overwhelm a client with facts, stats and actions.  I have clients walking into my clinical practice, with chronic ill health of which some have taken use of Dr Google! Their heads are spinning with information, one source contradicting the other and not knowing which direction to turn.

So, my advice is take a break from Google and break things down into small achievable steps.  Look at the diet… are you consuming far too much processed food for the sake of convenience.  Let’s go back to a simple diet with real wholesome food that our grand parents ate. Take a look at your lifestyle are you packing in too much with little time for relaxation. Why are you doing this? Is it to because of Google…social media…comparing our lives to others and wanting more?  It’s the challenge of the society we now live in, it’s 24-7, chaotic and it’s affecting our health.  We’re living longer but more are living with chronic ill health.

So why not take some time this weekend to reflect on your lifestyle and see what is the No. 1 change that you need to make for a healthier happier you.  Don’t list lot of changes, just keep it simple and select 1 and then you can build on it.  Also see if you can simplify your life. A simple life is less complicated! What can you throw out, can you buy less?

When I worked in the world of marketing producing campaigns for the likes of Vodafone, I learnt that simple marketing messages were the most effective.  Another reason to support my thoughts on simplicity.

So, as I pack for the Camino to start in Sarria and finish in Santiago, I’m trying to simplify my packing! I’m a far cry from a Pilgrim but I’m trying.  The essentials are packed, and it’s count down, flight takes off tomorrow!  I’m sure I will share some pictures and maybe some words of wisdom on my return.

camino trip

In the meantime, check out my video on facebook (Discover Nutrition Ireland) with the essentials that I’m bringing to help reduce any muscle pain. I tend to suffer from chronic muscle pain in my legs when I overexert myself, more noticeable on long hill walks.   I’m covering 76km in 4 days, all flat terrain, which I’ve never done before, so fingers crossed my legs will take me to Santiago.

Here goes!!

Time, are you spending it wisely?

It’s the start of another year, 2019, and with that comes reflection on the year gone by and setting intentions for the New Year.

Does anyone have “Time” top of mind?

When it comes to “Time” we are all on the same page with 24 hours in the day.   Hopefully you are sleeping well for at least 8 hours of the day which leaves 16 hours to fill your day wisely.   What are you doing with those 16 hours?  8 working,  8 spare?  Or maybe 12 working and 6 spare. What are you doing with your spare time.  Are you spending it wisely? What are your priorities and are you focusing on them efficiently in those few hours.

I don’t know if it’s just myself but as the years go by each one seems to fly by even faster.   Before I started to write this blog I noticed that the last one I wrote was over 20 months ago. Where did that time go!  Why did I not write more, obviously my time was focused elsewhere.

time flies image

What I come across regularly and it seems to be a challenge for everyone is lack of time.  This has an impact on all areas of our lives.  When it comes to nutrition, we are eating our food faster which means we’re not digesting it well and getting the maximum nutrients from our foods. With less time to prepare foods we are opting for convenience foods, readymade, which are often higher in added sugar, salt and artificial ingredients which increase weight, weaken immunity, imbalance hormones and increase digestive problems.  Lack of time equals more stress.  Stress as I’ve written about previously plays havoc with our health and we all could benefit from slowing down more. However instead of talking about stress and nutrition lets take a step back and think about “time”.

Prioritise your time well

We all have different goals and priorities which change depending on the stage we’re at in life. That’s why it is important to review them regularly.  Maybe you’ve debt to clear and finance is top of mind, or you have ill health and recovery is priority, or you lack social connection and want to spend more time with friends and family or make new connnections. Maybe you say “Yes” to too many requests and need to learn to say “No” more so that you can focus on your own priorities. Do you have time for what matters in your life?  Whatever your priority is you need to look at where you spend your time so that you can fit in your goals and achieve them.

When you’ve worked this out and set aside the time to focus on your goal, the next step is motivation. What will keep you motivated to action your intention in your spare time? If you’re struggling with motivation then click here to read a blog that I wrote on setting goals with tips to help motivate you to achieve then.

Managing distractions

We are living in an information society which brings many distractions.  Constant emails, texts, social media, bleeps and beebs from our mobiles, our mobiles that we cannot live without.  So when it comes to managing your time, review this area and identify your time wasters.

I’ve kept this blog short in the hope that you’ll have the time to read it and then take a few minutes to re-evaluate where you spend it.  After all time well spent adds to life well lived!

“When you understand the value of time, the resource and the wealth of time, you will be running away from the crowd, you will be running away from distractions.” Sunday Adelaja

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Set your goals and make this the year of action!

Forget about New Year’s resolutions.
Why? Well most of them fall by the way side by the end of January. Have you ever noticed the increase in gym membership at the start of every year. There is a mad rush to get on the nearest available treadmill but then 4 weeks later the crowds have suddenly disappeared! It’s very easy to make a resolution but the issue is that it may not be that specific or realistic, and no plan of action has been made to follow it through.

Setting goals
I worked in the corporate world for many years and setting business goals and plans was the key to business success. Every November time was set aside to agree on the action plan for the year ahead. So why don’t we take the time to apply this to our personal lives.






Tip 1 – Create a positive vision
This is the fun part and worth taking the time to think through. What do you really want to create this year?

If you create a vision for yourself, you are creating your future. So, if anything were possible – quickly, easily, and now – what would your ideal life look like? Who would be in it? What would you be doing? Where would you be living? What would you look and feel like? What does your day look like?

Focus on what you want and feeling good, rather than on what you don’t want and feeling bad.

Have a clear picture of how you want to live your life and what you want to become i.e. to be a healthy weight of xxx by xxx date. Build a positive image of yourself (your true self-image) that is aligned with your goal. It is important to have a goal in mind and even better if you have an inspiring motivation or emotional attachment to it, a connection to your deepest values with those things most important to you e.g. I want to become healthy for my children so they have a healthy role model on which they can pattern their lives.

Try to incorporate all senses in your vision to make it more effective. What do you see, hear, smell, taste and feel throughout this ideal day? Go through magazines, google images and print/cut out pictures and phrases that match your vision. Stick these onto a large piece of cardboard or pin board and voila you have your vision board! Make sure to place this somewhere in your home where you can look at it every day. Or take a photo of your vision and have as your laptop or mobile screen saver.

writting goalsTip 2 – Write down your goals once you’ve completed your vision
Take your vision and turn it into a written list of concrete goals. According to a study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write down their goals. Once written, post them up in a place where you will read them daily.

Reading your goals regularly plants them more firmly in your subconscious mind, all helping you to attract more of the goal you’ve set.

Tip 3 – Make sure you write specific goals
“I want to lose 10 pounds weight,” is hugely different than, “I want to lose 10 pounds of weight in the next eight weeks.”

The second is specific and gives you a deadline that will push you to take action.

Tip 4 – Are they realistic?
Make sure to set yourself up for success by creating goals that are realistic and achievable in the given time-frame.
Rather than say I want to lose 10 pounds weight in 2 weeks a more realistic goal would be to lose the weight more slowly e.g. over 8 weeks for sustainable weight loss and develop new lifestyle habits that are not just quick fixes but changes that you can sustain long term.

Tip 5 – Always put deadlines in your written goals.
For the reason pointed out above. Make sure these deadlines are somehow realistic. Put a deadline that is challenging enough to push you and motivate you to take action, without being extremely tough to achieve. If it’s too tough you will only beat yourself up when you haven’t achieved it and worse still may not even set the goal again.

a-single-step-graphicTip 6 – Break into small actionable steps
Break your goals into small actionable steps and assign realistic deadlines to each. This way your overall goal is less overwhelming. You can now easily see how it can be achievable over time. Create a checklist to follow. You don’t have to do a lot, but every day, every week, every month, you should be making progress in the direction of your clearly-defined goals by ticking off those tasks you’ve set.

Continue to break big steps into smaller and smaller steps until goals seem less daunting and achievable. You might find you are moving more quickly or slowly than expected. That’s not a problem, you can adjust! Accept that it’s ok to adjust your timeline.

For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds of weight in eight weeks, you could write:
– I will fill half my dinner plate with vegetables every day.
– I will eat junk food and sweet treats only once per week.
– I will cut out fizzy drinks.
– I will walk for 45 minutes every day with a friend

When breaking your goals into these small steps also have a think about
Can you start and do it by yourself?
Have you ever done this before?
Do you know anyone who has?
Can you act as if you have it?

Tip 7 – acknowledge achievements and celebrate with rewards
After all your hard work don’t forget about celebrating! It’s the most important part of goal setting. Have a think about how you will celebrate once you’ve reached your goal and this will help to motivate you further especially on those difficult days.
On your weekly activity planner include a column for “reward” no matter how small e.g. have a relaxing bath, go the cinema, watch a comedy. Clap yourself on the back for achieving those tasks that you’ve accomplished as they are all helping you on your way to achieving your main goal.

“The secret of making something work in your life is, first of all, the deep desire to make it work, then the faith and belief that it can work; then to hold that clear definite vision in your consciousness and see it working out step by step, without one doubt or disbelief.”
Eileen Caddy

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