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.
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.