A Very Oily Christmas

If you’d like to buy someone special a Christmas gift that will keep on giving way past Christmas day, then look no further.

If the person you’re buying for appreciates quality, ethical sourcing, and 100% natural products that support their health and amplify their wellbeing from the inside out, then we got you covered.

DoTERRA produces 100% pure certified (i.e. actually tested so you have proof that it is indeed pure) therapeutic grade essential oils, and essential oil-based products. This is THE stuff if you want the goodness and infinite intelligence of mother nature in your life. Trust me, once you’ve felt supported by these oils you won’t go back to life without them. It’s the difference between living in black and white or full-spectrum colour!

Here are my favourite gift ideas for the holiday season.

Beginners Trio/Introductory Kit

The Beginners Trio contains 15ml bottles and the Introductory Kit contains 5ml bottles of three of the most popular and versatile oils: Peppermint, Lavender and Lemon. A lovely and simple place to begin experiencing the life changing impact of working with plant power in this super accessible form.

Pure-fumes

Perfumes are so last season. Consumers are increasingly aware of the toxicity of many common perfumes, with the endocrine-disrupting chemical -mayhem that they bring,  savvy buyers are ready for better solutions, but we all want to smell lovely, so why not try some of nature’s finest pure-fumes.

Any oil that your like the smell of can work well as a perfume, but if you’re buying for a special someone here are my top three picks. Jasmine, Neroli, and Rose, and three powerful, potent plants that add a touch of beauty to any moment.

These three oils are extremely labour intensive to produce and the result is a precious and delicate plant essence.

A friend smelled by Neroli Touch and commented that it was like sticking her nose in  a bunch of flowers. Essentially, this is what the experience is. Imagine giving someone that beautiful sensation of the smell fresh flowers, but in a form that they can carry around in their pocket, that will last them months and months, if not years, and that they can pull out to brighten their day whenever they need it. Pretty awesome right? Unlike toxic perfumes, these natural pure-fumes smell great and have side-benefits. Their aromatic compounds reach our brains in 22 seconds, enter our bloodstream within two minutes, and can reach every cell in our body in around 20 minutes. They can shift our whole inner state in a very short time. A powerful tool to elevate our wellbeing. Now is that a gift or what?

 

The Yoga Collection

Is there a special yogi in your life? Or maybe your the special yogi looking for a Christmas treat. Well the Yoga Collection could be your best gift this Christmas. Anchor, Align, and Arise are the perfect blends to enhance your life and yoga practice. These blends provide aromas to steady, center, and enlighten your spirit through every breath while strengthening and stretching your body. And as a little bonus, here’s a beautiful worksheet to guide you in using these three.

Hope

This is a very special blend, which given the season of giving and compassion for all is definitely one to consider. The full purchase price of each doTERRA Hope Touch bottle is donated to the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation™ which supports efforts to fight sex-trafficking worldwide. When you purchase this you’ll be giving someone a beautiful gift and making a charitable donation. Sounds good right?

Emotional Aromatherapy Touch Kit

The doTERRA Emotional Aromatherapy Touch line contains six unique essential oil blends combined with Fractionated Coconut Oil in 10 mL Roll-Ons for convenient and gentle topical application. These proprietary blends provide targeted emotional health benefits for the entire family and can be applied every day to specific points on the body to help balance and brighten your changing moods.  With names like Peace, Cheer and Passion, you’ve an oil for every need. These make great Pure-fumes also! The great thing about these collections is you also have the option of breaking them out into several individual gifts.

The Home Essentials Kit is the one I point almost everyone to initially. As the name suggests it’s the essential collection for all your home needs. From cleaning the house in a green and healthy way, to making your own gorgeous beauty and self care lotions and potions, right through to managing all the common ailments like the sniffles, digestive issues, stress, sleep issues. There’s something in this kit for pretty much anything you can think of. It includes a 15ml bottle of Frankincense which, well, search ‘Frankincense’ on pubmed and check out the research, you want this wise old man in your life. It also comes with the beautiful petal diffuser so you can enjoy your oils in all three ways, aromatically, topically and internally (where appropriate).  If your budget allows this is the best value for money kit.

Christmas Specials

DoTERRA have a selection of limited edition oils and sets which you can view here.  These are available while stocks last.

 

This page will be a work in progress, I’ll update as I gather more gifts for my loved ones and let you know of new suggestions.

If you’re ready to get going head over here or check out my getting started guide if you need more guidance.

Got questions? I’m here to help 🙂

 

 

Never Got Anything To Wear?

Maybe the problem isn’t your wardrobe. And maybe the solution isn’t a new outfit.

Maybe the problem is that you’re not really happy in your own skin?

That dissatisfaction with yourself, and your life as it currently is. How often does it spur you to spend money on things you don’t need? Things that provide temporary upticks in the otherwise constant-hum of background discontent?

You know you’re carrying excess weight but rather then addressing the core issue you buy yourself a new outfit to make yourself feel better, from the outside in.

Or maybe you’re caught up in the cultural obsession with self-flagellation, perfectionism and all-round self-bashing with the never-good-enough stick. So you buy yourself a new outfit to temporarily feel good enough, from the outside in.

I was doing yoga teacher training with Rod Stryker once and I remember him joking about this concept. How we convince ourselves that if we just buy that new scarf/bag/dress/coat/haircut we’ll be happier. Nirvana is just one more transaction away.

We buy into it, because it does work. Temporarily.

For a short spell we feel closer to the kickass-badass-goddess deep down we know we are. Our outer appearance feels temporarily more in alignment with our inner vision. But it’s a bandaid. It’s not the actual solution to the problem we’re seeking to solve.

I remember another time in my life. A time when I had indeed found the solution to the inner discontent.

I was having a lot of fun. I was partying. I was making friends. I had lots of options and opportunities at my feet. I felt like the whole world was my oyster.

This was all mindset btw. This was how I was choosing to experience my relationship to life.

I was in love with life.  Someone actually pulled me up on it and asked me to spill the beans. To tell them who I’d met. No-one in particular. Life was my lover.

And guess what? I never once at this time felt like I had nothing to wear. I was happy wearing anything. Everything in my wardrobe had its charm.

I felt great, so everything I wore looked and felt great. To me at least. And that’s all that matters, right?  I remember a particular cardigan that cost £2, primark-second-hand through a charity shop. It was great, I looked fine and dandy in it and enjoyed wearing it. The End. No clothes drama. Ever. I was having far too much fun revelling in how wonderful it was to be me to care all that much about what I was wearing. Honestly, I would have been comfortable and confident rocking a bin-bag!

So what’s the point of all this? Next time you feel like you ‘have nothing to wear‘ consider this:

Self-care is the best outfit.

Self-love is the best make-up.

Do something for yourself that will truly fill you up with love and light, from the inside-out. 

 

 

 

If you’re done with band-aid-solutions to your woes and ready to get stuck into making real lifestyle changes that will have you radiating from the inside out, check out my Happy Healthy Habits course.  Next courses start September 2018 and January 2019. Register your interest now if you’re ready to start feeling your best.

You’re The Author Of Your Own Story

A few years ago I was in a major early-adulthood rut. I hit a fork in the road and had to make a major decision about which direction I wanted my life to take. I made the right choice but the process knocked the hell out of me.

I was energetically-depleted, and, despite being pretty “health-conscious”, didn’t feel all that in control of my health and wellbeing.

My waistline was expanding for a start. Not massively, but enough for me to see that, despite being relatively healthy by our cultural standards, I was still basically on the usual ageing trajectory which = degeneration over time.  Slower for some. Faster for others.

I did not like what I was experiencing. My yoga training had also told me, and shown me countless times, that this was not an inevitability.  Images of 150-year-old Indian yogis tied up like pretzels and prancing around like spring chicks kept cropping up.

You’ve heard the phrase “when the student is ready the teacher appears”. Well, just as I was in my slumpy-rut-a-tut-rut wondering what the hell to do next, I saw an advert on facebook for a 10-week programme that promised to get my life on track by guiding me step-by-step through the 10 core habits of yogis that ALL humans need to thrive.

The timing was divine. It was exactly what I needed. Structure. Support. A step-by-step plan.

I LOVE a good plan. 🙂

The best bit is, after implementing just habit 1 for a few weeks, I was out of my rut and back into the flow of my life.

I was so impressed by this course and how effective it was in getting me back in the driving seat of my life and into an upward spiral that I quickly signed up to become a yoga health coach so I could offer the programme myself.

And here I am doing just that.

So if you are in a rut. Whether you know it or not.

If you are feeling less than your best (and fyi: 99% of us are nowhere nearexperiencing the full potential of how good we can feel and how awesome we can rock this life!)

If your body is experiencing the effects of ageing and of our modern stress-filled life.

If you have aches, pains, niggles, extra pounds, random injuries and chronic sickness/illnesses.

If you haven’t got the energy you once had, but still have so much you want to do with life.

If you keep on repeating the same old patterns that you know no longer serve you, but can’t work out how to get yourself out of this trap.

If your body is sending you various signals and your mental response is “oooh, guess that’s because I’m getting on now”.

If you’d like to do more and feel better, but feel stuck in “I can’t”, “it’s not possible anymore”.

If you’ve given up on yourself, but not quite entirely yet.

If you’re resigned to the fact that degeneration over time is just a fact of life.

I’m here to tell you that this is all OPTIONAL!

It’s a choice.

Your write your own story, any way you want.

Just so you know.

You have so much choice.

Choice and power.

Over how you feel, physically, mentally and emotionally.

If you’re not rolling around reveling in just how much power, choice, and control you have over your life and how you feel. If you’re not consciously deciding how awesome you want to feel each day, but you’d like to, then please, PLEASE, for the love of all the goddesses, don’t struggle solo any more. It just ain’t fun. Or effective.

Take the first step now and register your interest in the next 10-week Happy Healthy Habits course which starts in September. There mightn’t be enough places left for you this time around but at least you’ll have taken a small step today and you’ll be on the wait-list for the next time around.

The next course is heavily discounted for the last time and I only have 5 out of 10 spots left as of today.

So if you want to take a giant leap in your well-being this year, don’t dilly-dally on yourself.

The. Time. Is. Now.

 

You’ve heard my story, but here’s an update from a  dear client who took my last course…

The last course really kicked started things for me – I’ve started yoga classes 

again and regularly run.  I had never ran before, always wanted to but didn’t think I could due to arthritis and ‘can’t do’ attitude.

The people on the course inspired me along with the kaizen steps. I even managed a half marathon earlier this year with another one planned in October! I NEVER thought I would do that!! 

You’ll notice the client used the term “kick-started”. The power of this course doesn’t just lie in the course itself and the 10-weeks we spend together, but the new and better trajectory that you step onto as a result of doing this work, and the positive compound effect this continues to have on your life throughout the rest of your lifetime.

Will your epic testimonial be featured here this time next year?

Here’s a fun exercise if you’d like to be in a position to write something like the above a year from now. This exercise will literally get you writing a new story for yourself. Enjoy!

OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS

 

Two free online talks coming up next month on Lifestyle Medicine.  Pick up some simple tips on how to add more years to your life and more life to your years,  from the comfort of your own home. How easy is that?

More details and registration here.

Get Out Of Your Rut And Into Your Life

A previous client of mine recently sent me an update, I wanted to share her story in case it strikes a chord with you.

“Since May I’ve lost 15 kgs (that’s 2kgs more than my 2 year old weighs!) I was walking around carrying a 2 stone toddler everywhere I went! I now know why I woke up with my joints seized up and achy each morning and why I was chronically tired.

I can’t believe I heaved this weight around with me all day every day – it was crushing my skeleton!

I’ve fallen in love with my body. It’s really looked after me to fulfill my responsibilities, even when I neglected it. My body never failed me or broke down, it just sent me a series of subtle messages that I needed to give it a bit of care and attention. As soon as I listened it rewarded me immediately and didn’t hold a grudge! It continues to serve me well and reward my efforts. I feel incredibly grateful.

Your course  kick-started it for me. I honestly believed how I felt was inevitable because of my advancing age and because I’d had babies.

There was something you said that really struck me. Something about western theories on ageing being illogical. That surely as we age and gain more general knowledge as well as knowledge specific to our bodies we should become increasingly healthy and happy.

It was such a revelation. Getting to know my body  and really learning about what it needs (and doing it!) has been such an amazing experience. It’s made me feel so incredibly empowered and genuinely happy and grateful because I see myself differently and treat myself differently.

I feel really happy :-)”

 

Perhaps you’re where my client was a year ago.  Not feeling your best any more. Weighed down by a less-than-optimum health situation. Stuck in a rut. Not sure how to get yourself out of said rut. Not even sure it’s possible, now you’re “getting on a bit”.

I want you to know that you can absolutely change how you feel and how well you age.

It’s not even that hard. Not with the right structure, support, and an earnest desire to treat yourself with the sort of love and respect that you are absolutely worth.

You have power and choices. You do not need to put up with feeling increasingly worse as you age.

It’s a choice.  

You choose whether you want to follow the standard model of ageing, or a dynamic model. A better trajectory does exist. I’m living proof, as are my clients.

I can show you just how much power and control you have to choose how you feel; physically, mentally, and emotionally.

If you’re ready to get out of your rut and into your life, then get in touch. Don’t struggle alone, needlessly weighed down by unnecessary health issues.

The Happy Healthy Habits course will shift your trajectory and set you on track for a happier, healthier you.

If you’re ready to feel better, take the first small step now and register your interest in this transformational course here.

If you’re a good fit for the course, and I still have slots available, I’ll be in touch to schedule a conversation.

I have 10 spots available on the next course starting in September (some already taken) and I’m offering it at a heavily discounted price one last time so I can gather more testimonials like the one above.

Will it be you writing a testimony like the one above a year from now? 

You only get one body and you only get one life.  

Let’s do this!

 

 

 

 

You might also be interested in the following online free talks I’m offering next month. Register for these here

 

How to Live Longer AND Better.

The average life expectancy in the UK is 81 years, but the average health span is just 71 years. The last decade of life on average is spent battling chronic illness and preventable diseases.

If you’re interested in living well now and into your golden years, in taking responsibility for pro-actively managing your health care, then come and take some notes on the habits of longevity.

Wednesday 15th August, 7.30-8.15pm

Lifestyle Medicine Part 2: Reducing Your Toxic Load

Around 85,000 chemicals have been introduced into our environment in the last 50-100 years. The  Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. estimates that our indoor environment is two to five times more toxic than our outdoor environment!

In this free talk we’ll discuss some of the most versatile essential oils to have on hand to detox your home.

We’ll cover how easy it is to swap out the unnecessary chemicals and empower yourself to live naturally with just a few basic ingredients; from cleaning your sink to cleaning your teeth, there’s a simple natural solution for all your needs.

Tuesday 21st August, 7.30-8.15pm

 

 

Supercharge Your Intentions

It’s all moon-tastic over here. This year I’ve been plugging into the lunar cycle and working more mindfully with her cyclical wisdom.

Today we have a super new moon. If you don’t have a new moon ritual, maybe today is the day to start one?

The monthly new moon is a cosmic reminder to surrender what’s no longer serving us in our life, and an opportunity to plant the seeds for new beginnings. This is a time of beautiful renewal.

Create some space, get quiet, surrender into a long deep exhale, and revel in that space of infinite potentiality. What will you manifest in this next lunar cycle?

If you’d like to dive into a new moon manifestation practice, check out this quick guide.

New Moon Blessings!!

 

Is there a gap between how you feel and how you’d like to feel?

Does the gap seem to be getting wider with age?

Do you have a sinking feeling that you’re getting slower, stiffer and fatter with each passing day but don’t know what to do about it?

The Happy Healthy Habits course is here to turn that ship around. To empower you with the skills you need to take charge of  your health and shift your trajectory onto a path of vibrant health.

Head over here for more details and to register your interest, next course sets off in September, will you join us?

Simple Self-Care for the Super Busy

So you’re super-duper busy. Who isn’t these days? Busy seems to be a way of life. Oftentimes we put our self-care at the bottom of the pile, something to get to last, if there’s time.

Thing is, self-care isn’t really optional, it’s not a luxury. It’s not fluffy-duffy-day-at-the-spa-get-your-nails-done stuff. It’s taking appropriate care of our vehicle for action in the world; taking care of our body, mind and spirit, so that we can show up as the best version of ourselves and contribute to society and the world around us.

Not having time for self-care because you’re too busy is like not having time to stop and refuel the car because you’re in a  hurry to get somewhere. Running out of fuel while you’re racing along is more time-consuming and less efficient then just stopping for regular re-fills.

That said, how do you slot those re-fills seamlessly into an already full life?

The Why

First, always, take a moment to get super clear on why you’re committing to make some time for self-care. Do you keep coming down with colds that knock you out for days? Do you keep blowing your fuse and getting into relational messes that you then have to clear up? Is your cup running empty but you’d like to have something to give once again? Are you just missing out on feeling great most of the time and sick of it?

What’s the why? We always need a strong why before making ANY change. We’re creatures of habit, without a strong why to fuel our changes we will just keep doing what we’ve always done.

The How

How do you slot self-care in when you’re busy?

The answer: 1 minute practice

If you don’t have 1-minute you really don’t have a life at all. If that’s the case, you might want to look at that! So I’m going to assume you do have minutes to spare. You’re reading this after all 🙂  Sprinkle several self-care-power-minutes throughout your day and notice the difference it makes. Setting a timer is a nice way to trigger these new self-care mini habits.

The What

What can you do in 1 minute that’s going to make a difference?

  1. Meditate, stop, drop and breaaaathe deeply for one minute. Set a timer, everything can wait for 1 minute. For 1 minute make the world stand still by letting it all go and entering a deep pause. It’s not quantity but QUALITY that matters. Take one minute and make it count. I’ve meditated for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, hours before, and sometimes only been really present when the timer went off to start and to signal the end. So get grooving with the present moment (possibly my favourite definition of meditation ever!) for one minute. 
  2. Move your body! Jumping jacks, sun salutes, walking, jogging on the spot, a mini-dance party. Whatever floats your boat. Just get your breath going, your heart pumping and your body moooooving. Notice the difference after just one minute.
  3. Earth/Ground: Go outside, take your shoes and socks off and plug yourself directly into mother earth. For bonus points look up at the sky and soak up heaven and earth for 1 minute. Guarantee you feel better.  Won’t go into why this is amazing here but if you’re not aware of earthing definitely check this out.

And there you have it, super, simple self-care for the busy bee.

 

If you’re ready to get serious about self-care, ready to dial in the daily habits and routines that will unlock the best of you,  then join me on my next HAPPY, HEALTHY HABITS adventure. You’ll gain 10 new habits in 10 weeks that will set you on a better trajectory for life!

Learn More

Diary Of An Oil Junkie

If you’d told me this time last year that essential oils would be my new obsession, hobby and a new addition to my wellness business I’m not sure I’d have believed you.

I’ve gone from occasionally using some questionable oils in an old candle burner, to owning a veritable collection of gorgeous therapeutic grade oils and using them for pretty much everything. If you’re not oil-obsessed you probably wouldn’t believe how versatile they are.

So for you, dear, curious friend, here goes, my day through the eyes of my oil collection:

MEDITATION

My bedside companions

My ideal day starts with meditation, but it really depends if I rise before my little human decides to get up. It’s about 50/50 as she’s an early bird! If I can, I roll on some sandalwood in between my eyes and around the back of my neck, and also on my palms. I take a few deep breathes, enjoy the sandalwood and the sweet memories and feelings of my time in an ashram in India that come with the aroma. I meditate until the boss wakes up and sets me to work. 😉

DENTAL CARE

I brush my teeth with the On Guard toothpaste, this is a fluoride-free toothpaste made with a combination of oils that are excellent for oral health including cinnamon and clove

I’ll also add a drop of tea-tree or On Guard to some water and swish around for a natural mouthwash.

BEAUTY PRODUCTS

I make all my own beauty products now, it’s so quick, easy, and cheap, to make beautiful all-natural products that make your skin smile with these lovely oils.

The picture opposite is a simple body scrub made from a base of baking soda with rosemary, tea tree and lavender. Amazing!

Sometimes I’ll just add a drop of an oil I’m liking a lot into the palm of my hand, run my dry brush through it, and then do a quick dry brushing session before hopping into the shower. Your skin feels amazing from the dry brushing and the gorgeous aroma is released with the hot water, enveloping you in a beautiful smell.  Better than chemical-laden shower gel, right?? It’s a totally different vibe.  Way to start the day! I’m loving Rosemary at the moment.

 

If I don’t feel like dry brushing I might just add a drop of oil to the bottom of the shower.  I don’t use any shower gel or other products in the shower – just a little castile soaps on the old pits. You don’t need anything else!!

 

 

 

 

Post-shower I apply some oil to my body and face. I have a blend I use for my face which includes frankincense and sandalwood; both great for skin and smell amazing together.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll pick an oil to wear as perfume on my pulse points. A lot of perfumes have hundreds and thousands of chemicals in them, some of which are endocrine disruptors and really not great for us, so I just use oils for fragrance now. They have the added benefit of actually assisting you in terms of managing your mood and general wellbeing.  I’ll pick an oil depending on what I need that day. I’ve been feeling a bit beaten down recently by the grind of life so I’ve been using the Passion blend. Passion is the inspiring blend that helps individuals who are feeling burdened find a more playful and spontaneous side to life, and to remember that there’s more to living than working and obligations.

 

I’ll apply my homemade deodorant. Baking soda is another key ingredient in this one, man that stuff is versatile. I use anti-bacterial oils like lavender for this one.

 

If it’s hot I’ll apply my homemade sunscreen. The key ingredient is zinc oxide, and there are certain oils that are great for harmonising the effects of sun exposure. I think this one merits a separate post.

 

 

CLEAN AND CLEAR HOME

After that, the diffuser goes on in the living room with something uplifting to get the day off to a good start, peppermint, wild orange, lemon, or the cheer blend are all used frequently in various combinations.

I’ll clean my kitchen and surfaces with a homemade spray consisting of vinegar, water and drops of On Guard essential oils.

FOOD FOOD FOOD

Sometimes I’ll even include some oils in my food.  These wild orange bliss balls live in the freezer for when I need a little sweet treat.

And I’ll often add a drop to my water. I’m using Slim and Sassy at the moment which is the metabolic blend designed to help with weight loss. I’ve got a bit of excess baby-weight to lose and I’m struggling with it. This blend doesn’t just work on the physical side by helping to curb cravings but supports individuals in releasing the heavy emotions which contribute to physical and emotional pounds. Now that’s where the real work is. Emotional eating is a whole quagmire that I’m very much stuck in thanks to post-baby-survival-mode. Interestingly enough I really disliked the taste and smell of this oil at first, as well as all the other oils that are recommended for this issue. Sometimes our patterns are so strong that we’re attracted to them even though they’re painful and not working and we actively avoid anything that might disrupt them and lead us in a better direction.  The jury is out on this one, but I’m working with it to see what happens.

END OF DAY SELF-CARE

I also use oils when oil pulling. Oil pulling is best done in the morning but I find it fits my daily routine better to do it in the evening, so that’s when it gets done, and done is better than perfect!

Peppermint leaves my mouth minty fresh, or clove and on guard are great for all-round mouth health.

 

By the end of the day I’m usually frazzled and I’ve got a massive sleep debt to pay off thanks to 10 months of pretty hardcore sleep deprivation. My favourite oils to use in the evening are Peace and Serenity. If my mind is all-over the shot then I’ll anchor down with Balance, the grounding blend, rubbed onto my feet and paired with a few moments of meditation, works miracles.  Another favourite evening combination is cedarwood and lavender in the diffuser, or massaged onto the soles of my feet with a little coconut oil.  

I give my face a quick wash at the end of the day, washing away the day. I apply my homemade frankincense and sandalwood infused-oil and roll-on a little Immortelle under my eyes.

And that is my typical day in oils….it’s a lot of oils right? Consider how many products you use in a day. Have you checked what’s in them? We’re routinely exposed to a ridiculous amount of chemicals. They certainly aren’t all toxic and lethal, but most of them probably aren’t beneficial either. I use A LOT of oils because I’ve slowly replaced dubious chemical-concoctions with plant-powered and fabulously-fragant home-made products. 

To learn more about natural living check out Nadine Artemis’ beauty bible Renegade Beauty. 

To join my natural living community for regular tips and inspiration join me here.

To learn more about the best quality essential oils and to shop oils go here.

Top Tips for a NINJA immune system

Guard Your Sleep

Sleep is the best beauty cream and health supplement. Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is one of the quickest ways to shoot your immunity in the foot. So get yourself a sweet bedtime routine, and wind down for some epic sleep to stay well.

My favourite ways to guard my sleep:

  • Turn off all electronics (including the TV!) an hour or two before bed. Give yourself time to literally unplug. Our devices give off a blue light that messes with our sleep hormone melatonin. The bright blue light of our dear screens and devices trick our brains into thinking it’s still daylight.
  • If you can’t bear to unplug look for special night settings that turn the harmful blue-rays down. For my computer I use f.lux, it’s a great programme that reduces your screen’s blue light: https://justgetflux.com/
  • Do something nice for yourself at the end of the day as a little self-care ritual, it’ll put you into a great mood for sleep. Some of my favourite things include making a nice herbal tea, giving myself a foot massage with some essential oils (cedarwood and lavender are two of my faves right now), and reading something inspiring, or journalling.

For more sleep tips, check this out.

Exercise & Movement

Exercise keeps our immune system-fighting strong, not least because it’s one of the most powerful anti-stress techniques. We all need lots of daily movement,  but sadly our sedentary culture means most of us aren’t getting anywhere near enough movement,

Try slotting 20 minutes of movement at the beginning of the day, before the day gets away from you. Then, whatever way the winds blow later in the day, you’ll always be getting a minimum amount of exercise each day.

If 20 minutes seems like too much, start with 10 minutes. If that’s too much, go to 5 minutes. Make it a habit! Daily is the key, even if it’s just a small amount, you’ll earn good compound interest on it over time.  

Besides exercise, keep your eyes peeled for ‘opportunities to move’.  Do you have to sit down while you take that phone call? Could you stand? Walk? Squat?! Ask yourself ‘how can I get more movement into my daily life?” and watch as the opportunities start to present themselves.  Katy Bowman’s book Move Your DNA offers lots of inspiring information and ideas. Her podcast is also well worth listening too. Just make sure you listen on the go 😉

 

Eat Real Food

Specifically lots of plants, ideally those in season.  When we eat plants they gift us their immunity, we benefit from the many wondrous chemicals and compounds that comprise their immunity.

When we eat local and seasonal fruits and vegetables we receive the immunity from plants that are set up to thrive in our area, which is where we too are looking to thrive.

Another way to get more plant goodness is to use a variety of herbs and spices in your meals. The amount of antioxidants in herbs and spices compared to regular plants is crraaaay-zy.

Check out this ORAC Scale chart that illustrates the point nicely. Something like  blueberries, which are well-known for their antioxidant punch, score around 2,400. Clove on the other hand, scores over a million!! See, craaaazy!

Don’t miss out, get your herbs and spices in there. It’s as simple as sprinkling some cinnamon on your porridge.

I’ve recently gone next level by incorporating some pure essential oils into some of my foods.  Right now I’m loving adding a drop of doTERRA’s On Guard blend to my porridge. It includes clove, cinnamon and wild orange so packs a powerful antioxidant punch, and is delicious to boot.  It’s been great while I’ve been away from home especially as I haven’t had my herbs and spices on hand and travelling about opens you up to all sorts of new bugs and possible infections, so you want to be more On Guard then ever. See what I did there? 🙂  Cinnamon is also super-duper useful in reducing sugar-cravings.

Which leads to the next point, reduce your sugar intake! It suppresses your immune system. This one’s a little tough for me as I’m a chocoholic, but the cinnamon is definitely helping!

 

Chill-ax – Reduce Stress

Stress puts you into fight-or-flight mode which suppresses functions that aren’t needed for the fight-or-flight. Our hectic modern lives are often fraught with low-level stress, so get yourself a strategy to deal with it. Create boundaries for yourself, don’t take on too much, take time out each day to just breathe and relax.

Carve out some time either at the beginning or end of each day (ideally both!) just for you, to meditate, journal, do some yoga…whatever helps you imprint a pattern of ease on your mind-body-spirit. Without some conscious practices built into your routine you’ll easily be swept up by the stress that surrounds us all. Unless you’re a complete cucumber and just too cool and totally unflappable. #envyyou

Mind Your Gut

The gut is known as the second brain. In Ayurveda it’s hailed as the root of all health. If digestion is healthy everything else is good, if digestion is messed up, all manner of problems unfold.

Did you know that 80% of our immunity is in our gut? And 90% of our serotonin!

Our gut is one place that’s full of bacteria. In fact, for every 1 human cell there are around 10 bacteria cell. We are totally outnumbered, so we better keep the bacteria dudes happy.

The best way to take care of your gut is to cut out (or seriously reduce) processed and junk food. Eat real foods that keep gut bacteria happy. You might also consider taking a probiotic – a supplement made of different bacterias that helps out the good bacterias in there.  Another great option is to eat fermented foods, these serve as wonderful probiotics. I always have a batch of sauerkraut on the go, it couldn’t be easier to make, see recipe here:

Consider Supplements

Do some research into supplements to see if you might benefit from any. Most of us in the northern hemisphere at least need to supplement with vitamin D in the winter as we just don’t get enough sun exposure and this is a vital vitamin for our healthy functioning.

 

Reduce Your Toxic Load

If you’re eating well, exercising, sleeping like a trooper, taking time to zen-out and stay cool, then it might be time to look at reducing your toxic load.

Something like 80,000-90,000 chemicals have been introduced into our environment in the last 50-100 years or so. We’ve never been exposed to such a variety of chemicals, many of which haven’t been studied or testing thoroughly. They’re in our face cream, our toothpaste, our shampoo, our cleaning products, our carpets, furniture, even in our water supply. Everywhere you look, they’ll be room for improvement.

Don’t get bogged down. Notice the products you have in your home that you’re using regularly. Check out the ingredients labels. Don’t freak out at the enormity of the problem and do nothing. Pick one things at a time and see if there’s a better option available. Better still, have fun making your own products!  

 

Action Steps:

Use the Think Dirty App to help you assess products and make better purchasing decisions. 
If you’d like to be in good company as you lighten your toxic-load then join my natural living facebook group for ideas and chit-chat on this topic. 

If you’re interested in using essential oils to uplevel your health and wellbeing then check out the link below. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, I’m here to help!

Move Your DNA

 

Movement Matters

One of my great joys in life is discovering a new teacher who opens my eyes to something I’ve hitherto overlooked, or just not fully grasped.

Katy Bowman is my current teacher-crush. She’s a bio-mechanist which means she focuses on the mechanics of the human body; how we humans move and how our movements affect our health and how we function. It’s a black hole area that’s been largely overlooked. We know we need fresh air, clean water and nutritious food for optimum health, but most of us don’t realise that movement is also vital. It’s not a cherry-on-top-optional-if-I-can-squeeze-it-in-that’d-be-great-health measure. It’s essential.  Our DNA expects us to move in specific ways to function optimally, and most of us aren’t getting nearly enough movement.

Our Sedentary Culture

We did not evolve over thousands of years to sit at desks for 35-40 hours a week, plus extra hours sitting in cars, plus extra hours sitting for leisure time.  If you do an hour of exercise a day, by most modern standards you’d be lumped in the ‘pretty fit and healthy’ category. But one hour of exercise does not make up for 23 hours of sedentarism.

She actually compares exercise to vitamin pills. It’s not the same to eat junk all day and then take a range of pills to cover the essential nutrients we need as it is to eat a healthy, well balanced diet.  Exercising for an hour a day, often in the same repetitive way e.g. jogging, cycling etc….is not the same as moving your body frequently and in many different ways throughout the day, thus giving your body all the nutritious movements it needs.

Diseases of Captivity

Our bodies signal the fact that we need movement in order to be healthy by sending us signals of ‘movement hunger’. As we age, the number of years spent sedentary and repeating the same restricted range of movements (largely sitting in chairs!) compound to create problems. Back ache, dodgy knees, an ache here, a niggle there. In many cases these are signals of ‘movement hunger’. Our bodies are being starved of the nutritious movements they need to thrive.

One example she gives is regarding just how important movement is in helping fresh oxygen reach every cell in our body. If our cells don’t receive oxygen, they die. We think of the heart as being the organ responsible for pumping blood; getting oxygen in and around and waste back out. The reality is that the heart isn’t designed to bear this weight alone. Through moving lots we assist the heart greatly and ensure each cell receives the nutrients it needs. She suggests that one of the reasons for higher rates of heart disease is mechanical. We’re not moving as we evolved to (i.e. lots!) which is placing a new (in evolutionary terms) burden on our heart to do all the work of pumping blood around our system.

To make this point clearer she uses the analogy of the orca in captivity. It’s common for a captive whale to suffer from a collapsed fin. This is because it evolved to swim long distances and dive deep under the ocean water. This natural movement ensures its fin stays upright. In captivity, however, we see a different mechanical environment. Whales swim around in small circles and spend much more time above water. The droopy fin is a disease of captivity.

Dropped fin, hunched upper back…same, same but different. Diseases of captivity!

How many of our common ailments and health issues are diseases of our own captivity? We’re domesticated and live in incredible comfort, which ironically has led to discomfort as the capacity of our bodies has shrunk to fit the tiny range of movement we routinely use. 

Top Tips To Restore Health Through Natural Movements

So what to do? It’s not about exercising more, but moving more in day-to-day living.  You’ve probably heard the saying “it’s not what you do once in awhile that matters but what you do every day”. Well it’s not what you do for 30-60 minutes a day (i.e. exercising) but how you use your body for the remaining 23 hours as well.

 

Feet

Let’s start with our foundation, it affects everything above it.

We spend most of our time with our feet in sensory deprivation chambers i.e. shoes. Although our feet have hundreds and hundreds of muscles and the potential to move in myriad ways, we have become accustomed to walking and standing on flat, smooth surfaces, mostly in shoes.

To add more movement we can simply go barefoot more frequently, indoors first and then if you’re feeling daring outside in the garden too. Outdoors barefoot gives you the added benefits of earthing. Find some interesting stones to walk over, if you dare. It’s all great stimulation for your feet, although it mightn’t feel like it!

A tennis ball or massage ball is a great way to slowly break up the monotonous block of foot that we’ve created and start to get some movement back into our foundations. No special technique, just get rolling and try to cover each part of your foot, imagine your mowing the lawn 🙂

My stats so far for January. If you don’t measure you can’t improve it.

Another top tip is simply to walk, walk, walk: use them feet to walk. Our hunter gatherer ancestors were walking around a thousand miles a year, which is about 2.75 miles a day.  It’s better to vary how much you walk so that some days you walk more and some days less, but if you’re not walking enough then aiming for 2.75 miles a day isn’t a bad place to start.

I got myself a basic pedometer so I could start to track my movement. You don’t have to spend a fortune, I bought one for£20 which works great. It’s linked to an app on my phone so I can see week-by-week and month-by-month how much I’m moving. I find this brings out the competitive nature in me and encourages me to walk more to get my ‘score’ up nice and high 🙂

 

Sitting

It’s the new smoking apparently. It’s not sitting per se that’s the issue, but the fact that it usually represents being in a single position for many hours a day.

Sitting in chairs repetitively tightens up our hips, but there’s more than one way to sit. Consider sitting on the floor sometimes. We’re addicted to comfort and have a natural tendency to do as little as possible, to conserve energy. But our environment these days make this far too easy, which ends up making us uncomfortable as we get stiffer and physically weaker with age.

So many different ways to sit. What’s a different seat you can take?

Everything you own that makes life more comfy, the sofa, bed, etc…is actually taking the work from your body and making you less physically able to cope. You don’t have to get rid of your furniture, but consider sitting on the floor sometimes.

The floor is less comfortable so you’ll naturally find yourself moving around more frequently and in different ways. Plus you’ll open up those hips passively without having to go to yoga (although I still recommend going to yoga, obviously 😉 )

Another bonus is that you’ll maintain the capacity needed to get yourself down to the floor and back up again easily. If you’re not sitting on the ground regularly then you won’t know you’ve lost this capacity until it’s gone.  It always strikes me how nimble the elderly are in countries where sitting on the ground and squatting is a normal daily movement versus here where decades of sitting in chairs mean our elderly end up struggling to get in and out of a chair, never mind the floor!  Use it or lose it. You’ve been warned.

Hands

Reverse prayer

Computer hands anyone? Mobile phone hands? It’s all tippy-tappy on various devices and not a whole lot else. Generally. Here are some movements Katy prescribes.

 

Bring the backs of your hands together for reverse prayer. Press your hands down away from you but only as far as you can go while keeping the backs of your hands and all fingers and thumbs together.

 

Pull fingers back.

 

Pull your fingers back for the opposite of computer hands. I also like to do this one on hands and knees with my fingers pointed back towards my knees, I slowly peel my hands from the floor stretching along the length of my palm and fingers.

Arms and shoulderS

The angel

All the slumping forwards that’s part of modern living, and using our arms within limited ranges i.e. right in front of us, means most of us can benefit from opening the shoulders and arms up and back.

The angel is a nice simple movement. If you can lie on a bolster or some pillows and then circle the arms up and overhead, reaching towards the ground behind you.

Reclined twist

A reclined twist is another simple and effective move to open into the upper back, shoulders and chest.  From reclining, draw your left knee into your chest and pull it across the body like a lever to the right. Reach your left arm up and circle back. Let the left shoulder melt towards the ground behind you. Yummy, this is definitely nutritious.  This is my current wind-down pose for the end of the day

 

Hanging is another great movement that lets your

Hanging

body experience a different load.  Start by hanging sideways like the picture shows. Next lamp-post you see, OK? From here we can progress to monkey bars and swinging. All this to look forward to!

 

 

 

This was tough but felt amazing on my shoulders and a great whole body stretch!

 

 

Other nutritious movements

  • Notice any tendency to clench your jaw. Throughout the day bring awareness to your jaw and release it by letting your bottom teeth relax away from your top.
  • Notice any overexertion of the eye muscles. Again, throughout the day bring your awareness to your eyes and soften your gaze. If you stare at a computer for much of the day take regular breaks to look into the distance, or up at the sky when you get a chance – this uses different muscles so you’re not constantly holding the same contraction.
  • Look at the devices you use to make life easier and experiment going without them. An example is brooms and mops. These devices allow us to stand and clean the floor where previously we would have been down, either squatting or on hands and knees, moving around much more. I’ve been getting down to clean the floor and it’s actually been an easy transition. Plus you can really get stuck in when you’re closer to the ground 🙂
  • This is going to seem a bit out there, but Katy also talks about our mattresses and pillows as being ‘subversive immobilising devices issued at birth’.  Hold on tight, I’m going to unpack this one a little more. Using big fluffy pillows and super comfy and soft mattresses causes our bodies to adapt to need those things.  Then you go camping and sleep on a different terrain and your body feels like it’s fallen out of a sky-scrapper over night!  Have you ever had a massage or done some yoga only to discover some sore or sticky spots in your body? The question is, why didn’t you know about these until someone started prodding you? Katy says “sleeping on a mattress dampens the pressure to your body. The cumulative effect of sleeping every night on a giant squishy surface is that it keeps you blind to the fact that parts of your body have become so immobile and inflamed that being touched hurts. If you’ve gone to the massage therapist and found relief from the application of pressure over time, consider the compound effect of getting “worked on” by the floor every night”.   I’ve inadvertently   been doing this sort of cross-training since baby Lila came along. I’ve been camping out on the floor in the spare bedroom for the last seven months.  At first I thought this was terrible for my body but my body has adapted and I’m noww more comfortable on the floor!! I think this warrants more investigation and a separate blog post!
  • Just get outdoors. It’s so good for us in so many ways and in ways we don’t fully understand. The effect of sunlight, of UV rays (did you know they decrease risk factors for inflammatory demyelinating diseases like MS?), the good vibes the trees and plants give off, the effects of touching the ground (earthing again!) even the sounds of the natural world compared to the sounds of our devices and cars beep beeping constantly.

So there you have a few tips from Katy Bowman, the legend! I’ll leave you with  one more quote from my favourite lady of the moment:

“Our zoo-like environment is not necessarily invalid, but it implies that there’s nothing we can do about our captivity or that we’ve agreed to staying in our cage of comforts. We have the key to unlock the door and move our DNA to a new environment whenever we choose to. What are you waiting for?”

How will you move your DNA today?

If you’re into podcasts definitely check out her Katy Says Podcast https://nutritiousmovement.com/podcasts/

 If you’re not into podcasts, you’re missing out. Get listening while you move about more!

If you want to know more definitely read her book Move Your DNA.

Kitchen Sadhana

sadhana is a spiritual practice, or discipline, done repetitively and consistently for the refinement of Self.  Kitchen Sadhana is the practice of conscious food preparation.

My yoga teacher says “yoga starts in the kitchen.” High vibe food, lovingly made with our own hands, or “happy food” as my teacher calls it, is the earthy, most tangible foundation of awake living.

The food we eat becomes the tissue of our physical body. Happy food makes for happy, healthy tissue. Junk food, or “grumpy food” as guru-ji likes to say, makes for unhappy and ultimately confused and sick tissue. If we fill our trunk with junk we can’t hope to thrive or experience our potential.

We want to nourish to flourish, and that means shining the light of awareness into our kitchen. Us Yogis like to take control of our biochemistry to experience the bliss that is our true nature. Our bodies are our laboratory, and so is our kitchen.

Kitchen Sadhana For Modern Times

I first came across the concept of Kitchen Sadhana in Maya Tiwari’s Ayurvedic book A Life of Balance. Her kitchen sadhana involves lots of hand grinding grains and spices. I’ve taken the concept and adapted it liberally for my preference for faster-paced food prep.

I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen daily, but I love spending a 1-2 hour chunk of time each week purposefully on my Kitchen Sadhana.

When I’m hungry I want to eat NOW. I don’t want to jump through the hoops of deciding what to make while looking through cupboards and the fridge to see what ingredients are on hand. But I also want to eat well.

Behavioural science shows us that if we want to take certain actions, like making better food choices, we have to make it as easy as possible for ourselves to do this. Otherwise, it just won’t happen.

I find this to be so very true.  If I’m trying to elevate my food choices to nourish myself better than I have in the past, I need to make decisions around how this is going to happen and what this next version of myself would like to eat ahead of time.

If I wait until the moment when I’m stepping into the kitchen after a long day working to decide what to eat, it’s already too late. I’m probably maxed out on decision fatigue and in the split second it takes to decide what to make I’m highly likely to step on the old, well-worn path and repeat old patterns, because that’s easy.

It’s much easier to make decisions and consciously plan better food choices for the week ahead of time. My kitchen sadhana is my opportunity to do this. To take some time, when I’m not hungry, in a rush, or needing to make food quickly, to align my kitchen with the sort of nourishment I want to gift myself in the coming week.

Why You Want a Kitchen Sadhana

Each time we eat we’re making an offering to our physical body. We have an opportunity at every meal to shape who we’re evolving into each day through conscious food choices.

A single meal might not seem like a big deal but consider this, we eat three meals a day, 265 days a year for an average lifespan of 81 years, that’s 88,695 opportunities to have a conscious and healing and nourishing interaction with food.

Each encounter is an opportunity to step into greater health and vitality, or to create inner sludge and toxins – ama in Ayurveda- that eventually leads us to disease. So there’s a lot at stake. The foundation of our future wellbeing lies in our kitchen today. Is your kitchen set up in such a way that that making the best possible food choices is the path of least resistance?

How To Create Your Own Kitchen Sadhana

Ask yourself:

  • How do I want to nourish myself in this next phase?
  • What do I want to eat this coming week?
  • What can I prepare ahead of time to make it super easy for me to do this?

My Kitchen Sadhana usually takes places on a Saturday or Sunday. I might stick some music on and get stuck into the fun of cleaning, tidying, soaking, drying, washing, chopping, and whatever else needs doing to pave the way for a healthy week full of happy food.

Here are some of the things I might enjoy doing as part of my kitchen sadhana time:

  • Clearing up cupboards. I find things can get a bit disordered in the busy-ness of mid-week so this is a time to straighten things out and put things away in an orderly fashion so I can quickly navigate the kitchen during the week.
  • Stock check: I check what I’ve got in stock so I can plan meals around what I already have and avoid wastage, or buying and stocking more than I need. I’ll also note what’s missing and make up my shopping list for the week as I do this. I shop with Ocado and find their app invaluable, I just add things to the trolley on the app as I go along.
  • Meal planning: I’ll write out some simple meal ideas for the week. Often I’ll browse through my recipe books for inspiration and perhaps pick out a new recipe or something I haven’t made in awhile. I don’t necessarily stick to the plan religiously but it helps me to have a range of options and ingredients so I can quickly pick something each day and do whatever food prep is needed in the morning  or the night before. This might not sound that useful but honestly, it makes it so much easier to stay on track during the week when you’re tired and maybe less motivated, if you can simply look at a meal planner and read the directions from the highly-motivated-weekend-version-of-yourself.
  • Food prep: I might use this time to actually prepare some of my ingredients, maybe washing and chopping vegetables, soaking beans or
    nom nom batches of sauerkraut, fermented beets and humous!

    nuts and seeds. I’ve been making tabouleh a lot recently so I might chop some carrots, cucumber and tomatoes and have those ready in a container so that I can simply add hot water to the bulgar wheat in the morning (1 minute job) and then mix in the veggies at lunchtime (another 1 minute) to complete the meal. So fast, so easy!

  • Batching food staples: I might also make up some batches of foods thatcan be combined with different meals for variety throughout the week. I like making a big batch of hummus for instance, or sauerkraut. This week I made a big batch of vegan coleslaw which spruces up any salad in an instance and adds a nice dash of colour to most meals.
  • I’ll usually buy bulk packs of grains and legumes so I might spend some
    mmm vegan coleslaw with nuts and seeds. I can chuck a few spoonfuls onto some kale or lettuce for a snazzy salad in an instant.

    time replenishing the smaller mason jars I keep on hand with this stock.

Kitchen Sadhana allows me to make quick, healthy meals on the fly, with minimal effort or thought on days when I’m busy and pinched for time. I like to see this time I spend prepping ahead as a gift to my future, busier, self.

As a new mum this practice has become essential in allowing me to continue rustling up healthy meals in the limited time I have available.