Guest Post From Health Coach Jane Unsworth
In writing this post I have to start by sharing that I’ve made a few of the recipes on Penny’s site, and enjoyed the delight that others have taken from them.
My favourite (to date) is the Chocolate & Orange Drizzle Cake which was a big hit at a training day I attended with fellow health coaches, a testimony in itself as to how delicious it tastes. I recommend giving it a go, it’s pushover-easy to make, it’s a win:win all-round.
Does this sound like a mis-match, a health coach eating cake? I kind of hope so, because it takes us nicely into our topic about how food is being directly blamed for so much these days.
Here’s a phrase I often use with my clients and in writing, which is:
Food is neither good not bad that we don’t make it so
To listen to the food advice that is shared in the media today, especially social media, where so much misinformation abounds in respect of what we’re eating, it’s no wonder we’re confused.
Take fat for example; one of my posts was recently favourited by a @twitter-name that centres on the low-fat message, and I wondered at the shelf-life of such an invested name. It rather backs them into the corner of perpetuating myths, despite new findings.
Nutrition is a slippery little sucker at the best of times and promoting more of the same-old for what is often a different agenda serves who exactly?
Having been given such a bad wrap, fat has in recent times redeemed itself and finds us all ditching those dreary margarine’s, while butter makes a magnanimous come-back (2-yrs for me now).
Food Is Not The Enemy
But here’s the thing food is not the enemy. It’s not what we eat but how we eat. As someone born in the 1950’s in the UK, I was raised on stodgy foods like; steak and kidney puddings in suet pastry, yum.
It was a treat to go up to town, with my family, and finish a shopping spree with sausage, chips and gravy at Paulden’s (the Debenham store predecessor) on Market Street in Manchester.
A Sunday Roast was only eaten on that day back then, we ate all manner of post-war fare, and didn’t have anything like the fit-to-bursting hospital waiting lists we do now.
I’m sceptical about the dieting and health industry, as someone who’s been there and done that, many times without success, I took my curiosity that bit further, which brought me into working as a Coach focusing on health, weight and recovering energy. Ah-ha you may say, so I’m not unbiased either.
I feel I am, it’s part of my remit. I sit outside of the industry persay, where my alternative hat stems from one of enquiry, I enjoy sharing what is unraveling in terms of how much of an impact our psyche has on how our life pans out.
And I welcome healthy scepticism, one of the most sceptical people I’ve worked with is Brian, who’d had depression for 30-yrs. He used all sorts of approaches including 2-yrs of counselling without success, and justified in feeling how he did about an ability to get rid of his condition.
But I’m pleased to report that the work we did together changed his entire landscape, the depression lifted (he described it like a veil of fog), his physical pains disappeared and he was properly able to connect with his kids and be fully present with them as a dad, an immeasurable but very real bonus.
The one thing I continued to encourage was his scepticism, which made it fun working together. He was so happy with the difference it made in his life, that he wrote to me a year after to mark his 1-yr anniversary, thanking me for everything, especially the self-help tools he took away for life.
He was so delighted with how much his inner-quality-of-life changed that he volunteered to talk about it in a local radio interview, which you can hear by clicking through to this page.
More Stress Than We Can Cope With
Two things have happened, over time, one is the soaring out-of-control rocket that is the food (and fake food) manufacturing industry. The second is our pace of life!
Now let’s imagine I take sugar in my cuppa’s throughout the day, won’t the sugar impact be less of a shock to my system because it’s more acclimatised, and more of a slow release?
Or I could be a tad self-righteous about not taking sugar in my drinks, while secretly over-indulging myself towards the end of the day by binging out on sugar induced sweets, snacks, even alcohol in one sitting, followed by an energy wipe out, resulting in a sugar coma.
I covered some nutrition on the Home Economics science degree I took as a mature student back in the early 1990’s, but I don’t know the full extent of the story on sugar, salt and synthetic fats just yet. It’ll be part of my enquiry when I begin a 3-yr naturopathic nutritionist’s course at the London College Of Naturopathic Medicine this Autumn.
What I do know about is how stress and habits interweave and inform. For example, if I run to food for cover, so to speak, the snack industry is a gift. One thing we crave when we get stressed is sugar for that quick energy boost, however short lived those sugar highs.
But it doesn’t take long for a habit to build, and before long a subconscious trigger has developed between an event, a person, or a situation that results in my reaction, in our example a food craving.
Suddenly I find myself in the regular habit of being knee-deep in empty wrappers from synthesised fat, sugar, and salted products. I’ve replaced one problem with another, by numbing my feelings instead of dealing with what’s stressing me out.
Over a relatively short amount of time the origins of my behaviour become quite lost to me. But I’m left with a growing habit, less will to resist as it takes hold, an impacting lack of energy, the chipping away at my self-esteem, and the original issue is still simmering away in the background.
Misguidedly I might start thinking the poor habit is the problem, whereas the habit is a symptom, and indicative of a root cause. Finding what drives the behaviour is key to a successful outcome.
We Live In Stressful Times
We live in amazing times, the technological advancements are nothing short of miraculous, yet we’re stressed to the hilt, we never stop. When you look around people are forever playing on their phones, doing, doing, doing.
That didn’t happen in the fifties, of course it didn’t, and I was a kid but we know historically that the pace of life was different.
I would play out all summer long, in Davyhulme Park, an amazing space that combined a cross of municipal gardens, a man-sized rockery with entrance archway, an outdoor swimming pool, a shrubbery, a bandstand, a playground and pond areas. As an adult it still holds some magic, but health and safety have taken over and flattened some of the assets that were privy to an 8-year old adventurer.
And sadly these days kids don’t get to play in the fresh air with nothing much aside from their imaginations to revel in. Just one example of how we’ve come to take what the media stirs up as verbatim, which for me highlights the absolute need to resist a fear-based society.
My work has taken me into the mind, and shows just how much personal power we have, to make a difference, when we become stronger within ourselves.
One interesting phenomena is that whether our fears are grounded or not, the mind cannot distinguish, and once a fear is installed it becomes real enough to our central nervous system. Real enough to stop us from fulfilling our potential, standing up for our convictions, and confident to speak our truth.
Why Stress Is The Real Enemy
When we calm things down and become mindful for example, we’re far less likely to over-react, or over-indulge. But it’s easier said than done, and attending a class once a week might start to have an impact.
For example, I know how certain types of yoga that focus on tuning into your body, rather than the pose, can have incredible ripples from one week to the next.
Tai chi is a great form of exercise for slowing the pace, and according to Tai Chi Master Chunyi Lin the slower the better.
A body worker can see your stress at 50-paces because it sits at our very core, showing itself in every nuance of our language, our gait, how we move, hold ourselves, our behaviour, our demeanour, and our relationships (especially those that test us). Along with the general state of our health.
Learning to be mindful on a daily basis or including a daily meditation has been scientifically shown to have some great medical benefits. But here’s the rub…
If we’re too stressed out to include them in our daily routine, no matter how much we wish it so, how do we break the cycle, so that we can get on-board with ourselves?
Changing the stress around something or someone actually eradicates any need for an avoidance strategy, that as humans we naturally develop in response to self-preservation
I can share that my mum was my biggest trigger, she really knew how to pull my strings. She passed away over the Christmas of 2013 and during the 7-yrs, from when her dementia was first diagnosed, I worked at getting free of my stressors within our relationship.
The communications mis-match we experienced, for all sorts of reasons, is common enough from her generation to mine, and I can’t recommend highly enough the value found in mending it.
She was a great button-pusher, which became the gauge as we made our peace and learned to laugh together more. I’m really thankful for the opportunity, because I was able to release those niggling regrets and our relationship continues to grow even now.
There was a time when it was deemed quite precious to have a therapist, the classic case that comes to my mind is the ongoing joke about Woody Allen and his 30-yr long therapy. But I’m here to tell you it needn’t be like that.
It’s no longer about having A Therapist, a word I’m rather averse to anyway, so I coach clients and integrating some of the best personal development tools on the planet, similar to what I taught Brian.
The focus today is on our Emotional Wellbeing, because the pace of life is faster and as we age we want to keep up, physically and mentally, stay tuned in to what’s happening within our family, our social circle, and beyond. And I for one am not going anywhere near the types of cell perishing diseases my parents generation have been stricken by.
Keeping the old grey matter working properly is a key factor, and de-stressing is a major component!
Becoming calm at our centre is all we can aspire to, because it’s not what we react to, but how we react, and this comes down to self-awareness. When we’re wrapped up in the detail we’re likely to miss the bigger picture.
And if how-we-tick happens to be an interest of yours, you’re likely to be aware that the fields in the Quantum & Neurosciences are revealing some phenomenal research on the effects of stress, and how it impacts our health.
Knowing what is stressing us and dealing with it by using a range of what are becoming know as Energy Psychology Techniques, makes an insurmountable difference.
Getting on board with ourselves helps to debunk whatever myths the fitness industry wants to throw at us, did you know that even how you think about the food you’re eating, as you prepare and eat it, can have a psychological impact and gain weight. And changing whatever drives our poor choices is where the power lives in your hands.
Take the next steps
If you’ve wanted to change some things that are leaving a black-hole in your life, then I offer the chance of applying for a free 2-hr coaching consultation that coaches you through what more is possible, that will take your quality of health, vitality and life to the next level and beyond.
You can do this by contacting me here to set up an appointment, because I’d love to support you in developing an even better quality of life than you may well be enjoying right now.