Good morning everyone! Just a quick check-in to say that my Youtube channel is now live again. I have filmed a short channel intro video and I hope to be more active on there in the coming months. I want to share with you free yoga and meditation videos plus informational and motivational videos on nutrition and lifestyle for holistic health. The channel will be mainly focused on women’s health but guys you are welcome too! If you have any topic or video requests, shout in the comments below and I will do my best to make it happen.
I am not at all a natural in front of the camera but this is me getting out of my comfort zone and expanding my horizons so I also want to take this opportunity to encourage you to do the same! What is one thing you have been wanting to do but fear is holding you back? Is there one small action you can take today to move you closer to this goal? Remember that our thoughts and fears only exist in our imagination…
“Fear is nothing more than an obstacle that stands in the way of progress. In overcoming our fears, we can move forward, stronger and wiser within ourselves.”
As a Nutritionist, Yoga Teacher and Women’s Wellness Coach, I love to support women to improve their overall health and wellbeing! Wellness coaching incorporates more than just the usual diet and exercise program that we associate with health coaching, it is about building holistic health which will leave you feeling confident, energised and enthusiastic about life again. Holistic health coaching focuses on 6 main elements which I will explain in more detail in this post as well as how I work with clients who are looking to make improvements in this area of their health.
At the end of the article I will provide a Wellbeing Assessment questionnaire so that you can carry out your own holistic health assessment at home. This is the exact same health assessment that I use with my health coaching clients in our initial session to help us set direction for our work together.
Even though, I fully believe that we are more than our bodies, our physical bodies are the way we experience life and therefore it is a foundation of holistic health coaching. This is not necessarily about being in a perfect state of physical health but it is important for us to maintain an adequate state of physical health to live the life we choose. Physical health includes:
Good functioning of our bodily systems
Healthy immune function and rapid healing
Normal metabolic markers such as blood sugar and blood pressure
Relatively free from disease and pain
Ability to participate in life including social and work activities
Some clients who want to improve their physical health are under the supervision of a doctor and need support and accountability from a health coach to help them stick to their health management plan, for example quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption or a lifestyle program to manage diabetes or high blood pressure. Other clients prefer to focus on the other elements of holistic health and as a result see improvements in their physical health markers. Either way we work with approach based goals, concentrating on building positive habits for physical health rather than outcome based goals which focus on the end result such as weight.
Sleep and energy
Anyone who has experienced poor sleep (calling all Mums out there!) or suffered with insomnia, will appreciate the importance of good sleep and energy levels. We need to sleep well in order to function at our best and enjoy life rather than feeling like we are constantly dragging ourselves through the day. For adults, sleep experts recommend anywhere from 7-9 hours sleep per night for optimum health and wellbeing. A holistic health assessment of sleep looks at both the amount of sleep that you are able to get as well as the quality of that sleep and the energy that you experience. For example, do you wake feeling refreshed and rested or do you start the day already feeling exhausted and wondering how you will make it through to the evening?
For clients who focus on improving sleep and energy levels, we work on creating space in your life for sleep and developing helpful routines to help you relax and wind down to ensure you get a good quality sleep. Often, we know what we need to do to improve our sleep but prioritising and staying accountable to these actions is the hard part, that is where a health coach comes in! I typically use a sleep journal with my clients to help them to identify patterns and factors which influence the amount of quality of sleep they are able to get. We also explore how you are using your energy throughout the day and identify “energy drains” in your life that might be zapping your life force and leaving you feeling fatigued and unmotivated.
Nourishing your body with a wholesome and varied diet is one of the cornerstones of holistic health. We literally are what we eat as all of the substances we consume eventually become the building blocks for new cells as well as the energy that we use to create our personal reality. In my practice, I don’t focus on counting calories or macro-nutrients but rather on helping clients to develop a positive relationship with food and the ability to intuitively eat a balanced diet which is nourishing on both a physical and emotional level. I described in a recent post the key principles of a healthy diet which include: balance, variety, wholesomeness and individuality.
I work with clients looking to improve their dietary habits using a Non-Diet Approach (read my post on NDA here) which takes the focus away from dieting to lose weight or change your body towards an enjoyable and relaxed attitude towards nourishment. We work on tuning into internal cues of hunger and fullness, accepting all foods and the diversity of body shapes and sizes. Our work focuses on developing your intuition and self-confidence so that you can eat the foods that support your body whilst still enjoying all of the pleasures that food has to offer. This can look like diving into your history with dieting, unpacking your beliefs around food and nutrition, using a food diary to identify unhelpful eating patterns and creating a pathway to overcome them.
For all my clients, I hope for them to feel liberated and empowered around food, able to make food choices that work for their unique body and life situation. No more obsessing over every bite, weighing and tracking every mouthful or living in fear of food. Instead, pure pleasure and nourishment from food on a daily basis!
Movement and physical activity
Moving your body is of course an important part of a healthy lifestyle. We know from many years of research that physical activity helps to maintain our physical health, protect us from disease and maintain a sense of wellbeing. Unfortunately, for many people exercise has become either a chore to avoid or a way to punish our body for over eating or for not being the perfect shape or size that we have learned is appropriate for society.
For clients who feel that they would like to be more physically active and improve their level of fitness, we work together to dive into their belief and values around exercise and their physical body. I work with you to discover activities that bring pleasure and joy back to movement and help you to cultivate a sense of gratitude and appreciate for your body and everything it allows us to do. I help you to stay accountable to your goals and action plans around physical activity and together we identify potential barriers and road blocks to physical activity and develop solutions to make movement a more natural and habitual part of your life.
For those clients on the opposite end of the spectrum who exercise too much and are suffering the consequences such as fatigue or hormonal imbalances, we again dive deep into our beliefs around exercise and body image. We create a safe container for you to shift your attitudes towards your appearance and develop a positive self-image that allows you to shift your perspective of movement. I will help you to find the joy in moving your body once more and let go of all of the negative emotional baggage after years of over-exercise and punishing your body to find lightness and fun around movement again.
Stress.. unfortunately in today’s world it is something that we all experience more than we would like. The simple fact is that the pace of modern life with all of it’s pressures and demands can leave us feeling overwhelmed, anxious and exhausted. Stress can be responsible for many of the health issues we experience from insomnia to high blood pressure. Cortisol, a major stress hormone, can affect all of our bodily symptoms wreaking havok on our digestion, metabolism and fertility. It can leave us feeling on edge, moody, tired and lacking spark. Holistic health coaching does not claim to get rid of stress, rather we look at your attitudes towards stress and coping mechanisms you have in place to deal with life’s stresses and prevent overwhelm and burnout.
Working with clients on stress management is extremely rewarding because with just a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle, you can often experience huge reductions in the amount of stress you feel day to day and the symptoms that can go along with that. I help clients to identify the different types of stressors in their life and the effects they are experiencing. We then work to find ways to either eliminate the stressor, change the situation or adapt to cope with the stress for things that cannot be changed. We create positive daily routines to help you feel more organised and in control as well as prioritising activities such as yoga and meditation which promote deep relaxation and restoration.
The final element of holistic health coaching is your life balance, that is how you feel about your life and your place in the world. This element of holistic health focuses on you, how you feel about yourself, how you experience life and how you interact with others and the world around you. Life balance includes the often forgotten elements of wellbeing such as connection, compassion, wisdom and fulfilment. Sometimes we get so wrapped up with “fixing” ourselves or our problems that we forget life is to be lived and enjoyed and this can leave us feeling lost and at sea in life.
With clients for whom shifting life balance is key to improving their holistic health, we might look at strengthening your connection to your self, understanding who you are at your core and developing appreciation for your unique personality and skills. I help you to build your confidence so that you can show up as your best self and go for your goals. We also shine a light on your relationships with others and I encourage you to ensure that you have positive relationships in your life which support your wellbeing and personal development as well as healthy communication strategies to help you communicate your needs and boundaries in a positive way as well as be more accepting and understanding of others.
As a final note, I want to highlight that as all of the elements of holistic health overlap with each other, implementing positive habits and routines in one area will likely have a domino effect on the other areas of your holistic health and wellbeing. For example, making changes to your dietary habits, physical activity and stress management can also help to improve sleep and energy levels or adjusting your life balance can help to dramatically reduce your stress. We are moving away from this reductionist view of health as a set of behaviours or a particular appearance towards a new paradigm of holistic health as wellbeing and thriving!
Over to you…
If you would like to gain insight into your holistic health and identify areas you might like to improve on, download the free wellbeing assessment below from Well College Global which is the exact one I use with my 1-2-1 clients! Please like and share this post to support my business and follow my blog for more useful posts on nutrition, yoga and holistic health.
If you are looking for guidance, support and accountability on your holistic health journey, please contact me or check out the nutrition and health coaching packages I offer. My specialty is helping women to balance their hormones and heal their body and metabolism after chronic or restrictive dieting but I also help anyone who is looking to improve their overall health and find the perfect balance for their body. I would love to work together with you to move past any health blocks and get you feeling your best again!
How would you rate your self-compassion on a scale of 1-10?
What even is self-compassion?
Self-compassion has been defined as:
“the capacity to comfort and sooth ourselves, and to motivate ourselves with encouragement when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate.” Chris Germer from the Centre for Mindful Self-Compassion
“being kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings…” Kristen Neff PhD
So when it comes to your path to better health, self-compassion could look like:
Speaking kindly to yourself when things don’t go according to plan
Letting go of harsh criticisms of yourself i.e. the inner bully
Observing your “slip ups” with a non-judgmental attitude and learning from them rather than beating yourself up
Being your own cheerleader and believing in yourself
Understanding that perfection doesn’t exist and failure is part of the journey
Being kind to ourselves and showing self-compassion is becoming increasing difficult in today’s world. With a constant barrage of seemingly perfect others to compare ourselves to on social media, TV and advertisements, it’s no wonder that we can often we left feeling less than and telling ourselves we don’t measure up. These comparisons then become the ammunition for the mental weapon which we turn towards ourselves.
Sometimes the language of negative self-talk becomes so engrained into our psyche that we don’t notice it. How many times have you thought to yourself “I’m so stupid”, “I never get things right”, “What’s the point, I’m a failure”, “I’ll never be like that”. All of these thoughts create a mental environment that keep us stuck in our same old habits and routines, unable to break free and move towards our vision of better health and overall life happiness. Speaking to ourselves harshly sets off a cascade of chemical reactions in our bodies which then influence the trillions of cells and change the way they function.
Self-compassion and holistic health
Part of my coaching as a Women’s Wellness Coach involves supporting women to love themselves and believe in themselves more. Not only because having a positive self-image is part of holistic wellness but also because negative self-talk and lack of confidence can be a major barrier to change in all other areas of health improvement including diet, movement and stress management. Research shows that rather than being motivated by criticism from ourselves and others, we are more likely to feel like a failure and give up altogether.
On the other hand, self-efficacy, that is the belief that we can take action and succeed in a particular situation, is associated with positive behaviour change and health outcomes. Self-efficacy goes hand in hand with self-compassion because without kindness and understanding how can we expect to believe in ourselves enough to make change? If we believe that every time we fall off the wagon or don’t achieve the results we expect, it’s because we are a failure and not because the goal was unrealistic, we didn’t have the resources we needed or life just got in the way, how easy will it be to get back up and try again?
When we react to our mistakes with self-compassion, it is much easier to pick ourselves up and get back on track rather than enter a negative spiral. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) describes how our thoughts create feelings which in turn affect our behaviours and our physical state. Negative self-talk can make us feel worse about ourselves and not want to do things to take care of ourselves holistically. On the other hand, showing self-compassion creates more positive feelings of acceptance, gratitude and peace which are more likely to trigger us to act in ways that support our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Developing self-compassion first requires becoming mindful of the thought tapes that are playing in our minds and where we could be harming ourselves with our self-talk. Whether you realise it or not, you are talking to yourself all day long via your thoughts! These can be thoughts about what is going on in the world around you but we often also have thoughts about ourselves and our actions or how other people see us. If you are not used to paying attention to your thoughts, this can come as a shock once you realise the constant chatter that is the backdrop for your life.
A useful experiment is to carry a small notebook with you over a 24 hour period and whenever you notice a self-judgement pop up, write it down. At the end of the experiment, reflect on what you have written. How many times did you judge yourself? In what situations? Were your judgements mostly positive or negative? If you find that you are often criticising yourself and your day is packed with negative self-talk, it’s maybe a good idea to focus on developing your self-compassion. Remember, if you find that your self-talk is very negative, not to use this as yet another thing to criticise yourself about. Instead see it as a starting point and something you can improve on over time.
Thought replacement/inner dialogues
Unfortunately, we can’t simply tell our brains to stop thinking, nor can we just turn off the thoughts we don’t like. Instead, we can create balance by countering any negative thoughts with more compassionate ones. This could look like a dialogue in your mind between your harsh inner critic and your kind inner cheerleader or coach. For example:
Inner critic: “Why did I eat so much food at the party? I wasn’t even hungry, why am I always so greedy!”
Inner coach: “Ok, perhaps you ate more than you planned to today. Why was that do you think? Is there something that you need? Is there something you could do differently next time?”
Inner cheerleader: “Parties are for enjoying! You ate really healthily this week and you noticed the benefits. Let it go and carry on with your plan”
If it helps, you can actually imagine these different perspectives as characters. Naming your inner critic or your inner bully and visualising it as a saboteur that creeps around your mind can really help you to separate you from your thoughts and judgements about yourself. These are thoughts that are occurring automatically and you are the one that is witnessing and experiencing the effects of these thoughts.
If you struggle to do this mentally, you can also put the dialogue on paper. As you review your thought journal, pick out some key themes or areas where you criticise yourself and experiment with writing a response from a more compassionate perspective. This might feel uncomfortable or be challenging at first but the more you practice, the easier and more natural it will become. If you have children, it might come more easily as we usually try to see the best in our children and see the bigger picture of what might have influenced their actions rather than blaming them personally.
Another way to counter negative self-talk is to try to crowd out the negative thoughts with more positive or neutral thoughts. Affirmations are statements that we can repeat to ourselves to program our minds to think differently. We are always making affirmations whether we realise it or not. Our thoughts create pathways in our mind and the more a thought is repeated, the deeper and more defined the pathway becomes making it easier to automatically think that thought again in the future. This is why over 90% of our thoughts tend to be the same from day to day!
If our habitual thoughts (i.e. affirmations) are negative judgements of ourselves, this is going to affect our ability to feel positive emotions and create the life we wish to live. Consciously repeating positive affirmations can help by planting the seed of more positive thoughts that are in line with our goals and our ideal vision of ourselves. Affirmations don’t have to be extreme and cheesy, in fact, if they are too outside of our current view of ourselves, they can have the opposite effect.
For example, someone who looks in the mirror and finds themselves ugly might repeat an affirmation such as “I may not be perfect but I accept myself the way I am and I know I am more than my physical appearance” rather than “I am beautiful” which might feel unrealistic and difficult to relate to.
Repeating affirmations like these just for a few minutes each day can start to change the usual narrative of thoughts that we experience. Even if initially it is only 1 positive thought followed by 99 negative ones, it is a start and a foundation to build on. Like any habit, conscious repetition leads to mastery. So whilst it might seem too simple to work, practicing positive affirmations daily can really work wonders over time.
Practice acceptance and forgiveness
Self-compassion is not about believing that we are perfect and never make mistakes. It is more about understanding that inevitably, because we are human, we will have flaws and act in ways that we later regret. It is being able to continue to show unconditional love for ourselves through these moments and not to take everything so personally. Instead of that age-old saying of treat others like you would like to be treated yourself, self-compassion is treating yourself as kindly as you would others you love.
In moments where you feel the inner critic rear its’ head, take a deep breath and let it go. Remind yourself that you are only human and we all make mistakes or feel like we don’t measure up. How many times have others in your life made mistakes or been less than perfect? How many times have you forgiven or accepted others just the way they are? Start to offer this acceptance and forgiveness to yourself and you will be on your way to developing self-compassion.
Meditation to develop self-compassion
An excellent way to combine these three elements of developing self-compassion (mindfulness, thought replacement and positive affirmations) is through guided meditations. My absolute favourite channel for guided meditations on Youtube is the Mindful Movement and I always recommend their meditations to my clients. Try out this meditation for connection and compassion below.
Over to you…
Let me know your thoughts on this interesting topic! Please like and share this post to support my business and follow my blog for more useful posts on nutrition, yoga and holistic health.
If you are looking for guidance, support and accountability on you health journey, please contact me or check out the nutrition and holistic health coaching packages I offer. My specialty is helping women to balance their hormones and heal their body and metabolism after chronic or restrictive dieting but I also help anyone who is looking to improve their overall health and find the perfect balance for their body. I would love to work together with you to move past any health blocks and get you feeling your best again!
How often have you found yourself reacting in the same old habitual ways to certain situations? Maybe it’s reacting negatively towards a particular person, feeling shy or anxious in certain situations, or repeatedly falling off the wagon with healthy behaviours as soon as a stressor hits. So much of our behaviour is habitual meaning that we do it without even thinking. We start to actually identify with feelings and behaviours as if they are our identity making it very difficult to change. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if you had the option to act consciously and choose how you want to show up each day?
I’ve heard many times how visualisation can help to do exactly that, change your mindset so that you can step out of your comfort zone and grow into the person you want to be. I never really paid it much attention until recently. However, recently I had an interview for a position that I really had set my heart on and after reading again about the power of visualisation I decided to give it a go. I’ve always struggled with confidence speaking in front of people, and this was an interview where I had to give a 15 minute presentation in front of a panel of 5 followed by a question and answer session. Naturally my inner critic was going wild with what ifs…
“What if you stumble on your words?” “What if you go bright red in the face?” “What if your mind goes totally blank?”
These were all based on memories of past experiences of presenting or public speaking where I’ve done exactly that. Blushed like a tomato, panicked and totally forgotten everything I wanted to say – eek! When I projected forward how I thought the interview would go, these were the memories I had to help me out with visualising how the interview would go. This has happened before too when I’ve had to speak publicly. I’d be nervous and running through all my past “failures” at speaking in front of people and of course when the moment arrived the same thing would happen again, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This is something we all do, as humans we hate uncertainty and we try to predict situations based on information we already have. Sometimes this can be helpful but often it can keep us feeling stuck in a rut and unable to reach our potential. But this time I was determined that it would be different. I’d had enough of feeling terrified at the thought of speaking in front of people and I wanted to create a new possibility. Since starting to teach yoga and make Youtube videos, I’ve already proved to myself that I can get out of my comfort zone and do things I am afraid of so why should this situation be any different?
I decided that for a few days leading up to the interview I would practice a guided visualisation where I imagined myself presenting confidently, impressing the panel and answering all of their questions with ease. I allowed myself to be aware of all of the judgements and criticisms that were present in my mind but chose not to dwell on them and to focus on creating new, positive beliefs about my abilities. As I always say, it’s important to also feel the emotions when practicing meditation or any mindset work and so I really let myself feel that happy, confident, excited version of myself in my mind. If you’re interested in the guided meditation I used, you can listen to it here.
As it wasn’t “real”, the visualisation gave me the opportunity to dream up an entirely new Amy, totally separate from the shy, anxious version I had become so attached to. I did this every morning, first thing for five days leading up to the interview and let me tell you, it worked wonders! I’m not saying that I arrived at the presentation with no fear or doubt but I felt so much better than I ever have in these kind of situations before. I presented confidently (even though I was shaking with nerves), I said everything I wanted to and answered all of the questions without freaking out too much. Definitely a win in my books. It’s out of my hands now whether I get the position or not but I feel good knowing that I showed up as my best self and gave it my all.
The best thing is that now I have a stored memory of this confident version of myself who can present well. Next time I need to do something like this and I rack my mind for past experiences, amongst the embarrassing memories I will also have this one to lean on and give me hope that I can do it. And the more memories like this I can build, the stronger this new, more confident Amy will become and over time it will become my new identity. So if any of you out there are struggling with confidence or with changing your behaviours, maybe give visualization a chance. You only need to commit around 15-20 minutes a day and it really can change your life. Of course, visualization alone won’t change anything in your life but what it can do is give you the motivation and sense of personal power so that you take actions that do create change.
Over to you…
I hope you enjoyed this article, if you did please like and share with anyone who it might help. Comment below your thoughts and experiences and follow my blog for more posts on health, nutrition, yoga and creating positive change in your life!
If you are looking for guidance, support and accountability on you health journey, please contact me for information on the nutrition and holistic health coaching packages I offer. I would love to work together with you to get you feeling your best again.