Tag Archives: Healthy

Lessons Learnt During Lent

24 Apr

Fourty days of Lent have gone by, which for me means the end of a fourty day vegan and alcohol-free diet. Whilst my normal diet includes regular meals with meat, dairy products and wine, lent in the Christian Orthodox tradition involves giving up animal products, alcohol, cigarettes and all other ‘unhealthy’ products (and habits) for fourty days. This is intended to be a detox for the body that creates a detox for the soul. Although I have not felt any major spiritual changes by limiting what I eat, there are several things that I learnt thanks to my fast that will no doubt have a positive effect in the long-term…

No Exceptions: by the second week of lent I was already thinking “And what if I was to have just a small glass of wine tonight? It won’t do any harm; I won’t really break the fast because I won’t do it often”. Luckily, I didn’t take action on this thought, because it passed through my mind at least twice a week. Had I listened to it the first few times, I would have ended up not fasting at all! If we

There are few things that we truly need

set out to do something, we cannot allow ourselves to make exceptions (except for reasons such as health, of course), because these will prevent us achieving our goal.

Making an extra effort is worth it: seeing as I couldn’t eat anything that is a ‘quick-fix’, such as sandwiches, pizzas or ready-meals, which all contain meat or dairy products, I always had to make an effort to prepare my meals. Even in the hungriest of states, when I wanted to devour everything in sight, I made real meals; this took more time, but my food was healthier and tastier.

It’s easier than it seems: once past the starting period, new habits become second nature. Fear tells us that what we want to do is hard or even impossible. Yet once we get started, we realise that we are more than capable of doing this.

The right to say ‘no’: it is easy to say “Oh, go on then”, when someone offers us a cake when we’re dieting, a cigarette when we’re giving up smoking or a drink when we’re cutting out alcohol. In most cases, we say ‘yes’ because we’re scared that the other person will judge us negatively or consider us ‘boring’. By saying ‘no’ in such situations, we are being honest and respectful to ourselves. Fearing other people’s judgment will cause us to live life by other people’s rules.

Fun Without Alcohol: yes, we can have fun without alcohol. Yes, we can enjoy an evening out without alcohol. Yes, we can relax without alcohol. Yes, we can enjoy a meal without wine. Yes, we can chat, laugh, joke and dance without alcohol. For some, this is obvious; for others, this is ridiculous. Either way, it is true.

We CAN have fun without alcohol...

Do you need what you want?: most of our consumption is for pleasure, not for necessity. There are few things that we truly need, all the rest are things we want.

Limitation Increases Appreciation: today, in Western society, the majority of people live in abundance, where they can have almost everything they want at any time. There is a huge choice of food, clothes, entertainment etc., and we rarely have to restrict ourselves in our consumption. By limiting myself in my range of food, I was able to appreciate the special meals more: a dinner in a restaurant (which made a difference to the classic meals I was making at home), a non-alcoholic cocktail (with more taste than the water I was drinking all week) and, of course, the Easter meal which included delicious meats, wine and creamy deserts. When we constantly spoil ourselves, we no longer get any pleasure from pleasure. Living more simply makes special occasions all the more special.

~

I wish you all a Happy Easter and a beautiful spring!

Form One Good Habit at a Time

11 Mar

Forming one good habit at a time is the best path to the lifestyle that you desire. When we have a list of things we want to improve in our lives (eat healthier, do more sport, get more fresh air, spend more time with family, learn an instrument…), it is very easy to be overwhelmed by all of the changes we need to make in order to make them happen. This can paralyse us into not doing anything at all, because we can’t imagine being able to manage everything at once.

Yet when we form one good habit at a time, we allow ourselves the time to introduce a small change into our lives. Our everyday life isn’t overthrown by this new habit, which makes it easier for us to integrate it into our current routine. A month ago, I stopped drinking coffee in the morning; two weeks ago, I started eating a healthier breakfast; and last week I started doing regular exercise. Giving myself time to get used to these changes made it easier for me to keep them up.

Modern trends advertise fast results, that require extreme changes in our lifestyle. However, a study carried out by Phillippa Lally showed that, on average, it takes around 66 days for us to form a habit. Lasting results come about from continued effort. If we persist, slowly but surely, with a new good habit, we will benefit from all the positive things that this brings into our lives. And to make this easier, we shouldn’t try and achieve everything at once, but take it one step at a time.

First Solo Yoga Practice

28 Feb

I attended my first yoga class ten years ago, yet had never, during all these years, practised yoga alone, without a teacher. Until today. Inspired by John Archer’s post Thoughts On Yoga, I had my first solo yoga practice at home this evening. The experience was truly amazing.

I fell into the practice very naturally; my body told me exactly what it wanted me to do. I flowed from posture to posture, without thinking about what should come next, letting myself be guided by what my body was drawn towards. It was great to have the possibility to stay in postures for as long as my body needed it, rather than following the rhythm of a class, which we do not always coincide with. Being able to listen to my body and do postures in my own rhythm and my own order made me get exactly what I wanted/needed from the practice. Not having any external guidance in a teacher made me tune in and pay more attention to what was going on inside me.

After the practice, I felt rejuvenated; I regained energy and was in a positive mood. I felt healthier and my mind was very calm. I am extremely grateful to have discovered this new way of practising yoga, and I look forward to continuing this profound ‘solo’ journey.