Health – it doesn’t just come from the food we eat
Being healthy, what does it really mean? The definition of ‘health’ in the dictionary is, “the state of being free from illness or injury”. But is this all it means? I decided to write today about the topic of health and the many ways in which it can be interpreted. Yes, medically if you are free from disease, illness or injury you might be deemed as ‘healthy’ or ‘fighting fit’ but often it takes one drastic illness to make us realise that maybe all along even though we appeared fit, something not so great had been going on inside us all the time. Another description of ‘health’ is “the overall condition of someone’s body and mind”. For me this personally makes for a much more apt description. In particular the word ‘overall’ as it allows us to picture our bodies in their entirety, the inside and out – not just what we see on the outside but what we feel and think. Being healthy in my opinion is something that encompasses all that we do and are. It’s related to our strength, our fitness, our relaxation, our happiness, our aesthetics, our, well as you can probably guess with this list, it’s something related to every aspect of our lives.
Of course food is a vital aspect in how our bodies function. If you eat refined, sugar laden foods your body will not work its best. If you eat real, clean whole and unprocessed foods your body will thank you for it. You’re probably aware if you have read any of my other blog posts or followed Our Real Food Adventure on Instagram or Facebook that food plays a huge part in my life. I LOVE cooking, baking and most of all eating. It makes me so happy to cook or create something. Whether it be a ‘good-old-favourite’ meal or a new creation from a day of kitchen experiments, and then sit down and tuck in. I especially love it when someone else can sit and enjoy it too. I’m also passionate about eating real, whole, clean foods that nourish and fuel our bodies to perform their best. But having said this food isn’t the only thing that’s important in maintaining a ‘healthy’ lifestyle.
Some of the other areas that I think are important and that deserve us to take the time out of our day to consider and make an impact on are below:
Taking time to do the little things that make you happy everyday
We all lead very busy and hectic lives, and often do not take the time to do those little things that we love. Those things that make you sit back and think, ‘ahhh, yes, life is good!’ One of the things that has come very apparent to me while discovering how to be the healthiest I can be is that taking a little time out of each day to make sure you do at least one of your favourite things can make a huge difference in your overall happiness and health. It’s also important to remove other distractions while you do so that you can really appreciate those little moments as they happen.
I for one can admit I’m a bit of a social media addict and often find myself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. I often have to consciously think to myself, how better could I be using my time? When I make the time to do something else that I enjoy I really do benefit from it. My favourite things are of course cooking and baking. I make sure I cook or prepare my food every day. I love to go for a walk, run, to the gym or workout in the park. I love to watch movies cuddled on the sofa (we recently watched, ‘I am Sam’ – such a brilliant film). Another favourite thing is to just sit on the sofa, in the quiet with my feet up, enjoying a lovely cup of tea (we have a huge variety of herbal and English breakfast tea in our kitchen).
If there is one change I believe we should all make today – being more mindful and making time for those little things would be it!
Taking time for your relationships is another ‘biggy’ on the path to a truly healthy you. Social interaction has been proven to have hugely positive impacts on our health and wellbeing, and social isolation in all walks of life may have significant adverse effects on our health. Spending time with family and friends is the easiest way to stay healthy and happy – luckily for me, my all-time favourite thing is to have all my family together!
It’s also important to consider the types of relationships you have, and make sure you are truly happy in them every day. Relationships can be complicated, they can be easy, sometimes they are convenient, sometimes you work hard, sometimes each day seems to fly by in peacefulness. But one things for sure if you’re un-happy in a relationship it’s going to affect your health. You might think I’m silly for saying this but a quote from ‘Sex & the City’ has always stuck with me; Samantha says to the four girls, ‘Relationships aren’t just about being happy. I mean, how often are you happy in your relationship?’ and Charlotte replies, ‘Everyday, well, not all day every day, but yes, everyday’. I think this has to be true for your relationships – with family, friends and partners. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to be amazingly happy all the time – we are only human after all. But there has to be those little perfect moments of happiness in a day to contribute to your health and wellbeing. For example those five extra minutes you stay in bed and cuddle up to your partner or when you see a family member or friend and you get that amazing ‘I missed you hug’. Sitting with a loved one and laughing about the most ridiculous things or something as small as getting a funny text from a friend about something stupid that happened on your last night out. Whatever it is, find those moments and cherish them as they are the things that I believe are most important to your health.
The work place is somewhere that most of us spend the majority of our time. So it’s a huge issue of mine as to why many of us (and I know there is the lucky few who have their dream jobs) settle for a job that just doesn’t truly make us happy.
Take my Dad for example he is a plumber by trade and has worked pretty much his whole life (from 15) in this job, his passion however was free diving and spear fishing. He absolutely loves the sea and if he could have he would have spent all his time in the water. Before he met my mum he spent five years of his life working seasonally in Grand Canarias, part time with a Spanish family who owned a Tuna Fishing boat and the rest of his time out diving and catching fish. He also travelled all around Europe and had some of the most amazing years of his life. My Dad is now retired and spends a lot of his time with my Mum down in France where they have a mobile home, he always tells me stories about his travels and his fishing adventures, he also tells me that he wishes he had been a fisherman his whole life instead of plumbing. Don’t get me wrong my Dad was a fab plumber and earned a decent living running his own business in Jersey for many years, but it’s sad that many of us (and far too many in my opinion) don’t do what we love every day. We don’t all have the luxury to do so as we have bills to pay, and mortgages to manage. We also don’t all have the confidence to go out there and get that job we always wanted, or there isn’t enough support or encouragement to do so. But I believe a massive part of our health comes from happiness in the work place, if your unhappy at work how can you possibly wake up in the morning feeling ready and raring to go? How can you finish work at the end of the day and look forward to what tomorrow might bring?
The answer for me was you can’t. I’ve done the 9-5, I’ve worked in retail and in telephone sales, I’ve worked as a waitress and barmaid. None of these jobs has made me seriously happy. Most recently I’ve spent the last two years working in finance. What I have learnt is that a ‘healthy’ me does not want to be cooped up inside all day. My body and health do not perform their best when shouted at or belittled because the company you work for has had bad press coverage or negative publicity and it definitely doesn’t respond well to hours sitting in front of a computer screen. Of course there are things I love about my current job – the lovely team of people I work with (some of which I’m sure I’ll be friends with forever) and the sweet customers that you see who really appreciate that you helped them or sorted out their finances. I also know I could be very successful if I continue along a career path in finance – earn a really good salary and have lovely holidays. I also know that I would sacrifice my health under the stress of it all. And if I’ve learnt anything from my Dad it’s to not make that same mistake. Don’t do the job that makes the most money or is the most ‘respected’. Look for the job that you’ll love!
This is why I’ve made the decision to leave my job and go and experience some of the world. I recently handed in my notice and it felt like a weight had been lifted, it was fantastic. In July Carl and I will be moving to France to be closer to my parents, we will also spend some time travelling around Europe and then hopefully venture on to places further afield. I’m so excited to start this next adventure and so glad that I’ve had the confidence to make this choice and big step in my life. I’ll also spend the time exploring the foods of all the places we visit, and sharing the experiences on my blog and through other Social Media outlets so watch this space!
I for one have always had a big issue with a peaceful nights sleep. Ever since I was small I was pretty much always plagued with strange – and quite often frankly scary – dreams. I won’t bore with the details however this always had a significant impact on my day-to-day life as I found I was waking up feeling as if my brain just hadn’t had a rest and that I’d been tossing and turning all through the night. Since I started on my journey to health (which by the way is a constant adventure and doesn’t by all means happen overnight) I realised that a good night’s sleep is so important to your overall health and happiness. Since changing the way I eat and following the Paleo lifestyle I have slept better than I ever had before. Of course I still have those restless nights – who doesn’t – and I definitely still have the odd dream now and then but I sleep much sounder now. This is partly because the foods I put into my body are working in my favour rather than against it, (when I used to eat wheat & gluten I would go to bed completely bloated and lie uncomfortably for a few hours) but also because I make sure that I remove any potential disturbances from my bedroom. Carl and I turn our phones off and leave them to charge in the living room, it means we aren’t disturbed by them going off during the night and we definitely don’t rely on the dreaded snooze button any more (I used to have it go off about 8 times). We also try to avoid any technology for at least an hour before bed time as there is nothing worse than going to sleep thinking about the news or some action movie on replay. I love waking up feeling refreshed and I wake up before our alarm goes off most mornings (we have an awesome old school pink alarm clock that my sister Polly gave me) and it means I’m set up for a positive and productive day ahead. Being mindful about your sleep habits and patterns is a definite ‘health habit’ worth thinking about.
Another aspect of a healthy lifestyle is to be active daily. I’m not talking about going for long distance runs all the time, or pounding the treadmill for hours in the gym every day. Your body won’t thank you if you burn yourself out. But moving more and being active can without a doubt help with our overall health and wellbeing. The paleo lifestyle encourages activity in any form – hovering the house, taking a walk with friends, going for a short run, some high intensity cardio, lifting heavy things, take part in a sport, go swimming, play outside in the park or on the beach. Anything goes as long as you are moving! Even just 15-20 minutes can be beneficial 🙂
My favourite ways to be active are going for walks, cleaning the flat (bit of a clean freak), and playing netball, Body Combat classes with my best friend Megan, gym workouts with Carl and occasionally a little yoga. I love to vary my workouts and activities so that I don’t get bored and so that my body is always challenged too!
The main thing to remember is that being healthy is individual to everyone, you can decide what works for you. I hope this blog helps you think about the different areas of your life where you can make a change, or even if it just makes you take more time out of our days for those important little things then it was worth writing. Thanks for sticking with the blog post until the end as I know it’s a long one, but it’s something I feel strongly about and really wanted to share it with you all!
Eat Real food, Live, Love & Adventure
My name is Lucy-Jo Tostevin, I am 25 years old, I live in Jersey in the Channel Islands with my boyfriend Carl, I have one brother, four sisters and five beautiful nieces and nephews. My favourite things include; REAL food, cooking, baking, eating, family, friends, exercise & travel. I set up my Real Food Adventure to share my experience with eating whole, clean, unrefined and beautiful foods. Since I started on this journey I have become more confident, I have a healthy relationship with food, I’m more emotionally and physically aware of my body, I sleep better, I’m stronger and fitter than I was before and most of all I’m HAPPY!
My blog isn’t intended as a guide on how to change your life overnight, its not a diet or exercise plan, its not about setting unachievable goals and then giving up on them after a week or two. It’s about how I have made changes in my lifestyle that have helped me to become happier & healthier, my main aim is that it can inspire others to do the same.