Before beginning another diet, take a moment to consider your mindset in approaching change. If your driver is a 'need' to change in order to accept yourself, this is a fear-based conditional-love mindset, and will be setting you up for failure.
Converting "I need to be thinner or healthier and/or fixed to be acceptable” to a sense of curiosity and discovery about who you are and what you need will relieve the pressure and give you breathing space to actually discover what changes you would like to make.
"Eat until you’re 80% full. Always leave at least a bite of food on your plate. This will help you listen to your body and make you more aware of the signs of fullness"
Most of us end up getting stuck in behaviours that don’t serve us, as we haven’t risked going out on a limb to find out what makes us happy. Things we really like don’t make us feel flat, ashamed or self critical – in fact they leave us feeling balanced, renewed and happy. It is often just about discovering those things, or acknowledging their significance.
Take this discovery approach to food. Rather than reading another diet book or throwing yourself into the latest lifestyle, discover new foods and ways to cook them.
Bringing more mindfulness and presence to the way that you eat is also transformative. Slow down around food: always eat sitting down, chew each mouthful 20 times so your brain has plenty of time to acknowledge you are full; eat while listening to calming music or the radio rather than visual stimuli such as TV or the laptop. And if you have a family, partner or housemates, sit down to a meal with them and make eating time into a peaceful zone instead of a rushed one.
"Take the curiosity approach to fitness instead of just showing up to the gym out of obligation. Choosing a form of exercise you believe in will mean that you actually enjoy spending time being physical."
Eat until you’re 80% full; always leave at least a bite of food on your plate. This will help you listen to your body and make you more aware of the signs of fullness. Often we mistake the signal for thirst as a sign for hunger, so try drinking more water and herbal teas instead of going in for seconds at dinner. This will help flush out toxins, decrease hunger and give you better skin too!
Similarly, take the curiosity approach to fitness instead of just showing up to the gym out of obligation. Choosing a form of exercise you believe in will mean that you actually enjoy spending time being physical and connecting with your body. Combine it with what you need more of in your life – solitude or being with others; fast-paced or more stillness. This can then help you to discover what you really like and what suits you – perhaps a morning Tai Chi class via Youtube, or meditation with other people. Using the desire for exercise as an excuse to connect with life and yourself in new ways will mean that you integrate it instead of it being a fad.
Keeping your mind stimulated and active as well as knowing how and when to switch off is a great way to look after yourself. Again, listen to what you need here. Do you have a tendency to spend lots of time on the phone and talking to people? If so, you probably need to strengthen your capacity for calm and rest instead of adding more stimulation.
"Too much time online can damage your immune system, cause sleep issues and lead to depression and loneliness."
Meditation apps such as Insight Timer offer free meditations and inspirational talks to expand your mind and bring in mindfulness when you are on the go. Discovering new books and podcasts will keep you feeling inspired and alive – if you don’t know where to start, google '50 best podcasts' and give yourself permission to explore.
Too much time online can damage your immune system, cause sleep issues and lead to depression and loneliness. So instead of surfing the net and social media as your default behaviour when you’re bored or at a loose end, switch off and read a book or connect with actual people. And do a friend review, so you can focus on nourishing the friendships that need extra attention. Make plans to spend time together now and later in the year, so these become focal points for your social calendar, making you feel more positive about the upcoming months.
Veganism seems to be eternally accompanied by polemic views on its relative contribution to human health, and this lack of clarity can prevent some people from considering adopting this lifestyle. Broadly speaking, vegans choose their diet for health or ethical reasons with evidence that there are differences in these groups, both in terms of adherence and food products consumed. Despite wildly misinformed negative opinion on veganism, well designed clinical studies have shown that vegans are generally thinner, have a healthier gut flora, lower risk of cardiovascular disease and lower overall mortality rate compared to meat eaters. Taken collectively, this represents significant health benefits that can be gained from avoiding animal products and should dispel the myth that veganism isn’t healthy. So why does this myth persist, and what can vegans do to make sure they are giving themselves the best chance of excellent health.
The word most vegans dread hearing is protein. Protein is a nutrient found in abundance in meat, but is often harder to find in vegetable matter. Compare cow’s milk which has 3.4g/100ml protein to almond milk, which only has 0.4g/100ml and it is easy to see how protein intake can drop when adopting a vegan lifestyle. Protein intake is important; it is a key determinant of skeletal muscle mass and turnover, and current recommendations for protein intake exceed 1g/kg of body weight each day. The need for protein is especially important in older adults, where loss of muscle mass can lead to mobility issues and frailty and it is this group, alongside children, where the importance of planning meals to include protein becomes sharply, clear. This however isn’t difficult, with many different types of vegetable having impressive protein content meaning that obtaining sufficient protein to keep muscles healthy isn’t as big an issue as some think. There is even evidence that a low protein diet, with the protein coming from plant material, will help you live longer suggesting that our understanding of protein intake and healthy ageing might be flawed.
Beyond protein, there are other nutrients that are abundant in animal produce that may be harder to come across in those that only eat plant material. Calcium, so important for bone growth, muscle function and blood clotting, is one of these micronutrients as is vitamin B12, but there are numerous plant based sources for these micronutrients which can be incorporated into a vegan diet with ease.
In conclusion, there is a growing body of evidence that not only is veganism safe, it is actually beneficial and may protect individuals from some of the most common and serious chronic diseases. Whatever your reasons for not considering adopting a vegan lifestyle, don’t let a perceived negative impact on your health be one of them.
Actually, it’s not so much what it does to your body; it’s what it does to your brain. But let’s look at the body to begin with – and there’s two things that are happening here. Firstly, alcohol is toxic, it’s a poison and it is dehydrating the body and brain – that’s the main thing.
Secondly, alcohol is also a diuretic. Putting all that liquid into your body makes you want to urinate. So you lose body fluids quicker than you would do normally. Again, it basically dehydrates your body. This has two further consequences: the blood sugar drops and the electrolytes in the body, such as Sodium and Potassium, can become unbalanced. If unchecked, these can be life-threatening.
"One of the reasons we become sick when we drink alcohol is our brain has told us that we’ve got too much poison in the brain, and it’s asking us to please get rid of it."
One of the best ways to minimise the impact of being drunk is to alternate your drinking. Have a fruit juice or some water. If you do that, the impact on your body won’t be as bad as just drinking alcohol.
But alcohol is toxic, and if you drink enough of it it will start to shut your organs down. People do die of alcohol toxicity. One of the reasons we become sick when we drink alcohol is our brain has told us that we’ve got too much poison in the brain, and it’s asking us to please get rid of it.
Alcohol is generally a sedative. And so it should – should – sedate you. But most of us don’t experience alcohol, at a small level, as a sedative. The reason for that is because of a concept called expectancy. We expect to have a good time, and if you expect to have a good time with alcohol you will have a good time.
"If you feel good about taking alcohol, you’ll have a good experience. If you feel bad, you’re unlikely to have a good experience."
We have learned about alcohol through our own experiences, and also what we’ve been trained to expect through our family experiences, the media and other places – in short, most people have learned that alcohol is a pleasurable drug. This basically informs how we’re going to feel and how good we are likely to feel. The bottom line is that if you feel good about taking alcohol you’ll have a good experience. If you feel bad you’re unlikely to have a good experience.
Responses to alcohol such as feeling sad, happy, aggressive, sexually aroused and so on are to do with the psychological make-up of the individual in question. All alcohol will really do is exacerbate what somebody already does or feels. So if someone is habitually violent then alcohol will probably facilitate that. The phrase In Vino Veritas – in wine life – is often used. It’s not that, but it is something similar. Essentially what it does is allow someone to be more of their true conscious and sometimes subconscious selves. Drinking will accentuate what you are feeling at the time.
The other thing to take into consideration is what is happening around you. If you’re around people who might be considered risk averse they are likely to ensure the environment remains safe. Equally, if you’re with another group of peers who are more likely to get into trouble, they might be risk takers and thus the environment may become unsafe. So all those other issues have to be taken into consideration when considering how and why people react to alcohol in the way they do. Alcohol is just part of that bigger picture.
When you first wake up, take a moment to connect with yourself before you connect with the world. Instead of reaching for your phone and checking your emails and social media updates, check in with yourself and how you are doing. Take a moment to take deep breaths and acknowledge what is happening in the day ahead.
Events around the world can make you feel like life is just increasingly grim, but it’s how you respond to these events that will dictate how you feel. Avoid petty political arguments on social media and instead look at how you might actively engage with organisations that are in alignment with what you believe in.
"Become conscious of how you speak about things and make a conscious effort to avoid moaning, criticising, gossiping and complaining, all of which will feed your negativity."
Identify ways in which you are being mean to yourself or self-destructive and begin to look at ways to dismantle and let go of these behaviours. Become conscious of how you speak about things and make a conscious effort to avoid moaning, criticising, gossiping and complaining, all of which will feed your negativity. And avoid “compare and despair” - looking at other people’s lives and assuming that they are better than yours. Things look very different on the outside than they feel on the inside.
If you’re feeling particularly bleak in the post-festive period, give yourself a break from alcohol – its links with depression are well-documented.
"Reducing the amount of time you spend on electromagnetic devices is a good place to start, as these have been linked to depression, sleeplessness and anxiety."
Keep track of how you are spending your time and start to become aware of how much is spent on things you enjoy versus the basic requirements of life, like the washing up. Make time – in your diary if necessary - to increase your engagement with things and people you love. And reducing the amount of time you spend on electromagnetic devices is a good place to start, as these have been linked to depression, sleeplessness and anxiety.
A few things that will make you feel more positive are spending time in nature, which is soothing and restorative; watching comedy which makes you laugh out loud releasing happy hormones endorphins, dopamine and serotonin; moving your body which releases feel-good endorphins (even brisk walking will make a difference); engaging in anything creative; meditation, which is excellent for mental health, your nervous system and overall wellbeing. Therapeutic practices such as EFT, yoga, mindfulness, conscious breathing and qi gong will improve your sense of life feeling ‘balanced’ and nourishment of the soul. Ensure you are getting enough support, especially when making big external changes - working with an expert will make it easier as well as saving you time and money.
If you spend time with people who leave you feeling light, happy and positive about life, and pursue interests that inspire you and excite you, you will soon see and feel the difference.
Of course your CV and the experience that you have need to fit the position to which you’re applying – but the key elements that distinguish the best CVs from the rest are specificity and ease of reading. Six key things to remember:
1) Keep it salient. The most relevant points should always be at the top. Prioritise whatever points your research tells you the hiring manager will most want to read.
2) Make your information application-specific. There’s only so much information you can fit on your CV. So only bother highlighting the strengths that are most appropriate to the specific opportunity/role.
3) Be succinct and clear. Lay out and space information neatly. If visuals aren’t your strong point, ask a design-savvy friend to help you out. Don’t go smaller than a 10-point font and keep the CV to two pages.
4) Back. Up. Everything. Evidence of what you’ve done in your working life is so important. No matter how intangible your achievements may seem, results and data can always be found to provide evidence for your success and ability.
5) Get the basics right. If your CV includes a single spelling mistake, typo or error, you can kiss the job goodbye. If your contact details aren’t correct, how can a recruiter invite you to interview?
6) Never stop improving your CV. It’s a living, breathing document that needs constant maintenance and upgrading. Capturing your most recent accomplishments is crucial – they are usually your most impressive.
An irresistible CV is one that is concise and explains a person’s skills, achievements and specialisms within five seconds. Pick a friend who you can trust to provide an objective opinion. Tell them they have five seconds to read your CV. Once they’ve done so, ask them about the things they managed to internalise in that time. If their answer is not your most important skills, achievements and specialisms, then you need to rinse and repeat the above steps.
No one meal is better than any other. The most important thing is that people eat regularly and don’t skip meals. So whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner - they’re all equally as important.
Breakfast is probably the most commonly missed meal of the day, because people are busy in the morning and it’s down to planning and being organised. But the most important thing is having something to eat. Having something is always better than having nothing because it gets blood sugar levels lifted to start the day off well.
Basically breakfast - breaking the fast - comes after not eating overnight. Consequently the body’s energy stores have gone right down; blood sugar levels have dropped and although you might not feel hungry immediately when you wake up give it a couple of hours and those energy and blood sugar levels will have plummeted further leaving you feeling pretty lethargic.
"What you really want to eat are foods that release their energy slowly and steadily, keeping you fuller and going for longer"
What you really want to eat are foods that release their energy slowly and steadily, keeping you fuller and going for longer. These are often referred to as low glycaemic index foods, for example, eggs, oats or porridge with milk, low-fat yogurt, or if you’re in a hurry a piece of fruit such as an apple or pear, or even a handful of nuts would be a good choice.
With low GI foods, energy is released at a slow, steady rate into the bloodstream as opposed to say sugar in a cup of tea or a chocolate bar which might give you a quick boost and shoot up energy levels, but then these will drop again soon after.
"Even if you don’t feel hungry at breakfast try getting into a new routine for a week or two and you’ll be used to it in no time"
It’s all about habit. If you haven’t eaten breakfast for five years your body gets trained into not expecting food at that time of day. It doesn’t even have to be five years. A couple of weeks and your body gets into a routine. So even if you don’t feel hungry at breakfast try getting into a new routine for a week or two and you’ll be used to it in no time.
People who are trying to lose weight probably think breakfast is a good meal to miss because it’s maybe extra calories that they don’t need. However, I would say the absolute opposite. If someone is trying to lose weight they absolutely need to eat. Otherwise their metabolism slows and blood sugar levels drop and all that leads to erratic eating and it’s not helpful at all.
"Not eating breakfast is like starting out without petrol in your car. You’re not going to get very far"
In summary, breakfast is certainly one of the most important meals of the day. Always remember, you have to eat regularly. Young, old, overweight, underweight… everybody. Breakfast is important because it sets you up for the day. It helps you think clearly. The human body needs a regular supply of energy. Not eating breakfast is like starting out without petrol in your car. You’re not going to get very far. You might chug along, but you won’t perform as well as if you had a full tank.