Success isn't equated in the amount of dollars you earn or kilograms that stare back at you on the scales. It's not about how many friends you can rely on when you need that extra bit of support. Even still, it is not about your happiness. Really, it's a combination of all these things and so much more. Success is relative to you, and it's defined by your own standards and goals. One's life satisfaction says a lot about their overall 'success'. Finance, relationships, health, livelihood, the list can go on and on...but we need a balance of each of these areas in our life if we are to be a true success. The person with all the money in the world and no friends is not what we would determine to be successful. Yet the social butterfly that's living pay check to pay check is also not a shining beacon of what society would determine as a success.
You can have your cake and eat it too. It's called striking a balance. People who are in sync with themselves and the world around them, who devote their time and energy into an array of areas in their lives, are what I would determine as being successful. Yet, as I said, success is truly a relative phenomenon. Ask yourself, do you feel successful. How can you be more successful in your life? Do you need to physically alter areas of your life, or is it more of a mindset shift that you have to make. Dedicate this week to being focused on how each area of your life can contribute to you as being nothing but a success, because the only person stopping you from determining whether you are a success, or not, is yourself!
Everywhere you look someone has the answer as to how you can improve your life. Whether you're suffering from body image issues, anxiety, depression or any host of a number of chronic health conditions, there seems to be 101 conflicting miracle cures. Yet how is it then that one person's provided 'answer' or 'solution' conflicts entirely with the next one?
The answer is simple: there is no 'one size fits all' approach to both your physical and mental health. That's the beauty of life; we are all individuals, and with being an individual comes a completely personalised approach to finding out what works best for you. There is no black and white, good or bad, healthy or unhealthy when it comes to creating balance in your life. The exciting thing is, embarking on that journey of working out what makes you tick, doesn't come at a price tag. It comes at being true to yourself. So what are the steps to figuring this out?
1. STOP. That's right. Just stop. Take a moment to check in with yourself throughout the day. Then..
2. LISTEN. Your body and mind will tell you whether or not what you're currently doing, eating, or thinking, is serving you at this time.
3. CONTINUE or CHANGE: If all is well, then keep going! If something isn't sitting right, then don't keep going with it. Explore the root issue further.
With these 3 simple steps I hope you can work towards creating a more balanced life for yourself and encourage those around you to do the same!
When it comes to eating, everyone has a different opinion. The science seems conflicting and different ways of nourishing the body have been heralded as the ideal way we all should eat. Yet we often forget that everyone is different. Not two people are the same. Therefore, how we respond to food, what we thrive off, will also be different. I think we forget this far too often. Intuitive eating, that is, listening to your body's signals as to what it REALLY wants and not what you THINK it wants based on external influences like the latest diet trend or an article you read in the newspaper, is what is going to serve you optimally.
This is the reason why some people do so well on a vegan or vegetarian based diet, whilst others champion the realms of paleo, primal or gluten-free. The easiest way to work out what's your best option, is to experiment. Trial and error tells us what's working and what's not. Keep it simple. Eat it and see how you feel. It's not rocket science, so why should we try to make it complicated? Most of all, enjoy the experience. Food is there to nourish, but we have tastebuds for a reason!
For the past 3 years we've seen the Paleo movement take the world by storm. From cook books to online programs, community networks, conventions and online bloggers become practical paleo "celebrities". Yet is Paleo legit and is it actually healthy? In a word, yes. Paleo is not really a diet but rather, more of a lifestyle. Eating foods that our paleo ancestors consumed, or more so, as CLOSE to this lifestyle as possible in our modernised world, is always going to be better than the industrialised heavily-processed food that characterises the standard western diet. Saying goodbye to carb-ladened grains and hello to healthy fats, animal proteins, fruits, veg, nuts and seeds seems like a no brainer right?
I don't think it's that simple. In short: paleo is, in theory, great. BUT. And here's where I have a problem with Paleo....it can be extremely dogmatic. People who follow a paleo framework but don't treat it like a religion filled with dogma, name-shaming and guilt-ridding, are what I'd consider to be the people who are doing paleo correctly. They're the ones that aren't saying 'I'm paleo. I am primal. Grains are poison' or something of the like. Rather, they are the people who incorporate the wisdom of eating a mostly whole foods anti-inflammatory style of diet ,that is open to change and embraces flexibility. These people are the healthy 'paleo followers'. As soon as a diet becomes an identity, it is no longer healthy. They may say that you are what you eat, but this should not be considered too literally. When food becomes a deciding factor in one's identity and consumes the individual's life, it becomes an addiction, an obsession. It becomes orthorexia.
So in summary, I think paleo is absolutely fabulous and I think more people should embrace the ideal that a palaeolithic eating style characterises. However, approaching paleo as a restrictive way of eating, as a set of rules for how you must eat for the rest of your life, is far from healthy. It is consuming. Ask yourself whether you are consuming food or whether food is truly consuming you. You can have your cake and eat it too. Don't forget about finding that balance in your life that promotes true health and happiness.
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Caitlyn Jenner's recent exposure in the public eye, where she came out to the world through a Vanity Fair photoshoot and interview has sparked a lot of discussions around transgender and identity across the globe. The new series, I am Cait, which follows the highs and lows of Cait's fresh experiences as a woman is not only emotionally-moving but incredibly inspiring. This leaves a lot of food for thought about the place of accepting all people within society, whether they are black, white, fat, skinny, tall, short, male, female or other.
The series really leaves the audience questioning their own place in society and how we are conditioned by roles, stereotypes and the expectations driven by the media to 'fit in' and meet expectations. This is a well produced, raw and confronting series which everyone should experience for themselves.
How often do we concentrate on the health benefits of food when it comes to deciding what to eat? Low carb, high protein, sugar-free...the list goes on and on. Although I am definitely for eating a balanced diet packed with vitamins and minerals, I believe that it's important that we chill out from time to time and eat for the pure sake of pleasure. Yes, you heard me, food can be all about the taste and not about the calories. Having this approach towards food, is, in my opinion, an integral part of healthy eating. When people overly stress over food and don't allow themselves to be present with their food, to simply sit and enjoy the sensations in their mouth, they are depriving themselves of pleasure. If food was entirely meant to be about the nutrition, flavour just simply wouldn't exist. It's there for a reason, so savour it. Why do we have cravings for certain delicacies? Why do we have favourite foods and food preferences? The simple answer is this - because we're human beings and we're designed with the innate intelligence to nourish our bodes.
Nourish means enjoying.
Sure, a chicken breast and mixed green salad can be delicious and I'd lie if I said I don't enjoy eating this. Yet to say that this is all I should eat, day in and day out, without making room for some indulging and enjoying other foods, would be a disservice to all the amazing food the world has to offer.
Food brings people together. Certain tastes capture certain memories, they trigger nostalgia and enhance our experiences. Food is an integral part of life and I'd go as far as saying a component to happiness. Have you been around someone on an extreme diet? They're not the best people to be around, am I right? Actually, they're best avoided until they come off the damn thing.
For those of you who know my story, you'll be aware that my long-time battle with anorexia and orthorexia stripped me of these simple pleasures and left me a shell of a person. I know first hand how important it is not to obsess over what you eat, as this has detrimental consequences on both your physical and psychological health.
So in summary, some times it's best to just shut up, drop the nutritional talk and sink your teeth into something for the pure sake of enjoying every mouthful. Whether this may be a bowl of veggies or fresh Italian gelato, is entirely up to your tastebuds and what, at that moment in time, fills the spot.
Photography by Bruce Tuten
Learn to acknowledge your fears as we take it step by step to tackle those underlying worries and anxieties that are holding you back. This is a must listen to episode if you want to take your inner potential to the next level!
Are you happy? No, truly. Are you excited to get up in the morning and conquer the world with your 101 goals and dreams to fulfill? Yes? No? Perhaps?
Here's the thing: people's perceptions of what happiness is, differs just as much as people's levels of happiness. They're just so diverse.
So what does it mean to be happy?
The latest scientific research into the state of happiness, has focused on the characteristics that shape this so called sense of happiness. These primary factors are: overall level of satisfaction, social connections, family upbringing, health and then the external factors like career, wealth and marital status. From this, researchers have concluded that happiness is not what you might think it to be. It's not the idea of being overjoyed or pleased all of the time. Happiness is not to be considered a fleeting, short term phenomenon, although much of Western society's' conception of happiness is based on just that: materialism, career, having a long term partner.
This will burst your bubble: only 10% of the external factors like these, contribute to your overall sense of happiness.
Perhaps we need to broaden our approach to happiness to mean overall content, as this is where the research is pointing.
So how can you boost your happiness, right here, right now?
The first step is to realise that pursuing this notion of perpetual happiness is a false and lost cause. It's impossible. Our humanity itself calls for us to experience a broad spectrum of emotions: joy, sadness, anger, frustration, love and excitement. What scientists have pointed out through their extensive study across people who report high levels of happiness, is their understanding of this concept. The ability to put things into perspective, to acknowledge that we have our ups and downs, and to be resilient to an overarching doom and gloom
Mentality when times are tough, greatly shape a happier, healthier person.
What about diet and nutrition? This can be beneficial, but a balanced and nourishing eating regime alone won't result in high levels of happiness. Considering all areas of your life is the key. Here are some helpful tips to boost your happiness:
1. Meditate daily. This will enable you to better handle your emotions and shape a sense of mindfulness in all that you do.
2. Nourish your body. Whole foods should make up 80% or more of your diet. Don't be afraid to indulge. It's important not to restrict, but to find the balance that works best for you.
3. Socialise. Social connections are one of the greatest contributing factors to your happiness, which you can control. Lonely people aren't happy people!
4. Find a sense of purpose in what you do. Have goals. Share them with others, especially like-minded people. Excitement is the seed for long term happiness.
5. Be grateful. Practicing expressing gratitude will help you see the rose amongst the weeds. It will nourish your spiritual side and leave you feeling happy to be alive. This is best done through writing in a gratitude journal, for a mere 5 minutes a day!
Tell me below what you do to shape a sense of happiness, and whether or not you've tried any of the techniques noted above!
Thomas Grainger: www.thomasgrainger.info
Eating Disorder Recovery Book: www.eatingdisorderbook.info
Photography by: Patrick Lim
In this video I share my top 5 tips for successfully overcoming an eating disorder for life. Hope it helps. Don't forget to share it with friends, family and loved ones! Much appreciated :)
Food guilt. What is it? It's that all too familiar feeling we get when we regret eating something, or perhaps for some people, eating too much in general. So how does it come about? The answer lies in the way you approached the meal you just consumed/devoured or perhaps practically inhaled: a lack of mindful connection.
Say what? This isn't about yoga or meditation or any of that new age spiritual stuff, isn't it? It's supposed to be about food right? Think again. Before you stop reading out of frustration, disinterest or disbelief, allow me to explain.
Whether you are a chronic over eater, a closeted snacker, food restrictor, anorexic or just find yourself stressing about food, the commonality behind the root cause of this is not being present with your food when you eat it. That's right, you're not really paying attention. How do we know this to be the case? Well for starters, you wouldn't be experiencing that after guilt had you been present throughout your meal.
So what is this 'presence', this mindfulness that I speak of? To put it simply, it's to be consciously aware of the food choices that you are making, listening to your body to find out just what it needs at this time in your present situation. This is not the same thing as an impulsive craving. It's not about what you intellectually think you should eat or would enjoy the most. It's about being present, being focused and simply feeling into your own body.
Being present during a meal will ensure that, if going through patterns of restrictive dieting behaviour, that you will eat enough. Conversely, it will ensure that, should you be a classic overeater of unhealthy processes Frankenfoods, that you make wiser innate decisions from within and nourish your body with exactly the right amount of nutrition that it needs at this present moment. By adopting a present and mindful approach to the way that you eat, you won't feel guilty about the foods that you consume, because you'll know that you have given your body the right fuel to help it fulfill it's daily tasks. You won't have that aching regret for binging on the jar of cookies because you won't have binged to begin with. If you do choose to have a cookie, it will be for the right reasons at that moment. You will enjoy the experience and you will be able to stop at one, not when the jar is empty. Eating disorder sufferers will be able to trust that their body is asking for the dire energy it needs to continue to produce healthy cells in their bodies. They will eat to satisfaction not to a rigid low calorie regime.
It may sound stupid, it may appear overly simple, but the underlying reality is this: sometimes the most clear and concrete things are those that we overlook. Eat mindfully and you'll walk away smiling, not stressing, every time you swallow.
Thomas Grainger: www.thomasgrainger.info
Eating Disorder Recovery Book: www.eatingdisorderbook.info
Photography by: Daniela Brown
Presented by Thomas Grainger