There are so many different ideas about how to ‘be healthy’… countless titbits of information that tell us what we ‘should’ be doing to live a happy, healthy lifestyle.
It’s utterly overwhelming.
Thankfully, Jema Lee – coach, nutrition educator, former food scientist and founder of Wellsome – has simplified things. As part of Medicare’s Feel Good program, Jema presented one of three free Wellness Talks at South Bank that broke down some common misconceptions about health and offered up seven simple strategies to tackle wellness in your everyday routine. Here’s what I learned…
First of all… health is a process. Don’t get frustrated if you try something and it doesn’t work, or you don’t feel different, or you don’t see the results you expected right away.
“Health is about the things we do consistently, not the ‘sometimes things’,” Jema says. “That big meal you ate because it was a special holiday won’t do nearly as much damage as the good that comes from your healthy everyday habits.”
Basically, it’s the steps you take every single day – that you constantly work on, even if you slip up a couple of times – that make the most difference.
Step One… Breathe
Using your breath correctly can naturally lower your stress levels, and does a world of good for your body, mind and soul. Place your hand on your heart or your belly and take three long, slow breaths – pausing at the top – a couple of times a day and notice how much better you feel. Jema says doing this morning and night is an easy way to start, and adds that doing this before you eat a meal is also a great way to prepare your body for digestion.
Step Two… Nourish
What you should and shouldn’t eat to be “healthy” is probably the most confusing part of wellness, but Jema says it can be simplified with two simple approaches to food. Firstly, make sure you’re eating a rainbow of wholefoods. “I challenge you to look at your meals and try to add three or more colours,” Jema says. Secondly, when you shop and eat, try to stay as close to nature as possible. This means buying foods with the least ingredients, and staying away from ingredients that you don’t understand – your body won’t be able to understand them either, Jema says. It’s really that simple. “Don’t get caught up learning about the healthiest vitamins and nutrients,” Jema says. “You could know about everything, but what is knowledge without action?”
Step Three… Hydrate
Stay hydrated both through what you’re drinking – pure, plain water is best – and what you’re eating. Remember that wholefoods like fruits and veggies are natural sources of water, but you should also drink enough to avoid feeling dehydrated, sluggish or tense. “The exact amount will be different for everyone,” Jema says. “Instead of saying ‘drink eight glasses of water a day’, I recommend listening to and observing your body to make sure it’s getting what it needs. Cramps, constipation and headaches are just a few signs that you might need to drink more water.”
Step Four… Move
“I prefer to focus on moving rather than ‘exercising’ – exercise has a lot of pressure associated with it,” says Jema. “Our ancestors didn’t go and sweat it out in a gym. They moved during their daily tasks, like gardening, cooking and building, so find more ways to move in your own daily routine.” Stretch, roll, dance, walk, swim – anything goes, so long as you’re doing at least twenty minutes a day. Park a little further away from the shops than you normally would. Suggest a moving catch-up – a walk, or yoga class – instead of meeting your friends at a café. “They say, ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’, and this is particularly true of our body as we get older,” says Jema. “Move because it makes you feel good, but also because you’re retaining your stability and support that you’ll definitely need when you get older.”
Step Five… Love your gut and liver
This step seems a bit complicated, but if you’re following steps one to four, you’re already well on your way. “The focus in this step is creating healthy detoxification pathways so that our body can get out the bad stuff – through sweat, urine, our breathe, and more,” says Jema. “We can’t escape the toxins around us, but we can help our body to detoxify.” Adding lemon to your food and water is one natural way to do this, Jema adds, and you could also opt for a pharmaceutically-graded probiotic to assist your body with digestion. On the other hand, drinking unclean water, coffee, alcohol and eating preservatives and additives will all contribute to poor liver health, especially when you’re not also following Jema’s first four steps.
Step Six… Nature
While it might seem simple enough to follow these steps so far, don’t forget that every single day we will feel slightly different than the day before. It’s only natural. If you’re feeling particularly stressed or sluggish, get outside into nature. Take a drive out of the city, walk in the park or simply take your shoes off and feel the grass beneath your feet. “Filling our lives with natural things – whether it’s wholefoods, movement or nature itself – is addictive,” says Jema. “That’s why it feels so good to be out in the country, or exercise outside.” Don’t underestimate the power of getting back to nature, and incorporate as much of it into your daily routine as you can.
Step Seven… Passion
When our lives lack passion, it’s hard to find the motivation to take positive steps towards a healthier lifestyle – no matter how simple they are. But how do we develop passion? Jema says that too is really simple: you need to have something to do; you need to have something to love; and you need to have something to look forward to. That doesn’t have to be a holiday, or a big event. It could be cooking dinner, a catch-up with friends or a fitness class you’re excited to try.
If you want to know more about Jema’s seven steps – explained in a much more detailed, factual way than we’ve done – you can download her free guide at www.wellsome.com.
And, to catch more of the free Wellness Talks before they wrap up on Saturday March 23 – or free exercise classes including barre, yoga, pilates and more, that will be running until Wednesday March 27 – head to www.visitbrisbane.com.au.
Upcoming Wellness Talks…
Saturday March 9, 10am ‘til 10.45am // Daily Rituals to Calm and Energise with Beatrice Peters, founder of I Quit Being Tired
In this session you will learn simple tips and strategies that will calm, soothe and help you feel vibrant and motivated. You will learn how to create a healthier mind and body with simple rituals that nurture and energise your emotional and physical wellbeing.
Saturday March 23, 10am ‘til 10.45am // Gut Health & Digestion with Katherine Maslen, founder of Brisbane Natural Health
Katherine will take you through the basic anatomy and physiology of your digestive organs, what it feels like to have a healthy gut, some indicators that your gut might need not be so healthy or could need some work and give you some great ideas about how to start the healing process from your home.