With the new year well and truly started, most of us are feeling a desire to feel healthier, fitter and just be better. Before her talk, Health and how to Thrive, at FINDRA on 24th January, we asked Katria Mather, founder of The Body Toolkit, to tell us what changes we can make to make us healthier and happier this year.
New Year’s Resolutions and Redefining Health
The start of the New Year brings a universal desire to get *healthy*, get rid of the last of the Christmas chocolates, stop the daily wine habit and commit to a *healthy* new start.
But what does *being healthy* really mean?
The Oxford Dictionary definition of health is: the state of being free from illness or injury.
To me, that’s pretty uninspiring. To me, health is *thriving*, not just surviving! It’s having all the energy you need to do all the things you want to do. To me, health is being the best version of yourself; it’s reaching your full potential. It’s the foundation of everything else in your life.
So, what does being healthy mean to you?
If we’re really honest with ourselves, most of us are actually operating at about 60% of our potential. If we were truly *thriving*, if we had bags of energy, imagine what our relationships would be like, imagine what our families would be like, imagine what our work, our fitness or our weekends would be like!
As we begin 2018, imagine what your year could look like if your intention and focus was to help your body to *thrive*? To step away from dieting, get back to basics and start nourishing the body?
Thriving, Not Just Surviving
I’m a big believer that we’ve overcomplicated health. The basics are so overlooked and undervalued, but time and time again at the retreat, when I guide people to get back to basics with diet and lifestyle, the body responds beautifully.
We all know the things that aren’t good for us in our diet, so rather than looking at all the things we should be cutting out, I prefer to focus on the key things that we need to be including to truly nourish the body and mind this coming year.
1. Water – If you only change one thing about your diet in 2018, please make drinking more water your absolute non-negotiable change. Again, it seems far too bloody simple, but it will make a huge difference in terms of your health, your skin, your mental alertness, your concentration and your energy levels. Reading the book ‘Your Body’s Many Cries for Water’ by Dr. Batmanghelidj, I realised that all of our health problems are related to the fact that most of us are chronically dehydrated. We simply don’t drink enough water, and we drink too many things like caffeine and alcohol that dehydrate us further. Aiming for 2 litres of pure water daily, drinking it away from meals, or only sipping a little water with a meal.
2. Vegetables – Yeah, we all know it, but we need to eat more vegetables! So many of us now suffer with symptoms of pain and inflammation in the body, which is largely diet and lifestyle related. One of the fastest ways to reduce inflammation in the body is to include alkalising plants and vegetables in our diet that nourish our cells and help them to repair. I’m a huge fan of juicing for that very reason, as it allows you to consume a large variety of vegetables in a raw and easily digestible form, alkalising the body and bringing balance to the system. In order to truly thrive, the majority of our meals should consist of vegetables and plant-based foods.
3. Time in Nature/Being Outside – Most of us are deficient in spending time outside in nature. There’s a trend in Japan just now called ‘Forest Bathing’ where it’s scientifically proven that spending time in forests or nature, lowers our blood pressure and heart rate. Of course, it does, we’re designed to be outside! Especially living in the UK, making a habit of getting out during the day, preferably when the sun is at its highest point in the sky and as close to nature as possible, is so good for us to absorb the oxygen in our lungs, move the body and get vitamin D on our skin. Unfortunately in the winter in the UK, the sun isn’t strong enough for us to make Vitamin D, so it is also worth having your Vitamin D levels checked by your GP.
4. Rest – In the modern epidemic of stress, I’d say that most of us are chronically deficient in rest. I’m not talking about sleep, but taking time out during the day to allow the body to rest is absolutely fundamental to our ability to thrive. Of course, it’s good for us to exercise and move the body, but it’s equally as important for the body to be able to rest and recuperate, something that so many of us struggle to do. I regularly see clients who don’t know how to rest! As an antidote to stress, something you could practice is listening to a guided meditation every day, perhaps first thing in the morning and last thing at night? I’ve been running retreats for the last three years and the best results I see in people is when they have given themselves permission to properly *rest*.
5. Gratitude – Adopting an attitude of gratitude is proven to make us happier. One in five Scots are now on anti-depressants, a trend that is affecting so many in the western world. While stress affects our emotional health, it also has a significant impact at a physical level: dehydrating the body, causing inflammation and making the body more acidic. Practising gratitude has been proven to improve mental health and reduce feelings of stress and depression by 25%, which is just as effective as any anti-depressant. All you have to do is write down (in a journal or loose paper) five or ten things that you are grateful for before you go to sleep at night. It could be simple things like the food that’s nourished you that day or the clothes that have kept you warm, or perhaps more significant things in your life. The more we stress and worry, the more the mind searches for things to stress and worry about. However, the more we choose to look for the good in our lives, the more that translates to feeling happier and ultimately being healthier.
Playing with these ideas could get you well on the way to *thriving* this year. We’ve all done the dieting thing and we all know the things we shouldn’t be eating, but I’m always keen to encourage people to move away from restricting and starving the body, it deserves a lot more love than that. If our focus is on nourishing and supporting the body, by getting back to basics, we are far more likely to thrive.
About the Author Katrina Mather:
Katrina Mather is the founder and driving force behind ‘The Body Toolkit’, an award-winning health retreat in the Scottish Highlands. At her retreat and during her workshops she shares her journey in overcoming anxiety, acne, depression and IBS which led her to create the retreat in 2014, and discusses simple, but powerful things we can all do to nourish the body, reduce stress and ultimately help ourselves to thrive.
“Katrina is a shining advert for the lifestyle she advocates – she is calm, articulate, kind and credible.” The Scotsman
The Body Toolkit Retreat:
The peace and natural beauty of the west coast Scottish Highlands lie at the heart of The Body Toolkit, an award winning, first-of-its-kind health retreat. Katrina Mather’s all-inclusive, 7-day programmes teach a variety of simple techniques that empower people to make serious improvements to their health and quality of life.
Each retreat consists of a nourishing, organic juice detox, walks immersed in nature, relaxation and coaching on techniques to combat stress. Guests are taught techniques to maintain health goals for life – not just for their week away.
Based in Lochaber in the west coast highlands, the retreat is consistently described as “life changing”; with guests reporting an average weight loss of 7lbs, a significant boost to energy and mood, improved sleep, digestion and a reduction in aches and pains.
The Body Toolkit (www.thebodytoolkit.com)