In March last year I started my health coaching certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition so have spent the better part of a year immersed in health and wellness, which you all know I am completely passionate about but it can get a little overwhelming, trying to keep up with the latest and greatest.
Particularly with the accessibility of social media and the rise of wellness bloggers - bless them. As with anything, it's a game of choosing what resonates with you and giving it a go. That sounds aloof but it's important to recognise our bio-individuality and that what works for one person won't necessarily work for the next. (Like intermittent fasting for example which you'll read about below; um no thank you!)
Wellness is about so much more than physical health; it's emotional and spiritual, too. Our world is becoming a scary place and we get to do something about it. Not only do we get to, but we need to. One of my key goals this year is to reduce my environmental impact through small easy steps: no more plastic bags, taking my KeepCup everywhere and taking my own reusable straw and cutlery.
It's time for us to step up in a massive way and be really intentional with the practices and companies we support, products we buy and food we consume. It's by no coincidence that all of my predictions below are things that are available to us right now, the majority for no cost. We've been sold a lie that happiness is outside of ourselves and it truly isn't.
Conscious wellness isn't about buying the latest supplements, shakes (don't get me started!), or forking out for an expensive pilates membership -- it's about tapping into an internal wisdom, following the signposts and living a life that’s intentional, purposeful, and mission-driven. I hope that you find something below that you might like to try out this year.
Corporations turning 'green'
It’s clear that the wellness industry has grown exponentially in the past couple of years, and we are now starting to see a shift of focus from wellness of ourselves to wellness of our planet. As demand has increasingly shifted to 'green' beauty, large corporations are getting involved in order to stay relevant in a rapidly growing space. FMCG giant Unilever recently acquired organic herbal tea business Pukka, thought to be the fastest growing organic tea company in the world and just announced that they were set to acquire Schmidts Natural deodorant -- a brand I am currently using and am very happy with. Unilever has a goal that by 2020 they will help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being. And by 2030 their goal is to halve the environmental footprint of the making and use of their products. Whether it's purely for PR purposes or to keep investors happy, it's still a step in the right direction.
If 2017 was the year of the intermittent fast then I hope to god that this year we can all relax a bit and embrace my new-found friend: intuitive eating. I would literally have to be tranquillised or madly in love to miss a meal and even then it would be a stretch. I just love food and the celebration of eating, which is why I’m the self-appointed 2018 advocate for intuitive eating, or what health writers refer to as 'flexitarian'. Eat exactly what you want, when you want and avoid classifying any foods as "off-limits" because when you do it activates our reticular activating system (RAS) and that's all you can think about eating. For intuitive eating to work you have to apply total mindfulness to your mealtimes, meaning to eat sitting down (not in your car or at your desk) and without distractions.
The secret is, when you are really tapped in to your body and what it really wants, most of the time you’ll choose healthfully. It’s when we put restrictions on ourselves that make us feel like we’re lacking something -- cue the scarcity mindset -- that we want to eat everything in sight. It's an ancient survival mechanism and sometimes it sucks. For me, I mostly eat plant-based but sometimes I eat meat, and occasionally I'll eat a wheel of cheese - I feel gross afterwards, but intuitively I needed that dairy hit and for me that's okay because it's not everyday. Ask yourself what do I want to eat, not, what am I being told to eat by - the media / a celebrity / a fitness professional / my inner critic.
Despite being around since the 1930's, menstrual cups only really made a reappearance -- into the mainstream at least -- in the last 9 months with several new brands joining the category made popular by the o.g Mooncup. As a passionate advocate for sustainability and reducing waste, I bought a Lunette menstrual cup in May last year after returning from a yoga retreat where the girls were talking about them. Despite a couple of harrowing starts - one which very nearly resulted in a trip to the A&E to retrieve my “lost” menstrual cup - I’ve come to a place where I’m determined to make it work, even if it means I walk slightly funny. If you’re not quite ready to join the party, I would urge you to use only organic pads and tampons, OR, the new washable period undies (I like the look of Thinx which my friend Tania swears by, and there's also Knixteen which sells period panties for teens!) if you’re game.
Natural fertility methods & period tracking apps
I have a pretty embarrassing confession: I genuinely didn’t know how small a window women had to get pregnant each month until very recently. (I also didn't know until last week that Blenheim was above Christchurch on the map but SUE ME if biology and geography weren't my strong suits.) I assumed that I could fall pregnant at ANY time of the month, which meant I employed a ruthless frigidity and took the birth control pill for years, even when I didn’t have any need to (which I'll add was often!). I’m encouraged to see more and more women promoting natural fertility methods and educating women on alternate birth control methods that don't require artificial hormones to be pumped into your body. Is it just me or is it the older you get the more those pills turn you into a woman possessed? And we all have at least one friend who went batshit crazy on the injection.
Thankfully, there is now a raft of period & fertility tracking apps that help you know when you're ovulating so you can use precautions. I personally use Clue (iPhone and Android) and it's meant to be one of the best on the market due to the in-depth insights it provides. It lets you track everything from headaches to cravings to energy levels so you can get an overall picture of your cycle and sync your lifestyle accordingly. I don't want to be judgmental but if you're a menstruating woman in 2018 who isn't tracking her period who even are you?
Technology-driven anxiety and social isolation
It genuinely terrifies me the world that our kids are being born into and perhaps explains why I'm late to the motherhood table (by society's standards anyway). A world where people start and end each day buried in their iPhones, where partners and families have difficult conversations via text message and where adolescents judge their worth on the number of likes and followers they have - particularly alarming given the increasing rate of teen anxiety and teen suicide due to cyber-bullying. I’m committed to doing something about this in 2018. I'm not sure how, but I have to do something.
It sickens me that there are people employed by Facebook to encourage social media addiction. Like, this is their sole purpose and reason for being. We have to be the change. We have to set an example for our future generations, that their worth is not determined by anything outside of themselves. I'm grateful to be alive in a time where I know what it was like without mobile phones or the internet or social media, but it still terrifies me that my kids won't.
If you’re familiar with yoga you’ve probably tried some sort of breathwork, or ‘pranayama’ before. Is it just me or is savasana not the best part of a yoga class?! Little did I know, there’s a whole breathwork smorgasbord out there. I first tried holotropic breathwork during a workshop I did on the Gold Coast in November. I'd been hearing more and more about this modality and wanted to try it and BY GOD I wasn’t expecting the effects to be so profound -- particularly from something I had access to all along: my breath. This complete euphoria washed over me -- kinda like taking molly I imagine -- and I spent the rest of that day feeling completely light, free and had a mental clarity and connectednes that I hadn’t had for a very long time. While meditation and mindfulness aren't going anywhere anytime soon, I think we’re going to be seeing breathwork classes and specialised facilities popping up. If you are interested in getting started on your breathwork journey, check out Wim Hof who is a master.
We've seen gym memberships move from strict 12 month locked in terms, to rolling contracts and now memberships might be becoming entirely obsolete. At the end of last year I cancelled my Les Mills membership after sitting on it for a few months making excuses about why I wasn't going but adamant that I would. I'm a cold ass liar when I want to be. The truth was, I'd outgrown the gym 'phase' of my life (a phase which started at the age of 14, I'll add) and being the radically conscious woman that I am, I accepted the fact that life has cycles and what was FOR me last month wasn't necessarily FOR me this month. I also think I finally got sick of the media/society/my inner mean gal telling me I needed to go to a gym to be happy or successful.
This doesn't mean I'm going to let my fitness go, on the contrary, I've realised that I love mixing up my exercise routine - yoga for a couple weeks, pilates for a couple weeks, running, spinning -- you get the idea. Apps like MindBODY afford me this freedom and so that is what I'm rolling with right now. One of my goals this year is to be the fittest and healthiest I've ever been, and it feels pretty empowering putting that entirely in my own hands. Plus, exercise is so much more gratifying when done outdoors, right? I am always on the lookout for new hiking buds so feel free to message me if that's your jam, too.
The rise of micro-influencers and authentic social media
Social media can be a really brutal place if you are someone who is prone to comparing yourself. Guys, 99% of what you see on social media is NOT REAL. Waists have been cinched with Photoshop, cellulite removed, internal misery hidden behind a Valencia filter. Do not think for one second that your social media feed is an accurate reflection of real life; it's not. I love that brands are waking up to the idea that influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers posting about products they couldn't give a shit about let alone use no longer shift the needle in advertising dollars; it's the micro-influencers with a couple thousand followers who have an engaged audience and an authentic message. Just as we vote with our dollar when and where we spend our money we, too, vote with our attention and energy when we follow someone on social media. Spend your attention wisely and follow people who really stir something positive in you.
My hard and fast rules: 1) Unfollow anyone who makes you feel like you need to be a different person. 2) Unfollow anyone who does a sponsored post for a teeth-whitening device or a skinny tea or a freaking watch brand for that matter (basically anyone who has done a UK reality TV show) and 3) if you see or read a post that you really resonate with, leave the person a comment telling them so. As a content-creator, you can never hear good feedback enough, trust me. And f*ck, we could ALL do with sharing a bit more compassion, kindness and positivity in this oftentimes harsh world, right?!
With everything you do, you have a choice. In each and every moment you get to sit with how a decision makes you feel and choose your response or next action. So next time you're mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and you catch yourself feeling less than please pause for a moment and decide whether your feed is inspiring you or draining you. If it's draining you, the unfollow button is your choice. Be ruthless with it. Be the curator of the content you consume so it doesn't consume you. Follow people who actually give a shit.
Well my friends, that's about all the predicting my brain has room for. I'm going to just let the rest unfold. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, comments or feedback on this article and any predictions you have. Please comment below, or send me an email. I love love love to hear from y'all!
This year is full of so much opportunity and it's yours for the taking. I hope that yours is off to a wonderful start.