I’m Mikayla, nutritionist and personal trainer on a mission to help people find healing and freedom in their relationships with food and body. I passionately believe that we were all made for more than being preoccupied with what we eat and what our bodies look like, but that we live in a world where that isn’t easy! I use a heart-centred approach with my coaching clients and work with them to address the roots and motivations behind behaviours. I help people re-learn how to listen to their incredibly well-designed bodies and to eat and move intuitively.
What is authentic health?
Our culture tells us that health and weight are the same thing, and that nutrition and exercise are the only two determinants of them. However, health is not the same thing as weight and both are determined by so much more than simply what we eat and how we move our bodies. In fact, much of what affects our health is actually completely out of our control - our genetics, socioeconomic status, environment, social-connectedness and age to name a few.
Health, authentic health is more than just what’s going on in our bodies. It encompasses our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. To neglect any of these areas is to dismiss the fact that we were created as physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual beings.
So, how do we pursue authentic health?
It’s important to note that we were not created to be healthy. What I mean by that is that “health” entirety of our purpose. Rather health enables us to live out that purpose well. Too much focus on being healthy and we miss out on using our skills, passions and giftings to love God and others. Another thing to keep in mind is that health, and the pursuit of it looks different for everyone. There is not one way to be healthy. That being said I think there are a few “pillars” of physical health that could apply to almost anyone.
There are two parts to this one, sleep and stress-management. Getting enough good quality sleep is essential. Sleep is the master regulator of our metabolism and brain functions. Not getting enough sleep is associated with a laundry list of negative health effects, including memory problems, increased cancer risk, depression and anxiety, heart disease, and Alzheimer's linked buildups in the brain.
Strategies for better sleep:
Create a bedtime routine - 60-30 mins before bed put down the screens, read, take a bath. Use some lavender essential oil, do what you need to start relaxing and getting ready to sleep.
Cut down on caffeine in the day - caffeine blocks receptors in our brains that prevent us from feeling tired and falling asleep. Try to limit caffeinated beverages to before lunch.
Much like sleep deprivation, long-term stress or chronic stress has a number of negative effects on our bodies. It’s associated with decreased immune function, increased rates of depressions and anxiety, decreased ability to control blood sugar, high blood pressure, headaches and even missed periods. These lists are not meant to scare you, just to show how even having a wonderfully healthy diet and regular exercise aren’t the be-all and end-all of health.
Strategies for reducing stress:
Take time to discover what you find restful, what you find fun, what brings you life. It could be hiking, getting outside for a walk, playing with your dog or your kids, reading a book with some tea - whatever it is, schedule it in. Remember, we simply cannot “pour from an empty cup”.
Our bodies are approximately 60% water. Water provides the medium for almost all the biochemical reactions within our cell tissues so it makes sense that drinking enough of it makes us feel good physically and mentally. In fact, staying adequately hydrated helps with focus, attention, mental clarity, mood, energy levels and just feeling physically well. It’s simple but effective, drink enough hydrating liquids.
Strategies for staying hydrated:
Drink enough water. If you really can’t hack plain water, add some nice things into it, even a slice of lemon makes a difference. Tea, coffee and milk all count when it comes to hydrating but water gets first prize.
First and foremost when it comes to food, when working with clients I always focus on “adding in” rather than “cutting out”. You can have a goal of eating more veg and fruit without cutting out sugar, gluten, dairy/processed foods (unless you have a food allergy or rare medical condition). Nutritious foods are necessary and good but fun foods are also important. Food doesn’t only affect us on a physical level, it also affects our mental, emotional and relational health. In the same way that weekends are important in our necessary work weeks. Eat what makes you feel good - that means physically, mentally and to connect socially.
Strategies for nourishing health:
3×3×3 Rhythm: If you’re new to listening to your body but want a simple structiure to follow try this - 3 meals a day, 3 snacks a day, including the 3 macronutrients, (carbs, fat and protein) at each one
This is not a hard and fast rule, you never, ever need to feel guilty if your meals or snacks don’t exactly represent this and you can totally tweak it and do what really works for you and your body. We’re all different!
There is a huge body of research that suggests that exercise and physical activity are associated with better quality of life as well as better physical and mental health outcomes. Conversely, physical inactivity has been shown to be is a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease and a widening variety of other chronic diseases, including diabetes mellitus, cancer (colon and breast), obesity, hypertension, bone and joint diseases (osteoporosis and osteoarthritis), and depression.
Just like sleep, we need movement for our bodies to function properly. This doesn’t mean hours at the gym though, movement is movement. In fact studies have shown that the protective effects of physical activity were seen with as little as 1 hour of walking per week.
Strategies for healthy movement:
If you find physical activities you enjoy - walking your dog, hiking, biking, dancing, yoga, ice-skating - you are likely to do it more often and for a longer time period than if it’s something you don’t enjoy.
Do you find that exercise is getting in the way of you spending time with loved ones or that you feel anxious if you can’t get that workout in? It may be time to cut back and be more gentle on your body.
If you feel “stuck” in any of the above-mentioned areas why not get in touch about one-to-one coaching and see how authentic health can become sustainable, enjoyable and life-giving.
Follow Mikayla on Instagram for helpful tips and encouragement for pursuing a holistically healthy life. @wholelifenutrionco