The perks of going label free

When asked ‘Who are you?‘, what springs to mind first? Is it your name and age, job title and nationality, your role as a spouse or a parent? Listing these things is second nature to many and no wonder – we’ve all grown up in a world where labelling ourselves and others in a myriad of ways is so entrenched that we don’t bat an eyelid anymore when asked to tick boxes on yet another form. Add to that any medical diagnoses and traumatic life experiences that we may have gone through and we get what author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle calls ‘a story’ about who we are. And a story, of course, can’t possibly capture all of our complexity and uniqueness.

While labels may not be ‘evil’ in themselves, the more we identify with them, and the more power we give them, the more we are at risk of limiting who we can be.

  1. How labels may be holding us back

They can limit our growth

The risk of accepting and identifying with a label is that we can get unnecessarily stuck in one way of being, where we may naturally have kept evolving and changing.

The more we see ourselves through a particular label (be it ‘depressed’, ‘shy’, ‘old’ etc.) the less we focus on everything else that we are – and have the potential to be. We are not only multifaceted beings but also constantly learning, evolving and becoming… And being attached to a label limits that growth like a flower pot that’s too small to allow the roots of a plant to expand.

They can lock us into the past

Sometimes labels are born out of traumatic experiences we have endured in our lives. While it’s undeniable that such things shape and change us, we don’t need to hold on to them forever as our identity. Continuously identifying with a past experience and defining ourselves through it keeps us from living in the present moment and reaching for new territory.

They can distort how we see others

Labels also get in the way of seeing others in their full complexity – we make assumptions based on that one aspect. Often we see groups of people talked about as if they were a homogenous mass, when any label (be it ethnicity, religion, age, sexuality – you name it!) is only one facet of each individual in a vastly diverse aggregation of individuals… Labels used in this way pave way for stereotypes, discrimination – and missing out on the true beauty of diversity.

  1. Diffusing the power of labels

A life completely without labels may not seem completely possible, but with some mindful attention to our own thoughts and words we can at least loosen their grip on us. Tolle recommends focusing on the question ‘Who am I?‘ by feeling rather than thinking about it.

The power of ‘I am’

Pay particular attention whenever you utter the words ‘I am’. Once we’ve accepted a label, we are often the ones who also keep reinforcing it. Using the words ‘I am [label]’ can have a powerful effect on us – for better or for worse – especially if we repeat them constantly. But what would we be without those thoughts? One way to weaken a label is to think in terms of experiencing something in that moment rather than being it. Saying ‘I haven’t been at my most organised today’ instead of ‘I am so disorganised‘, or ‘I’m aware that I’m having thoughts that give me feelings of stress’ rather than ‘I am stressed’ may not sound radically different, but already there’s a small doorway open to [Read more…]

Fall in love with yourself this Valentine’s Day – glow inside and out

We all know Valentine’s Day is about celebrating with the people we love… but this year, how about adding the most important person to your list – You! Of course, you want to look good for that hot date, but what’s the point in looking good if you don’t feel good?

 

Ready to get glowing inside and out this Valentine’s Day? Here’s how:

 

Glowing Skin

 

  1. Drink more water: we know you’ve heard it a gazillion times, but water truly is radiance straight out of the tap and your first go-to when it comes to revealing your most kissable complexion. Hydrate your skin, improve elasticity and boost your skin’s appearance by drinking at least eight glasses of the good stuff a day.

 

  1. Curb sugar: no one said anything about giving up chocolate on Valentine’s Day (can you imagine?). But sugary foods take their toll on your skin, damaging cells and affecting collagen production. So, choose skin-loving dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (at least 70%); packed with vitamins, iron and calcium, it can replace lost moisture in your skin, nourishing it from the inside out.

 

 

  1. Eat the rainbow: brighten up lacklustre skin by eating plenty of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables. The more colourful they are – think carrots, tomatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, orange, mango – the more potent the nutrients, giving you a gorgeous glow and a kiss-me-quick complexion.

 

  1. Get moving: exercise isn’t just great for our health, it’s great for our skin too. Treat a tired and puffy complexion to at least 20-minutes of exercise each day. Whether it’s running, dancing, yoga or whatever exercise you enjoy, you’ll be boosting blood flow and promoting circulation, keeping your complexion healthy and vibrant. Your skin (and your body) will thank you.

 

  1. Get more sleep: improve skin tone and banish those dark circles and puffy eyes by making sure you get your beauty sleep. Experts suggest eight hours a day, but you know what’s right for you. So, up that shut-eye for bright, petal-soft skin just in time for Valentine’s Day.

 

  1. Exfoliate: give your skin a Valentine’s Day makeover with our multi-award-winning Gentle Exfoliant Pink, for a radiant, perfectly kissable complexion. Full of skin-nurturing oils- jojoba seed, grape seed, argan and avocado- plus our very own biodynamic spelt oil, you’ll reveal strokeably-soft and glowy skin, faster than Cupid’s bow.

Skin needing an extra boost? Well who doesn’t love date-night with skin that’s plump, moisturised and hydrated? Quench thirsty skin fast as you help diminish fine lines and wrinkles, with AEOS Skin Replenisher Cream Rich.

 

 

Glowing Heart

 

Caring for others and living with compassion is scientifically proven to make us feel good. And what better way to celebrate and honour the love in our lives than by opening our hearts with a simple loving-kindness meditation?

 

Practicing loving-kindness can do wondrous things for our hearts… like helping us to let go of old bugbears, and strengthening relationships – with others and with ourselves. So, whether you want to be in your most loving frame of mind for that date, or just want to show yourself some love, take the time in the run-up to Valentine’s Day (and beyond) to follow this simple technique.

 

  • Find a quiet place and close your eyes, relax your muscles and take a few deep breaths.
  • Imagine yourself experiencing complete physical and emotional wellness, and inner peace. Focus on this feeling and visualise yourself breathing out tension and breathing in love.
  • In your mind, repeat the following loving-kindness phrases to yourself:
    • May I be happy
    • May I be safe
    • May I be healthy
  • Let yourself enjoy these feelings for a while. If your attention drifts away, gently bring yourself back.
  • Begin to shift your focus to the loved ones in your life. Begin with someone you’re close to and start to feel your gratitude and love for them. In your mind, picture yourself saying the mantra to them:
    • May you be happy
    • May you be safe
    • May you be healthy
  • Hold onto these feelings for a while. When you’re ready, bring other important people from your life into your awareness, one-by-one and repeat the meditation. Then branch out to other friends and family, then neighbours and acquaintances, even people you see but don’t know.
  • Next, extend the feelings of loving-kindness to people you may be in conflict with. Let go of any anger and resentment towards them, and picture them with perfect wellness and happiness. Repeat the mantra to them.
  • When your meditation is complete, open your eyes and remember that you can revisit that wonderful feeling of loving-kindness throughout the day, with just a few deep breaths.

Source: Fredrickson BL, Cohn MA, Coffey KA, Pek J, Finkel SM. Open hearts build lives: positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources.

 

Fatigue… you’re so last year, hello Vitality!

Out of steam by early afternoon? Can’t stop yawning? Dreaming of bedtime before 9am? Many things from intense workouts to a bout of a flu can leave us feeling temporarily drained, and in such cases we’d best give our body the rest it needs. But sometimes we lack energy without any obvious cause. If fatigue becomes a regular occurrence, we may need to take a closer look at our lifestyle, while occasional energy slumps can often be remedied with a few simple and fun energy boosters.

 

  1. First, the basics

 

No quick fix will restore our energy levels if we aren’t meeting our body’s essential requirements for efficient energy production. Check you’ve got the basics covered:

 

Nutrition

We need proper fuel to keep us going: eat regularly and check that your meals include complex carbs (veggies and whole grains) that release energy slowly, protein and healthy fats (think nuts, seeds and “good” oils) as well as B-vitamins (try beans and lentils). If you’re constantly tired and get out of breath easily, you might be low on iron – speak to your GP.

 

Water

Even mild dehydration can cause a noticeable dip in our energy levels. So down a glass if you’re starting to feel fatigued – and set reminders if you keep forgetting to drink enough water.

 

Oxygen

We need a steady supply of oxygen to stay mentally alert and physically energised. If stress and tension is causing you to take shallow breaths, take regular mini breaks to breathe deeply. Check your posture too: sitting up straight allows more air into our lungs than hunching over the desk.

 

Sleep

Adequate sleep is vital if we want to feel energised during our waking hours. Erratic sleeping patterns as well as lack of sleep can really tire us out, so try to stick to a regular bedtime and make sure you’re getting at least seven or eight hours of shut-eye every night.

 

Exercise

While an intense workout session can leave us exhausted for the rest of the day, engaging in low-intensity physical activity on a regular basis can help banish fatigue and elevate our energy levels significantly. Try morning yoga or go for a lunchtime walk – and stretch and move a little at work too to boost your circulation.

  1. Quick tips and tricks

 

Get outside

Sometimes re-invigorating ourselves is as easy as leaving the stuffy indoors and stepping outside to breathe some fresh air. Sunlight helps us stay more alert too by regulating sleep hormones, so the second best thing is to work by a window.

 

 

Put on upbeat music

Music has been shown to have a number of beneficial effects on us. Upbeat music in particular can improve productivity and boost motivation, so put on your favourite high tempo tunes when you need a quick pick-me-up.

 

 

Energising scents

Certain scents have a refreshing, stimulating effect on the brain – try adding a few drops of essential oils like lemon, rosemary or peppermint into a vaporiser (or a small dish of hot water) when you want to shake off fatigue.

 

 

Cold water

Just as a nice warm bath can help us relax and wind down, a cold shower in the morning can jolt us into action mode (from less sick days at work, to help combatting depression and anxiety and an [Read more…]

“Shy”? “Too sensitive”? Or time to embrace who we are?

“Why so quiet?” “You’re too sensitive.” “Come on, lighten up!”, “Smile! It might never happen!” Through phrases like these, many of us learn before we’ve even toddled our way out of nappies that being chatty and outgoing is our golden ticket to a successful, happy life – whether it comes naturally to us or not. Western culture in particular seems to heap praise on the gregarious, outspoken, ‘life-of-the-party’ types, while often overlooking the contributions of those more keen on observation, deep thinking and quieter pursuits. Susan Cain (author of ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking’) calls this preference for talkativeness and assertiveness the ‘Extrovert Ideal’.

But what should we do if we’re among the people who don’t fit this ‘ideal’? Buckle up, ignore our own preferences and push ourselves to enjoy attention and talk more? If that age-old thought sends a jolt of nerves up your spine then listen up… because it’s time we valued  the quieter more thoughtful people and celebrated the many strengths that come with them. The world needs gentle thinkers as much as it needs fearless leaders – so let’s celebrate the gifts the sensitive and the introspective among us have to offer.

  1. Five positives of not being the loudest person in the room…

While we’re all complex and evolving beings, research shows that many qualities often go together. And if you’ve more of an observer than a talker and enjoy your peace and quiet, you’ve probably got the following strengths:

  1. Ability to focus

Quieter types often enjoy being completely absorbed in a mentally stimulating project and can maintain their focus for long periods of time without getting restless.

  1. Keen observational skills

They’re also good at noticing small details and subtleties and processing a lot of information, which makes them great at in-depth learning and coming up with novel solutions to problems.

  1. Awareness of risks

The more cautious style of people who like to observe before they ‘jump in’ means they’re less prone to accidents and mistakes.

  1. Creativity

Those of us who enjoy our times of solitude tend to spend a lot of time looking inwardly and are often blessed with a vivid imagination and a rich inner life.

  1. Connecting deeply

Those who prefer to nurture a few close friendships over making numerous casual connections,  often demonstrate great empathy and listening skills, which  leads to very meaningful and long-lasting relationships.

  1. Create a life more suited to your needs

While gregarious individuals are energised by a busy social schedule, more introspective types require quiet downtime to recharge. But even in a world enamoured with networking and team building and dinner parties, those of us who thrive in calmer conditions can take steps to carve out restorative pockets of peace and calm in their day.

At the workplace

Many of our colleagues and our boss may well be the kind of people who love constant interaction – and they may not have considered that some of us  feel more productive and do their best work in different conditions. It’s worth proposing adjustments, whether it’s moving our work station to a more quiet corner in the office, focusing on tasks that are best suited to our talents, or even working from home once in a while.

Socialising on our terms

If we’ve internalised the message that socialising is better than solitary activities, our inner monologue may involve a lot of ‘shoulds’ when it comes to deciding how we spend our time and energy. But acknowledging that our needs are different to that of a social butterfly but no less valid can help us make decisions better suited to our preferences – like arranging to meet a friend over a coffee instead of agreeing to a big night out.

  1. Raising confident children

Kids, just like adults, are more confident when they feel accepted the way they are. And as parents we can help our thoughtful and gentle children to feel as valued as their more outgoing and energetic peers.

Diverse role models

At first glance, history books and popular culture seem to be populated with dynamic movers and shakers not afraid to speak their mind. But if we look closer, we see many introverted influencers from Rosa Parks (whose quiet tenacity made her a civil rights legend) to the actress Emma Watson (whose passion for empowering women and girls lead to her appointment as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador). We can help our kids value their unique strengths by exposing them to varied role models and showing them that there are many ways to live, succeed and change the world.

Gentle encouragement

It can be tempting to keep coaxing a child who hasn’t joined in a game or arrange frequent play dates to help them make more friends. Encouragement can be helpful, especially in a new situation – but we also want to [Read more…]

Beat the bloat… Our top four tips for reducing bloating and fluid retention fast

Did the end of year festivities leave you feeling a bit sluggish and puffy?  You’re not alone… the season of indulgence and partying tends to cause many a healthy habit to fall by the wayside. As a consequence, we may experience irregularity, bloating and fluid retention.

 

But fear not, a few lifestyle tweaks can do a lot to help you feel better – just be sure to chat to your GP first if your symptoms are severe or you’re pregnant.

 

 

  1. Up the (right kind of) fluids

 

Drinking more fluids seems counterintuitive when we’re trying to ease water retention… you’ve probably heard drinking up in fact flushes out waste as well as excess salt, which are often the reason why fluid accumulates in the body.

 

So up your intake of water, or try your hand at juicing. Besides having a high water content, certain fruit and veg – such as lemon, watermelon, pineapple, celery and cucumber – have beneficial effects on the intestinal system too, with natural diuretic properties, and can help keep us regular too. And if excess gas is the problem, herbal teas like ginger or peppermint are great to guzzle to banish the bloat. Limit carbonated drinks though, for obvious reasons…

 

  1. Eat for hormonal balance

 

That time of the month? Many women experience water retention and bloating a few days before they get their period: there may be an increase in fluids in the abdomen as well as hands and feet. The scales can climb up by as much as 10 lbs just because of the excess water.

 

To help balance hormones (and counter PMS-related bloating), make sure you’re eating plenty of fresh fruit and veg. Potassium-rich bananas are a good choice, and so are fibre-rich nuts, legumes and whole-grains. After an even bigger impact? Significantly reduce animal fat and protein; ditch the extra salt and processed foods and cut right down on alcohol (might sound like a chore but check out your ankles after a week and you’ll be skipping all the way to the celery aisle!).

 

  1. Get moving

 

Tied to the desk? A lot of time sitting down can slow things down (read: cause constipation) and lead to swollen legs. Movement counters this by stimulating the bowels, circulation and the lymphatic system, so get up for a stretch on a regular basis. Sweating is even better when it comes to getting rid of excess fluid, so schedule some fun cardio into your week.

 

  1. Soak up some magnesium

 

Few things are as relaxing as soaking in a warm bath, but adding two cups of Epsom or magnesium salts into the water can also boost your body’s ability to eliminate toxins and excess fluid. Relax for 20 minutes (don’t let the water get too hot) and repeat once a week if needed.

 

 

 

Inhale wellbeing, exhale stress …The power of proper breathing

How often do you think about your breathing? Probably no more than you do about blinking or swallowing, unless you meditate a lot… So it may come as a surprise that the way we breathe habitually can have a major effect on our physical and emotional wellbeing.

We’re all born breathing in the optimal way. But as we begin to spend more of our time sitting down (first at school and later, the office), face new responsibilities and stressful situations and are even encouraged ‘suck it in’ to make our stomachs appear flatter, many of us switch over time to a less efficient, shallower style of breathing. And the difference in the amount of fresh, oxygenated air our body receives with each breath can be huge: shallow breathing may use only about a third of our lung capacity (que lethargy, poor digestion, anxiety, negative moods, trouble sleeping…).

Fortunately, we can re-learn our natural way of breathing. And while it’s not a miracle cure or the answer to everything, the potential health benefits are so significant it’s no surprise that breathing features at the heart of many wellbeing practices, from yoga to meditation.

And gasp… it’s also free, requires no equipment and is available to us wherever we are!

1. The importance of correct breathing

Oxygen is essential to our wellbeing – every cell requires oxygen to function properly and can’t survive long without it. From digestion and detoxification of our immune system, breathing fully lets our cells and vital organs do what they do at maximum efficiency. Shallow breathing, on the other hand, taxes our body by pushing it to work harder and makes us more vulnerable to physical ailments.

Our mental wellbeing also gets a boost from proper breathing. Our brain functions best with a steady supply of oxygenated air which helps us stay more alert and focused and may also lift our mood.

2. The stress-breath connection

Stress and anxiety are best buddies with shallow breathing: the tightening, tension-inducing effects of stress cause shallow, quick breathing – and breathing this way makes it more difficult for us to relax again. But while we can’t avoid stressful situations, we can take steps to calm ourselves and break the cycle by consciously focusing on and changing our breathing. Slow, deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping us relax and avoid a host of potential health problems.

3. Correct breathing, step by step

So how do we breathe correctly? The natural way of breathing is also known as belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing (after diaphragm, the main muscle involved in breathing, which is located underneath the lungs): the belly rises and falls with each inhalation and exhalation, while the chest stays relatively still. Natural breathing is also fairly slow and the lungs are completely filled and emptied with each breath.

If we’re used to shallow chest breathing, we may need to spend some time practising belly breathing. Making the change doesn’t need to be a huge undertaking, though: spend a little time everyday (maybe first thing in the morning and last thing before bed) focusing on your breath and adjusting as necessary, and repeat whenever you become aware of your breathing throughout the day.

Try these steps:

1.     Place one hand on your chest and one on your belly (this makes it easier to notice if we’re breathing with the chest or the belly)

2.     Push your belly out with each inhalation and pull it in with each exhalation

3.     Let your lungs fill in and empty out completely

With enough practise, breathing deeply with the belly should become effortless and automatic.

3. Breathe… as first aid for stress

Not only does correct breathing support our general wellbeing, but it’s also one of the best tools to get us over a those stressful humps during the day… There are plenty of breathing techniques to choose from when you want to induce some calm into the chaos of a busy day, but ‘tactical breathing’ is an easy one to remember. Used by the military and athletes to manage stress, the steps are super simple:

1.     Inhale for a count of four

2.     Hold for a count of four

3.     Exhale for a count of four

4.     Hold for a count of four

5.     Repeat four times

Want to see tactical breathing in action? Belisa Vranich talks about the power of correct breathing and demonstrates her breathing technique in this TEDx Talk.

Have yourself a radiant Christmas – the AEOS way

Hello radiant Christmas skin – be it festive parties or cosying indoors ‘hygge’ style, be sure your skin is looking and feeling its best throughout the festive season – and guess what? It’s so easy! Get (and maintain) the glow by combining the powers of a good skincare routine with a range of complexion-boosting beauty foods and a couple of healthy habits.

 

 

  1. Top five festive beauty eats

 

Make these foods a part of your festive menu, and you’ll keep your skin nourished throughout the holiday season…

 

Nuts

 

Feeling peckish? Snack on nuts for a dose of protein, healthy fats and minerals to boost your skin. Stock up on a good variety for a wider range of nutrients: hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E, Brazil nuts provide plenty of selenium and walnuts are your nutty go-to for omega fatty acids.

 

Avocados

 

For angel-worthy radiance, keep skin supple and bouncy by adding avocados to your meals, wherever in the world you are. This bright green fruit is rich in healthy fats that combat the skin-drying effects of wintery weather as well as including compounds that protect against UV-damage.

 

 

Good oils

 

Healthy oils are wonderful at keeping your skin hydrated and smooth, and can even help soothe  inflammation and increase collagen production. Choose omega-3 rich flaxseed oil or vitamin E rich extra virgin olive oil. Drizzle liberally on your salad …or any dish really.

 

Bright fruit and veg

 

Add colour to your plate and partner the heavier holiday dishes with generous helpings of fruit and veg. As well as feeling lighter, you’ll be feeding your skin with collagen-boosting vitamin C and free-radical battling carotenoids. It’s a win-win.

 

 

Dark Chocolate

 

For many, it isn’t Christmas without chocolate – and the good news is that choosing the right kind can also be kind to your complexion! Dark chocolate has a high concentration of skin-enhancing minerals like magnesium, and raw chocolate in particular is high in antioxidants. When possible, limit chocolate treats with dairy and processed sugar (which aren’t as kind to your skin).

 

 

  1. Healthy holiday habits

 

Exercise

 

Get nutrients and oxygen flowing to your skin with some exercise – the circulation boost will help your skin rejuvenate and get rid of toxins more efficiently too. Grab a pal or the fam and head to your local ice rink or the park together to make exercise more fun and get a dose of fresh air to boot.

 

Drink more water

 

The weather this time of year (be it mid-winter or summer for you) coupled with all the parties and oh-so many festive tipples on offer, makes it extra important to remember to drink enough water. Start your day by drinking a big glass of water and remember to alternate alcoholic drinks with one as well.

 

Get your beauty sleep

 

A good night’s sleep is as vital to our complexion as it is to our general sense of wellbeing: our bodies do most of their healing and regeneration at night. So make sure you strike a healthy balance between socialising and sufficient sleep to keep your skin feeling its best.

 

Skincare routine

 

Look after your skin on the outside as well as the inside by following a good daily skincare routine. Cleanse, tone and moisturise in the morning and before bed, and don’t forget to exfoliate. See the results when you follow our three-phase system which is easy to tailor to your skin’s needs.

 

Reduce stress

 

As we all know, stress plays havoc on skin – and the run-up to Christmas can be especially stress inducing — be it panicking about all the presents we haven’t managed to buy yet, trying to make travel arrangements or even clashing with family members… Don’t be afraid to step back and recharge when you need it.

 

 

 

 

The life-force of water

Water – so essential for life – is also a vital ingredient in most of our formulations. So naturally we care a great deal about the quality of it. We start with the purest possible water and work in harmony with Mother Nature every step of the way to enhance it further, creating base for our formulations with the greatest beneficial effects for your skin.

 

Read on to discover what makes our water just so special…

 

 

  1. Natural origins

 

The story of our water begins at its source. All the water in our beauty formulations is artesian ground water, which is naturally filtered over time through layers of porous rock or sand. And, in case you didn’t know, the name artesian is derived from the name of the French province Artois, where the first artesian water well was created by local monks in 1126.

 

We’re deeply inspired by the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto whose water crystal photography demonstrates the capacity of water to hold ‘memories’, both positive and negative. Using natural artesian water ensures that it’s as far as possible infused with only positive energies.

 

 

  1. Pure and energised

 

 

Harnessing the power of natural rhythms, we ensure that in the next stage of our water preparation process, the water passes through special vortex pipes which allow it to flow in spirals, which is how it would naturally flow in streams and rivers. This process called ‘restructuring’ is based on the pioneering work of Viktor Schauberger, who was inspired by the energetic qualities of water and processes that enhance them.

 

At this stage, the water is also further purified by removing all bacteria as well as any excess of natural metals and minerals.

 

 

  1. Charged with crystals

 

After a thorough purification and restructuring of the water, it’s channelled into chambers that contain carefully selected crystals. The beneficial qualities of the crystals (from tranquillity to wellbeing) are imprinted into the water’s memory.

 

 

  1. Vibrant and alive

 

And here’s the really clever bit… in the final stage of preparing our water, we use a process called electro-static induction (ESI) which breaks down bonds and causes vibrations in the water – akin to what happens when water from a very high waterfall hits a hard, solid surface. This process primes our water to penetrate the layers of skin more easily, allowing the hydrating ingredients in our formulations to work at a deep level.

 

Trust your body: the intuitive path to a healthy weight

How many diets have you done in your lifetime? Be honest… And how much thinner are you now as a result, having kept the weight off? Every year there’s buzz around yet another weight loss ‘breakthrough’, the latest celebrity approved miracle “diet to end all diets”. Whether it’s cutting down drastically on carbs, sugar or fats, going for intermittent fasting or consuming low-calorie meal replacement products, we’re told that a few months down the line, we’ll have achieved our ideal weight and will live thinly ever after…

Except that studies tell us that dieting rarely works in the long term. Sure, we can rapidly lose weight on a diet, but more often than not the pounds creep back again. One 2007 study reported that up to two-thirds of people who’d been on a diet, went on to gain even more weight than they’d initially lost.

What are we to do then if we want to achieve and maintain a healthy weight? If dieting doesn’t work, what does?

1. The real cause of weight gain?

On the surface, the cause of weight gain seems simple enough – we pile on the pounds if we consistently eat more calories than we burn through exercise. However, that doesn’t explain why we do it…
Chronic stress has been flagged in many studies as one reason behind overeating. Heightened levels of stress hormones increase our appetite and make us crave sugary and fatty foods in particular. Sleep deprivation and suppressed emotions can likewise lead us to eat more.
According to Eckhart Tolle, overeating is often a response to our ego’s feelings of not having or being enough. As a result, going on a strict diet may temporarily ‘fix’ things, but without solving the underlying causes, we can easily fall into a never-ending cycle of deprivation and binging…
  1. What the naturally slim people do

Interestingly, when the Global Healthy Weight Registry interviewed people who’ve always maintained a healthy weight, they discovered that naturally slim people generally eschew ‘dieting’ or depriving themselves. Rather, they’re conscious about what they eat but don’t stress about indulging in the occasional treat. Most of them eat plenty of fruit and veg and favour home-cooked meals over processed food and exercise on a regular basis. Perhaps most importantly though, they tend to be in tune with their body: eating when they feel hungry and being mindful about the inner cues that tell them when to stop. And that can be learned.

  1. Intuitive eating

The basis of intuitive eating is trusting our body’s innate intelligence and ability to regulate its weight. The body is an ally that knows how much it needs. And we can learn to listen to its signals by eating more mindfully.

If you feel an emotional urge to binge and find yourself reaching for the biscuits, try these steps…

  1. Stop and tell yourself that you can have a biscuit in 30 minutes, if you still want it. Then tune into what you’re feeling in the moment. Acknowledge and accept the emotion you’re experiencing. Stay with it without trying to push it away. Observe how much you desire that biscuit 30 minutes later.
  2. Ask yourself what you really need and want. Perhaps it’s rest? Or support from your loved ones? The biscuit may be just a ‘stand-in’ for something else we long for. Is there a way to meet that need?

Whenever possible, eat your food mindfully (especially when it’s biscuits). Present your food in a way that looks appealing and sit down to eat your meal without distractions (try not to eat while standing or watching the TV). Take a moment to [Read more…]

The wisdom within: are you ‘listening’ to your dreams?

We’ve all experienced it… that particularly strange or intensely emotional dream that made us ask ourselves ‘what on earth was that all about?’. But how often do we leave it at that and get on with our day without further reflection? As nonsensical and peculiar as they seem, dreams can help us access genuine insights, inspiration and valuable new perspectives. Many times, all we need to do is start listening to the messages with curiosity and an open mind to gain access to this more intuitive part of ourselves.

  1. The guide within

Perhaps you have extremely vivid dreams, or perhaps you hardly ever remember them. But whichever camp you fall in, there’s potentially a lot to gain from tuning into what you do remember.

 

The value of dreams lies in their ‘uncensored’ nature – stripped from all conscious thoughts, our dreams provide a more complete picture of what is going with us internally than we may perceive in our waking state. Sometimes this means illuminating unprocessed experiences and suppressed emotions that we may have been ignoring to our detriment. In these instances, working with our dreams can be the first step in either making our peace with what is or seeing what we need to change.

 

But the power of dreams goes beyond flagging up ‘problems’. Dreams can also become a steady source of inspiration and provide new perspectives and powerful insights that can help us think outside the box.

 

  1. Recalling your dreams

Some dreams have such a powerful effect on us that we’ll remember them for a long time afterwards. Most of the time though, it’s only too easy to forget a dream as soon as we’re up and focussing on the new day.

To get the most out of your dreams, keep a notepad next to your bed and jot down what you can remember as soon as you wake up in the morning. Don’t worry about remembering everything, simply write down any bits and pieces you can recall, even if it’s just the general feeling of the dream. You may find that the more often you record your dreams, the more you’ll be able to remember.

  1. Working with your dreams

So you’ve recorded some of your dreams… now what? The analytical parts of our brain might want to rush in and thoroughly dissect our dreams to tease out their meaning, but a far simpler and possibly more effective method is to simply meditate or reflect quietly on any emotions and images that have appeared in [Read more…]