Hi, I'm Alisha, mother of 2 young kids and wife to a very lovely man. I've been in the health industry for a long time and been a naturopath for 14 years now. I still feel new at everything especially the mother bit!
What I have learnt about health so far-
About 40% has come from my studies and career - health sciences advanced diplomas in naturopathy, nutrition and herbal medicine, healthfood stores and in store naturopathic work, private practice in many clinics and being a health educator for Blackmores.
The other 60% I have learnt from my own health issues and becoming a mother!
See when we say 'health' most people think of the physical component of health straight away but the mental component is just as, if not more, important and I have had a crash course in this over the last few years.
That is why energy medicine particularly the Australian bush flower essences have become more and more of a passion over the years for me which is why I started my facebook page naughty naturopath mum because emotional health, once kept on top of, reduces the risks of deeper manifestations into the physical health problems.
Having said that, you generally have to reach your own personal rock bottom to learn and understand this. My 'burn outs' during my career of giving too much of myself to my clients, family and friends and wanting to help everyone BUT myself (its sooo much easier to focus on others when we don't want to look within ourselves) led to glandular fever, constant gut issues and food intolerances and after my second bub, post natal depression.
So based on all of that, these are MY top 10 health tips because as the yogic housewife so poignantly pointed out in her top 10 health tips, everyone's will be different and suited to them but I do hope some of my health tips resonate with you or help you also.
Balance is the most important thing I am still learning but I know its at the top of my health pyramid. Due to my personality, (type A, everything has to be just so, controlling type, you get the picture?) this is a big lesson for me, but nature and our bodies are constantly trying to reach a state of homeostasis to stay level. So anything done to the extreme or anything completely avoided may start to throw us off kilter. So I'm open to a lot more now to keep things balanced. Kids are teaching me this (a lot!). Trying to have everything 'just so' with kids is a comical concept and my mind is healthier by learning that crap just has to be everywhere (literally and metaphorically) and it will still all be ok! Balance between what we have to do, love to do and want to do is achievable when you work at it. Setting plans and goals and scheduling time for each of these helps a lot but remember, plans and goals can be broken! Still ok!
I have needed the intervention of mainstream medicine in mine, my husbands and our children's lives so much in the last 2 years that has literally saved our lives. Hubby diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 39 after a virus caused an autoimmune reaction of the pancreas, (thank-you insulin).
My son nearly died due to a host of concurrent issues that landed him in ICU for 2 weeks (thank-you morphine, adrenalin, steroids and antibiotics) and after months of denial and copious amounts of St. John's Wort, I was diagnosed with Post Natal depression and put on a path to healing with the help of an anti-depressant. This was something I was very glad to get off after 8 months and I found the after effects just so horrible but maybe it was needed at the time? I do feel that you need to make sure daily exercise and counselling have been incorporated into your life before resorting to this type of drug but sometimes it gets you to a place where you can regroup and get back on track.
Now all this would have shocked and shamed me 2 years ago as my lifestyle and treatments have been primarily alternative medicines.
But yes, compromise. We need help from both sides of the coin sometimes and I may not be here writing this without the help I have received from what was once something I termed as 'evil', 'over-prescribed' and 'unnecessary'. Oh yeah and if you're married or living with your partner, if there isn't compromise, well, good luck with that! X
3. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
There is no 'one size fits all' when it comes to diet. There are so many principles of eating out there- blood type diet, paleo, grain free, vegan, raw food diets, well you know I could go on and on here but the simple easiest way to know what's right for your body is to be mindful of how you feel after everything you eat and drink. Of course I would recommend eating whole foods, fresh foods, unprocessed foods, organic foods and not eating refined sugars, trans fats or too many foods that are known to cause autoimmune and digestive issues - gluten, dairy, sugar and soy being the main culprits. But if your body can handle small amounts of these, then great, good for you!
The most important thing to work out is what foods sit best in you, what you digest well, what gives you energy and keeps you well. These are the foods to stay on and only deviate from occasionally. I doubt anyone has felt well nourished and energetic after eating junk food, sugary refined foods or foods that come from packets with lots of numbers in the ingredients. Variety is also extremely important so remember to eat all the colours of the rainbow and eat to suit the seasons and whats in season. Warming meals and foods (casseroles, root vegetables, slow cooker type dishes) in the cold, cooling and lighter foods in the heat (salads, veggie juices etc)
Also get into and experiment with a few 'super foods'. They can be added to juices, smoothies, cereals, baking, salads, stir frys. Try goji berries, acai, Noni juice, powders such as spirulina, wheat and barley grass, cacao and maca. My Favourite 'superfood' are chia seeds. I add them to everything and could do a whole post just about them! *I later did..click here to read*
Drink lots of it. Our blood, lymph and every cell in our body is comprised of it and not being hydrated properly can lead to physiological dysfunction including depression! Yes!
Dunk yourself in it regularly also, the sea is the best form but inland lakes, water holes, rivers, even a good soak in a bath that has Epsom and Himalayan salt added to it does us the world of good. Something in us lets go in water....we are probably going back to the weightlessness feeling of being in the womb. Silent, loved, protected.
5. LET IT OUT
Here's where I'm lucky. I have always been a heart on my sleeve, let it all out type of girl. I have been described as a waterfall by one friend. My husband loves to give me stick for crying in previews of some movies! I cry when I'm happy and sad. I tell someone when they've pissed me off. I get angry when I feel injustice or unfairness is being pushed upon me. I truly believe I will never suffer from any serious illness down the track as I don't bury anything away for later. So my tips are get in touch with how you feel, let it out by writing, talking, crying, going under water and having a good scream, beating up your pillow, sing loudly in the car or shower, whatever, just let it out! I use a lot of bush flower essences for my clients to let things go and release the stuff they don't need to carry around anymore. Probably the most common essence I add to personal blends is bottlebrush which helps us to just let go.
Now, not everyone needs these! I'm a naturopath and unfortunately it's an occupational hazard to receive and read a lot of information about what we 'should' be taking. I have overdone it in the past but now on a regime that really helps me and I feel a noticeable difference when off them. So I keep up practitioner brands of a good probiotic, magnesium, vitamin C, Activated B's and adaptogen herbs. I increase magnesium when I feel more uptight than usual or have been through any extra stress and it helps relax my muscles and I sleep better. When I am fighting off colds or the kids have picked up a bug, I take olive leaf extract, more vitamin c, garlic and a blend of herbs and minerals that support the immune system- andrographis, echinacea, zinc and Siberian ginseng. These herbs suit my constitution, there are many that can help and everyone should talk to a naturopath before taking a bunch of herbs willy nilly.
7. EXERCISE and BREATHING
I have had a love/hate relationship with exercise in the past as I was always trying things that were popular or sounded good but in reality did not fit me. Now I have found a good balance and when I get the chance to incorporate it more, I never have trouble sleeping that night, I have more energy to get through the day, have more smiles for my kids and generally feel more positive. My favourite is brisk walking in nature. I have been lucky because I have lived by the ocean for the last 5 years and been able to breathe the sea air deeply into my lungs as I walk. Hatha yoga, the lovely slow moving, focus on your breath type of yoga. Resistance training with weight stations at the gym, I've had an amazing gym recently with a fantastic crèche so the 'me' time during the day, even just 40 mins is lovely. And I love anything to do with water, swimming (really bad at it though) and body surfing or boogie boarding. I dive and snorkel (pre kids) but can't wait to have more time again to do it. I think you just need to love the type of movement and then it can be incorporated into your life as you will be raring to get at it!
Love yourself first, then everyone else. I've always struggled with my weight and I've never had a female client that didn't want to lose a little or a lot of weight. So its been hard to learn to love myself. Yes, it's important to feel good about yourself and be at a comfortable weight where your clothes fit you and you don't have health issues due to being over or underweight but the issue of weight and body size has gotten out of control. Love your insides and your outside will reflect this.
Be open to love and receive it with open arms from any direction it comes from. It is why we are here. Again, the bush flower essences are used a lot for this one. There are so many for self love like the essence five corners, forgiveness- dagger hakea, committed love- wedding bush, pining for lost love- boronia. Yes, if love needs to be let in, towards yourself or towards others, the essences are quite amazing. To read more about the essences, click HERE
9. KEEPING ALKALISED
Disease, inflammation and auto-immune issues generally all stem from how acidic our bodies become. We get acidic due to stress and consuming high acid causing foods such as sugar, alcohol, caffeine, many grains and refined foods. We can keep our bodies more alkaline by having avenues to reduce our stress (as let's face it, it's part of our daily lives), meditation, deep breathing, exercise and quiet time. Eating alkaline foods, and my best tip and what I do every morning is take 5-10 ml of a good quality apple cider vinegar (I love Braggs) in a glass of room temp water before I eat anything. You might also like to use lemon juice. Even though lemons contain citric acid, it is a weak acid that causes the gall bladder to excrete more bile crystals which alkalises the digestive system. Pop lemon juice on salad and vegetables also. Having a healthy gut is sooo important in the fight against acidity so eating and drinking fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir, kombucha and fermented vegetables like sauerkraut will help. Also stay away from the foods that you know you can't digest well. For more on gut health, I have a series of blogs which you can read HERE
10. DRY SKIN BRUSHING
A fabulous daily routine to get into before a shower or bath. Use a good quality natural bristle dry skin brush and just before its time to jump in that shower or bath, brush your body all over in long sweeping strokes in the direction of your blood and lymph flow. Always towards the heart. Start on the soles of your feet, sweep up legs and torso, up your hands and arms towards the chest and brush down from your neck towards your heart. Pay particular attention to firm brush strokes around your lymph nodes - behind your knees, your groin (bikini line) and under your arm pits. This will get your lymph flowing which clears the toxins out of your body, then wash away all those dead cells and and feel your body tingle and your chakra wheels spin! For all my other detox tips, please go HERE.
Well that's my top ten, I wanted to add extras but these are the ones that keep ME humming along best....what health tips work for YOU?