5 STEPS TO HEALTH AND HAPPINESS
Doctor Libby Weaver is one of Australasia’s leading nutritional biochemists, bestselling authors and speakers. Dr Libby’s health messages are globally relevant, which is why her holistic approach and unique form of education is embraced by audiences across the world – including none other than Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Furness. Here she shares her pearls of wisdom to lead a healthier life.
Focus on eating real and whole food
I think a lot of people know they need to eat less sugar, for example, but there are a lot of people who aren’t good at doing ‘less of’ anything, whereas other people can cut refined sugar out no problem. If there’s a change to how you eat that you know you need to implement, focus on eating more real and whole food and the other things start to fall away when you do that.
It’s also important for people to remember it’s the only way we get nutrients and energy and we don’t want to make choices that compromise nutrient intake or our body’s ability to produce energy so we can enjoy our lives.
Become breath aware
There are many different parts of our nervous system but one part is called the autonomic nervous system and there are two branches to it, the sympathetic nervous system, which is the fight or flight response (I call it the red zone) and the parasympathetic nervous system is the opposite arm of that, which is the rest, digest, repair – the calm arm of the nervous system (I call it the green zone).
The challenge for so many people today with their health is that they’re stuck in the red zone and it’s primarily our stress hormones that drive that. So whatever leads us to make adrenaline in the modern world, which is caffeine and our perception of pressure and urgency, that communicates to every cell in our body that our life is in danger.
When you do a long slow breath and move your belly in and out, when you diaphragmatically breathe, you communicate to your body via your nervous system that you’re safe, because you’d never be able to breathe like that if your life truly was in danger.
One of the most powerful and fastest ways to lower stress hormone production is to breathe diaphragmatically.
Move your body
When I say move that doesn’t necessarily mean go out and smash yourself with exercise, it just literally means move more. There was research which originally began at NASA that showed when we sit for more than an hour, a number of different enzymes which are necessary to use body fat as a fuel, start to decrease.
It doesn’t happen when we lay down and it doesn’t happen when we stand up, but when we sit, these enzymes that our skeletal muscles make, we start to not make as much of it and energy level and focus, as well as our ability to use body fat as a fuel, start to drop.
If you have a desk job, ideally you need to get up and move for three to five minutes every hour – get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, talk to a colleague; if you work from home – hang the washing on the line, check the mailbox, go outside, just move every hour for three to five minutes to keep everything stimulated.
And don’t avoid movement, because the world has created all sorts of contraptions which can help us avoid movement.
Let yourself have what you already have
I meet so many people who are in the pursuit of more and often it’s from a place they don’t feel good enough and whenever you feel that, you’ll never believe that you have enough. When you’re in pursuit of more, you usually miss the gifts of what you’ve already got and if you don't let yourself have what you already have, like a beautiful view or watching your children sleep or an amazing sunrise, or birdsong in the air; if you don’t let yourself have that, then what else are you denying yourself?
When you speak to people who are dying and you ask them what they’re going to miss the most, they say the most ordinary things; their partner’s face, the smell of a cut lemon, their pet’s fur under their skin or the night sky.
A big part of health is joy and a big part of joy is letting ourselves have what we already have and when we experience that joy, it really helps our health and our energy.
When we’re really little, there’s a moment in time when you stop using your voice. If you think about children, they express themselves always, whatever they think or feel, they’re going to let you know that, and there’s a moment in our life when we don’t do that.
I feel that even if you’re an introvert or an extravert, there is a need for communication and a need to be able to share our truth and speak honestly and that is incredibly important for our health and wellness.
A lot of women are raised to be good girls and raised to be people pleasers and when that continues in their adult life, they run themselves ragged and exhaust themselves trying to meet everyone else’s needs, without recognising their own needs for rest or quiet.