You've probably heard the term fitness fanatic: I am a data-driven fitness fanatic, and proud of it. With a background in corporate finance and a current job title of CFO, I love numbers. So it may not surprise you to hear that one of the aspects I find most compelling about health and wellness is the overwhelming scientific proof of what treating our bodies and minds well can do.
Both of these things, though, are not completely our own in 2013. Apps, devices, and programmes do everything from measure calorie intake to record and analyse the brain's activity during sleep. The idea may be scary to some, but I think of the vast amount of scientific data out there as an exciting opportunity to find out more about ourselves and what makes us tick.
When I wrote several weeks ago about my challenge to get 10 million women working out, I touched briefly on the three aspects of healthy living I'll be exploring more in the next few weeks. I want to outline my relationship to all of them today.
I'm very goal-oriented when it comes to fitness (a big one--my wedding--even led to the idea for my business), and my 100-day challenge is the latest fitness goal I've set. Setting targets works well for me, but it's important to make your goals realistic and not put too much pressure on yourself.
Dr Khandee Ahnaimugan wrote a motivating blog for the Huffington Post this week about staying relaxed with your weight loss goals. In addition to his points, for me, the key is to be strategic about how you challenge your body, but at the same time recognise that everyone has a unique chemistry and physiology that will not react identically. Be patient with yourself.
I love to cook and to eat (who doesn't?), so nutrition has special emphasis for me. I grew up in Bulgaria and then moved to the UK when I was 14 years old. When I did, my main change in diet was from eating largely my grandmother's amazing cooking to fast food and school meals, which quickly resulted in me putting on quite a bit of weight over the next few years. Trying to get back to my regular size was what sparked my original interest in exercise and nutrition.
Eating well isn't just a physical exercise; it's also a psychological one. A great deal of research has been done on the neurological effects of salt, sugar, fat on the brain; all the more reason to pay close attention to what we are buying, making, and ordering in restaurants.
It's common knowledge at this point, but learning to reconnect with all-natural ingredients is a love affair we should all invest energy in. Chew your favourite leafy green vegetable slowly and you'll appreciate its savoury taste in a new and more satisfying.
I discovered meditation a few years ago and have never gone back. Before I founded Zaggora, I was logging long hours at a demanding job in the City and didn't even register mindfulness as an important element of general health. I found it hard enough to find the time to exercise, let alone meditate.
But when tiredness and stress got too much and I found it difficult to drift off at night, I began to research it more closely. The science behind the benefits of meditation are quite spectacular, and the more I read, the more convinced I became that it was something I needed to incorporate into my life.
I've tried every kind of meditation out there, but I'm currently hooked on Headspace, a digital meditation service that uses scientific research as the basis of its approach (I'll discuss science's relation to meditation in more depth in a later post). I download their podcasts, pop in my earphones, and get into my own head for 20 minutes every morning.
Andy Puddicombe's approach to meditation as a necessity for daily life is totally infectious and the accessibility with which the service is designed makes it a very compelling proposition for modern urban life. After a morning meditation session I feel clearheaded, relaxed and hugely productive, and the difference on "off days" is plain to see.
With all of the technology and knowledge at our disposal, the actions we need to take to guard our health are clearer than ever. But it still comes down how we feel and how that guides us. Let your own mind and body be your health's greatest assets.