YOU welcomes award-winning health and wellbeing expert Susannah Taylor with her brilliant new column.
I love exercise, yoga and I make my own granola. Before you roll your eyes, I want you to know that I’m not an Instagram wellness ideal. I have never been the proud owner of a six-pack (although I am the proud mother of a teen, a tween and a toddler) and I don’t live on green juice and kale. Health is of huge importance to me, but amid the salads and downward dogs I love nothing more than a weekend cocktail, a daily dose of chocolate and toast with butter. In short, I like to keep it real.
Over the course of my 20-year career as a beauty and wellbeing editor, there’s barely a treatment I haven’t tried. While I’ve always had the best health advice at my fingertips, I didn’t get properly fit until I was 36. I took up body weight exercise, learned to swim front crawl and did a few midlife crisis triathlons to prove it. I also cut out sneaky sugar and quit drinking alcohol from Monday to Friday. The results? My skin cleared up, I had more energy, I was less stressed and I lost the jelly belly I’d gained after my second child. Most importantly, the anxiety from which I had suffered for many years all but disappeared.
Through my own wellness journey I’ve learnt that small steps create a ripple effect for change – advice I feel is particularly useful in these overwhelming times. According to a study by King’s College London, during lockdown we’ve drunk a lot more alcohol, binged on more junk food and failed to exercise as regularly as before. If this is you, then instead of deciding you’re signing up for a marathon, first check out tinyhabits.com.
Created by B J Fogg, who is director of the Behaviour Design Lab at Stanford University in California, the free five-day programme is about taking baby steps towards a goal you wish to achieve. You send in three tiny daily habits (that take no more than 30 seconds each) towards your goal, which for me were 30 seconds of meditation, 30 seconds of pelvic-floor exercises and going to bed early.
Every day you get emailed asking whether you are achieving those goals. If no, then your coach will help you adjust them. Research shows that from tiny acorns mighty oaks grow, and your good habits take root. So far over 60,000 people have done the course with incredible success.
Mike Coulter became a Tiny Habits coach in the UK after it changed his own life. He says, ‘When it comes to wanting to change, people set the bar too high and they can’t get over the wall. The advice of “all or nothing” is wrong. It’s simplicity that changes behaviour.’ He also explains that just reading a book about exercise or nutrition won’t actually get us any nearer to our goals – we have to actuallypractise those behaviours.
After four days on the programme, I’m meditating again having fallen off the wagon for a year. The bottom line? Keep it simple: my philosophy through and through. @susannahtaylor_
My latest go-to gear
If you haven’t yet discovered Amazon’s own-label fitnesswear then you’re missing a trick, with an amazing array at affordable prices and in high-tech fabrics: there are tights, vests, sports bras and tees, as well as jackets and hoodies, from as little as £4. My own must-haves are the long-sleeve bomber jacket (from £27.11), a stylish alternative to a hoodie; the double-layer sports top (from £11.68), which is sweat-wicking; and the colour- block sports leggings (£14.85), which look way more expensive than they actually are. Visit amazon.co.uk.
A few drops of calm
I have long been a fan of aromatherapy and am never without de Mamiel Altitude Oil (£30) stashed somewhere in my bag. With calming lavender, uplifting eucalyptus and grounding patchouli, it is my SOS product. I rub a drop on the back of my hand and inhale while working (it helps me focus); I take deep breaths of it when feeling overwhelmed and I’ve starting adding a drop to my face mask which makes for a far less claustrophobic experience. Go to demamiel.com