Whole-hearted health


As we referred to last week, our hearts are phenomenal and therefore we need to look after them.

They physically help us make sure we have years in our life, and they help us have life in our years!

Here are a few things we can do to keep our whole-hearts healthy…

Regular Physical activity

Regular physical activity helps flush any fatty deposits and prevents blockages, it also helps create muscle cells that are elastic which can expand and contract really well. In effect, every time we place our heart under a bit of controlled stress it responds by adapting to cope with the stress even better the next time. We know that our hearts can become unfit (and clogged) and this can lead to a heart episode so it is essential that we are physically active to protect the most important muscle in the body. For further health and advice about what physical activity is right for you, speak to your GP or visit the British Heart Foundation website

Eat a healthy balanced diet

Not all food is created equally!

There are foods that are high in unhealthy fats and sugars, that contain very little, or none of the essential nutrients our body needs. By eating the right foods, and in the right portions, we give our hearts (and the rest of our bodies) the best chance of getting all the nutrients it needs to work efficiently, and grow and repair new cells.

Be gracious with our words

As lovely as valentines day can be for many, it can also be a huge disappointment.

The Hollywood illusions of being cherished and at the centre of someone else's universe, for a brief moment in time, rarely materialises exactly as we imagine in the real world.

The gifts or cards we spent ages picking out may not be received with the same heart that they were sent, perhaps the words came out wrong or the dinner got burnt… So how about this Valentine’s day, we let our words show a little love and grace to others.

Look in the mirror

Remember how easy it can be to point the finger at others when 'they' get it wrong? It's also good to remember that there are 3 fingers pointing back at us! This applies even more so when we are kinder to others than we might be to ourselves! This week, think about where we could speak kindness over ourselves in the same way we might speak to a friend.

Connect with others

Connecting with others is one of the NHS' five ways to wellbeing.

We weren’t meant to live in isolation! Health evidence even says that loneliness is one of the main contributors to poor health and early death in the UK. On Valentine's day, any isolation we might feel is amplified, as we imagine everyone else in their "perfect" relationships.

If you find yourself on your own perhaps take that step to find someone else to hang out with and plan something fun. Not because you need them, but because they need you just as much.

Give to others

Giving is another of the 5 ways the NHS recognise to improve health and wellbeing.

God loves a cheerful giver, and giving to others out of a selfless place improves our own health and wellbeing no end. If you aren’t sure what to give? Have a think about who you are giving to and maybe consider their love languages.

We can give the gift of time, which is, of course, one of our most precious possessions!

It is always good to give kind words, a smile and encouragement to others, and although they might not cost any money - they do require intentionality. It is also good to remember that we can never go over budget with our good, and kind words!

Speaking of money: loving that too much isn't always great for your heart, so it is good to give some of that away too. (can I just take a moment to also say thank you to those Angels, who have given financially to Intentional Health supporting our journey in tackling health poverty through the church. And thank you to those for giving to us personally too ;-)

Greatest Love...

Finally, this Valentine’s day, let us remember that we are loved, and to have a healthy love and respect for ourselves as we love others too.

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Everything in moderation?


Photo Credit:Scott Webb

Ok, so not everything might be good in moderation, but taking a break and not being obsessive or extreme about our health might be healthy once in a while!

August is a traditional time for holidays, and holidays can traditionally mean good food, wine, lazing around and re-connecting with friends and family.  Any healthy eating and drinking, routines and making time for exercise can easily go out of the window. If we are not careful, we can end up feeling guilty and ashamed for overindulging- which can lead to comfort eating and a negative spiral of healthy habits later on.

Here at Intentional Health, we see holidays as a healthy break from the "norm" that can help us be more intentional later.

By enjoying some holiday foods and relaxation, especially if it is combined with extended times reconnecting with family and friends, we can really appreciate and enjoy the "treats". If we don't have Cornish pasties, fish and chips and ice-cream every day, then why not intentionally enjoy them on a trip to the sea-side? After all, they taste so much better there!

We don't need to over-indulge to appreciate them, and we may realise that these treats, which may have previously made up a large part of our staple diet, are not part of our norm anymore. If that's you, make sure take a moment to appreciate just how far you have come on your journey!

Being intentional about a holiday might just mean that before you go, you put a date in your diary to reflect on which healthy habits or behaviours you might like to focus on and revisit when you get back.

Til next time,

Niky & Team

With summer is upon us this can only mean...


Plenty of sunscreen and time outside! :) This weekend here in Cornwall (and the rest of the England and Wales, I believe) we have had glorious summer weather.

One of the many, many reasons I am thankful for the good weather, is that it is a great trigger and motivator for getting my teenage boys out and about enjoying the beach and moving more, and not sat still in front of the X-box! (other gaming consoles are available!)

As we continue our series of 20 webinars, tonight we are exploring some of the reasons why being physically active or moving more is SOOOO beneficial for every aspect of our health and wellbeing.

We'll also consider why we might not move as much now as we used to, and how we can think of creative ways to get more active - especially for those of us who aren't naturally super sporty!

You can join us live at 19:30 (BST), or for the replay anytime, by clicking the link below to register.

Then, on Wednesday evening, we'll start our next mini-series, exploring how to be more intentional about healthy eating.

This week we'll be exploring the UK's current government guidelines for what a balanced diet looks like using the Eat-well guide, before next week looking at how to read food labels, to make informed choices, how meal planning can help us stick to a healthy eating plan. We'll even be exploring alcohol and healthy drinking too.

If you'd like to join us for any part of this series- again to attend live, or access the replay later, see the full schedule below and click on the relevant links to sign up.

Balanced Diet - Wednesday 21st June 19:30 (BST)

Reading Food Labels - Monday 26th June 10:00 (BST)

Meal Planning - Tuesday 27th June 19:30 (BST)

Health & Alcohol Thursday 29th June 19:30 (BST)

Can you believe tonight's webinar sees us half way through our 20-webinar series?

Next Monday we'll publish the rest of the webinar series topics, dates, times and sign up information, which will continue for about another month.

After that time we will be returning to our usual blog, and are looking forward to featuring more guest posts and some amazing individual stories.

Until then, enjoy the sunshine and see you in the webinars!

Niky & Team

PS - don't forget to share this with others who you think might find these topics interesting!

Transforming mother-in-law...


This week I’ve been really encouraged and inspired my mother in law, Julie.

For years Julie has yo-yo’d between periods of over-eating and dieting, causing feelings of condemnation and guilt and fluctuations in her weight.

She grew up believing, just like many others, that you demonstrate your love to your friends and family by feeding them. Life often revolved around planning, preparing or partaking in the eating of food.

The trouble is in days gone by, the food was wholesome, homemade and highly nutritious. Sadly, nowadays it is packed with empty calories, excessive sugar and fats and has been so processed that most of the nutritional value has been eliminated.

A few weeks ago Julie and I had a discussion where we explored why it was important for her to be more disciplined about her food. For her, growing in her faith, rather than reducing her dress size, was important.

We also explored how she could avoid or overcome feelings of guilt by not setting herself up to fail, by being more self-compassionate, and by having an accountable friend or buddy to encourage her.

These paradigm shifts in her thinking helped her understand the elements she could be responsible for, and that she could subsequently take control over what she ate, as opposed to just thinking about losing weight.

This has both transformed and motivated her to start making changes.  

Since our conversation, she has not weighed herself, but with the support of an accountable buddy and prayer, she has been focused on being more self disciplined with her portions and exercising control over snacking between meals.

Others have already noticed and commented on her healthier choices, and noticeable loss of weight, and she has already noticed how this new found self control has spilled out into many other unexpected areas of her life.

Julie reminded me this week that our mind, body and soul are connected, and that making a change is something that;

  • starts with a compelling reason to change,
  • includes making a conscious choice to change,
  • and then requires taking a few first steps to being more intentional.

Well done Julie!

If you want to start on your journey towards being more intentional about your health then why not download our FREE Intentional Health journey workbook by clicking the picture below, to help start your journey to living a healthier, happier life.


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As always, if you found this post helpful or inspiring, please share it so others can benefit too! and we'd love you to get in touch and share with us about how you are taking some first steps or inspiring others ..

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The Middle Finger!

This week we continue with our handful of ideas to improve our health and wellbeing... although we might need to be a little careful today as we move along and think about our 'middle' finger!…

(just for clarity again, I'm referring to the tallest finger that stands right in the middle alongside all of our other fingers)

I’m hoping this doesn’t happen often to you, and assuming that you wouldn’t dream of doing that to anyone else either, but if someone has ever stuck their 'middle finger' up at you - how did it make you feel?

Or, have you ever noticed how…

Trying to bend our middle finger (in towards the palm of the hand whilst keeping the actual finger straight) impacts on adjacent fingers and causes them to bend too?
Or how your fists clench when you are angry?
Or if you sit with your palms facing up it is much harder to be cross with someone? 

If you’ve ever noticed any of these, you'll probably appreciate that we are affected by others, and that we ourselves are connected.

Noticing we are connected is all well and good, but what does it have to do with our health and wellbeing?

Being connected means that if we focus excessively on one aspect of our mind body or soul, it can be at the expense of another.

Taking even the healthiest of behaviours to the extreme could leave us vulnerable to becoming obsessed or addicted by the behaviour itself, or can even set us up for failure.  For example focusing excessively on eating only healthy foods, could end up compromising our ability to be flexible, cope with circumstances where we have no control, and negatively affect our sanity, or emotional wellbeing.

If your January intentions are not quite working out as you had hoped or thought, do you see it as a failure or a reason to give up? If so, why not try and be compassionate with yourself, because you’ll probably find yourself in a better position to keep going or try again if you do.

If on the other hand you live the rest of the week condemning yourself, or just giving up, you are much more likely to find yourself reverting right back to the comfort habits you were probably trying to change in the first place.

Something we use as a rule of thumb on our Intentional Health community programme, is to ask ourselves "how might we help a friend through a similar situation"?

So in referring back to our handful of ways this week - try and avoid any extreme thinking, especially the kind of exclusive “middle finger” extreme thinking that leads us to offend others!

Instead remember that we are whole person beings, designed to be in relationships, standing alongside others but each also interconnected and amazingly created, and that every part of our health and wellbeing benefits from being given a 'manicure' of grace and compassion once in a while!

If you want to take ownership and start on your journey towards being more intentional about your health then why not download our FREE Intentional Health journey workbook by clicking the picture below, to help start your journey to living a healthier, happier life.

And as always, if you found this post helpful, please share it so others can benefit too!

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Food and Mood


I have a confession to make. I have been known to get a bit moody at certain times! I know, I know, I can hear you saying… really? You!?

But I’m afraid it’s true. My husband even calls it my Portuguese pout! (I’m half Portuguese).

In trying to identify what causes at least some of these mood swings, I’ve noticed a pattern. This is good because identifying patterns and triggers are the first step in trying to manage myself better!

Actually, it seems it’s not just me that is susceptible to this, it’s actually fairly common in all of us!

The Pattern? … Food!

Food affects mood

What we eat and how we feel are related!

What we eat doesn’t just affect our physical health and wellbeing, but also our emotional wellbeing!

So today I’m sharing this because understanding this is good news! It means we can each make wise choices about our food that can help us;

  1. Avoid type 2 diabetes (caused as the body struggles to cope with sugar highs and lows)
  2. Reduce our chances of developing heart disease and even some types of cancers
  3. Ensure we have more vitality and energy - Essential in living a life in all it's fullness!
  4. Think clearly and manage our thoughts and feelings with a more positive attitude
  5. Help us enjoy a calmer and more stable mood!

That’s got to be good for everyone right?

If you want to start identifying patterns and triggers in changing moods, next time you are feeling a bit blue, bothered or bouncing off the walls, why not join me in asking yourself some of these questions…

What have I eaten? Foods that release energy slowly such as nuts, seeds oats and whole grains as well as proteins are less likely to result in less sugar spikes and rushes. Foods such as sugary snacks, sugary drinks and even alcohol will promote sugary highs, and subsequent lows! When did I last eat? Eating small and often rather than large meals can again help avoid blood sugar highs and lows. I rarely make wise choices on an empty stomach and often suffer from being “Hangry” if meal times are delayed! What have I been (or not been) drinking? Alcohol and sugary drinks are going to cause a sharp increase, along with a subsequent and equally sharp decrease, in blood sugar levels. Drinking water and keeping well hydrated will mean I perform well in concentration, reaction time, learning, reasoning, and memory, as well as avoid head aches and feel less tired! What colour was the food I’ve been eating? Eating a rainbow of colourful foods from natural sources such as a seasonal variety of fruit and vegetables ensures we get all the vitamins and minerals we need. Eating a rainbow of artificial colours and flavourings can lead to hyperactivity and behaviour issues, especially in some children. How much caffeine have I consumed? Caffeine is a stimulant, keeping us alert and leads to difficulty sleeping. It can also speed up our heart, cause headaches and raise blood pressure. I already know that a lack of quality sleep severely affects my mood!! How balanced is my diet overall? Again, a balanced diet means that our body has access to all the nutrients it needs not only to function well on a day to day basis, but also to repair and ensure healthy replacement and growth of new cells. Am I even hungry? Sometimes I think I’m craving food that may actually be a symptom of an emotional trigger, such as boredom, feeling low, loneliness or fear. So instead of comfort eating with a chocolate bar why not call a friend or go for a walk, which might be a better solution. This will prevent a sugar rush and subsequent low, and also solve an emotional craving at the same time!

We are amazingly and intricately created

Recognising the impact of our eating, in both the short term and long term effects on our physical and emotional wellbeing, can help motivate us to be more intentional about our whole person health!

Lastly, and God forbid, next time you find me being cranky, please don’t take it personally, instead stop and ask me what I’ve eaten, tell me to take a nap or pass me a glass of water!

We’ll probably all benefit from my improved mood, especially my husband! ;-)

Download our FREE Intentional Health journey workbook by clicking the picture below to help get you started on your journey to living a healthier, happier life..

And as always, if you found this post helpful, please share it!

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