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Government supporting preventative health care

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Although it has been a while since we last posted a blog, today’s news is something we are really excited about so had to share it! The Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, has today (5th November 2018) laid out his long-term vision for the NHS and the country’s health. His plan will centre around encouraging people to take more responsibility for their own health as well as employers the responsibility for their employees.

"It's about helping them make better choices, giving them all the support we can, because we know taking the tough decisions is never easy"

He said on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that 4-5ths ot what happens with our health, happens outside of hospital. You can also read via the BBC News that Mr. Hancock, in an essential readjustment, stated, "In the UK, we are spending £97bn of public money on treating disease and only £8bn preventing it across the UK. You don't have to be an economist to see those numbers don't stack up.".

Equally, when we know that 75% of people in the UK (3 out of 4 of us) will suffer needlessly or die prematurely because of unhealthy lifestyle choices, you don’t need to be an NHS professional to know that changes need to be made in preventative community health.

The NHS ‘Five Year Forward View’ recognised a need for prevention. However Matt Hancock now highlights the need for a change of culture and method of delivering, with a substantial shift onto focus on community. This is because the NHS can only play a small part when it comes to health that is so inextricably linked to social determinants, including social isolation and poverty.

There has been a lot of talk about the need for prevention, but up until now very little has been done on a national scale due to limited resources.

Because our health is so largely impacted by making better choices, Intentional Health firmly believes the church can play a crucial role in loving their neighbours as themselves as it promotes supportive communities, provides encouragement, and loves compassionately in their local communities.

Intentional Health trains, equips and resources local church volunteers to run an inspirational10-session community programme providing facts, frameworks and friendships that encourage a step by step journey towards improved health and wellbeing.

Each session explores simple swaps and sows tiny seeds that impact areas of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and lead to healthier lifestyle habits.

People leave with a renewed sense of whole person health and wellbeing that is achievable, lasting and life-giving.

These programmes are placed-based and peer-led to ensure they are person centred, and that each person attending is able to get the most out of the programme content.

That is why today’s news is a real breath of fresh air for us at Intentional Health as it reiterates the need for whole-person healthcare which the person themselves is able to direct and effect, and is something a number of churches in the UK have been doing for a number of years. We aim to equip these amazing volunteers to do this in accordance with the NHS principles and using the tools comprised in Making Every Contact Count (MECC) guidance.

We do this because we believe...

Every Body Matters

We’d love you to join us, if you want to know more about the work of Intentional Health click here.


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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Sign up to receive these blogs via a weekly email and receive a FREE "5 Steps towards a healthier lifestyle ebook by clicking here

And 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 any experiences about how you have learned to have a more flexible mindset and how this has improved your life.

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming an Intentional Health Church Partner, Angel or Prayer Warrior - and want to partner with us to prevent sickness, save lives and inspire healthy communities click on the links above or contact us.

Flight Path

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Have you ever been heading in one direction, chatting away and suddenly found yourself somewhere unexpected?

You could ask yourself this question about a time you may have been merrily following the crowd, walking or driving on a motorway, OR you could ask this question in relation to your health and wellbeing.

Merrily going through life and suddenly realising you were overweight, are heading for burn-out, hate your job, addicted to your phone or have no relationship with your spouse and kids?

I believe, in the same way, that no-one ever sets out to find themselves in a different location than they intended,  no one sets out to become overweight, burnout, or starts a career they know won’t fulfil them. No-one intends for their phones to feel like an extra limb, for their job to rob them of their family, or to grow apart from the people they love the most. But it happens. More often than we would like.

The law of momentum goes something like... “everything will continue on its current path unless something else pulls or pushes it off that path” (Sorry if I’ve offended any physics experts with my naive explanation!).

This means, once we set out on a path, in theory, we should stay on that path indefinitely! That’s a little like what we see when we watch astronauts float around in space. So why don’t see that here on earth?

Because there are usually other forces at play at the same time. On earth, we have gravity which is a force that is always pulling us towards the ground. This may seem like a strange concept, but if we take a second to stop and think about it, we’ve learned to overcome it from only a few weeks old as we learn to hold the weight of our head up, and every day since, use our muscles to create counter forces that push and move us up and on when we need to.

Now, we simply take adjusting for gravity for granted - Can you think of the last time you stopped to think about the effect gravity was having as you went about your day?

We rarely notice many of the forces occurring every day that subtly distract and pull us off course, even by one degree. One tiny degree from 360 degrees off course might not seem like much, but if a rocket was launched into space only 1 degree off in its flight path, it could miss the moon by around 6,700km! That’s twice the diameter of the moon itself!

We tend to only notice the sudden effects of outside forces when they seem to come in suddenly, and from no-where, for example two cars coming from opposite directions in a head-on collision, a heart attack, type 2 diabetes or a cancer diagnosis, or we eventually notice the cumulative effect after a period of time.

The only way to prevent us from ending up somewhere we’d rather not is to stop and check our current “flight path”  regularly.

If you want to be intentional about anything, try doing these 5 steps!

  1. Start with the end in mind; Ask yourself, if you could move your life forward by 10 years, what would you want it to look like?
  2. Check your current co-ordinates; If you continue ‘going with the flow’, where you are currently heading?
  3. Is that where you intended to head?
  4. If there is a difference? Try and identify what force is pulling you off course and make adjustments accordingly.
  5. Rinse and repeat regularly.

Being intentional about these steps will mean you can’t go too far off course before you notice, and can then choose to make adjustments.


If your flight path is off and 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.

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Sign up to receive these blogs via a weekly email and receive a FREE "5 Steps towards a healthier lifestyle ebook by clicking here  

And 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 any experiences about how you have learned to have a more flexible mindset and how this has improved your life.

Photo Credit : SpaceX

Confession time...

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Gareth and I have enjoyed watching Masterchef over the past few weeks for a bit of relaxing evening TV. We are not big TV watchers, preferring to watch films or box sets, but Masterchef has been especially welcome in these cold winter, and even snowy, evenings! We enjoy learning about new foods that we can barely pronounce, along with imaginative ways of cooking 'said' foods, and try and guess if we would like the hopeful candidate's creations.

However, I recently noticed that I was getting “the munchies” in the middle of the programme, despite having just eaten dinner, and have found it a real challenge to avoiding mindless snacking.

This urge to snack has been compounded by the creation of arguably the best flapjacks in the world, made by my son Lewi! I’ve even found myself saying that he can’t go on his games console if the flapjack tin is empty! (Oh the parenting shame!)

But I realised this week, after speaking to Mary Rose, (one of our amazing Intentional Health coaches) was that the combination of the cold dark evenings, seeing the food on the TV, and having flapjacks readily available in the house has been a perfect storm of temptation for me - to the extent that I realised recently had succumbed and eaten six, yes you read that right - six! flapjacks in one day.

I probably don't need to tell you that this is NOT an example of a healthy balanced diet!

Before you gasp too much - I already feel even more shame telling you, because Lewi & Gareth have both been reminding me that I’m meant to be setting an example of being Intentional about my health! (proof that they are learning too! ;-))

But I have chosen to be brave and confess my downfalls to you anyway because I recognise I’ve been succumbing to cravings rather than been eating from a place of genuine hunger.

Hunger is a healthy response to a biological need. It is our bodies way of letting us know we are running low on readily available fuel. It is harmful to our bodies if we ignore genuine hunger!

Cravings, on the other hand, are a response to a psychological or emotional need - I’m looking for the flapjacks to satisfy the cravings I’m getting from a combination of; the memories of how Good the flapjacks are, wanting comfort in the cold, dark evenings when I’m longing for summer, and watching and imagining tasting the Masterchef food.

Now, obviously, there is nothing wrong with watching Masterchef, and I can assure you there is nothing wrong with the little pieces of perfection that are rolled into Lewi’s flapjacks!

BUT - I know that putting myself in the way of both of these, at the same time, when I'm already cold and longing for warm summer evenings, will lead me straight into temptation. And the more I succumb to these temptations, feel bad that I've eaten more than I should and been a rubbish parent, the more likely I am to develop an unhealthy habit of comfort eating whilst watching TV!

Downward spiral here we come!

So, to counteract those cravings before they become habits, here's my plan!

  1. Confess to an accountable community! (That- by default of you reading this -is you!) You can ask me how many flapjacks I've had at any time. That is a compelling reason to not eat more flapjacks.
  2. Other than the flapjacks I’ve asked Lewi to make for the image on this blog (which I have then taken to share at our church weekend away), I am going to be restricting the number of baked goods I ask him to make, at least until after the Masterchef final!
  3. Whilst Masterchef is still on or I'm watching TV, I’m going to do the ironing, drink a glass of water, or prepare a healthier snack like some fresh fruit instead.

If you want to find out more about the difference between a hunger or craving, why not take our Hunger or Cravings Quiz - you can download a free quiz sheet here.


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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Sign up to receive these blogs via a weekly email and receive a FREE "5 Steps towards a healthier lifestyle ebook by clicking here  

And 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 any experiences about how you have learned to have a more flexible mindset and how this has improved your life.

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming an Intentional Health Church PartnerAngel  or Prayer Warrior - and want to partner with us to prevent sickness, save lives and inspire healthy communities click on the links above or contact us

Frozen?

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We couldn't write a blog this week without talking about the 'Beast from the East'.  As a nation, we are pretty consumed with the constantly changing weather! I wonder if that's because it is something outside of our control and it has such a profound effect on all we do?

The extreme conditions of this past week will have undoubtedly affected every one of us in some way or another.  The arrival of the snow will have also brought with it different responses and reactions from each of us, based on our previous experiences, preferences and perspectives.

For some, the focus falls on the unexpected joy a "snow-day" can bring, with opportunities to get out, play with friends and family, and have a reprieve from the 'normal' routine.  For others, the arrival of snow only offers disruption, difficult challenges and in some cases disasters.  Most of us will fall somewhere in between those two extremes.

Personally, for me, I'm not a fan of the cold and wet, but I relished the opportunity to visit relatives that were only with us due to flights being cancelled, and I enjoyed watching the kids ditch the games consoles for the outdoors! 

And yes; the kids teased me as I nagged them to put a coat on - and when I went out for 5 minutes with 15 layers on, they said I looked like “one of those kids whose parents had overly dressed them up!”  They had a point (see pic) - but at least I was warm :)

I've also experienced a fair bit of disruption, with important work events being postponed and many of my friends and family, including some who were poorly, and impacted and stranded by the snow.  I'm now hugely thankful that many of them have arrived safely to their destinations after their ordeals, and thankful that life can begin to return to "normal".

But it got me thinking...

We are all as unique as the snow flakes.

We are all different; each having a unique set of experiences, preferences and perspectives. Because of these differences, it can be easy to look at others and form an opinion based on our own bias. We can sometimes believe that "they" are wrong, and "we" are right.

Sometimes, our unique thinking impacts how frozen or flexible our mindset is, especially concerning what is, and what is not under our control.

There was no way I was going out without my 15 layers - no matter what the kids said I looked like - and there was no way they were putting on any more layers than absolutely necessary. At the end of the day, I thought, they were the ones that would feel the cold - Except they didn't because they were too busy building snow-balls and snow-surfing (yes - you read that right!) down the ski-run that living on a hill creates when it snows!

The ability to be like the kids and surrender a need for control brings a healthy open and flexible mindset. It acknowledges that others may have different viewpoints when it comes to snow, or indeed anything else, and be ok with that. It is a sign of a good mental and emotional health and helps with resilience.  Why can't you slide down the hill on an old surfboard?

The inflexible (or frozen) mindset of not being in control or not being able to accept that another person may have a different point of view (and maybe don't feel the cold like you do) and the problems that brings, is not always as helpful, and not healthy for our own mental health, nor for our relationships.

So maybe we could all try a little thawing of a frozen mindset, displaying grace and acceptance of circumstances outside of our control, and consider that there may be another viewpoint or approach that it is different from ours.

Not better, or worse - not right, or wrong - just different.

The weather is a great reminder that the principle of a fixed or flexible mindset applies to everything else I’m not in always in control of too.

So this week, why not keep an open mind as to where might you be able to invest in your health by being more flexible, and less frozen, in your thinking when circumstances happen outside of your control?

Main Image Photo Credit: Rodion Kutsaev


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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Sign up to receive these blogs via a weekly email and receive a FREE "5 Steps towards a healthier lifestyle ebook by clicking here  

And 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 any experiences about how you have learned to have a more flexible mindset and how this has improved your life.

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming an Intentional Health Church Partner, Angel or Prayer Warrior - and want to partner with us to prevent sickness, save lives and inspire healthy communities click on the links above or contact us

How's your heart?

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Photo Credit : Cathal Mac an Bheatha

It has begun… the emails suggesting presents, Pinterest pages and promotions for Valentine's day are flooding my inbox!

Don’t get me wrong, those who know me well, know that I’m an old romantic and love nothing more than a good rom-com (much to the delights of my husband and teenage boys who are more into action, adventure and history films!)

But as Valentine's day approaches, it got me thinking about our hearts, and how complex they are.

In fact, they are phenomenal.

Our hearts are a remarkable piece of architecture, engineering and art, all rolled into one.

Here are a few, fascinating facts about our hearts…

  • Our heart is made up of muscle cells that are different in structure to every other cell in the body; they don’t fatigue in the same way as the rest of our cells.
  • This is just as well because our heart beats an average of 72 times each minute.
  • This equates to over 100,000 beats every day of our lives, meaning they can beat around 3 billion times in our lifetime - hopefully without stopping, or needing a service!
  • Our heart's purpose is to serve almost every other cell in the body with blood, providing valuable nutrients and clearing away toxins.
  • Our heart is around the size of our fist when clenched, and weighs around 300 grams (the weight of a packet of biscuits).
  • Our heart pumps approximately 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of connected blood vessels each day, at a rate anywhere between 5 and 30 litres of blood per minute.

Let's put this into perspective; my car holds around 10 gallons of fuel in a full tank, and if I’m really lucky, will take me around 400 miles. To add to that, my heart can pump - in just one minute - around two-thirds of what my entire fuel tank can hold - and my car only goes 0.006 times as far, around 500 times slower!

Another lesser-known feature of the heart is that it has a special blood supply all of its own. This supply branches from the base of the main blood vessel leaving the heart, and ensures that the heart is provided with all the blood it needs to remain healthy before it serves the rest of the body. 

Our hearts are not only amazing, but they play a vital role in keeping us alive. That is why we talk about being intentional about healthy eating and staying active to prevent heart disease and keep our hearts as healthy as possible.

But as Valentine's day reminds us, our heart isn’t purely a physical structure or piece of anatomy - it is also where we associate feelings of love; including value, belonging and worth… and when we lack these feelings of love, we feel that in our heart too, and refer to 'heartache' or even 'a broken heart'.

The bible talks about the greatest love being an “agape” love. This is a selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love. It is this kind of Love God asks of his followers when he says the greatest commandment is to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves.

Whether you believe in God or read the Bible, the principle of loving others as ourselves is one I’d like to bring front and centre of our thoughts today.

To really love others from this ‘agape’ love; from a selfless place of service, sacrificial and unconditional love; we need to invest in maintaining a healthy heart of our own, or 'love ourselves well' first.

In today's culture, this is counter-intuitive. It can even be deemed selfish or arrogant. To be clear,  I’m not talking about making yourself the centre of your universe. I’m simply suggesting that by loving God (if you believe in God) and getting clear on what loving ourselves first (or self-care) might look like, we could love others in a far richer and healthier way, and for longer.

In the same way that the heart first supplies itself with just what it needs to keep healthy before it serves the rest of our body: having a healthy love for ourselves means we can really love and serve others well, without placing our own emotional needs on them too.

So as Valentine's day approaches, I wonder how your heart is, and what 'loving yourself first' might look like for you this week? Do let us know by emailing niky@intentionalhealth.uk.

Next week we will continue our heart theme and consider how we can care for our whole heart. If you found this post helpful or inspiring, please share it so others can benefit too!

Sign up for our weekly emails and FREE ebook by clicking here or filling out your name and email below, to ensure you hear from us first and don’t miss a beat!… (get it!? …beat.. Heartbeat… I’ll get my coat!)


One way you can love God, yourself and your neighbours too, is by becoming an Intentional Health Church Partner, Angel or Prayer Warrior - and partnering with us to prevent sickness, save lives and inspire healthy communities. 

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Story Time

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Photo Credit:Ben White

As it is National Storytelling Week (January 27th – February 3rd), we invite you to make yourself comfy for today's Intentional Health story time...

Once upon a time…..

….many years ago, there was a nasty outbreak of a disease called cholera. This disease caused many people to become physically sick, causing much suffering leading to many deaths.

It turned out that the disease was entirely preventable by not drinking contaminated water. Sadly, people didn’t know that this was the case and couldn’t make a choice to stop drinking the water because they didn’t know it was contaminated.

When John Snow, a local physician, figured out the source of the disease may have been from a contaminated water pump, the water pump handle was removed.

This simple act prevented people from unknowingly making a choice that was causing physical suffering and needless death. It was also instrumental in beginning public health policy in the UK. 

And so, after the pump handle was removed, everyone really did ‘live’… and we hope…“ happily ever after”.

The end.

… erm, not quite!…

I do wonder, how many people were a little grumpy at the inconvenience of having to get water from a different pump? They would probably have been blissfully unaware that this removal of choice was preventing them from suffering needlessly and premature death.

And I think about how today, many years later, people are still becoming sick and suffering needlessly because of unknowingly making unwise lifestyle choices.

The NHS is struggling to treat and care for the people who are sick, and our fast-paced, convenience-culture means that we are not just dealing with physical sickness and diseases like coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancers…. but our mental and emotional health, as well as our spiritual health, is suffering too.

So here at Intentional Health, we are inviting volunteers from the local church to partner with us and help our communities understand how important it is to make healthy choices that lead to healthier habits, in order to live a healthy and happy life and avoid premature illness and death. We also know that people who are beginning to make habitually, healthy choices are best placed to help others make great habitual choices too.

We train and equip volunteers with all the public health information that helps us all make wise lifestyle choices and create healthy habits that can significantly improve our health and wellbeing.

We address whole person health and wellbeing topics through our 10 session programme. The 10 session programme explores physical health topics like food and physical activity, as well as considering habits, stress, worry, thoughts and feelings, boundaries, sleep and rest.

We are inviting volunteers from the local church to partner with us to deliver the message in their communities all over the nation, and because we come from a Christian perspective we also include exploring a little of our own spiritual health from this point of view too, although this part is optional and people from all faiths and none are very welcome to attend.

We hope that our programme, and this blog, inspires you to think about the informed and uninformed habits or choices you are making about your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health today.

Unfortunately, we can’t remove the water pump handle of today’s convenience culture, but we hope we might inspire you to choose to drink the right water so that you can live ‘happily ever after’ too.I


If you would like to find out more about becoming an Intentional Health Church Partner with us and help prevent sickness, save lives and inspire healthy communities - Expressions of interest for our March training is now open.


If you want to start on your own journey towards making more informed and intentional choices about your health then why not download our FREE Intentional Health journey workbook by clicking the picture below or attending a programme in your community. We'd love to help start you on your journey towards living a happy ever after life too.

Please share this post with others so it can benefit them too, and let us know how you are being more intentional about your health and wellbeing.

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Our Dishwasher is Broken

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As I have been away this week, Gareth, (AKA - the legendary voice behind all the Intentional Health animations!) Kindly offered to write this weeks post! Enjoy!


Photo Credit :Catt Liu

Mid-November 2017

“Oh disaster, upon disaster!" The one kitchen item that is so critical to the flow of our family life; the single appliance that can make or break business continuity in our family unit of millennials, technology geeks and sport-jocks - has become no more, and kicked the proverbial bucket!

And then at that moment, the realisation came as the four of us stood in the kitchen ashen-faced, gawping at each other in silence, “no dishwasher! and Christmas is coming?!  “Arghhhhhhhhhhh!”

All those dishes... it was about this point that flight kicked-in over fight… “Maybe we could leave the country?”... “We could go to my mothers?” … “We will need to sell up!”... “Somebody call IKEA, they'll know what to do!” Even Marlon our dog was standing by the front door with lead in mouth ready to depart.

And then Dad pipes up in Corporal Jones style … (fans of Dad's Army will understand)….. “Don't panic, don't panic!… I got an idea! Let's just do the dishes ourselves over Christmas!”

At first stunned silence.

Then the look of three individuals reminiscent of the minion movie where both shock ‘and’ confusion takes over the face;

…and then agreement.

(By the way for those into health psychology, this all forms normal parts of the stages of change).

And so we bought washing up liquid, new dishcloths and we made a pact that we would team up; all four of us: mum, dad, two teenage boys; and wash-up together, every single day through Christmas.

Mid-January 2018

We have decided that Ecover the most effective and environment-friendly liquid…. Just saying (though other environmentally friendly brands are available) and our dishwasher is still broken but we are all the more connected.

Don't get me wrong, we already enjoyed conversations around the table as part of our daily culture, we believe wholly in family time….but our conversations went deeper, they were extended, more time led to discussions about school, filmmaking experiments, about mum’s next work presentation, about Dad’s continued success in fantasy football (ahem), about faith, about politics, about the environment, and our health.

We played the ‘guess-who’ game loads, despite Mum’s frustration that most of the answers were Star Wars characters and even the dog joined in as we danced to pumping tunes whilst discussing and playing music, as the washing and drying took place. We had great fun and made some wonderful, lifelong memories.

Three takeaway's

  1. Broken things are just barriers to stimulate different thinking, and potentially allow for a whole new direction
  2. We are not meant to be over-reliant on things, but relational with each other, it’s a spirit thing as much as anything
  3. Doing a job well, and in 'team', feels great, and a healthy active work ethic is good for us.

Intentional Health is about change and stepping towards a healthier me in community, like being part of a washing up team….

Why not join us on our Journey?


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.


As always, if you found this post helpful or inspiring, please share it so others can benefit too! Or find out more about becoming an Intentional Health Angel or Prayer Warrior if you want to partner with us to prevent sickness, save lives and inspire healthy communities. 

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