Habits

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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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

Whole-hearted health

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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.

Photo Credit: freestocks.org


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Feel Like Giving Up?

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Photo Credit :Lucy Trevatt

As we approach the January halfway point, I wonder how your new year resolutions, disciplines or goals are going? Are you making progress and celebrating your success along the way, or perhaps the novelty is beginning to wear thin and any changes are feeling hard? Have you been tempted to give up yet? If so, we want to encourage you today.  

Although making changes in life sounds relatively simple in theory:  ‘you stop/start doing something new’, in reality, and in practice, it is actually quite hard!

We are hard-wired to be efficient, to stay safe and to conserve energy.   Making change requires a lot of willpower, risk and effort.

Making changes to any existing habits, disciplines or routines, is not easy, but here are 3 things that might help in reaching goals or adopting new disciplines or resolutions for this year.

1 - Remember your ‘why’

Ask yourself “Why did I(start/stop/fill in the blank) in the first place?

Rarely does anyone attempt to make change lightly. It is usually only after something becomes so unbearable, or something else becomes so compelling, that we feel change is necessary.

Once we begin to make changes in the new and improved direction, the ‘unbearable’ can quickly become a distant memory, yet the ‘compelling’ still remains a long way off, despite all our efforts. It is then that it is often much easier to settle back into old routines and comfortable, safe old habits.

Going back to remind ourselves why we wanted to make any changes in the first place, can really help keep us motivated during this time, especially until the new behaviour becomes an unconscious habit.

2 - Create an environment of reminders

Once we have established our motives for change, putting meaningful reminders front and centre of our everyday activities is really important.

Things like; putting pictures of what ‘success’ might look like on our bathroom mirror to look at while teeth brushing, writing encouraging notes and sticking them on the fridge and make tally charts or scorecards to record every time we make small steps in the right direction, can all help.

Sharing our successes with others or inviting others to ask how we are getting on when we next see them can also help keep us accountable.

3 - Accept failure when it happens

Perfection is an illusion. Failure is inevitable, and never more so than if we have set ourselves the “perfect” picture of how we will change or how easy it might be.

If we chose to humble ourselves and accept that a degree of failure as a likely option, we can be intentional in exploring and creating a plan for how we will overcome those obstacles before we are faced with the potential reality.

If we aim for perfection, we don’t accept failure as an option, and it will be much harder to start (and therefore put ourselves at risk of failure) to achieve our goals in the first place, and we are more likely to give up altogether.

So this week, if you feel like giving up, please remember why you started, put reminders of that on your fridge, and when you mess up, remember that success only comes after you get up one more time than you failed! 

Keep pressing on and don’t give up!


If you've been thinking 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 - now is the best time for that too! ;-) 


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.

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 how you love to laugh.

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Intentional Health - Why?

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Last week I shared Vanessa's story, a post about why we do Intentional Health. This week I've been asking myself why am I not more self-controlled, especially about doing things I know will benefit me in the long run.

  • Why do I take the lift instead of the stairs?
  • Why do I say no to leaving the duvet early, and miss the opportunity of a morning quiet time or exercise?
  • Why do I say yes to one more of those tasty treats, and wonder why my jeans don't do up?
  • Why do I say "yes" when I really mean "no"?
  • Why do I speak when I want to be quiet?
  • Why do I do nothing, when I "know in my knower"  there is something I could do?
  • Why do I listen to the lies that a 'fear of failure' tells me; that I can't make a difference?
  • Why do I try to run before I can walk, instead of taking one step at a time?
  • Why do I struggle with FOMO (fear of missing out)?
  • Why do I struggle with self-control?
  • Why do I let myself believe that I will do 'it' later, or tomorrow, when there is no guarantee of a 'later' or 'tomorrow'?

Not choosing, is still a choice.  It is usually the easiest option 'in the moment', but can be the most costly in the future.

Not choosing, is still a choice.  It is usually the easiest option in this moment, but it can be the most costly in the future.

Being intentional about our choices can help us overcome our why and not get paralyzed by the many choices around us. It helps us to not make excuses about the many reasons not to, and instead focus on one thing at a time; show up every day; and pursue a simple, self-controlled, healthy and happy, life to the full.

Even though I knew the benefits of exercise equate to the equivalent of taking a super pill, with no side effects I chose to make excuses to not do it.  'In the moment' it was never my easy or preferred option! It required me to intentionally push myself way outside of my place of comfort, usually the duvet!

But as I got more intentional, I chose to set my gym clothes out the night before. I found I enjoyed exercise and it wasn't long before I really saw and felt the benefits. This, in turn, motivated me to keep going! I quickly got into a habit and would go to the gym three times a week.

Over the summer, however, we were away a lot and I got a shoulder injury which scuppered my trips to the gym.

My early morning gym habits were replaced with 5 more minutes under the duvet... maybe you know where I'm heading?

Last week I finally chose to admit that I was slipping into old habits way quicker than they had been created!

I noticed I'd not been sending my usual pictures to my accountable buddies Phil and Jo, even though they'd been sending me theirs. I chose to intentionally share an idea I had about creating a habit of walking in the morning and my husband said he'd love to join me.

We motivated and encouraged each other and have been blessed with some beautiful sunrises as we walk along the Camel Trail in Cornwall (as the unfiltered picture above shows). We have also had some great quality time to catch up with each other too! Happy days!

The shoes are out ready for the morning and as you are reading this, we'll be on the trail! Before we know it, our intentional choices will lead us to a new habit of self-control.

Intentional habits of self-control are why we don't take the lift when there are stairs and can say no to the call of the duvet.

What one thing can you choose to do today that will move you one step towards the life you really long for?


If you are a church volunteer or leader who would like to find out more about taking our ten-session Intentional Health Programme to your community, please register your interest by clicking here and we will contact you with more information about our next Intentional Health training.

If you have been thinking about becoming an Intentional Health Angel, you can be intentional and do that right now by clicking on this link!

If you have been "knowing in your knower" what you need to change whilst reading this article, but still don't know where to start? Please do get in touch (info@intentionalhealth.uk) we might be able to help you :)

Scaffolding...

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Photocredit:Ricardo Gomez Angel

Taking the first step towards a new healthy lifestyle, or indeed any goal can often be the hardest.

Once you have taken that first step you will have momentum on your side, and the fear of the unknown is quickly replaced with learning that you can do something for the first time. This early success can also encourage and motivate you to keep going.

However, there comes a point after you have started out on your new journey where you haven't quite got the essential long-term established habits in place to sustain you in your new Intentional behaviour. Although you may have come a long way, the end is still way out of sight and it is easy to wonder if you will ever make it and reach your goal.

Seth Godin refers to this as 'the dip',  and devotes a chapter of his short book to say 'If It Is Worth Doing, There’s Probably a Dip'. We know investing in our health and wellbeing is worth 'doing', and we know it is easy to give up in the moment or in the dip.

This 'dip' is the point where we are most likely to ditch the healthy eating option on the menu, put the extra treats in the shopping trolley, have just 'one more' when we know we shouldn't or miss yet another gym session. It doesn't take long before we find we've quickly reverted back to our old 'default' or 'previously learned' behaviours. For some, this is the point where you might be most tempted to give up altogether. In fact, Seth Godin goes on to say, that most people do give up at this point.

Here at Intentional Health, this is the time we see the most benefit in 'scaffolding'

We think of scaffolding as additional external support. It provides support that is outside of yourself and is most helpful when inside you may feel like giving up. It can support you through 'the dip' and is required for just enough time to prevent you from stopping altogether with the intentionally healthy plans until you can do it on your own again.

Scaffolding outside of yourself can take many forms, including things like a checklist, an App, friends, and colleagues, church family or a wider community group, including our own 10 session Intentional Health programme.

There are just 3 parallels to be aware of when looking for 'scaffolding';

  1. Just like on a building site, if you wait until you need scaffolding to arrange it, it will most likely be too late!
  2. Scaffolding doesn't actually provide physical support, it enables access to otherwise not as easily accessible parts.
  3. Scaffolding becomes ugly if you rely on it for longer than you need! (Think about a building that has been finished for a while but the scaffolding hasn't been removed)

With September being the start of a new school year for many, it's a great time to set a new goal. Just make sure you are just as intentional about having your scaffolding in place for when you need help to get you through the dip.


Later this week we will be sending out information to church leaders to join us in our next round of Intentional Health training for community-focused churches taking place end of Oct/Nov 2017. If you'd like to know more when we open registration, please fill in your name and email address below and look out for an email later this week!

Holidays & Burnout

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Having been hugely blessed by a week paid for and with family in the Portuguese sunshine, I realised just how much I benefit from an Intentional Rest.

I also recognised again how easily burnout could become a real issue.

You see, burnout isn't something you see coming - it silently creeps up on you, until one day, it renders you feeling helpless, disillusioned and completely exhausted.  Just like many of the other lifestyle diseases we regularly refer to!

Before you take a deep breath, please don't worry! I wasn't anywhere near that point of no return, but intentionally taking a step back and resting I can see habits that have crept in that would slowly and surely be pointing me in that general direction. Habits such as working late, not switching off, not being fully present or available for family and friends and wanting to spend too much time on my laptop (I love my laptop - for both work and play!) 

Unhelpful habits such as;

  • Working late or long hours
  • Not properly switching off or relaxing
  • Eating at my desk or on the run
  • Not being fully present or available for family and friends
  • Wanting to spend too much time on my laptop (I love my laptop - for both work and play!) 

But getting away from the tech for a week made me appreciated just how tired I actually was - without really realising it. 

If I'm honest, I was a little unsure about going away to start with,  but what surprised me the most was how quickly and how much I appreciated the quiet and time to zone out.

A dear friend and one of the Intentional Health team had been thoughtful and sent me a colour-in postcard to relax and unwind. You can see what I did in the image above - and I loved creating it! There is no doubt that having a supportive team, who both encouraged me to go away 'laptop free' and really forget all about work for the week, and who also who demonstrated they were more than capable of running the show without me, was a huge undeserved blessing - a real dose of Grace!  (Thank you, team! ;-)

Why not be intentional this summer about some or all of these Helpful habits too;

  • Eat well
  • Sleep
  • Relax & unwind
  • Exercise
  • Connect with others and
  • Take a few short or even extended breaks.

I highly recommend it, and so does our team ;-) 

Next week we'll be at the Creationfest! - Do come and say hello if you are in Cornwall!

How Many?

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Photo Credit Morgan Sessions

How many units?

If you missed Tom and Gareth's 30-minute alcohol webinar last week, you can watch the replay by clicking here.

Despite having technology issues at the start, and Tom inadvertently pressing something for a few minutes in between, the lads did well!

There is a free "How many units", and a "true or false" quiz, in the accompanying worksheet. We can send you that if you click here.

How many webinars this week?

This week, Tonya and I are hosting a 3 part mini-series on our emotional health and wellbeing, especially how we can really benefit when we are intentional with our boundaries, communication and healthy positive conflict.

These will run 10 am (BST)on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week.

You can sign up for these by clicking the links below.

Boundaries - Tues 4th July 10:00

Saying No - Wed 5th July 10:00

Positive Communication - Thur 6th July 10:00

Don't forget you need to sign up now to get the replay details so even if you can't make 10:00 BST, still register and watch us later!

How many webinars left?

After this week, we will only have 4 webinars left in our series of 20!

It is so much fun when you join us live and can chat, and we'd love to give you a mention if we can! Sign up below to attend these live.

Goal Setting - Mon 10th July 10:00

Thoughts & Feelings - Mon 17th July 19:30

Joy & Gratitude - Tues 18th July 19:30

Celebrations and Failing Forward - Thur 20th July 19:30

Why not be intentional about joining us LIVE, before you miss your chance!

See you in the webinars!

Niky & Team

P.S. Oh, and if you are wondering...

How many seeds in a sunflower head?