This year, nearly 700 people attended the Wellness Summit. 700 normal everyday people, from a range of professions, like you and me, who were either newly embarking on or continuing to tweak and improve their health and wellness journey.
The speaker line up was phenomenal, with leading cutting-edge experts in Australia touching on all things nutrition, movement, lifestyle and mindset.
Below are the key messages that I took away from this years Wellness Summit that I thought you may be interested in hearing about:
Do what works for you
Both Dr Damian Kristof and Cyndi O'Meara discussed the importance of focussing on what works well for you nutritionally, rather than being 100% confined and restricted to particular diets, such as vegan, paleo etc. The premise for this is that just because a particular ingredient may be classified as "paleo" or "vegan" for instance, it may not work particularly well for you ... the key words here being, for you. For exmaple, if your heritage originated from the Mediterranean, as healthy (and as Paleo) as coconut oil may be, it's more than likely that you and your family evolved through culture and traditional consuming olive oil, so if you don't feel so great after consuming coconut oil (or any other real (not fake) food for that matter) or prefer the taste of olive oil, it's OK, there are lots of other nutritous and even perhaps more suited oils to consume based on your ancestry, such as macadamia or avocado oil.
ps. this is not a dig at coconut oil - I absolutely love it and use it quite frequently personally at home and in lots of our delcious healthy treats at Nutrition Republic. It's more of an anaology to point out that just becasue something is "paleo" or "vegan" it may not be the best option for you. The key point here is to listen to your body and feul it with food that sits well with you.
The key to your health lies in your microbiome
You've probably heard by now that the microbiome (simply put, the bugs that live in your gut) is integral to your overall health and wellbeing. In fact, you are made up of more bacterial cells than human cells, so keeping these guys happy and well fed plays a direct role in your overall health and wellbeing. Dr Damian Kristof and Kale Brock discussed that maintaning the delicate balance of both 'good' and 'bad' bacteria in your gut is super important, and how certain medications (such as the contracptive pill and antibiotics) can throw out the balance of these bacteria for up to 2-4 years once these medications have been ceased. Please note that I am not saying that you should not take any particular medications, but to be mindful of the negative consequences that they may have on your overall gut health, and supplement where necessary. Medications, such as antibiotics, are life saving at times and must be used when advised to by your medical practitioner in these situations, but the key take away message here is to be prepared when you must take them so that you can begin to rebuild your microbiome again as quickly as possible. One way to repopulate your microbiome with good bacteria is to consume a variety of pre- and pro-biotics, prefereably cycling through various brands and strains to rebuild a dynamic, healthy enviroment. Incorporating fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir can also aid in this process as well. Below are some of the brands we love and retail at Nutrition Republic, however there are also other great brands that you can try too.
You are worth it
Yes you are! Dr Brett Hill nicely emphasised that you are worth the time required to look after yoursef and must put your self first at times. It's like the analogy on an airline in-house safety video which reminds you to fit your own oxygen mask first before you help others fit theirs, because unless you are functioning optimally, you are unable to help others around you to the best of your ability. So carve some time out of your schedule (even if it's just 10 minutes) just for you every single day.
Get back to basics, starting in the kitchen
Over the last few decades, more than often the culture and tradition of preparing meals at home from scrath with the family has drastically diminished. Cyndi O'Meara discussed the importance of getting back into the kitchen and understanding and appreciating where our food is really coming from. Amongst all speakers who spoke about nutrition, the unwaivering princle was J.E.R.F. (just eat real food) and S.L.O.W. (eat seasonally, locally, organic where possible and wholefoods only), hence no foods which have been either genetically modified, chemcially processed or have had additives added to them. In Particular, Kim Morrison discussed two common food additives to avoid at all costs, 621 (MSG) and 951 (aspartame), as well as numerous classes of chemicals in personal care products to be cautious of, such as fragrance, purfume/parfum, parabens, sodium-lauryl sulfates, phthalates and triclosan. If you are ever uncertain about the safety of a particular food additive or chemical in your personal care products, there are numerous resources such as The Chemical Maze (an application that you can download on your smart phone) or the Environment Working Group (website) which provides a general overview of the additive/chemical at question. By being aware and having a list of non-negotionable food additives or chemicals on hand at all times, you and your family can feel empowered when grocery shopping. Marcus Pearce nicely emphasised that when it comes to your health and wellbeing, it is important to uphold the standards that you have for yourself and to not drop them for anyone.
Health is more than just nutrition
Carren Smith, Laurence Tam and Marcus Pearce all discussed that your overall health and wellbeing is attributed to more that just your nutrition and has a lot to do with what is happening between your two ears. Carren in particular, took us all down the rabbit hole, explaining that the key to success is simply paying attention to your thoughts. For example, your reality is a combination of experiences that you have previously had and the meaning that you have given them (experience + meaning = reality), resulting in a story about yourself that you have created (usually resulting in negative thoughts of self). More than often, if you were to ask another person to put a meaning to a particular experience that you have had, they will usually associate it with a different meaning, resulting in a different reality of the experience. In order to change your reality, Carren suggested imagining the experience in the time that it occured (i.e. the partiular moment of time in the past), and either changing the meaning of the experience, hence chaning your reality, or simply giving it no meaning at all, resulting in a thought of "it just happened" - whatever works for you.
Movement was also covered, with Dr Brett Hill explaining that fitness is a combination of being resilient, being adaptable and being capable. In particular Brett used the analogy "what would ugg do?", refering to structring our exercise regimes around primal movements, such as twisting, pulling, lunging, bending, squating and pushing, with an emphasis on incorporating a variety of different types of movement every single day.
As Dr. Brett Hill put it, you can't just eat well, exercise well or think well, instead wellness is a combination of all 3 practices (nutrition, movement, thought) in a combination that works well for you.
Take it one step at a time
It's common to get overwhelmed with all the information you gather at conferences and through documentaries, friends, books, e-books and internet resources. More than often, you can feel stressed and overwhelmed on how to implement all of these changes in your life and there is often an urgent desire to implement them ALL AT ONCE. This approach however, does not seem to work, or at least does not work for long, and you often find yourself back to where you started. A key message from the weekend was to pick the one small change that you want to implement in your life straight away and focus on that one first. Once that change has been implemented in your life, you can then continue to implement additional changes, one managable bite at a time.
Finally, as Kale Brock nicely put it this weekend: "health is never the end goal - it's just a really powerful tool to help you achieve whatever you want to achieve", whether this be a happier life, a more active life, a life lived on purpose, or a combination of all of the above and more, it all begings with a healthy mind and body.
Nutritiously and Lovingly Yours,