first birthday without my mum

First birthday without mum

I love birthdays.

I love them because they are about celebration of life.

And I love life.

Every day should be a celebration of life, but we do not stop and “smell the roses” as often as we should. So, birthdays are there, as are any anniversaries, to stop for at least a moment and appreciate the day in life when it all started. A new life, a new love, a new union…

I will be 46 in less than a couple of weeks time. And it is stirring up all kinds of emotions just thinking about it.

It will be 248 days without mum on my birthday… and there is so much to miss…

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Give a little piece of your heart to the world… we get back so much more when we give…

It is a Sunday morning and I got up earlier, as usual, before everyone else. I am enjoying my cup of tea and a light breeze in the kitchen from all the windows being open so the fresh air can come in. Sun is out, birds are chirping away…. you get the picture. Beautiful setting and, yet, I have been so tearful last few days, painfully aware that Eid is in just a few short days and it will be the first one without mum.

I feel empty and confused as I do not know what meaning to give to Eid as it was because of her that we fussed about it in the first place. I just want to skip it. And I know I probably shouldn’t. Because the world does not stop. Next one will come before I know it and I will have to find way to go through it at some point. Heart tells me to acknowledge it, in her honour.

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Don’t let this sabotage your health efforts…

Are you someone who, when life throws a curve ball, because conditions are less perfect to maintain your health efforts – you tend to just throw in a towel and put a “diet” on a time-out until life corrects itself?

This could be due to a holiday, new baby, new job, stress at work, stress at home, moving house, relationship break-up, illness, celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc.? Or simply things not going your way and relief we get from even just a thought of a time-out while we sort our mindset out, has become as addictive as the sugar we know we also still crave for.

I get it. It is almost a completely logical thing to do. And you are not the only one who thinks that.

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It took walking in my client’s shoes…

We truly can not understand someone until we are in their shoes.

It took me personally losing my way with food (and I do not know how or when it happened) to be able to understand how tough it can be to get back on track for some of those who come to me for help;

It took me going through my own grief to understand the challenges of those who are grieving, how it impacts our choices and that patience and compassion are the key;

It took me ages to admit I needed help, to get my own coach and join the support community of others on the same mission as myself in order to be able to understand the reluctance of some of my clients who would rather do it on their own;

Farewell to my dear mama

Passing away is a fact of life. We are met with it daily and are all just travellers in that respect, just passing by, each leaving our own unique mark on the world before we leave it. Reason knows it and yet heart can not help being broken when we lose a loved one. No other death has effected me as much as my mum’s. At the age of 78, just few days short of her 79th birthday, she surprised us all by leaving this existence, as we know it.

Past month I went from numb to my mind racing 100 miles per hour. Starting with – how is it possible that we can just be no more. I just could not stomach the fact that I could never call her again and speak to her…

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Change your habits, change your life… How do we create new habits?

Thank you for clicking on this article as its title is everything but original. But, that does not make it less true. Actually, it is a huge deal!

Our life is truly a reflection of our habits at every level of our existence. We become what we think about because what we think about is what we will focus on and that will influence what action we take, which, ultimately, leads to a particular outcome (or outcomes for different areas of our life). Results, in one word.

Einstein’s famous definition of insanity is repeating the same actions over and over again and expecting different result. And, yet, that is exactly what majority of us do.

We have around 60 000 thoughts every single day, take or add a few, and research suggests that 98% of those thoughts are exactly the same thoughts we have every single day.

So, anyone wanting to change their life – what we need to change are habits and behaviours, which will influence our actions and the end result – our life.

Sounds simple, but we all know it is easier said that done. But at least we know that we got to change something. Because…

Change nothing – nothing changes.
Change a little – little changes.
Change a lot – a lot changes.

Habits come to mind as a logical one thing that we need to focus on changing. When it comes to health – habits are absolutely everything.

It is being said that it takes 21 days to change habits. But, science shows that this is a myth. Psychologists may agree that while it perhaps takes 21 days of consistent and conscientious effort to create a new habit, it takes far longer to break an existing habit.

More recently, study of 96 people was published in The European Journal of Social Philosophy and it states that it took an average 66 days to form a habit, such as eating a healthy snack or exercising regularly. That is to reach the point of Automaticity. When we develop a new behaviour that we do automatically, like brushing teeth is. The point of unconscious competence.

They found that creating a new habit depends on type of behaviour we are trying to change, the person and the circumstances. It can also take anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit, which is an average of 66 days, but this highlights why it takes longer for some to adopt new habits.

I always talk to my client that after weight loss comes maintenance and research shows that maintenance is actually harder. Why? Because they have not yet reached the state of automaticity. They lost weight with my support, but those that take it for granted and have not fully committed to living a healthy, active lifestyle for life are the ones that will struggle to keep the weight off.

So, how do we create new habits?

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In defense of “Clean Eating”

The world we live in today is so different to the world we lived in a decade ago. You just take Social Media as one example. It was almost non-existent ten years ago or certainly it did not exist in the same capacity it does today. I am daily overwhelmed and inundated with messages, articles, opinions, research, etc thrown at me.

I am assuming many feel like this.

Some of this information is truly great, some not so much. “Not so much” stuff does not always bother me, but, today, I saw something that, instead of ignoring, I thought of using as an opportunity to throw a different light at it as it is health related and a subject close to my heart.

As the title of the article suggests, it is indeed about “clean eating”. Because, while I thought I heard it all, I was amused, to say the least, to read how one “TV dietitian”, names need not to be mentioned, called clean eating as “unhealthy, another diet and bullshit”, pardon HER French. Well, her 65 thousand (plus 2000 extra since yesterday) followers loved her for it.

I can see the appeal, audience loves when we dare, even swear and throw bombastic claims. Everyone has their audience. However, I can not agree any less and I thought it warrants writing why that is and why you shouldn’t agree either…

Firstly, what is Clean Eating?

Well, clear definitions vary and so do opinions on whether certain foods should be part of it, but, in a nutshell – it is a balanced diet that focuses on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, protein and it is a diet that eliminates processed foods.

I think it is logical and something we have always known to be good for us, however, we have just now given it a name. Mediterranean Diet is probably the closest to clean eating we can think of. Which, in my opinion, is not really a diet, but a way of life for many people and they are better for it.

Notes to my younger self

Notes to my younger self…

My 45th birthday is in any day now and, although it is not one of those “round number” birthdays, I feel to be right in the middle of somewhere or something.

I feel the shift taking place and being at a cross-roads right now.

I borrowed this idea from a friend – to write to my younger self.

It could be a useful way of release, self-forgiveness, reflection, way to help myself move on from anything in the past that still may have a hold on me, to cherish that child in me… and, who knows, perhaps some insight might be useful to someone else too.

Why would anyone openly want to share such personal and possibly even vulnerable stuff, you may wonder, however, the idea is hardly new and has been used forever as a way to reflect and connect, with ourselves and others.

When we are open for deep reflection – the insights are enriching and give strength. When shared, the feeling is amplified. And I was certainly inspired by those who had courage to do the same.

We all seek human connection and it is exactly through stories that we connect…

* * * * *

My dear 7-year-old self, I wish to jump straight to you. I have so much love for you. As the only child, loved and protected by your parents, you were so looking forward to starting school,  making friends, learning. I cherish the innocence all children have at that age.

Your parents may have made it harder for you as they protected you so well, there was hardly a raised voice in our household.

Your older parents dedicated their life to you as you came after long 15 years of their marriage without children, after they almost gave up on having any.

So, you were precious to our dear mum and dad and they gave you all their love. What a blessing you were to them and them to you.

And then you started school and started learning about the world outside of the comfort of your home.

So, I wish to talk to you about what happened at school that day in the very first grade…

It was your favourite arts class and you were about to do something super cool and exciting. However, no one was paying attention as teacher was explaining what to do, everyone was shouting and you were at the back of the class, not particularly tall for your age, trying desperately to see as well as hear.

You felt you will miss it completely, so, in a frustration, you shouted begging everyone to be quiet. Immediately, there was a silence, then someone mockingly repeated your words, then laughter, then someone else begged in the high pitched voice imitating you, then the whole class laughed even more.

Everyone looked at you laughing and, like that wasn’t enough, whenever you were seen on a break that day, you were being mocked about it and laughed at. You wanted Earth to swallow you. You felt shame. Kids were cruel and unkind, only the way kids can be.

My dear child, this small incident is something still stuck in your mind even at the age of 45. It really is so silly, but it is what it is, it meant something more to you than it really was and you felt hurt.

You have never been laughed at before, of course you would feel hurt. I remember the feeling so well, still. This was the point when something changed within you, when your confidence took a dive. So, to avoid being judged, you avoided raising hand in class, although you were an excellent student, conscientious and hard-working, now with a need to be invisible.

Well, it was impossible to be invisible. If you were quiet, they would still judge you for being too quiet or by what you wore (or what your parents even wore), did, music you listened to.

If your socks were the wrong colour you can rest assured someone would be talking about it and, if more agree – your school cred is finished (and I do not think this is even an exaggeration!) Ah, school life! So precious and so cruel at times. Certainly prepares you for life! We all need a dose of it to toughen up. School does what loving parents certainly could never subject you to.

But, let me tell you now – do not let the politics of school life phase you. Everyone is trying to navigate their way through it, otherwise, there would never be a “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” (Ooops, you would not know anything about it yet, but, wait until you have kids – you will realise then that school life is not a smooth sailing for many!)

Do not let anything stop you from speaking your mind and standing up. Choose your fights, but speak your beautiful mind as it has not been taught to insult, hurt, belittle, shame, so, world is a more beautiful place because of the way you see it. If only world could borrow your glasses.

My dear 8-year-old self, when your mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and you came to suddenly realise that you may lose her, I really want to give you a big and long hug, I know it is worrying and you are terrified. But, your father has got you! He is there to make you feel safe during your mum’s treatment and recovery, he is your and your mum’s true rock. What will be will be.

None of us knows how long we have got, concept that may be hard for an 8-year-old to comprehend, but if I learnt anything from that experience is to never miss an opportunity to let your loved ones know that you love them, give hugs, love deeply, give kisses, be kind, smile… all that, often. Sometimes, we need to be reminded how fragile life can be.

By the way, mum is a survivor and she will be celebrating your 45th birthday with you, no worries.

My dear teenage self, you are still beautiful. Trust me on this. Instead of being hurt by being branded as “different” because you are more quiet and have unique interests – embrace it.

Being healthy and respecting and loving your body comes naturally to you and just this single fact will, trust me, serve you so well later on! You also have courage and seek adventure even if alone – you decide to jump out of a plane, you go away with scouts and sleep in the forest, you love nature as well as helping your parents in your garden, you get up early in the summer to watch the sun rise on the empty banks of the beautiful river Vrbas with not a single soul around you,  you read a lot – from Jane Eyre to even a newly discovered personal development starting with The Power of Positive Thinking (this will blow your mind at a time and it will save you later!), you ride your bike until you get scared how far you are from home, but the feeling of the wind in your hair and on your face is exciting and pretty priceless and what you are imagining freedom to be, you take long hikes in the nearby forests and get lost and then find your way back without panic (I think some remember one particular hike like that and might not have forgiven you yet as it WAS scary, but you got them home safely, so, all is well!).

You have a kind heart, you enjoy spending time with the elderly, rescue abandoned dogs, write and read poetry, paint, you simply adore Michael Jackson (and some mock you for that too – don’t they know man is a genius (well, they will, later on)!) because message from his songs about love, equality and peace resonates so well with you. You are so well-connected to your essence despite feeling misunderstood at times. Everyone is misunderstood at times, that is OK. Just stay your course, your sails are set right!

All that beauty, and yet, you feel so sad at times because of the silly “third grade” remarks. Now, as you are older, you know they only come from jealousy, but forgive them a lot sooner. Forgive right NOW. You must know that some do not have a bike, some are not even allowed one, some do not have a health conscious mum to teach them the love of nourishing themselves, some are not allowed dogs, some live in such small space that they can not fit in a dog, some are not allowed freedom to just go, without supervision, into the nature, climb hills, jump out of the plane or travel with scouts, some miss one parent…

Some get punishment or even beatings for slightest errors (while your parents sat you down one day, after they saw you kissing a boy (which was a “Mother Earth, swallow me right now” moment!) and told you to come to them first if anything bad happens eluding at pregnancy – oh, how embarrassed you were, but, I can tell you now – this was radical at a time and perhaps even now), so no wonder when they see your supportive parents trusting you so much, they feel slight envy.

Mostly, it is just a misdirected resentment and anger. Only hurt (or hurting) people hurt others. Children do not know yet how to deal with those emotions. They may even admire you as they wished the same freedoms for themselves. Feel for them and know from every cell of your being – you have a very happy, carefree childhood. The best you can do is share your dog walks, share bike rides, invite someone to nature walks with you or to play in your garden with you… Some will, some won’t. So what!

Also know one thing – these will still be the best years of your life. The age of innocence, excitement, first loves, discoveries, adventure, freedom you will probably never have quite the same again.

My message to you is to never, ever try to fit in. Instead, seek to belong. First to yourself, the rest will follow.

You are always brave enough somehow to “do you”, but, do it more convincingly rather than being so split all the time: doing your own thing and then crying yourself to sleep because you felt sad for not having company.

Although, I applaud you for picking yourself up the next day and doing your thing again. Just be more unapologetic about your choices. Always be yourself and love yourself just the way you are.

It WILL attract the right people in your life because you love human connection, but you know instinctively that only what is authentic is real. And those few special bonds that you create during your teenage years will love you for exactly who you are as they believe in you and your character.

I can tell you that you will have strong friendships from those early years still at this age, over three decades later, and let’s hope they continue until the very end. Cherish them dearly, they are the family you choose…

Follow your own dreams and do not seek approval. You are enough. All you need is already within you. What other people think does not really matter. The earlier you learn this, the easier it will get and luckier you will get too. It is one of the closest things to being truly free. Being free from the good opinions of others.

And from allowing opinions of others to define you. You are not your accomplishments or lack of them. Your past does not define you either. What closest to you think does not matter either. The only thing that matters is what you think of it yourself. “It” being your decisions, your choices, your plans, your goals, your results. If it gives YOU peace – You are good. If it doesn’t, forgive yourself, move on, change something…

My dear young adult, I am so proud of you, again. Despite the war and hardship, you always knew that love is the way, the only way, the answer. Build bridges. Forgive. Some things can never be forgotten and you do not have to forget.

No one can ask that of you.

But do forgive. So you can move on. You will be hurt, but, again, forgive. Otherwise, those that hurt you, win. Only hurt people hurt others, mainly out of fear, shame, anger. You are not one of them. You were born out of love, not fear or anger.

In your early twenties, you will move from being called “different” to “strange”. Quite uninventive as life itself can be very strange and yet we are meant to embrace it.

Try not to sweat it, you WILL find your tribe. Those that love all that was unusual about you. Continue with your art, meditation classes, reading and seeing beauty in unexpected – this will save you from hate that will be an easy choice because of what is going on in your life. Again, forgive them, they do not know any differently. Let others find their fate. Your only job is to find your happy place and be part of the solution as that is the only way to help the world heal and be a better place.

You will lose people you love, some indefinitely. Remember the good times, stay with the feeling of love for them because love is eternal. Tell stories about them, that is how they are kept alive.

You will come to understand that the best way to live a life is not to be attached to your past and to feel no fear about the future either. To imagine it the way we want it then to let go and surrender as we live in each moment to the full, with joy in our heart, taking relevant actions with authenticity and intention in order to create the reality we desire. But it is easier said than done, so, keep reminding yourself of this when you lose your balance.

“Expectations are limitations”, our meditations teacher back in our 20s used to say, his words still echo in my mind. So, give up controlling the outcome.

Your heart will be broken. It is inevitable. And not the end of the world as your young heart may think. It is all part of the greater design. We can not appreciate light without knowing darkness. Trust that good that is meant for you will come. Stay open to love and you WILL find true love who will love you for all who you are. And who you are not. You are worthy of true love.

Always tell the truth. Even if it hurts. And always with kindness. You owe the world your honesty if you want the world to grow.

People will turn their backs at you for no apparent reason. Do not dwell on it for too long, it is exhausting, as you know. Move on. And, again, forgive. Fast! Because people have their own reasons why they do what they do. Their own logic, their own unique understanding and view of the world. Allow them to make their own decisions.

Do not try to convince. The sooner you learn that convincing creates resistance and you are always on the losing end, the better relationships you will cultivate and people will stay for longer. Indeed, it is more important to be kind than to be right. Because kindness always wins. Trying to be right is a tiresome, losing game.

Choose your words wisely when emotions are high. Words can hurt like a sword and sometimes there is no going back because you can never take back some words. Choose them carefully.

When challenged, breathe and smile. Do not take it personally. Seek to understand. Ask questions. Questions are the answers. Ask more questions before coming to conclusions, do not assume. This will eliminate defensiveness and might help build a (better) relationship or prevent losing some.

Do not gossip. Ever. For any reason. Resist the temptation. Because you will be tempted to blame others for things that happen. Know one thing – negative things you say about others only reflects negatively on you. Beauty is in the eyes of beholder. And so is everything else.

Whatever you recognise in others – lives in you. So, only try to see the good in people. Because everyone has something good in them. Again, seek to understand. Take responsibility. Always. Learn from it rather than judge. What other side decides to do (and why) is none of your business. Your character is built upon how YOU respond. I wish I knew this early on.

Another thing about gossip – do not allow others gossiping in front of you. Let them know your boundaries. If they gossip about others, they can easily gossip about you too. They will, trust me.

Trust your feeling when around people as everything is energy. If it does not feel right, you could be picking something up. Choose different company. Do not force friendships. It must feel right for both parties.

Respect other people’s boundaries, however, make sure you define yours too. You will be respected more (by the right people), while others will take advantage if you are not clear about boundaries.

Never stop learning. And reading. It will help you understand yourself. Because the true power is in understanding yourself.

If faced with decision-making – dig deep… Seek answers that give you peace and you will not go wrong. If it does not feel right, do not do it! If in doubt, seek advice, but do not feel obliged to take advice.

When making a decision – do not seek approval for the decisions you make. It is a prison. You know it. Get out! Quick! Trust your own gut and do what is right for you and put the blinkers on. Boy, you will achieve incredible things if you find the courage to follow this advice. I have just realised I already wrote about the approval… obviously it is important to you. Take notes as I am writing from a personal experience. 🙂

Teach your future children kindness. World needs more kind people. Saying that, your children will be your own reflection in many ways, so, work hard on becoming the best version of you and the rest will fall into place, including the closest to you.

The secret is in the feeling, so seek joy and contentment in all you do. The bliss point.

Always give your best. It is the best remedy for dissapointment. Knowing that we, at least, did our best.

Travel More. It is the best feeling ever.

Also, talk about your feelings. Always get things off your chest. It is good for your mental health as well as for your soul. Choose wisely who to share your feelings with, though.

Believe in yourself. Believe you can. Only then things can happen. Whether you believe you can or you can not – you will be right, because belief is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Someone smarter than me figured this out.

Do not be afraid to ask closest to you how they see you. Just in case it highlights a blind spot you are not aware of.

Do not be intimidated by the people who are better than you. Seek them. Learn from them. That is how you grow!

Show enthusiasm in whatever you do.

Be fascinated by life. That is how you do not miss the beauty on the way. It is too easy to be just frustrated and angry.

Never give up on what you believe in or on those who you love.

Have an open mind and believe in impossible. Because “those who do not believe in magic will never find it”!

Build trust. It is the highest currency in life and in any relationship. Once broken, it does not mend easily. Be impeccable with your word and do what you say you would do.

My dear younger self, there is so much more, but, let’s leave it for another time. May I just remind you to always be your beautiful, kind self that life has not worn out, but polished into a diamond.

You will make mistakes, but forgive yourself, you are not your mistakes, you are a beautiful soul on a journey of personal discovery who wants to do good in the world and make the world a happier and more beautiful place. This has always been your intention. Stay a dreamer, but do not forget to be a doer too. You want to leave this world a better place, so have courage to be soft and vulnerable and yet strong and unapologetic in sharing your message so others can relate and be inspired.

Be brave and then even braver. You will need a lot of courage. You proved to be so resilient, but you will need more courage to make a true difference. Don’t hold back. Build momentum. Stay the course. You KNOW what to do, but remember that the difference is in the DOING! You’ve got this!

I love you and I am grateful for all the good in my life that you created and all the lessons you learnt on the way, even those learnt hard way, because there is no such thing as a success without struggle!

Looking forward to the future lessons and blessings with you as I now make peace and let go of the past!

Happy birthday 🙂

Your older (and now slightly wiser) self, thanks to you x

Herbalife Nutrition Independent Herbalife Member, Bath UK Healthy Meals

Health, like happiness, is an inside job: Healthy and Happy can only coexist

Achievement of any goals in our lives come down to our mindset. Health goals included. I have been working on this article a while, bit by bit, until it came together. It is a message to those who perhaps struggle at this point in time with their health and choices they make. I have seen a lot of struggle and I wish to tell you that you are not alone and there is hope.

If it was enough to just be told to “eat healthy”, advice we are given all the time (ambiguous as it is as it means different things to different people), everyone would be at their ideal weight and peak health. No, it is not easy, because it is a science and we are only human, so, try to feel less frustration and let’s focus on what we can do.

We all know we should choose, buy, eat healthier foods, however, unhealthy options can have such huge grip on us, until unhealthy habits are all we have. No wonder food gives us such anxiety.

Part of it, to a certain extent, is not necessarily even our fault. Do you know that the food companies employ food scientists who design foods with the exact ratio of fat, sugar and salt that gets us to the so-called “bliss point”? It is a point at which foods have such an appeal that we are begging for more. Foods with too much salt will cause us crave foods with sugar as body is seeking balance. And vice versa. Simple carbohydrates will make us crave just more of the same.

So, that is one issue and “easily” taken care of when we just decide not to touch foods we know are not good for us. Think cakes, biscuits, chocolate, sweets, crisps, ice cream, etc… Easy peasy, right? Well, it is not. It is much easier said than done because foods with a “bliss point” can make a food addict out of us. Sugar addiction is real. But so is smoking and there are people who decide to stop, smoke their final cigarette and never smoke again.

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Day in a life of a Health Coach

Being a great Health Coach is more than just possessing the knowledge to help others improve their health and sharing health quotes and pretty looking plates of food.

Those looking to make changes in their lifestyle are looking up to our profession for inspiration, so, our work needs to be “true love made visible” so it can have the power to make an impact on others, to touch them and inspire them to self-betterment and becoming better versions of themselves.

For me, Health Coaching is a calling.

People are looking up to us not just for our knowledge, but how authentic we are in our message. We need to be relatable, honest, real, with compassion and kindness for those who are struggling and yet have strength to tell them the truth, the way things are and reality of the journey ahead, not just give a lip service.

And we also need to have integrity to show up every day and be first in line who take inspired action in our own lifestyle to show what is possible, commit to our own self-betterment so we indeed can be great in our profession. Integrity is when we do the right thing when no one is watching. People can spot a fraud. We give it away in our energy or lack of it.

You can not fake authenticity. Authenticity is beautiful. There are people I follow because they are honest and authentic. It also takes skill to be able to communicate it right, but energy is always there and can not be faked.

This article is not just about to show what I do on a daily basis, something I am asked about all the time. Following Get.Healthy.With.Sanela on Instagram would pretty much answer that. I also wish to communicate something much deeper than my “dear diary”while I also give those who asked me what they were looking for.

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We all have a personal story. Here is mine on how to cultivate a health mindset and why…

I am inspired to write something rather different today. Something personal. And yet, something that concerns those who desire, sometimes desperately, to get healthy. I hope it gives hope.

I have been healthy most of my life.

I started being conscious about food when my mother’s breast cancer and her pure will to survive has inspired her to seek alternative ways of beating it on top of cancer treatment she received.

Based on what I now know, she choose foods that reduce inflammation in her body naturally through seeking answers in plant-based diet and that gave her body a fighting chance to heal itself.

I don’t even think she knew why she did what she did, she just knew instinctively by being open to natural healing she picked up from books and advice from people who had knowledge about the natural healing of plants… Fast forward 40+ years, she is a healthy 78-year-old still inspiring with her attitude to health and taking care of herself.

I was only an eight year old girl at the time when she had breast cancer. I remember waking up every day with a fear that I would lose her to cancer. I was fully aware what was going on.

She made close friendships with nine other ladies in Zagreb clinic where they were all treated and all shared one room. Over the next 12 months, I remember phone calls she received being notified of their passing on, one by one.

My father was my rock at the time. Hers too. I remember overhearing her crying to him saying that she feels lesser than a woman after the operation. He replied: “You at least have one. Look at me, I have none!” She laughed. And retold that story many times after that. We still remember it.

Support is everything sometimes. When you feel you are at your lowest point, it can mean the difference between you giving up and picking yourself up again. Support is love. And I felt it. I still feel it. And I am better person for it. I am so grateful for this experience early on. It shaped who I am today.

30 Day Reboot

What Influences our Eating Habits: Are we (or not) fully in control of our choices?

Having spent over a decade helping clients improve their eating habits, it fascinates me how everyone has different eating patterns and behaviours and motivations as well as how different they all respond to even the same eating plan.

Because we are all wired differently, which is part of the issue as, according to the research (Wansink/ Sobal, 2007), we make, on average, close to 230 food decisions every single day and close to 95% of those decisions are completely unconscious, believe it or not.

This means, we may not be in control of our food choices as we would like to believe. The point of this article is to bring to your awareness what those factors are as, once you have an awareness of them, it may be slightly easier to be more mindful about food choices you make and make alterations to your lifestyle in order to accommodate healthier eating patterns.

And once you practice mindfulness for a certain amount of time – new patterns start appearing with new eating behaviours. So, we feel more in control as a result. And results follow too.

Influences on our eating behaviours can be due to social factors, our own physiology, psychology, hormones, visual factors such as food marketing, olfactory (influenced by the sense of smell), etc. It gets even more complicated when it is not just the single factor as, most of the time, it is more factors at once influencing our decisions and food choices. Here are some of the factors and I have left the most fascinated one for the end, so, stay tuned.

Take SLEEP as a one single massive influencer. There are numerous studies linking sleep deprivation with weight gain. University of California, Berkeley study concluded that lack of sleep made us desire food more and, at the same time, made our brain incapable of evaluating our appetite, whether we were hungry or not. Sleep deprivation has also been shown to increase stress hormone CORTISOL and higher cortisol levels – higher the fat and sugary food consumption, as another study at University of California concluded.

It is all linked to STRESS, which leads to an increased appetite and brain’s inability to make right decisions and controlling our emotions. So, managing stress and improving our sleeping pattern could mean improving the amount we eat and choice of food we eat. Aim for 7-8 hours of good quality sleep.

healthy active lifestyle

Think Yourself Slim – The Psychology of Weight Loss

I have been helping individuals lose weight for over a decade and a half now and, my belief through my experience is – even the best of the specialists in the world will not be able to help one lose weight and get them to their wellness goals if client is not mentally not ready for it, i.e. if they do not believe and see themselves there already with the burning desire to be at their goal weight or peak health.

The best of specialists would work on psychology first before they can even attempt to help clients with their diet.

I have observed many client’s behaviours over time and, in my experience, if you are one of those struggling to stay on track of your goals, here are just few simple solutions that may help you get on with your wellness plan:

Find your reason WHY

Sounds like a cliche, however, if your mindset is not geared up towards making healthy decisions, you will not be able to stick with any diet or exercise regime. No one can really force you to change anything, and no one should. This needs to be voluntary. Even your doctor may tell you that your health is at risk, but it is you who needs to make a decision to change. Good start, perhaps, is to think how your life would be different if things were different; what would you be able to do if you had more energy in a day, how would it feel if clothes fitted better.

Figure out the way so that pain of staying the way you are is higher than the pleasure that certain foods give you. Think of your why until it makes you cry. Dig deep to find internal motivation that would be a daily reminder and keeping you on track. Then stay with that feeling and a healthy vision of you believing it is possible. See yourself as healthy and at your ideal shape. Then start making health choices as the person who already is healthy and at their ideal shape would. The rest will follow.

Set Realistic Goals

It is almost impossible to transform your diet in one day. It took years to develop bad habits and Rome was not built in one day. When you start with a smaller goal, like drinking more water or eating a healthy breakfast every day or exercising twice a week for a number of weeks, there is a better chance you will reach it. Having all or nothing attitude and wishing to change everything in one go is setting yourself to fail as you do not yet have habits to support all that needs to change. Not YET!

Celebrate Small Wins

Setting smaller, more realistic goals helps you to achieve them. Achieving small goals on a daily basis reinstate your self-belief that YOU CAN DO IT. Celebrate small achievements, raise the standards slowly, keep repeating the process and slowly but surely you will build many new habits that support your healthy, active lifestyle. You would have built them over time and there is more chance they will stick.

Become more Mindful

Many of us eat out of boredom, sometimes when we are stressed or when we are feeling down. Emotional eating is a reality of many of my clients. Next time you reach for a drink or a snack– get in a habit of taking first a moment to decide whether you are actually hungry or thirsty. If indeed thirsty – have water instead. When having a main meal, make sure your portion sizes are right and put as much on your plate as you should be consuming in balance. Think twice before putting extra on your plate. Remember that it takes 20 minutes for the signal to get to your brain to say that you are full. So, eat balanced meals slowly, savour your meal, it will help digestion too. Being mindful goes a long way.

Find Some Support

It is well know now that joining a community of people who share like-minded goals will work out to be more successful. Whether it is a group support or an accountability health and/ or fitness coach, you will stand a better chance reaching results rather than going it alone. University studies show that of those who embarked on a program of losing weight or getting fitter with friends & within community: 95% completed the program compared to 76% who went solo and, after 10 months, 66% of the group had maintained new physique compared to only 25% of those who were on their own. So, you are THREE times more likely to succeed with support!

Commit to learning

Knowledge has a huge power. At this time of Information Age, any piece of information we need to help us make the right choices, whilst conflicting at times when it comes to health issues and what works and what does not, is readily available for us to find it, research it, study it, see what agrees with us and apply it. I believe that education is the most important component and that is why it is such a huge part of my business and how I chose to work with clients. I have seen my retention be the highest with those valued clients that are also committed to the process of learning because they get the best results. Only with learning we develop awareness and awareness is the first step to sustainable change. Always remain a student!

Be Accountable to someone

I have personally seen over the last decade that those of my clients that keep coming to see me regularly either on a 1-2-1 basis or those that keep coming to the classes, like our CobraFIT HIIRT  or past Weight Loss Challenge classes, will always get better results than those that come occasionally, then stop and then try to re-commit again and the cycle continues. All of my clients would have their meal plans & nutrition personalised, so they all have the same tools and mechanics, but regular accountability and support hold the magic key. I now have clients who have been with me for 10 years and they still see me at least once every one to two months, if not more often when they feel they dropped the ball. And they do. We ALL do. And that is OK. It is not about never dropping the ball, but how quickly we pick it up again.

Master Your Inner Game – Stop Negative Talk

While we all know now that 80% of your weight loss is nutrition and only 20% is exercise, I would totally agree that, on top of having the right mechanics and tools in place – your psychology is a whole other 100%. Work on your attitude and mindset daily. DAILY. Listen to the inspirational videos, audios or read books. Set aside at least 15 minutes a day on your personal growth, ideally first thing in the morning. Get up 30 minutes earlier to set yourself right for the day ahead. Set the right intention before the day takes over. Have a picture of yourself when you were at your best (or someone who inspires you) and let it be your daily reminder where you want to go and why making new healthy habits will be worth it in the end. That is what successful people in different areas of life do… work on their vision daily. Start as a winner, think as a winner, talk as a winner. Be impeccable with your word. No negative self talk! Only think in positives…

So, work on yourself more than you work on your weight loss, hence – Think your way to a slimmer, healthier You!

And please feel free to reach out if you would like advice or support! I hope this has been useful.

Hrbalife Nutrition Formula 1 Healthy Breakfast Independent Herbalife Nutrition Member Bath UK

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2017

I really wanted to do a little video to address and extend gratitude to all the people who made 2016 really special for me. Here it is…

I also hope you do not mind me adding some thoughts that did not make it into the video message…

I feel I should start by acknowledging that year 2016 has been a difficult year for many and my thoughts are with the people of Syria and the people who are suffering right now in various pockets of the world.

As a Bosnian, I feel tremendous pain that tragedy like this is allowed to happen again and feel powerless to do anything about it, as I am sure many feel right now too.

World is watching, still. I can not help wondering what can we do individually. There is almost a sense of guilt for continuing each day to live the life I do, we all do, whilst so many people are dying and have died. I turn to great thinkers of our time Dr Wayne Dyer, Ekhart Tolle and more for a perspective that I know will be different to the feelings of anger and desperation we are all currently exposed to in the media, especially social media, because I do not think those feelings will solve anything and they surely do not lead to peace.

Trip Back home to Banjaluka

Trip back home

Wherever you go, come back home. Strangely or not – home being where the heart is – I have two homes. One that was built for me and one that I built. I have built my home here in England since 1993, but heart always takes me back to my home in Banjaluka, Bosnia, where I was born back in 1973. I left when I was nearly nineteen, on my own, and those first years were turbulent as I did not leave by choice but necessity as war was starting in Bosnia.

But, I do not want to talk about the war and those unsettling times. Everyone has their story how war found them and where they ended and how they felt. And everyone’s story is heartbreaking if you care to truly listen and forget about yourself for a moment, some more than others when you factor in families they lost, including everything they lost that they have built over the years, if not decades for themselves and their families or inherited from ancestors.

Everyone dealt with personal loss in their own way. But, all I know is that, thankfully, we live in better times right now (well, different times, and bad times still happen to someone else right now somewhere on Earth) and memories of my happy and beautiful childhood are bright and shiny as they ever where. I am so grateful to be born in this beautiful part of the world, it made me who I am today with all the good as well as all the bad and ugly.

Hrbalife Nutrition Formula 1 Healthy Breakfast Independent Herbalife Nutrition Member Bath UK

How to turn your day around?

Some mornings are just better than the others. Even for me, one that believes in getting up and greeting each day with smile and gratitude, there are mornings when I could just wish I could put a pause button… so I can freeze time and everyone around me whilst I snooze for another hour or more, then, when fully rested, I then get invigorated and energised after I first take a shower, do at least ten minutes of meditation, give my thanks, do twenty something minutes of exercise, plan the day (oh, I did that the night before, right?), make breakfast before everyone is up, … then unpause at 6:30AM and “voila” – happy days, everything is ready for the day, no morning rush and I feel like million dollars!

Herbalife Nutrition Formula 1 Healthy Breakfast Independent Herbalife Nutrition Member Bath UK

My 43rd bites the dust …

This week I celebrated my 43rd birthday! October has most definitely always been my favourite of all months and having my birth date in October I find rather special. This year I spent most of my birthday on my own, apart from being treated to a lovely massage in the morning and a great, fun evening with family over cake and champagne and, in between, literally hundreds of Happy Birthday messages.

Being on my own, however, was just what I needed and almost my own gift to myself, long walk through town, treating myself to a lovely meal, as well as a long bath at home that I generally never have time for as well as it being an opportunity to reflect on my life and work and these few but short hours of solitude is probably the best gift anyone could have given me.