It was such a pleasure doing this live video on the truth about health and wellness with Helen from Helen Joubert Nutrition & Wellness. I’ve known Helen for a few years now and I know a lot of the ladies in our area that she has worked with and the feedback I’ve received has been amazing. We have been talking about collaborating for a while but when we were nearly ready to kick off with something last year the pandemic hit and everything went out the window.
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Helen is a nutritional therapist, nutritionist and health coach. She is from the UK but has been living in South Africa for the last 6 years.
She came into her journey of nutrition and wellness about 14 years ago. She had endometriosis and had surgery. Sshe was put on horrible medication that affected her badly and made her miserable and angry all the time as well as tired. The thought of spending the rest of her reproductive life yoyo-ing back and forth on those meds was not a great option and she thought that there must be another way.
After doing some research she came across a nutritional therapist who was an expert in her condition. Within 8 months she was off all the meds and the condition was completely cured. She was completely sold on the power of good nutrition and how it can really improve your life and your lifestyle. She decided to study for 3 years to become a nutritional therapist and she is loving it. She also added health coaching to her services and it is an amazing experience to help others in this way.
Health and Wellness Facts From Helen
Losing Weight With Low Fat Foods?
We are sold on the idea (often by food manufacturing companies) that we need to eat low fat foods to lose weight, however fats do not make us put on weight. In fact we need healthy fats in order to be healthy and for certain processes to happen, such as hormone production.
The other problem with low fat foods is that usually they are full of sugar which does make us put on weight. If you go to the shop and check the labels of the full fat yoghurt with the low fat yoghurt you will find that there is more sugar in the low fat yoghurt.
From a high LDL cholesterol point of few it is important to watch your saturated fats and trans fats intake. Although research has shown that it is actually sugar that triggers high cholesterol in the first place.
Sugar Is The Big Enemy
High sugar intake leads to all sorts of problems , such a high LDL cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and conditions linked to heart disease. You are more likely to have a diet low in fiber if your diet is high in sugar.
Eating Guidelines To Follow
- Follow the 80/ 20 rule – eat well 80% of the time then you can have your treats 20% of the time – so you can have your chocolate, ice cream or gin and tonic. It is about creating balance.
- Eat lots of fiber, don’t eat too much sugar and don’t worry too much about healthy fats.
- Avoid processed foods such as bacon and hot dogs – eat simple, real food.
- Eat regularly – breakfast, lunch and supper plus a morning snack and an afternoon snack.
- Watch your portion sizes – eat small portions.
- Eat protein with every meal.
- Be mindful of starchy carbs such as rice, pasta and potatoes. Have only a small portion and make sure to balance it out with healthy carbs (vegetables) and protein.
- Drink lots of water.
Helen recommended reading the book The Holford Low GL Diet by Patrick Holford. I’m going to get my hands on that book soon!
Planning Is Key
Plan all your meals and snacks for the week, then shop for those things and only those things. It is best not to have any temptation in your home.
Make sure not to shop hungry, this will easily lead to putting extra things in your trolley landing up with unhealthy things in your kitchen and costing you more money.
It is important to make time for planning, for meal preparation and for self-care. Although it feels like we may not have enough time, we do have enough time, we simply have to prioritise our health. By doing this we will actually save time in the long run.
Health Needs To Be Approached In A Holistic Way
I loved everything that Helen said about the holistic approach to health and how mental health and things like past trauma play a part in our physical health and our weight.
As a recovering alcoholic and addict with bipolar disorder mental health recovery and mental health maintenance are a huge part of my life and my daily focus.
I now need to take a closer look at the links between my mental health and my physical health.
I’m so excited that I’m going to be doing a health challenge with Helen for the next 4 weeks and afterwards I will be sharing my results with you all and sharing my experiences. For now I will be sharing a bit about my struggles with my health and weight, as well as my goals and my initial resistance to this challenge.
My Personal Health and Weight Loss Struggles
I was always a slender person and I have always enjoyed eating well, I love my veggies and I love my salads. I’m not much of a cake or cookie person but I can put down some ice cream and chocolate for sure.
One of the biggest health challenges I have had is that I am an addict and alcoholic. I was in active addiction for 15 years from the age of 14 until the age of 29. During this time my eating patterns and my health was in a bad way.
Towards the end of my active addiction I would binge on drugs and alcohol for days at a time, not eating a thing and not sleeping. I would often throw up. Then after my binge I would sleep it off then wake up ravenously hungry and binge eat for a day before repeating the process. While I have never had an eating disorder this pattern of not eating while using then over eating to compensate was an incredibly unhealthy pattern.
When I landed up in rehab in 2008 I was 55 kgs. At my height of 1.68m that meant I was pretty skinny. When I got clean my weight increased to about 60kgs.
When I was close on 2 years clean I met my now husband and very quickly our daughter was on the way! I had a hard time during that pregnancy. I had to come off my medication for bipolar and my moods were very unstable. I was also barely sleeping. I put on 40kgs during that pregnancy and I was very uncomfortable and had a lot of unpleasant pregnancy symptoms. I also had a very hard birth with her, which you can read about here.
After my daughter was born I lost the weight slowly but steadily. It took just over a year for me to lose all my pregnancy weight and then I fell pregnant with my son. Once again I had to go off my meds and while it was not easy, this pregnancy went a lot smoother. I put on 14kgs this time and I had an easy birth since I chose to have an elective c-section.
I lost all my pregnancy weight, plus an additional 5 kgs within 3 weeks. My son was an avid feeder and no matter how much I ate I could not put on any weight. I was physically exhausted all the time and my immune system was very low. I got sick all the time. My son on the other hand was a beautiful, healthy and chubby boy.
I exclusively breastfed him and weaned him at 13 months. I had to for my own health to improve. Very quickly I was feeling much healthier and put on some weight.
Later that year I made the decision to quit smoking, for my own health but also because of the effect it was having on my children. Quitting smoking was so hard and I was craving heavily, for cigarettes, for cocaine or alcohol…. anything to make me feel better. I made a conscious decision to eat. As long as I did not touch a cigarette, drugs or alcohol I would allow myself to eat anything I craved until I was over the cigarettes.
For a few months I ate anything and everything, in large amounts. Very quickly I put on weight. This is was in 2015 and although I only ate like mad for a few months the weight has stayed with me. I now eat relatively healthy but for last 5 or 6 years my weight averages around 82kgs and I can’t seem to shake it off.
My Health Goals
Short Term Goals:
- More energy – so I can get through my busy days with work, playing with my kids, running a household and maybe even having enough energy to do something fun for myself.
- Improved mental health – I’m always looking to improve my mental health and keep it stable. It’s been pretty wobbly since the pandemic started.
- Lose weight – I want to feel more comfortable in my own skin and in my clothing. I’m tired of trying to fit into things, especially when every time I go shopping it seems I have to get an even bigger size from the previous time I bought something!
Long Term Goals:
- I want to prevent getting diabetes or any other serious health complication. My father has diabetes brought on through his lifestyle, so I may also have a predisposition towards diabetes.
- I want to be around for as long as possible for my children. I have already done enough damage to my body due to my addiction, I want to reverse as much as possible.
- I want to be happy with my health and my weight.
Resistance To The Challenge
A while back when Helen and I were discussing different ideas for collaborating together she offered to do a health challenge with me and I immediately said NO!
A while later I started thinking about this, and started to feel silly. I have been talking to Helen for so long about how I want to be more healthy and make lifestyle changes and she hands me this amazing opportunity on a platter and I say no?
One of the amazing tools I have in recovery is based on step 10 of the 12 steps. Simply put it is to go back through your day and evaluate everything that has happened and what I have done. Have I done something wrong, have I harmed someone, do I need to make amends to anyone and is there something I could have done better?
I looked at my reaction to Helen’s offer and realized that there was something that I could have done better, there is a reason why I am so resistant to this challenge.
I knew that not only did I have to accept it, I also needed to dig deep and find out why I said no.
So here my reasons:
- Fear – fear of failure (my words but Helen said I need to remove failure and replace it with learning curve), fear of it being too hard.
- Loss – loss of comfort (I love my food), loss of control.
- It’s my only thing left! I’ve given up cigarettes, alcohol and drugs… I don’t want to let go of the comfort of food.
The Upcoming Health Challenge
Now that I’ve faced my fears I’m really looking forward to this health challenge and I’m feeling really comforted and confident knowing that I’m not doing it alone, I will have the guidance and support of Helen. I look forward to sharing my experience with this challenge with you all. Helen and I will be doing another live video at the end of the challenge to discuss how it went and share the results.