HAPPY BLUE MONDAY
So today is ‘allegedly’ the most depressing day of the year. It’s of course a load of rubbish. The term was coined by a travel company who were basically trying to get people to book a holiday.
Saying that..If you are not a winter person then January and February can be a bit rubbish!
The nights are long, the days are short, there’s minimal sunshine, the excitement of Christmas is over and just to top it off it’s also a bit chilly.
I’m not a fan of winter but I’m trying desperately to be one.
So, what can we do to be happier… in winter and in life.
1. HUMAN CONNECTION – ????
Studies and research are popping up everywhere indicating that the healthiest and happiest people on the planet are the ones that have the closest communities. Despite the introduction of ‘social’ media we are currently living in one of the loneliest times in human existence. A lack of human connection is now a greater detriment than smoking, obesity and lack of exercise. People who are socially connected have been proven to be happier, experience less incidences of anxiety and depression, are healthier both mentally and physically and actually live longer.
Finland topped last years Happiest Country list and the Finns firmly put this down to the close relationships they have with family, friends and their local community.
When I reflect on things i’ve done in my life it is the people I experienced them that I think of the most rather than the things themselves.
So put down your virtual friends and concentrate on the people around you…..and if you don’t like them….find some other people to hang out with;)
2. NATURE – ????
Our love and connection to nature is etched in our DNA. We evolved living in forests and caves so it makes sense that our relationship with nature is one of the strongest there is.
Spending time in nature has been shown to decrease stress, make people feel healthier, feel more energised and feel happier. Studies have shown that people with access to green spaces report a greater sense of well being, hospital patients recover faster when they are able to view or spend time in nature and levels of cortisol dramatically decline in those in an anxious or depressed state.
Finland comprises of almost 200,000 lakes and 75% of it is covered in Forests! No wonder they are so happy!
3. KINDNESS – ????
Giving kindness, receiving kindness and even witnessing kindness releases a whole host of amazing chemicals in the body that not only make us happier but also reduce blood pressure, supress the release of cortisol, slow ageing and help us live longer.
4. EXERCISE – ????♂️????♀️
This free and simple little thing will not only make you happier but might just save your life! Exercise releases endorphins which naturally lift our mood. Exercising with a particular goal to aim for helps release dopamine which makes us feel good. Concentrating on your breathing instead of every other thought in the world helps reduce stress on your brain thus reducing the release of cortisol in the body.
5. FOOD – ????
Most people’s favourite foods are sadly often the unhealthiest ones and although that tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream might give you a short lived dopamine hit it will ultimately leave you in a worse state than you were in the first place….both physically and mentally.
Processed foods are filled with sugar (or worse – sweeteners) and additives that initially spike our blood sugar levels and then send them crashing.
This blood sugar crash affects our energy levels and our mood. So eat natural slow energy releasing foods that contain minerals, vitamins and vitally important fibre to keep you healthy and to keep those blood sugar levels steady.
6. GRATITUDE – ????
This is something we should all be practicing more. Focusing on what we do have in life instead of what we don’t have reduces feelings of envy, regret and failure. Grateful people experience reduced stress, anxiety, have greater self esteem and are ultimately happier than ungrateful people.
It’s the difference between complaining you need to sweep the leaves up, and being grateful that you have trees around you and a broom to sweep them up with! ????????
So gang, there you have it! So go out there grab someone you love, take them for a walk in nature, treat them to a nice healthy dinner and tell them how grateful you are that they are in your life. Done! ????
LISTEN TO YOUR BOWEL
An award from the Prime Minister was lovely but this is the start to the year I really hoped for – a 9 year all clear colonoscopy!
I was pretty confident all would be well but once the cannula goes in and you put on these fetching paper underpants – the sudden realisation of how quickly life can change kicks in again.
Hearing…and seeing…that all was well was simply the best news I could ask for.
I know bowel movements aren’t the most talked about topic but it’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
Bowel cancer rates are on the rise so if you have any of the following issues please see a doctor as soon as possible.
– Blood in your stool
– Changes in bowel habit
– Bloating or pain in your stomach
– Unexplained weight loss
I was 30 when I was diagnosed and my only symptom was tiredness. I knew something wasn’t right and I kept going back to the doctor until further investigation led to a colonoscopy and the discovery of a 10cm tumour in my large bowel.
That early diagnosis by the team at UCH not only helped save my life but also helped reduce further complications down the line.
So please don’t mess around and don’t ever be embarrassed to talk about your bowel habits. It might just save your life!
PREVENTION OF BOWEL CANCER
The good news about Bowel Cancer is there are things you can do to help prevent it.
Doctors believe my bowel cancer was caused by the extensive radiotherapy I had as a child.
This radiotherapy had damaged numerous parts of my body including my bowel but looking back I definitely didn’t look after myself in my 20’s.
I let my job stress me out, I worked shifts, I ate fast food on the go at all times of the day and night so my body clock was all over the place, I binge drank, for 4 years I lived on one of the busiest roads in London, I didn’t exercise much and I spent the majority of my day sitting in London traffic going from crime scene to crime scene, seeing things that nobody should ever see.
As someone who had experienced cancer before, I was already prone to getting it again but I am confident that if I had dealt with work related stress effectively, eaten the right diet, given up drinking sooner and exercised more, I wouldn’t be sitting here now with half of my bowel missing.
So gang, here are some things you can do to significantly lower your chances of getting bowel cancer:-
– Eliminate processed meat from your diet. This includes ham, bacon, sausages etc. Processed meat has been classed as a group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organisation. Group 1 is the same group as tobacco and plutonium! ????
– Exercise ????♂️
– Stay at a healthy weight
– Eat lots of fruit of veg and keep your system flushed!;) ???? ????
– Eat no or less red meat! This is also good for the environment. ????
– STOP or reduce your intake of alcohol. Definitely don’t binge drink! ???? ????
– Don’t smoke ????
– Avoid chronic stress ????
Live long and prosper!
Prime Minister’s Point of Light Award
What a way to start the year! So happy to receive a Prime Minister’s Point of Light award today. Thank you so much Number 10, I am truly honoured. Happy New Year everyone!
With a new year about to start I just wanted to post this to anyone who is going through a tough time and hopefully offer some inspiration and hope for the coming year.
I recently celebrated my birthday and entered the last year of 30’s. Yikes! I can’t even begin to express what it means to keep adding these years onto my life.
What a decade it’s been!
My 30’s started as a nightmare and now they are ending as a dream.
It has been without doubt both the worst and best decade of my life.
Medically, I have received the most incredible care over the years and my operations and treatment have of course played an enormous part of my recovery, especially from cancer.
But I’ve also changed a lot of things over the past 9 years to help improve the quality of my life – I left an unhealthy job, charged my diet, my lifestyle, my mindset, read books and researched how the mind and body work, saw therapists, talked openly about my issues with mental health and it was a petrified me who got on a plane to Costa Rica in 2013 to start an adventure.
I did all this to give myself the possible chance of a healthy and happy life.
I want more than anything to see people be well both mentally and physically. There is an abundance of research telling us that if we eat the right diet, exercise and have a lifestyle and mindset where we can reduce stress and anxiety then we have a greater chance of both preventing and recovering from a vast range of illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety and a vast number of cancers.
I see far too many people not changing anything in their lives to make it better. I firmly believe that if I had taken better care of myself in my 20’s then I could have prevented getting bowel cancer.
More and more people are getting cancer and more and more people are suffering with mental health issues. I know all too well how these feel and it breaks my hearts to see the people unwell or spending their lives feeling sad.
I’m almost 40 and I’m walking around with one kidney, half a bowel, scarred lungs, DVT, scoliosis, the heart of a 60 year old, a history of PTSD, having recovered from two bouts of cancer and I am one of the fittest and healthiest people I know.
I really want to continue to help make that happen for not just myself but for others too.
I have a learned a lot over the years and I am continuing to learn.
As far as I know I am the only guy in the world with my combination of medical conditions so I’m learning a lot of things via trial and error as well.
I have shared many things already, especially in my talks, but in 2019 I hope to not only explore more ways to keep our bodies healthy but also be even more proactive in sharing them with you guys.
I really hope you stay tuned and I hope you find them interesting, useful and ultimately – life changing.
Hope is a wonderful thing but hope backed up by science is even better.
Much love from myself and Thing 101! ???? Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this roller coaster of a decade.
I never thought it would it would end with these two in my life.
Merry Christmas gang and here’s to a healthy and happy new year for us all.
HFMA Annual Conference and Awards
Just your regular Friday night hanging out with Eddie the Eagle! ????
I had the honour of giving the closing keynote at the HFMA Annual Conference and awards event in Durham this weekend.
Incredible people ensuring our life saving NHS is forever improving and changing people’s lives.
I love events like this as it gives me an opportunity to say thank you to the NHS for all they have and continue to do for me.
Awesome to also share speaking duties with this amazing guy! Inspiring tales of perseverance, determination and kindness. Love it!
I may just add ‘competing at the Olympics’ to my list now!;)
Thank you so much to all the people who shared or liked the last post about the 52 Lives School of Kindness.
We woke up to a crazy amount of emails from people requesting workshops.
I promise we reply to you all soon.
Today I attended the Houses of Parliament for the Anti-Bullying Alliance meeting. So many wonderful things are happening around the country.
Lots of great people from MP’s to secondary school children gave inspiring speeches and Children’s TV presenter Andy Day was also there.
Andy gave an inspiring speech about bullying and his work with Andy’s Odd Socks. An initiative he set up to let people know that it’s ok to be different.
Andy also introduced us all to an incredible young guy called Oscar. Oscar has a condition which inhibits the development of growth hormones. The result of which is that he is a smaller and less developed than the average 11 year old.
Worried about starting high school and the possibility of facing a barrage of questions, whispers and potential bullying, he decided to make a video explaining his condition.
This video went viral on the internet and he has now inspired people all over the world.
You can watch it here https://youtu.be/CPuSit1s0vc
When I had cancer as a 7 years old I was called names like cancer kid and made fun of for having no hair.
That name that would send me running home in tears.
Although this may have been perceived as juts harmless name calling, it went on to affect me for a long time afterwards.
I felt alone, different and also ashamed for having cancer.
Throughout high school I told very few people I had had cancer and would cover my scar with my arm when getting changed for PE.
The long lasting impact childhood bullying can have on a person should never be underestimated.
It took a long time for me to realise that it was ok to have had cancer.
It was only a lack of understanding from the other children that led to this type of bullying.
Seeing how Oscar explained his condition to his future school friends is incredibly inspiring and I know his story will inspire many others. I wished he had been around when I was 7!
I’ll stop banging on about this now but If you’d like keep up to date with everything we are up to you can follow the 52 Lives – School of KindnessFacebook page or track our progress via our Insta stories on instagram at 52 Lives and 101 Survive.
Much love and thanks gang.
World Kindness Day
Those that have heard my 101 talks will know that I’m very big on the part that kindness and support play in the healing process.
When I wrote my list of things I wanted to do I never expected I would get the most fulfilment and joy out of helping others.
Research has shown that giving, receiving and even just witnessing acts of kindness unleashes a whole host of natural chemicals that improve our mental and physical health.
These are just some of the health benefits of kindness:-
1. Makes us happier ????
2. Gives us a healthier heart ❤️
3. Slows ageing ????????
4. Increases the release of oxytocin also known as the Love Hormone ????
5. Suppresses the release of cortisol also known as the stress hormone.
6. Helps us live longer.
It is an incredible thing and one that we all need in our life.
As some of you know I run the 52 Lives School of Kindness where I deliver kindness workshops to primary school children.
The aim of the workshop is to empower children to help them realise that their actions have the power to shape the world they live in. The children then work together to help a real child somewhere who is in need of some kindness.
The workshop is free for schools and great fun….even if I do say do myself!
This week is Anti-bullying Week and I’m on the road visiting schools in the south of England.
It is has never been more important for both children and adults to understand the impact that their thoughts and actions can have on their own physical and mental health, and that of others.
If you’d like to book a workshop please ask a teacher at your children’s school to drop us a message via the 52 Lives website. We are quite booked up but always try see as many schools as we can.
It’s completely FREE, it’s super fun and it involves children helping to change the world.
101 Inspiration – Lena Wappling
101 Inspiration – People
Lena Wappling – Switzerland
My name is Lena and I am a cancer survivor! I was born and raised in Sweden and have lived in Zürich, Switzerland with my husband and our two daughters during the past 6 years. I would describe myself as a positive and optimistic person, who has always been good at enjoying my life.
Just before Christmas 2017, I was diagnosed with stage 4A of ovarian cancer. Cancer came as a shock and going through cancer treatment has been like a roller coaster ride both physically and mentally. Some days have been wonderful and others gloomy.
When I had done a few cycles of chemotherapy, negative thoughts started to take over my normally positive state of mind. I felt scared of what would happen, if treatment would be successful, if I would survive and for how long. Earlier I had been good at staying strong and being optimistic about the treatment results and my future. My inner drive and positive mindset was suddenly not enough to handle those negative thoughts. I felt I needed to do something differently. When looking for inspiration, I found Greig Trout’s website. Greig is a two times cancer survivor and he found that having things to look forward to, and proactively working towards them, was imperative to him surviving cancer and the psychological effects that came with it. I decided to make my own Survival List and have been ticking it off ever since.
Right now, I am in the recovery phase after winning the first round against my cancer. Physically I feel stronger and stronger. However, my mental recovery is lagging behind. All my energy was spent on fighting cancer and there was simply no energy left for dealing with psychological aspects during the immediate stage with surgery and chemo. I know it will take time to handle the mental effects and have decided to allow myself all the time it will take. I am optimistic about the future and continue focusing on the important things in my life: family, friends and My Survival List!
If you want to know more about my journey, check out my blog Cancer Survival What’s Next?
- Support the charity Macmillan by ordering a survival T-shirt via Greig Trout’s. Completed, see link ????
- Write a cook book
- Learn to play the saxophone
- Celebrate my belated 50th birthday by inviting good friends for champagne. Completed, see ????
- Enjoy the view by the lake at our summer house in Sweden. Completed, see ????
- Drink champagne with my good friends Tina and Marie-Louise. Completed, see ????
- Do something simple and fun every week with my husband, such as going to the theatre, a restaurant, a museum or see a movie
- Enjoy Österhagen’s ice cream in Hjo, Sweden
- Treat myself with massage at least once a month
- Go on a fitness/training trip
- Do one of the most beautiful hikes in Switzerland the “Gratwanderung” in Stoos. Completed, see ????
- Have Afternoon tea and go shopping in London with one of my daughters. Completed, see ????
- Go on a safari in South Africa with one of my daughters
- Celebrate “Kanelbullensdag” (Cinnamon bun day) with my mom. Completed, see ????
- Ski in the Dolomites
- Go on a “girls” weekend with Lotta and Ulrika. Completed, see ????
- Go on a “girls” weekend with Else and Maria. Completed, see????
- Visit Sanremo with my sister. Completed, see ????
- Celebrate New Year’s Eve 2018 with my parents on the Canary Islands
- Give Yoga a true chance. Completed, see ????
- Learn more about my current home country: Switzerland by visiting the National Museum
- Join my friends: Karin, Johanna, Niclas, Hasse and Patrik on our yearly skiing trip
- Do more “crazy” and spontaneous activities
- Start using the Christmas gift, I had bought to myself. Completed, see????
- Go to a concert with a world-famous musician. Completed, see ????
- Visit the Galápagos Islands
- Practice Gratitude Everyday – will be forever ongoing ????
- Do volunteer work
- Participate in Ruter Dam class of 2008’s 10th anniversary. Due to surgery not possible ????
- Visit Yellowstone national park
- Ski in North America
- Visit Canada
- Explore New Zealand
- Enjoy a Bentobox in Japan
- Restart my golf career
- Enjoy a summer picnic in the Swiss Alps, Completed, see ????
- Do a cancer rehabilitation to improve physical and mental strength
- Visit Sweden International Horse Show with one of my daughters
- Participate at the yearly Ginger bread baking party in Nävlinge, Sweden
- To be discovered
- To be discovered
101 HEALTH – GETTING STRONGER
Ok gang, it’s fair to say that my body has turned to cookie dough these past couple of years and it’s time to do something about it. I’ve always struggled with my strength and fitness but as I get older I am noticing it even more.
The life saving operations and treatment I received as a child have had a significant impact on my health in later life. As I was only 7 and 8 years old when I had this treatment, I was more susceptible to damage and it also means i’ve pretty much grown up not really knowing what normal is. I’ve always found exercise quite challenging, I struggle to put on muscle and fat on my upper body and i’ve always had issues with my back.
It turns out my treatment and operations have caused the following health issues:-
Scarred Lungs – a side effect of the radiotherapy used to get rid of the tumors in my lungs.
Heart Failure – a side effect of the chemotherapy where the heart muscle is no longer as efficient as it should be at pumping blood around the body. I now have the heart of your average 60 year old. (No offence to any 60 years olds out there! I’m sure your hearts are amazing;)
Upper Body Damage – Due to me being only 7 years old the high doses of radiotherapy to my chest burned away various cells which means it is difficult to put on muscle or fat.
Scoliosis – I’m not entirely sure why this is but a combination of radiotherapy and the removal of my right kidney has left my rib cage pointing one way and my pelvis the other. This has resulted in a curved spine.
Prior to the arrival of my beautiful baby boy 5 months ago I decided to not only do something about some of these issues but that I was also going do deal with them naturally, without the need for operations and medication.
I wanted to be in the best physical condition I could be in for Jospeh’s arrival and I wanted to be able to pick him up without feeling like a 90 year old.
I only learned a couple of years ago that if I had received physio as a child I may not have had the issues I do now with my back and upper torso.
I was offered medication for my heart but I refused it as I firmly believe that this can be dealt with via good nutrition and exercise.
See below to find out how I plan on achieving this:-
I booked an appointment at the Centre for Health and Human Performance in London for a one off intensive physiotherapy session. An amazing physiotherapist called Rob Madden developed a physio plan I could do on my own at home which would help strengthen my back, lessen back pain and improve my posture.
HEART AND BACK
My brother arranged three sessions with a cross fit instructor (pictured). I was expecting a drill sergeant and I got one of the loveliest people you could ever hope to meet. Natalie Fitzpatrick is a professional cross fit instructor and she worked with me on developing a workout plan that would improve my core and all round body strength as well as improving my cardiovascular health.
My diet has been evolving ever since my second diagnosis in 2010. I’ve seen many a nutritional therapist over the years but this time I saw Deb Archibald who is a breast cancer survivor that specialises in cancer based nutrition.
I BUILT THE 101 GYM
And finally I have set up a mini gym in my garage which is freezing cold, damp and dusty and I love it! I’ll give you a better tour soon.
Jaime suggested that I share some of the things I have learnt and implemented in my own life over the past 7 years. If people ask, I am more than willing to tell them but I often find people aren’t interested in changing their diets or lifestyle which breaks my heart.
Cancer and many other forms of physical illness have been shown to be the result of a combination of environmental, life-style and biological factors. It makes perfect sense that the key to both preventing and overcoming these illnesses is an overall improvement in the exact same things that cause them.
I hope you get something from these ‘101 Health’ posts and please know that I will not post anything that hasn’t been PROVEN to have a positive effect on your physical and mental well/being.
Lets make this our healthiest year yet.
AND THE WINNERS ARE….
Thank you so much to everyone who took part in the Christmas caption challenge.
Jaime and I had a good old laugh reading through them all and you definitely put smiles on our faces. I’m sure Princess Anne would love them too!
Congratulations to Myra and Sabrina for their winning captions and also to my old school pal Gareth for his contribution. His entry was far to filthy to win but it did make us laugh….a lot. Book on its way to you buddy!
The winners will receive a 101 T- Shirt or hoodie of their choice and a signed copy of the greatest book ever written – Kindness – ‘the little thing that matters most’.
Baby Trout not included! 😉
For those who missed out the T-Shirts are available to buy via the 101 website and Jaime’s book is available on Amazon
and in all leading book stockists!
Enjoy and I look forward to seeing your 101 photos!