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At The Happy Starfish we are dedicated to providing a wealth of information, products, workshops and articles all aimed at celebrating health, happiness and peaceful living. We believe that life should be an awesome adventure filled with love; love life and life will love you back. Are you willing to surrender what you think you are for what you could become? Are you ready?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Why I ditched the weighing scales

I met a friend for dinner last night who commented on how well I looked. There was a period, in the seconds it took the words to register in my mind, they would have been translated into “Louise you look fat”.

I realised that for the first time, well, ever if I am being totally honest I have absolutely no idea what I weigh.

When I was younger, that ‘weighing yourself once a week in the same conditions’ scenario would never have satisfied my curiosity. I was on and off the scales so often I am sure I heard them sigh whenever I approached.

Ridiculously the magic figure would then govern my entire day from what I wore, to what I ate, and, particularly, my mood.

It has only really been since my health circumstances changed so drastically I see what a beautiful gift the human body is. If I have a day I feel strong enough to stand and cook a nutritious meal for my family without too much pain I am grateful for my extraordinary skeleton. I am thankful for all I can do, none of which is dependent on my dress size or the figure on the scale.

Aside from the physical, when I got ill I realised the human body is just a place we inhabit in this lifetime. It doesn’t actually define who we are. I call the body the ‘little me’. Me, the actual ‘big me’, is something beautifully whole, intangible and perfect.

Unless your weight, is affecting your health, whether you be too light or too heavy, it is really not important whether you gain or lose a few pounds. Practice gratitude daily for all the incredible things your body does and self-love will naturally follow.

I am amazing, but you know what? So are you.

Spreading the love

Louise xx

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Doctors treating the physical through the emotional?

The NHS really surprised me yesterday. It couldn't have surprised me more if it had leapt out of a cupboard shouting boo.

I have been in and out of hospital the past few years having treatment on my back and pelvis. As part of my treatment carries a future cancer risk my consultant has decided to give my body a break from invasive treatments for a period and referred me for a meeting with a different team.

I attended yesterday not sure what to expect. It started off with them running through different pain killers available, all of which I have tried, none of which I continued to take as, for me, the negatives of constantly being medicated outweigh the positives. A mechanical restoration class with other patients in a rehabilitation stage was mentioned although, after examination,  it was agreed my body would not cope with such movement at this stage.

Then (and this is the good bit) I was asked if I was aware of the mind/body connection and how I felt about this. Although I work in this field I am the first to hold my hands up and say I do have fear about pushing myself past my perceived physical limitations and setting my recovery back. It has always been two steps forward and one step back and I am mindful of my structural abnormalities.
I am not sure how wide spread this is in hospitals but I was told they run education programmes on meditation, relaxation and for patients such as myself teach visualisation techniques where you keep picturing yourself doing things you used to which, in turn, over a period of time, the mind begins to believe the body is capable of more.

I never turn down a chance to try someone else's teachings and methods and never assume I know all there is to know so I am due to begin this programme next month.

I find it so exciting that doctors are acknowledging there is more to physical health than, well, the physical and that there are other, powerful, options to medication.

I wanted to share this as I had not heard of this happening before and would love to hear from anyone who is aware of orthodox practitioners taking a more holistic approach.

Spreading the love,

Louise xx

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Embracing the natural look (part two)

For those who have not read my previous blog my aim was to embrace the natural look for a week to see if I felt differently about myself and if it changed the way others perceived me.

Wow, well not only did I survive my make-up free week but I actually found it a really enlightening exercise.

Although I was very aware the way I feel internally reflects externally; everyone can see when I am happy, sad etc. by my facial expressions, glow (or not) and posture, being someone who usually takes care of her appearance I hadn’t fully appreciated that the way I present myself externally would have such a dramatic effect on my internal world.
Day one was fine. To be honest it was a shut myself away and write day anyway so aside from the school run I had nothing too taxing to contend with.

Day two was a different matter.  I had a meeting with my son’s head-teacher. To be honest this is a situation I am never entirely comfortable with anyway.  Previously lip gloss would have been my shield but I had nothing to hide behind.  I regressed from a calm, confident, mother of three who runs her own business to a bumbling, inarticulate mouse who found it difficult to even make eye contact. Surviving the meeting (just) I had to console myself with the loss of my make-up bag with cake, great for my skin but not so good for my waist.  Uh oh, this experiment could well end up deflating my confidence and inflating my stomach.

As the week went on however it got easier and easier.  Mornings were great. I actually had free time to plan my day properly before the school run.

There were cases where I had to return faulty goods to a store, to negotiate buying a car for my son with a salesman and to return food in a restaurant with hairs in it (that induced a whole other trauma not relevant to this piece)! I realised that actually nobody cared whether I wore make up or not and I was treated exactly the same.  I don’t think my partner or children even noticed and in a way I felt more accepted for me than I ever had been before which made my confidence naturally soar.

In conclusion I have realised I am exactly the same person, with exactly the same capabilities however I look. That’s not to say I will abstain long term, after all it’s a girls prerogative to change her mind and I do like to dress up but once you have conquered what’s going on in the inside the outside doesn’t matter so much after all. In short what’s important with my mouth is whether it’s smiling or not, not whether it is coated in lipstick.

Spreading the love

Louise xx

Is chronic back pain caused by our emotional state?

A subject close to my heart is chronic illness and pain, and natural methods we can use for coping with disabling conditions, be it dietary changes, herbal supplementation, relaxation and exercise techniques, as well as exploring the mind/body connection to ease emotional stress.

It was with interest then that I read an article today in the Daily Mail promoting a new book by a physiotherapist stating that emotional tension is “almost always the cause of chronic pain”.  The physiotherapist then explains that, in the case of back pain, even if you have structural abnormalities that show up in x-rays and scans, these don’t necessarily cause any physical pain.

It is widely recognised that when pain makes the transition between acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) psychological factors enter the equation. With an estimated 1.6 million Britons and 65 million Americans developing chronic back pain each year (half of which is disabling) there seem to be mainly two camps. There are those who believe pain comes from structural faults and those who believe that the mind manifests pain in a very real, physical way.

Personally I don’t hold with either of those views. I have sustained structural damage to my pelvis, spine and discs that cannot be undone and as a consequence I am in pain everyday (camp one would agree with this).  However, when I am under increased pressure and emotional stress my pain levels can more than double (camp two would verify that emotions are causing my pain).

We need to recognise the mind and body as being more intricately interrelated than we can fully understand at this moment in time and offer treatments that are a correlation of emotional and structural techniques which I do via http://www.balancinghealth.co.uk/.

Alongside the holistic therapy treatments that Balancing Health offers The Happy Starfish now has a section dedicated to coping with chronic conditions (http://www.thehappystarfish.com/coping.html). I hope that the combined knowledge of contributors will lead to a wealth of information on optimising your health and dealing with illness, whatever your situation, using naturopathic methods.

We have also added an ‘About You’ section where we will publish your story to uplift and inspire others.

Please send any contributions to me. As usual bios and website links will be published alongside your piece if you wish.

“Nobody can do everything but everyone can do something”.

Spreading the love,

Louise xx