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A new perspective on healthy living

Mindset and a positive outlook can change everything when it comes to the way we approach our bodies. Ali Roff shares her experience...

by Ali Roff

healthy living

4 minute read

This morning I woke up feeling a little stiff, but I hopped out of bed as usual, bent down to grab my gym kit from its drawer, and BAM! White hot pain shot up my back. Frozen, I backed up and lowered myself onto the bed. Every movement hurt. Stuck there, I called for help. How could I have crippling back pain aged 30? I practise yoga, I eat well, I train my back and core muscles to prevent exactly this. Yet, as I waited, I thought of a friend I lost to cancer – a fitness and netball fanatic who, like me, lived a healthy lifestyle because she enjoyed being in good shape.

I’ve got my health

When she was diagnosed, we all had one big ‘but’, as if we could argue with her leukaemia; ‘But she’s so healthy!’ we said to each other. Yet it made no difference. Diseases like cancer don’t always care about how fit you are – and our healthy choices aren’t a money-back  guarantee against illness. The pain of losing my friend alerted me to something else, too – how easily we take something so precious as health for granted.

It’s when we see someone in pain, or we suffer ourselves from something that affects how we live our life, that we realise just how truly wonderful it is to feel well. It can give us the reminder, and resolve, to look after ourselves as best we can. My friend Alex kept up her running right until she passed away – not just for her body, but for her mind, too. The way I look at running in nature is forever changed because of Alex – her runs around her local area were a celebration of life after being in hospital for so long. So how could running in the ‘great outdoors’ ever seem like a form of punishment to me again? Mindset is a powerful thing.

And the same can be said for food. A friend recently told me that he’d been spending more money on food in an attempt to be healthier. What better investment to make though, we laughed, than in your own body? It’s all about perspective – we find it normal to spend in excess of £6 on a glass of wine in a nice restaurant, but £6 on organic vegetables, when I could buy six oven pizzas for the same price, took some persuading at first. Now, I don’t feel guilty about spending more money on healthy foods, because I’ve realised that sometimes what is ‘normal’ in our society may not be ‘normal’ for our bodies – and certainly not when it comes to our health.

I am here, on this earth, able and lucky to nourish my body with gloriously fresh food. Able to enjoy the way the wet earth smells as I pound it with my feet on a run. I am reminded of the huge gratitude I have for everything my body does for me, and the desire, through new perspective, to show it respect by treating it as a sacred vessel that allows me to experience every moment.

Image: Laura Doherty

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