The Soul Care Series: Self-Knowledge

Woman journaling

 At the beginning of this series, I talked about how I was frustrated to see a mainstream publication talk promote tarots as a beneficial way to know more about oneself, so I think the time has come that this series addresses the subject of self-knowledge, which in a way is linked to the previous topic of planning around our heart’s desires. Over my years as a Christian, the question of self-knowledge has been usually dismissed as easily answered: just pray about it. As if people always know how to truly pray and most importantly they know how to discern the response from God. Last Sunday, the Mass readings for the day contained the passage in 1 Kings 19 about the prophet Elijah finding God in the whispering voice after the powerful ways in which God has spoken before did not make him manifest. Bishop Barron in his homily had a great point about how God doesn’t use one way to communicate, and unless you have dramatic experiences that you can’t deny it’s God’s speaking, it’s not as simple as “just pray”. 

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The Soul Care Series: Heart-Centred Goal Setting

Kawaii Stationery

I have had to take a break for the last 2-3 weeks as my health took a turn for the worse (those of you who listen to Alessia’s Divine Comedy will know already I barely managed to keep that afloat with some delays). I guess, in a way, it made this next topic in the Soul Care series more timely, since we are talking about the new coaching buzzword for planning. 

You might be wondering what’s the link with wellness, so I guess I should first explain what is meant by heart-centred goal setting. You might have heard of Daniella LaPorte and her best-selling book “The Desire Map”. Heart-Centred goal setting is an evolution of that: it’s about making decisions and plans that come from the desires of our hearts and it’s linked to wellness because a lot of undue stress in our lives comes from chasing things that won’t make us happy and having goals that are pushed on us from the outside world. 

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Intuitive Eating: my experience

Food in 3 plates

In the latest Soul Care post about nutrition, I mention in passing that my food philosophy nowadays (after a lifetime of disordered eating of various shapes and forms) is Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating is not a diet, but rediscovering the way our bodies were created to work. For me as a Catholic woman, God has made us need food, but also able to enjoy it, giving us hunger cues and other signals that indicate to us that it’s time to eat, or that we’ve had enough and we are satisfied with what we had.

This approach to nutrition originated with the work of Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in the mid-90s, but it has some commonalities with previous discourses in psychology and the way the 3rd wave feminist movement looked at fat and women issues in the 70s. To this day, it appears to still be strongly linked to the fat acceptance (also referred to as liberation) movement, but I believe it shouldn’t be the stuff of radicalism and instead be the mainstream. The diet industry keeps us engaged in a rat race that replaces God’s vision for humanity with a lot of negative feelings life self-loathing, desire for controlling and punishing the body for just existing and taking space and moralising our food choices even when we’re in no real danger to our health, and so far the best option I have found to counteract this mentality is Intuitive Eating. 

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The Soul Care Series: Nutrition

Breakfast

Everyone and their dog has an opinion on diets in general, and often on your diet in particular, so I feel a bit guilty for adding more noise to that conversation, but as I see more and more dubious books propping up in the Christian (and specifically Catholic) sphere I think we are at high risk of being absorbed into the culture that surrounds us rather than transforming it. Diets like the not-a-diet “Light Weigh” programme, and intermittent fasting lifestyles like the one promoted in Eat, Fast Feast walk the very thin line between challenging Western comfort in order to help our spiritual lives, and spiritualising weight loss because that’s the standard of the world we live in. 

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4 more fitness favourites

Every week in the Soul Care series I share some favourites, but the list for fitness was a lot longer than what appeared. I had to make a value judgment of what would be most relevant to the topics addressed in the post, and I left the rest behind. However, I thought it would make a good stand-alone post if you are curious to know more things that I like, even if I’m no expert so it’s a case of personal preference the same as what any other person in your life that isn’t an expert likes.

In a way, I think there is some strength in the opinion of the uninitiated of the field because it’s often really intimidating to approach things suggested by people who look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’m a mid-size woman with legs like steel and unwanted love handles, so I couldn’t be any more girl-next-door if I tried (although, ironically, the woman who lives next door to me must be a fitness instructor or something like that).

Activewear: Girlfriend Collective

Paloma Bra by Girlfriend Collective

As a big proponent of Health at Every Size, I’m a big fan of this ethically-made activewear brand,

Girlfriend Collective. They have inclusive sizing from XXS to 6XL and a diverse range of women representing them in their advertising. They also recycle their already sustainably made items for a small handling fee. Each pair of leggings uses 25 water bottle in the production of the material, but they also partner up with ECONYL® to clean the oceans. The environment is not all they care about, though, as they have an ethical supply chain providing their workers in Vietnam with a living wage, fair working hours and good working conditions. Girlfriend Collective are stocked in a few places in the UK (including online options for those far from brick and mortar stockists who don’t want to deal with the shipping costs from the US). Pictured the Paloma Bra in Midnight, which is such a favourite with everyone it’s the item everyone brings up first when talking about Girlfriend Collective, and how I was first introduced to the brand (my battle with sports bra on the High Street is, perhaps, a topic for another time).

Mat: Proworks
Proworks Yoga Mat

This was a present, mistakenly bought under the false advertisement of it as a sustainable material by my parents who ask me if I want anything and what before they buy me a present. In fact, it’s not that it is an unsustainable material, as the standard for making Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (NBR) has improved dramatically, and even before that it was free of PVC and phthalates, so a better option than a lot of what is found on the high street. It’s just that it isn’t as ethical as other options on the market, like my highly coveted CorkYogis cork mat). It was, however, a revelation for the comfort of using it even with my painful arthritic joints. It really doesn’t slip and it’s high and bouncy enough the only thing that hurts is my back if put under pressure. It’s good for all sorts of mat-based exercise, and it’s made by a company in the North East of England so I feel like I have contributed to the local economy even if it’s local on a national level since I’m a Londoner. I felt the Proworks mat deserved a mention even with the slightly lower standard of sustainability, especially since the perfectionism around ethical consumerism can become really toxic and I don’t want to self-censor and perpetuate that. They have also been really good in their customer service, including granting me the warranty even if I opened the present after the time to register it has expired…not that I needed it, but it was good to see a company on the side of the consumer instead of sticking to the letter of the law. I’m not sure how big they are as a business, but in dealing with them it definitely felt like dealing with a small one. 

Fitness Studio: FRAME

Frame Studio class photo

It’s not that I don’t love Barrecore, because I do, but I have been going to Frame ever since they only had one studio in Shoreditch (I remember Queens Park opening back in 2012), so I have some loyalty to their funky and body-positive ways. Nowadays I’m more likely to show up for workshops than regular classes (that is, I was, pre-lockdown) but their studios feel like home. The staff is welcoming and helpful, non-judgmental and kind when it comes to adapting moves if you’re not at your best. And the reason why they get the mention here is that they have a wider offer of classes than my other option for out-of-the-house workouts (which got a mention in the other post anyway…).

Protein Shake: Purition
Purition Discovery Box

I have waged a war against protein shakes until Purition came into my life through a sample box I won in a Twitter competition. The reason why I hate them so much is the disgusting artificial and/or stevia taste they have, but Purition is different. Purition is lovely. You can’t taste the stevia. It’s nutrient-dense and helps me eat enough proteins even as I cut down meat to just one out of three meals a day, especially when it’s hot like these days and I just want to eat strawberries. I have only tried the original series but I want to order a trial of the vegan one to see which of two things that my gut has a hard time tolerating is the easiest one. I did not react to the whey protein in the shakes as much as I have reacted to whey protein (or other sources of lactose) so perhaps it’s within my tolerance levels if that’s all I have, but I feel like the review is a bit incomplete. I have no reason to think the vegan range will impact my view of the brand too much, though, so I’m comfortable with mentioning this and setting the post live.

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