I recently spent some time talking to Kat Horrocks on the Put Yourself First podcast. You can listen to the podcast using either of the links below, but I’ll be summarising what we chatted about over a few posts, in case you missed it and don’t have the time to listen, or podcasts aren’t really your thing.
My parents left the Champagne region in France to go on a belated honeymoon in 1969 and they are still on honeymoon in South Africa! That’s where they stopped over and just never left. So I was brought up with the whole French way of living, especially around wine and champagne.
I’ve learnt that we can be healthy and well, but it doesn’t have to be boring! I never want to say no to a glass of champagne. That’s a large part of my approach: staying true to my French heritage, which is about balance, celebration, community, curiosity and pleasure.
The alternative approach is around dieting and deprivation. And if you think of the word diet, the first three letters spell … ‘die’!
We punish ourselves and we cut things out. But when we allow ourselves some decadence and joy, we are much healthier. It creates less stress, you’re less emotional, and then surprisingly, you end up losing weight if that’s something you want to do.
It’s much easier than being on the spartan approach where you’re miserable and you create nutritional deficiencies, and you’re just not excited about it. Life’s just too short not to be excited about something as important and significant as food.
When we celebrate, we’re in a state of gratitude and happiness, and there is a great deal of science and research to show that even if you spend small amounts of time, even a minute or so, feeling grateful or feeling a sense of pleasure and celebration, you can change your internal body chemistry for the better. You reduce hormones related to stress like cortisol, you start releasing hormones like oxytocin that make you feel more connected and loving, and you also have the ability to be more empathetic and compassionate.
Feeling grateful or enjoying a moment of celebration can be very powerful for your wellbeing.
As women, especially, we hold back from celebrating because we’re often our strongest inner critics. Instead of waiting for big moments to have champagne, we can learn to hold in our minds and our bodies what champagne symbolises – the sparkle in life.
We should be celebrating the small things. We don’t have to wait for birthdays and weddings or big sporting events. Every day, every morning that I wake up for instance, as I put my feet on the carpet next to my bed, I just take one deep breath and that’s a moment of gratitude and celebration for me: that I have the start of another new day.
It’s also about asking ourselves: where can we celebrate small things? The other night I was looking up at the stars and I was wowed. Because it’s not often in the UK that we have these clear night skies where you can see a ceiling full of stars. I thought, wow, that’s really beautiful. That’s the sparkle in my life in this moment.
When we’re in the moment, we’re also present and grounded, which is very powerful for helping us to be more effective and productive, and to get the most out of every moment.
When you remind yourself through the day – and it can be just one breath in as you look out of your office window, as you’re about to start your car to drive off to a meeting or collect the kids, or as you’re brewing a cup of tea – if you can just think of one thing you’re grateful for, or that can you celebrate in that moment, even if it’s just that moment in itself that you remembered, that can be very powerful when it adds up.
If you repeatedly celebrate, you start with one moment in the day and maybe it becomes two, and if you’re lucky maybe it becomes a moment every hour. Imagine over a week, and a month, and a year how that starts to rewire the neural pathways in your brain for looking for things to celebrate. This world has a lot of reasons not to celebrate. We don’t need to start with that.
I think if we just start looking at what we’re grateful for and how we can be happy in a particular moment, it could serve us well. So, what is your champagne moment today?