I am originally from Greece but was born and grew up in Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia during the Soviet Union with my parents and sister. When I was 10 we moved to Greece and when I turned 24, I decided to move to the UK, specifically London to pursue a career in Marketing and then in Nutritional Therapy and Health Coaching.
Before I arrived in England I always thought food was something you ate when you were hungry to provide energy and be enjoyed with family and friends. I believed eating fruit and vegetables were for those who wanted to lose weight. I never thought of food as being information for how the body works.
However, this all changed when I started feeling depressed, couldn’t keep my weight at the same level for more than a month. I became easily irritated, stressed about everything and my memory was failing me. I could not focus for more than a few seconds and was constantly feeling tired. On top of that, I was never satisfied or happy with anything and my mind was never present.
After turning my life around I realised there were 5 things that were consistent during my childhood life, which made me extremely happy. These are now part of my adult life because based on research they improve mood and increase lifespan. They are:
No. 1 – Spending more quality time with family and friends
Before my teenage years, living in Ukraine, my family and I would spend a lot of time together playing, talking, even knitting. Due to minimal distractions, like TV, we would use our imagination to entertain and enjoy the time with each other.
I speak on a regular basis with my parents and sister through Skype or Viber as I am in a different country to them. There is always daily interaction and I visit them once or twice a year. I also make more effort to spend time with friends without looking at my phone when I am with them. While with friends, if things go silent, instead of reaching for my phone, I start to talk about something around me to keep the conversation going which then stirs another topic.
No. 2 – Staying active in any way possible
During my childhood time in the Republic of Georgia, we lived in a village with just 2-3 other kids besides my sister and I. We would meet every day and play from early in the morning to late in the evening with some breaks in between for lunch and dinner or to help our parents and grandparents with house chores.
I may not play as much now, but I dedicate time to move my body. I love walking for an hour or more per day. I also do stretching and yoga flows as well as dancing, either at home alone, with my flatmate or in a bar or a club.
No. 3 – Eating salads with my meals
Greeks are known for eating a salad with their meals, but I stopped this practise when I moved to the UK, due to laziness. I have since reintroduced salads into my meals and this has made a difference on how I feel. Having salads alongside proteins and carbs, ensures the biodiversity of my microbiome, the feeling of being satiated and fuller for longer. They also make such a great difference in how I feel and how I cope with challenges that are thrown my way.
No. 4 – Eating more probiotics
When I arrived in England my diet was poor. My mum followed a family tradition that made pickles and sauerkraut and this was present at the dinner table every day. For years I Ignored the importance of these probiotic full foods until my health coach studies. Since then my mum has taught me how to make them and now I eat sauerkraut and pickles on a weekly basis. Studies show probiotics contribute to a healthy gut and brain.
No. 5 – Studying and exploring
Lastly, I have realised how as a child, being playful and curious about the world was important. By exploring my village many times, I always found something new and exciting. As a child I was able to look at the same places but with a different perspective. I could create a playground where anything was possible and where I was invincible and I could do anything I wanted to.
Exploring London, meeting new people. reading books, brings the same enjoyment to me as when I was growing up as a child. Networking and socialising are really important parts of my weekly and monthly routines. I created friends, got exciting opportunities by approaching and talking to people I have never spoken to before. Traveling and exploring my city also provided me with memorable experiences and turned me into an interesting conversationalist.
It has been 8 years since I decided to change my life and I am incredibly grateful for what I have achieved and what I have. I am always excited and full of energy which surprises a lot of people around who question how it is possible. I am able to focus better and I have noticed significant improvement in my mood.
I still have moments of light stress but they are negligible to what they were before and there are moments that I would rather do nothing, stay home and be miserable but I get over them much quicker. I am human after all!