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Healthy Living As A Lifestyle

Written by: Marsha Parcou, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Marsha Parcou

Why I am writing this chapter? Every single challenge, obstacle, emotional, mental, and physical defeat that I have encountered since I was a teenager and, through adolescence, on my health and fitness journey has moulded and shaped me to become the woman I am today. I am asked regularly what are my secrets to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying in shape? Where do I find my find inspiration? How do I stay motivated?

A photo of Marsha

My weight loss journey began in my early adulthood, over 20 years ago. I remember as a child I was a skinny and active girl. I did not like to sit still, almost as if I had ants in my pants as my husband likes to say! I used to play with the kids in my neighborhood, climb trees after school, and create our activities. Mind you, at that time there were no social media, nor any TV and we had little option but to keep ourselves busy in nature or our parnts' backyards.

When it came to lunch and dinner time, I was my nanny's worst nightmare as eating was not my thing and I pretty much had to be forced to eat. The Good Shepherd Church is two minutes away from home. My nanny was one of the sweetest and most patient ladies I have ever met and every day I had to drag this poor soul outside the church to sit with me so I could eat my meal. I know this sounds weird because why would Marsha want to eat by the church of all places? I don't know why but my nanny would take me, and I always loved her for that as she really showed me unconditional love and affection and always wanted my happiness. Even my brothers loved her and enjoyed a good connection with her. When she decided to retire as she was becoming old and sick, we were all extremely sad as we lost a valuable member of the family.

I started to put on weight when I was about 13 or 14 years old, at about the time my brothers left for Canada. Their departure affected me emotionally and I felt lonely and sad after they had left. Although my last brother, my mother's son, was around, the home environment was not the same and I missed the buzz of my oldest brother's energy. The truth is I did not know how to deal with my emotions and as a child, I had no idea why I was going through these rollercoaster emotions. I never told my parents how much I missed my brothers and how their departure was taking a toll on my emotional well-being.

As a result, I started developing poor eating habits by starting to look for comfort in the wrong types of food. I would skip a proper meal and eat junk food instead but I had little idea what I was doing to my body and my health yet I had no one to guide me and put a stop to those poor eating habits. My parents did not know any better when it came to proper nutrition. Our typical meal plan would include breakfast during the week with bread with margarine, jam, or marmite, and tea with milk and sugar. Lunch and dinner would follow a similar pattern: rice with meat; fish; lentils; and very little salad. In between, I would snack on chocolates, Simba chips, ice cakes, etc., in fact, anything I could get my hands on.

On Sundays, we would have what we call English Breakfast: eggs with sausages, bacon, baked beans, and toast. Typically, on Sundays, my father would cook his famous chicken or lamb curry full of aromas and local spices which the whole family would enjoy thoroughly! Ominously, my weight kept piling on.

I had one particular friend who was also overweight, and she wasn't happy with the way she looked either and she was the one who suggested that we should seek professional help. I agreed and we went to see a nutritionist to assist us with a meal plan. She duly gave us one and every two weeks we had to report to her. She also recommended that we should start exercising but I had zero interest in exercise at that time maybe because I associated exercise with pain. I did not understand the benefits and change it might bring to my life. Regarding the meal plan, I tried to follow it but I was not fully committed so very little progress was made I must say! One day, my brother told me that I would never lose weight because I didn't have willpower and self-control. I never expected that he would say that to me. That statement stuck with me for many, many years and, over time, I guess I allowed it to become my belief. Why? Every time I slacked down on my meal plan, that statement played on my mind and I kept telling myself that I had no discipline. I see now that I allowed it to define me.

By the time I was 18 years old, I was almost 80KG, wearing size 16 or large. I felt so uncomfortable in my skin, and I did not love or accept who I was. I looked down on myself and I felt miserable because of the way I looked, and I even started to wear bigger and looser clothes to hide my fat. I felt even worse whenever I looked at myself in the mirror and the photos that I later destroyed because of embarrassment.

Today, when I tell people I was overweight back in those days, most of them don't believe me. Nevertheless, how I now wish I had not destroyed those photos.

To add to my misery, living on a small island where everyone knows each other in a culture where people judge easily, I was no exception. I had my fair share of that judgment. I promise you, every time I met someone, especially friends and long-distance family, the first, they said to you was: 'you have put on weight’ in Creole 'get manyer oun gro'. This statement invariably threw me off track completely and I allowed it to spoil my day.

I knew for sure that I did not want to remain in that same boat for the rest of my life. I knew that I must do something about it. But where would I start? Being naïve, I wanted a quick fix; I wanted a magic pill and formula! The excess fat that I was carrying did not pile up overnight, but rather over months and years. I jumped on slimming pills and became quite the addict but it did provide the quick fix that I wanted; however, it was not sustainable and was not a healthy approach either. At that time, I did not care about the repercussions because my only goal was to lose weight. The slimming pills did suppress my appetite and as a result, I ate less and had fewer cravings for junk food and sweets.

I did lose quite a bit of weight over a period, and I start walking mostly every day and hiking on weekends and exercised more control over what I ate.

But the side effects were another story altogether. I became nauseous, started vomiting, suffered from lack of sleep, experienced fatigue, and I became very agitated and irritated with pronounced mood swings. I started getting dizzy and began suffering from palpitations. I had no option but to stop the pills completely as I was getting too sick. This led me into a panic mode because I thought and believed that without the slimming pills I would go back to where I used to be! However, I was determined to do what it took to maintain my weight.

I can say that was a real battle for me both mentally and physically. If I did not like the way I felt. Especially when I was stressed, anxious or sad, I used food to make me feel better and for instant gratification. But afterward, I felt guilty, self-sabotaged a lot and so got up into this vicious circle that I could not get out of.

Moving to Australia to further my studies, was life-changing. Not only to have a better quality of education but also to experience a shift in my lifestyle in general. I started becoming more active as my friends and classmates were very active and they encouraged me to take part in their activities.

I was now exposed to healthy living and to a different way of living entirely. I tended to follow what my friends were eating by incorporating fresh food, vegetables, fruits, and grains into my meal plan.

I started researching and reading about nutrition, healthy living, exercise, and such, eventually shifting my focus and perspective to how important it was to take care of my health and general well-being.

I have tried so many meal plans and yo-yo diets, from cabbage soup, paleo diet, keto diet, Dr. Atkins, Herbal Life, zero carbs diet, intermittent fasting; the list goes on and on. Yes, they worked to some extent but for me, they were not sustainable. I realized some of them were a quick fix and not a healthier way to lose weight. Some of them felt like I was depriving myself of certain food categories and when I ate something that I craved, I just could not stop myself from indulging and overeating.

My weight kept fluctuating. I remember whenever I used to go back to Seychelles for holidays, I would eat all the homemade food that my family made, and also eat out a lot with friends. From the holiday, it was back to Uni life and back to square one, starting the process all over again. I feared being fat and that I would go back to where I was. At that time, I was between 65kg and 67kg and I dropped 2 dress sizes to a size 12 from size 16, taking me about 2 years to lose almost 15kg.

Moving back to Seychelles after my studies, I moved back into my family home and back to my parents' food where I found it difficult to have a proper structure and also challenging to eat to the meal plan I was on back in Australia. At that time in Seychelles, we could not readily find those fresh foods, and when we did it was extremely expensive as they were imported, and duty was quite high on those commodities. My parents, especially my mother, did not understand the benefit of a good eating regime thus she would not spend much money on such food. I, therefore, stuck to what I could find and afford.

In addition to that, I was employed by the Seychelles Tourism Board where I was based in the Marketing Department. My job was demanding and involved long hours, weekends, and a lot of travelling. I could not keep up with my exercise routine and eating plan. I tried my best, but I knew that I was not where I wanted to be. At that period in my life, my job was very important, and I gave everything to ensure I succeeded but to the detriment of my health. This was not only my physical being but mental as well. I was constantly under stress, with a lack of sleep and rest plus all the travelling. My body was always in different time zones with all these factors influencing the choices I was making. I wish I had a coach at that time to guide me as I had no life balance, and I did not even know how to acquire one as well.

When I moved to South Africa, it was a total game-changer for me and was where my love and my journey toward exercise began. My cousin in South Africa was a very active and energetic person and it was he who encouraged me to join the gym. I joined the famous Virgin Active which is one of the best fitness centres in the country. It offered a suite of different activities including swimming, cycling, boxing, cardio, and strength training. Depending on what you wanted to do, there was an activity for everyone. They had a sauna, café, kids' room, internet station, and changing room. For me, it was a wow and I became very acquainted with the gym, as it was the first time had I joined a gym. It became my second home.

I became obsessed with all the different activities and classes they offered. My favorite was the kickboxing class. Every Tuesday and Thursday evening I would not miss that class and I ensured I didn't schedule any other plans on those days.

The instructor was very energetic. His energy and the music he played and the vibe he created were totally on another level. Sometimes, I was tired to go to the class but once I got there my whole state changed. He sure knew how to bring you into the game. It was the highlight of my day and I found myself looking forward to those great sessions. There is nothing better than a sweaty, high-intensity workout. I was at the gym at least five or six times per week and sometimes twice a day. Although my job was hectic and involved travelling, I ensured that I maintained balance by remaining committed to the exercise. The good thing is that the gym opened every day from 5 am to 9 pm so this gave me the flexibility to plan my day well and schedule my training to my convenience.

I soon started to feel different and I began noticing the change in my physical appearance. I was getting leaner and stronger. I saw progress and results in my body and also in how I was feeling overall. I found myself feeling happier and more confident in my skin and I started getting compliments from friends and acquaintances in the gym, which was much appreciated and encouraged me to keep pushing myself. I experienced many positive changes in my life whereby I was able to manage my stress better through exercise. I felt more energetic and could remain more focused at work and at times I felt that I was even passing my positive energy to others. Pleasingly, I had fewer mood swings and I was generally a happier Marsha!

I also started to become more conscious of what I was eating and drinking. One major change that I made was to eliminate sugar from my coffee and tea. I stopped all the fizzy drinks and switched to Coke light and also increased my water intake.

My confidence and self-esteem got better every day. In other words, this new raft of habits and rituals changed my life for the better. I was so hooked on that lifestyle that whenever I travelled, I ensured that I booked a hotel with a fitness center where I would not miss my cardio session even if it was for just 30 minutes a day.

I knew that there was still a long way to go and still a lot to learn and change. Yes, some days I got tired and lost motivation, but I reminded myself why it was important for me to persist. I was determined to stick to that healthy lifestyle which became my 'no matter what' priority and part of who I am today – 'healthy living' is who I am. I reminded myself that this is a journey, a marathon, and not a sprint. There is no finishing line. I allowed myself to enjoy the process as I had already come a very long way.

Even though I was in a much better space regarding my physical appearance, the work was being done outwardly. I lived in fear. Fear that I didn’t want to get fat, and that's the language I used. I realized that the results of all the excess kilos and poor eating habits came from my emotional state of being. I mention this because I still did not have a healthy relationship with food. I believed that food was my enemy. At that point, I still did not know how to overcome this inner battle I was waging.

I met my husband at the gym. He was a personal trainer, nutritionist, and coach.

I remembered I was training my lower body parts, especially my legs, and he came to me and advised me on how to fix my forms. This is how our journey began. He told me what he was doing, and I asked for his help and thought that perhaps he could help me to have a better and more sustainable meal plan. Yes, I eliminated many foods from my diet, but I wasn't sure whether I was doing the right thing. He was just what I needed.

We met a few days after being acquainted at the gym. He asked many questions regarding my lifestyle and overall health. He gave me a meal plan whereby I had to eat five or six times per day and start taking supplements like vitamins and omegas. Honestly, it wasn't what I expected. I never ate six times per day and neither took daily supplements? I thought to myself, how am I going to do this? I thought he was crazy. He explained to me why I should try this type of meal training and that I should trust the process.

I hired him as a personal trainer. It was very challenging in the beginning as I was not used to that kind of training method but I signed up for personal training five times per week. Each session was intense as it involved mainly weight training. I was very fit, and I could push through the session because I was already doing a lot of high-intensity cardio. However, my mindset, both mentally and physically, wasn't very strong. I did not know about weight and strength training at that time.

My husband explained its benefits and how to transform, sculpt and tone my body, which was my goal. I indeed lost a lot of body fat, but I was still skinny fat, having lost over twenty kilograms over the years through excessive cardio, inconsistent eating patterns, and lack of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that my body needed to function at its best. In other words, I was fit but not very healthy. To achieve optimum health, I needed to find a balance between health and fitness.

A photo of Marsha

ll the exercises that I had been doing could not possibly correct the damage done by my previous lifestyle. Nutrition was my weakness, so I had to work a lot in that area to accomplish - which was the most difficult area of all.

I started cooking and preparing my meals for the week to take to work, measuring my food portions, and recording everything that I was consuming. My husband's plan was very specific, and I was not allowed to eat anything apart from what was on the meal plan. Honestly, I struggled with that aspect because mentally I was not very strong and part of me was not prepared to give up all the food that I loved. I knew that if I wanted to achieve my goals, I had to give it my all.

All this time, my husband coached and educated me about nutrition. He also became my accountability partner, whereby every two weeks I had to take my body measurements to track my progress.

After three months of weight training and more consistent and sustainable eating, in December 2013 I was about 57kg and wearing size 10. I was in the best shape of my life, feeling better and stronger. Investing in my health and fitness journey was the best investment ever. Health and longevity are part of a successful life. What I learned is that consistency and patience are the winning formulae for this lifestyle. It is an ongoing journey with no finishing line.

What I have learned on this journey!

I learned to be patient with myself.

I learned to trust the process and know that I am just a work in progress

I learned to choose courage over comfort.

I learned that there are two main controlling forces behind my behavior: Pain and Pleasure. They are the controlling forces behind my emotions which lead to my behavior. For instance, I eat sweet stuff because it gives me instant gratification and I experience pleasure at that moment. Sometimes, I don't push myself hard enough because of the pain of that particular exercise!

I learned it is ok not to be ok, and not to beat myself up about it because I am only human.

I learned how to pick myself up when I fail and fall behind my plan. I remind myself that I am an imperfect human being and I have both strengths and weaknesses that I should embrace.

I learned a great deal about self-discipline. It has taught me how to focus on my daily tasks and responsibilities and, by doing so, I have learned how to persevere, achieve, and accomplish the goals that I have set for myself.

I learned that progress is a lot more than just my physical appearance which is only 25% of that progress. My mental being, my emotional state, and my spiritual being are all equally important to live the life that I set for myself which is to be always in optimum health and fitness.

I learned that what I do every day consistently is far more important than what I do once in a blue moon. Small daily habits and improvements are what lead to the bigger results.

I am dedicating this part of the chapter to all my readers and especially the ones who are still struggling on this journey. I truly hope that my personal experiences, lessons, and the following techniques may help you on your weight loss, health, and fitness journey.

I am not a fitness & health guru and I am not a nutritionist either. I am a woman who lived unhappily for a very long time because of my weight. Then, I learned exactly what started and triggered my behavior behind that unhealthy lifestyle. Now, I have stepped out of this box, by shifting my mindset and behavior. My mind was unconsciously unhealthy. An unhealthy mindset leads to unhealthy habits which, in turn, leads to an unhealthy lifestyle and, in the end, to unhealthy results.

Our health manifests in our body in how we look and how we feel. I think that's the result of something else. For me, my behavior came from an emotional state of being and a state of emotion comes from a mindset. Being unhealthy is much more than physical.

If you want to see real changes in your body and health, I encourage you to dig deep into your heart. Be willing and honest with yourself as to why you are not where you should be, or wish to be. Let's start by getting you to ask those questions: First and foremost.

What started the problem?

When did it start?

What was my need? Was it because my need was to serve everyone else except me? Was it putting everyone first and myself last and, when it came to my own needs, I had no energy left?

What was the cause? (e.g., past event, childhood, broken relationship, was it because you were hurt by someone, etc?)

What was the thought? Was it the fear, the anger, or frustrations that caused the mindset to lead to a negative emotional response and negative behavior?

What did the unhealthy lifestyle give you? Was it an escape? Was it a comfort? Was it something that you needed at that moment?

I know no one is comfortable in doing this exercise. Perhaps you just wanted to get into physical exercise, hop on the treadmill and start walking. Perhaps you have been in the gym for a few months and have lost weight but you somehow gave up along the way and so you put back all the weight. This is the sign to stop and reflect on these questions I am now asking!

For me, the gym did not give me the emotional healing that I was looking for. The ice cream and chocolate that I was eating did not give me hope nor heal my broken heart when my father passed away! All the meal plans that I followed did not give me the love and confidence that I was looking for. There was nothing wrong with those plans but the reason why they did not work for me was that I wasn't convinced yet that I was worthy of having those beneficial results. The main reason, also, was that I was still living in an optional state, which means I wasn't prepared and willing to go all the way, and, that I was not in a non-negotiable state yet. It wasn't my 'no matter what'.

I know that, in many cases, we cannot directly access our emotions and mindset but if you go to the core of your mindset and the emotions sitting right next to it, you may address and heal it:

Why did I go to the refrigerator for comfort?

What did I put so many people in front of me?

What was I looking for?

What did I need?

Put no judgment upon yourself because you did only what you knew.

For me, it was because of my emotional state, sadness, loneliness, and lack of love and affection from my childhood. As mentioned in previous pages, I felt a deep sense of loss and sorrow when my brothers left home and I lost loved ones along the way and I realized that my unhealthy eating habits and patterns were the same. Food was my comfort zone as it gave me pleasure at that moment. So, my need was to be loved and accepted. I had to learn how to earn beauty both inside and outside but, importantly, I have learned to love and accept myself unconditionally. Lastly, I surrendered and asked for help because I needed that help.

How do you migrate to healthier habits?

First, give yourself emotional healing around the question of your weight. Hold on to every part of your body and apologize to it for all the times that you have banned it from what was needed and when you did not give it that. Choose this time to change your direction most humbly and openly, by asking for help, not to do the difficult thing, but to do the necessary thing. And, if you do the necessary thing repeatedly and remain consistent you will get the results you are looking for. Don't start the race fast. Permit yourself to stop, get back up, and press reset when you need to. It doesn't matter if it's been 5 years or 10 years, can you see yourself in a healthy body, living a healthy lifestyle with the beauty that invites you to dance to your own rhythm.

It is vital to create meaningful habits that last and, most importantly, habits that suit your lifestyle. One of the very first exercises that I get my clients to embark on is to 'de-clutter', their kitchen cabinets, room, offices, and work calendars. The purpose of this exercise is to let go of old habits and allow new ones to come in. Saying 'yes to the self' on the new health journey. As they say, we have to remove old furniture to bring new ones in.

Set realistic goals. Goals to stretch you but not to stress you. For instance, if you are new to exercise, don't commit to doing exercise twice a day seven times a week. You are only setting yourself up for failure and that is because you will be committed for the first or two weeks then you will lose motivation as you would not be able to keep up with this routine. Instead, start three or four times per week so you can keep up and maintain this routine for a long time because it's a realistic goal.

Both creating meaningful habits and setting realistic goals are crucial because, when we make changes on an identity level, following through becomes automatic as it becomes part of your lifestyle and so 'non-negotiable'.

When it comes to Nutrition and Diet, we are constantly being bombarded with different types of diets such as low carb diet, keto diet, paleo diet, Atkins diet, vegan diet, blood type diet, and so on. Which one of these diets could help you lose weight? We all wish there was a foolproof answer on how to lose and maintain weight. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet. The fad diets will do nothing for you in the long term; on the contrary, you often just put all the weight back. I recommend that you create and follow your meal plan suitable to your lifestyle and the goals you want to achieve. Just to give you an example, the meal plan and exercise program of an athlete training for the Olympics would be different to one for a working mom who exercises three times a week simply because they are on two different fitness levels.

For those who are new to nutrition, I suggest the first step is to eat a balanced diet, dividing your plate into healthy portions of food groups (carbohydrates: that is your rice/ potatoes; protein which is fish, meat, and vegetables or salad. Try to avoid foods with artificial ingredients; stick to natural foods as much as you can.

One thing to bear in mind is that each one of us is unique and our body type is different. We all have different lifestyles and that's why we need to stick to what works for us. Stick to a health plan that helps you to lose weight in combination with other healthy lifestyle choices.

Stay hydrated - drinking enough water and staying hydrated is the first rule of health and nutrition. Our bodies are made up of about 70% water and not being hydrated can affect us both physically and mentally.

There are so many benefits to staying hydrated as water helps to reduce sugar cravings, regulate metabolism, flush waste/toxins out of our bodies, reduce the risk of bladder infections so on and so forth. If you have difficulty in drinking water, you can add slices of lemons, oranges or strawberries, cucumber, or mint to give some taste. I recommend you drink water upon waking and always keep your water bottle by you, whether you are driving or at the office. Overall, staying hydrated and drinking water throughout the day helps to assist with weight maintenance and improve insulin resistance.

Balance blood sugar level. If you want to lose weight, it's important to balance your blood sugar level. How? Feed our body with good macronutrients.

Carbohydrates – are your body's main source of energy. They help to fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscle, and central nervous system. Most people who I talk to, have the perception that carbohydrates, especially rice, make you put on weight, - I don't agree. To keep it simple, you must eat an appropriate amount of healthy carbohydrates (that is whole grains, brown rice, basmati rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, quinoa, legumes, fruits, etc.) to meet your body's nutritional needs. The bottom line avoids added sugar, processed foods, refined grain, sodas, sugary drinks, and sweets. Eat these in moderation. To help you look and feel your best, you should choose nutrient-dense healthy carbohydrates. You need carbs in a healthy diet, so I don't advise deleting them from your eating plan.

Proteins - are essential as they are important building blocks of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. These are found in eggs, chicken, red meat, and fish. Protein slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and keeps us fuller for a long period. Also, your body uses protein to build and repair tissue.

Healthy Fat - is a type of nutrient, just like protein and carbohydrates. Your body needs fat for energy to absorb vitamins and to protect your heart and brain health. For years we have been told that eating fats causes weight gain and increased risk of certain diseases and so forth. But 'good' fats such as unsaturated fats and omegas 3s have the opposite effect. Healthy fats play a huge role in helping you manage your moods, fight fatigue, reduce the risk of heart disease, and are good for maintaining healthy nails, skin, and hair.

Meal Timing - This leads to my next point: consistent meal timing, which is one of my favourites as it's been working very well for me over the past few years. I did not know what, when, and how to eat. I used to skip breakfast as most people do when we are rushing through our mornings. Then one thing leads to the next and when hunger starts kicking in, we grab something on the go and, if time does not permit, we wait till lunchtime. Guess what? We grab the first available snack to eat and most of the time that is simple carbs or sugary stuff because we need that instant spike to give us energy and this is when we make the wrong food choice.

It's not how much you eat but what you are eating and how you are eating that is important. I highly recommend that you spread out your meals during the day into 3-5 meals per day depending on your activity level as there are lots of great benefits to eating in this way, such as: balancing sugar level, reducing sugar cravings and bingeing and it helps you to avoid choosing the wrong food. This can be achieved by meal planning. Planning your meals can help you to have nutritionally well-balanced meals throughout the week. Planning your meals ultimately allows you to take control of your own nutritional needs.

Sleep - When it comes to health, sleep is as vital as regular exercise and eating a balanced diet. I would term it a crucial step for weight loss. In other words, getting enough sleep is essential for helping you to maintain optimal health and well-being. Lack of sleep can lead to a lack of energy, and hunger cravings, and as a result, people reach for caffeine and sugar thus putting their bodies on the blood sugar roller coaster. I go through this roller coaster when I don't get enough sleep.

I have experienced this in my previous job as I used to travel quite a lot and also when we opened the new businesses. As you know, the service industry is quite demanding. I must admit, although I was eating healthy and trying to keep up with exercise, I was not progressing on my fitness journey as my body was not getting enough sleep and rest. Sleep is a necessity and is one of my top priorities on my checklist, I try to get 6-7 hours of sleep every night. Getting a good night's rest helps with better productivity and concentration, enables the body to repair and be fit and ready for the next day, and helps prevent excess weight gain.

For those who don't have a proper sleeping pattern, I suggest you try the following: try to go to bed at the same time; eat at least 2 hours before you sleep and make your room a media-free zone. One hour before you sleep, start powering down by switching off your electronic gadgets; try to eliminate clutter; avoid having too many photos in the room; create a cool environment and occasionally take a bath with Epson salts and lavender oil which helps to relax the muscles and get a good night's sleep.

Physical Activity/Movement - I am glad to see that many people nowadays are becoming more conscious of the benefits of exercising. I believe that each one of us should find an activity that we enjoy. I always ask my clients what kind of movement they enjoyed when they were kids for them to be motivated into getting into the habit of exercising. Nowadays, there are so many options available; if you are not keen on joining a gym, such outdoor activities as hiking, cycling, swimming, running, yoga, Zumba or boxing might be your other options? Whatever works for you.

I incorporate different styles of training which are mainly high-intensity workouts, resistance training, and yoga which helps to stretch and lengthen my muscles. I like to stay active, even if I have a busy day and I try to do 20/30 minutes of cardio first thing in the morning. Feeling the endorphin rush during the session boosts my mood and helps me to stay focused throughout the day.

Supplements - In an ideal world, you'd get all the nutrients you need from food, but this is not always possible so we have to take them in the form of health supplements; what your food intake doesn't provide the supplements will. As for me, I never miss my multi-vitamins, vitamin C, omegas/EFAs (essential fatty acids) which help to nourish my skin, hair, and nails, and, of course, probiotics which help to restore the natural balance of the gut bacteria.

Treat yourself sometimes. Throughout the years I have learned the importance of maintaining a healthier diet. Do I have a cheat day or cheat meal? Yes! I still eat the food that I love, my favorite is Italian, and I enjoy my mother's Creole-style chicken curry. I don't deprive myself but, of course, everything is in moderation and I have learned to have a positive relationship with food as food is not my enemy anymore.

Embrace your imperfections. Everyone's body type is different; some women are curvaceous, being bigger than normal or being smaller than normal, and all that is ok as long as it's healthy and you are comfortable in your skin. As a reminder, each one of us is on a different journey and we should not compare ourselves to anyone as we are not in competition with society. I embrace who I am, I feel youthful, confident, and beautiful inside and out. I like to remind myself that I am a work in progress.

Inner Being. Taking care of your inner being, soul and mind plays a major role in living a healthy life. I believe that healthy living starts internally: what we are focusing on; our thoughts and how we deal with life challenges; anxiety and stress play a vital role in our health and general well-being. It's important to take time for yourself from time to time, just to unwind. I like to treat myself with a good deep tissue massage and I love being in the sun as I like the smell of the ocean and when I get the chance to travel, I enjoy shopping - who doesn't love shopping? When you take care of yourself you are better able to take care of those you love.

Planning and finding balance. I do this religiously, as it leads to a successful health journey. As a reminder, always plan your week on a Sunday. This would set up good daily habits and develop a consistent routine. Set achievable goals and review your goals every week as this will allow you to make the necessary changes and win your small victories.

A photo of Marsha

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Marsha Parcou Brainz Magazine

Marsha Parcou, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Marsha Parcou is an entrepreneur, based in the Seychelles Islands, on a mission to empower corporate teams and employees to find confidence in themselves and maximize their wellness and productivity.

As the founder and figurehead of Fasinasyon, she runs a multi-faceted lifestyle brand that promotes a healthy and holistic approach to the body, mind, and soul through a range of services, from corporate and life coaching to beauty and skincare products. Accredited by the Health Coach Institute, USA, she coaches using International Coach Federation (ICF) tools and exercises whilst delivering her own unique framework for personal and team transformation.

Marsha is also an accomplished public speaker, she has been interviewed on SBC, Paradise FM and TeleSecel. She also recently held an event to celebrate the launch of her debut book 'Becoming A Famn Fasinasyon'.

Alongside her work within the wellness industry, she is also the co-founder and part owner of Chatterbox Café located at Eden Plaza, the famed first ever 'coffee shop' on Mahe Island, Seychelles. Previously to owning and operating her businesses, Marsha has 10 years’ experience in tourism marketing management having worked for Seychelles Tourism (then known as the Seychelles Tourism Board).



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