It’s World Health Day on Sunday so we caught up with Michelle Hunt and asked her a few questions about what a healthy lifestyle looks like, her journey to healthy living plus a few tips and tricks!
Gym+Coffee: Tell us a little about yourself!
Michelle Hunt: Where to start! I’m an almost 31-year-old single lady, in love with all things health, food, fitness and nutrition! Sums me up in a sentence! Going to the gym and coffee-shop-hopping are two of my favourite ‘me-time’ activities, along with anything that involves the opportunity to be active, meet new people and indulge in some sourdough & chocolate, (in no particular order and not always together)!
G+C: Tell us about your recipe blogging!
MH: Recipe blogging is my passion! I love creating simple, tasty food. My recipes vary depending on what I’m craving or what recipe requests I’ve received on a given week! Having restricted different foods and food groups in my diet for years, I really want to help people recreate their favourite foods on a daily basis and in a way that fits with their lifestyle & nutritional goals.
G+C: What was your path towards living a healthier lifestyle?
MH: I suffered from eating disorders from the age of 13 until I was around 23-24 (it’s difficult to put an official end date on it). Through years of self-therapy, creating healthier habits, falling back in love with food and my body, I managed to find a balance and true passion - as opposed to an unhealthy obsession - with living a healthy, active life. People always ask me how I’m so disciplined and motivated but it’s as simple as not being restrictive for the wrong reasons in any aspect of my life, and learning to listen to what my body needs. My definition of what “healthy” is, has changed multiple times over!
G+C: You’re a Health & Wellness Coach by trade. What does that mean?!
MH: I work with people to help them find their healthy balance. For most people, they already know what they want to change and sometimes how to change it - they simply need someone to check in with and to motivate them. For others, they need structure, more guidance and someone who can give them the tools necessary to help them achieve their goals. A lot of people put pressure on themselves to make massive changes and create new habits overnight. Like anything else, whether it’s meal-prepping, understanding nutritional labels, knowing what foods work best for your digestive system or navigating the supermarket shelves, you need to give yourself the opportunity to learn and seek out the necessary support, and for some that involves hiring a coach!
G+C: What can your clients expect from their first session with you?
MH: A lot of questions from me! I like to ask questions but equally, like to be asked them. It’s a sign someone is interested, they want to learn and want to get the most from working with me. I like to identify some key health goals so we can work towards creating initial healthy actions that work for them. Whether it’s in-person or over the phone, I need to suss out if I can actually support them or if perhaps they need to seek the help of a medical professional. There are limitations with the support I can offer and sometimes people do just want a ‘magic fix’. But if you want to create new, healthier habits you need to want to change and be willing to put in the effort. I can only provide the guidance - guidance which my clients have to trust.
G+C: Is healthy living all about the food?
MH: No, not at all. For some, it might begin with food but it usually involves lifestyle changes - healthy living is about so much more than just what you eat.
G+C: How does activity play a part? What about Mental Health?
MH: Activity for me is my ‘me-time’. It feeds directly into my mental health and the two are heavily linked. I train because I love it and I eat to fuel my training. What I see a lot of, is people training and exercising out of a sense of duty or to compensate for having overindulged. It’s key for people to find something they love. In general, being more active will, of course, support your mental and physical well-being in the short and long term.
G+C: Do you find there is a difference in attitude between men & women towards healthy living?
MH: It’s difficult to say without making massive generalisations. I would be of the opinion that on the whole, hormones play a huge part in women dealing more with cravings and digestive issues, but men can equally have poor relationships with food, exercise and can struggle to find their healthy balance.
G+C: I want to become healthier but I’m feeling overwhelmed. Where should I start?!
MH: That really depends on your key priorities and the time you have available. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. What I would suggest is to define what it is you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it and then break it all down into weekly, and then daily SMALL changes as opposed to trying to do everything at once. The main thing I would say to avoid when it comes to food & exercise is either cutting something out entirely (unless you have a genuine food intolerance) or going all-in on the exercise front. For example, saying you’re not eating chocolate for a month, is likely to just make you crave it more, or aiming to go to the gym five days during the week when you haven’t gone at all in the last 6 months. Baby-steps are the ones that stick, and a little of what you fancy every day or over the course of the week food-wise, for most people is a more realistic long term approach.
G+C: If you could give someone some key tips on healthy living and what it means, what would they be?
MH: Feeling like your best self! Waking up feeling refreshed, having the energy and mental clarity to get through each day with a smile on your face, being present with people and having mechanisms in place to deal with whatever life throws at you. ‘Healthy’ ways of working through emotions and enjoying everything that life has to offer as opposed to abusing substances, activities, or food and subsequently dealing with a sense of guilt. Being healthy is about achieving your balance, that squiggly-line effect where everything balances out rather than being on a rollercoaster ride that gets incredibly tiring, repetitive and leaves you feeling decidedly uneasy!