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by Ceylan Ayik, www.ceylanayik.com/

Living a happy and healthy life, against all odds: yes, this is the challenge for our generation and the next!

With such an abundance of food and beverages, industry tricks and “innovations”, not to mention all that technology, which keeps us sedentary and bombarded with unnecessary stressful information…how can you keep up a healthy living lifestyle and peaceful mind, without interruption?

The story gets even more complicated if you are already overweight, in spite of trying lots of different methods, and ending up back to square one, having lost your motivation and belief in all these “healthy living stories”!

I would like to take up this challenge and show you, step by step, that it is possible to have better eating and living habits, simply by changing some bad ones that no longer serve you – if you promise to not regard this as another type of “diet”

From this corner of the knowitall.ch website, my goal will be to keep your motivation and inspiration alive, no matter what goes on in your life. I will give you tips for eating out, shopping, cooking, different exercise methods, relaxation and self-care, drawing on the resources that you have available to you in and around Geneva.

Where to start?

Let’s start with the basics and take a look at some steps to start or restart your efforts for healthier living!

Everybody has their own interpretation of what a healthier and happier life means. If we were to summarise and generalize them all, there would be 2 main areas: Primary Foods and Secondary Foods, a concept used by Joshua Rosenthal, founder of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, where I studied Health Coaching.

Primary Food is more than what you find on your plate. Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career and a spiritual practice can fill your soul and satisfy your hunger for life. When Primary Food is balanced and satiated, your life feeds you, making what you eat Secondary.”

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So before jumping into broccolis, proteins, glutens or not, reviewing your life in these 4 major areas and finding the gaps or sometimes “over indulgences” is far more important and effective. For example, the major reason for unhealthy living in many people is the amount of time they spend at work, ignoring exercise and not doing enough spiritual practice that can give them a peaceful mind.  

A good starting point: setting a meaningful goal

If you think of your life now and review honestly where your areas for improvement are, you can start setting a goal for working on these.  

You can use the Primary Foods concept, namely going through your relationships, spiritual practices, career –what you are doing and what you want to do in life - and of course the level of your physical activity. Once you figure out the major areas for improvement, write them in a journal.

Journaling is one of the best, proven ways for achieving personal development and weight loss goals.

Think about your Primary Foods and choose the obvious, easy gains. Set goals for your relationships (e.g. I will work on my relationship with my son, to have better communication), physical activity (e.g. I will start walking/running twice per week), career (e.g. I will start planning my own business), and spirituality (e.g. I will start mediation 5 minutes per day). Keep it simple and choose a maximum of 3 goals at first.

Use the power of meditation

Everyday, if you can spare just 5 minutes to sit quietly and ask these questions, before focusing on your breath, and keeping your mind empty and still, you will see an enormous difference in a very short time. The clarity in mind, concentration on your goals, ease of decision-making and even your willpower will start to get stronger.  A person who can sit still in meditation for about 10 minutes, will be more able to say no to a tempting chocolate cake!

There are many studies showing the relationship between meditation and willpower so give this simple technique a try. If you are a beginner in meditation, just start with sitting quietly for 5 minutes every day. Here are some guided meditation resources that can help you to start.

For further reading on Goal Setting and Changing Habit, I strongly recommend James Clear, a great writer on these subjects.

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Café Ex Machina, Nyon

In the coming weeks, I am going to share other steps for sustaining healthier lifestyle habits, with ideas that relate to those living in this region.

I will explain

  • How simple planning techniques can help you to reach your goals, like planning your weekly menu and shopping.
  • How to detox your pantry and fridge to have the best ingredients for healthier cooking.
  • What to look for when shopping at an organic shop.
  • Healthier recipes to share with friends and family.
  • Simple and short yoga poses/sessions that you can incorporate in your life to release pain/stress, and get stronger and lighter.

One crucial thing is to keep the motivation and inspiration alive and that is why I am here! Here are some suggestions for this week:

  • Have you tried Takinoa? It is healthy and delicious food with lots of vegan-vegeterian-gluten free options.
  • In Nyon, there is a new café, Café Ex Machina, where you can find delicious and healthy food, including patisseries (gluten and dairy free!).
  • Hiking season has begun: our easiest and all-time favourite walk is in Saint-Cergue, Ballad de Beatrixe, with a great view for a picnic!
  • My new obsession is my homemade granola, gluten free and full of nuts and seeds, giving me great energy in the morning. Here is my recipe. Starting your day with a healthy breakfast, full of protein and healthy fats, is the best thing you can do for your wellness goals.
  • The new organic shop in Ferney-Voltaire, Bio Mania is very nice, full of healthy snacks, cosmetics and basic staples.
  • Have you watched That Sugar Film, one of the best documentaries made on sugar and healthier living. Watch with your family / kids and see their reaction for yourself. A good starting point for quitting sugar and all things sweet!

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Bio Mania, Ferney-Voltaire

Have a great week and let me know if you have any questions, suggestions and requests for this corner! You can email me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About the author

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Ceylan Ayik is a certified Integrative Nutrition Healthy Living Coach and RYT 300hours Yoga Teacher, whose aim is to empower busy women on their journey to becoming happy, healthy role models for their children, family and friends.  She is passionate about helping them to transform their minds, health and bodies through optimal nutrition and yoga.

She leads groups workshops on nutrition as well as one-on-one health and nutrition coaching packages. They include pantry detoxes, cooking lessons and clean food shopping trips.

Alongside her busy coaching practice and yoga teaching, she is a mother of two, wife, and writer for her fitness and gourmet blog, Fitgurme.