Think, move and eat your way to a more balanced life by Annie Clarke
Mind Body Bowl is a quality large format book with beautiful photographs throughout. It is divided into three main parts focusing on the mind, exercise and food.
In her introduction to Mind Body Bowl, Annie talks about her own journey to a healthier lifestyle.
She points out that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to health. Instead, she suggests we find what works for us. Annie suggests focusing on mind, body, and food, which she considers the three pillars of health that we need to keep in balance. She offers a guide through the mass of confusing and sometimes conflicting information about health, exercise, and diet. Annie suggests that as we approach this journey we stay open minded and be prepared to step outside our comfort zone. She says ‘I want to show you how to fall in love with taking care of yourself.’
Annie shares her own journey to balanced health, commenting on her own health problems and explains how she achieved a better balance. She began with a rigid regime of limited diet and a lot of exercise even – becoming a personal trainer. She then goes on to explain how she became more balanced and how her training as a yoga teacher helped.
Annie also includes and informative section on motivating ourselves and staying positive.
The first section of Mind Body Bowl is about the mind. Annie defines mindfulness as ‘being aware of the present moment and having a conscious understanding and acceptance of the way you feel’.
In this section of the book, she considers how the way we approach things can be such an important part of finding balance. She points out that goal setting can lead us to ‘end up in a cycle of chasing happiness but never allowing ourselves to reach it.’ She argues that we will feel better if we ‘find happiness on the way towards our goals.’
Among many gems in this section, Annie reminds us to be kind, starting with ourselves and to treat ourselves as we would our friends. She reminds us of the danger of comparing ourselves to others and recommends just trying to be the best version of yourself instead.
Annie reminds us that we are responsible for our own happiness and that sometimes we need to look after number one. She also points out that we are not responsible for the happiness of others – we can’t fix everything for everyone else.
In this section, Annie gives us a set of questions to answer to discover what is important to us. These questions direct us to consider what in our current lives does and doesn’t make us happy.
In this section, she also talks about procrastination and stress management and offers techniques such as yogic breathing, meditation, and exercise to help us with these difficulties.
In the second section of Mind Body Bowl, Annie reminds us that our bodies are amazing, a fact that we often don’t really take in until something goes wrong. She points out that we are often harsh about our bodies and criticize them rather than being loving and caring.
Annie encourages us to practice self-acceptance and to stop viewing our bodies in purely aesthetic terms but to think about all they enable us to do. She reminds us that more important than how we look, is how we feel. ‘You only have this one body – so the best thing we can do is to accept it, look after it, protect it and love it.’
In this section she talks about exercise, starting with some of the reasons why we don’t exercise, including self-consciousness, lack of time and motivation and finding it boring. To help with motivation she recommends that we find something we enjoy. She also suggests booking a class or finding a workout buddy in order to help with commitment. She suggests that if we make it as easy as possible to do then we are much more likely to do it.
Another good point Annie makes is that, while we often don’t feel we have time to exercise or prepare fresh food when our days are crammed full, actually these things will make us more productive and save us time.
The next section is on yoga and Annie explains why yoga is important for both the mind and body. She offers a good explanation of the different types of yoga and includes and explanation of the types of yoga poses. There are no actual instructions or diagrams explaining yoga poses, but the author does include suggestions as to where to get further information.
Annie says ‘ A big part of a healthy lifestyle for some of us will include shifting towards more natural products with fewer nasty ingredients.’
As always Annie keeps her approach to this subject simple. She suggests switching to natural shampoos, using apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse and switching to a natural deodorant. She also explains how coconut oil can have a multitude of uses including a moisturizer makeup remover, a hair mask and after sun. This has the advantage of simplifying our beauty routines and making traveling simpler. The added bonus of making these changes is that they are kinder to the environment as well as our bodies.
In the final section of Mind Body Bowl, Annie talks about food and nutrition. Again she encourages us to find what works for us, learning to study our own bodies and minds to see how what we eat affects us. She asks us to think about what food means to us, is it fuel a social activity, a hobby or a pleasure?
She says ‘I suppose the key is education – not necessarily what you learn from external sources but a combination of understanding key principles and recognizing your own needs, habits, and feelings. Annie advocates making sustainable changes to our lifestyle rather than choosing rigid plans or looking for quick fixes. She points out the importance of getting in tune with our own bodies. Annie also reminds us that our needs may change over time. To help with this she suggests keeping a food diary.
This section includes sections on breaking bad habits, an explanation of store cupboard essentials and information on nutrition and a balanced diet.
There follows a section of nearly 60 recipes that are dairy, gluten, and refined sugar-free and also entirely plant based. The recipes include breakfasts, soups, and salads, hearty meals, sides, and snacks.
My thoughts on this book
Mind Body Bowl is a great resource for anyone just beginning a journey to a healthier more balanced lifestyle. If you already know a lot about mindfulness, nutrition, yoga, meditation it might not be for you.
I would rate Mind Body Bowl 8/10 as it is a great introduction to the subject of creating a healthy balanced life. It is also beautifully styled making it a pleasure to read.
You can find out more about Annie Clarke and her book here: