BLOG: Feeling good

Feeling good? I hope so! The wellness industry is booming with intentional wellness being factored into the design and build of the places where we spend most of our time. As the Global Wellness Institute reports:

From 2015-2017, the wellness economy grew from $3.7 trillion to $4.2 trillion, or by 6.4% annually, a growth rate nearly twice as fast as global economic growth (3.6%).”

Since turning 40, ‘feeling good’ has taken on a whole new meaning to me and I’ve become so aware of the volume of marketing to my age group about health and wellbeing. This is the age category, after all, most likely to be juggling dependent kids, elderly parents and peaking career pressures. With time poverty, stress, and daily anti-ageing battles, it’s no wonder there are whole industries built around telling us what to do to look and feel better, and how to chase the elixir of youth.

Across all age groups though it seems that never before have we marketed so much what it means to be well. Marketing and advertising the wellbeing of people, buildings, workplaces, public spaces and our local communities has moved from niche to mainstream with an increasingly sensitive, health conscious and environmentally aware population.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day

We know being outdoors, ideally within nature, exercising, doses of sunshine, are all attributed to strong mental and physical health. Nina Simone sang about all of this long ago, appreciating birds flying high, sun in the sky, blossom on the trees, rivers running free and so on…Feeling good’ is a guide to conscious wellbeing that perhaps we’re more receptive to than ever before.

Local councils now have health and wellbeing boards to oversee the healthy places in which live, work and play, and employers increasingly use it as a differentiator in their employee value propositions. Brands that are seen as feel good brands are having an exponential rise whether that’s selling vegan food, sustainable products, or green infrastructure.

In 2014, I worked with Team England Taekwon-Do competitor, Sam Taylor, as she was making the switch to a plant-based diet. As an early adopter, I asked her what motivated the switch at the time, how she’s managed to sustain it, and what does she think about the growing popularity of plant-based living:

“I originally switched to a plant-based diet when I was competing in Taekwon-Do and mixed martial arts and having to meet weight categories. The original plan of starving me down to the necessary weight was one I really didn’t enjoy. So under the advice of a qualified nutritionist I took on a plant-based nutrition plan. I was far from eating an ideal amount, but I was at least getting some nutrition in and felt so much better. It worked well and I became No 2 in Europe and No 3 in the world in my sparring weight category.

Moving on from martial arts to then take up triathlon, where in my first year I qualified to represent GB for my age-group, I decided to maintain my plant-based diet. Now of course I ensure I get enough calories from a suitable mix of carbs, protein, fats along with other minerals and nutrients – mainly achieved through eating a varied and in season selection of plants, vegetables, pulses, grains, nuts, fruit etc, which involves having a good variety of foods throughout the week and each plate being full of different colours. The result was I kept feeling better and better, with more energy and faster recovery rates.

This year I did my first middle distance triathlon and was the overall winning female of the New Forest Middle distance triathlon in September, so it’s all working well!

Things are much easier now, with lots of restaurants and supermarkets having plant-based options, which is fantastic, as it makes it so much more accessible for everyone to try it. However, just because something is labelled “plant-based” or “vegan” don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s healthy. Yes, I eat vegan ice cream and chocolate, but overall, I try to ensure I eat whole real plant foods which I think is key to getting the health benefits.

That’s the advice I give to anyone looking to change their diet to get a bit healthier – whether it’s just one meal a week, one day a week, weekends, or whatever suits you, try making your plate full of whole nourishing plant food sources and see how you go.

So if you can meaningfully connect yourself or your brand with the wellbeing movement, now is the time to do it. Giving as much time and consideration to creating a clear and authentic brand purpose for your employees and customers socially, as much as commercially, as well as being prepared to live it for the long term, can only make you feel really good.

Follow Sam’s blog about her plant-based journey here.

Song credit: Nina Simone.

Images copyright: Becky Jones.

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