It sounds so simple when you put it like that but, given my previous long list of diet and fitness fails, the idea that just talking to someone could make much of a difference seemed, well, a bit far fetched.
But Daniela was quick to point out: ‘I don’t want to put you on a diet or make you deprive yourself of anything, the idea is simply to introduce small changes over a six month period so that eventually the good habits push out the bad.’
For example, one of the questions was about the types of foods I would generally have for breakfast, lunch and dinner, on seeing that I often tuck into eggs in the morning, Daniela suggested I add something green too.
My first thought was spinach but she also pointed out that avocados, if you like them, are an all-round super food – good fats, good carbs and just generally one of the best things you can eat for overall health.
Truly, it’s not rocket science but I would never have thought of adding half an avocado to my hard-boiled egg – an easy portable option to take to work.
She also mentioned that the latest research suggests drinking lots of milk, as we’ve all been encouraged to do for years in hopes of avoiding osteoporosis in old age, is not such a good idea as was previously thought. It turns out taking lots of calcium from milk can make the bones too strong, if that’s possible, or in effect make them so hard they are prone to snapping due to the lack of elasticity.
I’m thinking bye-bye morning cereal, but Daniela suggests trying different kinds of milk such as almond, which can apparently be made really easily if you have a good blender.
Daniela has studied with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York, one of the world’s largest and best-recognised facilities, which teaches a completely holistic approach to health.
She explains: ‘We refer to primary foods and secondary foods. The primary foods are our relationships, career, physical activity and spirituality – pretty much everything that affects our wellbeing both physical and mental. The secondary foods are actually nutrition.
‘We’re taught to take the whole person into account. For example if you’re in a happy relationship with a partner or children to cook for, you’re likely to be trying to cook healthy meals or if you’re in a stressful situation at work, you may well find yourself craving a sugar fix from chocolate.
‘They are things that make sense and which many of us know but don’t take into account when we are looking at how we can make the changes that will improve our lives.
‘With a regular client I would talk about goals, setting them realistically and working towards them with small lifestyle changes such as avoiding trigger situations where you will become stressed and making small changes to your everyday diet which will help you feel better.’
‘Diet should be based in Bio-Individuality: the theory that one person’s food is another person’s poison, is based on age, gender, race, blood type and level of activity. Respect the individual before the theory - crowding out [the bad] by adding foods into the diet instead of taking foods away.’
When we move on to the next stage of the discussion, general fitness, I feel slightly guilty as I admit I cancelled the previous evening’s Body Pump class, which was to have been only my second visit to the gym in more than two years.
I’d known it was going to hurt and simply couldn’t face the thought of a weekend spent in agony. But that’s where the idea of health coaching is so good, Daniela tells me I should start back into exercise more gently – again not rocket science but something I almost needed permission to consider.
Rather than beating myself up over the Body Pump failure, I agree a Zumba session, which I remember loving in my dim, distant fitness past, coupled with yoga and more walking has much more chance of success since I won’t be dreading it every time I put my trainers on.
And then it’s on to my final goal. I’m expecting the pursed lips and disapproving tsk-tsk so beloved of health professionals when the subject of nicotine raises its ugly head. But, instead, Daniela is reassuringly forgiving telling me that after six months of small changes to improve my overall health, tackling the evil weed will seem like a logical progression and probably a lot less difficult than I imagine. Phew!
After an initial free consultation, Daniela sees clients twice a month for six months – which can also be done by phone or video link – and there are group meet-ups for people facing similar challenges. She also offers a selection of hand-outs and recipe ideas from both her own experience the IIN. Costs start at BD75.500 per month and she can be contacted at www.danielarosu.com.