How are you getting on with your ‘chosen word’ for the year?

Are you remaining true to it? Have your decisions and actions been in line with your word? Or, has your chosen word fallen by the wayside? 

This is a chance for you to review where you are at and how things are going.

Earlier this year, I shared my chosen word for the year: courage. There are things I’d been wanting to do for some time, things that had been brewing and bubbling under the surface that I’d not been ready to acknowledge or couldn’t find the courage and energy to take forwards. Then came the point when I could no longer ignore the deep inner sense and increasing conviction that I felt inside my stomach, chest, and throat compelling me to take action. Much as I loved my career, I knew I wanted to work more on my passion for health and wellbeing, I wanted to spend more time with my family and I wanted a summer break. So, I put the word out and publicly committed to making a change.

The first thing I did was resign from my full-time job. I felt I needed to let it go in order to achieve my goals. Yet, just four hours after I handed in my notice, all the things I dreamed of became my new reality. I was applauded for taking a courageous step and offered the opportunity to work part-time, which means I now no longer feel torn. I can enjoy the balance and fulfillment I craved, and dedicate more time to my role as a health and wellness advocate.

It feels wonderful! I have no regrets. Sure, I feel a little scared at times but overall, I feel liberated and optimistic for the future.

My lesson going forward is that whilst we don’t know what the future will bring, if something feels right to us, things’ll be ok.

Since taking that first step, daunting yet exciting opportunities have come my way: Alex and I are writing a book (watch this space!); I was asked to be a wellness expert and contributor to a local female empowerment group, and I am now the owner of a wellness practice. Once upon a time, all of this would only have been dreams: I wouldn’t have been open to or had the courage to seriously consider taking on such initiatives. But now I do have the courage to move forward and I’m ready to embrace the opportunities and tackle whatever challenges they bring.

What’s holding you back?

Now, let’s talk about you: If you’re not living in alignment with your word for 2017, now’s the chance to ask yourself why not and what is holding you back? Remember you chose your word or it chose you so something about it resonated with you. If you are not following through, what is holding you back?

Is it fear? If so, of what? Are you afraid of failure or perhaps of success and what it might lead to? How can you mitigate that fear? What will help you with that? Are there things you don’t know how to do? If that’s what’s holding you back, then get help. I did: the financial aspects of running a business strike terror in me so I’ve asked a friend who has the right skillset to come into the business with me. I’m not going to allow fear to hold me back.

Or, perhaps this isn’t what you really want. Are you hiding behind excuses: “I’ve been too busy”, ‘So and so happened and I just couldn’t find the time…”? What does this tell you? Maybe you don’t really want this.

Let me ask you, how would you feel if you don’t move forwards? Check in emotionally and physically.  Will you regret it if you don’t? Or, is the issue that you don’t feel worthy or good enough?

All of these emotions are natural and fine to feel. It’s part of the journey. Believe me, I felt all of these along the way – and still do now. If it’s not really important to you that’s fine but check in and ask yourself, what do I want this year to be about? Do I want to recommit to my word or do I want to commit to something else? Then take some action. Action brings you closer to your goals and desires and gives you a great psychological boost.

How to move forward

Perhaps you know what you want to do but you don’t know where to start. Here are some ideas to help you take action:

  1. Make some commitment to your word or goal. Write it down on paper. Say it publicly or say it to a friend.
  2. Listen to how the decision feels in your body and the sensations it evokes. If there is fear think about what you can do to mitigate it. Perhaps it is enlisting the help of a friend to do something with you.
  3. Hold yourself accountable. Perhaps share your inspirations with a friend who will support you, be it by joining the gym with you, encouraging you to take relevant courses or use their own skill set to take you forward
  4. Identify one thing today that you could do right now to move closer to your aim, followed by a goal for the week ahead, and then the month ahead. You get the picture.

I’d love to hear how your year is going and how you’ve found working with your 2017 chosen word. What have been your achievements? What are the challenges you are facing and need help with? Remember there is no such thing as failures just lessons learned on the way.

Please share your thoughts with me!


Courageously yours,

Alison Middleton



Food of the Gods or Dieters’ Nightmare?

Can you guess what I’m referring to?

Chocolate, of course.  With Easter fast approaching and the shops overrun with every kind and size of chocolate egg possible, it’s hard not to think about the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth sweet stuff.

Chocolate is, without a doubt, one the most craved-for foods of all time. It makes us feel good. Well, that is until the guilt of indulging, or even overindulging, kicks in.

Chocolate Easter bunnies aside, most of us turn to chocolate at times of celebration or desperation. You might share a bar of chocolate with friends at the end of a lovely meal. Or, you might devour a whole slab of chocolate locked away in your bedroom at the start of your dreaded period.

So what’s the deal with chocolate? Is it our friend or foe?  Is it good for you or does it solely serve to pile on the pounds and the guilt? 

The answer depends on the type of chocolate you’re eating. Most of the chocolate consumed nowadays is full of sugar and nasty ingredients.

Here’s a piece of chocolate’s history for you:

Chocolate comes from cacao beans, which are seeds of the fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree native in tropical regions of South and South America. Research shows it was first consumed in the form of a bitter frothy drink around 1900 BC in Mexico, so very different from the sweet treat we enjoy today. Cacao beans were fermented, roasted, and then ground into a paste mixed with water and spices like chili peppers and vanilla and later on sweetened with honey or cinnamon.

The Mayans and Aztecs revered chocolate for its invigorating and mood enhancing properties. The Mayans worshipped a god of cacao and reserved chocolate for rulers, warriors, priests and nobles hence it became known as ‘Food of the Gods’.

It continued to be consumed only in exclusive circles until Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten invented the cocoa press in 1828. This separated the cocoa butter from roasted cacao beans, leaving behind a dry cake that could be ground into a fine powder that was mixed with liquids and other ingredients and could be poured into moulds. Chocolate became available and affordable for the masses.

In 1847, the first solid chocolate bar, made from just 3 ingredients – cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar, was introduced by the British c company J.S. Fry & Sons. Cadburys, Hersheys, and Mars came into the picture in the 1900s and introduced the different sweet variations we have today.

So, with all the extra nasties now present in that innocent-looking bar of chocolate, you can indulge in an occasional treat but if you’re looking to enjoy something healthier and guilt-free, why not give minimally processed dark raw chocolate a try? Make sure it’s organic and fair trade and has a cacao content of at least 70%. A single square of chocolate packs a mighty punch of the most powerful antioxidants and the least amount of sugar.  The higher the percentage of cacao the greater the potential health benefits.

I know, raw chocolate is an acquired taste.  The polyphenols are what make the chocolate bitter, which is why manufacturers remove them and, as a consequence, we lose the health benefits. The good news is that you can train your palate to enjoy raw dark chocolate. My son is milk (lactose) intolerant so I decided to buy it for him. And then, of course, I had to try some too. At first, we both found it very bitter but we gradually came to enjoy it.  He and I often have a piece of raw dark chocolate in the evening after our meal. One or two pieces is enough as it is so rich, which it means a whole bar lasts a few evenings AND we don’t over-indulge and scoff the lot in one go!

So, what are the health benefits of dark raw chocolate?

A 2013 paper in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine hailed cacao as a complete food for its:

  • healthy monosaturated fats
  • high levels of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the levels of strawberries) which are critical in protecting the body from damage and ageing.
  • positive effects on our cardiovascular system, helping reduce blood pressure and cholesterol
  • high levels of minerals, including potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, and magnesium, all critical for the body’s efficient functioning.
  • ability to improve brain function. thought to be due to the high content of flavonoids. Various studies bear this out.
  • Mood enhancing properties. It contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love.

Just an ounce of dark chocolate with 70 percent to 85 percent cacao solids contains around:

  • 168 calories
  • 12.8 grams carbohydrates
  • 2.2 grams protein
  • 12 grams fat
  • 3.1 grams fibre

Click here for a nutritional breakdown:

So you can see why it has been referred to as Food of The Gods. 

Cacao v cocoa?

These can be used interchangeably but in cooking and baking, I tend to choose raw cacao powder as it retains more of its natural goodness.  Cocoa powder, on the other hand, is typically heated at much higher temperatures, destroying many of the health properties. It also often contains sugar. You could also try raw cacao nibs. A sprinkling makes a great addition to porridge or to your smoothie.

What about caffeine?

Dark chocolate contains caffeine but much less than coffee. Compare a 1.5-ounce bar of dark chocolate with 27 mg of caffeine, to the 200 mg in an eight-ounce cup of coffee. However, if you do have trouble sleeping don’t indulge in chocolate from late afternoon onwards as some people find it gets in the way of a restful night’s sleep.

So, to sum up:

If you want to enjoy the health benefits of this Food of The Gods consume dark chocolate. Look out for the highest percentage cacao content you can find (at least 70%), check the sugar content, consume in moderation, relax and relish its rich deliciousness.

Alison Middeton