This week, we learn all about listening and honouring our bodies when faced with life’s natural phases of transition. May Simpkin, nutritionist, shares her story, advice and best practices for pursuing wellbeing.
Tell us your story - what sparked you to pursue a career in nutrition?
I had been at home with my children for a number of years. Despite their young age, I was beginning to fear the dreaded “empty nest.” So, I decided to go back to studying but with no clear path in my mind - just interest, and that was food and nutrition. I was fascinated with how food and diet can impact our health, and wanted to learn more.
It began with a basic Anatomy and Physiology course, six years later I graduated with a Masters in Personalised Nutrition. I couldn’t be more thankful for the decision to study nutrition!
What is your London? What is it about?
I spend a lot of time in France; I own and run a chateau in the Loire valley as a holiday property and love the rural French way of life. Yet, when I am back in London, I come alive! The energy, opportunities and beauty of London is unrivalled, but perhaps I’m biased. I’ve lived close to London for a huge part of my life and thrive on all it has to offer.
How do you find balance, and what keeps you inspired?
Balance is a big part of my approach. I have no hesitation in switching off and taking a moment for myself, whether that’s a walk, yoga, creating, cooking a new recipe or simply relaxing deep in my thoughts.
Allowing yourself the time to recharge and unplug is when the inspiration flows. I do everything with passion and it is this passion that keeps me inspired to learn and progress in anything I do.
What do you do to motivate yourself, or to switch up energy throughout the day?
Walking works wonders for me. If I’m feeling low or lacking in motivation, “mind over matter,” I put my walking shoes on and head outdoors, come rain or shine. I never come back wishing I hadn’t done it.
A cup of tea also helps!
How do you define wellbeing?
Wellbeing, for me, is about respecting your body and its needs. It is not any one thing that allows you to remain healthy, energised and feeling well.
I aim to follow the 5 action pillars that I believe offer ultimate physical and mental wellbeing:
- Eat Well
- Relax & Restore
Any tips for tuning into our bodies’ needs?
Listen to your body! Your body is exceptionally clever and will send out messages to let you know there is an imbalance somewhere. Whether that manifests itself as a skin issue, lack of energy or other, more obvious symptoms, do not ignore them. Make changes and get to the root of the issue. There is always a cause!
What are some of the most common food myths you’ve encountered?
There is a whole generation out there that believes that fats are the enemy! They are not, rather we need to be eating many more healthy fats in our diet, including butter!
Do you have any advice for readers wanting to regain power over their food choices and hormonal balance?
Regaining control is easier than you think; in the first instance eliminate refined sugars and processed foods. Then, replace them with vegetables but way more than you might think.
We’re aiming for 7-10 portions. Vegetables are phytoestrogens and will help to redress any natural imbalances - this in itself will go a long way to helping you to feel more balanced.
How can we be kinder to ourselves as we pursue wellbeing?
Remember, it is a journey. Start with small, simple steps and keep adding to them gradually over time. You’ll soon find you have embarked on a healthier lifestyle that has a positive effect on your wellbeing and that will make it far easier to sustain.
What’s your go-to movement practice, or exercise that sparks joy?
It’s definitely walking for me; being outdoors and walking briskly makes me feel energised and alive. If time allows, I love yoga and always feel incredible after a session. The joy is in the achievement, no matter how small.
What’s your life’s philosophy or mantra?
Put yourself first, so that you can serve others to the best of ability. Keep learning, be curious and embrace change; it’s the best way to ensure you do not stagnate in life.
Menopause is a challenging, yet exciting period for many women. How can women embrace this change and adapt their lifestyles to ease the transition?
The Menopause years are an incredible phase in life. With the right knowledge and understanding on how to manage your health during this time, you can feel liberated and revived, able to fully embrace the opportunities this phase offers.
Sleep can greatly affect our mood and stress levels. What’s your ideal winding down routine to find peace and calm?
Good sleep is paramount to overall health and creating a bedtime routine can really help ensure a good night’s sleep. Give yourself permission to wind down and relax; the chores can wait until the next day. Perhaps have a hot bath and read something easy and unlikely to challenge your thoughts. Try to avoid alcohol and choose a calming herbal tea instead.
Something you’re looking forward to?
I love spending quality time with like-minded people, especially to host and welcome people to my home. I cannot wait to do exactly that during my next retreat! I have the opportunity to teach women diet and lifestyle tips over 4 days, where they can start to make a difference as they navigate the tricky menopause years.
My expert stylist, Anita Feron Clark, will also be joining me on the retreat, and I look forward to learning from her as well. She will focus on our changing body shape, skin tone and advise on the styles and colours that work best for us. It’s a whole-body approach!
I’m so excited to be running this special Menopause retreat.
What are your top 5 tips for living well?
- A good healthy diet. Unsurprisingly, plenty of fibre-rich vegetables in varying colours, healthy anti-inflammatory fats and good hydration are essential.
- Daily Movement. It’s important to introduce more activity throughout the whole day, not just during an exercise session.
- Sleep Hygiene. A good bedtime routine will help you relax and unwind.
- Connect with like-minded people. This will keep you inspired and motivated.
- Keep learning. With knowledge and understanding, you can keep progressing.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this interview and are interested in implementing these practices within your own life, we highly recommend that you join May at her upcoming retreat in the Loire Valley, France.
Focused around Yoga & Menopause, the retreat runs from the 28th of September to the 2nd of October, 2022. A host of restorative activities are ready to welcome you, including daily yoga practices, wine-tastings, cooking classes and exploring the beautiful surroundings. Tune into your body as you discover the power of nutrition, and demystify menopause with the guidance of the knowledgeable and practical May Simpkin. The break you deserve!