My Health Rules: Nahid De Belgeonne
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My day starts with breathwork. The first thing I do when I wake up is practise a 6:6 breathing technique – I inhale for six seconds and exhale for six seconds. Breathwork is powerful and, when done for 15 minutes, it really does set your nervous system response for the day ahead. I then head to the kitchen and make a mug of hot water which I enjoy in the garden, whatever the weather. Getting daylight first thing is imperative to support your circadian rhythm. I then jump on my rebounder (a mini trampoline) for 20-30 minutes, which gets my energy going and sets me up for my morning clients. If I’m not teaching till later in the morning, I’ll head to the beach with my dogs.
I’m a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast. I have stewed apple with sheep’s milk yoghurt every morning. If I’ve run out of yoghurt, I’ll have two boiled eggs with half an avocado and a black coffee. I haven’t eaten meat since I was 19. I try to eat oily fish twice a week to optimise brain health and I avoid simple carbs, instead prioritising protein and vegetables. I never snack between meals but keep toasted nori sheets in my handbag just in case.
For me, exercise has always had an emotional element. When I was a teenager and didn’t know how to manage my emotions, I sought out practices that I thought would help soothe me. I started running when I wanted to leave home, kickboxing when I left my first husband and yoga when I was trapped in a well-paid job that gave me no purpose beyond the generous pay. I understood then that movement had the power to shift my emotional state. I didn’t want to spend my life anticipating things going wrong, nor did I want to exhaust myself with exercise almost as if I was trying to run away from my thoughts.
The Human Method was years in the making. I owned several studios in London in the early 2000s, which quickly became my testing ground. I tried out various approaches of restorative movement and somatic healing on clients and tracked the outcomes. Physical movement can take you so far but if you want to affect sustainable change you need to change your brain. The Human Method works to harmonise mind and body, transforming the health of everyone from burned-out highfliers, A-list celebrities and athletes right through to clients recovering from illness, injury, sleep issues, stress and anxiety. It is a new body-to-brain self-learning method that will effortlessly change your habits so that ‘calm and considered’ become your default setting. You will cultivate the ability to listen to the signals from your body and mind – a process called interoception – to bring yourself back into balance and equilibrium, no matter what life throws at you.
I weave movement throughout my day. Our lives are increasingly sedentary and so many of us are scared of intense exercise, but staying active doesn’t need to mean a 10k run. After every client I teach, I pop on my rebounder to release energy, even for just a few minutes, lift weights for ten minutes or hop on my Power Plate. In the late afternoon, I meditate for 20 minutes to reset my brain and, before bed, I do some restorative movement to unwind and aid sleep. I’m a big believer in movement to transition from one activity to the next to soothe your brain and work through your emotions, as well as to keep your joints healthy so you can move with ease.
I do 15 minutes of cardio a day. This is my non-negotiable fitness rule, but it’s not prescriptive. At the moment, I am enjoying boxing, kettlebells, resistance band work, gyrokinesis (a gentle form of yoga designed to support spinal health), yoga, Pilates and walking.
Movement keeps your brain firing on all cylinders. If you don’t prioritise your health in your 50s, when will you? The trick is to find a form of movement you love and to do it often throughout the day. I do my own cleaning by rotating through the rooms in my house one by one each day – I find this incredibly mindless and it’s satisfying as it has a start and a finish point, unlike work in the information age, which is never-ending – use your inbox as an example. Sitting down for long periods of time completely negates an hour’s exercise class – so move more. It really is that simple.
Be kind to yourself. Mindfulness may not come naturally to you later in life, especially if it’s not something that’s already part of your routine, but the benefits are endless. My top tip is to cultivate a more compassionate relationship for yourself – move more, build in active rest throughout your day and, if you do feel stressed or overwhelmed, soothe yourself with rest, movement, fresh air, breathwork or meditation. Even writing down your thoughts can help.
Don’t underestimate the power of rest. Rest is still considered indulgent by many, and most people feel guilty when taking a minute for themselves, but giving yourself permission to rest is paramount. Think of rest as preparing you for action and you’re more likely to prioritise it. Rather than being in action mode 24/7 and then expecting to hit the pillow and sleep, think of your nervous system as a rechargeable battery. After a night of deep sleep, you have energy for action and you then recharge with rest, and you can then cycle through rest and action throughout the day. This is both a sustainable and nourishing approach to life. The Human Method does the hard work for you – it’s a neuro-science informed practice that will reduce stress, anxiety and improve the quality of movement and sleep.
Moving out of London gave me headspace. Despite being a Londoner all my life, I moved to the seaside in 2020. I love London, but I also love fresh air, the sea and living in a house with a garden. I have built a studio in my garden and run my online clinic while looking out on my newly planted garden and watching the antics of the birds and squirrels – it gives me perspective.
Supplements keep me on track. Every day, I take 1000mg of Peak EPA omega-3, a fantastic form of fish oil that is clinically proven to increase omega-3 levels in the body. I also swear by Oskia’s Pure MSM – it’s a naturally occurring, organic sulphur compound that supports collagen, keratin and glutathione production to support skin health and the immune system. I also take vitamin C, a combined calcium and magnesium, and garlic capsules.
For more information or to book a class with Nahid, visit TheHumanMethod.co.uk and follow @TheHumanMethodUK. Nahid will be hosting Soothe Retreats in May and June, and you can also sign up for her Soothe Programme, a three-month programme of private sessions for support with chronic issues such as anxiety, burnout, stress and sleep.
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