Fran McElwaine

Habits & Health episode 5 - Fran McElwaine

Habits & Health episode 5 with Fran McElwaine, who is a functional medicine consultant and coach. She has had a lot of success with helping people off of their cravings.

  • Resistance to change
  • Meditation
  • How we get in our own way
  • The Mind-Body connection
  • Functional medicine
  • The metabolism
  • Cravings

Favourite book:

Feel Better In 5 The 4 Pillar Plan How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life The Stress Solution The 4 Steps to calmer, happier, healthier you Feel Great, Loose Weight

The 4 Pillar Plan: How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life – Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Feel Great Lose Weight: Long term, simple habits for lasting and sustainable weight loss – Dr Rangan Chatterjee

The Stress Solution: The 4 Steps to calmer, happier, healthier you: The 4 Steps to a calmer, happier, healthier you – Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Feel Better In 5: Your Daily Plan to Feel Great for Life – Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Favourite Quote:

Hippocrates – “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”


Habits & Health links:

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Details of online workshops to create habits for health

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Take part in Tony’s free 5-day-programme

This video is related to an older episode featuring Miriam Trahan

Tony Winyard 0:01

Habits and health Episode Five. Welcome to the podcast where we give you ideas for habits you can create that will improve some aspects of your health. Today's guest is Fran McElwaine. She's a health coach. And she helps people around areas with food sensitivities and nutrition and the mind body connection. And really helping people to we're empowering them to through education so they can take back control of their own health. So we're going to hear a lot more from Fran very soon as she gives a really good analogy on on what how she helps people so that that's coming up. There was a slight problem with my microphone during this episode, I've managed to work out what it was so it won't happen in any future episodes. But my voice does sound a little bit strange in this but the main voice you're going to be hearing is Fran, please do subscribe to the show. So you can get get it as soon as it's released that we choose the afternoon. And please do leave a review so other people get to know about the show. And then they can make a decision as to whether it's something that's for them or not. Right now time for this week's episode.

Habits and health. My guest today is Fran McElwaine. How are you Fran?

Fran McElwaine 1:18

I'm good. Tony. Thank you very much.

Tony Winyard 1:21

And it's you were saying before we started recording this, that spring is here at last.

Fran McElwaine 1:26

Oh, isn't that lovely? I heard that we just tick past that 10 hours of light a day, which is the signal that tells all the buds to collect and all the all the flowers to push their way up. So really good. I was walking yesterday and saw blossom on the trees, which really lifted my spirits like you can't imagine. It's wonderful to see the spring coming back.

Tony Winyard 1:51

Do you typically get out quite early in the morning for work?

Fran McElwaine 1:55

I tend to go out most afternoons Actually, I that is the time in my day when it works. I would love to be able to get out in the morning. But I can find I need to kind of for me personally, I need to address things in the morning and then and then be relaxed when I'm walking to get the benefit out of it. But I do try and get my hour of sunlight as a minimum every day and daylight every day. Definitely a good habit.

Tony Winyard 2:24

You help people around health and your're a health coach.?

Fran McElwaine 2:32

I'm a health coach. That's right. So I'm all about helping people to change their habits, take up new healthy habits. I will never I'm just what amazes me is how important small things are in our lives, and how the small things add up to create really, really big change, as they're just tiny little shifts in our daily habits. And the things that we do on a regular basis can have a huge, long term, beneficial impact on our health. And it's those sorts of little tricks that I like to unlock for people to give them access to exactly those things which will help them reconnect with themselves and feel that new or resurgence of energy so they can feel like themselves.

Tony Winyard 3:29

And what was it that led you down into doing this in the first place? What were you doing previously?

Fran McElwaine 3:37

Oh, I think my story is will be familiar to a lot of people, a lot of a lot of women. I used to have a kind of big old corporate job, super stressful, lots of travelling, and lots of responsibility. And I kind of thought I act reasonably well. I used to have ages and I would occasionally go to the gym. And I was really, really surprised when I actually got it. It was diagnosed as pre diabetic. I knew I put on weight. I knew I wasn't as good as I could be. But I hadn't really expected to have a to have a medical issue. I knew I was exhausted. I was tired the whole time. I had all sorts of aches and pains. I slept really badly. And I kind of thought that that was just a part of getting older at that time. I was sort of in my mid to late 50s. And, you know, I just kind of expected that you put on a bit of weight around your tummy and you get a bit of an achy hip every now and again and all that sort of stuff. But I was really shocked by this diagnosis and I kind of felt really depressed actually that was one of the big issues was some You know, that I've actually wrestled with a lot of my life was this kind of ongoing depression that would sometimes sort of sweep sweep over me. And this diagnosis was recovery tipped me over the edge. And I was quite scared that here I was in my late 50s. With a health condition, I was putting on weight, and I was a bit worried about the future if I felt really rubbish. Then I was scared about how I was going to feel. In the future, I was scared that things were only going to get worse. From from then on in. And I had a kind of very odd and surprising experience, which was that my, my son was teasing me basically about my love, of course, it's going to be getting outside by second or third class on our family brunch. And he said, it was about this time of year, we were coming up for length a little bit earlier. And he said to me, I bet you couldn't give up bread for Lent. Cheese. Okay, I'll, I'll give up bread or bread. And and, sure, I'll give up bread for Lent. And more than that I saw you had to give up gluten or give up all gluten for Lent, I'd kind of been doing a little bit of reading about, you know, tummy fat and fatigue and stuff like that, and I kind of had come across that might have been an issue. So the challenge, the gauntlet has been thrown down. And I rose to the challenge. And I gave up. And I gave up all gluten for Lent. And the first few days were absolutely miserable. I was, oh, headaches of the scale, and cravings like you can't imagine. Just really, oh exhausted, I just thought felt I had to go to sleep the whole time. And but I thought no, I'm not going to let this 16 year old get the better of me. And I kind of powered through. And about two weeks into my little experiment, I was down. And I got up in the morning and I was downstairs putting the kettle on. And I thought something's different something What is different about this morning, and then everybody's like that didn't have a headache. And it was like, you know, when the when the washing machine stops, it's been cycled, and he suddenly kind of enjoy the quiet.

It was I until that moment, I hadn't realised that I had woken up every single day with a headache, thinking that this was normal. And of course, it's not normal know how to pick up with a headache. And I thought, Wow, this is great. And then a couple of days later by this huge surge of energy. And all this depression, this kind of, you know, just feeling rubbish, just kind of lifted, it just evaporated. And I thought this is bizarre. I thought this is bizarre, how can just changing this one thing in my life makes such a big, big difference. I lost weight, I lost about it over the course of the month, I lost nearly a stone, really without trying. And I thought I'm gonna have to learn about this, I'm gonna have to understand what is going on here. Because if this small thing had such a big difference in my life, what other small things, you know, could make a big difference. And, you know, what are the rules here? How does this game work? And so again, I kind of you start where you are, and you do what you can. And so I trained in integrative nutrition. Initially, it was for myself to learn about my own health. And the more I learned, the more fascinated I became and the whole process and realise the, you know, the huge significance of the daily choices that we make each day and how what is normal, for most people is really, really not optimal. And this huge difference between what our you know, what our DNA has been designed around, what you know, what our body understands as food and what we're actually eating for the most part these days. You know, the difference between that is significant and it's when you understand that difference of you understand how the body uses food as inflammation to kind of understand how safe it is in the world and the importance of that of the quality of the food that we ingest, to help our body do what it wants to do, which is to look after us. Once you understand that. There's no going back. You want to make the best possible choices. And for my part, I wanted other people to feel like this. I wanted to unlock the secrets That's somebody else because it was so empowering. It was so exciting. It was honestly, it was like having the veil lifted, it was like sort of the fog evaporating and, and I and I felt great, I felt absolutely fantastic. And I went on to after studying integrative nutrition, I started working as a health coach, helping people with their sort of daily choices. And then I wanted to take it a bit further and studied functional medicine for coaching, to really be able to dig deep with people's issues, special chronic issues. So many people today struggle with the sorts of things that I mean that so many people today struggle with dis ease, and it's become normal, it's, you know, we will talk about our achy backs, or we talk about our cravings as though we know we joke about our cravings, haha, how could I possibly give up chocolate, it's normal to be addicted to anything, it's not normal to be addicted to anything, whether it's food, or whether it's alcohol or anything else, it's, it's a sign of some sort of dysregulation, and we've become so used to these little dis regulations that we just accept them as part of our life. And, and that is the exciting thing about what I do is to is to help people reconnect with their relationship with food, their relationship with themselves, simply through the small choices that they make every day. And those small choices have a big impact.

Tony Winyard 11:41

And that all started from daring you to give up bread?

Fran McElwaine 11:45

Yeah, for my cheeky son. I thought so. And so when he said that, but actually, I am eternally grateful. Isn't amazing in life, how, you know, they're kind of flexion points that happen, that are really significant, and you don't see them in that moment. You know, it's only when you look back, you think, Oh, my gosh, that was a moment when I made a choice, that was really important. And that little choice to give, you know, to give up gluten for me was was a big life changing thing. Now, I'm not saying that gluten is a problem for everybody, not at all. But you know, what, what is exciting is to be able to find out what are the exact issues for each person. For me, it was a big deal. But it's not the case of everybody. And that's, and that's, again, a really important point, because there is no one size fits all. You know, there's no one diet that works for everybody, or one approach that works for everybody. And the question is, is how do we tailor? How do we tailor things for each person's individual needs, and individual lifestyle, and individual requirements? We're all different, we all need different solutions.

Tony Winyard 12:55

We're gonna come back to that a little bit later and touch upon how easy or difficult did you find... obviously you did quite a bit of training, once you decided you were going to go on that goal. How easy or difficult was that training that you did?

Fran McElwaine 13:12

It wasn't that difficult. Because I was so fascinated in it's, it was so relevant to, to my life and my experience, and, you know, to the people around me. And so I was really, yeah, I was just fascinated by the whole process and couldn't, couldn't learn enough. And just kind of went on. And still, I mean, I still, I'm still learning and, and, you know, keeping myself up to speed with things because, you know, the more you get into something, the more complexities You see, and the more intriguing it becomes. And the fact is, our bodies are astonishingly beautiful, wonderful things. And the way they work the magic of, of the biochemistry is is breathtaking. And, you know, the way it is the system is so elegantly designed to find its own balance, you know, given the right tools, you know, fresh air, sunshine, clean water, good food, the body will heal itself, the body naturally wants to heal itself. That is its default position. And, you know, the problem is that life today, you know, puts so many of the wrong the wrong tools in front of us, it's so easy to spend all day in front of a screen, especially at the moment. It's so easy to eat foods that give us a kind of short term, lift, you know, create long term problems. And it's, it's it's hard to make positive choices. And one of the main reasons it's so hard Is because it's actually a little bit deep, you're deviating out of the norm. You know, you're, you're behaving in a way that is different from most people, and there's a huge societal pressure to conform. And if most of society is eating and living in a way that is detrimental to health, it is hard to step aside and start to make choices that are different from those that are generally away

Tony Winyard 15:28

from when you're working with clients who are facing those kinds of pressures that you just mentioned, how, are you able to help them move through those pressures, they're feeling?

Fran McElwaine 15:40

I think having someone go on the journey with you who believes in your ability to, to achieve what you want to achieve, makes a huge difference. And when people understand what is going on in their bodies, you know, when they eat a doughnut, or whatever it might be, when you understand what's happening is much, much easier than to make positive, positive choices. So yes, information and education is really, really important. But also, I would just like to talk about for a few minutes moments about this whole topic of addiction, I think it's it's a kind of difficult area to go to, but it's it's really, really important. Food particularly processed, and you know, processed carbohydrates are very, very addictive, they trigger the, the opiate pathways in our, in our brains, and it, there is a, there is a definite process whereby we self medicate with food. You know, so grains trigger opiate pathways and dairy products, trigger dopamine pathways. And, you know, you were kind of like rabbits in the headlights with all of this sort of processed, packaged food that is in front of us. And, you know, in my former corporate life, I used to, I used to do a lot of new product development for fmcg, fast moving consumer good food companies. So I have clients like PepsiCo and Mars and Nestle, who I love working with, by the way, but I know the process, I have seen firsthand the process by which foods are designed, specifically and deliberately to be addictive, and to get people to eat more often. And it makes sense, you know, if you if, if I was a food company, I'm in, I'm in business to make money, I would want to, I would want to make products that people want to eat. And I would want to do what I could to make sure that the products I made were eaten regularly and often. And so, you know, the sort of conversations we would have in new product development meetings with the food scientists, I mean, there's a giveaway, right? They will come in their white coats. And they will be talking about things like mouthfeel and melting point and bliss point, and, you know, all of these terminologies that, you know, they would get the exact balance of sweetness salts, so that you can keep on and on eating and the way that foods change texture so that you can keep on eating. Because in natural foods, you know, you can you know, if you have a bowl of soup, you know, okay, it's got lovely broth in it, it's got vegetables. There's a point when you think, you know, I've had enough soup, I, you know, my tummy is full, I've had the nutrition. And this getting the same taste all the time, the same texture all the time I've had enough was if you think about processed foods, the way they crunch, and the crunch turns to a kind of melt. And you've got you've got a whole kind of different experience in each bite, you get reminded of that new experience, you can keep going and going and going. And there's a sort of crisp brand, that they're advertising premises that you once you start, you can't stop. And that's because those particular products are engineered, they're completely false fake food. And they've been engineered to have that exact sweet salt balance that you can eat indefinitely. There's no way you could sit in front of a bowl of sugar and just eat it. But if you have, you know the sugar with I mean salted caramel caramel, is is like heaven for food manufacturers because that combination of sweet and salt we can eat that indefinitely and we can get All our, you know, addictive pathways fully fired up. And that's why we keep going back, we keep going back for more. So I, you know, I like to say to my clients that I want you to be in the position where you're choosing what you want to eat, we don't want those men in white coats to be making decisions for you. You know, we don't want it's not Mr. Kipling or Betty, whoever it is, you know, should who should be deciding what you eat for breakfast or tea? It's you and your body. And those, it's you and your body that's important to this whole decision making process, not anybody else.

Tony Winyard 20:40

What would you say is the most common issue that you find with your clients that they struggle with the most?

Fran McElwaine 20:47

Cravings. No, no question about it cravings. Because, um, you know, for some people, it's It is literally like, they're being taken over, you know, that the, the, the cravings are so, so strong. And, you know, we have a huge amount of sympathy for people who are giving up alcohol or who, you know, sort of overcoming a problem with recreational drugs, because we understand that that's a kind of chemical issue. But when it comes to food, we accuse people of being greedy, we do some of being lazy, where there's a huge amount of blame this kind of locked into the whole thing. And really, and truly, there is no, there is no blame, you know, you were presented with this whole kind of array of foods that we think are giving us a huge choice. But if you actually look at it, what are the what are the main ingredients, you've got wheat, soy, corn is everything. Soy, dairy, five main ingredients that are in most processed foods. So we look at all those aisles with these biscuits with chocolate chips, and those salty crackers that, you know, we think they're completely different products. But actually, they've got the same ingredients in them. And this is, you know, and this is why we get addicted to these foods, because we eat them all the time that everywhere. And this is also why we start to have problems with these foods, because we're eating them so much that we you know, can trigger reactions and things like that. So So yeah, so that's the, you know, cravings, big, big issue, and it's not. And, you know, I say to anybody, if you if you struggle with cravings, if if you find that you're kind of good for a while, and then you just crumble, this is not this is the this is the food. Talking, it's not as your is your addiction talking is is not you. So I think for a lot of people, it's like a huge relief to know that it's not to do with them being weak, it's not a question of willpower. It's a question of, it's a question of biochemistry and hormonal balance. And if you can get the biochemistry and the hormonal balance working in your favour, the cravings disappear, they evaporate, and the hunger goes, because you're eating the right food for you. And, and then the whole thing becomes incredibly easy. And, and then people say to me, oh my gosh, I had no idea. I mean, literally two weeks in, people are going, this is a revelation. And, yeah, that's and that's where it gets really exciting. That's where it gets really exciting and any, you know, the people are on their way. But, you know, even for me, there are and I've been on this game for a long time. And I'm by no means the healthiest person on the planet. But, you know, I still have my done my done moments, I still kind of get have my struggles and you know, find myself getting outside of something that I shouldn't, shouldn't be. And so I kind of really get it though, I just really, really get the whole deal around why we eat, why eat what we do eat. And you know, and how to how to how to step away from that person had to go Okay, this was today I did this today. Now I'm going to move on to something different. Just because I've just because I made a bad choice today doesn't mean I have to make a bad choice tomorrow.

Tony Winyard 24:42

Do you have a particular niche? Is there typical type of people that you work with?

Fran McElwaine 24:54

I just want to help the people who feel I can help them the best I suppose I tend to work with women. Simply because it's easy, it's kind of easier to have that relatable conversation for them. You know, I've been through menopause, I know what it's like to be overweight, I know what it's like to feel like you've got a single thing that you can wear, you know, I've been there, I really, really get it. And I think that is comforting for people, but I have male clients as well. Who sort of present with a variety of chronic conditions such as arthritis or, or IBS or something like that. So I am, I do not serve restrict myself to kind of very particular niche. My work is basically about helping people to unlock their own unique health code, whatever it might be, so that they then understand exactly what are the best choices for them. And, and that they can then make their decisions from a place of strength. So that, you know, you you may be sensitive to gluten, or dairy or cucumbers, or whatever it might be doesn't mean you can never eat those things, but you understand what is causing what and what the implications are, and how to, you know how to recover from these things? And, you know, and I think it's that clarity that makes a big difference for people. So no, it's anybody who's looking for that sort of clarity and who wants to feel more in control of, of their daily choices and, and what serves them and what doesn't.

Tony Winyard 26:43

You mentioned a couple of times, habit. What are your thoughts on habits? Why do you think people struggle with habits?

Fran McElwaine 26:55

There's a lot of interesting stuff around around habits. And basically, it's kind of human beings, we'd like what is known. And we like, you know, we like to stay within our comfort zone. And anything that is different, or changes the way of our daily routine, there's a kind of natural inbuilt resistance to it, because we don't really know what that new, whatever it might be, or that, you know, will look like. And, and it's and it's really interesting how sophisticated our brains get when it comes to coming up with reasons why we shouldn't you know, for example, get up and go for a walk in the morning, the very first question with me, I came in with a whole bunch of perfectly rational excuses as to why that didn't work for me, I know that I should be going for a walk in the morning, you know, I should be going for a walk in the morning. But I kind of, you know, persuade myself that it's better for me to do it another time of day. So we all do it, you know, it's all part of it's all part of life. And there's the you know, the thing is just to kind of recognise it, see it, see it for what it is. And you just kind of like, okay, that that's it. And I'm going to this is what I'm working towards, and be curious about your self and your responses to these things. Okay, why? Why was that? You know, why is it kind of really triggering to think of not looking at my phone first thing in the morning, my boyfriend kind of feel? And asking yourself those questions, being curious about why you respond in a certain way, kind of just opens the door, like a little chink into thinking that maybe there's another way you could do things.

Tony Winyard 28:48

Do you have any clients that you work with who they've tried lots of times in the past, they've had diets that have failed, they've tried to do new year's resolutions, they've always failed, and they just had this mindset, I just can't do these kinds of things. And they just didn't think it was gonna work. But But you were able to get them through it. And it just really surprised them?

Fran McElwaine 29:11

I think that's like, all my clients. I mean, we've all, you know, who hasn't made a resolution and there are all sorts of reasons why we don't honour the commitments we make to ourselves and that's quite as a whole complex topic right there. On its own, what is it that motivates us? Does our motivation come from internally within ourselves? Or do we need to be accountable to someone external to ourselves, so that is all part of the, that is all part of the process. But who hasn't been on a diet and you're great for a while and then it all crumbles. One of the main reasons for that is this whole, when it comes to dieting, this whole kind of calories in calories out business, it all sounds so logical and so comforting. And it makes sense. It's like a car and you put so much fuel in and run for so many miles because that makes sense. But our bodies actually, in all their elegance and beauty are much, much more complex than a car. And we don't work in on a fuel in and energy out basis. And what happens if you run at a fuel deficit for too long, they reckon it's about 10 weeks. So if you run on a fuel deficit for, more than eight to 10 weeks, what happens is just about every single hormone in your body is working against you carrying on in that way, because it's not natural, and you won't thrive. So that's why we've all been to, most of us have been to Weight Watchers, have done Slimming World we've done great, yeah, we've lost the weight. And we feel like a million dollars, we get the new clothes, and everything's wonderful. And then we wonder why 10 months, a year later, we've actually gained everything back again, plus a bit. That's because we were forcing our body to behave in a way that it wouldn't do normally. And if you think about your central heating, working on a thermostat. You've set the room temperature for 22° whatever it might be, and you find it's a bit hot. So you open the window, the thermostat is going to kick up the central hitting a notch to keep the temperature at 22°. And an equivalent thing is what happens when we're on a calorie deficit diet, is our internal thermostat is our metabolism if you like, although metabolism is much more complex than just our energy management, but our internal thermostat is going okay, if you're trying to lower the temperature, I'm just going to rev it up. And so you'll get more hungry, you'll start to feel tired, because the body wants to lower your energy consumption and up your calorie intake. And so then you start again with the whole craving thing and all the rest of it. So the trick, the real trick, is to eat plenty of the right sort of food, so you're not feeling hungry, you're fully satiated, you're not falling into the addiction trap. And then the whole thing is really, really easy. And it is sustainable over the long term. And it doesn't matter if you have a slip up, it's easy to get back on the horse, because you've already experienced the benefits. So it makes sense.

Tony Winyard 32:50

Absolutely. It makes sense. And it's a great analogy as well. What would you say is a typical sort of time period that you're working with your clients.

Fran McElwaine 33:02

I like to work with people for a minimum of three months. Simply because that is about the speed that nature nature works, we were talking at the beginning of this conversation about the, you know, the bulbs coming up and the blosser appearing. And, you know, as the seasons shift, it's about three months between each each season. And that is a natural speed at which nature evolves. And of course, when you're healing naturally, you know, you have to honour the natural process we use in with pet with pedic pills and all of this to get an instant response because it we're kind of using these medications, we're kind of slamming the body around a bit. Whereas if you take a more natural approach, it is gentler, and therefore it does take a little bit longer, but it lasts. So yeah, three months minimum six months is great, particularly if there's a long term issue. As a rule of thumb, for every year that you've had a condition is going to take a month of, of natural healing therapy to to bring about a change. And of course, it takes people a little while as well to kind of get into the rhythm to make the shifts that are necessary to kind of adopt the new habits and so on and so forth. So there's a little bit of an adjustment period and then you need to have kind of three months to see the benefits. And then and then and then now you are ready so like it is so like the whole kind of emergency spring thing because we know through winter, we know that the bulbs are still there and we know that the police will turn green but we can't see any evident evidence of it. And then when it happens, it's just wonderful confirmation. And that's why it's so much lift our spirits. And it's the same with natural healing, sometimes. There's all sorts of things happening, that we can't see. But because they're happening at a cellular level, and then we see then we start to see our coding experience our own internal springtime, and we start to see the fruits of, of all our new new choices. And that's, and that's when, when things are really exciting.

Tony Winyard 35:34

How do people get in their own way? What are they?

Fran McElwaine 35:46

We get in our own way. In so many ways, there's so many ways we get in our own way, we, we maybe have an internal narrative that blocks us, I had a client quite a few years ago now, who was struggling with her weight she was, you know, in her late 50s, as well, really struggling with her weight, had done all this kind of dietary business in the, in the past, she'd lost 10 pounds, lost a stone ended up putting back another stone, another stone. And she was kind of really, really struggling with her weight. And we made huge progress, he was really committed, and she really was doing extremely well. And then she suddenly just everything just kind of imploded and went wrong, she was found it impossible to resist certain things she gave, she gave up all the kind of positive changes that you've made. And this looks good. And we will really kind of digging deep to cover. Okay, what's going on here? Why just when you're on the point of real success, what was it that kind of got in the way of you really getting hold of what you wanted. And we had long discussions around the around the whole subject and what transpired was that she came from a family that was that was quite overweight, all of her, um, she had two sisters, and they were both overweight as well. And what she had was a deep seated fear that if she lost weight, her sisters wouldn't love her anymore, that she would be different from them. And, and her relationship with her sisters, kind of outranked her relationship with herself. And, and this is just a, you know, a very, very common type of scenario. So people believe it's kind of at some deep level that thin people are mean, or Healthy People are boring, or I didn't know or or, you know, that. It's limiting to kind of, you know, picky, picky eaters, that's a big one, how many of us as children were told that we shouldn't be picky eaters, and that it's rude, you know, when you go to somebody's house to say, Sorry, I'm not eating this moment. Yeah, and so they're all these kind of deep sort of narratives that we've internalised as human beings. And then when we come to try and kind of shift things around for ourselves, that you have these, these things come to the surface, and they, and often but until they're articulated and recognised, they can't, they can't be dealt with. So I have a, I have a process I take my clients for which is with through which is all about some, you know, understanding what are the stories that they tell themselves? And question and then Is this true? Is this is this about? Or is this something that you've just that you just believe to be the case? So that's a very, very, very, very common scenario, that there's some kind of or I don't deserve, you know, I don't deserve to be in unhealthy. You know, I'm not good enough. I'm not enough, I'm not good enough. You know, this is this is sort of programming that go that go in early. And they're all designed, you know, to keep us to keep us safe, keep us within our comfort zone, keep us within the known and they flare up is the second we start to step outside our kind of zone of "normal". So it's a Yeah, so it gets it can be, you know, the journey to health is, is a physical one, but it's also hugely, hugely a mental one as well, and that's why it's important

Tony Winyard 40:05

That lady you mentioned who had those issues about her sisters and so on. Did she manage to resolve that in the end?

Fran McElwaine 40:11

Yeah, it was, it was actually a very fascinating process, because guess what happened, all three of them lost weight. Because they were able to have a conversation about it. And, and, you know, you know, how families work. And, you know, we're like this, and everybody, everybody else is like that. And, and, you know, they've kind of reinforced their, their position with this, with this idea that, you know, when people want fun was their big issue. But then people weren't fun. And we were able to, I didn't, the other sisters weren't classifying that through my one clients. She had this beneficial effect, once you've resolved issue, and she had the conversation with her sisters about, you know, this, I really felt that this was a big issue for you. And well hang on a minute. And then they it was just like, liberating for for everybody. This is the other wonderful, wonderful thing about what we do is that, you know, a small thing, you don't know where the ripples are going to end where, who's going to benefit from a thought or a conversation or a new way of looking at things

Tony Winyard 41:23

We touched upon before about all the training, you've done to get qualigied. and you alluded to how much that you actually enjoyed that whole process. And so I presume probably you read a lot?

Fran McElwaine 41:40

I do read a lot. Yes. I love reading. There's actually a very fascinating personal called Gretchen Rubin. I don't know if you've heard about her who, you know, who works out this kind of what are our motivators? And according to Gretchen Rubin, I'm definitely coming to the question. questioner box. So I, for me, it's really important to understand why, why something, you know, why this makes a difference? Why is this important? And so I do tend to kind of naturally to read up around around things, which is why we're not what you know, when I experienced this big kind of initial shift in my health. I was pretty I wanted to, I wanted to understand all about it. But I have to confess that, yes, I do in a work context, I do a lot of reading, and I do a lot of research, and I do a lot of studying. But when it comes to me personally, I read the most awful drivel because I really like as well just to switch off so I like, you know, going, you know, before I go to bed I have, I like to read something that's not going to alarm or upset me just before I go to sleep. So I read things like maybe Vinci or I like, you know, trollop. I like those sort of stories where I know it's going to have a happy ending. And yeah, so that's, you know, we we is our leisure time. And there's our kind of professional development, which are kind of different things.

Tony Winyard 43:15

Do you make sure that you never read anything business related before you go to sleep, and it's always something that's going to give you a nice easy sleep?

Fran McElwaine 43:26

most, most of the time, I'm, I'm a great advocate for having a kind of pretty solid bedtime routine, I think it really helps us to sleep well. So I tend to go to bed at around about the same time and I kind of go through the same processes and then I kind of like to read or maybe only read a paragraph if I'm pretty tired or to you before I know off. But you know, I like to read every night. And yeah, if I'm reading kind of horrible things about people being mean to each other. I don't want to go to sleep those thoughts.

Tony Winyard 44:03

Before we started recording, you mentioned meditation. So the meditation part of your wind down routine?

Fran McElwaine 44:08

Yeah, meditation is really, really important to me. I'm actually also training at the moment to in Reiki as well, so I really think that the whole kind of process of you know, managing how the energy flows through our body is really important. And meditation is a key part of that. When I when I first started medic meditation, I was super super stressed. I just given that my corporate job I was, which is all about kind of doo doo doo and BBB and and I joined a medic, it was actually a mindfulness class. It was from Jon Kabat Zinn, so totally recommend it. But I would sit in those classes. Boiling and boiling and rage I was just like, what do you mean pretend on a piece of seaweed? How ridiculous is this? And how come everybody else gets it. And if I can't even sit still, you know, a god or anything, all that kind of stuff, and I would get really, really I find it really difficult to, to adjust. And about seven weeks into my eight week course, I was doing my homework cuz I felt like I paid for the course I might as well do it. And so I've kind of gone through the steps. And then I had that kind of meditation experience when you actually get that sort of expects expansion, I can't really put it into words, it's fantastic sense of calm connection. You know, part of it, you feel part of things. And now I understand, oh, my God, if any dependency dropped right at the beginning, and but that was, and that was fantastic. So meditation, yes, yes, yes. Yes. Yes. And, and it has been proved to do so much in terms of how we read, our brains are wired it reestablishes kind of positive neural pathways, lowers blood pressure, it switches off cortisol production. And as we all know, stress and cortisol have big reasons why some of us, myself included, are not, we're not as healthy as we could have been. So yeah, I'm a great advocate to for meditation. And I'm also a great advocate for kind of like pushing through the pain, because, you know, I was so massively resistant to it. And oh, this is pointless, and all that sort of stuff. And then, and then I'm so glad I stuck with it and push through because that's when you get when you get to the other side of all that resistance, that's when the real the real benefits kick in.

Tony Winyard 47:05

I guess it's a symptom of society today, that we want shortcuts for everything. And so we want to have the benefits within a few days. We don't want to be waiting weeks or months, that's too long. And if it's very difficult to get benefits of meditation, just within a few days,

Fran McElwaine 47:21

oh, no, no, it takes it takes a bit of doing and, but the thing is this, this sort of need for instant gratification, is is is actually at the root of so many of our problems is why we, you know, it's why we turn to chocolate is why we turn to a glass of wine at the end of the day, it's because we get an instant reaction. Which in that moment feels good. But then there's, you know, we've we've, you know, we have too many of those glasses of wine, we feel like rubbish the next day. And, you know, we all know the consequences of too much chocolate. So it's it, it's that need instant gratification is something that is really worth being curious about why Why? Why do I want this? What is what am I? Am I really going to benefit from from this? You know, what would happen if I did something differently? And how would I feel if I did something differently and just kind of open yourself up, you didn't have to change the way you behave, but just open yourself up to the possibility of doing things differently. And that's the first step of, of actually, you being in control as opposed to anything else.

Tony Winyard 48:36

So would you say you help many of your clients actually adopt meditation as a practice?

Fran McElwaine 48:42

It's always on the table as an option. I, my approach is very much I offer up suggestions to people. And I explain why I'm offering them up. And and, you know, I have one of my colleagues talks about opening the door and it but it's up to the client to kind of walk through it, which I think is a great analogy. That's absolutely what it is all about. I'm not about forcing people, it's, there's no judgement, there's no you know, there's nothing prescriptive in my, in my work with people, it's just like, here is an opportunity. Let's think about it. If it works for you, you know, let's go ahead, if it doesn't work for you, let's kind of think about something else that might work. So you know, if people aren't up for full blown meditation, you know, just just breathing techniques. Really, really work. Personally, I love the 478 breath. That breathe in for hold the seven and then a nice, long, slow exhale. Eight differenza that cortisol switched off. You're kind of totally back in the zone I and that is a very easy easy to do. And I love these six are completely free. And you know, of course seven eight breath literally takes 90 seconds. And anybody can do it. It's you know, it's a great thing. I have a story about why these things work I don't know, I'm grateful friend of mine use was a dog trainer. And he had a client who had a beautiful I get to buy primarily if I'm around, I'm not quite sure how you pronounce it. But his beautiful, beautiful dogs, sleek, lovely. And this, this puppy was like absolutely terrified of everything. It was terrified of people, it was terrified of lampposts, traffic, and dogs and children and cars. And it's been it's whole time with his tail between his legs or super stressed about everything. And my friend, the trainer tried to attract positive reinforcement, tried treats, tried, lots and lots of affection tried. You know, just like gradually getting the dog used to other dogs can get freaked out. Nothing works. And in the end, he said, I had no idea why this occurred to me. But kind of in desperation, he was just looking at this poor dog shivering away with his tail clamped down. And he tied a piece of string to the dog's tail and tied the other end of the string to the dog's collar. So the dog's tail was up, instantly, the whole demeanour of the dog change. And it's like, it's subconscious thought, if my tails up, I must be happy. And it kind of started to that was the breakthrough, that was the moment at which the dog started to be able to kind of relate to life normally. And that's what happens when we, when we do some deep breathing, we are consciously behaving in a way that our body would only normally behave in when we're relaxed. It's normally only when we're totally relaxed, that we have that long exhale. And when we do that consciously, what we're saying to our body is it's okay, we're safe, we're okay, everything's fine. And then all our hormones kind of respond to that, okay, we don't need to be pumping the epinephrine around, we can, we can just let it go. We can switch out of sympathetic mode into parasympathetic and life can you could carry on. And that's this is. That's why it worked. It's very, very simple and straightforward. It's a little bio hack to help your body understand that everything is okay. That email that says come from your boss isn't gonna threaten your face not gonna take your life. It's just an email from the boss.

Tony Winyard 52:51

I like that theory, I think I subscribe to that theory. Time has flown by, as always, these episodes seem to go so quick. But we touched upon reading before. is there a book that you particularly like that you would recommend for listeners, and it could be business related. It could be just something that just would like to do before you go to bed or whatever?

Fran McElwaine 53:22

I think one of the best books at the moment, The best book to make all of this really accessible to people is The four pillar programme by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee. I'm a huge fan of Dr. Rangan. He's actually got a wonderful radio show on Radio 2 at the moment as well, which is great. So I'm a bit late in the evening. That's the only problem but he's a wonderful, wonderful man and his he's written a number of books. There's the 4 pillar programme, there's the stressed one, and Feel Better In 5 and they're all brilliant, and they're all worth reading. But as a start point, the 4 pillar programme, it just looks at the four key areas of our lives, which includes sleep, stress, diet and movement, and how we can incorporate positive choices around those four pillars in an easy, easy way. And he just set it out in this in this kind of super relaxed, accessible, non judgmental way, which is really, which is really, really good. totally recommend it.

Tony Winyard 54:37

I love the way he comes across in his podcast he's got he seems to me, he has a lot of integrity, not trying to sell things to people all the time, I like the way he phrases things.

Fran McElwaine 54:51

He's fascinating actually, because he he started off as a obviously he's a GP and he's a medical doctor. But he realised that for most of his patients that he was dealing with, there were, like simple things that they could change in their lives, that would make a big, big difference. So he's come, you know, I came in through through my personal route, he came in just from looking at all his patients, yesterday, and all his patients, and then just joining the dots and working out, hang on, there's some common threads here, you know, that can make a big difference to people's lives.

Tony Winyard 55:31

I've read a few of his books, and that feel better in five, has got some really good tips for people who are struggling in certain areas with nutrition or stress or sleep or whatever the case may exercise and so on. If people want to find out more about you, where would they look?

Fran McElwaine 55:50

Well, the first place would probably be my website, which is And you can message me through the site, if anybody wants to do that. Or you can send me an email, which is And I'm here to help people. So I'm really happy to answer questions, and really happy to have a power hour to see if we can sort of sort out some issues for people. So yeah, I mean, like, my job is just to help people. And I feel better helping other people feel better. So it's a win win.

Tony Winyard 56:38

Just before we finish, I didn't prep you for this one. So I'm going to put you on the spot. Do you have a quotation you like? Is there any quotations you can think of?

Fran McElwaine 56:54

I think I'm gonna have to go back to Hippocrates "Let thy food be thy medicine"

Because I think that as a society, our relationship with food is so broken. It's so broken. And, we look at food as as a way to numb us as well as a means of entertainment as a status, it's to do with all sorts of things. And we've kind of lost the simplicity of, of what food should be about. So yeah, Let food be thy medicine, understand which foods are your essence, and then focus on.

Tony Winyard 57:45

Fran, thank you for your time, it's been really interesting some of the stuff that you had or stories that you've shared, and, and your views on things, I think would be really useful for listeners as well. So thank you.

Fran McElwaine 57:55

Thank you, and thank you for your brilliant podcast. I love it. So it's just been a fascinating journey for me, I feel very honoured to be honest.

Tony Winyard 58:11

Thank you very much.

Next week is episode six with Anna Bain, and she's a coach who helps people who are lacking in energy. So if you ever wake up in the mornings, and you're you maybe you will struggle with to get out of bed and you can't be bothered to go do any exercise. And you know, maybe life sometimes a struggle. Well, Anna specialises in helping people like that she, she has something she helps people become a lifestyle rebel. And it's all about how she can help people to create more energy in their lives. And that's Food and Nutrition they ate and movement that they have or they don't have, and she really helps to transform people. He said a really good episode, she's got some real zest for life. So that's next week's episode with Anna Bane. Hope you enjoyed this week's show. If you know anyone who you feel would get some more value, please do share the episode with him. Want to take a screenshot of the of the of the episode and send it to whoever you feel would get some benefit from the value that was shared by friend in this episode. Please do subscribe. leave a review for us and hope you have a great week. See you next time.



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