It's now a little over a month ago that we arrived home from our travels around India and then Bali... How did that happen? I always do this thing where I'm like "on this day a month ago I had just arrived home", "on this day three months ago we had just arrived in India", "on this day a year ago..." blah blah blah. Do you guys do that too? I love reminiscing and thinking about where I was at certain points in time; sometimes I worry that it means I'm living in the past too much, but I think mostly it's great because it reminds me of how I was feeling and what I was thinking at a certain point in time, it reminds me of my growth and my experiences and, if I'm feeling stuck with where I'm currently at, it lifts me up and gives my mind a shake up and perspective shift.

On this day six weeks ago, Louis and I were in the paradise of Karma Jimbaran. Jimbaran is on the coast of Bali and is a tiny, little, quiet beachside town. Bali was quite a whirlwind for me, in a different way to India, but Jimbaran was the first place we went to that was exactly what I had hoped for from Bali; peaceful, quiet, blissed out. Staying at the divine Karma resort helped a little (read: a lot).

Karma are a luxury resort group with locations all over the world, and Karma Jimbaran is just one of them. From the moment we arrived and made our way up the driveway I was like, wowowowoowwoeeeeeow. What. A. Beautiful. Place. Just the two of us, Louis and I, spent two nights in one of their phenomenal, lush private pool villas, which meant we had the most glorious master bedroom, the biggest bath tub, the best kitchen (I'm all about being able to cook up a storm whilst travelling!), the most comfortable open plan living and lounge area, which all looked out upon our very own private pool, complete with divine frangipani trees and pool lounge chairs, and even our own bloody koi fish pond.

Having a private pool has multiple perks: going for swims literally whenever you want, getting to take photos in and around the pool without people looking at you like you're a noodle, night swims, and getting to go for skinny dips. Of course. We would begin our days with a breakfast of fresh fruit, tea, juices, smoothies and toast, and follow it with jumping between our pool and wandering down to the beach just down the road. Karma also had a really well equipped little gym which I jumped on, because I really missed being able to go for runs whilst we were travelling! We'd then wrap our days up by cooking up a storm in our beautiful kitchen and perching ourselves out with our feet dangling in the pool. Perfection.

Here's just a few photos of our beautiful villa at Karma Jimbaran!

This is my favourite ever green smoothie; so sweet and SO good for you and super easy to throw together. This recipe is taken from my recipe ebook Eat Plants Drink Mylk, and if you want more goodies like this, there's 30+ more plant based recipes waitin' for you in there.

What you need:

3 frozen bananas
1 cup of frozen mango (or fresh, if you have it!)
1 big heaping handful of baby spinach
1/2 cup of rice milk
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of maca powder (optional)

What you need to do:

Let the bananas and mango thaw for a minute or two before blending (unless your blender is A+). Simply blend all the ingredients together until super smooth. Drink, rejoice, etc. Serves 1-2.
My beautiful friend Alex posted on her instagram this morning with a caption which really stopped me in my tracks, and I'm sure stopped a fair few others in theirs too.

The caption was "I haven't really been posting a lot of food lately and the very simple reason for that is that I just haven't been thinking about food all that much. I've always loved cooking and have genuinely enjoyed taking photos of what I've been eating to show you guys over the last couple of years but lately I just haven't cared about that part of my life. It's summer, most days I go to work and head straight to the beach afterwards and don't get home until maybe 8pm where I'll have a super quick dinner and then chase the sunset or go for a bike ride or maybe do something crafty. I've been using food to fuel these things but it just hasn't been a main event for a while now.

"This is probably just a phase and it has a lot to do with my desire to spend every possible second in the sun so I'm sure my passion for cooking and food presentation will return in the gloomier months but for the time being, this feels amazing. I honestly can't tell you guys how freeing it is to feel this way. I obsessed over food for such a long time. It was the only thing I thought of for years... In developing a healthy relationship with food, the negativity went away but it was still something I focused on each day. I focused on eating enough and of all the right things and it wasn't an obsession but it still took a lot of time and energy. Being a little more indifferent to it and eating to live instead of living to eat makes me feel so normal and truly solidifies the healthy relationship with food that I now have. I never thought I would feel this way. It's nice."

Reading this stopped me in my tracks because of how much it resonated with me, how much it reminded me of how far I've come, and how much it reminded me of exactly where I want to be. Reading this also came in conjunction with my mum telling me about a statistic she read not too long ago: apparently only about 30% of eating disorder sufferers recover completely and fully. That's about 70% who spend the rest of their lives stuck in some kind of negative cycle and in some kind of negative relationship with food, with their bodies, with themselves. Reading the post also came in conjunction with a lot of recent musings that I've had about control; how we as humans so often struggle with the need to be in full control of our lives, and in an ever changing, ever-growing, fast-paced world, actually achieving that control is pretty hopeless. I think, as a result, so many of us seek out smaller facets of our lives, more manageable things, that we actually can control – like food. Of course, seeking control is almost aways to our own detriment, and we'd be far better off using our energy to teach ourselves how to relinquish control and be flexible with change and find actually effective ways of dealing with our anxiety...

I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder and hesitate to say that I suffered from one, but there was a period about 5 years ago where my attitude to food and to my body was disordered. Fresh out of school, the world at my fingertips (so they said), at the start of my university years ...And I was lost, sad, confused, unsure, indecisive and felt very, very out of control. Food quickly became something that I could control, something which helped me deal with the anxiety of such an unsure time, something which helped me deal with my inability to find my feet. I highly do not recommend this method of coping, by the way, it is very not effective and very backwards. Instead of gaining control over my life, I simply gained control over my food, which left me with no time, energy or desire for anything else.

I was stuck in an obsessive rut for a while and was left with an unhealthy mental state, an unhealthy relationship with myself, and an anxiety-fuelled relationship with food. The scary thing is, as so many of us know, it was so easy to get myself into that place, and it was so damn hard to get back out. In the amazing book I'm currently reading (called Ayurveda and the Mind: the Healing of Consciousness) the author speaks of the ego self and the role it plays in the negative conditioning of our minds. He says, "our psychological problems develop in the outer mind as we try to find happiness as a physical creature or ego-self... They leave memories like scars in the inner mind" and these scars work as grooves, memory grooves in our mind, which we constantly return to. It is so damn hard to get out of those unhealthy, controlling coping mechanisms because it becomes a groove in our memory, a groove in our mind, which our minds automatically return to as a habit, and this then continues to deepen the groove. Basically, habits are habits for a reason; because we've worked them so thoroughly into the landscape of our minds. So how do we break out of these habits, out of these mindsets, out of this striving for control?

We form new habits. This takes time, this takes energy, this takes strength. But it is worth it, and it is achievable. We find new, more effective ways to deal with anxiety and with feeling out of control. I'm still on this journey, but I know for a fact that in order to form new habits, we often have to push ourselves out of our comfort zones, we have to push ourselves into new experiences and routines, we have to develop awareness around our negative thought patterns, and we have to develop effective ways of counteracting those thought patterns.

In recent years, the healthiest I have ever felt have been the times when I have paid the least amount of attention to what is going into my body. Of course whatever I consume is always vegan, but just as Alex said in her post, using food to fuel your life, fuel your creativity, fuel your activity is incredibly freeing, as opposed to obsessing about what is in your meal, how healthy your meal is, how healthy your day has been. If you're focusing on eating super duper wholesome, beautifully presented food all the time, that's a lot of time and energy that you're not spending on other stuff. Like creative ventures, social outings, adventures, books, intellectual challenges. Health is not a kale salad, it's so much more than that, and if this obsession with health that has sprung up in recent times has done anything, it's that it has held us all back from true health.

Recently whilst travelling around India for two months, I felt amazing. On so many levels I felt free, liberated, strong, independent, inspired, and comfortable within the world. Often food was out of my control, because when you're travelling you eat what you can, wherever you can, when you can; food was fuel for this whirlwind of an adventure. And with this mindset, I had endless energy for everything else that was going on around me. Often we get stuck working in the negative memory grooves in our minds, and so many of us never get ourselves our of that. A lot of us. About 70% of us. And that devastates me. The amount of energy I've wasted, the amount of time I've wasted, the amount of potential I've deserted often devastates me. But I know what freedom from that tastes like, I know what feeling that freedom is, and whenever I feel my mind attempting to run its wheels back into those grooves of old habits and control, I draw strength from the experiences and knowledge that I've gained along the way to pull myself onwards and outwards.

After so many years of focusing on my physical health, on glorifying the importance of physical health, mental health is my focus this year. May we learn the art of letting go, may we learn the art of self-love, may we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into our potential for creativity and growth.