Incorporating gratitude into everyday life has been a game-changer for health coach Angela Simson. As someone who always sees the glass as half full, she’s on a mission to spread the message far and wide. We spoke to the mother of two and founder of The Gratitude Project about health, wellness and how to practise self-love on the daily.
I grew up in Queensland, and as a lover of humidity, it was ideal. Most weekends were spent in a pool or at the beach with my friends and family. My mum is the happiest and kindest person you will ever meet, and my dad always used to express how lucky we were to grow up in the way we did. I was exposed to many types of people in different circumstances to ours, which made me appreciate what it means to have a blessed life, with food in our belly and a roof over our heads.
The journey towards holistic health
When my husband proposed to me, I started thinking about our future and what it would be like to have children and settle down. [At the time] I was suffering from debilitating migraines that would knock me out for 24 to 48 hours and all I could think was, ‘How on earth do I have a child when I can’t even look after myself?’ You can’t take the day off to sleep off a migraine or deal with the nausea and lack of sight, so what would happen if I was alone with a newborn?
I’d had all the tests possible and been given drugs to stop the migraines, but that just didn’t work, so I realised I needed to look at it from a different angle. I went to a more holistic GP and she put me on a diet that eliminated gluten, dairy, preservatives, and processed foods. It was hard but after the initial two weeks had passed, I started to realise how good I was feeling and looking. So I kept it up, realising that eating well and living more holistically wasn’t just going to stop my migraines, but also regulate my moods, clear up my skin and make life feel so much more enjoyable.
Becoming a health coach
I started [working] in fashion when I was just 17, and worked with amazing Australian labels like Sass & Bide and Ksubi when they were taking off in the market. But because of my attitude towards my job, I was unfulfilled and never focused on how well I was doing.
Falling pregnant opened my eyes to this self-destructive behaviour and way of thinking. I made a decision to do something for myself that would give me a sense of purpose. I wanted to take my knowledge to the next level and do something to make me happier and healthier, so I enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and I’ve never looked back.
On food philosophy
My philosophy is to eat as healthy as possible – for your situation. I thrive on a diet high in good fats, with plenty of vegetables and good-quality protein. I always choose the best option for me when we’re eating out or at a friend’s place. My non-negotiable is always quality; if it’s cheap, packaged or doesn’t have a use by date, it’s probably not a good idea to eat it.
Living with gratitude
[Gratitude] means being fulfilled with everything you have and appreciating where you are. Living gratefully, to me, means taking time out of each day to say thank you for everything. If that’s just a comfortable bed, a cuddle from someone you love or a fresh glass of water, great, but it’s also important to say thank you for the things that might bring adversity or struggle into your life. They are the times you grow and they’re so important for all of us in the long run.
I always say to put yourself first. It seems selfish and I know it’s really difficult for so many women, but it’s necessary if you want to be the best you can be. When you’re at your best, you give more to the people around you and closest to you.
On body love
Look at yourself in the nude and say the words, “I love my tummy, I love my arms, I love my legs”, even if it makes you cry. Get close with your body because so many women ignore it and only put negative focus into it. Try smothering yourself and your body with love and see what happens.
This interview was originally published in Australian Natural Health magazine.