What's the best way to beat stress?

Nutritionist Nick Owen and performance coach Annette Paterakis talk about their new Central YMCA collaboration
14 June 2016

What with email alerts piling up, Facebook updates to catch up on and the school run to fit in, it's not surprising many of us are hunting for something to help us along. The stresses of modern life are easy to diagnose, but harder to cure.

Luckily our  Stress and Food workshops – run through our operation YMCA Club – have come to the rescue. They are run by nutritionist Nick Owen and performance coach Annette Paterakis, two experts from very different fields brought together in a typical Central YMCA moment of teamwork.

Annette was introduced to Nick by Central YMCA Campaigns Planner and Performance Manager Julia Harvey. “She [Julia] thought there would be a nice synergy with us coming together and we tended to agree.” said Nick.

This new partnership lead to the free Stress and Food workshops, now held at monthly intervals at YMCA Club. The workshops’ aim is to teach about how stress works and to figure out the various ways we can best monitor it; the impact stress has on energy levels, body weight and sleep patterns, and how to use nutrition to combat this.

Annette is an Applied Psychologist graduate, certified EMDR therapist, mindfulness trainer and equicoach. She's also the founder of The Third Life – a training and coaching company aimed at personal development. She set up The Third Life after moving to the UK just over two years ago, when she noticed the struggles and pressures of balancing a successful career with a happy personal life. Since then her clients have included London entrepreneurs and executives to Olympic athletes and even the Dutch police.

Founder of What-Food, Nick Owen specialises in the development of bespoke nutrition workshops and seminars for both employers and employees.

“When Nick and I met," Annette says, "it became clear to us pretty quickly that we both wanted to help people live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. A way of living which is balanced, fun and healthy in the long run.

“Nick’s aim is for people to become more aware about food. Most importantly the choices they make and how this will reflect on the way they look and feel. For me it’s helping others become aware of life choices in general, and how these impact on how they feel and perform."

“There's nothing wrong with a bit of stress," says Nick, "it's how we deal with it. Media outlets make food sound more complex than they need to be. You could be flicking through the morning paper and the latest food fad might be there staring straight at you. Good marketing sells you the solution – but this could be draining you both physically and financially. The media is great at making us buy something, or making us feel as if we’re deficient in something," he adds.

This is something Nick is all to aware of. Travel back five years, he says, and you’d find him falling into these same marketing pitfalls. His table at home was stacked high with all kinds of protein shakes, supplements and superfoods.

But now, Nick thinks long term. The big picture is building lifestyle habits and making the right choices – over one month, six months or a year. Nick calls it a dietary investment.

“Invest the time in your eating, to achieve the results you want,” he says. Making the commitment to a long term change rather than diet fads is much more important.

Annette agrees. "With the workshops we organise we want to provide information around how people can make better decisions, how they can live a healthier life and how they can maintain this balance in the future. Therefore it’s our idea to not just talk about food and stress, but to also provide workshops on different topics such as, sleep, understanding hormones and mindful eating.”