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Hi, I?m Shelley and I am a Food-aholic. Phew- feels so good to finally admit that! Recognising and admitting the problem is the first step in changing, so they say.

I have always enjoyed a very active lifestyle- swimming for my town, competing at county level for athletics (high jump the sport of all tall girls) as well as challenging myself to triathlons and running competitions. This allowed me to eat what and how much I liked. As my commitments changed and hobbies were substituted for longer working hours, I began to feel more tired and sluggish. I found that the more I worked, the more tired I became and the less enthusiasm I had for cooking a fresh meal each night. I became reliant on more convenient food, not just take-aways but ?ready to eat? food I could grab on my way somewhere. It didn?t take long before I felt the effects, both physically and mentally.

?Originally, I connected the low energy and motivation to the tiredness of long days, but now I understand it is due to the bad diet and less exercise.?

Diet is a word which describes the food a person eats, not just to describe the restrictions on food for weight-loss. I learnt about this relationship between food and mood when I first became a Course Practitioner. My role within Valleys Steps is to deliver courses which teach people ways of increasing well-being and decreasing stress. A part of the Stress Control course is to encourage participants to be mindful of certain food and drinks they consume. As practitioners, we are not demanding you eat 5 fruit and veg a day and attend boot camps to ensure your ?long lived life?, but rather enabling you to make informed choices to improve your well-being.

I AM NOT A FRAUD. I am not in any way shape or form demanding something of others that I will not do myself!

We all enjoy a take-away and sweet treat (me more than most), but what I am able to do with this knowledge, is recognise how these affect my stress levels and emotions. For example there is a direct relationship between my increased stress level and my increased convenience food intake. The problem with this is the high sugar/fat/carbohydrate food alters my mood which adds to my level of stress and we are on to a vicious cycle. So I try to combat this by having healthier ?fast? foods in my cupboards and increase my activity level.

I understand the importance of the dreaded E word- ?Exercise?. I have always enjoyed being active, the physical exhaustion, the competition but mostly I simply love the stress relief! We can think of movement as a free and natural anti-depressant. In all honesty, I never come home from running along the Taff Trail with my fellow food-aholic chocolate labrador (I even had a dog named after food!) annoyed that I didn?t enjoy the fresh air, scenery and activity. I feel more energised, happier and usually more productive.

So although I cannot outrun a bad diet in a weight-loss sense, I can totally make myself feel better by running, which usually kick-starts a better diet. Everything in moderation definitely lends well to happier well-being.