Hi guuuys! So, this post is going to be a little bit different from my usual. So far, my blog has been a collection of various recipes with a little bit of opinion thrown in there. Recently, I’ve decided that while I LOVE and am definitely going to continue sharing my foodie creations with you, I want to write more posts based on my own experiences, thoughts and ramblings. Which I hope you’ll find interesting to read, and I’m also hoping that you might be able to relate your experiences to mine. So, with these pieces, I’d love to generate comments from you guys – give me your thoughts on what I’m posting about, and we can share ideas and opinion!
To kick this off, I’m going to tell you guys a little bit about my experience at WellFest 2017, which I spent last weekend at, AND I’m tell you why I think we need MORE events as epic as Wellfest was in Ireland. If you don’t know, WellFest is Ireland’s main, and really only, festival that celebrates the concept of (you’ve guessed it) ‘wellness.’ Does that sound vague? I can see why it would, but it’s not. In the UK, and other countries I’m sure, there are many similar festivals – for example, BeFit and Balance Festival in London. By ‘wellness’, I’m talking about the main aspects of someone’s overall health – mental, physical and emotional. All equally important, and all probably equally neglected to some extent by many of us!
I spent my weekend at WellFest taking part in SO many different and exciting activities – workouts of every kind (HIIT, yoga, pilates, boxing, cardio), talks by well-know figures I admire in the fitness/nutrition industry, and food demonstrations, for example. Definite highlights for me were seeing Hazel Wallace (AKA The Food Medic), Shona Vertue, and Derval O’Rourke speak. Aside from that, I got to visit lots of small and large scale food brands with stalls to display their products, and chat to the lovely faces behind them! And while all that is going on, you’re spending the day with friends both old and new. You could literally go to WellFest alone, with one friend, or a whole group – either way, you’ll leave with a new friend or few! Cheesy, but you better believe I’m serious!
So how does WellFest celebrate ‘wellness’, and why do I think it’s so fantastic? I’m going to give you THREE main reasons, and I’m curious if you agree with me, based on similar festivals you’ve been to, or indeed if you were at WellFest too.
- It makes fitness and exercise ACCESSIBLE as well as FUN
Over the weekend, I tried about 6 different workouts. Each were very different, some I had done the style of before, and others I definitely hadn’t! I love exercise and getting my body moving, so I’m not afraid to say that I don’t usually need motivation to work out. But having that motivation is a HUGE barrier for so many people. WellFest encourages you to try different kinds of ways to exercise – HIIT, yoga, pilates, cardio classes, strength training, you name it. And the most important part about that is the ENVIRONMENT and VIBE at Wellfest when you’re doing these workouts. Huge groups of people from 30 to 130 could be jumping doing a boxing class, or attempting to plank on a yoga mat, and NOBODY cares what you look like while you’re doing it! Everyone has SUCH a laugh at themselves and each other, and that positivity creates positive memories for people going home. Plus, you get the chance to try workouts you might not have local to you, or you were afraid to try before. I was pretty apprehensive trying yoga, because I can’t even tumble (I’m SO inflexible) but you know what? I absolutely loved the class, and I’m really keen to include more yoga and pilates in my weekly workout routine!
2. It makes the idea of ‘wellness’ seem tangible
In a world where it’s currently ‘trendy’ to be a gym bunny and ‘eat well’, I feel like the meaning of ‘being healthy’ or living a healthy life gets lost in translation a lot, which leads to it seeming like an unattainable goal. When in fact, it just isn’t. Being ‘healthy’ and ‘well’ boils down to looking after your physical, mental, and emotional health. How do we do that? Food/diet, movement/exercise and prioritising OURSELVES. By that I mean feeding ourselves well, moving our bodies everyday, and making time for things we enjoy outside of a work – be it reading, movies, being outdoors, time with family and friends, meditation, whatever you’re into. WellFest was such an educational experience for me – food demos where you see healthy meals cooked, inspiring talks about mindset, making goals, stress reduction, group classes show-casting fun ways to get exercise in – all of these things are such valuable lessons for us. We learn from others, and how to incorporate better habits into our lives. I’m not saying WellFest is a one-stop shop to ‘learn how to be healthy’, but I think festivals like it really show people how being healthy ISN’T about restriction or deprivation. Really, it’s about treating your body and mind with the respect it deserves, and having FUN doing that.
3. It helps promote awareness of small and large healthy food businesses
I can’t tell you how much FUN I had meeting some of the friendliest faces behind food brands I love at WellFest. Ireland is slooowly catching on to the concept of ‘healthy eating’, and is definitely influenced in a big way by similar trends in the UK, USA and Australia. There has been a boom of small Irish and non-Irish/UK food companies putting a healthy spin on all kinds of foods – example, Cool Beans Company, B-Free Foods, Propercorn, Boost Bites, Boutique Bakes and Good 4 U Nutrition are just some examples of brands I met at the 2016 WellFest and this year too. In addition, well-known brands get to sell their food and drink products – options like Glenisk Yoghurt served with Irish granola brands (Homespun Foods was at WellFest this year – their Quinoa Crunch Granola is UNREAL), Cocobrew Coffee, and Natasha’s Living Food.
Getting to try samples of these products is not only fun for people, its also an opportunity to discover new tastes and healthy food swaps! For example, I LOVE having a dessert of Glenkish Natural Protein Yoghurt with a piece of dark chocolate and a Boost Bite or two thrown on top! Equally tasty but a better option than a bowl of ice-cream. I’m not slating ice-cream either by the way – I’m just making the point that healthy choices DON’T equal bland choices, and trying new food at events like Wellfest shows people that. And of course, it’s great exposure for the small brands too!
So! Have I convinced you? I read an article recently about whether we have reached ‘peak wellness’, or so the article called it. In my opinion, no, we have not. In fact, what we need is UNDERSTANDING of what being ‘well’ and ‘healthy’ actually means – and we need to make it FUN and accessible to be both of those things. So, if you went to WellFest this year, or have been before, OR if you’ve been to a similar event in your own country, what did you think? Did you enjoy it? Did you learn from it, or challenge yourself to try new things at it? Was it a positive experience? For me, the answer to all of that is yes.
I would LOVE to see more events like WellFest in Ireland, on a small AND large scale. And I think social media has huge potential to allow us to get interest in and develop these events. If you liked this post, or want to share your thoughts, leave a comment, or message me on Instagram, I’d love to hear your voice! And a MASSIVE thank you to those behind WellFest – its a huge undertaking to organise and it was such a big success. I can’t wait for the next one!
Ciara 🙂 x