Monday 23 April 2018

'I’m sober and medication free... I can't wait to turn 40' - model Alison Canavan

Alison Canavan
Alison Canavan
Alison Canavan, international model and wellness expert. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

For some, the prospect of turning the age of 40 might induce a hint of dread. The thought of time slipping away, of things not achieved.

For others, it's a celebration, a time to reassess and set new goals. Wellness coach Alison Canavan is excited. In fact, she can't wait.

“I’m sober and medication free. Granted my life now, it’s simple and very pared back. But it’s a much better life.”

“I can’t wait for my 40s, I’ve so much I want to do. I love life. I can’t believe when I was younger I used to say I was bored. There are so many things I want to do and so many places I want to travel with James [her son].”

Canavan, who won a scholarship to study at the Semel Institute in the University of California, Los Angeles this year, will be qualified to write her own wellness and mindfulness courses and books when she completes her studies.

“It’s really exciting. It’s one of my biggest dreams. I’m beyond grateful for this. UCLA was the biggest thing that happened to me last year. It’s what I want to do. It’s an area that’s given me my life back and given me so many gifts.”

"As a health coach I know the importance of supporting people through positive lifestyle change. We all want to feel and be at our best but very few of us know where to start.

“Anything is possible - I’ve proven that to myself with UCLA. I’ve shown myself that it’s not easy but anything is possible. I’ve been going to college every second weekend over the last few years, and evenings as well.”

Eschewing big and bold resolutions, Alison prefers to line up small changes that she’ll make in her life over the course of the year.

“I don’t make resolutions, I don’t believe in resolutions, I more believe in making small changes in the new year.”

“I love the new year, but I love Mondays, I love new beginnings, I love new weeks, new months, I love it all.”

“You don’t want to start your year with a mindset of negativity and think I’m going to remove all the things I love in my life.”

“It’s important to have fun with it. Wellbeing should be about having fun and loving your life.”

“I want to get a little bit fitter. I do yoga now, but I want to get fitter, I’d love to get back running, I say that as I move towards my 40s.”

“I’m going to make positive changes and I’m going to do it slowly over time.”

She explained: “This year, I have an intention to meet up with my friends more often. I’ve been studying for a few years and I’m a single mom so I’ve been busy, so I’d like to meet up with my friends more.”

In her 20s, she says, Canavan said she was lost and had no self-compassion.

“I was so hard on myself. I was so mean to myself. I never felt good enough. I was lost. There were times that were amazing – I had a fantastic life and career – but I never felt good enough. I partied very hard, and I suffered so badly with anxiety and depression. I never thought I had any power in how I felt. I outsourced it to others, to doctors, agents, boyfriends.”

Now though, balance is key for Canavan, who is supporting  LloydsPharmacy's eight-week ‘Change Your Health Direction’ initiative.

“Wellness is an overused word at the moment but it’s about finding balance in your life, and practising authentic self-care.”

“I set intentions every morning. I’m a big fan of starting your new day every day. I wake up and say ‘thank you’ and I sit on my cushion for meditation, or I write three things in my gratitude journal that I’m grateful for.

"I decide that I want to go out and play football with James or give James a half an hour of my time. I want to be my best today. I want to show up for myself."

“Yes I use terms like mindfulness and meditation and I don’t think they’re going to be optional anymore. We’re just too busy. We just start with all the things we have and love about ourselves.”

She added: “What I love to do is get a jar and write down 12 things, like go for a walk everyday and drink more water. And I’ll do those for one month, so at least by the end of the year I’ll have some changes that I’ve made.”

For more information on Lloyds' eight week plan, www.lloydspharmacy.ie

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