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An update: 2023 and beyond…

Joanna Frankham
Joanna Frankham
Speedy no makeup selfie... how I live (and look) now!
Well. Kia Ora (Hello) from me… How the hell are you?

It has been an awfully long time between posts. Almost two years to the day, in fact. But the urge to write is upon me, so I’ve started pecking away at my laptop once more.

It feels strangely good despite having little idea where it will take me.

A lot has changed since we last caught up, and unless you’re one of my In Betweeners and stuff and nonsense subscribers, you may have wondered where on earth I disappeared to…

TL;DR – The abridged version!

I moved to New Zealand. With my beloved and my very old dog, Bella. Sadly, we lost our much-loved Bella-bear to old age. We missed her so much we very quickly adopted two more pups. Biddy is a red miniature Westiepoodle. Bob is a black standard Airedoodle. They are individuals, but both are full of life. And neither has any idea just how lucky they are.

After 52 years of being a complete urbanite, I now live on 3 1/2 acres of green near Matakana village, about an hour’s drive north of Auckland. In a little house we bought over the internet. In the middle of a global pandemic, sight unseen, while lockdowns were happening in Australia and NZ. We’re planning to build and are in the midst of dealing with council approvals.

And I love it. I walk the beach with the pups every day. My mum and dad are an eight-minute drive away. I have made some wonderful new connections.

On the health front, my Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) has been in remission for a few years. The newer diagnosis is lipoedema. It has been a welcome explanation for my inability to lose weight (no matter what I tried), and I am busy getting my head around all the things I can do to mitigate any progression.

I may not currently be coaching, but my interest in making diet and lifestyle choices that serve me remains steadfast. I still use my wheel of health as the foundation for making these choices.

I want to be a healthy old person!

Wheel of Health

Because of this, I thought that might be a good starting point for talking to you about what’s happening down here for me at the bottom of the world. What I know and what I don’t know.

Bit like Oprah and what she knows for sure. Only a smaller, very much more modest Jo version 🙂

1. Purpose

Your purpose is the reason you choose the direction in which you are headed or even the reason you exist. Your deep WHY if you like.

I’m a long-time fan of finding ways to connect with this purpose. I want to be more ‘me’, and it’s often easier said than done.

Choosing a word of intention for my year ahead and also working towards aligning my life to my values, especially when it comes to navigating this quest to ‘be the healthiest old person I can be’ health caper are two ways I get up and close to my purpose. At least, I work at doing this. Because there are so many things (including people!) that have the potential to derail you.

When you make choices that move towards your values, I believe you live with more grace and ease. You don’t sweat the small stuff as much. Life feels better. More aligned!

And the first step is to get your head around what your values actually are. I do a values exercise at the start of every year. Interestingly, when I took a leaf out of Dr Kinga Mnich’s book and used her process for drilling down to identify what really matters to me last month, one of my core values is actually ‘purpose’. Spooky!

(FYI, there is no one ‘right’ way to identify your personal values, and, in my experience, no matter which way you choose, there will be moments of navel-gazing and discomfort.)

The best thing about this section of your Wheel of Health is that it helps you to (re)find your groove if you stumble. I may no longer live a strictly AIP way of life, but reconnecting with what is most important to me is an antidote to straying too far from my personalised protocol. It helps with staying in my lane and in setting boundaries (something I sometimes struggle with).

What I know

  • My core values are generosity, purpose and wellbeing
  • My word for 2023 is ‘align’. This year, I want to move towards my values by being more generous of spirit, living purposefully and with a focus on wellbeing – that’s both for the people around me and me
  • I’m still finding my way in my new life in the country and have a lot of ‘stuff’ in the pipeline by way of building a new home that will keep me busy
  • I want to explore a few more creative outlets. Just because.

What I don’t know

  • What this exactly means for my personal health protocol? My hideous HS affliction has now been in remission for some years. While this makes me so very happy, I have been diagnosed with lipoedema. To be honest, I think my years of HS has given me a level of resilience for this latest health issue. I now know that my inability to shift my weight, despite all my healthy choices, has a reason and a name. I am navigating what this means and using myself as an N=1 experiment. Back to the drawing board. (I do know that I’m not interested in any surgery, though. Nothing has changed there)
  • I’m still working out what all these changes mean for my career. My coaching practice remains on hold for the time being. I’m playing around with a couple of things that may or may not go somewhere.  I’ll keep you posted.
2. Nutrient Density

Everything you eat and drink matters. Everything. As does focusing on variety, amount, and nutritional value. It’s becoming more and more evident that, while nutritional value is important, different foods may serve people differently.

It’s complicated!

What I know

  • I continue to trust in Dr Sarah Ballantyne’s science. Also, I need to forge a path that is right for me. Both statements are true. The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) was instrumental in helping me to set a health framework that worked and set me on a path to improved health. But it was just the beginning.
  • The AIP way of life did not fix my inability to lose weight, even when all the other spokes in my wheel of health were tracking well.
  • My jam is to eat a wholefood and unprocessed diet prepared in my kitchen (in the main) with foods that I source locally and seasonally. I remain staunchly gluten-free.

What I don’t know

  • I don’t know a lot. At the moment, I’m struggling with a very ‘head versus heart’ dilemma. Intellectually, I am convinced that eating a diet rich in a variety of vegetables (along with healthy sources of protein and fat) is ideal. On the other hand, this hasn’t worked for me regarding my ongoing weight challenges. All my reading suggests that lipoedema may best respond to more of a very low carbohydrate ketogenic approach.
  • I’m experimenting with my daily macros (percentage of carbs, protein and fats) to squeeze as much nutrient density as possible into a very low-carb diet. It’s not easy. I’m using Cronometer for tracking my progress. I have found it is important for me to record my experiments.
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There is a subtle difference between a ritual and a routine. And, while the latter has its place, I am a big fan of the former. A ritual is a thoughtful rite consisting of a series of actions. The key here is ‘thoughtful’. My rituals require me to be very present in the moment.

If anything, I am more convinced that having meaningful rituals in your life enhances and builds health. Certainly, this is true for me. But these rituals don’t have to be complicated. Rather, often keeping them simple is what has them resonating so deeply.

Creating rituals in my new life in the country has been important.

What I know

  • It is both a joy and a gift to be so geographically close to my mum and dad after all these years of living away. We have created weekly dining rituals – for us, Thursday nights and Saturday brunch. They are a wonderful way to connect and enjoy good company and good food.
We are our choices quote
  • My favourite ritual continues to be my morning ritual. It is the greatest gift I gave myself in the early days of my health caper, and it centres me like nothing else. I have refined this to become my morning walking ritual. The benefits of this practice are far too numerous to list here. It is enough to tell you that I love it!
  • An infrequent practice that I would like to make a ritual is making marmalade. With Mum. Sounds silly, I know. But for me, this one is tied up in happy memories of my childhood, my Mum’s world-famous-in-New Zealand, old fashioned bitter marmalade, the practice of making something out of locally grown, seasonal produce. Last year, we made it together. She showed me her recipe and process. I loved the time spent with her, the passing down of her special recipe, and the creating of the labels for jars that I later gave away to people who matter to me. It’s a ritual that aligns with the spirit of generosity for me.

What I don’t know

  • The act of creating meaningful rituals is time-consuming but worthwhile. My rituals are a work in progress. I will continue to seek out new ways I can add very intentional practices to my life.
  • I find that the slower pace of life here in country New Zealand suits me well. I’m just not yet clear on how that will manifest in the longer term. That’s ok.
4. Stress Management

We are all so very busy these days. Stress management techniques include all the tools and strategies you might expect to mitigate things in your life that trigger your “fight-or-flight” response. And when it comes to your Wheel of Health, the idea of building resilience is the flip – and equally important – side of the stress management coin.

As you develop resilience, your stress levels come down. Hardly surprising then that I’m an advocate for prioritising the task of building different forms of stress management into your day. Every day.

What I know

  • I am fortunate. Exchanging my two-bedroom apartment, centrally located and overlooking a busy and noisy road in Sydney, for my little house in country New Zealand surrounded by green and quiet has been an absolute boon.
  • My eyes appreciate the middle-distance view of green from my patio (rather than the four walls of my apartment).
  • The joy my pups bring to my life actively reduces my stress levels, as do my morning beach walks. Even in the rain
  • Regular (almost daily) diaphragmatic breathwork and legs-up-the-wall sessions work to help me lower cortisol levels and calm my fajizzle.
  • Pilates, a functional movement/yoga practice and regular lymphatic massage are welcome tools that have been added to my health toolbox.
To Be Calm Quote

What I don’t know

  • Like so many, I am deeply affected by global political and environmental catastrophes. New Zealand has not escaped the weather events, either. I know that the incremental, positive changes I can make are small change in the scheme of things but that they matter. I’m working on this, but it sometimes makes me feel very insignificant.
  • Still figuring out this lipoedema thing.
5. Community

The dictionary definition of a community is a group of people having a particular characteristic in common or the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common. This doesn’t convey the importance a sense of community is to keeping us happy and healthy throughout our life.

For me, community means a sense of connection. Making time for friends – new and longstanding – and acquaintances who bring me joy, laugh with me, and recharge me.

What I know

  • It has been wonderful to reconnect with longstanding, trusted friends and to live within driving distance.
  • I miss my sister. We used to see each other weekly in Sydney. On the other hand, I love having my parents so close.
  • I have made some #bloodyfabulous new friends.
  • The local markets are a real boon. Our new ‘hood is full of farmers and growers.
  • Dogs make meeting people easy. Truly

What I don’t know

  • Just how I will slot into my new community in the longer term. At the moment, planning for a new house occupies much of my time. This will pass.
  • Country living coupled with a tendency to introversion (and a highly introverted partner) means I need to work at getting out and about.
What I know: It feels good to be writing again. PLEASE Do drop me a comment if there’s anything you’d like to hear more about from me. I’d love to know…
Joanna Frankham


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Comments (2)

Oh, Joanna, I am so overjoyed for you!
What a lovely opportunity afforded to you, and some of your loved ones, this move has been/will be.
What a lovely lifestyle change for a lovely (inside & out) lady.:)

(I use to chicken your blog a lot upon my first AI diagnosis six years ago. And occasionally the last few years. Figured it’s about time I make it official as a ‘tweener’;))

Marla – Talk about a ‘better late than never’ response! Thanks for your gorgeous comment. Very happy to have you join the In Betweeners!

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