This week we are lucky to be introducing you to you mental health awareness blogger Emma Bourgeois. Half Spanish, half Belgian, Emma lives in Amsterdam.
Emma is currently completing her Law Masters in Amsterdam. She has a superb Instagram page called Eat W Emma that is filled with workouts, recipes and mental health awareness posts.
Emma is extremely passionate about showcasing a balance in life, as she says, there are many different sides to maintaining a healthy lifestyle beyond nutrition and workouts and mental health awareness is something she wants to focus on and champion.
We felt that the balance she is projecting is something very powerful and would be something our community could get behind, check out our EXCLUSIVE interview with Emma below:
Hey Emma, welcome to Sportside! We are thrilled to have you onboard. How are you?
Thank you so much! I am good thank you, happy to be onboard too.
That’s great to hear. You are a huge advocate for positive mental attitudes and raising awareness of mental health – is that something that you have always been interested in?
I would say I became particularly interested when I turned a teenager. It’s the typical time when you start overthinking more, doubting things and really question who you are and want to become. That’s when I started listening to loads of podcasts and reading books on the matter to understand how our brain works, but most of all the power we can have to make our head a happy place ☺
The past few months have put a real strain on people’s mental wellbeing. What have you been doing to make sure you keep on track and stay positive?
I take it day by day. I make sure to keep a certain structure to my day, even though it’s a quite a relaxed one. I make sure to move my body whether that’s following a 20-minute HIIT, yoga or Pilates class or simply going for a walk. I stay on top of my uni work as I’m finishing up my thesis, even if its for a couple hours.
I also make sure to keep in touch with my friends, having “coffee/wine” dates over Facetime and making sure to call a friend each day. Having dinner every night with my family, cooking and simply chilling together is also very comforting. It is definitely a challenging time as the amount of time we have to be faced with our thoughts can be a bit daunting.
That’s why I have also taken this time for more “self -care” than ever, whether that’s taking a bath with a good book at 3pm or maybe baking one too many cakes (laughs) .
One of the methods you use to keep on top of mental health is having a really positive relationship with food. Do you think it’s vital that people know the importance of a healthy diet as part of a healthy lifestyle?
Absolutely. Our diet affects so much the way we feel and think. It’s a body-mind connection. Nutritious and non-processed foods are known to make our minds sharper, give us better focus and have a clearer mind. But that does not mean that I believe in a healthy diet 100% of the time, it’s all about balance. It’s easy to misconception “healthy” foods with low fat or low carbs foods, leading to low weight. But carbs and good fat are so important for our brains to function properly so bring on the peanut butter and home-made sweet potatoes fries!
That’s really interesting – ordinarily people tend to associate healthy eating with physical wellbeing rather than mental wellbeing, but you’re absolutely right! Do you have any favorite recipes that you could share with us?
I love making more nutritious version of the typical burger or pizza you would usually get when you’re out and about. My favorite would have to be the veggie curry I improvised the other night : chucking a whole lot of different veggies, coconut milk, lots of spices and chickpeas in a pot. So easy to do and so satisfying with a side of rice! Check out the full recipe on my insta. It’s the “one pot veggie curry”.
Obviously being physically active has mental health benefits as you’ve said previously. How have you been managing to keep up your exercise routine over the past couple of months?
There are so many different workouts available on YouTube and I’ve been mixing and matching them, depending on my mood. I would also prepare little HIIT workouts on a piece of paper, with 5 different moves or so and repeat the sequence a couple of times. Super effective way to get a little sweat in less than 20 minutes! I actually also posted them on @eatwemma.
I can only imagine that you don’t have access to huge amounts of equipment like the rest of us and therefore bodyweight exercises are key. Do you have any tips for our readers who are looking to get the most out of a workout but don’t have the equipment they are used to?
Your body is the best equipment you can get, there are so many different exercises you can do to strengthen your muscles and work on your cardio. Burpees and planks are a killer and they are so many variations!
It might be a while before gyms are open in the UK so I’m sure our readers will take those points onboard! You’re currently in Amsterdam studying, how do you like the city?
I am indeed finishing my masters in European competition law and regulation at the university of Amsterdam! It’s such an amazing city, I have definitely fallen in love with it. It’s such a fun, dynamic, young yet healthy atmosphere.
Rain or shine everyone is always biking and being active, down to have a good time. I remember being amazed when I first got here seeing how parents would handle biking under the rain, carrying 3 groceries bags with 1 kid in the front and the other one in the back. The culture is definitely great and everyone’s just doing their thing, chilled out.
Yes, it’s an amazing place to live! Is it somewhere that you can see yourself staying when you are finished studying?
Definitely. I will maybe go travelling for a bit (if and when this Coronavirus situation allows) but it’s definitely a place I see myself settling down in.