February 11, 2024
join us on our team's wellness journeys
by Katie Readshaw, Clinic Manager
If you’ve been following our business for a while, you’ve likely encountered our frequent use of terms like “holistic” and “wellness” when discussing our consultations and tailored treatment plans.
But what lies beneath these industry buzzwords?
Once upon a time, consultations were like a menu – “What treatment do you want?” or “Which area would you like to improve?”. Fast forward to four years ago, post-lockdown, when we began delving deeper into the individual patient rather than just assessing facial aesthetics. We developed our methodology to be both both medical and holistic, extending to consider the individual as a whole rather than just assessing facial aesthetics.
The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened our collective concern for general health and wellbeing. Whether due to increased health anxiety, long COVID symptoms, or a touch of PTSD from witnessing seemingly healthy individuals succumb to illness – the drive for wellness resonates now more than ever.
At novellus aesthetics, we understand the profound impact of wellness on our lives and acknowledge our role in offering an efficient and effective service rooted in medical knowledge. While we do not substitute a visit to a GP or Consultant, engaging in more meaningful conversations with us often results in the recommendation of simple lifestyle changes that can significantly enhance overall wellbeing.
While we can’t discuss individual patient cases, we’ve chosen to share our personal wellness strategies – the triumphs, challenges, and the mishaps.
In exploring the team’s wellness goals, Dr. Steven injects humour with, “I’m too busy to die; I want to live forever!”, but clarified that he wants to live his life as healthily as possible so he can enjoy his later years.
Skin Specialist Roz and Dr Shalini, as mothers, shape their habits with an eye toward passing down positive practices, and similarly increasing their general health and longevity.
Meanwhile, I’ve made changes to improve my current health, often with the goal of managing my chronic illness on a day to day basis.
Our collective goal? To age gracefully, live longer, and extend our health span.
But what is the difference between lifespan and health span?
Lifespan is how long you live vs health-span which is the quality of your health you have over your life.
We’re going to look at 5 main factors, including diet, exercise, sleep, alcohol consumption, and supplements we each take and why, alongside any extra tools or activities we utilise to improve our general wellbeing. However, we don’t want to be dishonest and present ourselves as the paragon of health, when each and every one of us recognises areas where we can improve
diet and culinary practices
Our dietary discussions covered socioeconomic influences, upbringings, and tailoring diets to specific health issues. Dr. Shalini, drawing from her cultural background, ensures her family experiences meals of substance. As nutrition enthusiasts, both Roz and Shalini align their eating habits with scientifically proven impacts on the body. While they lean towards plant-based choices, Steven and I navigate our culinary journeys, knowing that we need to improve in certain areas.
Dr Shalini recognises that her cultural background has a lot to do with how she prepares hers and her family’s meals.
Families traditionally pass down recipes and teach their children how to prepare food from scratch, so Shalini and her family probably eat the least amount of processed food out of all the team.
You’ll notice that when both Shalini and Roz discuss food, they are extremely educated in nutrition, and live by the scientifically proven impact that certain foodstuffs have on our bodies. With Roz’s psoriasis and Shalini’s food sensitivities, they have changed their eating habits over the years to reflect this knowledge to reduce their exposure to trigger foods.
Dr Shalini tries to eat plant based meals and snacks as much as possible, while Roz is consciously vegan/veggie at least 3 days of the week. Both opt for healthier snacks like fruit and nuts throughout the day.
Food has such a significant impact on our bodies, and you’ll recognise that there’s a direct correlation between which team members eat better and who appears all round healthier, in comparison to the likes of Steven and I.
Speaking of Dr Steven; while he is generally healthy, and results from recent blood tests show that genetically he is much younger than he is chronologically, one must assume that the positive contributing factors have little to do with his diet!
He’s a serial snacker, often consuming far too many sweet treats at work and drinks far too much caffeine (although caffeine has been evidenced to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes – although he’s combating that positive arc by eating nothing but sweets all day…)
His saving grace is that he does tend to eat at least 2 well rounded meals a day.
I’m probably the worst culprit for not eating well; I’ve had a difficult relationship with food since I was a teenager and suffered from bulimia, which has been up and down over the years with my gastro problems and how my body can randomly react to foods I’ve previously not had issues with. Any other single people can attest that cooking for one can be a difficult and uninspiring task, so I tend to throw quick and easy meals together. However, since returning to the gym and consistently taking my Nuchido*, I have been working to improve my diet!
image courtesy of @
exercise: autophagy in action
Which leads us nicely onto exercise!
Exercise is our weapon against ageing, enhancing autophagy – the body’s cellular recycling system. Each team member’s exercise routine reflects their unique relationship with their bodies.
Diverse paths, one destination – healthy ageing and increased cellular health
Exercise is clinically proven to increase autophagy, which is the system in the body that breaks down broken and tired cells and components, recycling them into useful elements to be used elsewhere. This is particularly important as we age, and our autophagy slows. Cells that die off or become senescent can be quite damaging if they’re not recycled in an efficient timeframe, and can begin damaging surrounding cells – much like a rotten apple in a bushel.
Each team member has a significantly different relationship with their bodies, and have chosen their actives based on this relationship.
Steven has a straight forward cardio and resistance regime, utilising his Zwift 3-4 times a week for around 30mins – while no doubt using that time to read yet another medical journal or study!
I’m just beginning to repair my previously broken relationship with the gym, and endeavour to do 2-3 full body resistance workouts a week, with some gentle cardio to warm up. Online dance workouts are also a favourite of mine, which I try to do a full hour a couple of times a month, depending on whether my housemates are home to heckle me.
Dr Shalini talks quite openly about the changes she’s made to her exercise regime to tackle some symptoms of being peri-menopausal – although how she has enough hours in the day to fit a workout in with her NHS GP work, her clinic hours, and 4 boisterous boys at home, I will never know!
She focuses heavily on muscle and bone strength, using weight training and Yoga to focus her energy and quiet her mind. Her and the boys go on long walks with their puppy, and when she does cardio, she does short, high intensity bursts which suit her busy schedule.
Anyone who follows Roz on Instagram will be as impressed as I am with her training; she fits in 3 training sessions a week, usually in the morning, including one Personal Training session. She is also currently training for a Cancer Research run in July and the Great North Run in September. This is all auxiliary to her running around after her 2 and a half year old – who she takes on long walks, and swimming lessons once a week.
sleep's significant impact
With Shalini and Roz being primary caregivers, they are very aware that sleep is extremely valuable and each have a handful of tips and tricks to make sure that the 7 hours they get on average is as restful as possible. Both adhere to a bedtime, and both take magnesium supplements* before bed, which they have noted does help them fall to sleep easier. Sleep hygiene is important, where one avoids blue light before bed, either by completely avoiding devices or by using blue light blocking glasses. As both of their children age, they have identified that their sleep is much less disturbed than usual.
In a sharp contrast, my sleep is atrocious. Not only have I always been a light sleeper, but I have the occasional bout of insomnia. Sharing a home with housemates who have very different hours to me and having my own two children (my cats), I am disturbed quite frequently in the night. I’ve recently had to take a more European approach to sleep, and try to have at least an hour nap after work when no one else is home, just so I’m hitting my goal of 5-7 hours of sleep a night.
Dr Steven swears that he can function effectively on just 5 hours sleep – which may have some scientific backing, as many studies suggest that women require more sleep than men!
Thankfully, as none of us are 21 anymore, the team aren’t dragged into the heavy drinking culture that the North East is famous for. Yes, each of us has been known to have a few tipples on a night out – some of our patients have definitely witnessed us the morning after a work function, although we do usually book a hangover morning out of the diary! – but as a whole we aren’t heavy drinkers. Shalini and Roz tend to only drink socially, whereas Steve and I are known for having a glass of wine at the end of a long day a few times a week.
supplements and lifestyle support
This is where the team’s medical know how comes into play; knowing what we need to support our lifestyles.
All of the team take Nuchido Time+ (which we mentioned earlier), but what is this magic supplement that is suitable for every single one of us? Nuchido Time+ is a local brand that supports and enhances the body’s NAD production. Now, if like me, you haven’t got a biology degree, you may not have come across the term NAD, or if you have it’s always seemed somewhat vague. I’ve found that the best analogy for NAD is that it’s the fuel for each of our cells. Every 10 years our NAD production decreases by 50%. Improving the production of NAD can help with general energy levels, clarity of thought – including improving menopausal brain fog, reducing anxiety and stress, reducing inflammation in the body, it can help with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) post exercise, improves skin, hair and nails quality, and so much more!
As mentioned, Shalini and Roz both take magnesium to improve their sleep and mental clarity; as farming technologies have advanced over the decades, it has resulted in overfarming in previously nutrition rich soil – which in turn has resulted in most of us suffering from a magnesium deficiency. Living in the dreary North East does result in depleted levels of Vitamin D; with Shalini’s Indian heritage, she is already prone to a Vit D deficiency, but any of us could benefit from some supplemental Vitamin D.
Steven takes two interesting supplements, all for the goal of ageing better; Berberine, which is a supplement that comes from the same family of medications as metformin, which is a prescription only medicine that is primarily used to treat diabetes, but has significant anti-aging properties. Berberine is the supplement cousin of metformin. And Spermadine which improves autophagy, which you’ll recall from earlier, in laymen’s terms is the body’s cellular recycling system. By improving autophagy, tired or decaying cells are broken down and repurposed sooner.
Similarly, Dr Shalini takes a monthly supplement called Qualia Senolytic, which actively works to break down old cells that need to be recycled, and observes that she feels significantly more energy the next day!
In my goal to improve my day to day wellness, I focus on supplements that support my gut and immune system; I have found that Nuchido has significantly reduced the frequency of my flare ups, as well as reducing the pain I experience daily. Combining NAD’s anti-inflammatory properties with probiotics and gut biome to support my gut health, and bee pollen to enhance my immune system, so far is proving to aid with my long term health issues more than any previous supplemental support.
Each team member uses other tools whether to track wellness or support the above.
Roz has been known to throw herself into the North Sea in pursuit of vasodilation and vasoconstriction in quick succession, which we know has benefits on a cellular level, as well as improving soreness, boosting mood and alertness, and reducing inflammation.
For anyone who doesn’t want to jump in the sea, you can use alternatives like ice baths, or like Shalini, by increasingly submerging yourself in cold water at the end of your daily shower. Interestingly, Shalini has observed if she does this on a morning, she’s more alert, but if she does it on an evening, she finds that she sleeps much better. Steven however, hates the cold, deeming this a really stupid idea and wants no part of it!
On Shalini’s recommendation, I have begun using an acupressure mat before bed, which puts pressure on multiple acupressure points. Combined with slow paced breathing, and some form of meditation, it sporadically helps with my sleep, but has significantly helped with quieting my mind just before bed.
If you’re interested in more details on any of the approaches our team use, don’t hesitate to get in touch, or book in with one of our medical team to discuss how wellness support can enhance your aesthetics treatments.
As we each continue our wellness journey and update you all, we believe that authenticity prevails over perfection, so we will share our mishaps as well as our achievements as the months pass!
We also invite you to join our upcoming Instagram Live on Thursday, 29th February, where we’ll host a special guest, offering unique insights into wellness practices.
Mark your calendars for an enriching conversation that delves deeper into the pursuit of optimal health.