Stacey's Holistic approach to living a healthier life
YOGA and meditation expert Stacey Murtagh is a great believer in the healing potential of the old saying ‘listen to your gut’.
The health coach has been giving free online yoga and mediation classes during the lockdown as a way of helping people cope at this difficult time.
The 37 year-old has found by developing a holistic approach to her own health, which was dogged by experiencing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for years, she has transformed her own wellbeing and that of others.
Originally from Crossgar, Stacey began her health and fitness journey while she was living and working in Dubai for 10 years as a marketing executive.
She trained with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where she learned innovative coaching methods, practical lifestyle management techniques, and over 100 dietary theories – Ayurveda, gluten-free, Paleo, raw, vegan, macrobiotics, and everything in between.
Some of her tutors were world experts such as Deepak Chopra, MD, leader in the field of mind-body medicine, Gabrielle Bernstein, bestselling author and life coach, and bestselling author, Geneen Roth, pioneer of Emotional Eating and Empowerment.
Stacey is also a registered UK Hatha Yoga teacher having gained her teacher training qualification with Zuna Yoga in Bali last June.
Now back living in Downpatrick for the past year, Stacey has been working with groups, such as yoga classes for Loughinisland GAC or one-to-one health coaching with individuals in a part-time capacity.
When she works one-to-one with a client to take their health histories, she says that the number one rule to success is trust. “We go through a number of different of things which are going on in their lives at the time, like career, finances, relationships, etc,” she said. “For instance they may come thinking that it’s weight loss that they want to achieve, but there’s other factors going on that may be affecting the nutritional part of their lives. I help my clients achieve their goals by finding that balance between nutrition, diet, and exercise.
“Some clients, and a lot of men actually, have come to me with problems with anxiety and gut health. For everyone to look after their gut health is something I’m very
passionate about. “Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week and I would like people to understand the connection that if we are feeding our bodies processed food, it can directly impact on our brains and our mental health.”
Apart from working on her own health and studying to understand what diet and nutrition works for her — she’s vegetarian and stays away from grains, apart from oats and barley — Stacey was heavily influenced by holistic approach to health during her late father’s illness.
Mr John Murtagh died in 2014 at the age of 53 after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.
He was initially told that he has only six months to live and Stacey and her family believe that he helped extend his life through his devotion to nutrition, juicing, mediation and his deep
“Once we heard the news, we researched everything we could to help him nutritionally and holistically,” explained Stacey. “We believe 100 per cent his faith and his dedication to nutrition and meditation was definitely pertinent to his added time with us. His oncologists thought he was a miracle.
“I think it was through what we experienced with my father and my own journey that I knew I wanted to help others nutritionally and how to find their inner happiness and peace.”
In 2016, she and her brother, Jonathan, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in memory of her dad to raise nearly £8,000 for Marie Curie.
Stacey’s own gut health problems were finally diagnosed while she was working in Dubai where she was able to avail of private health service through her job.
“I eventually found out that I have visceral hypersensitivity which is typical of IBS and means that the nerves endings in my intestines are exasperated by stress,” she said.
“My doctor was very interested in holistic therapies and when he found out that I was doing a lot of HITT [high intensity interval training] but still not losing weight, he recommended switching to lower intensity training such as yoga and Pilates. The difference it has made to my life, along with yoga and a balanced nutritional diet had been incredible.”
According to Stacey, an open mind and a willingness to test out certain foods to see what triggers your condition are essential for clients to get the right outcome.
“Just traditional medicine alone – and I would never encourage anyone not to go with traditional medicine – is not always the answer. It’s a partnership approach with traditional side and holistic. But most importantly its listening to your own body and what feels right,” said Stacey.
“Clients need to bring a huge trust in the coaching and we really need to work between three to six months and delve quite deep into the person’s life to see how we can work together.
“I’m a big advocate for staying away from fad diets — they never worked for me. I believe you have to work to be happy and content within yourself and this is helped by making the right lifestyle choices for yourself. It’s about finding balance and what works for you as an
individual and settling into that lifestyle.”
After having a fixed-term contract as a marketing manager before the lockdown, Stacey is no longer working and thinks that this might be the time to push through with yoga and heath coaching full-time.
While offering free online yoga classes (Monday at 7pm and Saturday at 8am on her Instagram and meditation via Zoom at 8.30pm every Sunday), Stacey is also offering a complimentary 50-minute health coaching interview.
Written by Joanne Sweeney - published in Down Recorder 27 May 2020
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