Looking to crush your health and fitness goals this year? Livehealthy is all over it, bringing you advice from members of our own expert panel, as well as regional and global wellbeing experts, along with workshops and seminars and discounts on food and fitness classes.
Building on last year’s inaugural event, Livehealthy Week of Wellness launches January 17 and runs until Jan 21, when food outlets, fitness and wellness studios will offer free and discounted classes and dishes. Local businesses taking part include healthy eating outlets Basiligo, B Sweet, Lose Weight, Soul Vegan Café, and Sweet Greens, plus fitness centres Desert Shield, Bodytree Studio and Punch Boxing Club. Be sure to check out all of the participating wellness ambassadors in the Week of Wellness.
Basiligo, B Sweet, and Lose Weight are sponsors of Livehealthy Festival 2021.
Immediately following the Week of Wellness is the one-day Livehealthy Festival 2021 on Friday, January 22. The jam-packed schedule, offered virtually this year due to the pandemic, will address everything immunity-related, from food to the external environment to movement, mindfulness and more.
Dr Ruediger Krech, a director of the World Health Organization, will deliver a keynote speech from Geneva on the importance of building a holistic immunity amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
A panel discussion on immunity features Livehealthy expert Dr Nasr Al Jafari, who practices functional medicine and is director of DNA Wellness Center in Dubai.
“We’re living in a hygiene bubble that isn’t allowing the immune system to train itself,” Dr Al Jafari tells The Livehealthy Podcast. “A few generations ago we were living mainly outside surrounded by dirt and animals. We probably indirectly consumed feces and soil. This is how we evolved to live and it actually forms the development of how our immune system regulates itself from a young age.”
Dr Al Jafari will be joined by Ayesha Al Hammadi, a research assistant in cell biology at New York University, who will talk about what we can do to support the body’s ability to produce healthy cells.
“I’m looking forward to discussing, in a way that is easy to grasp, the cells involved in the immune response in our bodies and what the structure and the need is of healthy cells,” says Al Hammadi. “At the festival, I will explain the importance of these cells, and what you need to do to improve them. They are a very important part of the body and when I am able to explain what they are and what they do, I hope the audience are be able to adapt their lifestyle for the better.”
External factors have a huge impact on how we fight viruses of the body and mind. Dana Howells, an Abu Dhabi-based nutritional coach, will address how the micro-environment on your table relates to the rest of your life.
“You can’t talk about health and wellbeing with food without talking about stress, sleep and activity levels,” she says. “And these are some of the big pillars I focus on.”
Also on the panel is artist Barry Rosenthal, who travelled to Abu Dhabi for the first Livehealthy Festival, where he created his signature photographs out of trash swept up from Abu Dhabi beaches.
Rosenthal started photographing garbage after being drawn to the bright colors of refuse strewn on a beach near his studio in Brooklyn, New York.
“I was not environmentally clued-in early on,” he says. “It took awhile for me to realize it was an environmental project. I go to the same spot and clean it and every time I go back, it’s just as bad as it was. It’s endless, self-renewing.”
What we eat is a building block of our immunity, a topic that will be tackled by Natasha Rudatsenko, founder of Health Nag, as well as Livehealthy experts Maria Abi Hanna, a Dubai-based nutritionist and co-founder of KeepEATreal, and Dr Remy Shanker, a medical doctor and dietitian who works at New York University Abu Dhabi.
“Everything is a superfood if it works for you,” Dr Shanker tells The Livehealthy Podcast. “There is no generic guideline as we are all unique and one man’s food is another man’s poison. How do you know if a food works for you? If it feels good when you eat it. Your body is constantly talking to you, giving you cues — you just have to listen to it and be in tune.”
Livehealthy expert Danae Mercer, a health and travel journalist and international body-acceptance influencer, is hosting a session on how exercise helps the immune system.
“Moving my body is a celebration,” she tells the magazine. “It helps me feel strong or relaxed or powerful. It’s something I do for me, day after day after day.”
She will be joined by Dr Philip Fischer, a paediatric specialist at the Mayo Clinic in the United States and Livehealthy expert Mustafa Adnan, co-founder of the Abu Dhabi Corniche-based outdoor gym Strike.ae.
Adnan recently completed a 90-day post-lockdown fitness challenge that was chronicled across Livehealthy’s various platforms.
“I would love to inspire people,” he tells The Livehealthy Podcast. “A lot of friends ask me for advice but they don’t put the work in. I feel sorry for them because the more they delay, the more health concerns they will have.”
As for the all-important movement and mindfulness, Abu Dhabi fitness coach and yoga instructor Karly Melnyk returns to the festival and opens the day by teaching a 45-minute yoga class offering a series of stretches and twists to flush out toxins. The founder of her own method, Movement One, will include instruction on conscious breathwork, also known as pranayama in Sanskrit, which can help to improve circulation and blood oxygen and calm the mind and body.
“As soon as I heard that the festival was focusing on immunity, I started thinking about my experience with the pandemic and how that really started to enforce my routine into my daily life, with yoga being one of the main elements,” says Melnyk. “During this session I’m going to break it down into psychological benefits, such as what yoga does for the organs, tissue, blood flow and circulation.”
The festival wraps up with a 45-minute sound healing session conducted by Neli Merris, co-founder of Abu Dhabi’s Seven Wellness center on Reem Island. This form of therapy may be known for its relaxation benefits, but many people don’t realize how powerful and transformative sound can be when it comes to our immune system.
“We are electromagnetic beings and the entire universe we live in is in a state of vibration,” explains Merris. “Sound healing can help us harmonize the optimal flow of our electromagnetic energy, therefore enhance immunity and promote an overall state of wellbeing.”
- To participate in Livehealthy Week of Wellness and register for The Livehealthy Festival, sign up here.
Asha Sherwood owns Abu Dhabi Review, an online and social platform that gives you the scoop on everything happening in the capital.