I have had a keen interest in preventative and lifestyle medicine from early in my career, fuelled both my own experience of chronic ill health and the powerlessness I felt when consulting with my patients who suffered from chronic medical conditions related to our Western lifestyles, from heart disease and diabetes to cancer and dementia. Driven by the desire to better understand the root causes I have spent the last 20 years exploring how nutrition, physical activity and stress management in particular can be used to prevent, treat and reverse chronic lifestyle-related disease.
Having experienced first-hand the physical and mental health benefits of a mindfulness meditation practice, I was intrigued to discover more about this mind- body connection and how mindfulness can be used to enhance our resilience to the stressful demands of everyday life. I now facilitate Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Programs for a variety of different groups including those suffering from chronic illness and pain, health professionals suffering from stress and burnout and those with anxiety and relapsing depression.
In my Lifestyle Medicine practice, I soon realised that simply educating and advising my patient’s was having limited success. I was missing an essential skill. Developing and sustaining healthy habits is a lifelong process and I completely appreciate how challenging this can be. In 2017 I decided to equip myself with the skills to help my patient’s take those steps towards changing their health behaviour and trained as a health coach.
I now incorporate all of my passions including lifestyle medicine, health coaching and mindfulness to support my patients and clients towards achieving their health goals. Change cannot happen without self-awareness and self-compassion, inner motivation and attending to the wholeness of the human being – mind, body, spirit and environment.
I never stop learning and make sure I keep up with as much of the latest scientific research findings as I can. I have over the years integrated what I have found most beneficial to me into my own life – enjoying mindfulness meditation, yoga, CrossFit, hiking in the wilderness, healthy eating and cooking… with the intention of being able to live well for another half a century at least! Growing older shouldn’t fill us with fear of deterioration and indignity. In fact, just the opposite – with age comes wisdom, greater perspective and accomplishment – and even greater opportunities to contribute to our families and community.
I have been privileged to have worked with many people over the years who have inspired me with their courage and determination to get well, no matter how many small steps it takes. I am deeply grateful to all of you for enriching my life and inspiring me to continue the work that I do.
Lydia Altini is a medical doctor (University of Witwatersrand) and Certified Lifestyle Medicine Physician (International Board of Lifestyle Medicine), Certified Health and Wellness Coach (National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching), and Certified Mindfulness teacher (University of Stellenbosch). She is a board member of the South African Association of Lifestyle Medicine (SALMA) and a professional member of Health Coaches Australia New Zealand Association. (HCANZA). Lydia is also the founder of a community lifestyle change intervention called Prescription for Health.
Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBCh), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Teacher Training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Institute of Mindfulness South Africa
Post Graduate Certificate: Functional Approach to Integrative Medicine, Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, University of Stellenbosch
Post Graduate Certificate: Mindfulness Based Interventions, Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, University of Stellenbosch
Advanced Depth Facilitation with Hélène Smit, Feather Learning (Pty) Ltd
Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach, Functional Medicine Coaching Academy, Inc. USA
National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach, NB-HWC, USA
ReCODE Coach (Reversing Cognitive Decline), Functional Medicine Coaching Academy, Inc. USA
Certified Lifestyle Medicine Physician, International Board of Lifestyle Medicine