We are excited to introduce you to Dani Binnington, wife, mother-of-three, breast cancer survivor, yoga teacher and founder of Healthy Whole Me.
Dani was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer at the age of 33, which resulted in multiple surgeries, chemo and radiotherapy, a double mastectomy and the surgical removal of her ovaries. After her cancer went into remission, she overhauled the way she ate, moved and thought and became a certified yoga teacher.
We love her Instagram which is full of vignettes of her life and amazing recipes with simple and affordable ingredients, all within the framework of family life.
We sat down with Dani virtually to ask her a few questions this week.
What was it like being diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age?
It was like the floor pulled from underneath my feel. All I could think of was "Will I make it? Will I make it? Will I make it?" And then… "What about the kids? They’re too little."
What would you say are some of the biggest changes you've made to your life before and after cancer?
I became important. Initially I had this strong sense to do everything possible to survive. I fought like a lioness. It required all my efforts to put together a toolbox that aided my mental and physical health.
And although that has changed over the years since my diagnosis, I still make it my priority today to look after myself. To eat well, to move a plenty, to continuously look after my stress levels, to make sure I sleep enough and well. And I ask for help if I need some.
You took up yoga at the invitation of your mother-in-law and "got hooked". What attracted you to yoga?
By the time I stared yoga my mental health was suffering. I was riddled with anxiety and continuously thought I could feel and sense a recurrence of cancer somewhere; I felt very ill.
The time on my mat was the only time in my week where I didn’t dwell on something that happened in the past and where I didn’t worry about the future. It was such a big relief!! I connected to my present moment and watched my body grow stronger too. It was wonderful. So I just did more and more of it - it was a no brainer ;-) I’ve never been more in touch with my body and self than when I practice yoga.
As a busy mom-of-three trying to lead a healthy and wholesome life, do you have practical tips for us?
As crazy as it sounds but carve time out for yourself. You function the best when you are looked after and your needs are met. Then go and tend to everyone else’s needs. Draw up a simple weekly meal plan. Repeat cooking the recipes that work for all of you, as we don’t need to serve 30 different meals a month! Upgrade the meals that are less healthy by just adding 1 portion of steamed veg.
Show your kids how to relax. Relax in from of them. They will follow suit. And I mean not just watching the telly. We need to start comfortable to just sit down and have a cuppa and stare out of the window. We teach our children so much stuff, from academics to sports and they do so many activities. But teaching them that their self-worth does not come from what they achieve - but from who they are- is important too. I always say it: let’s stop saying relaxation time and say recovery time instead.
Food is a big part of your cancer recovery process. What are some dietary principles you adhere to?
Food is massively important to me. And although I never followed a strict diet my approach is simple. I eat as little refined food as possible. We eat mainly plant based at home. I carefully reduce sugar as much as I can for the whole family, without being too strict as I know this would backfire. We cherish family meal times when we can all sit and eat and chat around the dinner table. Food is so much more than nutrients I feel. It’s connecting to others, community and making memories.
What are three things you can't live without?
1. Hugging people.
2. I want to say my husband Tim’s Manta Hair Brush but I’m torn between that and these wonderfully smelling toilet drops a local lady makes herself.
3. And love obviously - because at the end of the day nothing else matters but the love you have for another. It’s endless, it’s energy and it continues to be there when we are long gone.