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Month: September 2017

Stories I loved this week.

hotel de ville

It’s nearly the beginning of October and hopefully we’re all getting to grips with packing school lunchboxes during the week. Here are some nice lunchbox tips. (Cup of Jo)

The bacteria in your gut may be shaping your waistline. (The Economist)

Have you tried mediating before eating? (Bon Appetit)

I had a little cry after reading this article. It’s shocking how many women feel that their doctors don’t listen to their concerns or take them seriously. (The Cut)

Are you sober curious? I probably am and am part of the trend of millennials that are choosing to drink little to no alcohol. (The Pool)

How many hours do you sleep a night? The shorter the time you sleep at night, the higher the risk of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and weight gain. (The Guardian)

Any type of exercise can reduce cardiovascular risk and early death, even vacuuming or taking the stairs, as long as you get at least 150 minutes (that’s only 2.5 hours!) a week. (Vox)

I Tried It: Hot Yoga

Photo by Aral Tasher on Unsplash

I just completed 30 days of yoga and I’m hooked. I love how yoga calms and relaxes me, how it’s increasing my flexibility and how much stronger I’m becoming.

 

I’ve started another Yoga with Adriene 30 day challenge, but last week, I decided that I wanted try a hot yoga class to mix things up a bit.

 

I found a hot yoga class in central London that looked interesting, although admittedly, I was a bit skeptical of my ability to actually complete the class. Not because I was worried about being in a group setting, it was more about my ability to cope with the heat of the room. Real talk: I’ve had low blood pressure since I was pregnant with my son, so being in really hot places always makes me feel a bit light headed.

 

I decided to give it a go and registered for a lunchtime class at Another Space with the lovely Ellisif.

 

So here’s the thing about hot yoga that makes it different to the vinyasa yoga I usually do.  The class takes place in 32° infrared heat, so you’re doing vinyasa yoga at the normal high intensity, and the heat raises your heart rate even further.

 

In a nutshell: it’s very hot and you will get very sweaty.

 

The next time I do a hot yoga class, I will definitely wear fewer clothes. I thought I was being smart, wearing just cropped leggings, a tank top with lots of wicking capability and a sports bra. But even that was too much: there were men wearing only shorts and women in sports bras and short shorts in order to beat the heat.

 

For me, it was a bit of a mental transition going from doing yoga at home in an airy room with a draft to doing yoga in a very hot room, surrounded by people wearing as little as possible. And I won’t lie: the first five minutes of the class were tough, as I struggled to get to grips with the heat. And then just like that, something in my brain clicked into place and I was finally able to relax into the heat and the vinyasa flows.

 

The 45 minutes class was a very dynamic, with vinyasa yoga flows and very few breaks.

 

Reader, I loved it.

 

I left the class very sweaty but feeling full of endorphins, calm and very focused. And a little happier.

 

A little note: I wouldn’t recommend a hot yoga class to a complete yoga newbie. My view is that it would be a lot to learn the poses and flows and try to cope with the heat. So if you’re a seasoned yogi or have been doing yoga for a little while, I highly recommend trying a hot yoga class for a little variety.

 

Do you do hot yoga? Any tips and tricks to share?

 

Get in touch for to book a free, no commitment 20 minute health coaching call to find out more about how you can improve your health & wellbeing and reduce your stress.

How can I make Autumn meal planning and preparation easier?

autumn salad

I was recently asked to share my top tips for Autumn health and wellness with Motherhood Reconstructed. I love what Tamu and Leah are doing to share diverse stories of motherhood in the UK. Go check out their site and events!

 

The kids are back in school and it’s time to think about lunchboxes and proper meal preparation. Here are my top tips for Autumn health and wellness.

 

Remember: you don’t have to do everything at once – just start with the first tip and then add in the others when you feel ready. The point of this is not to feel overwhelmed, but to give you a helping hand and feel better in yourself.

 

1. Preparation is key! 

Get a sheet of A4 and write out your meal ideas for the week’s packed lunches and evening meals. You can go further and add breakfast to this list – but if cereal is all you can manage in the morning, don’t stress! This meal planning chart will help you figure what ingredients you already have and what you need to add your shopping list.

 

2. Make meal prepping your best friend. 

A good meal prepping session on Sunday afternoon means that when you open the fridge / freezer after work during the week, you have plenty of meal options you can just reheat in 15 minutes or less. Here are some ideas:

  • Steam a big batch of veggies such as broccoli, carrots, cauliflower or green beans so that you always have vegetables to hand.

 

  • Make freezer worthy meals like Bolognese sauce, stews, soups and casseroles, that are easy to pull out and reheat.

 

  • Prep easy protein options like meatballs, roast chicken and pulled pork that you can build meals around.

 

3. Rethink breakfast. 

Once you’ve got the hang of the meal planning and prepping, start thinking about your breakfast options. A smoothie is a quick way to pack loads of nutrients into your morning meal. Here’s a fast smoothie recipe to make in your blender or Nutribullet:

1 small banana

A handful of frozen berries, like raspberries, blueberries or strawberries

A big handful of spinach

1/2 an avocado

200mL milk (I like almond milk)

1 tablespoon of nut butter (I like almond butter)

Drop it all into your blender cup, whizz it together and enjoy! You can even make this the night before and pull it out of the fridge and eat while you’re making breakfast for your kids.

 

 4. Eat a rainbow. 

Try to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables each day, building up to a minimum of 4 servings of vegetables and 3 servings of vegetables each day. If that seems like a lot, just try to add two servings to each meal and build in more over time.

 

5. Be gentle with yourself and try to achieve an 80 / 20 balance. 

If you do all of this 80% of the time, you’ll be successful! Finding a healthy lifestyle that works for you, including good nutrition, self-care and rest, is really a marathon not a race, so be gentle with yourself and give yourself a bit of grace.

 

Get in touch for to book a free, no commitment 20 minute health coaching call to find out more about how you can improve your health & wellbeing and reduce your stress.

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Stories I loved this week.

swan in kew gardens

How’s your week been? We’re in week 3 of the new school / work routine and we’ve finally started to find a new rhythm. And autumn looks like it’s finally here. Let squash season begin!

My recent yoga challenge has opened me up to what this practice can do for my body. The next challenge is to build up towards some proper inversions. They promote calm and can help release shoulder tension. (Shondaland)

True happiness is elusive but working towards good physical, spiritual and emotional health is a constant. (The Pool)

How do you know if you have a problem with your drinking? (Refinery29)

Proper education around food and nutrition in schools could be a way to reduce obesity. (The Guardian)

Education about food also includes gaining proper cooking skills. Here’s what happened when a single dad learned how to cook. (The Kitchn)

Taking a break from dieting may improve weight loss. Dieting is temporary, good eating habits are forever. (Science Daily)

I love these Sunday meal prep ideas. (Healthyish)

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I Tried It: 30 Days of Yoga

sunset yoga

Do you do yoga? It’s something I always recommend yoga to my stressed out clients. It’s incredible for reducing cortisol, the major stress hormone, and getting people to focus on the quality of their breathing. In addition, a recent study shows that yoga and meditation can significantly improve brain function and energy levels.

 

Personally, I used to favour high intensity exercise like spinning or HIIT. I love the feeling of being sweaty and full of endorphins after a good workout. I’ve done yoga over the years, but always tended to favour ashtanga yoga, again for that feeling of having done a great sweaty workout.

 

Then at the end of July, my right knee really started to bother me and I ended up spraining it after doing a particularly vigorous HIIT session full of jump lunges and squats. I didn’t want to stop working out, but I knew I needed to find something that was gentle on my knees and could help the healing process.

 

Enter yoga.

 

I have friends that are yogis and I’ve always watched their Instagram posts of their various poses with a mix of joy and awe. Then when I got injured, I thought: ‘I should actually try this now’.

 

And so I did. I had heard a lot of good things about the 30 day introductory programme from Yoga with Adriene, so I fired up the YouTube app and off I went.

 

You might be asking why I didn’t just head to a local yoga class? Well, I’ve always preferred to workout at home. I did the Kayla Itsines’ programme at home last year and loved being able to do a workout in the morning and then quickly get on with my day, rather than schlep to the gym. Rest assured, this isn’t about gym shyness, but rather my own scheduling choice. If I can schedule it, I still love doing a spin class at Psycle or Another Space for the community and camaraderie.

 

And I digress. The first few days of my yoga challenge were tricky, as I realised how tight my calves, hamstrings and upper back were. In the downward facing dog pose, my feet were virtually in 45 degree angles. I then made it a goal to not only finish the 30 days, but also get my heels further to the ground in downward facing dog and start to build towards doing a proper crow pose.

 

I also decided to create a bit of a ritual in my yoga practice. I light a lovely candle, get a big glass of water and set my intention of making my practice a moment of self-care.

 

I found something addictive in doing yoga everyday. Perhaps it was was the ritual, perhaps it was knowing that I was building towards something. I don’t usually exercise every day, but managed to do yoga every day during the 30 day challenge, bar two. Towards the end of the challenge, I started to crave my daily yoga ritual. I really noticed it if I missed out my morning yoga session and would try to do something after J’s bedtime.

 

So how did I feel at the end of the 30 day challenge?  The physical, emotional and spiritual benefits are undeniable. Physically, I am more flexible and toned. Emotionally, I am calmer, more centred & focused and my anxiety has been kept at bay. Spiritually, I am more open and truly grateful to have had this opportunity.

 

Do you practice yoga or any other bodywork, such as pilates? What are the benefits for you?

 

Get in touch for to book a free, no commitment 20 minute health coaching call to find out more about how you can improve your health & wellbeing and reduce your stress.

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Stories I loved this week.

summer flowers

I’ve been talking a lot about self-care and ways to destress recently. It’s so essential. Here are five more ways to feel less stressed. (Healthyish)

I love this profile of Oprah, especially this line, “When the shoot is finally over, I am taken to the teahouse, a romantic, open-air stone structure Oprah built for the sole purpose of reading The New York Times in the morning while drinking her tea.” She’s living her best life! (Vogue)

I’m mixed race and have spent a lot of time and money relaxing my naturally curly hair. I’ve always known that the relaxers the hairdressers use to straighten hair are incredibly toxic, but it’s only in the last year that I’ve been able (i.e. found the courage) to stop relaxing my hair and embrace my natural curls. It’s horrifying how many more chemicals there are in products targeted at women of colour.(Popular Science)

Are rising carbon dioxide levels decreasing the amount of nutrients in our food? (Politico)

I love the look of this fig and bacon recipe. (Bon Appetit)

Did you know that your gut microbiome has a circadian rhythm, similar to the one in humans? And their daily rhythms affect us in many ways, such as affecting when in the day our livers best metabolise drugs (it’s usually the morning). (The Conversation)

People will like you more if you ask them questions. (New York Magazine)

Are you more stressed than you realise?

bus tickets at london transport museum

How do you feel right now? Check your breath. Is it shallow, taking short, little breaths through your nose? Check your hands and teeth – are they clenched? Check your shoulders – are they tensed up towards your ears?

 

If you answered yes to two of the above questions, you might be more stressed that you think you are.

 

Stress is a funny thing. One day, you can feel it, in your head, in your stomach, in your jaw. Then the next day, you feel like you’ve gone back to your normal self. That’s the thing about stress:  it’s adaptive. In its fight to maintain stability, the status quo, your body adapts to stress. It produces more hormones to keep you on an even keel, so that the stress level that’s got you all over the place one day, could feel normal the next.

 

But all that stress that you’ve adapted to has a negative effective in the long term. When you’re stressed, your body produces cortisol, a stress hormone. When your body produces high levels of cortisol on an ongoing basis, i.e. when you’re constantly stressed, bad things happen. Your immune system doesn’t work as well, you put on weight around the middle, your ability to get pregnant is reduced and your mood is affected.

 

So now that you know about stress and how your body can adapt to it, how can you keep it under control?

 

1.  If you can’t reduce stressful events in your life like work, school or family, you can change how you react to these stressors. Being gentle on yourself and having perspective on what really matters can help reduce your response to stressful things like a big work project, a looming school deadline or unruly children (or parents!).

 

2. Take a deep breath. This is a quick thing you can do when you feel overwhelmed. Deep breathing supports your nervous system and gets your body back into parasympathetic mode.

 

3. Don’t reach for the biscuit tin. Sugary foods will exacerbate your stress. Nourish your body and eat foods that boost the happy hormones like avocado, wild salmon and almonds.

 

4. Take a break. Take 5 minutes from your desk and go for a little walk (leave your mobile at your desk too). Your emails still be there when you get back but in the meantime, you’ll have stretched out your legs and gotten a little perspective on whatever’s troubling you.

 

5. Stretch it out. A regular yoga or pilates practice will support the release of endorphins and happy hormones like serotonin and melatonin.

 

6. Go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep. Fatigue can change our perspective, push us into negativity and make stress worse.  After a good night’s sleep, the things that are causing you stress may not have disappeared, however being rested will hopefully give you a better perspective on how to tackle your stressors.

 

7. Develop a good self-care routine. Everyone’s self-care routine is different but having one is a must. Doing small things for yourself is a fantastic way to lower your stress. Take a hot bath, light a lovely candle, have a long conversation with a good friend, go for a nature walk. Find a way to do something that makes you feel good and that doesn’t add to your stress levels.

 

How do you manage your stress levels?

Get in touch to book a free 20 minute health and energy review  with me to find out more about how you can improve your health and wellbeing and reduce your stress.

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Stories I loved this week.

coffee break

Happy weekend! Here’s a round up of some of the interesting food, health and wellness articles I’ve read this week. Have you found an interesting study? Send it my way!

Just eat real food and eat mindfully. This interesting study shows that the common denominator between a good quality low-fat and low-carb diet is having vegetables all day long, as much as you can eat, having a salad every day, no added sugar and as little refined flour as you can get. (The Washington Post)

Changing what you eat (and drink) can help you respond better to stress. (The New Potato)

I’m a big believer in reproductive freedom, however this story underlies the importance of women doing proper research before they choose. The joking tone to a story ultimately about hemorrhaging and anaemia caused by a copper IUD is disturbing. (Refinery 29)

I love the cooking tips in this article, especially around really thinking about how you salt your food – it is through an actual salt or through salted foods like anchovies, capers or olives? (Food 52)

More reason to be mindful about the amount of fish you’re eating. (NY Daily News)

Who doesn’t love Ina Garten? (Epicurious)

This is a great recipe for fig season. (Bon Appetit)

Green Salads For Beginners

big ass salad

When people ask me for shortcuts for getting healthier and feeling better, I tell them two things. Firstly, that there are no shortcuts and health should be lifelong pursuit. Then, once I’ve stepped off my high horse 😎, I tell them to eat more vegetables.

 

I’ve talked before about the importance of eating at least 7-10 portions of fruit and mostly vegetables per day, and one of the easiest ways of upping your daily veg count is by adding in a big salad for lunch or dinner. You could even go off-piste and have a salad for breakfast!

 

I like to follow the protein-fat-carbohydrate formula to build my salads. Why protein, fat and carbohydrate? Proteins and fats take longer to digest, so you’re fuller for longer. The carbohydrates, in the form of vegetables, are the source of important micronutrients and fibre.

 

A satiating salad at lunch should ideally see you all the way through to dinner, with no need for snacks (unless you’ve done a really intense workout!)

 

Building blocks
The building blocks of a good, nourishing salad are generally 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 20% fat. Here are some good examples of ingredients for each of the macronutrient building blocks – use organic ingredients where you can!

 

Protein: Shredded chicken, pork or beef, legumes, pulses, crumbled feta, sliced mozzarella, sliced hard boiled eggs, slices of smoked salmon or anchovies

 

Fats: Sliced avocado, nuts, such as walnuts, crushed pistachios, almonds or cashews, pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds, olive oil

 

Carbohydrates:

  • Grated cabbage, carrots, beetroot or kohlrabi
  • Sliced radish, cucumber, red pepper, tomato, olive or red onions
  • Steamed green beans,  broccoli, asparagus or cauliflower
  • Roasted and cubed potato, sweet potato or squash
  • And of course, loads of greens. I’m a fan of spinach, cos, bibb or romaine lettuce, and have also been known to drop in a little radicchio or escarole, depending on what’s in season. The one lettuce I never recommend is iceberg. It generally lacks flavour and doesn’t really add much to a salad.
  • If grains suit you, you can add a cup of cooked quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice or couscous.
  • Fermented veg like kimchi, sauerkraut or pickles

 

The rest

  • Dressings: I tend to prefer a simple squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of salt & pepper. If you have the time, you could premake a lemon vinagrette and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. You can start by whisking together 3 tablespoons of EVOO and one tablespoon of lemon juice and then tweaking from there. Or substitute red wine or balsamic vinegar if you don’t fancy lemon juice.

 

  • Extras (if you want to add some more oomph to your salad): Chopped herbs like basil, dill, coriander, rosemary and chives are nice to sprinkle over, as are sliced bell peppers or chilli flakes.

 

The sky’s the limit when it comes to a big ass salad. Just open your fridge door, use the protein, fat, carbohydrate formula and see how you get on!

 

Here’s one for you to try:

Lemony Squash Salad (serves 1 – 2) 

Ingredients:

5 cups mixed greens

1 large diced tomato

4 sliced radishes (I used a mandoline to slice mine)

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1/4 cup roasted squash

1/2 cup shredded roast chicken (use the leftovers from your Sunday roast!)

3-4 tablespoons lemon vinaigrette

 

Method:

Toss together in a bowl and enjoy!

 

What are your favourite salads?

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Stories I loved this week.

daisy in paris

Happy weekend! Here’s a round up of a few of the nutrition stories I’ve found interesting this week.

The microbiome is so fascinating. Did you know that every unbalanced microbiome is unbalanced in its own way? This is why a one sized fits all approach doesn’t make sense when working with the microbiome. (The Atlantic)

Another reason why breast milk is so powerful. (Futurity)

What do you do when you have anxiety and your partner doesn’t? (The Cut)

Food marketing works – the easiest way to get people to eat more vegetables to reframe the dish into something more appealing, like ‘creamy sizzling beets’. A good tip to help people eat more vegetables. (Time)

This is an incredible buy if you own a cast iron pan. (Bon Appetit)

Meal planning and batch cooking is the only way to make sure you eat nutritious meals during busy weekdays. (The Kitchn)

A great piece by an omnivore using butchery to reconcile the dilemmas they feel about eating meat. (Aeon)

 

What’s your self-care routine?

flowers at kew

Self-care has become a hot topic these day, as people search for a way to keep grounded in what feels like crazy times.

 

Self-care, as in the act of taking small moments for yourself, in order to uplift, centre and increase energy, is not the selfish act it’s sometimes made out to be.

 

I had a big watershed moment last summer when I realised that I was doing too much and not taking care of myself enough. It was then I understood how important rest and a sense of peace are to my own self-love, self-care and ability to love others.

 

For parents especially, we’re guilty of neglecting our own self-care in service to our families, children and loved ones. I’m sure many of you can think of specific moments where you sacrificed something for yourself in order to give to your children, whether it be time, food or emotional energy. That’s par for the game as a parent.

 

But in order to keep doing that, we need to make sure we keep our own ‘cups’ full. That is, we make sure we are rested enough, nourished enough, energised enough and calm enough to keep giving.

 

That’s where self-care comes in. And to be clear, this has different manifestations for different people. For some people, self-care is being able to have 20 minutes of extra time in bed in the morning, for others, it could making sure that they can get to their spin class at lunchtime. It could be taking a long bath in the evening  or it could be noodling away at a piece of woodworking. It could simply be making the time to feed yourself nourishing food at every meal and eating it in a mindful way.

 

My self-care routine has evolved over the last few years. Now, for me, it means:

  • Being able to do some yoga (even if it’s just 10 minutes with my son jumping through my legs during downward dog) every day
  • Lighting my favourite Daylesford candle and enjoying the smell and the flame
  • Doing my deep breathing exercises when I feel overwhelmed
  • Having a little smooch with my husband
  • Having a big belly laugh with my son
  • Making meals from scratch at home and making sure there’s always something good to eat in the fridge

 

What do you do for self-care? Has your routine evolved or changed depending on what’s going on in your life?

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