Tag: wellbeing

I Tried It: The 4-7-8 Deep Breathing Method For Better Sleep

Do you ever have nights where your mind is whirring and it’s tricky to drop off to sleep? I do.   I’ve been trying the 4-7-8 deep breathing method to help me get to sleep and it’s been really helpful! Pioneered by Dr Andrew Weil, the […]

My new e-book is here!

  I am so excited to share my first e-book, Six Ways To Improve Your Period Pain! In it, you’ll find six ways to get started on improving your period pain, including ways to integrate these changes into your life.   Period pain is so […]

How well do you know your menstrual cycle?

swan at the round pond

This isn’t a trick question!

 

There are a few signs that tell you it’s worth becoming more familiar with your menstrual cycle.

 

Are you surprised every month when your period arrives? Do you get hit like a brick with PMS every month, feeling like it’s come out of nowhere? Do you track your period by when you get PMS symptoms?

 

Ladies, there is a better way!

 

Knowing more about your menstrual cycle and embracing it can benefit you in so many ways.

 

Firstly, I encourage you to download one of the many period tracker apps out there and start tracking your menstrual cycle and symptoms. At the very least, you won’t be surprised when your period arrives every month #whitejeansallyear

 

After a few months, you start to get a sense of the length of your cycle. And it’s really important to know  that not every woman has a 28 day cycle. Some women’s cycles can be as short as 21 days and as long as 35 days. Every woman’s cycle is different so don’t compare yourself or your cycle to your friends.

 

Once you know when your period is scheduled to arrive, you can then start tackling your PMS. Many women get PMS in the 7 days before their periods, with symptoms like bloating, anger, irritability, brain fog, weepiness, pain and acne. PMS is a sign that something is wrong, so please don’t accept it as normal!

 

But your cycle isn’t just about when you get your period. Did you know that you have four phases to your cycle, where each of your sex hormones will peak or decrease depending on the phase?  This is why you might have more or less physical and emotional energy at certain times of your cycle or your libido might be higher or lower. It’s all connected to your hormones.

 

Knowledge is power. Knowing the ins and outs of your menstrual cycle can help you manage it better, get to grips with PMS, period pain, heavy bleeding and emotional ups and downs.

 

Do you need help understanding your cycle and your hormones? Book in for a free 20 minute Hormone Health Review!

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Alcohol and your hormones

We’re creeping up on Christmas party season, traditionally a time when many of us indulge in a tipple or two and let our hair down.   We all know that alcohol is a toxin. Yes, I said it! It tastes great and can loosen you […]

Do you get enough sleep?

How many hours do you sleep a night?  Ideally, according to the World Health Organisation, we should be sleeping at least 8 hours a night, uninterrupted. Anything less counts as sleep deprivation. And guess what: on average, most of us get 7 or fewer hours […]

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.

Stories I loved this week.

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 […]

Are you more stressed than you realise?

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 […]

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:

Autumn 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 autumn salads?

What’s your self-care routine?

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 […]

Stories I loved this week.

We’re squeezing the last bits out of summer and starting to think about school. I can’t believe my little boy is about to go into his first year of school. I predict quite a few tears on his first day! I’d love a few tips […]

I Tried It: The Berkey Water Filter

If you live in a big city like London, you’ll be familiar with the annoyances of limescale and the need for some kind of water filter to reduce the hardness of the water.

Our lightbulb moment came when we had friends over and saw that all of our glasses were streaked with limescale stains. It was then that we decided that when we bought our house (we were renting at the time), we would get a water softener installed.

And so we did. We live an aggressively hard water area in London, so decided the best course of action would be a water softener solution that would soften all the water in the house. We got a Harvey’s Water Softener system plumbed into our water system, which has been great. We could immediately feel the difference in the softness of our skin, hair and clothes and of course, no more streaks on our glasses.

But then we decided to have a child. And because the Harvey’s water softeners uses cylinders that are made up of microscopic beads that form a resin that traps magnesium and calcium and replaces them with the sodium from the block salt that is part of the water softener, we needed to find another solution for drinking water. The sodium levels are fine for adults, but are slightly too high for young children.

For the past three years, we been buying 10L boxes of Harrogate Spring Water for J to use as drinking water, which has never sat well with me as the most eco-friendly or economical solution.

big berkey

Enter the Berkey water filter. This is an eco-friendly drinking water solution that removes pathogenic bacteria, parasites, herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, radon 222, VOCs and trihalomethanes. It also removes chlorine, fluoride and arsenic, as well as reduces lead and mercury.  Another benefit of the system is that it removes pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics, BPAs, triclosan, progesterone and ibuprofen and reduces synthetic oestrogens from the filtered drinking water.

It was delivered on Friday and took 5 minutes to put together.

At £253, the Big Berkey is definitely an investment. For us, the math works out: we’ve been spending £4.29 a week for the past three years, buying 10L boxes of water, so the cost of our Big Berkey works out to one year of buying 10L boxes of water. The Big Berkey holds 8.5L of water at a time, however they also sell 12, 17 and 23L solutions for larger families and offices. 

The water is really delicious. Sounds bizarre to say that about water, but it’s true – I already notice the difference compared to bottled and tap water.

Do you have a water softener? Has it made a difference in the quality of your drinking water?

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How To Manage PMS

  Do you dread the week before your period? How much do you dread it?   I used to count down the days, waiting for the familiar aches in my back, bloated belly and throughly grumpy mood.   I used to think all women suffered […]

Don’t forget to breathe.

In those moments of anxiety and panic, when your mind is racing, your heart is beating at 100 miles an hour and you’re not sure if you can get through the next 10 minutes, let alone the rest of the day, just breathe. Yes, this […]

Alcohol and anxiety.

mother and childIt goes without saying, but of course I’ll say it anyway: Everyone’s anxiety manifests in different ways and you might be that unicorn that reads this and says, eh, this isn’t relevant to me. Great! I applaud you!

For everyone else: let’s have a good chat about alcohol and anxiety.

Are you like me and had to learn the hard way about the effects of alcohol on your anxiety? Or are you still in the mindset of “oh, it’s just a few drinks. I’ll be fine”. Then you wake up the next day with the fear, which you call a ‘hangover’. And the ‘fear’ lasts a few more days than you thought it would. Or you drink a couple days in a row because you feel fine after the first night, but then feel dreadful after the second. Whatever your relationship is with alcohol, there’s a strong connection between what alcohol does to your body and anxiety.

The way we tend to (binge) drink in the UK exacerbates anxiety as a growing public health issue. Did you know that in the UK, 1 in 6 adults have experienced some sort of neurotic health problem in the past week? And many people turn to drink to help them deal with their anxiety, which creates a vicious cycle of worsening anxiety, which for some people, requires more alcohol to cope with.

Let’s get technical for a second: alcohol depletes the body of vitamin B6, a micronutrient that is very important for the production of serotonin, the happy hormone that helps regulate our moods and keeps us on an even keel.

Weekend binge drinking, the glass or two of wine every night, the 3 or 4 beers after the footy, all deplete vitamin B6. This depletion has an impact on serotonin production. And here’s the thing: when you produce less serotonin, your body downregulates its production, because it thinks you don’t need as much. Which creates a  vicious cycle, which gets worse the more you drink.

So what can you do?

Let me go ahead and state the obvious: if your anxiety is crippling, just don’t drink. I’ve been trying this recently, it has helped a lot. If that’s not an option, drink less and don’t binge drink.

Eat vitamin B6 foods. B6 is a water soluble vitamin, which means it gets flushed quickly from the body, so you need to continually top up your reserves.  Having these foods on a regular basis is a great way to top up your vitamin B6 levels: organic, grass fed red meat, spinach, sweet potato, free-range organic chicken, bananas, avocados, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.

Eat tryptophan foods. Almonds, free-range, organic poultry, wild salmon, organic, free-range dairy, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds all contain high levels of tryptophan. Notice the crossover between these foods and vitamin B6 foods?

Find alcohol alternatives so you can still be apart of the round. Seedlip is a great brand that recently launched in the UK.

Explain to your friends why you’re not drinking and ask for their support on nights out. And real talk: If they don’t get it, are they really a friend?

How has alcohol affected your anxiety?