Monday, 19 January 2015

Are you ready to raw?

Who doesn't like fresh veggies?
Spurred on by my addiction to Nakd bars, and my menu boredom that kicks in every now and again, I recently decided to dabble with some raw food recipes. Officially 'raw food' is a term that covers food that has not been heated above 48℃. Many proponents of this way of eating believe that foods cooked above this temperature have lost their enzymes and nutritional value and that food in its natural state is free from the hidden nasties that lurk in processed food. Typically on a raw diet you'd be eating fruit and veg and nuts and seeds, but raw foodies also use raw nut butters and milks, cold pressed oils, seaweed, fermented foods (like miso) and vinegars and foods cured in vinegars. So how do you get started?

Monday, 12 January 2015

Winter skin - what not to do!

Don't let winter ruin your workouts
Image courtesy of tiveryluckyat
I think we can safely say that despite relatively mild Christmas temperatures, the winter weather is now here to stay - at least until March (sad face). And while it's a great opportunity to layer on some snuggly jumpers and enjoy a roaring fire from the comfort of your sofa, no one wants to emerge into spring looking more like a wrinkly chrysalis than a butterfly. But harsh winds and colder conditions combined with central heating and even super-hot showers will leave your skin parched and prone to sensitivity (and make you look older - eeeeek!). So what's a mum to do?

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Back in the saddle with Helly Hansen

In the continuing series of 'things my 8-year-old can do better than me' (cross reference swimming, the FlowRider and boogie boarding), on our last day of freedom/school holidays I went out for a bike ride with my eldest daughter. She's had a new bike for Christmas, her first with gears, and I've been trying to get out on my Pendleton I bought a while back but am daunted by the thought of traffic and (going down) hills. For me it's my first bike since I was about 11, when I ruined the 'shopper' my parents bought me scrambling over muddy bumps near the canal with a friend called Donna Gale. But since I can't improve my cycling unless I actually get on my bike (!) I thought the New Year period was a good a time as any to 'upshift' (that's a technical term - lol!) my ambitions! 

Having a child with you means that no one wonders why you aren't racing along at full pelt - and allows you to ride along the pavement for tiny bits when the road is really narrow (it's for her benefit you know - not mine). I chose a route that was mostly off-road anyway, and that I'd run along in the past - so I knew it well! In total we cycled about 7k, which was probably enough for her - and a good circuit for me to add on to as I learn some local rides. There was one tiny incline, which my daughter jumped off and ran up and then gleefully came down the other side at full pelt screaming 'wheeeeeeeeeeee!' and explaining that it's great when you don't have to pedal. Obviously I'm not allowed to jump off going uphill (and really it was barely worth it!) and use my gears and brake to ensure I don't go careering off at a speed I can't cope with (so any speed then really) in case I go 'endo' (look it up - it's more bikey lingo!).

Monday, 15 December 2014

Xmas craft - a great way to countdown to Christmas!

When the weather outside is frightful, why not have a day indoors making delightful Christmas crafts with your kids? It's the perfect way to pass the time in the upcoming school holidays - when the countdown to the big day dominates every conversation!

Get making with little wooden houses that can easily become home to lost teeth or found treasures. Decorate with paint, pens, stickers or gems. Give them to best friends or keep them for yourself.

They make a perfect stocking filler too - if you can sneak them past your kids! (I failed!)

If you've got some presents to wrap harness your helpers! Start out with some plain brown parcel paper and let them personalise it with self-inking stamps - you could even add some sparkly stickers.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Swimming: A change is as good as a rest!

Recently I picked up an Achilles injury and had to face the fact that the high-impact workouts that I normally enjoy (such as running and Body Combat classes) would have to be put on hold until I was back to full strength. The easiest thing to do would have been to throw a massive strop and give up altogether - busying myself with the multitude of Christmassy responsibilities I currently have on my Things To Do List. And don't think I wasn't tempted! Instead though I headed off for a gym assessment and got myself a new little workout using a stationary bike and rower for fat-burning, with lots of free weight routines to cover the strength and toning side of things too.

I also determined that it was high time I improved my swimming. In what was a watershed moment over the summer, I realised my six year old can swim better than me. Admittedly, she's been putting in the work. She's swum at least once a week, every week from being a baby! Even when we go on our holidays there's no let up as we usually head off to the beaches in Cornwall, and have also dallied with Centerparcs and Ibiza. Both my girls are fully equipped for the water with an array of cozzies, wetsuits, goggles and even aqua shoes. In fact my older daughter wanted a full length wetsuit for Christmas, so she can go open water swimming in the river just like Daddy! She's eight.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Christmas CAN be healthy!

If you've spent the whole year being healthy then the festive period can prove a bit of a shock to the system - and derail your fitness journey completely. But everyone deserves a little break - and it's not all bad. Here's my way of looking at it...

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

Festive fare

Now I'm not going to lie to you, mince pies are not a health food. They contain sugar and fat. And they taste good too. Moderation is of course the key (now, where did I put it?) But not all Christmas nibbles need be sent to the naughty step. How about nuts? Full of protein, vitamins, fibre and minerals they are a powerhouse of nourishment. My personal fave, almonds, are high in vitamin E, which is great for your skin, while within its own skin you'll find heart-protecting flavonoids. Meanwhile Brazils are rich in the mineral selenium, which aids thyroid function and supports immunity, and walnuts are rich in omega-3, which can help prevent heart disease and stroke, and also contain cancer-fighting antioxidants.

Then there's the traditional turkey, which like all meat, is a a rich source of protein (plus white meat like poultry typically has less fat that dark meat, cook skinless for an even lower fat option). It is also a source of iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus and contains vitamin B6 and niacin, essential for producing energy. Turkey also contains the amino acid tryptophan, which helps to strengthen the immune system, and selenium, which is essential for thyroid hormone metabolism. Winner, winner Christmas dinner.

Monday, 17 November 2014

The #Earlybird Challenge - an extra hour and less stress

As we hurtle towards Christmas, I don't think I'm the only mummy that is already feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of family admin. There's presents to buy, school fairs to organise, tombolas to donate to, cards to write and plays to find costumes for. There aren't enough hours in the day. Or are there? Last week I teamed up with Free Office Finder who are championing the benefits of early mornings. Get up early for a week they suggested - and seize the day! So I did. And this is what I discovered...

1. Early mornings are quiet

With less traffic on the roads, my children still tucked up in bed and planes not yet heading in and out of Heathrow, there's a lovely calming stillness that's best enjoyed with a solitary cup of Earl Grey. It's like meditating without the chanting.

2. Apparently I have a husband

When my alarm goes usually off I'm alone. I have to grapple with the kids and their breakfast demands and uniform preference peculiarities single-handed. My OH has already hit the motorway early - or is at the gym only to breeze in and out. I seriously couldn't tell a police officer what he was wearing that day if he got lost (my husband that is, I'd assume the police officer was in uniform...) . Instead I actually saw him and exchanged some (albeit limited on my part) conversation and affection. Which was rather good for the soul.

3. It's where calm comes from

If you can sneak an extra 30 minutes alone time into your morning you can ponder your 'things to do list' in an efficient way - and instead of feeling like you spend your life firefighting - desperately trying to remember who has a non-uniform day, who is supposed to be learning lines for an assembly and what on earth you are all having for dinner - you can prioritise your chores. This meant I felt in control and spent less time stressing over the little things.