Monday, 4 December 2017

Pre- and post-party pampering

party, pamper, christmas
Christmas comes but once a year-
so make sure you're ready to enjoy it!
You can't beat the season of goodwill for some ace party invites - but rich food, late nights and one too many festive tipples can leave you feeling far from jolly.

If you'd like to redress the balance, here's some great ways to prep (and recover) from all that festive fun...

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Christmas kit and caboodle!

dance wear, workout, kit, catsuit
Choose your perfect workout
wear this Christmas

Now the pumpkins are in the compost bin, it's officially okay to discuss Christmas shopping. And the great thing about people that like to stay healthy and work out is that they're super easy to buy presents for! 

Here are some great gifting ideas for the fitness fiends on your list (which might well be you too!).

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The best and worst children’s menus

The Soil Association wants high street
restaurants to improve the service and food they offer to children 
The Soil Association’s Out to Lunch campaign is back. Working with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, it has launched it's latest League Table, ranking 25 of the most popular chains to reveal the best and worst children’s menus at UK restaurant chains. And published today (11 October), on World Obesity Day, the league table has uncovered continuing widespread poor practice with a number of chains failing to serve fresh food or healthy choices.

On the upside, the research (carried out by secret diner families) shows that children’s food on the high street has undergone notable improvement since the Soil Association launched the campaign in 2013. There are now 13 chains serving a portion of veg or salad with every meal (up from 6 chains in 2013) and 12 chains that include organic ingredients on the menu (up from 4 chains in 2013). 

Rob Percival from the Soil Association believes many restaurants are now prioritising child health and investing in healthier and more creative meal options, but says there is still a national scandal, with some chains 'dishing up super-sized calorific junk, undermining national efforts to tackle childhood obesity.'

The good, the bad - and the ugly!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Know the signs and symptoms of gynae cancer

cancer, woman's health, gynaecological cancer
Search #KnowYourBody for more
info on The Eve Appeal's campaign.
September is Gynae Cancer Awareness Month, and cancer charity The Eve Appeal is determined to smash the taboos that surround gynaecological health and raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of gynae cancer. 

Stats show over 21,000 women in the UK are diagnosed each year with a gynaecological cancer - that's 58 diagnoses each day. Yet, research conducted by the charity shows awareness levels of the five gynae cancers among both women and men are startlingly low. 

A major aim of The Eve Appeal is to break the wall of silence that exists around the issue - particularly between women and girls - and the men that love and care for them. Celebrities like Nigel Havers, who lost his wife Polly in 2004 to ovarian cancer, and Dr Christian Jessen from Channel 4’s ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ are urging people to to discuss women-specific health issues – from periods, to menopause and even what to call the female reproductive organs. Girl Guiding UK has got involved to help spread the message.

And since early diagnosis can literally save lives, Eve Appeal’s Chief Executive, Athena Lamnisos would like to see an end to the stigma that surrounds these issues - because the devastating impact of a diagnosis of gynaecological cancer affects not just the woman involved but also her partner, her family and her friends. 

'As the month comes to a close, we’d urge everyone to continue with open conversation, encouraging women to see a healthcare professional if they are at all concerned', says Athena. 'There’s not a woman alive who isn’t aware of breast cancer and at least one of the key signs – and our aspiration is for the gynae cancers to be just as well known', she continues.

Do you know the signs and symptoms of gynaecological cancer?

Monday, 18 September 2017

Meet your new health philosophy - 'Lagom'

lagom, hygge, healthy lifestyle
Buy the book at Amazon 
I'm guessing you've all heard about 'hygge' (pronounced 'hoo-guh')? The Danish term was everywhere last winter and loosely translates as 'cozy'. It was even on the short list for the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year in 2016. It's also an official lifestyle trend that has been used to sell us everything from bedsocks to knitting classes.

But you can't spend your life sipping mulled wine and cuddling under blankets by the light of an Ikea candle (although you can spend some of your life like that) - particularly if you'd like to keep fit and healthy despite the rather early winter weather we're having. But fear not, there's a NEW Scandi-term in town - and this one might just help you with portion control!

You need to learn about 'lagom'...

Monday, 11 September 2017

Stay safe in winter sun

sun, sun safe, sun protection, SPF, ageing, winter sun
Pop your fave SPF cream into the canister
& away you go
Right now our early summer heatwave and beach holidays seem a distant memory. But if you're missing the sunshine there's always the chance of an Indian Summer - or maybe even a little bit of a winter sun or a ski vacay snuck in over the half term and Christmas breaks. If that's the case, you'll need my latest 'new product find' - the Solar Buddies roll-on, child friendly, less-mess sunscreen applicator (thankfully a lot easier to use than adequately describe in just one breath!).

Devised by fellow mums Kelli Aspland and Laura Griffin, Solar Buddies are the antidote to squirming kids that hate having SPF slathered over them - or those that diligently take a tube of sunscreen to school in their bag, and leave it there untouched! Which is most of them - am I right?

The nifty little device allows children (and anyone really!) to apply sun protection easily themselves - making it far more likely to become a healthy habit. It's so easy and portable - it's also the ideal way to ensure that children stay protected from the sun when they are away from their parents' beady eyes, whether than be during school hours, on holiday or when our unpredictable British weather suddenly gives us a burst of Vitamin D!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Pilates in Motion!

pilates, workout, weight loss, cardio
Pilates + cardio =
an all round workout!
If you're a fan of Pilates but would like to take your routine up a notch, the new DVD from Caroline Sandry, is for you. 'Pilates in Motion' gets you up off your mat (although don't chuck it just yet, you'll need it for a few of the exercises!) and artfully combines the benefits of both Pilates and walking (and a little bit of jogging too if you fancy it) to improve your posture, burn calories and shape up. 

Model turned Pilates trainer and TV presenter, Caroline loves Pilates because of the way it offers conditioning and balancing for the body, but appreciates how important it is we move our bodies more (think reaching that 10,000 steps per day  target) - and use resistance training to stay healthy, strong and flexible. So she got to work applying the principles of Pilates to walking and movement - creating an all-round workout you can do at home. 

So of course I was happy to try it out...

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Health campaigns that are here to help

#oursquad #sgwadni #thisgirlcan TeamUp ActiveGirls Us Girls RFU
#OurSquad - getting fit in Wales
Women's sport is having a moment. England's female team have just won the Cricket World Cup and female rugby and football teams are finally getting some of the media attention they deserve. Just a year ago UK women picked up medals for sports as diverse as hockey, triathlon, boxing, athletics, sailing and taekwondo at the Rio Olympics. But it's not just our top athletes that are getting all the attention - there's increasing support to be found for the average girl and woman that wants to get and stay active in both individual and team sports.

Take a look at these initiatives designed to help you get you off that sofa and into some sweats, whoever and wherever you are. Which one is your perfect match?

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Snack attack

eating, snacking, ethical
Snacking looks set to stay
I was recently sent some rather tasty nibbles courtesy of Chika's. As I tucked in and, as is my habit, read all the nutritional info on the packet, I got to wondering about the concept of snacking. It's the norm now - for both adults and kids. For starters, my Insta feed is full of fitness fans logging demanding workouts and the 'fuel' that gets them there, and my children have a designated 'fruit snack' time at school. Is that a bad thing, or just the way we roll in 2017?

It's certainly fair to say, the idea of three meals a day sat around the family table together has had it's time. Juggling work with school commitments and extra-curricular activities plus making meetings and meeting deadlines has shortened the time we get to enjoy gathering en mass to - literally - break bread. Instead we're grabbing food on the go - and the habit of snacking looks like something we're not going to give up anytime soon. But do we need snacks - and are all snacks the same?

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Wargrave Wellness highlights

I've certainly felt spoilt lately - fantastic summer weather, a local kids triathlon using our fabulous school pool and a two-week festival in the village next door incorporating comedy, music and theatre (to name but a few!).

And as part of the Wargrave Festival 2017, I went along to the Wellness Night - which promised a fabulous evening of pampering, shopping and Prosecco, well who was I to pass on that!

It was a great evening, held on the village green in front of a church that dates back to the 12th century. As well as the opportunity for some treatments and mentoring, there were live demos of hair and make up, advice from experts in everything from nutrition to dentistry and the chance to shop for wellness products, treats and trinkets. Of course, steeped in history as this traditional village is, the world is now a global marketplace, making it easy to share the gems I discovered in the breezy marquee with everyone, everywhere...

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

How 10 minutes of mindfulness can transform your day...

meditation, mindfulness, stress, anxiety
Focus on your breath
Image courtesy of adamr at
The most common thing I discuss with friends when I catch up with them, is how quickly the days go past. And parents seem particularly time-poor, squishing in sports day and parents evening alongside work and other responsibilities. Those little things in life seem to pile up - and you feel you'll never fit everything into the 24 hours that make up a day. Before you know it, you're booking next year's summer holiday and discussing Christmas plans. In July.

But, Surrey-based author and mentor Tom Evans has a solution for those of us living in fear of our 'things-to-do' lists. 'It might sound counter-intuitive at first but the best way to get more done each day is spend at least ten minutes meditating at the start of each day', says Tom. And here's why...

Monday, 5 June 2017

'Chemo Stories' - Real-life stories from - and for - cancer patients

cancer, breast cancer, chemotherapy, survivor
Ali was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago -
and now wants to give something back. 
There's an old saying that 'everyone has a book inside of them', and that is often most true of those that have been through a life-changing experience.

In this case, that person is Henley writer Ali S, who has conceived a book of short, true stories about chemotherapy, drawn from both her own experiences in 2014 and those of others she has contacted. 

Her book is designed to be given away freely to those that need it via hospitals, cancer care units, charities and libraries.

A positive focus 

Ali hopes that the book will bring comfort or reassurance to cancer patients who are currently having treatment, expecting their chemotherapy to start and those that have had chemotherapy.  The stories will be candid and honest (because chemo is brutal, Ali explains) but also focus on the positive things that people can do to help themselves and each other. 

And to realise her dream of getting those free copies to everyone that needs them, Ali has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help her write, publish and distribute the book. She's set a target of raising £12,000, with £3,390 already pledged. Perhaps you'd like to add to that sum before her campaign ends on the 16th June?

To find out more about the ‘Friendly Book of Short True Chemotherapy Stories’ campaign, visit the crowdfunding page - and share this info with as many others as you can. 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Better bedtimes for you and baby!

Sleep, insomnia, bedtime routine
Don't let lack of sleep ruin your days
Pic courtesy of Sweet Dream Babies
If you watched The Truth About...Sleep last week, you'll be aware that the UK is one of the most sleep-deprived countries in the world. And this couldn't be more true than for parents of young children. In fact, a recent survey of 500 mums by Sweet Dream Babies has revealed that a lack of sleep affects 91 per cent of mums and takes its toll on three out of four relationships. Focussing on mums that have had a baby in the last five years, the research showed that of the 500 participants, 88 per cent of mums reported that their baby has had sleep difficulties in the past five years, 75 per cent said lack of sleep has affected their relationship and 27 per cent stated they don't want more children partly because of sleep difficulties.

Baby and Child Sleep Consultant, Samantha Bell, has been working with parents for over 20 years. She says the findings are concerning, but not unexpected - and that lack of sleep can have a a huge impact on parental relationships and physical and mental well-being. The NHS agrees that, alongside bad moods and lack of focus, sleep deprivation can also have profound consequences on your physical health - putting you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and it can shorten your life expectancy too.

So - can you fix it?

Monday, 8 May 2017

Mum meets multi-sport!

multisport, duathlon, triathlon, fitness
Friendly and affordable - Go Tri Reading
Since the London Olympics, triathlon has enjoyed significant growth in Great Britain - with events increasing by 63 per cent from 2012 to 2016. And that applies across the board in terms of gender and age too - making the option of entering such an event a possibility for both you and your kids. 

And now multi-sport events are being made all the more accessible to first timers through the GO TRI initiative backed by Triathlon England

The nationwide GO TRI events and training sessions are a cheap and fun way to access triathlon for the first time. The distances covered are designed for beginners - and often you'll have all the kit you need already. You can try a duathlon (combining cycling and running), a triathlon (with a swim, cycle and run) or an aquathlon (a swim/run combo), all of which take place against a continuously running clock.  To find an event close to you, search here

So I tried out my local Go TRI duathlon recently - and didn't come last...

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Pizza could help your hay fever!

hay fever, allergies, nutrition
This pizza could save your summer!
Who doesn't like pizza? It's the perfect family meal - and when you make it yourself it can be healthy as well as delicious. And if you suffer from hay fever, it might even ease the symptoms. Yes, that's right, eating pizza could change the way your body reacts to airborne allergens. How? Max Wiseberg, allergy expert and hay fever sufferer explains...

'What you eat can affect your hay fever positively or negatively', says Max, because 'certain foods can exacerbate the symptoms of hay fever whilst others can ease them'. For example, he explains that a pizza that contains tomatoes is 'a super source of antioxidant vitamin C that researchers have found give protection against allergies and asthma', while adding yellow pepper, which contains beta carotene which is high in vitamin C and bioflavonoids, 'is said to be good for preparing your body and fighting off hay fever symptoms'.

Other helpful ingredients Max cites include red onions; which contain high amounts of the natural antihistamine quercetin, pineapple; which contains bromelain that helps the body absorb quercetin and garlic, which may help to clear your nasal passages, and has natural decongestant effects and can help to reduce excess catarrh.

And toppings to avoid?

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

London to get a taste of VeggieWorld!

VeggieWorld, London, Vegetarian, vegan
Come to Kensington to learn
about a more sustainable lifestyle.
International healthy living show VeggieWorld is coming to (London) town! As one of Europe’s biggest and oldest vegan events, it's drawn in over half a million visitors since 2014 - and now our capital city will get a chance to host the friendly festival.

And it's not just for those already living a plant-based lifestyle - it's for everyone interested in sustainable living and anyone that is veggie-curious. Maybe you’re looking to eat healthier, keep your weight down, cut down on meat or dairy or have a dairy allergy or intolerance? 

Well, this is the place to come! And there's just two weeks to go - VeggieWorld London takes place on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th April at Kensington Town Hall, West London.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A month of Wednesdays!

healthy eating, meal planning, family food
Put like that it sounds horrible doesn't it?! Wednesday isn't called' Hump Day' for nothing - and every busy parent knows that by the middle of the week you are beginning to feel overwhelmed by balancing caring for your family with other commitments such as work. Suddenly little extras like school trips, cake sales and after-school activities make shopping for, and cooking, a nutritious and tasty meal nigh-on impossible. The solution? A little meal planning and a lovely helping of spaghetti sauce!

One way to help you meet the regular challenge of creating a balanced mid-week family meal is to batch cook and freeze a versatile base to give you several menu options. In this case I worked up four meals from a tasty vegetarian spaghetti sauce using Dolmio Bolognese (bonus - it contains no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or sweeteners!). Then I set about finding various ways to use it!

Thursday, 16 March 2017


Tommy's, pregnancy, still birth, rainbow babies. #WeAreAllMums
Clearly, an unbelievably beautiful baby
(even if I am a little biased!).
Mother's Day is around the corner and the shops are full of cards, presents and reminders of how much we value those women that love and care for us right from conception.

But of course, behind every soft focus image of an ideal lifestyle are some less palatable facts. For a start, among women who know they're pregnant, it's estimated one in six pregnancies will end in miscarriage (defined as the loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks). And while eleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, there are also 60,000 premature births (ones that happen before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy) in the UK each year. A preterm birth is the number one cause of newborn deaths and the second leading cause of deaths in children under five.

Add to that the many, many women that experience complications during pregnancy and/or labour, and postnatal problems such as depression,  and it's clear to see that Mother's Day can be a painful experience for many, many women.

But Tommy’s the charity that funds research into pregnancy problems and provides pregnancy health information to parents, is running a campaign to raise awareness of the fact that, even if your baby was born too soon or born sleeping, you are still very much a mum!

My story

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Are trees making you sneeze?

hay fever, allergy, health, Spring
Winter bug or spring allergy?
If over the next couple of weeks you find yourself with the sniffles, you'd be forgiven for thinking that you've yet to shake off all those winter bugs. But if you're experiencing a runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes, nose and throat and sneezing you might actually be suffering from hay fever - an allergic reaction to pollen and other airborne allergens. And it's the trees that are making you sneeze!

One in four of us suffer from hay fever (or seasonal allergic rhinitis to give it it's proper name!) triggered by tree pollen, which can kick in as early as March. Unfortunately the tree pollen season generally lasts until May and early June, because each type of tree pollinates at different times, and then it overlaps with the start of the grass pollen season (groan). The two most important tree pollen types are the silver birch, which triggers hay fever in approximately 25 per cent of sufferers, and the oak, which affects around 20 per cent of hay fever sufferers. 

Around 15 to 20 percent of the UK population suffer from hay fever, with our bodies producing histamines in response to pollen in the air. But too many histamines in the body produce the symptoms hay fever sufferers know only too well, including sneezing, a runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy, watery, streaming and swollen eyes, an itchy nose and throat, an overall achy feeling, and pressure in the facial area. Not surprisingly the symptoms can end up causing sensitive and irritated skin and fatigue, even affecting sleep quality. Yuk. 

So what can you do?

Sunday, 5 February 2017

GOPO update: Rosehip vs joint pain

injury, knee pain, joint pain, arthritis
GOPO® was discovered over 20 years ago in Denmark

Way back in November (y'know, even before Christmas!) I started a 12-week trial of GOPO - a supplement made from the seeds and husks of a sub-species of the rather beautiful rosehip plant.

The GOPO® Joint Health product contains a high level of GOPO® - a key component of the rose-hip, which may play a valuable role in the care of joints and joint tissues.

Clinical trials involving hundreds of patients with joint pain and arthritis have already taken place. I was hoping the supplement would help with some knee pain I've been experiencing.

Did it work?

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Walk a mile in someone else's shoes..

hip dysplasia, cast life, DDH
Natalie Trice and her son Lucas,
the inspiration behind the first Warrior Walk.
Finding your baby has a chronic condition that could affect the rest of their life is every parent's nightmare. And for mum Natalie Trice, the hardship of discovering her son Lucas suffered from developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) when he was just four months old was exacerbated by the realisation that there was little information and support for parents like her.

DDH occurs when the hip joint fails to develop correctly and two to three in every 1,000 infants will require treatment. To date, Lucas has had five major operations and spent over a year in casts, harnesses and wheelchairs - and is still on his treatment path. 

While caring for her son, Natalie founded DDH UK, the UK’s only DDH-dedicated charity, to support families on their journey towards healthy hips and wrote 'Cast Life - A Parent's Guide to DDH' too - the resources she wishes she'd had all those years ago. And now Lucas - and his school, the Stover School in Devon, are hoping to raise the £5,000 needed to register the charity he inspired with the Charity Commission. 

'If I can walk a mile for healthy hips, anyone can.'

Friday, 13 January 2017

Get fit for free!

workout, healthy, stability ball,
Join the Julia Buckley
online gym for free (yes FREE!).
At this time of year everyone wants to start healthy habits but not everyone has the cash to splash on a gym membership or personal trainer. Particularly right after the expense of Christmas! And if you've failed to keep up with a fitness plan in the past you might also be reticent to start paying to work out if you think you might renegade later. (but you won't this time - will you? Because you've read this!).

Thankfully not all exercise plans come with a price tag. And if you can get a taste for the good life for free - why not take it? What have you got to lose?

Here are some top training ideas that won't cost you a penny:

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Healthy homes are heated homes!

snow, winter health, energy savings
The kids are already planning for snow...
but are you ready?
Okay, we've all heard the hype - the temperature is about to drop and it could snow (and some places are already suffering!). But along with the panic of how you'll get to work in icy conditions and your kids' excitement that the schools may shut, it's important to keep your home at a healthy temperature.

A study by Public Health England found that indoor temperatures below 18 degrees can have an impact on health, and independent expert the Energy Saving Trust is reminding people not to take risks and ensure that their homes are able to cope with the conditions. This comes after a study shows 42 per cent of householders across the country avoid putting the heating on during cold spells due to concerns about high bills. Brrrrrr!

So how can you protect your family's health AND avoid a large bill? Here's what our experts have to say:

Does winter make you SAD?

SAD, winter, depression, health
Wake up the right way this winter
I have to admit I've really struggled with the short days and dark mornings this winter. I juggle herding the kids to and from school, taking two dog walks, a trip to the gym and working (please note my priorities there!) in what has seemed like ever-decreasing daylight! And when the alarm goes off at 7am, I'd really like to hit snooze; for about two hours! And yet, do you see me heading to bed at 10pm, ummm no.

Of course, I'm not alone in hating getting up when the sun has yet to rise! As many as a quarter of us experience the winter blues and seven per cent within that group suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It's thought that the dawn light level in winter is too weak to signal the pineal gland to stop producing the sleep hormone melatonin; which leads to over-sleeping and grogginess in the mornings. And the modern trend of spending most of our day indoors means we also have insufficient light exposure, which can make us feel tired and down.

But hibernating isn't an option - and in most cases - neither is just taking these few months easy. So what can you do to improve your mood and energy levels?

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

How to foolproof your NY resolutions

Let nutritionist Zoe Martin
help you reach your goals in 2017.
Yikes! Figures show that over 500 thousand of those who make New Year resolutions will have broken them by the 2nd of January! And even if you have stood firm for the first few days of the month, motivation often wanes by the last Friday in January, with just eight percent of people actually succeeding with their resolution by the end of the year. Since about half of NY promises relate to health and exercise, it's important that we learn just where we are all going wrong if we want to have a happy and healthy 2017!

Baby steps

Zoe Martin is a nutritionist at Discount Supplements. She believes success is all about goal setting - breaking down that ultimate aim into smaller steps - which will get you over that hurdle of one big challenge seeming so overwhelming that you give up all too easily. For example, if you want to lose three stone in 2017, Zoe suggests setting yourself a target weight to lose over the course of each month, and aiming to reach smaller targets in between (such as going to the gym twice a week or not eating takeaways). With this method you're allowing yourself small - and motivating - wins that will help you make progress in the long term. Which is exactly what you need!

Zoe has some other top tips to help you too: