We’ve all been there – survived the dodgy hangovers over a weekend (and maybe even the questionable hungover food choices!) – and then dragged ourselves into the office on Monday not feeling fantastic. The hangover is gone, of course (thank goodness!) but you’re left with a kind of buzzy anxious lethargy and a feeling that is just generally less than fresh.
As I’ve gotten older, and really optimised my fitness and nutrition, I’ve become more and more aware of my body – and one of the consequences of this is that when I drink, I feel it EVERYWHERE. It changes my mood (alcohol is a depressant, technically – we’ve all heard of ‘hangxiety’ and ‘beer fear’, right?) and makes me on edge for days afterwards, more anxious, more emotional… it makes me feel less energised, depleted, malnourished… after all, if you’ve been sick with a hangover you’ve essentially poisoned your body. Alcohol is a toxin, albeit a socially acceptable (and often delicious!) one.
So here is my diary of a Monday where as much as I’d love to do a wellness retreat and shut off from the world and just do yin yoga in my living room to feel like myself again, I had to come back to the office, as we all eventually must… here’s how I renourish and replenish my neglected body after a weekend of poor decisions and over indulgence!
(This diary is from last week – Monday 18th June!)
My post-Sunday-hangover routine to replenish on Monday
After sleeping most of Sunday with a hangover after a Summer Drinks thing with friends (great night, but I’m too old for this now!) getting up at 6.30 is PAINFUL. But now I’ve rehydrated (I spent my hangover day drinking all the water and coconut water under the sun!) I know I need to sweat out the anxiety and boost my mood, flush out the last of the rubbish in my system (on an actual hangover day sweating it out is dangerous as you’re already dehydrated! It’s best to leave it until the day post-hangover!)
Dress (sportswear laid out the night before of course!), tongue scrape, clean teeth, splash face 10 times with cold water, drink 1 pint of water and 1 black coffee (I shouldn’t, but I need it to get to my workout!)
Short walk outside in the sun, then on the train into city.
A sweaty KOBOX class gets out all of my nervous energy, boosts my mood (although I notice it’s not quite as good a post-class high as normal – damn hangxiety!)
Class is finished (I have to skip the cool down to make it to work on time!), I’ve had a cold shower where I stretch (rag doll, yogic squat and quad stretches to get the hamstrings, hip flexors and quads since we just did leg day!) while the conditioner is in. I get dressed quickly and leave with wet hair, but not before I’ve downed my fiery ginger shot – ginger, lemon and cayenne pepper.
I start work with a green kiwi, spinach, banana and celery smoothie for breakfast and keep sipping warm water, cold water, green tea and peppermint tea throughout the day.
A vegetable soup for lunch with some pulses in it replenishes some of those missing nutrients!
I have an antioxidant and activated charcoal shot (research seems limited on if charcoal has any benefits to be honest, it’s just a health w*nky trend, but I want it for the lemon and the antioxidants!)
Keeping on with that water and green tea and peppermint tea too!
Carrot sticks and hummus and a bowlful of spinach, rocket, broccoli, watercress and some sunflower and pumpkin seeds top up my micronutrients and phytochemicals, plus adding extra antioxidants.
I try not to work too late this evening and manage to escape early around 7… yay!
I arrive home via the shops where I’ve picked up brown rice, fresh vegetables and some chicken. I literally have it all plain – steamed veggies, grilled chicken and boiled brown rice. Very simple, but it actually feels super light and comforting and exactly what my body needs. I’m starting to feel more like myself. I huddle up under a blanked on the sofa to relax and watch TV (nothing stressful or strenuous!) after dinner. A handful of blueberries and some fresh mint leaves make a nice sweet treat for dessert to go with another episode of The Big Bang Theory, plus it doubles as an antioxidant boost!
In bed to read for 10 minutes and then off to sleep!
& that’s a wrap!
Obviously this is super clean, high veggies and low everything else intake of food for the day, and certainly not something I do every day… this is how I like to try to replenish and bring myself back to life after an OTT weekend when I’m feeling post-alcohol-anxious! It’s probably worth emphasising that this isn’t a guilt thing or a diet thing, it’s literally eating things that make me feel nourished and fresh and energised again, and make my body start to feel good… basically a systems reboot! It’s certainly NOT a punishment. It actually feels amazing!
How do you get yourself back to your glowy, energised self on a Monday after being floored by too many toxins and poor nutrition choices? Any tips? Share below!
Sorry it’s been a while – I’ve been so busy reading I forgot about sharing exactly what I’m reading!
I’ve read a lot of really awesome stuff recently, but I reeeeeaaaaally had to share this one with you next.
Heart Berries, Terese Marie Mailhot
I’ve taken a summary of the book from Goodreads as it’s a pretty good introduction to jump in with:
“Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot’s mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father―an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist―who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.
Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn’t exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.”
This book is an unusual one but it’s absolutely incredible. I don’t know how well you know Sylvia Plath but there’s a line she writes that ‘the blood jet is poetry’. This book brings that to life because my god, the blood jet really is poetry. Heart Berries is incredibly raw, vivid, almost Plath-ian and ‘confessional’, but its also so refined, carefully crafted and wrought, so the intimacy isn’t just dumped on you or exposed, but painstakingly built into art.
The vivacity, brutality and pure honesty of both language and content is refreshing – sometimes hit-you-in-the-face loud, and sometimes so subtle.
It’s not an easy read but the rhythm of her writing and the way she weaves words and disjointed syntax together is something you eventually fall into. Mailhot pushes the emotion via both content AND craft, into your very bones.
I love the way she writes about life, love, motherhood, mental illness, and she takes genres of abuse narrative and Native American writing and makes them hers, simultaneously defying and transcending claddification. This book shatters any box that could try to contain it.
Mailhot rejects white culture’s exoticised conceptions (a la Said’s Orientalism) of Native American mysticism but doesn’t disown those aspects of her culture – she just strips out the whites’ imposition of romanticism and mystical tropes and crafts her own magic with clarity and authenticity and a very personal, sometimes wavering, poignant yet strong voice.
One of my favourite quotes in the book is:
“In white culture, forgiveness is synonymous with letting go. In my culture, I believe we carry pain until we can reconcile with it through ceremony. Pain is not framed like a problem with a solution. I don’t even know that white people see transcendence the way we do. I’m not sure that their dichotomies apply to me.”
I can’t recommend this read enough! If you’re not already sold, I also recommend reading Roxane Gay’s review of it – it’s brilliant!
“Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot is an astounding memoir in essays. Here, is a wound. Here is need, naked and unapologetic. Here is a mountain woman, towering in words great and small. She writes of motherhood, loss, absence, want, suffering, love, mental illness, betrayal, and survival. She does this without blinking but to say she is fearless would be to miss the point. These essays are too intimate, too absorbing, too beautifully written, but never ever too much. What Mailhot has accomplished in this exquisite book is brilliance both raw and refined, testament.”
– Roxane Gay, author – Review of Heart Berries
It’s so counter-intuitive, but years of fad diets and media exposure have got us all thinking ridiculous things about health and fitness, and two bug-bear myths of mine are that carbs are bad, and that you should aim for a very low caloric intake (circa 1,200) to lose weight.
*Note, as always, I’m not a nutritionist (I’m studying a Nutritional Therapist Professional Diploma but in terms of finished study I’ve only formally studied limited nutrition components of my fitness certifications so I AM NOT QUALIFIED TO GIVE FORMAL ADVICE), but my sources for this info are qualified and I believe highly trustworthy, including my nutritionist and her book, and a lifetime of research and experimentation – I’ll link to the articles and papers where I can! Always consult a professional to tailor to YOUR lifestyle though – I’m just sharing this to get people out of the mindset that carbs = bad, and eating as little as possible = optimal for fat loss.*
Obviously at a very basic level, you need to burn more calories than you eat to be losing fat – but you also need energy to function, be healthy and do all kinds of other things for your body and brain long-term. For weight loss / body composition that lasts and doesn’t damage you (and future you!) in the process, you need to adopt healthy ways of eating that provide you with all of the nutrition you need that are SUSTAINABLE first and foremost.
I remember when I’d recovered from bulimia but then gained a tonne of weight due to a damaged metabolism and over-indulgence in alcohol (and carried too much fat and really didn’t like it!) I still wasn’t eating much, and I avoided carbs at ALL COSTS because I thought they were the devil. I also avoided fruit at all costs because of the sugar (i.e. carb) element which is crazy! I’m going to share some extracts below from people who ARE qualified as to how and why these foods are not only safe to eat (in the right quantities) but very beneficial.
Why you should eat carbs – even if you want to lose fat!
Carbs are SO IMPORTANT for your health, both physical and mental. They’re the body and brain’s main energy source (and eliminating them does NOT mean you’ll just burn body fat I’m afraid!) and they also are key to forming serotonin. They are critical for brain function, mood and memory (read more on this here).
A study published in 2009 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that people on a high-fat, low-carb diet for a year had more anxiety, depression and anger than people on a low-fat, high-carb diet. – LiveScience.com
Eating complex carbohydrates in combination with lean protein and healthy fats (which prevent the carbs giving you too much of a blood sugar spike) keeps you fuller for longer. The combination of carbs and protein is also necessary for your body to use the tryptophan in certain foods to produce serotonin, the happy hormone – very important if you are prone to low moods!
Carbs are fuel, but don’t get it into your head that fuel means calories and gaining weight – carbohydrate is used by the body as fuel for the central nervous system, and energy for your working muscles. Iowa State University also found that they prevent protein from being used as an energy source (so more protein for muscle gain and other benefits!) and enable fat metabolism.
At my leanest and healthiest (this time last year when I did a shred for Santorini!) I was eating MORE CARBS than I ever really had before.
Now I’m not for ONE SECOND saying go and binge or go over-eat. Portion control is key, but the irony is when I was too thin and sick with bulimia and body dysmorphia, and when I got fat post-recovery, I was eating measly 500-950 kcals a day at the height of my ED and only 1,200 when I was getting bigger.
When I leaned down again in a healthy way I was eating nearer 2,000 kcals a day and still do!
Now obviously if your goal is fat loss, you need good activity levels (aim to sweat 4-5 times a week for around 45 minutes at least!) to ensure you’re using the energy you’re consuming, and I know an anecdotal story about my journey isn’t ‘evidence’ but this post links to the studies which back these things up and I want to emphasise that doing the healthy, balanced thing really IS compatible with your body goals…
If you’re hangry and carb-deprived, not only is it bad from a mood, memory, brain function and energy for your working muscles and central nervous system perspective, but you’re less likely to stick to a healthy lifestyle and keep the excess body fat off long term.
The best carbs to choose
When my abs were most visible, I was training well and eating well – and that included carbs which I’d avoided previously pretty much my whole life!
Complex carbohydrates are always going to be much better for you than simple carbs (so think brown rice and sweet potato over white bread and French fries!)
My favourite sources that are perfectly healthy in sensible quantities include:
white potato (YES WHITE POTATO! It has a slightly different nutrient profile to the sweet variety but both are great for you. It’s all in how you cook it of course!)
quinoa / other wholegrains
pulses and legumes
Of course you can occasionally have the rubbishy white bread if you fancy it it’s totally fine, but if 90% of the time your carbs come from these sources to maximise the nutritional benefits.
Why we need to stop believing it’s a virtue to not have an appetite
Overeating isn’t good, but neither is under-eating. A rough guide to portion size is half a plate of veggies (yay micronutrients!), a fistful of carbs, a palm full of protein and a thumb-print of healthy fats.
I get so frustrated when people seem to say that having barely any appetite is a virtue. ‘Oh I / he / she just don’t/doesn’t really have an appetite’ – when I was bulimic I’d absorbed these kinds of messages and would try to see how long I could go without food for, and throw it up when I caved. Idolising this not-being-hungry or extreme deprivation that you only eat a bit of fish and some veggies mindset leads to unhealthy attitudes and can seriously damage peoples’ health, mental and physical.
You can eat quite large portions of voluminous veggies and get all the micronutrient benefits with very little caloric intake – so you can be full and eat those for volume, and still stick to healthy-sized portions of protein, carbs and healthy fats – and I’m not talking as small as possible! I’m talking the kind of portion sizes described above, as recommended by top Harley Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert in her book.
Obviously how much you need to eat also depends on your metabolism and your activity levels. This is why seeing a professional to tailor specific guidance to you is really helpful.
But by eating very little (i.e. less than 1,500 kcals a day) you slow your metabolism, meaning when you do indulge you’re more likely to store it as fat, and also reducing the likelihood that you’re getting the energy and nutrition levels you need to function optimally.
This is another reason I worry about people thinking they key is to surpress their appetite. What happens when you reach your goal weight and return to your old ways of eating? It all piles back on. We need to change our lifestyles and keep them healthy and sustainable, and provided you stoke the fires of your metabolism (and take out your nutritional insurance policy for optimum health in old age!) by eating CARBS AND PROTEIN AND HEALTHY FATS as well as all your micronutrients from a rainbow of veggies, we maintain not only healthier bodies, but an aesthetic that we like a lot more!
As discussed above, I’m not a nutritionist so use this as a jumping off point not gospel, and check my sources as you would any randomer on the internet – don’t trust me just because I have a fitness blog, or someone else just because they have abs! That said, I have done my best to research this extensively and only share info from sources I believe are trustworthy (and cite them!) As I said, check out this book ReNourish by my nutritionist for more information and some of the links below to get you started. You don’t need to be a professional to educate yourself and optimise your health!
Cutting carbohydrates from meals was once hailed as the answer to fast track fat loss. The Atkins and so many other fad diets all avoid bread, potatoes and pasta in favour of loading up on protein sources like eggs. And so began a widespread misconception that carbs make you fat. As a general rule of thumb, a low carbohydrate meal is healthy but the degree to which we enforce a low-carb diet is wholly dependant on the life we lead. The key is to find a balance and understand exactly what carbs to embrace and those we should avoid.
Opt for grains over refined starchy items like white pasta, bread. Grains are significantly more nutritious with tons of nutrients. Quinoa, amaranth, pearl barley, bulgar wheat and spelt are some of my favourite complex carbs. All are high in fibre, which is great for your digestive system, the nutritious carbs including oats tend to offer slow releasing energy keeping you fuller for longer.
Like many millenials, when it comes to avocado, I’m basic[AF], and I’m not ashamed. I BLOODY LOVE THEM.
This cheeky ‘lil fruit was a game-changer in my recovery from an eating disorder, helping me finally enjoy food by beginning a new lifetime love affair with brunch. I actually don’t even think that’s an exaggeration! Plus it packs an amazing nutritious punch – in roughly 100g of avocado you get approximately 19g of fat (12g of these tend to be monounsaturated fats, with only 4g of saturated fat).
Rich in minerals such as iron, copper and potassium and a good source of the B vitamin, folate, avocados also have more soluble fibre than any other fruit (or so I’m told!)
Before I break down the best avocado toast and similar avo-based-brunch spots in all corners of London, here are some cool facts about the avocado.
The word Avocado comes from a Nahuatl Indian (Aztec) word “ahuácatl” meaning testicle. It is thought that the reference is either due to the avocado’s shape or the fact that it was considered to possess aphrodisiac qualities by the Aztecs
Avocados were initially marketed by M&S as the ‘avocado pear‘ due to their shape. This had to be stopped, however, when some very wrong folk started serving avocado with custard (that’s one way to put me off!)
Avocados are native to Central and South America, only popping up in the UK in the mid-1900s. Sadly, our British rain and drizzle and cold means we can’t grow them well here… maybe we should all move to Mexico?!
(let’s start here as it’s currently my local, but I’ve lived in North, East and South London too!)
Café Phillies I ama huge fan of their smashed avo, scrambled egg, smoked salmon and sourdough, but for veggies go for the ricotta and avo sourdough toast (and I always sub the poached egg for scrambled… personal preference!) This place is my all time favourite.
Darcie & May Green – cute little boat venues of the Aussie gem chain ‘Daisy Green’ near Paddington. So instagrammable.
Farm Girl – this Portobello Road beauty is absolutely gorgeous, and they have very instagram friendly frenchie-latte-art going on. Highly recommend, if you don’t mind a wait for a seat.
The Good Life Eatery – the one in Chelsea is always queue-worthy, so don’t be put off by the wait. Really delicious, super fresh food. Great smoothies and fresh juices too!
The Riding House Cafe – This is such a great place to meet for casual coffees or cocktails but as with everything, brunch is my go-to of choice. Always popular and appropriate for literally whoever you’re meeting, not just health w*nkers 😉
Dalloway Terrace – this place features genuinely some of the BEST avocado toast I’ve ever tasted. Not to be missed. Plus the Bloomsbury group theme is great if you’re a nerdy Virginia Woolf fan like me!
AvoBar – Tucked away in Covent Garden, this place isn’t one I’ve tried I must confess but it’s top of my list and super well-reviewed… and not only can you get your avocado toast fix but it features tonnes of avocado inspired recipes (even desserts!) too!
Scarlett Green– one of many of the lovely Aussie Daisy Green cafes, this gem has just surfaced in Soho. Bottomless brunch is a GO.
No 32 The Old Town – a very chilled but packed at weekends bar and restaurant, you have to try the avocado and tallegio toastie. I went for one of these every single weekend I lived in Clapham. #sorrynotsorry
Brick & Liquor – if you’re Tooting or Clapham based, this one’s for you! They have an impressive array of cocktails too (just saying!)
The Breakfast Club – if you don’t mind a queue, these are around all over London and the breakfast options abound, as you can imagine! Their pancakes are as good as the avo options too!
Palm Vaults – this place has cool Miami vibes with pinky-goldy-jungly decor. Anywhere that lets you pick avo toppings which include kale (*blissfulsigh* healthdreams!) and pomegrante among many others… I’m on side. They also have super health tonic-type lattes like beetroot, which you just gotta do for the ‘gram.
Nude Coffee Roasters – ditto department of coffee and social affairsentry above basically. Not an extensive menu but delish avo toast and epic (but strong!) coffee.
Healthy Stuff – this Dalston baby mashes up their avo gooooood. Served simple with chili flakes and sourdough, with a drizzle of olive oil. Hits the spot.
Maison D’Etre – they’ve got your avocado, your bee pollen, your coconut chia pudding, it’s a health instagrammer’s delight. Super light, bright and airy conservatory style space tucked away at the back too. They’re on Canonbury Road for any Northernites.
Granger and Co – they have branches at the other compass points too, but I’ve only seen the Kings Cross one so this is tenuously placed in the North category 😉 Great juices as well as great food (I love the immunity shot!) and your avo comes on rye with lime and coriander… yassss. A good choice for non avo fans too.
Greenberry Cafe – a really nice and extensive healthy breakfast/brunch and lunch menu featuring your safe avo staple on Regent’s Park road.
Anywhere I’ve missed?! If you stumble across an epic avocado toast spot drop me a line or a comment below, I literally can’t get enough! Where are your fave places to get your fix?
So I suppose I have to say #sorrynotsorry for the Fight Club spam last week…! (and also a special thanks to the instructors who made my Fight Club INSANE – Miranda, Ian & Jacob THANK YOU FOR AN EPIC WEEK!).
I’ve made no secret of how much I love Kobox – the workout, the incredible instructors (literally never been to any gym or boutique fitness concept where the calibre is as consistently strong but they’re all also consistently pretty freaking awesome humans, with their own personalities!), the convenient city location, the gorgeous Chelsea studio with the ring and chillout area… I could go on, but I won’t because I posted all about how much I love Kobox (and boxing workouts more generally) here.
If you’re new to the idea of KOBOX it’s a boxing workout, but not like any other (the combo of the club inspired studios – epic beats, lights down low, off-the-chain instructors and the innovative exercises for the wall/circuit style portion, you’ll see changes in both your body and mind STAT) . It’s also non contact, don’t worry – you don’t have to take one on the chin girls! (you alternate between punching a heavy ass bag and between doing circuits on the wall). It’s an explosive combo of high intensity cardio, resistance and plyo style moves, but you can find out more here and here.
Fight Club – the lowdown
Fight Club is this amazing offer Kobox do (this year so far in February and June).
It’s very simple, super effective, a massive challenge but hell of a lot of fun.
7 classes. 7 days.
It’s that simple. I book mine as one per day, but you could book doubles if you wanted to be super hardcore or knew there was a day when you would need to skip a class.
It’s for the bargain price of £80 so individually the classes work out to be quite a lot cheaper than usual (go to the KOBOX website for details of the regular class packages – costs vary depending how many you want to buy at one time. If you’re gonna go three times a week I recommend the treble [£50 for 3 classes in 7 days] as an economical option! I also buy the packs of 10 to uses as and when, as they last for 6 months)
Why do Fight Club?
Okay, so normally I don’t train 7 days a week and I advocate for 1-2 rest days a week.
But every once in a while a shake-up is GREAT, and a challenge is EVEN BETTER.
These are my top 10 reasons you should do the next fight club
THERE’S NO FEELING LIKE IT. Boxing is an empowering workout anyway, but 7 days of it is an INCREDIBLE challenge but there’s no endorphin pump quite like it!
YOUR BODY WILL CHANGE – NO, REALLY! You may think 7 days isn’t enough time to see changes in your body but I promise you, both Fight Clubs I’ve done, in combination with staying on track with nutrition have DEFINITELY given me some strength gains, and tightened my quads and glutes which is where I store my body fat most. I felt so much stronger, leaner and more confident after both fight clubs (Feb & June) too.
SET YOUR ABS ON FIRE. Even if you think you have a strong core already – 7 days of this training with all the boxing rotations, abs to finish and even core day will take it to the next level. This style of cardio-resistance-plyo-boxing workout torches fat, improves cardiovascular fitness and strength, but one of the other fun benefits is it will really help your abs pop!
CHALLENGE YOURSELF – BOOST YOUR MENTAL DISCIPLINE! It’s so much fun to challenge yourself and see results, and stick at something. For my first Fight club I got up at 5.30am every day to make the 7.15 classes in city and I am not a morning person. It boosts your willpower, perseverance, and stamina so much!
THE ENERGY. At the risk of sounding super cheesy and American, it’s actually true… the energy, carried by the incredible KOBOX squad of epic instructors is ALWAYS HIGH. Whether you’re with pocket rocket Maciela, primal badass bitch Miranda, mega jokes PT Dunn (Antoine will eat biscuits in front of you, watch out!), the legend that is Ian Streetz, the complete dude Jacob, the kick ass Wayne, and Ollie who may be the lovable #teambrownbear but he WILL make you do burpees… everyone brings their A game EVERY SINGLE CLASS. You get so much motivation from them.
THE SHAKES… MY GOD, THE KOBOX SHAKES. I had to add this, I’m sorry haha. So helpful to grab and go for breakfast after a morning class when you’re rushing to the office… There’s a shake loyalty card now too, so you’re practically investing 😉 I highly recommend getting creative, the lovely team are always nice and will adapt – I go for the blueberry brawler (coconut water, blueberries and protein) but swap vanilla protein for chocolate – or the peanut uppercut (but I ask to add coffee, and for the end of fightclub I had an extra scoop of choc protein). One bone to pick though guys… pleeeeeeeease bring back the mocha ali one *begs*
IT HELPS SMASH YOU OUT OF ANY PLATEAUS. In a training rut? Not feeling your normal routine? Stopped seeing results? Had a few weeks where you’ve been to busy to train? Been feeling blue and need a kick? Fight Club is your guaranteed fix.
ALL ABILITIES CAN DO IT. Yes, it’s tough. Yes, 1 class is a challenge, let alone 7. But tell the instructors if you’re injured, or if you’re a beginner with any concerns. Make modifications (the instructors usually give a range of options and definely will if you let them know about any injuries etc). You can also go at your own pace – you’re in control of your punching and your time on the wall. If you want to slow down and focus on technique and form, you can. If you want to speed up and really fight for that cardio, you can.
IT’S A BARGAIN! It’s a cheap offer – if you divide down the amount between individual classes it’s super great value compared with other boutique studios (that aren’t as good!), it’s a great jumping off point for a more energised training regime and you’re investing in your health, your mood and your energy levels… winning.
YOU FIND OUT WHAT YOU’RE MADE OF. There’s a little fable… If I told you to get down and give me as many push-ups as you can, maybe you do 5, maybe you do 500. Whatever your fitness level, eventually you tire. You stop. You lie down. Then I say okay look, I need you to do 10 more push-ups. Just 10. You’d do it. It might be pretty tough but you’d do it. That’s what Fight Club is like. You empty your tank – but when the going gets tough you find a little bit more left in there. And you’re always, always made of more than you think. Your mind gives up waaaay before your body does!
How much is it?
£80 for 7 classes in 7 days.
What if I miss a class?
You can rebook and reschedule if you do it in advance (I think over 24 hours) otherwise it’s a late cancellation and you lose the credit.
However, if you cancel ahead of time you get the credit back and can reuse it! Then maybe if you still want to use up all 7 you can double up classes one day…
But I need a rest day, 7 in 7 days is too much…?!
If you stretch and eat right you can manage it and take care of your body, but if you definitely need and/or want a rest day or two, then book 2 classes on certain days, so you can complete your 7.
Do I get penalised for not doing all 7?!
Nope. It’s totally your call. Your challenge, your call.
What if I get injured?
You can cancel 24 hours ahead of your class and reschedule, or if it’s a minor injury you feel okay to train with TELL YOUR INSTRUCTOR. They’ll adapt and give you modifications and make sure you’re working out safely.
Basically though you shouldn’t really be getting injured in class – follow the instructors’ tips on form and safe execution of moves, and don’t try to show off – good form is better than any ego, and the safest way to train.
Is it quite cliquey like some other boutiques or boxing gyms?
Not at all. See above haha, but basically the instructors are all absolute f***** gems. Genuinely cool, down to earth people, super knowledgable boxers and trainers, most are amateur/semi-pro or former boxers and stuntmen, all are INCREDIBLE.
What’s the music like?
Depends who you train with!!!! Get an idea for the different instructor vibes here though.
I’ve never done KOBOX before… can I do Fight Club?!
YES! Absolutely. But if you’d rather start slower, there’s a really good 2 classes for £25 beginner offer with a pair of free wraps included.
So… what are you waiting for?!
I think that’s all the questions I’ve had via insta… if you’d like to check out the KOBOX website now and get booking then I’d hiiiiiighly recommend it!
So I mentioned on instagram recently I’ve been experimenting with Ayurveda. This may or may not come as a surprise to people who know me – I like to think of myself as a healthily open-minded sceptic – I treat all ideas critically, in a balanced way, and am open to changing my mind if people present evidence. It’s a safe and scientific and logical approach… which conflicts a bit with my arts-degree (I was a literature girl) more free-thinking and creative writing side… but I’ve always been contradictory like that (or as I like to think of it, it’s Keatsian ‘negative capability’ mwahaha).
I’ll explain more about ayurveda shortly, but here’s how I’m approaching it.
I’ve fallen into it via modern practitioners who fuse ancient Ayurvedic philosophies with modern Western life and nutrition knowledge. I do believe that it was created 5,000 years ago (yoga’s sister science) for India 5,000 years ago, therefore it doesn’t have to be followed to the letter – for example, lifestyles change, and my environment and culture is different from that of India 5,000 years ago. For example in Ayurveda you should never eat raw foods. That was true in India then (and much of India now!) – salad could make you ill. It’s not the case in London, so you can tweak it based on where you are and also just modernity.
I also believe that modern medicine and science knows a lot more about many things now, so naturally there are inconsistencies.
However, there are some overlaps – like the body types endomorph, ectomorph and mesomorph, for example, correspond with the Ayurvedic doshas – mesomorphs would be dominant in pitta, ectomorph – vata, and endomorph – kapha (see discussion below). In terms of the mental qualities associated with each dosha (more on what these are below!), you can think of these as metaphorical, emotional or psychological illustrations of personality types if you struggle with the pseudo-scientific nature. Just be open-minded with it, I guess! It’s not a science, it’s a philosophical system of wellness… and it’s 5,000 years old, so take or leave what works for you, and where modern knowledge is proven to contradict, that’s fine, but remember – Western medicine responds to disease and treats symptoms and causes. Ayurveda aims to prevent illness arising.
*quick check on cultural appropriation* I am fascinated by different cultures, and you may or may not have seen a discussion I had on instagram recently around the issues of cultural appropriation around yoga in the West, for example. These practices (yoga and ayurveda) are no doubt growing and evolving – they’re not the same as they once were, but I do want to take a second to say I have the utmost respect for the origins of these philosophies, and I’ve done as much research as I can into the history of the practices. I’d like to make clear and acknowledge that it isn’t part of my own heritage, but it’s something I am interested in exploring and I hope my adoption of some of the modern-fusion ayurveda is sensitive and respectful of anyone who does have deep roots in Ayurvedic and Hindu traditions. I know that ‘my’ version, or Sahara’s (see below) aren’t necessarily authentic, but hopefully we can all share in it respectfully and the last thing I would want is for this to offend anyone. Read more about the tradition here, and the Atharva Veda .
With all of that explanation over with to ‘explain’ and satisfy any fellow sceptics, here is why I have kind of fallen in love with Ayurveda, despite my reservations about all things that tend to be embraced by ‘hippy’ types which undeniably eastern and Indian philosophies have been (having grown up around Glastonbury and seen many families hugely disrupted by drugs, dropping out of school and various consequential issues, hippyisms are not something I tend to be a fan of and I feel should be treated with huge caution! Plus they tend to be unchecked appropriation of other cultures, and used as excuses for outrageous lifestyle choices… Rant over, okay, okay!)
(NB: where it conflicts with modern nutritional and scientific knowledge, I’d go with those things. However, on the mental and emotional side it’s more just like an alternative perspective on things, and one I find helpful!)
It’s a romantic and almost mythical way of expressing many things that I think modern science and psychology do tell us too.
It feels intuitive, and places emphasis on living a healthy, balanced lifestyle, with diet and digestion as a cornerstone of wellbeing – which we know to be true.
It helps me make sense of my personality, how I emotionally respond to things (and have responded to past trauma), and how to balance myself out.
I’m inclined to agree it’s more helpful from a mental health and balance perspective than it being a medicine system to cure physical ailments – I wouldn’t ever substitute it for qualified medical advice – but it can certainly support, in my opinion.
I’ve always been drawn to ancient cultures the world over and it’s fun to play with… and there’s no harm in playing and being interested!
It just feels intuitive to me and explains my personality. Whether that’s placebo, or whether modern science and psychology aligns with it or not, if it makes you feel good, what’s the harm?!
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda means the ‘knowledge of life’, and is a holistic Ancient Indian system of health and wellbeing. If you google it, the definition you get is:
the traditional Hindu system of medicine (incorporated in Atharva Veda, the last of the four Vedas), which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing.
I found Sahara Rose‘s attitude of choosing the parts of the practice that work for you and work in modern life helpful. You can read her article here about why practicing yoga (although amazing!) is only a tiny step in optimising how you feel – and how ayurveda is the ultimate lifestyle compliment (the two systems go hand in hand, after all!)
As a simple introduction, in Ayurveda the idea is we’re born with a unique combination of the three Ayurvedic doshas – kapha, vata and pitta (the combo you’re born with is your prakruti). Diet and lifestyle and other factors can change this – if you were born vata dominant, for example, you could become more pitta. Your present constitution, if different from your prakruti is your vikruti.
In Ayurveda emotional states, mental and physical ailments etc… basically anything that means you’re not ‘well’ is thought to be because of a dosha imbalance in some way. Too much vata, too little kapha… it can be much more complex than this, but this is a simplified explanation, and ayurveda seeks to provide lifestyle choices and practices people can follow to stay physically and mentally balanced. Certain personality types may prefer different things, and need to bear in mind they should balance themselves (for example I’m a pitta – considered to be driven, fiery, highly motivated, prone to loving caffeine and heavy duty workouts – but I need to balance this with more yin yoga, for example, and slowing down, caffeine and alcohol reduction, even if that’s not my instinct!) A lot of it can be considered common sense! Kaphas are thought to be much more grounded, stable, generous, but also potentially prone to lethargy and weight gain if out of balance… and so more vigorous movement is recommended. (These are just some super simplistic illustrations!)
My experience so far
I’ve found that certain ayurvedic practices, including but not limited to an improved morning routine (including tongue scraping, oil pulling, splashing the eyes 10 times with cold water and abhyanga [an ayurvedic form of self-massage with oil]) to be therapeutic and actually quite uplifting.
I’ve also been trying trying a few of the dosha balancing meditations (discover an indication of your dominant dosha here but for truly accurate results see a practitioner), and making some dosha-balancing lifestyle changes (for example, I am very dominantly pitta – in both body and mind – so rather than stick to my go-to agressive coffee consumption and power yoga, I’ve incorporated more deep breathing, some very gentle yin yoga, and calming herb teas).
Studies have shown (I was reading a scientific paper from a journal on the train about exactly this today!) that meditation, yoga (and other activities like reading, qu gong, tai chi) etc. are beneficial for health and mind because they promote the relaxation response which has a positive biological impact – reduced oxygen consumption, blood pressure, heart rate and changes to regions of the brain whose names have escaped me just now! Activities like this positively influence our epigenetics (the parts of our DNA that switch cells on and off essentially – determining which bits of our DNA are used!) On a similar note, exercise is another lifestyle factor that can alter your DNA (as can nutrition, stress levels, exposure to toxins…) and you can read more on the science of that here.
However, whether or not there are tangible benefits you can derive from ayurveda (and anecdotally there do seem to be, although clearly when people like me try things, we’re not doing a controlled study so it’s hard to establish a reliable causal link), to me, it’s all about how you feel and if it has a positive impact on your life and general wellbeing… and this definitely is for me!
I also just did a quick 8 week short course called Self Care and Ayurvedic Nutrition to learn more, and it has given me some great practices that really help me manage stress and my mood, plus some delicious recipes.
What do you think?!
I’d love to hear your comments on this, and any philosophies or lifestyle changes that you find work for you!
Sahara Rose Ketabi, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Holistic Health and Sports Nutrition Coach on dosha-sports science parallels:
Some of us have increased development of the ectodermal layer, contributing to a more active nervous system and faster catabolism (the breakdown of muscle tissue.) This makes make us more naturally small-boned, full of thoughts, sensitive to external surroundings and energy, and often cold — exactly like a Vata.
Vata is regulated by Ether and Air energy, regulating the nervous system as well. Vatas are thin-bodied, dry-skinned, bold-bodied, hypersensitive to their surroundings, and imaginative. When they’re off balance, they can become anxious or anemic. I often compare Vata to the Fall wind — cool, dry, creative, and a little bit all over the place.
If you are an Ectomorph/ Vata, then I recommend consuming a more warming, grounding foods like soups, stews, and proteins. Avoid too much cold, raw food, which will cool down your already weak digestive fire. Make sure you stretch your body to prevent it from getting stiff and practice strength-training exercises. Practice more mindfulness.
Others of us have increased development of the mesodermal layer. We’re naturally more muscular, prone to stress, with strong bones and appetites — just like a Pitta.
Pitta is comprised of Fire and Water energy, controlling transformation — metabolism, digestion, assimilation, and muscle development. Pittas are naturally athletic, high-achieving people with strong work ethics (and appetites). When they’re off balance, they can become impatient, overheated, or agitated. I often compare Pitta to the summer — hot, fiery, and passionate!
If you are a Mesomorph/ Pitta, I recommend consuming more cooling, hydrating foods like fresh fruit and leafy greens. Avoid spicy food, caffeine, and chocolate, which are all too stimulating and heat-inducing for your already hot system. Be careful not to overexert yourself and become overly competitive. Practice yin yoga and meditation regularly.
And there are those of us with increased development of the endodermal layer. We may have slower metabolisms and digestions and are prone towards respiratory issues, exactly like the Kapha Dosha.
Kapha is comprised of Earth and Water energy, regulating structure, body tissue, and bone structure. Kaphas are peaceful, easy-going, good-natured, people. When out of balance, however, they can easily become overweight and lazy, and catch colds frequently. I like to compare Kaphas to the Spring — cool, wet, and dense.
If you’re an Endomorph/ Kapha, I suggest favoring light, stimulating foods like well-spiced quinoa, steamed vegetables and bitter greens. Avoid sweet, cool, and creamy foods like ice cream or pasta, which will make your sluggish digestive system even slower. Make sure you break a sweat every day to prevent yourself from becoming lethargic. Try something new every day.”
I mentioned my brand new jade roller in an update to my recent Top 5 Skincare Secrets post here but realised I wanted to do a separate post on it because it seems to be having a moment in magazines everywhere… but does it really work?
A study showed that there may be ‘subjective benefits’ to facial massage for those who partake but also noted that it may not be great for 1/3 of people who may experience breakouts (read more here).
What’s the deal?
I first came across the concept in Harper’s Bazaar and bought a jade roller last week, because I’m a sucker for marketing and particularly when its in good pieces in beautifully put-together magazines…
I personally don’t believe in the alleged powers of crystals (many people believe they have different healing properties), although I am of course always open to being wrong and hearing new evidence, my mind can always be changed if you show me why – and I really do enjoy learning about other cultures’ beliefs around them. I totally appreciate that science doesn’t understand everything yet, so it would be crazy to be certain about anything. Jury’s out on if jade rollers have scientific benefits, apparently, but they feel damn good.
Where do they come from?
They were part of the beauty rituals of ancient Chinese Princesses throughout history, some claim [this article states that dermatologist David Lorscher, MD, consulted a colleague from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, who said she’d found ancient textual references to jade being used to even out a spotty complexion].
What do you do with it?
It’s an aid to facial massage, and you literally roll it across your face! There’s a larger end, and a smaller roller for the harder-to-reach under-eye area.
I’ve recently tried it and it’s changed my facial and massage game.
Top tip: pop it in the fridge and use it for a morning ice-cold massage and it feels amazing and does seem to reduce puffiness (supposed to be from the lymphatic drainage benefits!)
In all honesty I think there’s a lack of evidence around benefits, but that’s not to say there aren’t any – just that we don’t know the details yet. However, don’t go and buy one thinking results are scientifically guaranteed.
Personally, as a minimum, I find it super relaxing, a really nice mindful and pampering complement to a facial.
However, JadeRollerBeauty.com describes further benefits it may have (quote below), though for obvious reasons the site may not be entirely impartial!
The action of jade rolling increases circulation and rids your skin of toxins via lymphatic drainage. Increased blood flow means your facial muscles will improve in their tone, effectively carving out the cheekbones and jawline. Wrinkles will be smoothed, increased blood flow will act detoxifying to the skin, and lead to more brightness, clarity, and a glowing complexion. Two rollers can be used in tandem during a facial. During a facial you may cool down the jade by placing the roller in the fridge, then use it to effectively reduce dark under-eye circles, or place the jade stones in warm water and roll over any serum to help it penetrate more deeply into the skin! – JadeRollerBeauty.com
“Jade rolling used to be reserved for the elite in ancient china. When we roll on the right side of our face first, it is said to promote prosperity for the client.” – JadeRollerBeauty.com
Chinese medicine refers to jade as the “Stone of Heaven”. Purported benefits include relaxing the nervous system, and aiding in the removal of toxins… although please note my evidence based caveats earlier in this post!
Symbolising health and wealth, jade also represents longevity, prosperity and wisdom.
It is said that it has been used by the Mayans and African Egyptians as a massage and meditation tool for over 5000 years. – JadeRollerBeauty.com
So what do you think – will you be trying a jade roller any time soon? While I can’t promise guaranteed magical benefits, I really do love mine… and Roald Dahl does say that those who don’t believe in magic will never find it 😉
Today is a really exciting one because I know so many people dream of starting their own businesses, and even quitting their corporate jobs to pursue passion projects elsewhere…
Find out how the incredible Leyla Cooper, a former lawyer, now Founder & CEO of Pretty Athletic made the switch, and also her expert skincare tips! It’s a really great one because you can tell how much knowledge and hustle she’s poured in to make this wonderful brand a success.
I enjoyed working in law, but the prospect of running my own business and building a skincare brand from scratch was incredibly appealing. I am actually a very risk averse person, but I found myself spending evenings and weekends working on what would become Pretty Athletic and I loved it so much it didn’t feel like work. – Leyla Cooper, Founder & CEO of Pretty Athletic and former lawyer
If somehow you haven’t yet come across this increeeeedible skincare range, it’s a bespoke product line designed especially for active women, and it’s totally ethical (the products are super natural, not at all animal tested, and are registered with the Vegan Society). I came across it one day in Harper’s Bazaar, and fell head-over-heels in love! If you have yet to try their gorgeous products, be sure to visit their instagram, facebook and twitter to get the scoop. I honestly couldn’t recommend them enough, they’ve really transformed my skin.
So without further ado, let’s jump in with Leyla…
B: Can you tell us a little bit about your background, and how you came up with the idea for Pretty Athletic?
L: I’ve always enjoyed running and exercise. I used to work as a lawyer, and exercise was something I relied on to help deal with the stress of work and to keep my head clear. Like many busy women I would fit in a workout whenever I could, be it an early morning run or a lunchtime or evening gym session. One day I realised that my skin post-workout was a challenge and amongst all the many skincare products out there for various skin types and situations, I couldn’t find anything specifically designed for active women, be it for pre/post workout skin (i.e. hot, sweaty, stressed, skin) or to help protect and repair skin that is subject to environmental damage whilst exercising outdoors.
B: What made you decide to take the leap and start your own business? What was your working life like before and has it changed a lot? How did you find the transition from working in law?
L: I enjoyed working in law, but the prospect of running my own business and building a skincare brand from scratch was incredibly appealing. I am actually a very risk averse person, but I found myself spending evenings and weekends working on what would become Pretty Athletic and I loved it so much it didn’t feel like work. Then my husband injured his spine (he’s fine now thankfully) and it put things into perspective and I felt that life is short and I had to leave to do this thing that I was passionate about. As for my working life, I worked hard as a lawyer but I work harder now.
B: It’s funny because I really suffered with skin issues when I started training more and waited a long time for a brand targeted at women who workout so I was crazy excited when I discovered Pretty Athletic– but how did you navigate the gap between having an idea when you realised it was something people needed, and creating a product?
L: In a nutshell: Market research, a fabulous team of cosmetic formulation chemists, hours of product and ingredient research, and lots and lots of testing.
B: Can you describe a (working) day in the life at Pretty Athletic HQ?
L: Sorry to be clichéd, but no one day is the same. Each day I deal with a variety of issues including social media, new product development, website tweaks and improvements, customer enquiries, brand collaborations, marketing, retailers, VAT/invoices/accounts, events, liaising with my business partner and our fabulous intern Laura, and the list goes on..
B: What has been the most challenging part of moving from law to running your own business?
L: The success or failure of the business falls on me- and that’s a lot of pressure.
B: Do you have a favourite Pretty Athletic product?
L: For the face, our Workout Glow as I use it to cleanse and hydrate pre and post workout, and anytime during the day when my skin need a refresh, and I also use it every evening to remove my eye makeup. For the body, our Hydration Kick body moisturiser as I don’t like traditional body moisturisers as I dislike how they feel on my skin, whereas this is a gel not a cream and so it just sinks in and is so refreshing, and also it smells amazing – like a spa.
B: What advice would you give to someone looking to take the leap and start their own business?
L: You have to absolutely love it, as you’ll work harder than you’ve ever done before.
B: Have you made any mistakes along the way to where you are today and what have you learned from them, if so?
L: I have made many mistakes, and each time I learn not to make those same mistakes again!
B: What are the best and worst bits of working for yourself?
L: The best is the flexibility; if I want to go for a run at 3 in the afternoon to clear my head, I can. The worst is that you take everything – such as any rejections – very personally.
B: What does ‘success’ mean to you?
L: Looking back and knowing I did my best.
B: Do you have a role model or mentor you look to for career inspiration?
L: I have never met her but I look up to and am inspired by Marcia Kilgore (founder of Bliss, Soap & Glory, and Beauty Pie) who despite having been incredibly successful never rests on her laurels and keeps building successful brands and coming up with innovative new ideas.
B: Can you describe your daily skincare regime? What are your top tips?
L: I keep it quite simple. In the morning I cleanse my face and apply moisturiser, plus SPF if the sun is out. Pre/post workout, and also at the end of the day I use our Workout Glow to cleanse and hydrate, and then before bed I alternate between a facial exfoliator and nourishing cleanser, I remove my eye makeup with our Workout Glow, and I then use a face oil. About half my skincare products are Pretty Athletic products or samples of new products from our cosmetic formulators that I am testing, and the other half are from other brands as I like to keep up to date with new products on the market. My top tip? Exercise – it’s amazing for your skin. (Just ensure you cleanse and hydrate after sweating!)
Fave workout? Running
Nut butter or avocado? Nut butter
Massage or facial? Facial
Nature or nuture? Nurture
Talent or hustle? Hustle
Chocolate or cheese? Chocolate
You’re doing cardio: podcast or playlist? Playlist
Moisturiser or face oil? Face oil
You’re on a desert island and can only have 3 beauty products – what are they? Our Workout Glow, shampoo, and sunscreen.
It’s your last EVER meal of your life. What do you order/make? Chocolate.