Louise Thompson was initially best known for her role in pseudo-reality TV show, Made in Chelsea, but now arguably she’s equally well known for her abs so impressive you could grate cheese on them! The pocket rocket is also one of the founders of Pocket Sport, a luxe fitness clothing brand.
Louise never looked unhealthy but admits to having all kinds of issues, not least with her relationship with alcohol. Subjected to public scrutiny in the extreme, she ended up suffering with anxiety and having very poor self-image.
Her brand new book Live Well with Louise documents her journey, from struggling with body image and unhealthy habits to transforming her mindset, ditching the booze binges and loving workouts and healthy food.
It also contains recipes, and workout routines (approved by her PT boyfriend Ryan Libbey (also of MIC fame!), of course!)
So… what’s the low-down? Yet another unqualified celebrity book, or worth a read?
What could have been just another celebrity offering diet advice is actually a relatable, down-to-earth account of an unhealthy relationship with health, to a total transformation which yes, while it’s very aesthetic and ‘abs-y’ also conveys the important message that health, taking care of your body, good nutrition and MOVEMENT can be cool… and that binge-drinking and hangxiety are actually not all they’re cracked up to be.
While your average girl or guy can’t relate to being a celeb, I personally relate SO HARD to Louise’s use of alcohol for confidence, and going a bit too hard in my teens to early twenties.
Louise’s transformation from non-stop ‘ragers’ as she calls them where she’d drink so much she’d black out, to a healthier focus on fitness and health with the occassional social red wine with friends and family at dinner parties or with a cracking Sunday roast is something all of us who went to uni, damaged our livers and need a kick up the butt in terms of healthy living can relate and aspire to!
Here I was dubious – on opening the book I thought here we go, another book by a non-nutritionist purporting to give dietary advice… But she doesn’t! She openly states she’s not a nutritionist but openly shares what has worked for her. She goes by what I feel is a very simple and similar philosophy to my Harley Street Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert. Louise advocates filling half your plate with veggies (rainbow, variety, you got this!), quarter with complex carbs (ideally without the beneficial fibre stripped out, so rather than white bread and rice go for wholegrains, legumes, brown rice, sweet potato…) and a quarter with lean protein.
YES PEOPLE, LOUISE THOMPSON EATS CARBS AND STILL HAS A STUNNING, LEAN PHYSIQUE. I am so happy to see celebrities endorsing healthy, balanced meals and helping combat the media myth that carbs are bad. (See my stance on carbsand why they’re essential here!)
Louise’s recipes are surprisingly varied, and there are tonnes of them!
It’s not a slim and flimsy book with a couple of dinner ideas – it’s jam-packed with tasty, balanced meals, and YES it includes desserts and dinner party appropriate dishes!
The recipes are easy to follow, and the photography is gorgeous.
I did feel this section could have been more extensive, but the circuits are decent with beginner, intermediate and advanced options, and approved by her PT boyf.
Louise breaks down each move for anyone who’s new to exercising, with clear photographs and descriptions of how to execute the movement, and tips for upping the intensity if it gets too easy.
All in all, while there aren’t loads of options, her 11 minute ab blast is great, and then she offers 3 circuits – easy, medium, and hard – which are enough to get you started, and you can always use her book as a base to create your own.
Best of all, they’re do-able from home, no gym or super-fancy equipment required!
Definitely worth it for Louise’s personal story, and the recipes… and I do love her ab routine, so I’d say it’s worth the (affordable and fairly small!) investment.
So this isn’t a fitness or nutrition post by ANY stretch of the imagination, but I often blither on with lifestyle nuggets on here don’t I, so we’ll squeeeeeeze this into that and call it content, shall we?!
To change or not to change? That is the [feminist] question…
In all seriousness, I wanted to share this post for a few reasons –
it’s something I struggled with before making my decision!
I have friends going through the same thing and making choices right now
feminism is something innately important to me, my fiance, my friends, practically anyone I’m close to, so why miss an opportunity to bang on about it?
I guess I first ‘woke up’ to feminism at university whilst studying English Literature and being introduced to feminist theory, as well as the writings of various key people – Mary Wollenstoncraft, Virginia Woolf, Judith Butler, Simone de Beauvoir… because in Somerset it wasn’t really a thing, everything was very white, middle class patriarchal and let’s say ‘local lads’ expressed distaste for feminism (one of the reasons I tend to find going back to the South West a real struggle, and I’ve been known to cause a scene in our local pub over it when some bloke at the bar thought it was acceptable to play with my top and bra strap… I don’t think so!)
I’ve subsequently spent quite a bit of time swinging like a pendulum – “I’d NEVER change my name if I get married” (my struggles with the institution of marriage itself are something we’ll save for another time, but I don’t need to say much more than I’ve attended 3 of my parents’ weddings, none of them to each other…!) but I also LOVE the idea of transformation, I’m names-and-characters obsessed (hey, writer!) and I have gone through periods of liking the idea of a name change.
I found myself, once engaged after a ridiculously perfect proposal in Santorini, torn. My feminist principles dictated I shouldn’t change my name, right? It’s a relic of patriarchal possession, being passed from father to husband.
My love of name changes, characters, transformation and identity shifts, not to mention the cliched, unoriginal, but [un]fortunately true fact that I quite like my actual fiance (shocker!) also stirred an irrational, compelling urge to take his last name.
And at other times, I wavered, hedged, sat on the fence, grappled with it all, and wanted to double barrel.
Conflicted, I spoke to an old friend, Joy, who is far, far more intelligent than I will ever be, and also a feminist. It sounds odd, but I almost needed permission from someone smarter, entire galaxies more articulate and lightyears more well-thought-out than myself, who I knew also believed wholeheartedly in feminism… plus, I happened to know she’d gotten herself married, and chosen to change her name.
I felt like I needed to know how her much more capable mind reconciled the disparate fragments of this socio-political-emotional-mental-minefield.
Ultimately, she told me what I suppose I’d reasoned out in various, wriggly, squiggly lines and tangled trains of thought, and stumbled across in various things I’d read both online and off, but needed permission to believe.
Feminism is about choice.
Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women.
If you rail against feminists making a ‘patriarchal’ choice to change their last name upon marriage, it is worth pointing out that keeping your current name is no more feminist because (with few exceptions, like the Spanish way!) naming conventions dictate you ALREADY have a partiarchal name – your father’s.
Not doing something you really want to do, because you feel it violates feminist principles, is actually in itself violating those principles.
There is, these days, nothing to stop you changing, or keeping, or double-barrelling your name – which is now the exact position men have always been in. Just because they chose not to change their names historically does not mean you have to make the same choice now. You have the option. Which is great.
If you want to change your name, you are no less feminist for doing so. In fact, if you don’t, you’re pretty much cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Similarly, if you don’t want to change your name, you are not a freak, a pariah, someone who shouldn’t be getting married at all… it is just as valid, just as legitimate…
So what did I do?
You probably already know by now that I double barrelled, and I made this change legally before getting married (we’re not getting married for a year or so yet either, no official date set… #superchilled) in large part because, practically speaking, it made sense for me to start my new law career under the name I intended to change to.
Ultimately, the Boy would also have double barrelled, ideally, for symmetry and whatnot (he was totally up for this), but given that he was already working under his name and known by it, we decided practicality trumped symbolism and all that jazz, and he continues with his name.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how something that’s a symbolic act means so much and yet so little at the same time…
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to the world, but it matters to you. It doesn’t have to mean anything, so you can toss a coin if you really want, but it equally can mean quite a lot, particularly if you like the idea of shedding or gaining parts of an identity, or if you’re particularly romantic about the whole thing… whatever. The gist of this post is:
Feminism. Not. A. Stick. So stop beating yourself up with/about it…
PS. F*ck the patriarchy…
If you’re thinking of changing your name and need reassurance that it is still feminist, as some people do, try this article for size… it’s not Pulitzer prize winning journalism or particularly well written but I like the gist of it ❤
Sometimes our insta feeds get filled with post-workout selfies and when you’re having a day or a week where you reeeeeally don’t feel like working out, it can actually be really off-putting.
Everyone has, at some point or another, hit a bump where they just don’t feel like working out. It’s completely normal! I LOVE training but I still have this happen to me sometimes. But over time I’ve gotten used to it, and figured out some easy ways to slide back into the zone. So – what are the easiest ways to pick yourself back up?
This is a double edged sword. Scrolling for motivation can be helpful, but it can also make you feel rubbish. I recommend, first and foremost, an ‘unfollow’ spree – stop following ANY accounts that annoy you, make you feel not good enough or make you compare yourself with them. It’s not a comment on their content! It’s just protecting yourself. Similarly, start following accounts you do find helpful and inspiring.
This is an obvious one, but super useful. Kobox, Core Collective, Psycle, F45, whatever your jam – buy some credits and book some classes, and you won’t want to waste the money!
Make sure you’re doing workouts you love
If you hate running, for example, or weightlifting (or if you used to like it but you’re now over it) – change it up! Don’t do it anymore, do something else.
Ignore what’s ‘optimal’ because if obsessing about that is making you not want to train, then in trying to optimise your workouts you’re ironically stopping yourself from training… not the desired outcome!
Love netball? Join a team! Curious about #bbg? Download Kayla’s app! Always wanted to try boxing / capoeria / modern dance / athletics / volleyball / trail running…? Sign up to a class or a team or club.
Set some goals that make you want to progress
For example, I REALLY want to improve my pushups and be able to do 20 effortlessly, super quick. So that motivates me to train upper body, even on days I don’t feel like it. Maybe your goal is to run 5k, 10k, or a half marathon… maybe it’s to do a pull up, maybe it’s to increase the height of your box jump, or learn a new style of dance… whatever you think sounds like something you want to achieve, set the goal and then work towards it.
Be honest: are you making moves or excuses?
Yes, rest and recovery is important, but don’t fall into the trap of using it as an ‘excuse.’
You do need 2-3 rest days a week (ideally active rest, so still lots of walking, and maybe gentle movement like yoga or swimming) but stop using this to disguise the fact you can’t be bothered. It’s FINE to have a day where you’re like nah, today’s not the day, but own the decision. I like to schedule my rest days at the beginning of the week so they’re mindful. Ultimately it’s about being honest with yourself and in tune with how you feel!
Schedule workouts like you would meetings
This speaks for itself, right? By scheduling workouts you don’t really need to exert much willpower to go. They’re already in your diary.
Remember your why
Remember all the reasons we work out in the first place! It’s AMAZING for reducing stress, keeping us fit and healthy as we age, it has important cardiovascualr and longevity benefits, so keep in mind that it’s for your mental and physical health! Try to imagine the endorphin buzz you feel after a workout, and mentally re-create that feeling. Focus on those process based goals we talked about above – being able to do push ups or pull ups or whatever! And lastly, it’s okay to think about your aesthetic goals as long as it’s from a healthy, positive place, not a guilt-ridden one! Exercise isn’t a punishment!
Eat well for energy
Eating healthily, with a balanced plate of carbs, protein and healthy fats, plus ensuring you’re eating a rainbow of fruit and veggies (the easiest way to get in all those good vitamins and minerals – as you all know I’m all about the micronutrients and phytochemicals!) is the best way to fuel both your body AND mind. Carbs are essential for seratonin production which is a key hormone in your moods and staying happy! If you’re down, blue, grumpy and hangry and nutrient-deprived you’re less likely to train. Look after your body on the inside too and you’ll be primed for a productive sweat session! I also find that when my nutrition is good, I feel more motivated to take care of myself in other ways too like working out, and I feel so much happier and more energised!
A spoonful of caffeine helps the workout go down…!
Be careful with this! Make sure you always have a glass of water with your caffeine as caffeine is dehydrating. But several studies have shown caffeine can help boost your workout – my understanding is it lowers your perceived rate of exertion, so you don’t feel like you’re working as hard as you are, enabling you to go harder or longer! There’s a reason preworkout is sold to bodybuilders. Personally, I now steer clear of preworkout as I worry about all the other crap in it, but I grab either an espresso, or a black coffee, or even matcha. This especially helps me as I like to train fasted as my body struggles to exercise after food, so I love having a bit of a supercharge to my session!
Playlists are key
Make sure you’re not bored of your workout playlist, and I always like to choose ‘pump’ tracks – tracks that get me excited and want to make me get moving. This can be anything from a super motivating soundtrack to the Spice Girls! Whatever floats your boat. Studies also show that listening to music while training can also lower your perceived rate of exertion, so you don’t feel like you’re working as hard as you are. Go figure!
I hope some of these help get you a bit more motivated to train… you’re not alone if you’re in a bit of a rut and not feeling it, but the important thing is just to brush yourself off, stop beating yourself up and get moving again and you’ll soon feel AMAZING. ❤
I don’t know about you, but I’m an obsessive reader. This applies to fiction for fun, but also non-fiction, articles, blogs…
If I want to learn about something, I trawl through EVERYTHING I can find on the topic. It’s a little bit weird and obsessive, actually…!
And this can be a really useful (if nerdy) habit, especially if you want to learn how to do or achieve something.
I think education and research is so important and it pays to be well informed! But if, for example, your wellness goals are as follows:
Get healthier by exercising 3 times a week and improving my body composition
Meditate or do yoga or something for stress relief.
They’re great goals to have! Doing some reading about nutrition is going to be key, and if you’re new to exercise, you’ll want ideas for what to do, how to train, how to do it safely… and if you want to reduce your stress levels but don’t know how, have always thought meditation and yoga were a bit woo woo until recently til they became in vogue, you’ll want to do some reading around that too… which type of meditation, how do I do it, how do I know if it’s helping, does it really work, where is my nearest yoga class…?
I’m not for a second advocating skipping your due diligence! But there does come a point where people fall into blackholes of reading about their goals instead of getting up off the sofa and doing it!
It’s almost like we think by READING about the best foods to eat, or the BEST ab exercises, that will give us the results.
Sadly, it won’t.
So as I say – be informed, please do! – but know when to stop.
Staring at articles about celebrity diets and training programmes and how to optimise your training and best butt exercises will not make your dream health (and bonus improved body!) goals any better.
Reading about relaxation, fancy breathing and meditation techniques, or fun buzzfeed things on ’10 things you’ll know if you’re a yogi…’ will not make you less stressed.
You need to do the work darlings.
I have fallen into this trap SO MANY TIMES! I spent money on more nutrition programmes and coaches, read EVERYTHING, stalked celebrity height and body weight stats and how they achieved their results, googled everything to do with nutrition and fitness… It wasn’t until I’d fully healed my eating disorders, seen a Harley Street nutritionist, spent some time in therapy and done a whole lot of soul-searching that I stopped obsessing and started focusing on what I was doing.
Stop worrying about the pros, about what is ‘optimal’. Chances are, you’re not an Olympic athlete.
Regular physical activity, and healthy balanced nutrition will get you where you need to be if your goal is fat loss, for example.
People read about bro splits vs full body days vs intermittent fasting… basically, it’s about finding what works for you, and even IF a study says something else is ‘optimal’ if it doesn’t suit you, you won’t stick at it, so it’s not really optimal for you is it?
I hope this makes sense – I just see so many people get either overwhelmed with information, or get sucked into this idea of perfection by reading everything under the sun rather than making small, sustainable changes.
PS. if your goals are fitness and health based, these are the essentials on this site to browse, and from there just get going!
I’m so grateful for some of the interviews I’ve been able to do as part of this Inspire Interview Series – it’s mind-blowing to see the range of different but reeeeeally cooool shizz people can do when they put their minds to it! If you missed any of the previous installments, they’re all collated here on my careers page, so go and check them out!
Today, though, we have an incredibly special Q&A with a phenomenal woman tackling, among other things, proving publishers wrong, writing books, kicking cancer’s ass – in other words, grit and life wisdom from a gorgeous girlboss warrior.
I think ‘career inspo’ style pieces can end up being very glib, trite, very ‘yeah! postivity woo, follow your dreams!’ and I wanted to make sure I’m sharing real stories, real experiences with breadth and depth and struggle as well as glossy corporate fairytale stories, so today I think this much deeper, harder, more real interview than any featured so far in this series is the most important – it’s definitely affected me the most of the pieces so far, and I hope you all find what you need from it too ❤
Alice May Purkiss (author of Life, Lemons & Melons, out later this year)
While already battling depression, Alice was diagnosed with cancer. Ultimately, she kicked its ass and survived it, and continues to document her journey on social media (@Alicemaypurkiss) and she has written some incredible pieces on her experience and given a range of speeches and workshops. She is now a freelance writer, self-published author, trustee for Cancer Charity CoppaFeel and much, much more.
Upon being told by publishers that her social media following wasn’t big enough to publish her memoir about her experience of cancer, depression, and everything in between, Life, Lemons and Melons, Alice successfully crowdfunded the project, sourced illustrators and singlehandedly proved them wrong (click here to pre-order now!) She now works as a freelance writer and has written for Stylist, Metro, Red Online to name a few.
I wanted to share as much as possible of the insights from this awesome human with you, both life lessons, career and writing, because I think we all struggle with figuring out what we’re doing, where we’re going, career stuff… but this is a girl who did it / is doing it while simultaneously frying much, MUCH bigger fish… so without further ado, let’s go over to Alice.
The lesson is this: depression or no depression, PTSD or no PTSD, cancer or no cancer, any emotions you are feeling are valid. You’re feeling them for a reason. We’re all guilty of shutting ourselves down when we’re experiencing emotions that feel more intense than we’re used to. But they are part of the human experience. They are part of what it is that makes us a human. Without sorrow we cannot know joy. Without loss we cannot know gratitude. I know it sounds trite. I know it sounds a bit airy fairy, a bit wishy washy and probably a bit like I’ve read too many books on feelings but we are consistently told to keep our emotions in check because we are scared of how our feelings will be perceived. But if your emotions are on extra loud, for whatever reason, sit with them for a while. Don’t try to get rid of them. Recognise them. Learn from them. – Alice May Purkiss, Life, Lemons & Melons
B: Please could you give a little intro of your journey of the last few years for anyone who doesn’t know you from social media?
A: Writer. Avid eater of food. Northerner on loan to London. Feminist. Had a run in with breast cancer. Trustee for @coppafeelpeople.
B: You’ve been through an incredibly difficult ordeal and what’s been amazing about following your journey is how you’ve managed to transform some of that into a force for good, with your advocating for women checking their breasts for lumps [#CheckYourChebs], writing your book Life, Lemons and Melons, speaking at various events and sharing your experiences… do you have any advice for people struggling with similar (or different but difficult) situations?
A: Life is tough. We are consistently thrown curve balls that keep us on our toes and these can have long lasting and far reaching effects. But there is nearly always some good to be found in the difficult situations, it’s just about switching your view up so you can see it. And it’s important to remember that while every day might not be good, better days will come. Like the sunrise and the sunset, time is constantly moving and the world is always changing, so you won’t feel like you do now forever.
B: This seems like a stupid question as it must change so much, but how has your journey with breast cancer and everything you have to deal with as a consequence changed you and your perspective on life, looking after yourself, and work?
A: I get asked a lot if being diagnosed with breast cancer has changed me – and the honest answer is I really don’t know. Some days I feel like the same person I was before I got sick, other times I feel like a completely different human. I’m a bit of a contradiction really because sometimes it makes me more cautions and other times it makes me more adventurous. I think the best way to describe it is I’m a bit like a twin of myself – with the same basic DNA (minus the cancery cells) but with tweaks to my personality and my outlook. I’ve always been “work to live” rather than “live to work” and this is SO MUCH WORSE now, which is a blessing in many ways but also means I need to give myself a kick up the arse a lot more than I used to. And in terms of looking after myself, this has become completely crucial to me. My body has been battered and bruised and my brain has taken it’s fair share of a battering too – so things like yoga and meditation have taken a bigger priority in my life than ever before.
B: Can you talk a little bit about your process and experience of writing your book Life, Lemons and Melons?
A: The process of writing Life, Lemons and melons has been a pretty long one. I started my “journey” towards publishing this book about 18 months ago, when I secured an agent and he began talking to publishers about my work. They felt that despite the fact that they loved my idea and my writing, I didn’t have a big enough social media following for them to take a punt on me. So I decided to stick it to the man and do it anyway. I launched a Kickstarter and raised £5000 in 30 days last October and since then I have been knee deep in the writing trenches, driven on by nought but my own perseverance and the 176 investors who chose to believe in me with their hard earned dollar. As the book combines a number of difficult topics, it’s taken me quite a lot of time to geth through the chapters, and it’s really important to me that I am looking after myself while writing, so I’ve taken my time and tried not to put too much pressure on myself to get it done. I also have to be in a very particular place mentally and emotionally to write it so I don’t make my way into a mental nosedive, so I have to be really careful.
B: You moved from a marketing role to going freelance and writing your book – any tips for people looking to do the same?
A: Take your time – don’t rush. The move doesn’t need to happen immediately. Start putting some feelers out for freelance work before you take the plunge and leave your job. And don’t be scared of the peaks and troughs that come with being a freelancer – there are many and they never get easier but where there are troughs there are always peaks.
B: Can you describe a (working/writing) day in the life of Alice Purkiss?
A: God I’m so bad at sticking to a particular schedule so it varies massively from day to day. I still struggle with fatigue so I don’t usually rush out of bed – even if I’m awake (which I usually am) I don’t get up til about 8.30 or 9, then I’ll get my breakfast, have a wash and start my day at 10am, unless there’s anything in particular that needs to be done first thing (usually dealing with social media clients or responding to emails). Then I usually work for a few hours on whatever projects I have on, whether social media management, writing pieces I have been commissioned for, doing the copywriting work that pays the bills or banging out some words for the book. I usually work til around 2 or 3pm. But this can all change if I have an event to go to, or a meeting to attend, or if I want to go for a swim, to yoga or to another exercise class.
B: What has been the most challenging part of going freelance and working for yourself?
A: Being kind to myself when things are difficult financially. Freelancing is so variable – some months I have lots of work coming in, others I don’t. That’s just the way it is for most freelancers but I have a tendency to tell myself I’m not doing enough, not trying hard enough, should be doing more etc etc. So working on treating myself better and learning to relish the downtime has been a big learning curve.
B: You’ve been very open about your struggles with depression before and during your breast cancer, and the importance of mental health which is so inspiring and I’m sure has helped so many people. What would you say to someone who is suffering and needs help or advice?
A: It’s such a hard question because everyone is so different but I think my number one piece of advice is that the sun will come out again. Better days are coming. You will know lightness again. Just hang in there. Kind of reminds me of this section I wrote in the book:
“There is one key thing I have learnt over the last three years. I think this lesson has partially occurred as a result off my extensive CBT and counselling but partly just as a result of living through a trauma and probably as I approach 30 and develop a bit of hindsight on the life that has gone before me. The lesson is this: depression or no depression, PTSD or no PTSD, cancer or no cancer, any emotions you are feeling are valid. You’re feeling them for a reason. We’re all guilty of shutting ourselves down when we’re experiencing emotions that feel more intense than we’re used to. But they are part of the human experience. They are part of what it is that makes us a human. Without sorrow we cannot know joy. Without loss we cannot know gratitude. I know it sounds trite. I know it sounds a bit airy fairy, a bit wishy washy and probably a bit like I’ve read too many books on feelings but we are consistently told to keep our emotions in check because we are scared of how our feelings will be perceived. But if your emotions are on extra loud, for whatever reason, sit with them for a while. Don’t try to get rid of them. Recognise them. Learn from them. Don’t beat yourself up for not reacting the “right” way to something. There is no “right” way. Remind yourself you’re doing the best you can. And if the intense emotions you’re feeling are horrible or scary, find someone to sit with them with you, someone to hold your hand and remind you that everything’s going to be ok. I think every emotion comes to teach us something. We just have to be open to learning.”
B: What does 1) ‘happiness’ and 2) ‘success’ mean to you?
A: 1) Living well and making the most of the life I’ve been given and sharing it with people I love
2) Managing to do the above!
B: What’s your life’s mission in a nutshell?
A: My life’s mission in a nutshell is to do my bit to help stamp out late detection of breast cancer by educating the masses on the signs and symptoms that you should be looking out for when you do your monthly check (that’s why I volunteer with CoppaFeel!). I want people who are struggling with their mental health to know that they are not alone – that they can talk when they are ready and things will get better. I want those people to know that the world is better with them in it. I want to tell stories and go on adventures, to laugh, to be happy and to be healthy for as long as possible
Swimming or running? SWIMMING. Every time.
Breakfast, lunch or dinner? Dinner (or tea as we call it in the North)
Forests or beaches? Beaches near forests?!
Nature or nuture? Nature
Talent or hustle? Talent
Chocolate or cheese? Chocolate
Fave self-care ritual? Yoga
A good book or netflix? Book
Fave quote: “Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences” The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Tea or coffee? Neither. I am a traitor to my Yorkshire kin.
Avocado toast:ridiculous or delicious?
Who would attend your dream dinner party (living or dead, fictional or real!) GOOD ONE. Erm. Margaret Atwood, Bryony Gordon, my Grandma, Zadie Smith, Jon Ronson and Adam Buxton.
The best meal in the world is… My husband’s mum’s roast ham Sunday dinner with all the trimmings. It’s honestly the best ham I’ve ever tasted. But I also bloody love seafood so anything fishy works for me.
If you have any questions or concerns, whether you want to donate or have worries about your own health… have a look at the CoppaFeel website and other relevant charities but please do not hesitate to book a boob check, and speak to a qualified health professional. Other resources include:
When thinking about the next bookclub pick, I just couldn’t narrow it down any further than these two, so I chose both… but narrowly Mom & Me & Mom is my favourite, though it’s a tough call.
Maya Angelou is, to steal an almost-quote from one of her own poems, a PHENOMENAL woman. She wasn’t just a writer (poetry, memoirs, essays), she was a singer, dancer, civil rights activist… but she is perhaps best known for her series of seven autobiographies, of which the above two novels are volumes. The first in the series, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells the story of her life up to the age of around 17 and is the book that brought her international acclaim.
Mom & Me & Mom (2013) is the last in the seven-book-series, focussing, unlike the other volumes, on Angelou’s relationship with her mother, Vivian Baxter, who is an incredibly powerful figure. It revisits many of the same anecdotes she relates in her previous books, with the first part, ‘Mom &Me‘ looking again, like CagedBird, at Angelou’s early years (pre-17), and documents Angelou’s journey from distrust of her mother and initial resentement to acceptance, love and support – epitomised by Angelou switching from her first name for her mother ‘Lady’, to calling her ‘Mom’ after Baxter assists with the birth of Maya’s son Guy. Angelou chronicles the intense and unshakeable bond between them and Baxter’s vitality, along with their mutual support for each other, and tells the story of Baxter helping her navigate through single motherhood, work issues, a failed marriage, and career ups and downs.
Both books touch on Angelou’s sexual abuse as a child, and also deal with race, racism, womanhood, identity, family and travel.
I love Angelou’s writing for its immediacy and authenticity. There’s a frankness, freshness and honesty in everything she writes, and I think her autobiographies are so powerful because although they tell Angelou’s very personal story, for example growing up and living as a black woman in the American South, she connects those experiences to those of all black women, exploring wider themes of racism, sexism, and isolation.
1. Maya says her mother was “irrestible.” What makes her so? How would you describe Vivian Baxter? What did you admire most about her? And what did you not admire?
2. How do you view Vivian’s decision to send her children to live with their father at such a young age? Why did it take her so long, even after the divorce, to call her children back to her?
3. Talk about Maya’s resentment of Vivian…and the halting path toward reconciliation that she followed. The Washington Post reviewer believes this process contains some of the best writing in the book. Do you agree…or not?
4. Discuss Maya’s brother Bailey and his easier path into his mother’s orbit. What can explain his later struggles with drugs?
5. What are some of the episodes in Maya’s life that particularly shocked you?
6. Talk about the society in which Maya grew up and the degree to which it was pervaded with racism. How have we changed…or have we?
7. Reviewers talk about the tone of optimism in this book—the fact that Angelou’s prose lacks bitterness. Do you agree? If so, why do you suppose that is? How has she been able to overcome a resentment that many of us would carry with us for years?
8. Mom and Me and Mom is the seventh book in Maya Angelou’s remarkable autobiographical series, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Have you read any other of the books in this series…or any of her books of poetry? If so, how does this book compare with the others? Can you identify elements of poetic writing in the prose style of this work?
I doubt there’s anyone out there who hasn’t experienced that 3pm ‘must have a snack’ feeling, or who has had [insert meal here] but then absolutely *must* have something sweet to finish the meal… you catch my drift!
What NOT to do
Now I am 100% not for crash diets and depriving yourself. You guys know what I’m about by now. But for optimum health (and the side-effect bonus you get with that – aesthetic goals!), you need to get back in touch with your body: more specifically, learn to better read your hunger signals.
I am not about tracking macros or calories (I get that some people, especially competitors, find this okay, but personally as an ex-ED sufferer, it’s not good for me, and also for many people I’d argue it takes the joy out of food – but you do you!)
I am not about prescribing set cookie-cutter advice, e.g. “everyone should intermittent fast!”, “everyone should go keto!”, “everyone should go paleo!”
Simply following the 80/20, or 90/10 % rule. The majority? Foods which are as WHOLE and natural as possible (i.e. not processed, in their natural form – this way their chemical compounds and nutritional value is optimal for utilisation by the body, in general terms), and for that other cheeky 20%-10%? Don’t worry, be happy. Have a little bit of what you fancy. My 10-20% tends to be pizza, champagne, and occassionally a chocolate brownie (maybe with some rum, salted caramel or hazelnut icecream involved!)
Learn the ideal portion sizes
Generally speaking, with a little give and take because, y’know… life (!), each of your 3 daily meals should consist of:
1 fistful of complex carbs (think grains – these are great! But white potato, sweet potato, brown rice are all absolutely fine!)
1 palm-size of lean protein (chicken, red meat [ideally only once a week!], tuna, prawns, cod, turkey, you name it!)
1 thumb size of healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, fish oils like salmon)
This is your baseline. It’s not something to panic over, but it is a guideline that if you follow broadly, will help you ditch diets and embrace not only healthier living, but a better, more energised body (and over time, if you are carrying excess body fat, if you stick to this and move a moderate amount, you’ll lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way!)
What kind of hunger am I feeling? Is it in my stomach? That kind of growling, urgent, physical feeling, that’s a bodily sensation and not attached to the idea of a specific food? Then yes, I should probably eat something.
Am I craving something specific i.e. ‘ooh I really fancy a biscuit!’? Was I hungry before I saw that office email about cake in the kitchen? Am I assuming I’m hungry because it’s a particular time of day (e.g. 3pm, so therefore I just assume I’m having an afternoon slump despite the lack of any physical symptoms)? Is there ANY SENSATION AT ALL in my stomach? No? It sounds like this is mental or emotional hunger. I don’t really need to eat.
If you’re still not sure, ask yourself this:
Would I just as willingly eat an apple/some carrot sticks/ some celery?
If you’re physically hungry, these things will sound fine! If you’re emotionally hungry, chances are you only want a bit of cake, or something “nice”…
In these instances, I think it’s beneficial to avoid snacking. To be clear: there is NOTHING WRONG with eating when you’re TRULY HUNGRY. But one step to optimising our nutrition is avoiding those emotional hunger snacks which are usually sugar-laden-processed-not-that-great-for-us-pick-me-ups.
Is there an alternative to never eating when I’m emotionally hungry?
Of course! You can do whatever you want! Sometimes, if you really fancy it and someone’s brought a rainbow Hummingbird Cake into the office, as long as you don’t do it on a weekly basis, just eat it and enjoy! Life’s too short. This isn’t about a ‘punishing’ or restrictive regime. This is about sustainable solutions and tuning in with your body.
If you’re really struggling mentally and want to snack, replace it. Some great options are:
Carrot sticks and hummus
Celery and almond butter
2 ryvita with cream cheese & a handful of cherry tomatoes
A handful of nuts, a handful of sunflower/pumpkin seeds & a handful of blueberries sprinkled with cinnamon
A bio-live yoghurt with added raspberries, blueberries or goji berries
So you’re feeling emotionally hungry… how do you ‘overcome’ the craving?
I like to go through the questions above as a mental checklist. Be really honest with yourself. It’s totally okay if to begin with you struggle to recognise if it’s physical or emotional hungry – after years of eating disorders and alcohol binges it took me years to get back in touch with my body and properly re-set!
Think about the food you’re craving – cheesecake, or whatever it may be. Decide now if this is when you want to use your 20% treats. IT IS NO BAD THING IF YOU DO! THERE IS NO GUILT HERE! Just be honest with yourself if now is truly a mindful treat time, or if you’d rather have a glass of wine, or pizza, or brownie with friends at the weekend, or tomorrow on a solo lunch break with your favourite magazine when you can enjoy it.
If it’s mindful treat time, ENJOY IT. Eat it mindfully. Savour it. Don’t scarf it down at your desk and barely notice it!
However, if you decide this ISN’T one of those 20% treat times and you don’t actually need it… If you are truly hungry, try swapping it for one of the ideas above, or your own healthier upgrade. Imagine how you’ll feel after eating something that nourishes your body rather than spiking your blood sugar.
If it’s emotional hunger, sit with the feeling for a moment. Identify how you’re recognising it. Identify your reasons. Either say it aloud if you can, or if you share an office and don’t want to sound mad (!), write it down.
“I’m emotionally/mentally hungry because I’m bored”
“I’m emotionally/mentally hungry because I’m stressed”
“I’m emotionally/mentally hungry because I’ve gotten into the habit of always wanting chocolate with my coffee at 3pm”
“I’m emotionally/mentally hungry because someone just emailed that there’s birthday cake in the kitchen and now I just have to go and see what type it is…!”
“I’m emotionally/mentally hungry because I don’t want to be hungry later!” (my fave excuse!)
Once you’ve identified your why, sit with the feeling. Breathe deeply into your belly. Try and wait for the impulse to pass. (This gets easier and happens more quickly with time! I literally rarely have to exert willpower here now, it’s just a habit!)
If you’re still struggling, think about the healthy alternatives listed. Think about their positive impact on the body – maybe the antioxidants in the blueberries which help fight free radicals, reducing your likelihood of getting cancer. And think about how good they taste with cinnamon. Focus on how great healthy food can taste – and eat a half snack serving, as we’re trying to train ourselves out of eating for the sake of it, but it’s totally cool if the reflex takes a while to beat.
I hope some of these tips help you re-tune your brain into your body… we’ve been so conditioned by the media and our pesky emotions that often, especially in our culture, food becomes something we scoff mindlessly for the hell of it, and we’re usually not chowing down on kale…!
The key is to address our habits by recognising them, and what drives them, to ensure we don’t obssess and still treat ourselves (remember – 80/20 or 90/10%!) and to adapt accordingly.
No-one is perfect. Literally, nobody. But we can all feel our best if we take care of ourselves, and this is a maybe controversial tool, but a super helpful one to get to a point where we can eat what we want, when we want because we’re eating intuitively – in tune with our bodies’ actual needs, rather than steered by media messaging and emotional binge-prompts.
*As ever, the usual disclaimer applies – I’m not a nutritionist, please remember there’s no one-size-fits-all and consult a medical health professional and ACTUAL nutritionist for personalised, tailored advice. Do your own research, don’t mindlessly believe cowboys (or girls in my case haha!) on the internet – anyone with a computer can blither on about something… be safe and street-smart, and don’t trust stuff without question – even best-intentioned pieces (like this one!) can make mistakes. But I am essentially adapting advice I’ve received from my nutritionist, with my own spin on what works in my experience, and I am studying a Professional Diploma in Nutritional Therapy, so while I won’t become a nutritionist, I’ll have a qualification enabling me to better advise in a more official capacity.*
Welcome back to another Inspire Interview – I’ve loved doing this series soooo much because I love hearing peoples’ stories and insights into the things that really matter – finding things you love doing, drive to work hard, career, balancing health and a personal life and everything between! If you missed the previous installments, you can catch up with the full list here!
Today we have a very special ‘episode’ – and I say episode because rather than the usual written piece because I have something new for you all…!
Being on camera is not in my comfort zone really at all, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to speak with the incredible Mel Wellsand this super driven woman is all about pushing past your comfort zone! You may know her face from Hollyoaks, or you may know her from her brilliant bestselling book The Goddess Revolutionand inspiring instagram feed… Mel has also been featured in Forbes Under 30 and was voted No. 1 Young Female Entrepreneur to Watch in the UK by About Time Magazine.
Mel does truly amazing work empowering women to fight back against diet culture and regain their happiness and health – her brand new book Hungry For More encapsulates everything this Inspire Interview Series has been about so settle down with a cup of tea and prepare to be inspired…
Back in London having lived in Bali, and now with a second book to her name (pre-order Hungry For More now to win free access to a special Masterclass with Mel and a chance to be entered to win one of her retreats in Bali – see her website for details!), Mel and I talked about all the BIG stuff – finding your ‘calling’, how food and your habits and relationship around it are reflective of the wider picture of your life and whether or not you’re fulfiled.
Press play on the video now to hear Mel’s story and epic insights into work, life, balance, spirituality, healing eating disorders, figuring out what you want from life, meditation and tonnes more! Plus the usual quick-fire round at the very end of course!
The interview: Mel Wells on being Hungry for More!
Thanks so much for chatting with me Mel! We look forward to reading your book when it’s out on July 10th!
Today’s Q&A is a pretty cool one because I think it manages to COMPLETELY bust some myths about social media influencers not being smart, and ‘smart’ or academic people not being able to be social media savvy or sporty… plus I found out we shared some work icons which is always fun… so over to the lovely Flora Beverley! (Links to all of her social media channels are down below).
Do what you love ALWAYS, but be sensible. Money is needed to survive, but if your way of money stops you doing what you love, try doing something else. No experience is a wasted experience – I worked in advertising, catering, in a museum, events and social media. All of them have helped me get to where I am today!
– Flora Beverley, Science PR & Media at Royal College of Obstetricians, Fitness Blogger & Social Media Influencer
B: So people may recognise you from your instagram and know you as a fitness blogger – but please can you tell us a bit about your ‘day job’, it sounds like an amazing career that a lot of people don’t even know is out there!
F: I work in Science media at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, so I act as the go-between between scientists and the press. It’s our job to make sure journalists understand the science behind a health story and translate science stories into lay english. We also make sure important research makes its way to the press without being misinterpreted! I also co-run the college’s twitter account so we always have a good online presence.
B: How did you get into science media and discover this was what you wanted to do?
F: I always knew I wanted to do something sciencey that wasn’t just research, as I always loved the arts too. Research is a little dry for me, but science media means I’m always reading the latest research but get to use my creative writing skills to translate it into English. I also obviously love social media, so it’s nice to be able to use my hard-earned social media expertise to advise organisations where social media is not the primary focus but where it is still useful to have. I knew this was the sort of job I wanted from second year at uni, but I didn’t know it actually existed until I applied to and got my first job in science comms!
B: Is it ever a struggle to juggle a full time job with your blogging?
F: I absolutely did over the first 8 months or so. That’s why recently I’ve cut down to 25h a week rather than 35h. I found myself working 8am – 10pm 7 days a week without much rest, which burned me out pretty fast. You can love your jobs all you like, but everyone needs rest! At 25h a week I am able to do 1.5 days extra of blogging. I think I actually work harder on 25h per week and am more productive in both jobs, so it’s definitely a better balance of both. I now also schedule in social media-free days every other week or so, otherwise I’d go mad! It’s hard to take time off when you’re both self-employed and employed by an organisation. [You can also read Flora’s blog post here about staying healthy while working an office job].
B: Do you have any advice for people looking to work in a similar field?
F: I’ve actually written about it on my blog a little. It’s all about showing that you’re interested in science communications and know why it’s so important. A science degree and writing experience are both useful, as a lot of it is translating science jargon to plain English.
B: Can you describe a (working) day in the life of Flora Beverley?!
F: I actually have an entire YouTube video on this! It’s my latest vid 🙂 Tends to go: 7am workout, 8:30am work, 4:30pm work ends, 5:30pm event of some variety. 10pm bed time!
B: What has been the most challenging part of getting to where you are now?
F: Keeping on the track of what I think is best for me. There is a lot of ‘advice’ coming from all directions – parents, friends, my agency – but I’ve found that sticking true to what I enjoy, more than anything, has kept me pretty happy!
B: What are your career goals for the next five years?
Whilst I think that doing pretty much everything I’ve enjoyed over the last few years has been wonderful, as I grow in all the fields I’m in, I think there’ll come a point when I have to decide what I want to specialise in. I’ve always been the sort of person who has managed to fit in literally everything I want to do, but I think there’s a point people reach where it’s in their best interest to cut loose various things so instead of doing 10 things not very well, you choose your favourite 3 and do them 110%. That’ll be a really difficult decision for me, but also I don’t think anything is final, and if it doesn’t work out I can always change my mind. That’s the only thing stopping me panic!
B: Any big misconceptions about the work you do, either your blogging and influencer work or your day job?
F: It’s funny actually – when I speak to older people, they seem way more interested in my work in science media. I think they think that I can’t be that clever if I’m a blogger. When I speak to my generation, everyone’s super interested in the work I do as a blogger, and saying I also work in science media seems to turn them off, like working 2 jobsmeans that I’m not good enough to work full time in social media. Maybe not misconceptions, but definitely preconceptions!
B: You’re always super active and super healthy – do you feel like this positively impacts your work?
F: Yes absolutely – when I lapse a little on the health or exercise front I feel my concentration and mood slipping. Exercise keeps me energetic and good food keeps me alert and happy.
B: What advice would you give to someone trying to figure out what they want to do?
F: Do what you love ALWAYS, but be sensible. Money is needed to survive, but if your way of money stops you doing what you love, try doing something else. No experience is a wasted experience – I worked in advertising, catering, in a museum, events and social media. All of them have helped me get to where I am today!
B: Have you made any mistakes along the way to where you are today and what have you learned from them, if so?
For sure, but I look forward to making plenty of mistakes in the future too. I think I’ve learned to always stay true to myself – even if something ends up being a mistake, if you know you did it for the right reasons, that’s not a problem!
B: What does ‘success’ mean to you?
F: Happiness and family. But I think the meaning can change over time. I think I’m successful now, but if I was in the same position in 8 years time, I would think of myself as unsuccessful – it’s a moving target! B: Best and worst career advice you’ve ever been given?
F: Best: Don’t listen to what others want you to do. You do you. (I’m yet to fully live by this, but I’m moving in the right direction!)
Worst: Get a job that pays well. I’ve got a job that pays, but it hardly pays WELL comparatively. But I love it and I’m happy, and it’s enough for me to live. That’s all you need!
B: Do you have a role model or mentor you look to for career inspiration?
F: My friend had a job that she loved until a staffing change made her miserable. Instead of grinning and bearing it, she got up and left. I like to think that if I stopped enjoying what I did, I’d have the confidence to quit and move on. My boyfriend is a huge inspiration – he’s gone through 3 pretty drastic career changes (drummer to gardener to academic) and has never been happier. I think for me these two people are role models for me as I would never want to be someone stuck doing something I hate and hating on others for enjoying themselves.
B: Who are your fave work and fitness icons?
F: Emma Watson and some journalists, such as Stevie Martin, Dolly Alderton, Pandora Sykes etc – all role models in general! Fitness icons – anyone who really has a passion and chases it. I like people who do a lot of things! Oenone Forbat, Gemita Samarra and Sophie Hellyer spring to mind!
B: Can you describe your weekly fitness routine? I just have to ask, because your abs though…!!!!
F: Also wrote a blog post on this! I tend to box, run and do HIIT around 5h a week. I don’t overdo it! ***Quickfire Round***
Fave workout? Boxing! Or horse riding, if you count that 🙂
Nut butter or avocado? Avo Brian Cox or Richard Attenborough? Brian Cox – unless you mean David Attenborough, in which case he always wins. I did mean David Attenborough haha sorry, I think I had the Santa Claus actor on the brain as I only just learned they were related…?! Fail!
Massage or facial? Massage
Nature or nurture? Nurture
Talent or hustle? Hustle
Chocolate or cheese? Chocolate
You’re doing cardio: podcast or playlist? Podcast
Chick flick or thriller? Thriller
Best brunch spot in London? The lighterman It’s your last EVER meal of your life. What do you order/make? Pad Thai, G&T and cinnamon oatmeal cookies to finish
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!