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!
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!
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 😉
I’m not a beauty blogger so this is straying a little out of my natural territory, but I’ve recently developed a bit of a new passion project for skincare, and working out how I can better take care of mine.
I’ve never had massively ‘problem skin’, growing up I was quite lucky… but as I got more active, I did find that parts of my cheeks got much drier… from all the salt in my sweat from working out so much I think (nice!)
It took me a while to perfect my plan of action as this moved me from the normal skin range to more combination skin – not super oily, but very slightly more oil-prone T-zone, and then drier elsewhere. After much research into the routines of my favourite beauty muses, and sampling lots of different products, I’ve arrived at something that’s simple and quick (it has to be, to be sustainable for me!) and seems to get results. Obviously we’re all prone to the odd breakout now and then, especially around that time of the month (!) but I’ve definitely honed my beauty routine and learned to love the skin I’m in much more. Here are the secrets I’ve discovered and stolen from the glitterati!
1. Invest in good skincare products
I love Pretty Athletic, as it’s specifically targeted at athletic women so it’s great for gym-problem-skin. Their cooling cleanser doubles as a facemask which is amazing, and their workout glow hydraulic vitamin tonic just makes you feel super fresh and glow-y.
Whatever your jam for products, I really think spending a little more on quality here helps. Cheap and cheerful makeup wipes are fine in a pinch for when as a one-off you’ve had a few too many cocktails with the girls and don’t have time for a full facial and just have to get your makeup off, but they’re quite harsh and drying on the skin. Ditching the makeup wipes for quality cleanser has made a measureable difference for me.
I personally also really love Rituals skincare products. Their face oil is my secret weapon.
Sounds strange or super-expensive? It doesn’t have to be. I discovered this releatively recently while internet-stalking my long-time girl crush Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex (who seems to have managed to convert me from a republican to an okay-with-the-royals kinda girl! I’m ridiculous haha. I didn’t like her in Suits as she went from being sassy and independent to Mike Ross’s whiney girlfriend, but then all her humanitarian work and now defunct lifestyle blog made me fall IN LOVE. And as much as I want to be all ironic and nonchalant and politically principled, the Royal Wedding was beautiful and so much fun to obsess about! I am a bit ashamed of myself ha!)
I pop 2-3 drops of this rituals face oil on my hands and follow the steps Nichola Joss gives above and it honestly feels AMAZING. I don’t know if scientifically it actually makes any real difference (although massage does stimulate blood flow to the relevant area and allegedly give the benefits listed below, taken from the Elle article!) but it just makes you feel so good… and even if they’re ‘placebo’ cheek bones, half of the battle with skin and beauty generally is feeling confident, in my book!
1. Removes tension and stress from your jawline leaving you with a softer but stronger muscle and the face shape you’re actually meant to have.
2. Improves blood circulation which helps speed up skin cell renewal which in turn means nice, plump new skin.
3. Gives your skin vibrancy and bounce.
4. Moving the muscles in your face helps flush out toxins and pollution that can cause congestion in your skin.
5. Improves your overall facial structure so there’s less need for botox or fillers.
6. Stimulates your lymphatic system, draining fluids that can cause puffiness.
7. Stimulates endorphins! You’re always happier after you’ve done some facial massage.
[Edit – after original blog publishing update – On the theme of this ‘massage’ tip and my new skincare obsession-cum-quest, I discovered (thanks Harper’s Bazaar) and bought a jade roller this week. While I personally don’t believe in the alleged powers of crystals, 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.
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]
I’ve recently tried it – 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!) Either way, it feels bloody good. I bought mine from Spitalfields market for just £18. This chalkboardmag post tells you how to use one, or this greencreator article!]
3. It’s what’s inside that counts
Okay, so it’s totally boring to keep being told to hydrate and drink water for clear skin, but drinking water really is key. Our bodies are made up of crazy amounts of water. Drink lots of it kind of goes without saying, really.
But it’s not just water. Getting the right vitamins and minerals can do wonders for your skin, so make sure you’re aiming to beat the recommended 5 a day. I often strive for (not that I always achieve it!) 4 – 5 different portions of dark greens a day (so maybe spinach, broccoli and watercress on my lunch salad, then kale, rocket and asparagus with dinner!) plus 4-5 more serves of the ‘rainbow’ (red or yellow pepper, apple, Satsuma, pomegranate, carrot, blueberries, raspberries, courgette…) as Rhiannon Lambert, my beaaaautiful Disney Princess-esque Harley Street nutritionist days, NUTRIENTS NOT NUMBERS! (Her skin is flawless, too).
Omega-3 and general healthy fats in salmon and avocado and nuts like almonds are important for that plump, healthy, dewy-skinned effect too.
And finally, when working from the outside in, both of my celeb skin crushes who have the most glowing skin – Emma Watson and Meghan Markle – are yoga fans (Emma Watson is even a certified yoga instructor!). Whether or not this has any direct impact on your skin is of course dubious, I’m not saying it’s magically skin-linked, but it’s great for body, mind and just generally feeling more poised and confident.
4. Keep makeup minimal
This is easier said than done for some people, but I’m a big fan of a natural look (although on actresses who are naturally beautiful I guess it’s easier than for mere mortals like me who don’t have an inbuilt glow and often feel a bit horrible bare-faced!) I do think it’s silly though that we’re made to feel less-than without makeup so it’s good to try to make peace with the skin we’re in and use makeup to enhance things, not cover them.
I try to ONLY WEAR A FULL FACE for a big event or if I need to have a photograph taken (and even then if I can avoid foundation, I will).
Sadly, living in cities, we’re exposed to a tonne of pollution, so a daily cleanse is super important… it’s scary how much gunk can collect just waltzing around London for a day.
Similarly, sunscreen is super important to protect from UV light and not just avoid burning, but avoid prematurely ageing the skin. It’s the number one thing that ages women quickly – and not in a graceful way! To avoid dry, leathery, extra wrinkled skin, it’s best to use SPF (high factor ideally!) and don’t forget to moisturise. I prefer face oil to moisturiser, but it’s personal preference and skin type I think.
Alcohol and cigarettes are also like kryptonite for the skin, so if you can’t quit, make sure you at least cut down as they’re pretty bad for our general health too!
And finally, we think a lot about what we put in our bodies food-wise… but have you ever considered what we put on our skin? Natural makeup and skincare products go a long way to minimising the additive junk we’re pouring through our pores – The Body Shop, Lush and The Honest Company are great places to start collecting ‘cleaner’ products. I didn’t even think about the chemicals in beauty products and the idea of using more organic stuff until I read this interview with Emma Watson. While maybe going 100% organic or whatever isn’t sustainable in affordability/practical terms, we can certainly aim for more!
Recently I’ve become super interested in sustainability and transparency and understanding what I’m putting on my face and on my body. It’s been a fun little mission to see how far I can go with it… Can I create a completely sustainable wardrobe? Can I dress sustainably on the red carpet? Can I put together a hair and makeup look with completely organic products? I needed to figure out if it was achievable or not. You can’t talk the talk if you don’t walk the walk. So that’s what I’ve been discovering over the past couple of years.
So last week in the first of our Inspire Interviews we heard from Kris Pace, the Branding Director of KOBOX. This week, we have a completely different inspiring story for you… and spoiler, she’s a total babe.
Even if I have a tiny positive impact on just one person, I’m happy. Starting each day looking forward to the possibilities that lie ahead is a pretty wonderful feeling, too. – Venetia Falconer, TV Presenter, blogger, podcaster and influencer.
Not only does she create my all time fave podcast – Talking Tastebuds – and have the kind of voice I just want to listen to on a permanent audiobook, she’s a multi-talented(and titled!) career queen absolutely bossing the online content space while making waves and gently pushing positive change without preaching in her treatment of ethical eating and sustainable fashion. And that’s not to mention her impressive TV career and presenting chops… this week’s Q&A is with the smart and super-beautiful Venetia Falconer!
B: One thing I really love about the work you do is this amazing energy you bring to everything you do – I first saw you talk on The Future of Wellness Panel where you presented for YellowKite Books – you’re obviously multi-passionate and multi-talented – can you talk a little bit about your background and how you became a presenter, blogger, vlogger, podcaster and influencer…?!
V: Thank you so much! I worked my way up behind the camera as a producer at MTV learning how to write scripts, film, edit, work with presenters and hone my interview skills. A friend then put me forward for a presenting job at 4Music and I thought I may as well go for it and I got the gig! I spent 18 months hosting their daily live show which was the best training ground. I was then picked up by Tastemade and fell in love with the digital sphere, so launched my YouTube channel and then my podcast, Talking Tastebuds.
B: You’re also vegan, and make it seem so easy! How did you make the transition to fully fledged veganism?
V: I took my sweet time – 5 months to be exact! And that’s always my number one top tip, go easy on yourself and take your time. It’s a big change to your body (I was eating eggs, dairy or meat with every meal), so it was necessary for me to ease my way into it.
B: Do you ever struggle to balance career and wellness? Any top tips for keeping that balance?
V: Of course. I meditate daily and try to take regular digital detoxes. Friends are my favourite remedy and a huge part of my life, so I’ll spend as much time as possible hanging out with those who lift my soul!
B: What are you most proud of in your career so far?
V: My podcast. It’s really exceeded all of my expectations.
B: What made you decide to launch ‘Talking Tastebuds’? (I’m literally addicted!) Any highlights and/or struggles?
V: I’m so pleased to hear that! I was taking some time out in Sri Lanka and the idea literally came to me (another reason why time-off is so important if you’re a creative).
Highlights have been hanging out with my heroes! Going to interview the Happy Pear in their hometown was particularly spectacular. Struggles are trying not to overthink about where to take it next…
B: Can you describe a (working) day in the life of Venetia Falconer?
This is hard as it varies so much day-to-day. I like to wake up at 6am so I have time to meditate and do yoga or a TRX class at Equilibrium, before launching into emails and editing. Then I’m often rushing around London to meetings, events, shoots and interviews.
It’s important to me to have a good work/life balance, so I aim to have my laptop closed by 7pm before enjoying dinner with a friend.
B: Have you made any mistakes along the way to where you are today and what have you learned from them, if so?
V: That you can never take a short-cut. You want to be able to do each and every part of your job as well as your boss can. And not to rush. The journey is the most enjoyable part!
B: You’ve been very open about anxiety and the importance of mental health which is so inspiring and has helped a lot of people. What would you say to someone who is suffering and needs help or advice?
V: You are not alone. Talk to someone. Don’t suffer in silence. And if you’re stuck in an Instagram vortex of self comparison, please switch off your phone.
B: What does ‘success’ mean to you?
V: Even if I have a tiny positive impact on just one person, I’m happy. Starting each day looking forward to the possibilities that lie ahead is a pretty wonderful feeling, too.
B: Best and worst career advice you’ve ever been given?
V: Best: “It’s ok to say no”. Worst: “Being vegan will make you less employable”. SEE YA.
B: What’s your life’s mission in a nutshell?
V: To spread a positive message around mental and physical well-being. And to encourage others not to mess with the animals and the planet… 🙂
It’s your last EVER day of your life. What do you do for the day?
Spend it on the coast surrounded by all of my favourite humans. There would be glorious sunshine and lots of incredible music. We’d dance a lot and have long rambling conversations about life. There would be exceptional coffee and food. I would be wearing an incredible boho-dress, but no shoes (minor but important detail).
And I have to ask your infamous podcast question – please can you share your ‘death row dinner’ (the last ever meal you’re going to have!):
This changes every single day. Currently it’s papaya drenched in fresh lime juice. Shared on a beach with David Attenborough, watching the sunrise.
I literally find Venetia’s podcast the most uplifting thing in the world and it’s so interesting and educational too – if you haven’t already gotten yourself hooked on Talking Tastebuds, get your fix here.
So this week an email landed in my inbox from Rhiannon Lambert (her Rhitrition newsletter has all kinds of interesting nutrition nerdy news and tips so do subscribe!) linking me to an article in The Independent about Meghan Markle’s favourite smoothie. But the article misses out another favourite recipe of Meghan’s that she mentions in an interview with The Chalkboard, so scroll down to unearth this extra little royal gem!
It’s no secret that this gorgeous, smart, soon-to-be-royal was a fan of all things wellness before she took up with the Prince… and all fairytales need to feature magic and potions somewhere, right?!
Rhiannon Lambert, as I’m sure you all already know if you’ve been around this blog/insta a while, is an amazing Harley Street nutritionist (info on her book here) and in the article mentioned above, she breaks down the health benefits of the ingredients to Meghan’s go-to smoothie. The recipe Meghan claimed she uses can also be found in this article in Hello Magazine, but Rhiannon highlights how the protein powder could be improved to a healthier one, so I’m going to share a take on the smoothie that’s more in line with these Harley Street guidelines ❤
With the Royal Wedding coming up, I thought I’d experiment and give you a recipe made with these ingredients that you can blend up in time for the celebrations along with the bonus extra the Independent missed out… who knows, maybe we’ll get Meghan’s glow if we drink enough of it 😉
So as you may have seen a couple of years ago on this blog, I LOVED Kayla Itsines’ bikini body guide… when the app first launched I was SO INTO IT. Like, getting my trophies every week was actually weirdly compulsively motivating… I’d get upset if my phone died and I missed a trophy! I also real results, and fast, without over-training (pictured above).
One of the things it did was help me fall in love with fitness. I moved on, after 25 weeks+ of religious BBG to try weightlifting… then to mixing things up, my own programmes, boxing, kobox, my own combos of classes, HIIT and plyos… I did a little bit of GraceFitUK’s guide… I’ve become a bit of a dabbler. Which is great! Sometimes. But as we’ve discussed, routine is a cornerstone to long-term health because you can’t rely on motivation 24/7. Also, work is my main priority now, and so fitness has to fit around that.
I recommended it to a friend recently and it got me thinking about it again. It was the longest I’ve stuck at doing exactly the same routine…
So basically, I do love the wider fitness scene and I’m so glad BBG launched me headfirst into that, and built up a good fitness foundation for me, or I’d never have survived a kobox session!
I won’t go back to JUST doing BBG. But I am going back to trying to do it as my default base.
This is why.
Community (sounds cheesy but it’s so true!) I miss the sense of community we had, with all the bbg girls checking in on insta every time we did a workout. I made lovely real life friends through the historical meetups [blogged here!] and online community where we actually bonded over a love of Kayla and law – the lovely Tash (who eventually vanished 😦 without a trace) and amazing Alex (now a big blogging deal and serious ab goals, the girl you all know as @theleanlawyer, but I met her as just another lovely, down to earth bbg fan about to travel the world!) Plus the epic online community – some of us have stuck together for ages (oh hey Andrenna Taylor!) Yes other apps and guides promise this kind of community – I’ve dabbled in Tone It Up (OMG you guys, can you believe Kat is pregnant SQUEEEEEE?!!!), Grace Fit Guide… but it just hasn’t stuck or worked at the same level for me. I feel a bit isolated now – I obviously am plugged in to the instagram fitness community, but do my own thing so often that when motivation dips it can be a bit blue and lonely!
Home sweet home suitability! When I stopped using BBG, I had got to the point where I loved the gym, so I needed a Kayla-at-home programme less, but now I’m actually craving home workouts again. The office gym is okay, but I don’t always have tonnes of time, and also it can be weird working out in a raggedy sports bra next to very senior members of the firm who can see you looking disgusting and totally unprofessional and tomato-faced haha! Not when I feel at my best! Also, increasingly, the more time I spend at the office, the more I just want to be home. Even if that means working out in my spare room / dressing room rather than a gym!
Time &ease –While my hours are pretty decent for a trainee lawyer right now (touch wood!), in my next seat this is almost guaranteed to change. I won’t have hours or bundles of energy to gym, there’ll be a lot more finishing work in the early hours, and I like my regime to be sustainable. BBG’s effective 28 minute workouts can be done anywhere with so little equipment.
App upgrades – the app has come along way since I ditched my subscription. It now features BBG stronger, Kayla’s weights and gym-based programme, Kelsey Wells’ PWR weight training programme and also Sjana Elise‘s mind/body yoga-based programme, so you get far more options for progression when you eventually fatigue of 50 weeks straight bbg!)
It’s challenging no matter your fitness level & hits the physique type/goals I now have – I don’t need it to build base fitness anymore like the first time I did it… but that’s okay! (Although it’s PERFECT if that’s what you’re looking for!) If you need to be pushed, though, you can do more reps, add more weight, or go faster, harder… you don’t have to plateau! Also I have, since bbg, built some muscle, eaten more food, got some glutes and abs and quads a lil thicker… now I don’t feel a need to build, I just want to do the fat loss thing… which Kayla’s original Sweat programme kicks butt at! And if I ever DO want to bulk and build again, I have the PWR to do just that with Kelsey or get BBG Stronger with Kayla!
So those are the reasons I’m aiming to incorporate more bbg into my life, and top 5 reasons I’d highly recommend it for you too!
On my recent insta poll a lot of you said you want to hear about my full weekly routine, so here it is (extended to 10 days for better insight)… but first:
Pleeeease note that I am NOT a nutritionist, doctor or dietician and so can’t advise you on your diet. Please don’t copy what I eat because we’re all individual, and advice must come from qualified professionals. This is for inspo and curiosity only! Nothing here is sponsored – all stuff I’m buying or using! I haven’t included guess-timated weights of food or macros as I tend to eat intuitively. I thought about recording them for you but I don’t think it’s helpful as it just encourages people to copy another person’s diet, which as we’ve discussed is not good!
WORKOUT: 4.6k run outdoors (casual pace, not working for speed, distance or time. Find me on Strava!)
Breakfast – some granola from the office (medium serving) and water
The water isn’t a ‘health’ thing, it’s just that I can’t stomach milk, and don’t like alternatives particularly… sometimes I’ll include oat or coconut milk in a shake, but otherwise I just go with water for porridge etc! Sounds weird but I prefer it.
Lunch: plaice with courgette and red rice & quinoa mix
Dinner: tuna and green pesto with wholegrain brown rice, sprinkling of cheese. Cocoa orange nakd bar for dessert.
Confession booth: I had some very stressful family stuff happening in the evening, and so ended up having a vodka and soda water which isn’t great to do when you’re stressed, but I made myself calm down first and then had it as a little treat. Then the Boy brought me home a mini bottle of prosecco (approx. 2 glasses) as a treat as he knew I was upset so I had that too! Oops! Normally this wouldn’t be a ‘confession’ type thing – moderation is fine, but as I’m on a cut it’s a bit of a deviation, and alcohol messes up your body metabolising fat and affects nutrient absorption so it’s not great… but these things happen, hey ho! Tomorrow is another day.
I know I’m working until at least 9pm tonight and I’m not sure how the day will go & can’t count on lunchtime, so I set my alarm for 6.15, 6.20, 6.30am and get myself up and into city for a Kobox class. They’re 50 minutes, pretty ‘HIIT’ in style. Today was a core workout with Jacob and it was AMAZING. [There’s a full review of Kobox here if you’re keen!]
Breakfast: Blueberry Brawler Shake made of blueberries, coconut water, choc vegan protein.
I‘m in a rush to make it from class ending at 9.10 to work for 9.30 so I grab a Kobox shake (any excuse!) which they have ready and waiting for me when class is over… winner! I opt for the ‘Blueberry brawler’ – blueberries, coconut water and usually it’s vanilla protein but I request they swap this for chocolate vegan… try it, it’ll change your life!
Lunch: Hake with broccoli, kale, mango and a small serving of white rice.
I’m spoilt because work has fantastic healthy options at lunch time, so you can eat well and cheaply. In fairness though, this is the kind of thing I’d make at home too and it’s so quick to prep and pop in a lunchbox.
I’m not a big snacker to be honest and on my summer shred my standard position is to eliminate snacking, but today I have to do some pro bono legal work in the evening until approx. 9pm so I know I won’t get dinner until I’m home around 10pm… so I’m keen for something to tide me over!
Dinner: turkey steaks, mashed [white] potato, sugar snap peas and four bean salad with sweetcorn. Cocoa orange nakd bar for desert.
I actually finish work earlier than planned so am home by 21:10, and I decided to cook this kind of ‘bro-food’ ish meal with a twist.
WORKOUT:none. I have coffee with a friend before work, a work thing at lunch and then have to leave for Somerset to see family this evening so there genuinely is no time. Plus I’m super sore from Grace’s lower body workout (see above!) earlier in the week so I’m letting my poor glutes and hamstrings recover!
(I’d tried to have avo on sourdough this morning but Curator’s Coffee Gallery (love this place!) on Margaret Street were out of avo, so after two of their INCREDIBLE black filter coffees with a friend, I had to rush to the city and grab something quick at work that wouldn’t take too long to eat. Don’t like strawberry yoghurt but they were out of raspberry and I’d planned to get a fruit salad but protein balls were just quicker. Next time though!)
Lunch: beef burger in a bun with green salad leaves. Followed by a double espresso over ice with added cold water for ‘dessert’
I’m having lunch with a colleague today who wants to try the office terrace BBQ… and once outside I just can’t opt for a veggie skewer, I want the beef! While I say yes to the bun (bread isn’t the devil, people!) I don’t like sauces or dressings anyway so I skip those, and I don’t have cous-cous salad or potatoes with it as the bread is enough for white carbs, although with hindsight I’d have preferred a naked burger with cous-cous as the bread isn’t great quality. But in general… what do you know, cut friendly and indulgent… you can still do this and not miss out! Pouring a double espresso over ice is a nice way to have an iced coffee without the milk (which I hate anyway!) or the added sugars and syrups which I not only don’t like but are unnecessary for my cut. Bonus! (I add cold water to make it a long drink though… it’s a hot day, don’t want to dehydrate!)
Dinner: Mexican-style spicy chicken, aubergine and mixed peppers, smashed avo & brown rice
Slip-up!: 1 vodka soda water, 1 prosecco
I was determined not to drink alcohol tonight but the weather is SO SUNNY and I don’t have to leave for Somerset for an hour or so after work as we drive down late to avoid traffic (don’t worry I wasn’t driving!) so I cave in and spend an hour on the terrace in the sun with colleagues… and a couple of cheeky drinks.
WORKOUT:just a dog-walk with the family.
We’re in Somerset for the day to see family (approx. 3 hours drive from London) so while I’d brought my kit to go for a run up Glastonbury Tor, I decide to spend all the time we have with family rather than disappear off for a workout. We manage to see The Boy’s mum, my dad, and my mum (all of whom live in different bits of Somerset at least 30 mins apart each) before driving back to London that evening so it’s a lot to fit in!
Breakfast: 2 slices of fruit bread toast
One of the hard things about staying with family is less control over what you eat, especially if you don’t want to make a big deal about a cut. Often I plead not hungry, but obviously you don’t want to not eat at all! So sometimes you gotta roll with it. Don’t stress. S’all good! This is where #balance and a healthy mindset is important… once I’d have obsessed but now although it niggles initially, I shrug it off and enjoy.
Lunch: Tomato, spinach, rocket, watercress and stilton salad with a couple of pieces of hot wholemeal baguette + Slice of apple & cinnamon cake made by my -mama-in-law
Luckily the Glastonbury family lunches like this are always perfect, although I do accept a slice of cake The Boy’s mama has made… because it looks amazing, because their European influence means they’re kind of feeders hehe, but also she’s health conscious too so I know it’s all natural and made with love, so why not? Treats like this are far more worth it than a mindless chocolate binge at 3pm at work because everyone else is doing it! The cake is epic btw.
Dinner: Halloumi-courgette-mint cakes with broccoli & spinach. I steal 4 of The Boy’s skinny fries too, haha!
We decide to have dinner out so before we head back to London we swing by The Red Lion, Babcary for where I waitressed in my youth from pre-A-Levels to university summers (and had many a lock-in party and woke up hungover on the sofa the next day far too often…!) The food is some of the best in the South West pub scene (more actual gastro/restaurant style though – fab quality, menu is better now than it was when I worked there for sure!), but it has lost a bit of it’s charm as it used to be more of a local and now they have the B&B guesthouses and things it feels a bit more like a resort. Beautiful village though and the food is fantastic. Also if you’re having a break but feeling nostalgic for the city, they do serve cocktails and espresso martinis worthy of London 😉
WORKOUT:6km outdoor run in 36 mins (early afternoon) & a gentle walk with The Boy in the evening for some LISS + an at-home 20 minute yoga, stretch & foam roll session.
I was aiming for a faster 5k but it was so hot and the pavements and parks were so busy I had to weave a lot. Also strava (the app I use to track my runs) doesn’t update you through headphones how far you’re running so unless you keep looking it’s easy to overshoot distance (I may go back to Nike run… thoughts?!)
The Boy has his chest day at the gym while I’m still sleeping and gets home craving protein so he generously whips up enough of this for me too. He improvises this as we’ve made it quite a few times so it doesn’t match the book to the letter, but even he is a convert to this recipe book (review here) and as it’s by the Harley Street nutritionist who looks after his fave snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan, I think he’s more willing to listen haha! #celebrityendorsement (you can buy ReNourish here)
Lunch: roast beef, 1 Yorkshire pudding, greens (spinach, dark green cabbage & kale), carrots, parsnips, 3 white roast potatoes (NO GRAVY BECAUSE I HATE IT!)
Dinner: stir fried prawns and mixed veg, dash of soy sauce.
Evening treat: 1 gin & slimline tonic (it’s so sunny and it’s the weekend so I indulge, despite being conscious that I’ve been a bit lax with the alcohol recently. Considering an 8 week alcohol break for the duration of the rest of the cut… but we’ll deal with that on Monday! Tomorrow starts another week…!)
WORKOUT: Grace Fit Uk’s Home Guide (although I do it at the gym as it saves faffing with a tonne of equipment!) full body workout, approx. 38 minutes. Extra abs (ab bikes, leg raises, plank, commandos, Russian twists, weighted sit-ups) + 3 sets of x10 burpees to finish.
Now the weather is nicer I also add on a 30 min walk daily Mon-Fri by not taking the train near me and walking 15 mins in the morning to the tube and 15 mins home at night from an earlier tube stop for extra steps.
Breakfast: 1 slice sourdough, 1/2 smashed avocado, chili flakes, drizzle of olive oil
Lunch: salmon, broccoli, kale, a few chickpeas and sprinkling of mango
WORKOUT: fast (for me!) 5k [treadmill]- I get a PB of 26 mins 31 secs &the daily commute walk I mentioned above – 30 mins total (15 before work, 15 after)
For short distance treadmill runs I try to always run just above my comfort zone (comfortable level for me treadmill wise is approx. 10-10.5k/h). So I start at 12k/h (a mind game I play haha to make the push pace feel easier!) for about 1km and then settle into 11k/h. I increase to 11.5k/h for my power track, then gradually up to 12, then 12.5k/h, 13k/h which is really working me hard…! And I finish the last 1/2km on 13.5k/h and am grateful when I hit 5km distance to be able to press the ‘stop’ button!!!!
Breakfast: same as yesterday – 1 slice sourdough, 1/2 smashed avocado, chili flakes, drizzle of olive oil
Lunch: vegan salad (rocket, quinoa, sweetcorn, spinach & mixed leaves, black olives, kidney beans, grated carrot, red pepper, sprinkle of walnuts and coriander, red pepper, celery, samphire)… plus a pack of Coconut & macadamia protein balls (not vegan – contain whey) by The Protein Ball Co.
Dinner: my fave quick brown rice Bolognese – its basically 5% fat lean beef mince, small serve of brown rice, 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, lots of spinach, dash of Worcestershire sauce & paprika, pink Himalayan rock salt & black pepper (the Worcestershire & spices are the key secret ingredients that make all the difference!) + 1 paleo bar [coconut & macadamia nut] for dessert/snack as I’m weirdly still hungry an hour later and know I have fasted kobox in the morning…
WORKOUT: Kobox – lower body, 50 mins. Plus the extra 30 min LISS commute walk as per yesterday.
I’ve waxed lyrical about Kobox before and above, but just to say – Jacob has now been added to my list of fave instructors haha, think he has the best playlists in the place! Today the workout was fun but felt hard, because my legs were DOMSy from Monday and yesterday’s workouts… it was good to be challenged, but tomorrow is definitely going to be a rest day to let my muscles recover 🙂 As I mentioned before, now it’s spring/summery I walk 15 mins to a further train stop in the morning and 15 mins back in the evening – brisk pace to ensure extra LISS. It’s a nice way to warm up and wind down for the day!
Breakfast: Peanut Uppercut Shake made of chocolate protein (I ask to add an extra scoop today!), almond milk, banana and peanut butter.
Lunch: Mackerel with courgette, yellow peppers, tomato salsa and spinach & mixed leaf salad
By late afternoon I’m STARVING – haven’t had a hunger pang like this in a while! I wonder if it’s because I’ve not had many carbs today looking back at breakfast and lunch, or just because my workouts have been relatively intense… either way, I decide to eat but I need to be quick and don’t have anything prepared, so a bag of popchips it is! Not super nutritious but a fairly low kcal and so theoretically cut friendly option!
Dinner: (White) jacket potato with tuna, stilton and sun-dried tomato (no mayo because I hate it!), spinach & rocket.
I get home and I’m pretty knackered and sore from the last 3 days worth of workouts, and I just want to lie on the sofa so I want the quickest possible meal (and one I can leave out for The Boy to reheat for himself because he’s working much later than me this evening!) I recommend, if you’re a cheese lover, using blue cheese rather than cheddar as you don’t need as large a serving and you actually get more flavour, so you can avoidaccidentally over-indulging on the fat (fat isn’t bad per se but cheese isn’t full of the ‘good fats like salmon, nuts and avo – bear in mind dairy has a lot of benefits though!) I also state ‘white’ potato here for clarity because a few years ago I was obsessed that white potato is bad and sweet potato was fine – NOT SO! My nutritionist explained to me they both have benefits and neither is better or worse, the profiles are just slightly different (sweet potato has more vitamin A for example!)
And that was 10 days of my workouts and meals!
I don’t typically make it a practice to weigh myself but I have been documenting it for the cut, and at the end of the 10 days I am down just over 2lbs, just over 1kg.
My abs are starting to peek back through, especially for ‘morning abs’ which is fun – while aesthetics aren’t the sole or even main reason I train, obviously cutting is designed to tweak your aesthetic and as long as you don’t fixate, it’s fine to play around – just make sure you’re healthy and check in with your doctor and ideally see a nutritionist!
Disclaimer: I started my summer shred recently, inspired by Grace, so please note my nutrition is going to be either a little more on point than it would if I was cruising at maintenance, and/or a little more critical of my ‘treats’ and slip-ups than I normally would be! (For healthy fat loss tips see this post, and feel free to follow and join me on #gettingshreddyforsummer on instagram here!)
While I mention that I have a nutritionist in this post, I say it in a loose sense – I don’t go regularly, I have the occasional check up. This isn’t a meal plan she’s given me or anything!
A note on my daily drinks whether I’m cutting or bulking or maintaining, I don’t drink anything during the day other than tonnes of tap water, lots of peppermint tea, a couple of green teas, 1-2 black coffees a day. I only drink water based drinks really! And then there’s the alcohol which is all openly declared above… *sigh* Always the toughie to resist, especially in nice weather!
What I learned from this week
It’s so interesting for me to write all this down and actually look at my picture for the
week instead of viewing it daily. It makes me realise maybe I’m too dependent on protein balls or nakd bars or similar for a quick fix haha (although they’re an all natural company, I feel like real food where possible is always good rather than faster options!) I can see I eat quite a bit of seafood which is good and I’m happy with, and occasionally get caught off-guard if I’m rushing, so maybe some fresh fruit and nuts saved in the office for emergencies would help… Also you can see my diary commentary increases as the week goes on but then resets on the second Monday when I’ve relaxed over the weekend and feel refreshed and ready for a stronger start – obviously I get busier as the week progresses so I have to think more about my choices, whereas earlier in the week it’s just simple logs of what I eat, no muss no fuss. Just noticed as well that Friday was a bad day with 4 servings of caffeinated coffee, although it’s calorie free broadly as I don’t add anything to it, for health reasons I shouldn’t be stressing my body with so many stimulants so I need to watch the cheeky pre-work coffees and maybe just take a single espresso over ice with extra water for a treat. Plus the alcohol thing… would be best relegated to just 1 or 2 over Saturday and Sunday, not just for cut reasons but for general health reasons as alcohol isn’t fabulous for you in addition to being packed with nutritionally-empty calories! The best alcoholic drink from a cut perspective is something like vodka soda, with soda water being calorie free, vodka being 50kcal (compared with diet tonic which contains approx. 15g carbs per 200ml). While I don’t advocate calorie counting for food (NUTRIENTS NOT NUMBERS woop woop!) it’s important to be aware of it with alcohol as your body basically derives no nutritional benefit from it – genuinely empty calories (not saying have zero unless you want to teetotal – it’s fine to have treats, but I’m just talking about being aware as it’s easy to drink a few days worth of your recommended food intake if you’re not careful!)
So guys, hope that answers the questions! I’ll do a similar post if people find it helpful for when I’m not cutting / #gettingshreddyforsummer so you can see what that’s like.
I’ve been 100% honest above and recorded my alcohol/extra snack slip ups even though I didn’t want any on my shred and certainly not during the week – all to show you that WE ALL DO IT and it’s fine, it won’t totally derail you, just get back on the bandwagon the next day! Also visiting family in Somerset with family meant I didn’t have as much control over food, so this is a good illustration of attempting to stay on a cut and dealing with family meals, but also sometimes saying you know what – eat the damn cake & hang out with family instead of going for a workout, life’s too short.