Eat Your Greens!

Green vegetables are underrated. 

Maybe it stems from childhood and the fact that we weren’t allowed to leave the table until we’d eaten our greens. Perhaps it’s the stigma that greens are something you ought to eat but they are tasteless & boring so it’s a chore - I'd rather have sweet potato fries as my daily veg please! Or actually, if just boiled or cooked in the wrong way, green veg can be a bit limp and slimy. In a nutshell - people don’t really like greens.

But green vegetables are actually a superfood! Put the acai berries aside - eating leafy greens every day is possibly the thing you are missing if you are dealing with a lousy immune system, struggling with weight loss or feel like you just haven’t got the glow.

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SCIENCE

There is a reason why as children our parents tried to force greens on us - the nutrients are key to healthy growth but they are just as important when we are adults! Greens are an excellent source of fibre plus many vitamins & minerals. If you do not eat greens then you may be missing some of these micronutrients which are essential for many major functions in the body such as:

  • Growth, development and maintenance
  • Releasing energy from food
  • Protecting & supporting our immune system as antioxidants
  • Regulating the metabolism
  • Providing structure to body tissue (bones/teeth/blood cells etc)
  • Helping to support the body carry out its functions including those of the brain & muscles

…..the list does go on!

HOW 

Greens are inexpensive and easy to eat - some you don’t need to cook to consume but if you do then it’s just a case of boiling quickly (heat for too long and they start to lose their nutrients), steaming or microwaving. However, nowadays more and more it seems it’s easier to reach for fast, ready made food that is all protein, fat or grains, with no source of any vegetables or salad - let alone greens which are perhaps one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat.

Here are ways to make them interesting & include them in your diet:

  • BREAKFAST: Raw spinach leaves dressed with olive oil & balsamic vinegar with your eggs
  • LUNCH: Raw kale rubbed with olive oil to soften, add to rocket & raw baby spinach, pine nuts plus a source of protein for a delicious salad
  • DINNER: Spiralize courgette into courgetti, fry in coconut oil and eat in place of spaghetti with your bolognese
  • SNACK: Stir fry green veg (sugar snaps/pak choi/purple sprouting/kale etc) with chilli & garlic in coconut oil and a little soy sauce

BENEFITS

If you aren’t eating greens, this is perhaps one of the main things you can do to benefit your health right now. I try to eat greens with every meal Monday-Friday at least and I  cannot remember the last time I was ill with flu or a bad cold (touch wood!). They are also low in calories, so if you’re trying to lose weight they can be a great way to fill up. Check people like Jamie Oliver’s websites for exciting recipes (his sprouts & bacon dish is one of my favs!) and get creative! Change your view of greens - increase them in your daily diet and reap the rewards!

Walking: why we should all be doing MORE!

ibiza hike
ibiza hike

I'm in Ibiza for a few days with my husband for our 1 year anniversary. We got married here last year and it's very special to us! We're in the north of the island sunbathing, reading, chilling out, swimming, doing yoga and hiking...

Hiking is basically a long walk...maybe in slightly wilder surroundings and on more challenging gradients than regular walking, but essentially it's the same slow-ish paced consistent movement.

Walking & Overall Health

Walking is a low-impact, full body exercise, free transport service which almost anyone can do at any time with no equipment! It gets the 'blood pumping' which can clear heads and make you feel more energetic and alert. It also gets the muscles working which makes you feel less stiff & stops muscles getting tight. It uses energy - burning calories & increasing fitness. Walking is great for the mind, it's therapeutic, gives you a break and gives you time to think. Plus you can easily build it into your routine.

Walking & Weight-Loss

I used to think I was an active person because I hammered the gym every morning before work for an hour, but at that time I was working in an office and I would then sit down all day at my desk. I couldn't understand why I couldn't lose weight. It was only when I starting to simply move more in my day that I saw changes.

Your body uses energy for all functions whether conscious or unconscious: the beating of your heart, sleeping, thinking, digesting food, working, shopping, driving, walking, running, lifting weights etc. This is why those very general guidelines say that women need 2,000 calories a day and men 2,500 calories a day just to live. Energy expenditure all adds up but even though I was hammering the gym, my otherwise sedentary lifestyle meant I wasn't getting the results I wanted. So I started to make sure I was walking 10,000 steps a day on top of my workouts and saw so many positive benefits in weight-loss and my energy and fitness levels.

10,000 Steps 

How much is this?

A recent study found that the average person only manages about 5,000 steps a day, so whilst 10,000 is probably more than you think, the good news is once you start you'll feel better and find it easier to find ways to get them in.

I measure my steps using the health app on my iPhone (it's the app with a red heart on it) - have a look now as it will have logged your steps without you knowing for however long you have had your phone! A fit bit can obviously help too and make you more conscious of it as it's on your wrist.

These are all approximate as everyone is different, but some average guidelines:

  • 1 mile = 2,000 steps
  • 5 miles = 10,000 steps
  • 30 min walk = 4,000 steps

Don't forget that ALL steps count, so try not to see this as a huge task.

Ways to Walk 

Whatever your preferred fitness activity, increasing your steps per day on top of it can help your overall health and fitness.

Ways to incorporate walking into your day:

  • Walk to and from work or get off bus/tube/train a few stops early
  • Go for a walk with a friend to catch up instead of a drink
  • Take the stairs (that old chestnut...)
  • Walk on your lunch break
  • Have a walking meeting in a park or take a call on hands free
  • Walk to a colleague's desk to speak to them rather than email, even if on another floor...or another building!
  • Walk around a new city to explore
  • Hike on holiday!

Modern Living: Ways to help calm a stressed out mind!

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If you're anything like me, my mind is usually charging around at full pace every day on various things I've got going on. It's easy to feel quickly overwhelmed! I've been meditating for a couple of years now using the app Buddify (which is amazing by the way especially if you're new to it - lots of long & short meditations for different situations). Taking a short break in your day, even 5 mins to clear your head can be really helpful. It doesn't have to be a daily thing or a huge deal. I'm not a regular meditator - just when I feel I need it - there's no right or wrong practice! I often use a sleep meditation from Buddify when going to bed if my mind is not switching off and I'm usually asleep in 5 mins.

Another way I like to calm my mind is by finding an amazing view to stare at. Of course holidays are our way of getting away from it all and we can usually stare at a beautiful vista for days - but what about when you're not on holiday? One of my favourite places in London to go is Primrose Hill. The view of London from the top of the hill puts things in perspective and always gives me some headspace. The other place I love to go is Wapping down by the River Thames where I used to live - the view of Tower Bridge and up river is so cool - but really any view along the river is amazing.

There's lots of research on the fact that water is calming for the mind - not that we necessarily need it as we all know staring out to sea can be very therapeutic! There's a marine biologist in the US who has written a book called 'a blue mind' which looks at ancient rituals and believes human brains are hardwired to react positively to water - any water!

So this means that if you're feeling stressed out, seek a view with some water, go swimming, go paddle boarding or even take a shower or a bath!

Building rituals which your mind can recognise as soothing I've found can really help in switching off for bit which is so helpful in this fast paced lifestyle we lead!

Mobility - how important is it?

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🙆 M O B I L I T Y 🙆

In the past 3 months, I've made 2 changes: 1) I've been dedicating about 10 mins before every workout to mobility training and 2) I've been doing yoga twice a week for approx. 45 mins/1 hr (sometimes in my house/garden from a youtube video - free & easy!).

What a difference it has made! Stretching used to never really be part of my workout apart from a bit of foam rolling on a rest day and being seated at a desk for so long leads to tight hip flexors, lazy glutes & rounded shoulders. I had major issues squatting properly, gained a serious shoulder injury lifting with bad upper body posture and had a constant niggle round my right shoulder blade which sometimes turned into a sharp pain when doing particular movements.

I've really started to reap the rewards of all this mobility work, safely lifting heavier than before, my squats are much deeper than they used to be and my core is the strongest it's ever been. My posture has hugely improved and I'm burning more fat at rest from stronger muscle.

So if you choose to start incorporating mobility into your workouts, try not to see this as a chore but a complementary part of whatever other activity you are doing! Here's a typical mobility warm up I use:

Lower body:

- 3 points contact on the floor front/centre/back - 10 reps (straight legs/soft knees - stretch out back of legs) - Walk out - 5 reps - High plank - right foot to right hand & stretch right arm behind you (same for left) - Cossack squat - 5 reps each leg - Squat hold - 15 secs x 3 (deepen every 5 secs if you can) I then activate glutes using a band which also raises heart rate for warming up - usually lateral walks, kickbacks, clams etc

Upper body- broomstick drills (there are loads of others you can do but here's an example): - Hold the stick in front of you resting on your thighs with a wide grip, keeping arms straight roll it up above your head, round and down your back as far as it can go - but don't arch and don't force x 10 - your range should increase by the tenth rep - Keeping arms straight roll stick to the left and up behind your head, same on the right side x 10