Festival Yoga Tips

I recently got back from Glastonbury! It was an epic weekend but the hard ground and long periods of standing up seriously hurt my back. Next year an air mattress and fold away chair will be top priorities on my packing list.

My friend and I did manage to grab a little indulgence while we patiently waited for Kasabian to take the stage with a mini yoga session. Here are a few yoga tips that you can trying you’re heading off to Reading, Leeds or any of the other big festivals this summer…

1. Knees to chest

Stretch out your lower back (a must if you’ve carried a heavy rucksack). Simply lie on your back and hug your knees into your chest. Slide your hands into the creases at the backs of your knees and relax your heels towards your sit bones.

2. Skydiver’s pose

For an all around body stretch, roll onto your tummy and rest your head on stacked hands, with your elbows wide. Let your legs open out behind you in a V shape with your toes out wider than your heels.

3. The twist…

You don’t have to find a rock ‘n’ roll tent to do this move…Lay down on your back with your arm out at shoulder height, knees bent, feet on the floor. As you exhale, let your knees twist to the right and your head to the left, keeping your left shoulder heavy on the floor. Focus on turning your belly and ribs more to the left to get a cleansing and detoxifying benefits of the pose happening for you.

Have you been to a festival recently? Share you tips for stretching at a festival with me here. (General festival tips are welcome too!)

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Health: Brain Food

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For most of us life is hectic but a stressful day at work doesn’t have to be so stressful. When work life gets a little crazy try to balance it with healthy food!

Food can be powerful for both your brain and your body but certain foods can have more of an impact on your brain than others…and her are a few of them:

Oily Fish

In order to boost concentration, the nerve fibres that send messages between brain cells need to be insulated by a fatty substance called myelin. Essential fatty acids such as omega-3, found in oily fish, help build myelin, so try making mackerel on toast in the morning or taking a can of tuna into work to eat as a snack or, alternatively, take fish oil supplements such as cod liver oil every morning.

Blueberries

Blueberries have been labelled a super-food due to their high levels of polyphenols, anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory compounds that positively impact the nervous system and brain function, helping to combat memory loss and enhance your mood. Not only will your colleagues appreciate a happier you, but your day will also be infinitely more productive.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes have been proven to have a positive long-term effect on the brain, so by eating a portion each day you are investing in your health. Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene which prevents free radicals from damaging brain cells. By avoiding cell damage, your attention span, memory and problem solving skills will be preserved and enhanced.

Goji Berries

These berries are powerful antioxidants that are rich in carotenoids, including beta-carotene, which produces vitamin A; a vitamin known for its ability to prevent an energy deficiency in the body. In the long-term the polyphenolic compounds in Goji berries have been proven to prevent depression. Try swapping your usual chocolate bar for dried Goji berries for an effective pick me up in-between meetings.

Green tea

Many of us are guilty of relying too heavily on coffee to get us through the day – especially those days when you have meeting, after meeting, after meeting. Although coffee stimulates the mind and improves concentration, it is common to experience short bursts of energy followed by a sharp plunge. For those wanting to kick the coffee habit, green tea is a great alternative; it contains less caffeine than coffee but will still act as a mild stimulant whilst simultaneously improving your health due to the amount of antioxidants and flavonoids it contains. Not only can it hinder the development of tumour-spreading blood vessels but it also helps offset the effects of alcohol by repairing liver damage, making it a great hangover remedy. But, most importantly, remember to drink lots of water – carry a water bottle with you at all times to ensure you are constantly hydrated.

Recipe: Spiced vegetable soup with chicken and coconut soup

Spiced vegetable soup with chicken and coconut soup

Baby it is still cold outside so it is time for a little winter warmer…

Ingredients:

  • 2tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3cm granted ginger
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 6 spring onions
  • 1 red pepper, finely sliced
  • 4 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 300ml coconut milk
  • 750ml vegetable stock
  • 500g cooked chicken
  • Lime juice
  • Fish sauce
  • Fresh coriander
  • 8 sugar snap peas
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Put the oil in a saucepan over a high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli, spring onions. Toss, and then add the peppers, carrots, celery and the coconut milk and stock.
  2. Stir in the tomato purée paste and add the chicken then pop the lid on and simmer for a few minutes. Season to taste with lime juice, fish sauce and the chopped coriander.
  3. Before you serve, throw in the sugar snap peas and spring onions. Serve the soup in bowls with chilli oil.

10 Good Food Vows

Many of us promise to keep up better eating habits at the beginning of each week but by Friday (ok, Tuesday) this goes out of the window. The best thing to do is to consider the benefits of good nutrition and try to stick to this as a whole.

Here’s a top ten of what to stick to:

  1. Fill up on plenty of wholesome, fresh food to fuel up for an active lifestyle
  2. Try to cook meals from scratch as often as possible
  3. If you have a few treats don’t beat yourself up for it
  4. Make a small changes each week to step towards a healthier lifestyle
  5. Savour every mouthful and enjoy it
  6. Eat a balance of all food groups instead of trying to cut  groups out
  7. Avoid eating in front of the TV or at your desk as this can cause overeating
  8. Make an effort to cut back on sugar, caffeine, and alcohol
  9. Be adventurous with cooking – healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring
  10. Always have healthy snacks stashed in your handbag

Food: Healthy Snacks

We all know that feeling – longing for lunchtime. Avoid the siren call of crisps and chocolate with these simple healthy snacks you can make ahead to keep for when the hunger strikes.

If you like a spicy and savoury snack when the hunger cravings arrive try these smoked paprika chickpeas instead of crisps. They satisfy your need as they are crunchy but they are still packed with protein. Simply mix chickpeas with ½ tbsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp chilli powder, ¼ teaspoon sea salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Place chickpeas on a baking sheet, bake for 30 minutes and then snack away.

Don’t bother with store bought cereal bars or protein powders as they are often full of sugar. Instead create your own with by mixing desiccated coconut, strawberry whey protein and almond milk in a blender until you get a firm, putty-like substance. Mould the mixture into bar shapes about 2 cm thick, and place in fridge or freezer for 20 minutes until set. And then you’re ready to indulge; for half the price too!

Finally, one of my favourites – chocolate covered kale chips. You can buy these but making your own means that you know exactly what’s in them. They are a delicious combination of crispy and sweet! Just shred fresh curly kale (stems removed) into a large mixing bowl. Blend ½ cup cashews, 5 pitted dates, 1 tsp vanilla extract, ¼ cup raw cacao powder and ¼ teaspoon of sea salt in a blender until smooth. Pour sauce over kale until all leaves are well coated. Place on baking tray and bake for 8-12 minutes or until crisp. Warning: this is too good to share!

Do you have any recipes for tasty but healthy snack? I’d love to read them below if you do.

Recipe: Spinach and mushroom scrambled eggs

The perfect breakfast that serves 2…

Ingredients:
2 Portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 bag fresh spinach, chopped
1tsp olive oil
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper

Method:
Sauté the mushrooms and spinach in the olive oil until tender. Whisk the eggs, egg whites, and salt and pepper together. Add the egg mixture and cook with the occasional stir until completely set. Serve with some lovely brown bread for a delicious breakfast.

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Health: did you know?

1. Not all supplements are the same. Some mainstream brands are made with synthetic ingredients such as petroleum derivatives or hydrogenated sugars! This will affect the way your body breaks down or absorbs the vitamins… So it’s best to invest in natural brands for real results.

2. The best way to give your body a health kick is to fill up on greens. They are packed with vitamins and minerals that your body needs for a natural kick.

3. Bee pollen is highly nutritious and full of vitamins, minerals and protein. However for some people it is a potential allergen so beware. If you have an allergic reaction to bee stings avoid it.

4. Jet lag and inflight conditioning are a sure-fire way to dry out your skin. Combat this with rose oil which helps to quench dry skin and restore a glow.

5. A survey has revealed that 48% of people have experienced a positive change thanks to using technology for exercise. This has also been beneficial to track sleep and diet.

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Workout Motivation

I promise to…

Commit to my gym sessions

Focus on the activities that I enjoy

Always wear flattering gym kit

Keeping going even if I can’t be bothered

Mix things up and try new classes

Always take a water bottle to the gym!

Invite my mates along for healthier workouts

Sign up for a fitness challenge through the Nike+ app and stick to it

Change my trainers as soon as they wear out

Focus on my own goals instead of worrying about those people around me

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The importance of hair conditioner

I’m awful when it comes to conditioning my hair and I never do it on a regular basis. This is mainly because I have oily hair and I find that conditioner just makes my hair greasy. My hairdresser was shocked to discover this the other day when I had my hair cut and recommended that conditioner is necessary as it acts as a soothing balm for tortured hair. According to my hairdresser it tends to work on hair just the way a medicine would work on an injury. My lack of use meant that the signs of damage would surely start showing as time passes. Broken, untended, and damaged would become the way to describe my hair after every shampoo if it were not for the hair conditioning. It is safe to say that I am now using conditioner after every shampoo (Electric London conditioner) – so far no complaints and my hair doesn’t appear greasy the following day – and here are 5 reasons why you should too:

1. Nourishment: Shampooing removes dirt and grime, at the same time it also removes nutrients from scalp and hair. It is therefore imperative that the lost nourishment is replenished immediately. Not doing to would result into weak and easily damageable hair.

2. Protection: Conditioning hair means you are protecting it against breakage and also the climatic and environmental conditions like excessive sunlight which can cause hair to dry and break easily.

3. Moisturising: Conditioner is also an excellent moisturiser. It ensures moisture lost during shampooing is replenished. Well moisturised hair will not break easily. These also remain soft and silky.

4. Strengthens: Strong hair is undoubtedly the most beautiful hair. Strength comes only after the hair is strong and healthy. Healthy hair will always have its own shine and bounce. It will also have its own body, so will not dry or look disheveled at any point of time.

5. Smoothening: Many women and men have problem of hair breakage and hair fall especially when they are combing it. This can be because the there is a tendency to tangle and therefore, whenever a comb passes through it weaker hair tend to break. The conditioner will smooth your hair, so whenever a comb passes through it, it comes out and gives you the look you desire without breaking a single hair.

I love the conditioner that I’m using but I’m keen to hear what you’re using as I get to know conditioners better. What conditioner do you use and would you recommend it?

News Flash: Weight Loss Nation

January is coming to an end but thousands of us made New Year Resolutions to hit the gym or diet. According to stats released today over 29 million people in Britain have vowed to be healthier and lose weight over the last year – that’s 55% of Britain – but how are we going about it? I’ve discovered a few interesting health related facts have been released this week so I thought I’d share a few with you here.

It seems that over the last year we’ve turned to three diets in particular: the Paleo diet, juice cleanse diet and the Mediterranean diet. As a result of our increased interest in diet plans sales of diet food went up by 7% last year.

It probably won’t surprise you that women are more keen to diet than men, as a survey has revealed that just 5% of women say they never think about weight compared to 17% of men.

A strict diet can be difficult to stick to and the results suggest that only 5% of those who diet actually manage to keep the weight off. This is largely due to the appeal of eating out and the busy lifestyles that we live. Perhaps it is more important that we look to maintain steady exercise and follow NHS guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, after all this could help reduce number of deaths that occur each year as a result of obesity (current 2.8 million adults die each year because they are overweight).

Are you surprised by any of the figures above? Did you try and stick to a diet regime last year?