I set out to take autonomy over my body this year and it’s been one heck of a journey so far. I’m 26 and have been on the pill since my teens. After a decade of various forms of contraception, including the injection and countless different pills being my chosen options, I finally decided it was time to step away from the hormones. At the mere age of 15, I had little knowledge of what a hormone even was. Now, well into my 20s, I came to the realisation that my body was being influenced by the synthetic hormones I was taking. Mood swings, weight gain, acne, and irregular bleeding came part and parcel with the contraceptive injection and the pill in my experience. I deemed my erratic emotional fluctuations the norm, and let’s face it, I knew no different.
In January of this year, I took the plunge into the great unknown and finally called it quits with the contraceptive pill. Miraculously my skin transformed, to the point where I very rarely get a spot these days. I had taken the pill to help with these symptoms, but it turned out to be the cause all along!
It dawned on me that 6 months had passed since I came off the pill and I was yet to have a period. I was aware it can take a few months for your cycle to regulate after weaning off contraception, so there were no major alarm bells going off in my head at this point. I simply left it and hoped my period would arrive soon enough. When it hit 8 months, I thought it may be best I speak to my GP about this issue and thank god I booked that appointment. After a lot of back and forth, I was booked in for an ultrasound to scan my ovaries. Low and behold, I’m in the 1 in 10 women that have PCOS.
With no obvious symptoms, this was news to me. I was familiar with PCOS, with two of my best friends also in the same position, but it came as complete shock that I had been blissfully unaware of this hormonal imbalance in my own body. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine and metabolic disorders which can cause a whole host of symptoms, from irregular periods to acne, excessive hair growth, weight gain and fertility issues.
With this new diagnosis, I left my GP appointment feeling deflated to hear that they recommend I start taking the pill again to regulate my periods. If women go for long stints (nearly a year in my case) with no bleeding the lining of the uterus can become too thick, which puts you at risk of endometrial cancer. This is typically when doctors recommend the pill or a form of hormone called medroxyprogesterone to trigger a withdrawal bleed, or induced period. After the hellish experience I’d had with the pill, and any form of synthetic hormones for that matter, I personally don’t wish to give my body any further synthetic hormones, and I do not wish to go through that rollercoaster of a journey with my skin again.
In a bid to take matters into my own hands, I’ve turned to Hertility to delve a little deeper and get a better picture of what is going on inside my body. The Hormone & Fertility Test is a comprehensive online health assessment which has been revolutionary in the healthtech, fertility, and reproductive health space. Setting out on a mission to deliver first-class women health assistance, without any faff or red tape, Hertility’s award-winning at-home Hormone and Fertility Testing screens for up to 10 hormones and 18 health conditions, to give you an insight into any hormone imbalances, assess your egg reserve, and check for warning signs of infertility. Years of research into reproductive health and hormones has gone into Hertility’s clinically validated diagnostic solution that is generated by ingenious algorithms to provide unique answers to every one. From a PCOS diagnosis, to detecting early menopause, and even fast-tracked access to pelvic ultrasounds, the testing is thorough and the best part is you can test from the comfort of your own home using the blood collection kit, sent straight to your door without a GP referral, with results in as little as 10 days.
From a personal standpoint, I’m so intrigued to see the hormonal panel which lays out clearly my hormonal levels across the board, as this isn’t given at the GP. With this information, I’ll be able to chat to their expert team of specialists to see what the next steps for me will be. The Hertility website is a foundation of knowledge on all matters women’s health, which I’ve been utilising to get up to scratch on all the various terminologies so I’m more clued in on what my results will mean when I receive them. Follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinising hormone, oestradiol and prolactin are all words I have now added to my vocabulary.
My main concern and the question that often keeps me up at night is ‘will I be able to have children’. I have always envisioned my life with kids, so you can imagine the intrusive thoughts that enter your head after nearly a year of not ovulating. Hertility gives you access to fertility advisors to help you navigate fertility services, and to understand treatments without a GP referral.
Hertility also has a plethora of clinical services including next day appointments with leading Private Gynaecologists, Fertility Advisors, Fertility Nutritionists and Fertility Counsellors, plus fast-tracked referrals to vetted clinics offering a pelvic ultrasound scanning and egg-freezing. Appointments are done online, taking all the hassle out of the process.
It’s worth mentioning that although I do suffer with PCOS, you don’t need to be somebody with a hormonal imbalance to utilise Hertility. Whatever stage you’re at, whether you’re still on the pill, you’ve just come off, you’ve never used it, you’re entering perimenopause, or you’re in menopause, Hertility is an invaluable tool that empowers all women with insights into their body.
Bringing cutting edge reproductive science out of the lab and into the hands of every single woman world-wide, Hertility are setting a new standard for female health. Discovering Hertility has thrown me a lifeline when I need it the most. At a time that I felt rather hopeless, this is the service I need to help me learn more about my body and how to navigate PCOS, gaining awareness for my individual needs, and to hopefully get my cycle back. The female body is beautifully intricate, and Hertility is the tool to help me learn more about yourself.
Eeeek I am turning 40 this month! I can’t actually believe I am nearing this pivotal moment in life, but I find myself feeling more excited than anxious about it. I think my 40’s is going to be my decade so I am thrilled to celebrate this milestone with my friends and family. I wanted to celebrate this birthday by doing something special with my son to mark the occasion, a small dinner hosted by my parents in Sussex as well as a big family lunch.
Here is what I am doing to mark the day but also how I am prepping to look and feel my very best ahead of the big day.
I really want to look my best for my birthday so I have decided to take some time to indulge myself with some lovely treatments as I always find when I look my best, I feel my best.
HIFU Skin Treatment – Skin Studio
I love the Skin Studio, it’s the most gorgeous salon in Parsons Green and an extension of Blush and Blow, where I have been a loyal customer for many years. I was so excited to get the chance to try a HIFU Treatment, also known as “lunch-time facelift” – Yes please! The high-intensity focused ultrasound targets deep in the SMAS layer, which immediately contracts to tighten and lift. As the skin’s healing response is triggered the skin naturally lifts and tightens over time with full effects after 12 weeks, although I definitely noticed some immediate benefits. I was a little nervous as HIFU can be a little uncomfortable, but it really wasn’t and I am so excited to see the full results in a few weeks time.
Here are 3 of my favourite party prep treatments I rate for any occasion…
This treatment helps to open your eyes, brighten your face and deliver a naturally fluttery lash line. And the best part, it means you can focus less on your makeup on the day but have the best lashes.
I have always loved art and collecting pieces with my husband has been one of our favourite things to do when we bought our flat together, so the family art session at Arthub London felt like an amazing way to mark my 40th. The Family Art Session was honestly the best way to spend some time together but also create a special piece we can treasure together. It is a completely unique experience with the lovely Adrienne who helps you create a large-scale canvas which is so totally unique to you. She is amazing and getting the little ones involved and encourages you in the best possible way. I cannot wait to frame it and hang it on our walls.
5 of my favourite products for getting ready at home…
As 2023 draws to a close, there are still plenty of exciting launches in the world of wellness, a new Ayurvedic store opening, the matcha brand shaking up your mornings, French skincare we’re obsessed with, new classes from our favourite Pilates studio, frozen meals to keep on nourished and much more! Fuelling your need for wellbeing during the festive season, these launches are rounding off what has been another epic year in the evergrowing landscape of health and wellness.
The Surrey Based Pilates Studio
In the leafy suburb of East Molesey, Bondi Rise is the new Pilates studio that brings a sunny slice of the Aussie lifestyle to Surrey. Just a stone’s throw away from Hampton Court Palace, the space houses two studios; one dedicated to Reformer and another for mat-based classes. Catering to all levels and ages, the invigorating classes are crafted to enhance strength, flexibility, and overall alignment. Equipped with state-of-the-art Balance Body Reformers, these intimate sessions accommodate a maximum of five participants, ensuring precise form and individual attention. The ‘Bondi Rise & Align’ class is tailored for those striving to refine their form with precision and control, while ‘Bondi Rise & Elevate’ amps up the intensity to elevate heart rates for a sculpting full-body burn. For a lively cardio experience, ‘Bondi Rise & Jump’ incorporates a jump board and is expertly led by studio founder Lottie. Don’t overlook the Mat Pilates Sculpt, which delivers a comprehensive full-body workout targeting intricate muscle groups—proving that effectiveness doesn’t rely on fancy equipment. The timetable also features Vinyasa and Yin Yoga, barre, and pre/post-natal classes, ensuring a well-rounded mix of low-impact options.
The Matcha Of The Moment
Power duo Rochelle Humes and Bryony Deery launched their much-anticipated matcha brand, Cloudcha! Fueled by their shared passion for health and wellness, they’ve brewed up something special with this delightful ceremonial-grade blend that celebrates the ritual behind matcha to add a little spark to your morning. Ethically sourced, this matcha powder isn’t your average pick-me-up, it gives a zenful energy without the unwanted side effects of typical caffeine fixes. Sourced from the Matcha capital of the world, Uji, Kyoto, the powder undergoes a traditional artisanal roasting technique to deliver the best results and flavour. Demystifying the art of matcha mastery, Cloudcha spills the tea on crafting homebrews that actually taste divine. Elevating your at-home matcha game, they created the ultimate tea set for seamless blending and a ceramic pot that sits beautifully on your kitchen counter.
The French Nutri-Beauty Skincare
Our ears pricked up when we learnt about a beauty elixir that you can use topically and orally…the French-born brand behind the ingenious Phyto Oil is Ulé. Combining the minds of doctors, botanists, nutritionists and scientists, Ulé set out on a mission to create skincare that is natural, effective and thoroughly restorative. The coined term, ‘beauty starts from within’ has been adopted in nutrient-rich skincare and supplements, blended to work in synergy with the biological structure of the skin using a patented extract, the Pure 3otany™ Blend. From the traceable ingredients to the dermatological control testing and eco-packaging, there are no cutting corners when it comes to efficacy at Ulé. Aside from its fresh pastel bottles that we love, the clinically proven results speak volumes about the range. Top picks include Fraîche Cloud, the Ultra-Moisturizing Water Cream and, as mentioned, Avoir it All, theIn & Out Nurturing Phyto Oil.
Three New Classes At Heartcore
Heartcore has unveiled a trio of fresh mat-based experiences into their class line-up at the Bayswater studio. Crave that deep, rewarding burn that the Reformer gives? Well, these new sessions guarantee that signature Heartcore buzz will be ignited, by transitioning the key elements onto the mat. Infrared heating warms up your muscles in the beautifully decked-out studio, soundtracked by a curated playlist to get you in the zone. HOTM Strength promises tangible results, building both physical strength and mental resilience through functional movements that sculpt and reshape your body. HOTM Cardio is a dynamic full-body workout interwoven with intentional moments of low-impact cardio, conditioning your body and giving your metabolism a boost. HOTM Flow offers a fluid full-body experience, enhancing flexibility, balance, body awareness, and core strength. This class is your ticket to releasing tension and achieving seamless alignment between mind and body.
The Recovery Suite
London’s premium gym BXR Marylebone just got an upgrade, unveiling its cutting-edge recovery suite. Where innovation meets rejuvenation, BXR Labs provides a new approach to holistic wellness for those looking to optimise recovery and elevate overall performance. The state-of-the-art facilities showcase a rejuvenating ice bath and infrared sauna, used in synergy hot-cold therapy is hailed for rapidly benefiting the recovery process. Ice bathing has become a phenomenon with health enthusiasts plunging into low temperatures, BXR Labs ice baths sit at a cool 6°C degree to reduce muscle inflammation. The advanced infrared sauna relaxes muscles, improves circulation and aids detoxification, reaching temperatures of 80°C. Post-session, book a slot to give your body the TLC it needs for optimal performance.
The Plant-Based Recipe Kit
The supermarkets still seem behind when it comes to convenient meals that aren’t laden with unwanted ingredients. On a mission to change this, Grubby is rolling out their plant-based recipe kit at Tesco, with everything you need to whip up a super tasty, nutritious meat-free dish. For context, Grubby is the vegan recipe box delivery that celebrates the joy of cooking food from scratch, without the need for any brainpower. Their plant-based recipes are far from mundane, inspired by a multitude of cuisines that pack flavour and the best part is, all 200 recipes will have dinner on the table in 30 minutes. In the aisles of Tesco, you’ll find the Aubergine Thai Green Curry, Curried Coconut Dahl and our personal favourite, Crispy Gnocchi Puttanesca, ideal for those evenings when you have nothing in the fridge. Whether you order directly from Grubby and get a chance to chef up (without the need for any culinary flare) with their mouth-watering selection of recipes or you grab a recipe kit from Tesco, we can attest you’ll love Grubby’s spin on dinnertime.
Wimbledon Welcomes a New Health Club
Luxury fitness and health club Third Space opens its doors to its ninth club in Wimbledon. Elevating training and recovery to a premium standard, the new outpost welcomes world-class fitness and wellness, with the help of industry-leading professionals. The gym floor is one of the best you’ll find in London, complete with The Yard, a double-height cross-functional training area. Housing a wellness sanctuary, complete with a plunge pool for immersive cold water therapy, bespoke heated loungers, a traditional hot and dry Finnish sauna and a hot and wet Loyly sauna, Third Space has pushed the boundaries with these state-of-the-art facilities. Expect all the classes Third Space is renowned for, including The WOD, Afterburner and Sweat X, as well as Reformer Pilates, a first for across all clubs.
The Outdoor Micro-Gym
Venture into the great outdoors with Swing Fitness, pioneering a fresh and innovative approach to outdoor workouts! Their multifunctional boxes contain a curated selection of dumbbells and kettlebells. The box itself transforms into a versatile bench or step, adding a dynamic element to your alfresco exercise. In the early stages of their journey, Swing has strategically placed nine boxes across London’s parks and green spaces. Seamlessly integrating technology, simply download the app to locate your nearest Swing Box, unlocking it with a QR code, akin to the simplicity of E-bike rentals. Promoting inclusivity, Swing Box is not only a game-changer but also free for all to use. Witness the evolution of this initiative in the capital, as Swing Fitness redefines accessible and engaging fitness.
The Wholesome Meals On Wheel
B Corp wellness catering company, Pow Food have launched a selection of chef-prepared and nutritious ready meals. Delivered to your door, convenience is key with these meals which tick all the boxes for a delicious, wholesome and nourishing meal. The ‘Handmade Complete Meals’ have been fine-tuned by nutritionists to contain no refined carbohydrates and are naturally gluten and dairy-free, plus contain adaptogens to promote wellbeing. Partnering with small British farms and suppliers to source only the best ingredients, Pow Food’s Handmade Complete Meals are ideal for stocking your freezer with this season for those evenings that you need a lifeline. Our top picks include the award-winning Fish Pie, Free-Range-Chicken Tapenade and Golden Goan Fish Curry.
The Non-Alcoholic Bitters
Ben Branson, the pioneer in distilled non-alcoholic spirits and mind behind Seedlip, is set to revolutionise the adult drinks industry once again with the launch of seasn. The latest venture is an independent brand featuring a compelling duo of 0.0% cocktail bitters that promise both delectable and intense flavours. seasn endeavours to reshape the landscape of the long-established, monopolised cocktail bitters category, pushing it beyond its conventional role as a bartender’s secret. With seasn LIGHT and seasn DARK, you can elevate your tipple of choose whether it be a non-alcoholic or alcoholic beverage.
The Regime For Glowing Skin
Joining the dots between gut health and skin health, You’re Looking Well is an all-new wellness club! Founding duo, Joe Bloomfield and Anthony Plom have taken an unconventional route into the beauty industry with a background as research analysts, but in a bid to find a way to care for themselves better, they quickly became fascinated with the connection between the gut and the skin and You’re Looking Well was born. Fusing the latest breakthroughs in microbiology into skincare and supplement products, the range compromises of just four wonder products to refrain from overwhelming you and also fitting into your routine without too much disruption. ‘The Regime’ includes a Day Cream, Day Pill, Night Cream and Night Pill, designed to create a glow that comes from the inside out. The state of our gut and our skin work in tandem, and to achieve healthy skin, we need to tackle gut health which is where the powerful probiotic and microbiome blend in the YLW Regime work their magic. Join the YLW Club to get the ‘The Regime’ delivered to your door either monthly or quarterly plus you can access advice from the experts, discounts across other wellness companies and events!
The Ayurvedic Opening In West London
From the Indian tropical Malabar Coast of Kerala to West London’s Notting Hill, Kama Ayurveda has opened its first UK store. Crafted upon the wisdom of ancient Ayurveda and nature, the skincare, body and hair products are built around the Ayurvedic philosophy that beauty comes from an inner balance between mind, body and soul. Celestial self-care moments are sparked using their naturally-derived blends that support your Dosha, with scents that transport you to a luscious botanical garden. In prime location on Westbourne Grove, the store is a bright, sunny addition to the shopping spot, allowing you to test out the products for yourself. The store houses treatment rooms with a selection of nourishing massages and facials to choose from as well as skin diagnostic and a chance to discover your dosha to delve into the true Ayurvedic philosophy.
The Outnet of The Beauty World
Overproduction accounts for 6.2% of discarded goods in the beauty and wellness industry. On a quest to transform that stat, Boop is the online platform giving a much-needed second chance to excess beauty products, by offering consumers savings of up to 50% off their best-loved mid-to high-end beauty brands. Sourcing unused excess or obsolete premium products directly from brands and retailers, the platform gives these products a new lease of life with up to 50% off to save them from landfill. You’d be shocked at the products deemed not worthy for sale, whether its imperfect packaging or simply features an old formulation, there are way too many gems not being put to use from much-loved brands including Aromatherapy Associates and John Masters Organics. Boop only sells products which are safe to use and that deliver results, with each and every product subject to a rigorous quality control check.
The Tapping App
Delve into the power of tapping with the new Rapping Tapping App. Combining the principles of EFT Tapping, NLP and Law of Attraction techniques, this transformational tool is an evidence-based ‘mind-body’ energy method that incorporates tapping your face and upper body. Honed by Poppy Delbridge, Manifestation Coach and Founder of Rapid Tapping, the app gives you access to quick five-minute methods to boost your mind, refresh your body and boost your skin. Interlude overwhelming moments of stress or low points in your day with the online library of pre-recorded taps to boost your mood. Don’t just take our word for it, tapping ‘invisible energy points’ has been shown to reduce stress by up to 43% in clinical trials, as well as reducing food cravings, insomnia, body pain and even depression.
The All-In-One Gut Health Solution
Gut health has been the hot health topic of the year and JERMS‘ stands out as an uncomplicated yet advanced solution with their Daily Gut 4-in-1 powder. This potent blend contains Probiotics, Prebiotics, digestive enzymes, and organic superfoods and vitamins to create the optimal gut environment where beneficial bacteria thrive. Reducing the load for nauseating pills, the unflavored powder formula can be stirred into any cold drink or can be sprinkled over cold food for optimal absorption. Formulated by nutritionists using scientifically proven natural ingredients, JERMS supports digestion, immune function, mood, metabolism, sleep and alleviates bloating, gas, stomach discomfort and other IBS symptoms.
The Gummies Catering For All Needs
New to the gummy market, Næo is striving to enhance the overall convenience of incorporating supplements into your daily wellness regimen. What sets Næo’s gummies apart from the traditional, often nauseating pill-form supplements is their innovative mode of nutrient delivery. Unlike standard supplements, which are typically absorbed within the gut, Næo’s gummies are enriched with a high concentration of nutrients that are absorbed directly within the mouth, which is known to be one of the most effective ways to deliver micronutrients directly into the bloodstream. These six formulas cater to a wide range of health objectives, encompassing skincare enhancement, haircare, gut health improvement, immunity boost, sleep quality optimization, and brain health support.
As we have recently learnt with all the research that has come out of the Zoe study, upping your variety of plants in the week (you need at least 30 different types to be precise) helps build a healthy microbiome in your gut and support your immunity. Eating that many new plants can be tricky, which is where a good smoothie, soup or juice comes in as you can knock quite a few off your list with one fell soup. So find yourself a great blender (we love Ninja’s selection) and get creative in the kitchen. Here are some of our favourite recipes, created by Hip & Healthy founder Sadie Reid (and self-confessed soup and smoothie devotee), to get you started!
Chop and lightly sauté the red pepper, asparagus and kale. In a blender (we suggest the NINJA 3-in-1 Food Processor and Blender), blend the vegetable stock and avocado then add the rest of the ingredients and blend all together. If you don’t feel the soup is runny enough for you then add a bit more water.
1/4 Butternut Squash
1/2 Red Onion
1/2 tsp Crushed garlic
1/3 cup Cannelloni Beans Scatter of Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Bouillon powder / Veg Stock 250ml Boiling Water
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Peal and chop the squash, scatter with cinnamon, extra virgin olive oil. Cook for 35-40 minutes, turning occasionally. Peal and chop the onions, garlic and ginger. In a pan heat some oil and sauté until onions brown. Rinse and strain the beans. Boil the kettle and mix 250ml of water with the bouillon. In a blender (we suggest the NINJA 3-in-1 Food Processor and Blender) blend the squash, onions, beans and stock.
Did you know that we have more gut bacteria than skin cells on our body? In fact, they weigh around 2 kg, which is the same weight as two bags of Brussels sprouts and outnumber our human cells by 10-1! The gut microbiota is a collective term for all the microorganisms residing within the gut. We have a mutualistic relationship with our gut bacteria, they need a place to live, eat and reproduce and in turn, their metabolic activity supports our own health in multiple ways. Our gut bacteria play a key role in digesting the food we eat, including the production and absorption of nutrients. Our gut microbes have also been shown to play a role in optimum immune function, weight and even mood. Unfortunately, due to the widespread antibiotic use, chronic stress, and low fibre diets our gut microbiota and overall health can become compromised.
Below nutritionist, Lily Soutter shares what to eat for good gut health this Christmas for a healthier and happier you…
Eat a high fibre diet We all know that fibre is good for us, yet on average we drastically under consume this critical component of the diet! Results from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey showed that on average we’re only consuming 18g out of our recommended intake of 30g per day! Since fibre is the primary source of fuel for our healthy gut bacteria, a diet rich in wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds also helps our bacteria to flourish and grow.
Opt for antioxidant and fibre rich berries We all know that fruit and vegetables are good for us, but as many as 70% of adults within the UK are currently not even consuming the recommended five a day! Having sufficient fibre, which is found in fresh fruit and veg is a must for gut health. Berries are especially important, partly due to their high fibre content. Did you know that fresh raspberries have as much as 6.7g fibre per 100g?
Berries are also a super-rich source of special antioxidants called anthocyanins, which are plant pigments that give berries their distinctive blue/red hue. These anthocyanins are metabolised in the gut and help healthy gut bacteria to flourish and grow whilst offsetting unsavoury gut bacteria.
Prebiotic foods There are some foods which are particularly effective for encouraging our healthy gut bacteria to flourish as they are rich in special type of prebiotics fibres. These fibres act as a potent source of fuel for our healthy gut bacteria and can effectively stimulate their growth. Top sources include Jerusalem artichoke, flaxseeds and even garlic and onion!
Eat the rainbow and consume 30 different plant-based foods weekly A lack of diversity with the types of bacteria within the gut is thought to be associated with disease, and diverse microbiome is thought to be a healthier and more robust microbiota.
Rainbow coloured plant-based foods provide a range of plant chemicals such as polyphenols which our gut bacteria feast on. A diverse diet can encourage a diverse range of healthy gut bacteria to grow. Therefore eating the rainbow and counting the colours within our diet can really optimise our microbiota.
It’s also interesting to note that there isn’t just one type of fibre, in fact, there are numerous types of fibres and including a diverse range of fibre-rich plant-based foods within the diet can result in a more diverse microbiota. According to research from The American Gut Project, our gut microbiota thrives if we aim to consume 30 or more different varieties of plant foods each week!
Aim for two fistfuls or fill half your plate with rainbow coloured fruit and veg. Aim to switch things up weekly by opting for a mix colourful fresh berries including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
Fermented food and drinks Fermented foods have been around for centuries and they provide a whole host of beneficial bacteria for the gut. The fermentation process is a method of preserving foods and adds a delicious tangy flavour to food and drink. Yeast and bacteria feast and ferment on starches and sugars in foods, which help these microbes to flourish and grow. They also produce an acidic by-product which provides a zesty tang.
There are numerous fermented foods you can try:
Yoghurt with live cultures
Kombucha – fermented green tea
Kefir – fermented milk drink
Sauerkraut – fermented cabbage
Dark chocolate Dark chocolate is a rich source of plant chemicals called polyphenols which have prebiotic properties. When our friendly gut bacteria break down these polyphenols they produce metabolites which are thought to support gut health.
Whilst this may be music to our ears, it doesn’t mean we can eat as much chocolate as we want, chocolate is still high in sugar and fat, therefore moderation is key. You could always try dipping some gut-friendly strawberries into dark chocolate for a healthier twist!
There’s every chance that you’ve diligently switched up your skincare routine by now. Perhaps you’ve retired your lightweight serums for richer creams, made nourishing face masks your mainstays and swapped fresh cleansing gels for nourishing oils – but have you paid your hair and scalp the same service? As an extension of your skin, your scalp is just as sensitive to temperature changes, indoor heating and the inevitable dryness synonymous with the colder months. Plus, it’s always as winter looms when our hair becomes brittle, it loses its natural shine and looks more lacklustre than it was in the height of summer.
These are just a few of the reasons why switching up your hair routine is so important come winter. ‘As the seasons change, your hair changes too,’ Hannah Gaobardi, a trichologist and Viviscal expert ambassador, explains. ‘In the autumn and winter months, many will find their hair becomes dry, often leading to split ends and damage as exposure to the harsh cold elements and heating can take away some of our hair’s natural moisture,’ she stresses. From tending to your scalp to simple lifestyle changes, consider these the seven holy grail winter haircare rules to live by for healthier-looking lengths peak-winter.
Take care of your scalp
‘Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp,’ says Gaobardi. ‘During summer, the sun dries out your scalp along with the hair shaft due to the increased sun exposure; UV rays penetrate the hair shaft at the roots causing damage to the scalp and structure of the hair, meaning it’s especially important to ensure your hair is nourished as we head into winter,’ she says. Treat your scalp as you do your skin with a targetted routine. An overnight treatment like Aveda’s Scalp Solutions Renewal Serum or Sisley’s Pre-Shampoo Purifying Mask will help eliminate impurities and add moisture back into the scalp. Meanwhile, look to ingredients like salicylic acid to exfoliate, squalane to nourish and hyaluronic acid to help lock in hydration.
Avoid heat styling
‘Using heat can damage the keratin proteins (important for the hair’s strength) taking away any moisture from the inside of the hair strand and damaging the cuticle of the hair,’ says Gaobardi. ‘This makes your hair super dry, damaged and brittle and you’ll find it snaps off more easily. I would always suggest limiting heat use where you can and always make sure to use heat protection,’ she adds. Retire your trusty tools and opt for heatless curls (like the Kitsch Satin Curling Set) or use a sea salt spray to add texture and volume without damaging your ends.
Load up on nutrients
Eating a well-balanced diet is key when it comes to hair health. ‘Oily fish is packed with Omega 3 fatty acids which help support growth; chia seeds work to stimulate new hair follicles and eggs are packed with proteins, minerals and B-complex vitamins helping to fight dryness,’ Gaobardi explains. Similarly, foods that contain iron and zinc (such as pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, flax seeds, red meat, Quinoa and green vegetables) also help keep your hair looking and feeling healthy.
Try an at-home treatment
‘You also need to look after your strands topically to ensure they’re getting enough nourishment,’ she continues. Giving your hair a much-needed boost of hydration, a weekly hair mask helps lock in moisture and feeds your hair with essential nutrients. For a leave-in treatment, use a keratin care complex to restore lost protein, says Gaobardi. For a densifying leave-in treatment, she recommends Viviscal Elixir, which leaves hair looking thicker and shinier.
Take a hair supplement
‘I always stress the importance of taking an inside-out approach,’ says Gaobardi. Though your diet, stress levels and sleep play a significant role too, taking a daily hair supplement could help ensure you’re getting all of the right nutrients. As for the ones to look out for? Zinc, Biotin, Iron, collagen and B12 are all important for hair health, according to Gaobardi.‘If someone’s B12 levels are low, hair follicles may not be able to grow new hair efficiently,’ she shares.
Switch to a silk pillowcase
Did you know, that switching from a cotton pillowcase to a silk one can do wonders for your hair at this time of year? Think everything from minimising split ends to avoiding breakage and ensuring your hair stays nourished around the clock. During winter, silk actually helps lock in moisture. Unlike cotton, which is porous, a silk pillowcase keeps the hydration in our hair, making it look and feel less brittle.
Change your showerhead
Not too hot and not too cold – you want your shower temperature to be just right. But it’s not just the temperature of the water: if you’re living in a city, hard water can also take a toll on the health of your hair. That’s because the minerals penetrate the hair and then crystalise upon drying. Not only does this make your hair more prone to breakage but it can also stop your shampoo from lathering making your scalp more susceptible to product residue and dandruff. An easy solution is a purifying shower head, which helps minimise these impurities.
As Founder of Hip & Healthy, where we talk the talk, I reckon I have to walk the walk, so I live a pretty healthy lifestyle; intermittent fasting; running nearly every day; eating a lot of veg, and, of course, a good dollop of self-care; I’ve always been the person driving at the end of a night out as I don’t tend to drink a lot (if any) and I’m the first to put my hand up to try anything new and innovative within this wonderful wellness industry we work in. So I was delighted to put myself forward to trial GlycanAge. GlycanAge is a pioneering biotech start-up committed to changing the way we see and do preventive healthcare, with the ultimate goal of empowering individuals to live longer, healthier lives. With three decades of rigorous scientific research, the at-home GlycanAge test measures your current health and gives you a biological age based on IgG glycans which reflect both genetics and lifestyle factors that can affect the way we age. GlycanAge is the first biological age clock to measure chronic inflammation using these particular glycans – complex sugar molecules vital for cellular communication that can indicate the risk of 72 diseases up to 10 years in advance. In a nutshell – your glycans point to how healthy you are and how at-risk you are of chronic age-related diseases. So if, like me, you’re keen to stay as healthy for as long as possible, this is the test to check how much your lifestyle is affecting your health.
Doing the test couldn’t have been easier. It turned up in the post swiftly, and all the instructions were super clear within the neat little box it came in. GlycanAge measures glycans and detects chronic inflammation and inflammaging in your body, so it needs a small blood sample to do this. After a completely painless prick on the finger (all equipment is provided for) you squeeze a few tiny drops of blood onto a piece of card and then pop back in an envelope to post back to them. Pop a plaster on and you are good to go.
The results come a few weeks later. Naturally, given how health-conscious I am, I thought I would ace the test. How wrong I was… I was absolutely shocked to learn that though my chronological age is 38, my body was telling a different story as the number that was staring back at me was that of a decade later – 48!! I immediately started to panic. How? Why? What am I doing wrong? How can I be any healthier with my lifestyle choices? When your results come they arrive on an easy-to-read dashboard and you can see the different markers that the team at GlycanAge are measuring. I seem to be ok for most of them but it was my “Lifestyle Glycans” that seemed to be most off. But the good news is that Glycans reflect your body’s response to lifestyle changes, so change your lifestyle and you can change your health.
To make sure that your results are interpreted correctly, and also to help you make some positive changes that will impact future readings for the better, GlycanAge recommend that you speak to one of their experienced consultants. The GlycanAge specialists are experts in interpreting the data and working out exactly what you need to do to reduce your biological age moving forward. The advice I received only shocked me further as it turns out that a lot of what I was doing was actually causing chronic inflammation in my body. The constant running was something I was advised to take down a notch – and I’ve been told that adding in some HIIT training, yoga and Pilates would do my body much better. The intermittent fasting was also challenged – the specialist suggested that for me it might not be the right thing to do so often and instead, a few days a month of water fasting whilst eating normally the rest of the time might be better. And, finally, I had to manage my stress better. This was something I knew but I was yet to implement a proper strategy around reducing my stress levels. If I made all these changes, I was assured that I would see an improvement in my biological age.
Lifting the lid on your health really is one of the most empowering things we can do as health really is so personal to each of us. What works for one person might not for another and GlycanAge’s blood test allows you to see really what is going on in your body and hopefully make changes before anything more serious happens later down the line. With preventable chronic diseases causing three out of five global deaths, health management is key to reducing your chance of being amongst these numbers. Age is the most significant risk factor for chronic diseases, and while we can’t alter our age, we can influence how we age on a molecular level, potentially preventing age-related illnesses.
I’m already implementing all of the advice I have been given and am super excited to see how this might hopefully reduce my biological age in the future. So, stay tuned for my next installment in about 4 months time when I can test again!
Embark on a culinary journey with this exquisite Pomegranate and Walnut Brussels Sprouts recipe, a super simple and quick-to-make side dish that effortlessly combines the robust flavours of Brussels sprouts and the refreshing sweetness of pomegranates, promising a delightful and unique twist to elevate your dining experience.
700g Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2tbsp olive oil
50g walnut halves, roughly chopped
3tbsp pomegranate molasses
80g pomegranate seed
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for no more than 2 minutes. Drain well.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic and cook for just 30 seconds. Tip in the Brussels sprouts and toss well with the garlic and cook for about 6 – 8 minutes until starting to turn golden.
Add the walnut halves and pomegranate molasses and toss everything together cooking for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir though the pomegranate seeds and season well to taste. Serve scattered with a few extra chopped walnut halves.
Few restaurants jazz up vegetables quite like Tendril. Perched in the heart of Mayfair, chef Rishim Sachdeva is the creative force behind the (mostly) vegan kitchen and bar. Londoner’s got a taste for his veg-centric cooking over several supper clubs, residencies and pop-ups. Proving an appetite for the concept, Tendril opened its doors to its permanent spot on Prince’s Street this summer.
Rishim Sachdeva, once a self-proclaimed hardcore meat eater with a resume that includes stints at Chiltern Firehouse, The Fat Duck, and the Dairy, took an atypical path to becoming a plant-focused restaurateur. After embracing Veganuary in 2019, Rishim underwent a personal transformation in both his eating habits and culinary approach. From time to time, Rishim dabbles with a good cheese to enhance a dish, hence the ‘mostly’ vegan menu, but what you’ll find at Tendril is a celebration of vegetables.
The cosy nook of a restaurant is licked with terracotta paint, complimented with rich tones, plush royal blue velvet seating and low lighting. Bustling with people, every table is packed out and that chaotically brilliant buzz of a London restaurant is present. The service is impeccable from start to finish, with waiters and waitresses who are genuinely curious about your take on each dish.
Tendril is on board with the mindful drinking movement, catering for all preferences. It’s refreshing to see a menu that plays to the crowd so well, with a vegan wine list, punchy cocktails and aperitifs, plus low and non-alcoholic cocktails alongside kombuchas and drinking vinegar.
The tasting menu takes you on an odyssey to showcase what Tendril represents, drawing inspiration from the flavours of Middle Eastern cuisine. Humble vegetables shine through each course, with no fake meat substitutes in sight. Embracing root-to-shoot dining and collaborating with carefully selected suppliers, each course is exquisitely thought out and unleashes a sublime mix of flavours.
A medley of small plates arrive together, starting with a blistered aubergine, kalamata olives and tahini, garnished with pickled red onion; a sharp preserved “summer” fennel with a dollop of aioli; and vibrant lentil parfait with a hit of chilli and warm hunks of Coombeshead sourdough to mop it up with. The taste buds are well and truly ignited after this flavourful sharing-style feast!
The only choice put into my hands was between the grilled squash wrapped in hispi cabbage accompanied by a smearing of muhammara (red pepper and walnut dip) or the sesame-baked feta with crispy rice and chilli honey, which is the only interjection of dairy on the menu. If there are two of you dining, my advice is to get one of each and share…squash and feta are a match made in heaven!
The next course comes in the form of a crispy celeriac croquette, centred in a harissa sauce and enveloped in a ribbon of apple to add an unexpected freshness to the moreish deep-fried dish.
An elevated twist on a modest pie is the final savoury course. This winter season classic has a meaty oyster mushroom base topped with layers of potato formed into a delicate rose, a silky butter bean mash and charred leeks with a zingy chive emulsion.
No winter feast is finished without a warming pudding. The dessert of the day; a stewed rhubarb crumble with velvety oat custard, beautifully rounds off this tasting menu. Nostalgic and comforting, it’s served unfussy and completely indulgent!
Tendril offers an À La Carte menu during lunch service and dinner Monday to Wednesday but to experience the true spirit of what their ethos is all about, the tasting menu is where it’s at. Whether you’re plant-based or not, Tendril’s food is bound to leave a lasting impression. The tasting menu changes to sync with the seasonality of the vegetables, so there’s always more to discover. Pouring his culinary expertise into this forward-thinking concept, chef Rishim Sachdeva has created a place that suits the modern city-dweller to a T.
We all say it every year but time flies in the Autumn, doesn’t it? It’s a funny old season Autumn… you go from having beautifully sunny mild weather that tricks you into thinking you’ve brought the winter coats out too prematurely but then, just like that, you wake up to the first frosty morning of the season and your fingers inch ever closer to the thermostat! I love the lead-up to Christmas… there’s a sense of motivation in the air as you tie up loose ends before taking some much-needed time off and festive spirit fills the air. This month I’m thinking about a few swaps to make christmas a more sustainable affair, willing my body not to succumb to any winter lurgies and thinking about some wellness focused New Year’s resolutions.
Elevate your hand care routine with Austin Austin’s Limited Edition Palmarosa & Vetiver Hand Set. Immerse your senses in the captivating blend of palmarosa (my fave) and vetiver essential oils while nourishing your skin with the finest botanical ingredients. This luxurious set not only pampers your hands but also adds a touch of sophistication to your daily self-care rituals. This aesthetically pleasing duo is sitting pride of place in my newly renovated bathroom and I’m happy to say it’s got style AND substance.
Happy Crackers is a brand that combines tradition with innovation, proving that sustainable choices can be both festive and responsible! These absolutely stunning crackers crafted from the most beautiful ribbon-adorned fabrics will really make your christmas table stand out. There’s a whole range of colours and patterns to choose from but I love these baby blue ones because I reckon they are versatile enough for Easter too!
Blame any lingering pandemic anxiety but I am desperate to avoid the lurgy this winter. I know NO ONE wants to get ill but I really really hate it! Last year I got two nasty non-covid viruses that knocked me for six and I’m not having it this year. Nuh-uh. Aside from hygiene habits, I am trying to eat as well as I can and, while I don’t believe a smoothie can totally stop you from getting sick, I think ingredients with high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C can do no harm! At the moment I’m adding FS-Green Mango into my immunity smoothie… it’s chock full of good stuff and it’s a lovely flavour which is a bonus.
Journalling is something I think I need to build into my daily routine. I know the myriad of mental health benefits and it’s something I want to commit to in the new year. Through a systematic approach to setting and achieving goals, The Priorities Method Journal empowers you to prioritize tasks, manage time effectively, and cultivate a mindset of success. Newbies to journaling need helpful prompts rather than staring at a black page hoping thoughts will magically come to you so this one is perfect for getting started.
Christmas, for me, isn’t Christmas without a real tree in the house. If you feel the same, why not choose sustainability without compromising on holiday traditions by renting a pot-grown Christmas tree this year? These living trees not only bring festive charm to your home but also contribute to environmental conservation. Green Elf Trees ensures a hassle-free rental experience, providing a tree that can be enjoyed during the holidays and then returned for replanting. Make a meaningful choice this festive season, reducing your ecological footprint while still relishing the joy of a beautifully adorned Christmas tree.
Live True London is my go-to salon for cuts, colour and amazing hair treatments but they’ve just launched their own range, FUL, which means I can get a smidge of the salon experience at home! Their luxurious hair mask is designed to rejuvenate and nourish your hair, leaving it silky, smooth, and irresistibly healthy. Packed with intensely moisturizing ingredients, FUL’s formula works its magic, restoring vitality to dry and damaged hair.
I have been a runner for most of my adult life now, having fallen in love with it when I went to University. In the same breath though I must tell you that I am in no way a “good” runner. I plod along for as long as I can manage but ask me my personal best and I simply wouldn’t know, as for the distance, I rarely log it. For me running is all about how well I feel, not how well I do. I have said it time and time again but it is my mental health that most benefits from clocking up the miles. Especially since I have started working from home in the countryside, running has helped focus my mind whilst I am at my desk and the fresh air and change of scenery helps me feel less anxious and stressed – I am sure of it.
I am not a fair-weather runner either and a bit of ice, sleet or snow won’t put me off lacing up and getting out the door but I know for many, especially those who only recently discovered the joys of running, it can be an adjustment. So I wanted to share the absolute must-have winter running items that will have you heading for the park or the trails or the pavements in no time.
Although I am not big on personal bests or tracking my splits, I love seeing how far I have come quite literally and the Apple Watch helps measure that for me. Also, it’s like a mini control centre allowing me to take calls, change tracks and even schedule reminders as I run.
The humble gilet offers more than just warmth in the winter month – it also offers pockets (and a bit of protection from any slips you might encounter). I love this simple black one from New Look. There is absolutely no need to spend a fortune on a piece of kit like this.
Machine washable, reflective and stretchy – these leggings will see you through to spring. The side pocket is also incredibly useful for those who need to have their phone on them at all times (basically anyone with a child!).
I love a matchy-matchy run outfit – so team this top with your leggings. Called “Afterhours” because of how highly reflective it is – it is perfect for the shorter days.
What Podcasts To Listen To:
Post-Winter Run Warmers I Love:
One of the best bits about winter running is the post-run self-care ritual. Mine is all about getting into a hot bath with oils and salts and following that some uber-comfy clothes starting with a slipper!
Bidding farewell to Four Seasons Kuda Huraa, our seaplane ascends over the azure expanse of the Indian Ocean, leaving behind a truly enchanting island. The memories created and the exceptional people we encountered have rendered our stay unforgettable. While a tinge of sadness lingers, the anticipation for the next chapter at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru soon takes precedence. Nestled in the heart of the Baa Atoll, Landaa Giraavaru, though a bit more secluded than its sister property, stands as an embodiment of luxury, sustainability, and holistic well-being.
The journey to Landaa Giraavaru is an integral part of the adventure. Guests typically embark from Velana International Airport in Malé, the Maldivian capital, on a scenic seaplane transfer that offers a mesmerizing bird’s eye view of the atolls below. For those commencing their holiday at Kuda Huraa, the resort seamlessly facilitates travel between the two havens via seaplane, ensuring a seamless transition from one paradise to another.
For those uninitiated to the thrill of a seaplane journey, let me affirm—it’s a must-try at least once in a lifetime. While closer islands often use speedboats, opting for a more remote destination necessitates a seaplane ride to reach this island utopia. Having previously stayed at resorts accessible by boat, this marks my inaugural experience of reaching an island by air. Brace yourself for a tight squeeze, zero air conditioning, a lot of noise, barefoot pilots, and an awe-inspiring journey that is nothing short of incredible.
As our new abode materializes in the distance, the anticipation builds. The journey, coupled with the signature Four Seasons welcome on the jetty, serves as a prelude to the enchanting experience that awaits. Escorted by a golf buggy to our Premier Oceanfront Bungalow with Pool, this time situated on land rather than overwater, we discover a haven surrounded by lush vegetation, a spacious pool, and direct beach access. The villa, a masterpiece in itself, takes a backseat to the sheer expanse of outdoor space, offering unparalleled privacy.
After the obligatory leap onto the bed, we set out to explore the island and immerse ourselves in the second leg of our holiday. Here are the highlights and essential insights into this captivating resort.
The spa at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru demands attention, strategically positioned to capture the breathtaking views and serene atmosphere of the Maldives. Enveloped by crystal-clear waters and verdant greenery, the expansive spa provides a tranquil haven for guests to rejuvenate. Offering wellness programs rooted in traditional Ayurveda, the spa ensures a holistic well-being experience. Guests partake in personalized wellness journeys featuring in-depth health analyses by renowned practitioners, spa treatments restoring dosha tendencies, activities like yoga and sound healing, and nutritional guidance seamlessly integrated across the resort. These programs cater to individual needs, presenting a comprehensive approach to health.
During our stay, we immersed ourselves in the “Wake Up To Wonder” sound healing and yoga journey, a transformative experience designed to reconnect with nature. With a 5 am wake-up call, we commenced our morning with a soul-soothing sound bath amidst the dark stillness, accompanied by the enchanting melody of exotic birds welcoming a new day. Though not typically an early riser, the magical solitude, experiencing a hidden side of the island, made it a truly special moment. The journey concluded with a “jungle walk” to the beach, culminating in a beachfront yoga session as the sun painted the horizon with its first light.
What’s also important to note is the resort’s commitment to the environment. Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru is renowned for its dedicated conservation efforts and commitment to sustainability. The resort actively engages in marine conservation through its Marine Discovery Center, serving as a hub for research and educational initiatives focused on protecting the delicate marine ecosystem. Involved in coral reef restoration, the resort undertakes projects such as coral planting to revive damaged reefs. Additionally, Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru contributes to manta ray and sea turtle conservation, conducting research to understand their behaviour and implementing protective measures. Emphasizing sustainable practices, the resort integrates eco-friendly initiatives into its daily operations, from waste reduction to responsible sourcing. Community involvement and environmental awareness programs further showcase the resort’s holistic approach to fostering environmental responsibility among guests and staff, making it a beacon of conservation in this tropical paradise.
Reflecting on my overall experience, I find myself returning to the unparalleled service that defines Four Seasons. Hospitality isn’t just a feature; it’s their forte, acting as the enchanting glue that elevates the resort’s reputation to extraordinary heights. Every facet of their operation is underpinned by authentic, warm, and familial service. Our time at Landaa Giraavaru introduced us to truly exceptional individuals, whose heavenly demeanour left a lasting impression. Months later, we continue to cherish connections forged during our stay. In essence, it’s the genuine and heartfelt interactions that make Four Seasons not just a destination but a memorable journey where the magic of hospitality leaves an indelible mark.