Best of British Sportswear

The British do a lot of things well. We drink copious amounts of tea, have the ability to make endless conversation about the weather, and design awesome active-wear! Elle Young takes a look at the British sports brands making it even easier to be hip whilst getting healthy.

Lexie Sport
Lexie is the British sportswear brand for women who are on-track and on-trend. Their fresh, edgy and smart designs are super stylish and claim to enhance performance. Want to love them a little bit more? Not only do they design stylish sportswear for rain-loving healthies in the UK, but they have committed to British manufacturing which boosts our economy as well as our mood! Founder Lily Rice explains: “We decided to make the move to British manufacturing as we wanted to really feel the quality in the styles. Having the product made here means not only will the quality and fit be of the highest standards but that as a brand we are making responsible decisions.” Sounds good to me! See more here.

British through and through, Gymluxe specialise in streamlined designs which are perfect for layering, and we all know layering looks great and flatters all shapes. But do you know why they’re so awesome? They take their inspiration from women’s strength, style and individuality, which is music to my ears because I continue to be amazed by women’s resilience and determination. If you’re a multi-tasking kind of girl, as most of us are, you’ll love that their pre/post workout wear looks just as stylish over jeans so you can look great both in and out of the gym. I’m loving the Luxe Box Sweat, £49.99 from

Hey Jo
London-based brand Hey Jo’s leggings guarantee that you’ll look ultra glamorous in the gym with their colourful leggings. Not only will they take you seamlessly from a workout to work-life situation but they also perform excellently as well. The ones with a gold zip are our faves! I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure these would make the perfect accompaniment to a white blouse and some ballet pumps for the summer too! Visit to see their range of colours.

Do you like your workout gear to be high-tech, functional and elegant? Look no further. HPE has been designed by Nick Harris, who has worked with a variety of clients such as Formula One drivers and tennis players, to accelerate peak performance. He’s combined his experience, and knowledge, with sportswear design to produce garments that are engineered to withstand the rigours of intense training, look good and be comfortable.

Pepper & Mayne
Pepper & Mayne launched last year and pride themselves on the ‘combination of quintessentially English design values and a ‘Parisian Chic’ sensibility’. Their designs are based on the elegance of ballet and are made from super-soft fabrics. If you’re looking for glamorous yet wearable designs that are perfect for dance classes or chilling out, I suggest you get down to Pepper & Mayne. They stress that the feel of each item has been given great attention, which I really like. When something feels luxurious, it makes you feel luxurious which is what we all deserve. Check out for inspiration and to meet the brand ambassadors, including our very own ballerina Saskia!

Striders Edge
Founded by Katy Biddulph, a sports enthusiast, outdoors lover and former SweatyBetty sports clothing designer, Striders Edge covers all bases. Their clothes are designed to ‘dress the fitness lover, run enthusiast, and avid hiker’ as well as all yoga and Pilates bunnies. The brand’s ethos is extremely Hip & Healthy in its ‘need and desire for authoritative, innovative and statement performance activewear’. Don’t you just love the word authoritative? I do. What I love more is the rationale behind the decision to name the brand after Striding Edge in the Lake District: ‘We didn’t want to be another women’s brand with a tongue in cheek name, we want to empower and celebrate women who do sport.’ See more from this empowering brand in the Hip & Healthy store.

If you only do one thing this week… Eat Clean, Get Lean!

Here at the H&H headquarters we are all about eating clean to get lean and we are totally convinced that abs are made in the kitchen! So the last week of February we want to focus on eating whole foods. Just to be clear, when I say “Whole Foods” I don’t mean the actual shop, (although for us, that wouldn’t be too difficult!). What I’m saying is to eat foods that really are in their most natural state, that haven’t been injected will all sorts of unpronounceable chemicals and haven’t been processed within an inch of its life. This week H&H want to take a look at the ins and outs of “real” food and why we should be eating more of it.

Of course, food is to be enjoyed… I truly believe that it can be one of life’s greatest pleasures! But lets go back to when our ancestors were cavemen and put our feet in their shoes…(well, they didn’t wear shoes, but you get my drift!). They viewed food in a very simplistic, non-emotional way. Food was eaten to stay alive and to give their bodies energy.

What did a pre-historic diet look like? Before the discovery of fire, there were no means of cooking foods. This meant cavemen had a raw diet consisting of vegetables, fruit, legumes, grains and some animal meat. Two years ago, paleoanthropologists found bits of date stuck in the teeth of a 40,000-year-old man! Other foods that have been found include figs, olives, plums and pears and were estimated to be over 700,000 years old! Food was picked/caught and went straight into their stomachs. No middle man, no processing, and no strange chemicals used. I don’t think “processed” was even a word back in those days!

What changed? Well, quite a lot! As the human population grew, many people gradually moved away from country living to a faster pace of life in towns and cities where space and time became increasingly limited. A gap in the market for convenient foods saw the boom of the supermarkets. Big manufacturers were getting involved to provide large amounts of food quicker than ever before. This mass production of food led to excessive amounts of it. Man was now producing more food than he could consume. The solution? Developing longer shelf lives. (Enter chemicals and preservatives). 

Why does the 21st century diet look so different to what our ancestors ate? Busy lifestyles, lack of time, stress, the desire for convenience, a growing population, money… the list is endless! Not only have our diets changed but also our lifestyles. Another big factor in why our diets look so different was the discovery of sugar. During the 18th century, sugar became hugely popular. European populations began eating tea, coffee, chocolates, jams and other sweets in much greater amounts. The food industry goes to great lengths to try and figure out what makes us crave a product and they realised that sugar was very addictive. They learnt to catch us out, not with the obviously sugar-laden biscuits and chocolate (we know they don’t do our bodies any good)… but with hidden sugars. Nowadays, we can find sugar in all kinds of weird and (not so) wonderful places. We’re talking packaged soups, sauces, dressings, bread “fruit” yogurt and even chicken! Yuck!

How is processed food damaging our health? How long have you got? I’m going to try and condense this in to one paragraph. Processed foods are just bad news all round. They can cause serious digestive problems as so many processed foods are stripped of their natural fibres and enzymes that aid in breaking down food. Also, when we consume processed foods, we are consuming toxins that we were never designed to ingest like pesticides and phosphates (designed to extend shelf-life). Our bodies don’t recognise these foreign substances and that can cause chronic inflammation. We also become severely malnourished because processed foods are nutritionally empty. We can consume so many calories from all these genetically modified foods yet we are always left wanting more. This is because our bodies are craving nutrients not more food! Our bodies want to be healthy and if we don’t give it want it needs, you’re going to know about it!

What are the benefits of eating whole foods? Ok! This is the fun part! Our bodies love whole foods, it’s what we were designed to eat. You’re nourishing your body with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre, healthy fats and the best thing about that is the variety your getting. You become much more efficient at detoxifying your system too. Think about it… eating processed food puts so much stress on your liver (your detox organ). While its frantically trying to rid your body of all the toxins its receiving, your feeding it more! Eating whole foods restores the balance in your body, regulates out-of-kilter hormones and boosts your immune system. All these things are so important for fighting off illness and disease. One final benefit, which you’ll notice relatively quickly once on the whole foods band wagon, is soaring energy levels. Need I say more…?

Words by Molly Jennings

Ignite London Event 8th & 9th March – Learn to reconnect with yourself!

When was the last time you took a few moments to reconnect with yourself? Getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life can be a common occurrence for most of us, so it’s important to prioritise time for ourselves to slow down and relax.

On the 8th-9th March, urban retreat IGNITE are holding a two day event at The Great Hall in South Kensington, giving you the chance to stop and reflect on your needs, desires and dreams. This weekend is the perfect opportunity to bring some harmony to your mind, body and spirit. As well as exploring new ideas and nourishing your soul, you’ll also get to sit in on talks given by a number of inspiring holistic health and wellbeing gurus such as Spirit Junkie, Gabby Bernstein, Miracle Maker, Pam Grout and Daily Love Founder, Mastin Kipp – sound good?

“Ignite is a weekend retreat to help bring harmony to your mind, body and spirit. A chance to stop, reflect and reconnect with your needs, desires and dreams. A weekend just for you: to explore new ideas, to learn new techniques, to connect and to totally nourish your soul. I encourage you to attend this powerful event, and look forward to hearing about your Ignite! experience!” says Louise Hay.

This event is not to be missed, with tickets costing £99 for a limited time only. So why not take a break from your hectic schedule, and unlock some of your inner creativity.

For more information or to book  visit

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Hip & Healthy’s Guide to the Home Workout Revolution

words by Lucy Marshall

If your ‘New Year, New You’ regime isn’t quite going to plan because you’ve lost motivation to get up, get out and go to the gym then fear not, Hip & Healthy has a brilliant solution to help kick-start your routine again. In fact, you may as well cancel your gym membership right now… cue a gasp of horror. Ladies, we introduce to you the novel idea of the home workout. Perfect in so many ways and you don’t need to waste time leaving the house .We’re not suggesting you devise your own fitness routines as there is a variety of incredible online websites and DVD programmes that will motivate you to turn your living room into your gym. They all require little to no equipment, and if you have nothing at all then using household items is encouraged. I would recommend investing in some exercise bands though, as they can be great alternatives to dumbbells and pull-up bars, providing resistance where needed.

Five years ago I discovered the cream of the home workout crop, P90X. This is a programme that was devised over a decade ago and which has rapidly gained a cult-like global following. Its intention is to change your body in 90 days with a series of workout DVDs that are each an hour long, and which use a training technique that introduces new movements and routines so that your body never plateaus and you don’t get bored. Furthermore, its founder and trainer, Tony Horton is FUNNY. The workouts are intense; I’d recommend you begin with light weights and do the suggested modifications if you’re new to exercise. There are now more programmes in the P90X machine, innovatively called P90XPlus, P90X2 and the newest, P90X3. ‘X3’ cuts the workouts in half to 30 minutes each meaning they’re much more doable for those who love a pre-work/study/life routine; it’s my current favourite. The results of the dedicated fans of P90X are unbelievable – check out the YouTube ‘before and after’ videos for proof. Each programme costs £99, and you can pay in three monthly instalments. I challenge you not to get obsessed.

For those of you who don’t even have time to sleep then I couldn’t recommend the DailyHiit website enough. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and the DailyHiit provides you with free HIIT workouts that last only 12 minutes. They take you through three rounds of four-minute routines, where you have 50 seconds of intense exercise, followed by ten seconds of rest. A ten second rest doesn’t sound like much at all but with only 12 minutes you need to work HARD to achieve the benefits. Lisa-Marie, the fabulous personal trainer with a stomach of steel makes you laugh and feel at ease as she trains with you in the workouts she has designed. This is fitness tailored for people who stumble and fall, get up, try again and smash it. The sister website to the DailyHiit is, also fronted by Lisa-Marie and which is currently providing 30-Day-Challenges with HIIT workouts up to and over an hour long – not for the feint of heart.

My final recommendation is Blogilates. Cassey Ho is an immensely peppy and cheerful trainer who takes you through ab-shredding Pilates workouts in a matter of minutes. Prepare to feel the burn like never before.

I can personally vouch for all of these websites and programmes because I use all of them five times a week, all year round and love them because they are all different and help me to mix up my workout routine.  Exercising at home has never been so easy and affordable, and with such amazing guidance from all of these excellent personal trainers there is no excuse to fall off the fitness wagon any more.

Other home workout programmes Hip & Healthy recommends: 

Shiva Rea, Daily Energy; Vinyasa Flow Yoga. A DVD that has seven, 20 minute vinyasa flows to wake you up or calm you down.

The Podium Effect. These are 60 days worth of online workouts designed by Olympic heptathlete, Louise Hazel.

Instructor Live.  This website offers online classes with instructors training you live. Almost like a workout with a trainer on Skype.

Sleek Technique.  Ballet-based online workouts designed to hone and tone with grace and agility.

Insanity. A series of DVDs that use intervals to dramatically increase fitness. They are literally insane, try once your fitness is very good.

Meditation for Sport

If you’ve been watching the Winter Olympics in Sochi you may have witnessed the athletes behaving in a rather unusual way. Before the women’s downhill got underway, the camera cut to a number of the athletes who were preparing for their Olympic run. With eyes closed, heads down and arms waving, the athletes looked to be performing something that resembled the traditional “dad dance“ reserved for tipsy weddings and birthdays. The reason for these rather odd gesticulations was either a) a bride’s father had infiltrated the Olympic coaching team or b) they were mentally going through the course, practicing every twist and turn from memory. This process of visualisation is quickly becoming the norm for almost every major sporting team. Sean McCann, senior sports psychologist for the USOC, is in fact taking no fewer than 12 sports psychologists to Sochi.  Preparing the mind to cope with not only the pressures of Olympic competition, but the imminent danger of travelling up to 80mph down a mountain on two sticks, can make all the difference between winning and losing.

In using visualization and meditation, the athletes imagine themselves performing the athletic endeavor they’re about to perform. They create the image of succeeding in their mind. Over time, this process actually helps train the body to perform in the manner your mind crafts, allowing the body to execute the moves prescribed by the mind.

So why does it work? What happens to the body when athletes meditate and train their minds to cope with these immense pressures?

Research in The British Journal of Sports Medicine examined the practice of (mindfulness) meditation on pre-competition stress in elite shooters. Salivary cortisol levels were taken as a physiological marker of pre-competition stress (raised levels of cortisol have been found to be associated with stress). After four weeks of meditation, researchers found there was a significant decrease in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and there was a significant increase in shooting performance scores. Reducing these physical effects of mental anxiety can ultimately help an athlete to focus and deal with the fear of failure. Preparing the mind so the body will compete without error in those critical seconds.

Meditation it would appear, works! Allowing the mind to develop more progressive patterns of thinking is crucial to fulfilling your potential.  It’s also being used in the lengthy waiting periods between events. Conserving energy that can be better applied during competition.

Jamie Anderson, the winner of the snowboarding slopestyle event, said about her preparation the night before the final:

“Last night I was so nervous I couldn’t eat. I put on some meditation music, burned some sage, got the candles going and tried to do a little bit of yoga and meditate.”

Wise words indeed!

There is a general perception that you do in fact need candles, gentle music and pictures of water lilies to “get in the zone”. But the practice of meditation can be performed almost anywhere. How we react to and perceive the thoughts we all have throughout the day, can be practiced almost anywhere, from travelling on a train, to walking to work. The world may stay the same, but our perception and how we react to events will almost certainly change.

Here are some tips to help you cope with the stresses of every day life;

Do some focused breathing exercises
Go for deep inhalations, breathing through the nose and really filling the chest and belly (without strain). Then gently exhale and really empty the lungs and belly. Feel the release of tension on the exhale.

Observe the sensations of the body
Close your eyes, sit quietly, and allow your awareness to identify the most dominant sensation you can feel. Are you knees feeling fizzy, is there a knot in the stomach? Is there tension in the neck? Whatever it is, allow the attention to gently go there, slowly you may find the intensity of the sensation dissipating. It’s amazing how calming this can be.

Practice regularly
This will allow you to skilfully handle all situations. Search for a technique that resonates with you and if possible, get personal training from a professional teacher. This way you can become self sufficient in using advanced tools for overcoming all of life’s dramas.

I’m sure there are many other lessons that can be learnt from the Winter Olympics, lessons that can be transferred into all aspects of life, from how we cope with the stresses of work, to providing clarity and understanding in our often complicated relationships. There’s an intrinsic connection between how we think, and how our bodies behave. Something the best athletes in the world have known for a long time. They say that sport is 90% mental and 10% physical; I just hope the same applies to dancing!

About the Author: Will Williams is the founder of Will Williams Meditation and works with individuals and organisations across Europe to help them access their full potential. Follow him on Twitter 

Vegan- & Gluten-Free Banana Muffins

Before the health bug bit me, buying breakfast out was a daily occurrence. I found that there was something always so satisfying about picking up a blueberry muffin and a latte from the coffee shop on the corner, before a day’s work. Suffice to say this unhealthy routine was a pull on my pocket as well as my energy levels! After relishing the warming drink, and savouring every single bit of the delicious sugary muffin, I was on an energy high, only to come crashing down faster than it came on.

When I started experimenting in the kitchen, my breakfasts started becoming way to delicious to miss out on; coconut milk porridge with goji berries, banana slices and maple roasted walnuts, chunky slices of homemade spelt and flax bread with a thick later of almond butter and medjool date slices, rainbow smoothies & juices, vegan banana pancakes with a blueberry syrup, overnight oats with a mango-cashew cream… the list is endless! And far, far more satisfying and nourishing.

This being said, I do still crave my muffins! Let’s be honest eating a mini cake for breakfast is just awesome… So after many failed trials in the kitchen, this recipe for my Vegan- & Gluten-Free Banana Muffins – are not only amazing for your health, but in my opinion are just as delicious (or more so) than any shop bought one!  They’re made with bananas, flaxseed, brown rice flour, a little 100% pure maple syrup and chopped up walnuts for a little crunch!  The nuts are a wonderful source of protein, and together with the brown rice flour give you all the essential amino acids your body needs. A great source of complex-carbohydrates, they will keep you sustained all morning, or until your next meal time. The banana and maple come together to sweeten the muffins, into what can only be described as, pure bliss.


1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
6 tbsp water
3 bananas
1.5 cups flour
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp Xantham gum (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Start by mixing 2 tbsp of flaxseed with 6 tbsp water in a small bowl, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile combine all other ingredients in a large bowl and mix until smooth. Add the flax mixture and combine well. Line a muffin tray with 6-8 muffin cases. Pour in the mixture and place in the oven to bake for around 20-30 minutes, until you can insert a sharp knife into the muffin, and it comes our clean!

vegan muffin recipe

Canadian Sportswear Brand LIJA Lands in the UK

Here at Hip & Healthy we’re always on the look-out for innovative, comfortable and stylish active wear – and this month we’re excited to share our latest discovery with you, LIJA. Founded by front woman Linda Hipp in Vancouver 15 years ago, LIJA has continued to go from strength to strength within the fitness industry ever since. Already huge in the brands Canadian home town and Northern America, LIJA is now set to attract the attention (and potentially damage the wallets) of fashion-forward exercise bunnies all over Europe.

Tailored to every type of activity, there is something for everyone. The brand have also included specific ranges for more particular types of exercise such as golf, tennis, yoga and running – you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice! Simple and inspirational, LIJA have managed to incorporate fashionable, flattering styles into their collection whilst maintaining durability and functionality. Designed to create a feeling of confidence and empowerment through their sports clothing, LIJA is the perfect fit for youthful-minded, independent women everywhere – two thumbs up from us!

Launching in House of Fraser in February, we are certain this brand is going to be a huge hit. Keep your eyes peeled (and your running shoes at the ready), we have a feeling that you’ll be fighting over this one!

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Ski Fit: How to stay H&H on the slopes!

With a few more months of the ski season remaining, there is still time to wriggle into our thermals and don our salopettes for a week of outdoor action, snow, sunshine (we hope!) and log fires. However, skiing is not an activity for the faint-hearted. Consecutive days of skiing require strength, stamina, balance and concentration. If our bodies and minds aren’t in the right place, it is unfortunately very easy to injure ourselves on the slopes.

Preparation Is Key
Preparation is key to getting the most out of your ski trip. There is nothing worse than that post-ski burn in your bum and thighs, which make walking down a short flight of stairs, the most excruciating experience! There are a few simple exercises which you can do pre-ski to prepare your body and avoid the bum/thigh burn as well as prevent more serious injuries. Dmitri Tkatchev, a performance specialist at Bodyism, says that our core, bottom and thighs are the most important areas of the body to focus on before a skiing holiday. A strong core is crucial for maintaining good form on skis especially towards the end of a long day when our bodies are tired and sore, and the snow becomes a little slushy. Stronger bottom and thigh muscles will help our legs absorb all the bumps on the afternoon home-run. For the super-prepped ski body, Dmitri recommends starting your exercises one to two months before your trip and training two or three times per week. But don’t panic if you haven’t got time, you’ll still benefit by starting as little as a few weeks before your holiday. You don’t need to join a gym or have buckets of time to do these exercises either. Thanks to Dmitri, you can watch his ski-body exercises for free via the Bodyism channel and train in the warm comfort of your living room.

Yoga is another great way to prep our bodies prior to hitting snowy peaks. As well as strengthening our bodies, we need to maintain flexibility and focus. Dmitri emphasises the importance of hip mobility. Flexible, mobile hip joints will mean we are less likely to favour one side of our body allowing better distribution of weight through the legs and the lower back. Regular yoga practice, focusing on the hips, legs and core, will keep our bodies fluid, flexible and strong. Yoga is also great for improving our levels of focus and concentration which are important when we are navigating our way down a busy and steep mountain.

Before You Sink Into the Bath
After a full day’s skiing, tired and a little rouge from the sun, more exercise is not going to be the first thing on our minds. But before sinking into a bath or curling up in front of the fire, try to do a few stretching exercises. Dmitri advises the use of a Trigger Point foam roller (don’t worry, the travel version is light and won’t take up too much room in your suitcase…)

Foam roll your tired muscles starting from the calves and moving up the body. If you haven’t got a foam roller, you can still do some simple stretches at the end of each day. Focus on stretching the muscles in your legs, hips and bottom. A post-ski stretch will be worth it when day 2 arrives and we can walk up and down stairs without holding onto the rail! If you need some guidance, Bodyism also has a great post-ski day regeneration video in which Dmitri shows you the perfect combination of post-ski stretches.

Ski Food
We need to be well fuelled for a ski holiday as all those hours exercising outdoors burns up a lot of energy! Before you leave for your trip focus on eating plenty of healthy, energy boosting foods such as almonds, seeds and oats (see H&H’s list of 10 energy boosting foods). Fuel yourself sensibly before hitting the slopes and you won’t have any problems skiing until the lifts close. Also getting into a great healthy routine pre-holiday means you are less likely to gorge yourself on all the heavy, fatty foods often found in ski resorts (why ruin that happy, healthy feeling!).

Surprisingly many people actually gain weight during a ski trip despite doing several full days of exercise. Lots of cheese and meat fondues, chocolate croissants, Nutella filled crepes and après-ski drinking all contribute to a post-ski muffin top! But it doesn’t have to be that way. Skiing holidays provide a fabulous opportunity to get into great shape. Although there is a lot of stodge on the slopes, there are plenty of yummy, healthy options available and many restaurants serve fresh salads, grilled lean meats and vegetables. If you are staying in a hotel or catered chalet, most chefs will prepare delicious vegan options and cater for other diets such as gluten free or dairy free. And remember, you don’t have to eat all five courses every evening! Packing small snack-packs in your pocket such as nuts, a homemade trail mix (think gojis, cacao nibs and pumpkin seeds) or a bar of raw chocolate, will also help keep your energy levels up and stop you reaching for the buttery biscuits.

If you prepare your body before you go, stretch after you ski and eat well, there is no reason not to return home from a ski holiday feeling fitter and healthier than ever. All that exercise, vitamin D (we hope!), fresh mountain air and fun will make for a fabulous Hip and Healthy holiday!

words by Kathleen Flemming


The Microwave: Nutrition Killer?

words by Tess Ward

I am aware that an intolerant stance on microwaves can often be misconstrued as cooking snobbism. Before I begin, I feel compelled to say that it is not. I have no qualms about abandoning old fashioned cooking processes in favour of more practical methods. It is not in taste or texture of microwaved food that my issue lies. My beef is what really happens to the food in the process of going from tepid to torched. What black magic happens inside that glowing box? What message is it sending out to the uninspired cook.

It is not only the tool of an amateur nuking a late night Rustlers or leftover curry. It has become a tool of kitchens worldwide. Even though evidence suggests that 60-90% of the vital energy field content is lost in the nuking process, it nonetheless sits in pride of place on the counter amongst our everyday utensils and counter top tat, poised and ready to ‘cook’ the life out of our everyday dishes.

The microwave parallels the rise of obesity as an epidemic. I feel its invention is partly to blame that I see the words ‘overeating’ and ‘malnourishment’ too often assembled together in, what should be, a contradictory sentence. Its’ existence also unequivocally encourages, nothing more, then downright kitchen laziness. It is no coincidence that the popularity of the microwave has grown, whilst the regularity of evening family meals has fallen because it takes the options out from under us. It is too simple to punch a code and step back deprived of any experience between outset and conclusion. It is a secret glowing vault that discourages us from any precious moments of kitchen creativity. What we need is encouragement, not a ‘+5’ button.

Essentially the way it works is is causes waves of radiation that causes the molecules within our food to vibrate. The movement forces the water within each molecule to flip back back and forth at super speed, at an impressive 4 million time per second to be precise, thus causing heat. John Ashton discusses in, ‘The Perils of Progress: The Health and Environmental Hazards of Modern Technology and What You Can Do About Them’ that the Swiss Federal Institute of technology have proven the negative effects of the big bad box. Their research shows that microwaves change not only foods’ nutritional value, but that consuming such food has the power to make adverse changes to our bodies in the long term. They uncovered that, when microwaving milk, the dairy proteins were altered so radically by the electro magnetic wave interference, that any good nutritional properties within the milk were removed, rendering it nothing more then nutrition-less, mildly toxic, cow juice.

Perhaps now is a good time to mention that I like the other 90+ percent of the nation, own a microwave. I feel wrong, if not slightly hypocritical to leave this detail out. It sits scornfully on top of my fridge, highly neglected and pristinely unused. It is there merely for the occasion when I am ill to the point of death and cooking is an impossibility. Perhaps also to warm the odd cup of cooling soup. I have never been an avid microwave user. Somehow I was a lucky escapee. My rented housing facilities have never stretched to such amenities, and let me say how thankful I am for it. I saw too many of my university friends fall victim to its wondrous ways. Cardboard sleeve off, fork punctures through the thin plastic film, clunk onto the glass plate and boom hot food. Tempting?! I do not begrudge its use on occasions, rather I try to avoid it at all costs.

I know I am not alone in my concerns. As David Icke discusses in his article ‘Why did Russia ban the use of microwave ovens,’ a whole nation expressed the same worries at one point. One observation he makes is that ‘all other animals consume food in its natural, unprocessed state, but humans actually go out of their way to render food nutritionally worthless before eating it.’ By heating and eating in this way we might be getting the calories and the energy, but what about the phytonutrients and antioxidants that are lost in the radiation process?

The change to our food might not be clear by sight or touch but let me ask anyone that might have mistakenly put metal in the microwave (and seen those sparks fly) to just think what such volatile energy might is doing to your daily dish.

Find out more about Tess on her website: or take a look at her blog: Or follow Tess on Twitter: @tesswardchef

Detox & Retreat to the Countryside…

Where: Middle Piccadilly, Dorset

Who: Lydia Lerner, writer, mum of one and in need of a break!

I was unsure what to expect from my visit to the Middle Piccadilly Rural Spa Retreat, being a meat eater, I was nervous about dining on vegetarian cuisine all weekend and worried about being in my own company for two days. However, my fears were soon set aside when I entered the relaxed, tranquil environment of the Middle Piccadilly, where the people who work there truly put their guest’s wellbeing at the forefront of the experience they provide.

Dominic and Lisa Harvey who run the idyllic rural retreat, are incredibly warm and welcoming. On my arrival Dominic asked me to fill out an optional form on my general health and emotional status that later Lisa would go through with me, to recommend treatments most relevant to my personal needs. I really liked the prescriptive way my weekend was suggested and even though you can book dietary packages in advance such as vegetarian, juicing or raw food and any of the wide range of treatments, I was happy to take Lisa’s lead. I have never been particularly experimental with my treatment choices in the past and allowing Lisa to guide me, proved to be a revelation. Lisa recommended the LaStone Therapy and Hand on Heart treatments, which were provided by the Middle Piccadilly’s excellent and insightful therapists. Both my therapists were very keen to make me feel at ease. One minute I found myself chuckling away, and the next feeling totally relaxed and soothed by the holistic experience. After both treatments I felt exhausted and needed a nap but the next day I awoke feeling energised and ready for action. There is a huge repertoire of experiences the Middle Piccadilly has to offer, in particular I thought the Shamanic Healing sounded really interesting and there is an Infrared Sauna and Japanese Soak tub which unfortunately due to all my “resting”, I did not have time to try.


During the course of the weekend I was mainly left to my own devices, which was an opportunity I was surprised to find that I relished. Four other guests were also staying at the retreat, two sets of friends who proved to be great company over the communal meals we shared in the cosy kitchen. However, nobody seemed bothered if you wanted to be on your own and I found I was equally at ease walking, reading and reflecting. On the first evening Dominic had kindly handed me directions for a lovely walk along the aptly named Peaceful Lane which gave me a great excuse to explore the beautiful Dorset countryside. Within the retreat there are plenty of areas to relax in, a lovely sitting room where you are asked wait before your treatments and the Starhouse where you can chill out, practice yoga or meditate. Newspapers, mobile phones and technology in general are discouraged at the retreat and a respectful quietness is requested after 10:30pm. I was one of the only people to have a television in my room, which I did not feel the need to switch on. These requests are not made to chastise you but to ensure everyone enjoys a peaceful stay and you find yourself quickly slipping into the docile environment. The handbook provided in your room states clearly that you should treat the retreat as a “home from home” and hours of undisturbed rest is “encouraged!”


Coming to any kind of wellbeing “retreat” always installs a fear in me that the food will be restrictive and I may be left hungry! Friends ribbed me prior to my trip and suggested I slip a few snacks into my rucksack, however, Dominic’s food was a real highlight, it was simply delicious. After a scrumptious nut burger on the first evening I really looked forward to the proceeding meals which also added a gentle structure to the day. Breakfast was simple self-serve cereals and bread and jam, lunch warming soup with salad and cheeses, but it was the evening meals that were really impressive! Dominic’s Cordon Vert meals were beautifully presented, imaginative and satisfying. Not being a vegetarian myself, the food really inspired me to take a closer look at my diet at home as Dominic proved, with a little creativity vegetarian food can be superb.

The Middle Piccadilly is not your stereotypical spa break, it’s not a sterile tiled environment, the therapists do not wear crisp white tunics and the rooms are clean and cosy rather than luxurious. However, if you are looking for a place that is set in a stunning landscape, will feed you delicious wholesome food, will provide outstanding holistic treatments and will leave you feeling recharged, having achieved a real sense of wellbeing, then look no further… book your break quick! You can relax when you get there.

WOW factor: The treatments were really exceptional at the Middle Piccadilly , provided by insightful therapists who went of their way to put you at ease and ensure a rejuvenating experience.


Special H&H Offer: Prices start at £319 per person, which includes all treatments and meals based on two people sharing a room. Single occupancy rates available. Hip & Healthy readers can benefit from a complimentary 30 minute facial, using the code “HIPHEALTHYFEB”. Book at

Vaujany Reviewed: A blissful week of skiing and the great helmet debate!

After an early morning start and plenty of anticipation about the week that lay ahead, it wasn’t a surprise when I found myself being shaken awake by an animated boyfriend, to tell me we’d arrived, an hour after we set off from Grenoble airport. My first thoughts were that we really had stumbled across a gem– the quintessentially French resort of Vaujany sits in a charming valley with traditional Alpine character – exactly what I was after, and much more than I’d hoped. Immediately awake and full of excitement we jumped off the coach, and were welcomed into the warm embrace of Ski Peak’s chalet, Roistang, our home for the week. With a beautifully converted ex-milking parlour for a dining room, roaring fires and rustic chic décor, I immediately fell in love. After a much-appreciated vin chaud, and welcome chat from our helpful hosts, it was into the village to sort ski equipment ready for the morning.

Right. Skis – check, poles – check, helmet…. really? By far not the best in my group of friends, but not a beginner, having skied for many years without a helmet, I was skeptical. Wouldn’t it impact on the feeling of freedom experienced when skiing – and just be, well, annoying. Not immune to the many scare stories, and most recently Michael Schumacher’s tragic accident, I was aware of the dangers of not wearing one. I found myself having a war in my head – of course, the pros of wearing a helmet were obvious – my sensible side told me minimising the risk of head injuries should outweigh everything, but thoughts of putting my hair in a gammy rental helmet with who knows how many previous owners, did not make me rush to the checkout. The Times says that in the US about 70% of skiers and snowboarders now wear helmets, (triple the number in 2003) but brain injuries or deaths haven’t fallen. So, with the blessing of my boyfriend, ‘it’s not like you’re going to be going off jumps or down any crazy off-piste’, I trotted back to our chalet happy and helmet free.

The next day however, was a very different story. Not only was I the only person in my large group of friends to turn up without a helmet, but I seemed to be the only person on the mountain without one. Whether it was relaying media hype or discussing genuine experiences, I spent a 10-minute cable car journey listening to the many stories that backed up my friends’ choices to wear a helmet… leaving me feeling uneasier by the second. On the first run of the day, I saw a snowboarder career into an older woman – thankfully both parties were fine, but it instilled the fear of God in my helmet-free head. The rest of the morning followed suit with a petrified version of my former self, moving no faster than a snail, down pistes I would normally have sailed down.

Accepting that my sensible side had won the battle, I headed into the local ski shops later that day to peruse Vaujany’s selection of helmets. I have to say, the range now available is vast compared to a few years ago. A huge variety of colours, shapes and sizes – even some fur lined options, which looked incredibly cosy. I would definitely recommend investing in your own to avoid having to rent, and with the array online, you’ll be spoilt for choice. You can see our pick of the most stylish ski helmets here:

 Kask Lifestyle Fur Ski Helmet – £575

White Stone Bogner Ski Helmet – £255

 Giro Sheer Helmet – £150

Once settled back in, I was able to enjoy Vaujany, in all its beauty and glory. Compared to my last ski experience in Morzine – which resembled a jam-packed motorway on a bad day – the Vaujany slopes were uncrowded and lift queues very rare. For those more experienced skiers looking for burning thighs and a challenge, Vaujany has the Champagne run – covering a distance of at least 12km and dropping 2230 vertical metres it’s a mean feat. The big league resort of, Alpe d’Huez, lies just around the corner too, with its extensive, high, sunny slopes and lively on piste restaurants.


 When to go: Due to its well-renowned ski instructors and varied levels of slopes, the village is popular with families, so if you’re going as a couple or group of friends, stay away during the schools breaks and head late January for the best snow

 Where to stay: Ski Peak will look after you with the upmost care, from when you land to when you take off – for the luxury treatment, I’d recommend going catered in one of their four charming chalets including the 5*, picture perfect, Chalet Saskia.

 Where to après: If you can bear to venture away from Chalet Saskia’s hot tub in the evenings, head to the popular Arsen’s Café for a few well-earned drinks. Wherever you are staying, the shops, restaurants and bars can be reached via the covered escalator, which runs through the village, and the Ski Peak hosts are always on hand to ferry you around if you stay outside the village.

words by Amelia Perkins

Image: © Office de Tourisme Vaujany

If you only do one thing this week… Do as the Winter Olympians Do!

It’s always a special and exciting time when the Olympics are on, whether it’s summer or winter. I personally have always had a fascination with winter sports and I have great admiration for all the athletes that compete, purely for their extraordinary talent and sheer bravery! From a H&H view point, I love how it brings out team spirit and how it encourages people to get active and try something new! Sochi 2014 has really inspired me to try snowboarding! I’m your typical ski girl and never had an interest in swapping two skis for one board, but the winter Olympics really showed me how beautiful and exhilarating snowboarding can be and it’s totally opened my mind to opting for the board when it comes to booking my next winter holiday!

Since it’s “Ski Week” here at H&H, we thought we’d share with you a few of our fave winter Olympians, past and present!

Jenny Jones
Lady of the moment, Jenny Jones brought home Team GB’s first ever medal in snowboard slopestyle on Sunday 9th February and we couldn’t be happier for her! Jenny first picked up a snowboard at the age of 18, which in the world of snowboarding, is considered to be quite late. She’s living proof that you don’t have to have been a toddler on the snow in order to be successful!
Do it like Jenny – When she’s not hitting the mountain, you can find her on a different kind of board! She loves surfing as a way of keeping fit and loves the balance it gives her body, as surfing needs a lot of upper body strength. We think she deserves to give her toned and super strong quads a break from time to time!

Amy Williams
Lets not forget golden girl, Amy Williams who became the Olympic champion of the Women’s Skeleton in Vancouver 2010. Her victory meant it was the first gold medal in an individual event that Great Britain had seen in 30 years! Having originally been a 400m runner, she made the transition in to skeleton at the age of 20 and immediately fell in love. After the disappointment of not qualifying for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, she set her eyes on London 2012 and nothing was going to stop her! Well the rest is history!
Do it like Amy – Since retiring in 2012, Amy has found another passion to keep her fit and healthy, British Military Fitness, the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes. Try a free class here!

Billy Morgan
Wild child Billy Morgan was always destined to end up on the snowy slopes of Sochi. As a youngster, he was a keen skateboarder and did a lot of acrobatic gymnastics… (You couldn’t think of a better combo for snowboarding really!) A school ski trip at 14 saw the beginning of Billy’s snowboarding career and by the time he was 15 he had entered his first competition at his local slope and came out 2nd!
Do it like Billy – Billy knows that in order to go “big” on the slopes, he needs to make sure he keeps his muscles strong, so he likes to hit the gym and focus on exercises like squats, single-led squats and lunges. He also stresses the importance of keeping the glute muscles strong as they can support and take some of the workload off other muscles.