Top Five Holistic Spa Treatments in London

It can be hard enough focusing on eating healthily and finding the time and energy to exercise, that we often completely neglect looking after our mind and body. Dedicating time to caring for yourself focusing on your mind and body is just as important as nurturing our body with food and fitness. Sadly we rarely do it, as it seems an indulgent treat. Holistic treatments not only provide physical benefits that potentially no amount of exercise or food could remedy but also are fantastic for our emotional and spiritual well being in this fast paced world we live in. Take some time for yourself and include a holistic treatment as often as you can to really achieve a completely balanced, healthy and happy you.

The Dorchester Hotel, Mayfair
If the ‘Lavender Crush’ treatment at this luxurious five star hotel won’t truly relax and revive your mind and body, I don’t know what will! This treatment is based around the healing and soothing powers of much loved wild lavender. Lavender has a long history in medicinal healing and is now often used to provide physical and emotional relief. Lavender oil is packed full of rich molecules and components and when applied to the skin can help to relieve headaches, anxiety, depression, insomnia and help boost immunity. This treatment starts with a full body detoxifying exfoliation that leaves the skin feeling soft and incredibly firm. This is then followed by a full body and scalp massage using lavender oil finishing with warm stones. This treatment relaxed me so much, I fell asleep and don’t remember the scalp treatment however I really felt the results. I can’t remember the last time I felt so completely relaxed and at ease but this treatment took me to that lovely place. After the treatment I was taken to a room to relax and given coconut water with healthy nuts to re-energize. (www.thedorchester.com/dorchester-spa)

The Chelsea Day Spa, Hollywood Road
This sweet little boutique spa tucked away in Chelsea provides a ‘Detox Diva’ package treatment. Perfect if you are about to embark on a new health and fitness regime by kick starting your detox. I was feeling slightly sluggish after an over indulgent weekend and found this treatment package put me back on track. I was treated to collagen-boosting, skin thirst quenching HydroPeptide Facial, which sloughs away dead skin to reveal a healthy, natural glow and includes a lymphatic drainage facial to soothe puffiness. Suitable for all skin types, it refines pores and leaves complexion refreshed, sparkling clean, clear and bright. Next I experienced a Lymphatic Drainage Massage, where a special blend of detox oils were massaged over my body, to relieve aching muscles and cleanse the body. Lymphatic drainage is a therapeutic massage treatment that uses mostly light pressure and gentle, rhythmic strokes to increase and improve lymphatic flow. Lymph is an essential part of our immune system and helps fight infection by flushing out and removing toxins and harmful substances from the body. Improving lymph flow and drainage around the body is good for many reasons as it can help your body fight infection by keeping your immune system healthy, relieve water retention and help improve skin texture. This treatment is perfect to cleanse from overindulgence and hangovers to leave you feeling refreshed!
(www.thechelseadayspa.co.uk/pages/hollywood-road.html)

Lush Spa, The Kings Road
‘The Validation Facial’ from Lush Spa is designed to not only leave you with beautiful looking skin, but also take you on what Lush describe as a ‘magical journey’. The facial journey has been designed to address concerns with your skin but to also evoke deep emotion to leave you feeling empowered, confident and beautiful. This is done by specially written music by Simon Emmerson from The Imagined Village, with clever words woven into the lyrics created by a hypnotherapist so you feel relaxed and leave feeling beautiful. After an in-depth consultation with my Therapist, we chose together what products would be best to address my skins needs. This is where I learnt how natural and fresh the products are. Hearing this specially curated music whilst having my facial was refreshing, uplifting and worked perfectly with this truly relaxing treatment. The music takes you on a journey to a relaxing place by literally rowing you there with the sound of a boat rowing along a river before a gentle and calming song begins. Eleven specially selected words are repeated intermittently, which give you a chance to reflect on. My skin responded incredibly well to the cold stones, something I have never tried before and left me with glowing skin for days afterwards. I sure did feel like I went on a ‘journey’ with this mind-body treatment as my mind was engaged throughout with the empowering music and words.
(www.lush.co.uk/spa)

Aromatherapy Associates, Knightsbridge (image above)
The ‘City Stress Buster’ is a bespoke treatment to address your physical and emotional needs using aromatherapy oils. To start, I had an in depth consultation with my Therapist about my physical and emotional concerns. I was then asked to use my nose and pick from a selection of different oil blends which one I liked the most as this I was told would be the oil my body needs the most. I was coming down with a cold at the time, which fully supported why I was drawn to the Support Breath Oil. This oil is made with eucalyptus, pine, tea tree and peppermint that act as a decongestant and help with breathing. My Therapist then used this oil to give me a deep tissue massage, which I discovered during this that I had a number of nasty knots. My Therapist worked on these knots and then went on to give me a scalp massage to help relieve my cold induced headache. This bespoke treatment is a fantastic way to use the power of aromatherapy oils to combat any physical and emotional concerns and even better that it is all in an hour!
(www.aromatherapyassociates.com/ourboutique)

The Landmark Hotel, Marylebone
The spa at this deluxe hotel takes you a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of London life. The ‘Seaweed oil massage’ is a bespoke treatment using organic aromatic oils to relax muscles, relieve stress and trapped tension, soothe the mind and promote quality of sleep. Seaweed oil has an abundance of nourishing benefits for the skin including reducing the appearance of cellulite, hydration and purification. I had a deep tissue massage and again I discovered I had some unwanted knots on my neck that resulted in having a tight scalp. My Therapist then gave me a head massage using Ayurvedic Marma pressure points. The ancient practice of Marma presusure points has been used for hundreds of years to promote physical and mental rehabilitation. This practice teaches that we have 107 Marma points in our body which each have their own intelligence and consciousness. These points also correspond with our internal organs and can be stimulated to provide physical and spiritual relief. My Therapist was incredibly nurturing and instinctively responded to my body. This treatment really helped address and remedy problems which I would not have been aware of should I have not gone for this relaxing holistic treatment.
(www.landmarklondon.co.uk/en/landmark-spa-health-club)

words by Stephanie Matysiak

For more articles like this and other health and wellness tips sign up to our newsletter here.

 

 

 


The Mind and Body Connection – putting the ‘ommmm’ in exercise

words by fitness expert, Rebecca Dalby

When people think or refer to ‘the mind and body connection’, most people associate it with perhaps yoga, Thai Chi or meditation. When you go to a spinning class, the last thing you are thinking about is how your mind and body will be connecting throughout or after the class. Many people are completely unaware of how exercise can create a connection between the mind and body, or that there is one at all at any time! This also means they are oblivious of the affect the mind and body have on one another. There are some exercisers who shrug it off and are not interested in ‘that kind of thing’. Most of us have heard about endorphins, which are released whilst exercising and know that they give us a buzz or a happy feeling but that is about the extent of it.

Well, there is much more to it than that! Once you know more about it, this knowledge can allow you to truly appreciate exercise in another way and at a deeper level. This is also more likely to motivate and encourage you to keep up your exercise regime and form a habit for life.

Your body and mind are inextricably entwined. If you begin to break down the body you will find out straight away that the brain is the ‘control centre’ of the body. What the brain tells the body to do, it does. However, the body also feedbacks to the brain via millions of nerves (Central Nervous System), so there is a constant dialogue and exchange of information between the body and the brain. This dialogue is a balancing act so if one or the other is either slow to respond or inactive, imbalance occurs.

Hormone release (which is part of the Endocrine System), play a huge part in this dialogue and are the by-product of what is happening to the body and mind. Hormones have certain effects on the body both positive and negative. For example, the hormone cortisol is released by the body when the mind (or body) is experiencing stress. So if you are stressed frequently for a significant period of time, cortisol is continually pumped out through your body during this period. Because cortisol is a destructive catabolic hormone, it starts to attack your immune system and slows down your metabolism (amongst other things), which commonly leads to weight gain, infections, illness and can contributes to quite serious diseases. In summary, as you can see, scientifically there is no doubt that the mind and body directly affect one another.

Now, let’s talk about how we can experience and capitalise on what’s happening within our bodies when we exercise. The key to this is quite simply focus and awareness. I believe there are two main ways people can experience the ‘mind and body connection’ through exercise.

  1. When you are totally focused and immersed in what you are doing with your body at that precise moment in time. This requires practise and discipline as it is quite easy to allow your mind to wander and get distracted (especially if the instructor has a particularly chiselled physique!). Next time you exercise, really focus on what your body is doing and try to enjoy the movement you are creating. The more you do this, the easier and more natural it will become. It is also commonly referred to as being in the ‘flow’ or ‘in the zone’ depending on what exercise or sporting background you’re from.
  2. There is also a window when you are cooling down where although you may look like a beetroot, you mentally feel a million dollars! This is down to the endorphins which have been released whilst exercising. Do not rush this moment, enjoy the feeling. I find it useful to reflect on what you have just done and the effect it has had on your body i.e. burned calories or fat cells, improved flexibility and posture, strengthen muscles etc. Go with this feeling and enjoy the moment. Again it is about being aware and listening to your body and mind.

There are no restrictions as to what exercise can produce this connection. Obviously some forms of exercise more naturally lead you to this point. But we all enjoy different things in life, so if you’re not a yogi, it doesn’t mean you can’t experience the ommmmm feeling!

Be aware, stay focused and reflect.

image from and clothes by www.lululemon.co.uk


Slimming Massage… Yes really: We review Paola Bassanese’s renowned treatment

Frankie Rozwadowska reviews Paola Bassanese’s renowned treatment: The Energya Slimming/Contouring Massage

Let me set the scene. It’s mid-winter, I have less than a week ‘til I go on holiday and my New Year’s ‘eat super healthy and exercise lots’ plan has yet to really start. Panic sets in. I’m about to be on a beach, wearing a bikini. A BIKINI. The most unforgiving of clothing items. As I start thinking of back-up plans (last minute juice fast, back-to-back pilates classes or even some all-in-one-suck-everything-in swimsuit), my computer pings. I have mail.  An invitation to try a slimming massage – if there’s such thing as a ‘sign’, this has to be it. Within minutes I am all booked in to meet Paola Bassanese, an award-winning massage therapist known to be the guru of slimming treatments. My holiday saviour.

After wanting more from life and to make a difference to other people’s, Paola quit her 9-5 job over 7 years ago so she could pursue her dreams of becoming a masseuse – starting her Energya Ltd company in 2006. Italian-blooded, she’s warm and welcoming – and within 5 minutes you’ll be telling her your life-story and asking her advice, like an old friend you haven’t seen for a while. She puts you totally at ease and tailors the massage around the parts of your body that you feel need work, not just the standard ‘problem areas’. Driven by the desire to make people look and feel better, she developed the Energya Slimming/Contouring Massage. It can instantly rid you of up to 2cm around your middle and it helps diminish the appearance of cellulite. Got your attention? Thought so.

Consisting of three key elements – lymphatic drainage, friction and pressure – fat deposits are broken down and are then absorbed into the blood stream and eliminated via our lymphatic system. The lymphatic drainage technique is the soft, gentle one – upward strokes that reach toward our lymphatic nodes. The friction and pressure then really work into problem areas to break down the deposits whilst also ridding you of any knots or tension. Paola starts off gently and increases the pressure ever so slowly, which means you are able to withstand more than you think. One of her key principles is that we all need to listen and really feel our bodies (there’s no music or incense/smelly things to distract you) and this technique of hers really allows for that. Using a combination of pressure and heat on outer thighs and on the backs of the legs causes even the most stubborn of areas to break down, so if you suffer from cellulite or dimpling – this really is for you. On the tummy it helps flatten the abdomen and improve digestion – really working into your intestines and stomach to help  get things moving (like a colonic minus the tubes. Enough said). This also helps to clear skin as the digestive tract is cleared and toxins can pass through, which not only cause bloating and digestive problems, but also break outs and skin conditions.

Aside from the fact my tummy was definitely flatter and my muscles had been given a serious kneading (Paola warned me I might wake up the next day and feel like I had a big workout – and it’s true, I did) it not only helped me look better, but it helped me feel better. It’s incredibly motivating and it makes you feel good and aware of your body – spurring you on to treat it right and really look after it. Even if you’re not about to go on holiday, I highly recommend you pay a visit to Paola and her magical hands. It’s a great way to kick-start a healthy lifestyle change, or to reward yourself for any changes you have made and are successfully keeping up. I packed my suitcase the following day and there wasn’t a one-piece in sight.

The Energya Slimming/Countor Massage – 1hr, £90.00

http://www.energya.co.uk | [email protected] | 07803961669

Image sourced from http://www.bakuaustralia.com.au


Spring Style – the Sport Edit: Time to spring clean your work-out wardrobe

Although it may not feel like it, Spring is just around the corner. So with that in mind, we’re getting all excited about the Spring active-wear on the market. It’s time to revamp your work out wardrobe and invest in some key colourful pieces that are going to take your boring blacks leggings leaping into the new season. Here are a few of our favourite brands…

HPE (http://hpe-shop.com)
HPE stands for human performance engineering, which means that each garment in this collection of forward-thinking sports wear is created with a number of different functions in mind and responds to the environment around you. The man behind the brand, Nick Harris, works with yarn construction, shape, fabric and technology to make sure that blood flow is regulated and body temperature maintained. And it is oh-so-stylish too. What’s not to love.
Above: Classic Vest in Red, £35

Asquith (http://www.asquithlondon.com)
Forerunners in yoga and Pilates wear, Asquith London uses bamboo and GOTC certified organic cotton to create its fab range of clothes. Bamboo is pretty brilliant as not only is it naturally anti-bacterial, durable and beautiful to wear it also grows really quickly making it very sustainable. We have fallen in love with their colours too, as the range is filled with crushed raspberry and apricot hues – perfect for a sunny Spring.
Above: Loose T raspberry, £49

Polar (http://www.polar.com)
Investing in a running watch is one of the best things joggers can do to improve their performance and their health. Polar has a fantastic selection that do everything from monitor heart rate, display calories burned and even tell you if you are fat burning or improving fitness, helping you to stick to your goals. Plus we’re suckers for technology that comes in pretty colours.
Above: FT7 Heart Rate Monitor, £93.50

Nike (http://store.nike.com/gb/en_gb/)
Forever innovative and stylish sports wear brand, Nike, never disappoint. Their brand new range of Flyknit Lunar1+ are perfect for a spring run. The shoes are literally steam moulded onto your foot allowing for the most perfect fit. This means that the period of time when one has to wear the shoes in (often involving long painful runs that result in blisters) have become a thing of the past. They are also incredibly light and come in a range of colours. Not even an April shower will be able to deter you from your morning jog once these babies are on your feet.
Above: Flyknit Lunar1+, £130

Oysho (http://www.oysho.com)
A new discovery for us, this Spanish brand is first and foremost specialises in underwear. However, they have recently broken into the gym wear market and we are loving what we’re seeing: Easy-to-wear stylish pieces that not only are made for working-out but won’t look out of place in a chic café. The price point is incredibly reasonable and the model working the looks has the most fabulous legs. Nothing to do with the clothes, we know, but makes us want to buy them even more than we do already. Definitely one to watch.
Above: Oysho Sneakers, £29.99 / Plush Shorts, £17.99 / Windbreaker Jacket with Hood, £39.99 / Mesh Top, £19.99


If you only do one thing this week… Beat Bloating

Identify an intolerance
Many cases of bloated tummies are actually down to food intolerances, especially dairy. As you get older you produce less of the lactase enzyme, which is responsible for breaking down the sugars in milk (lactose). This makes it way harder for your body to digest dairy. So, if your body can’t break down something like lactose normally, then it finishes the process in your colon, which produces gas and feels super uncomfortable. Try tracking when the bloatedness occurs to see if it follows a pattern with your food consumption. Or, just cut dairy out and see how you feel. There are also many other reasons dairy is not great for you so whether it is the route to your problem or not you’ll feel benefits such as weight loss, clearer skin and more energy. It’s a win win.

Say goodbye to salt
If you have a diet high in salt your body will hold on to excess water to try and dilute it. So refrain from adding extra salt to your meals. This is the easy part. What’s not so easy is working out how much hidden salt is in EVERYTHING. The best way around this is by cooking from scratch, as that way you are the master of your meal and control exactly what goes in (or stays out) of it. If you are using canned foods, like kidney beans, make sure you rinse them well as they are often stored in salty water.

Eat slower and more mindfully
If you wolf down your food at great speed you’ll also ingest more air, which in turn will bloat you and make you quite gassy. If you find that you often eat on the go this can be a problem as the time pressure of fitting in your meal will not only cause you to eat quickly but also, often, stressfully, which will make it harder to digest and often cause a painful type of bloating. Therefore, make time for your meals. Sit down and eat them off a plate.

Add avocado
Avocado is full of potassium, which plays an important role when it comes to bloating as it reduces any puffiness caused by an excess in sodium (salt). Coconut water and bananas also contain a lot of potassium so if your not a fan of avocado then try these.

Lose the booze
Alcohol stops your body from processing things properly and is also very acidic. This acidity is not good for a number of reasons, but one of the main ones is that an acidic body will tend to hold onto excess water for longer. So, although you feel like you are peeing all the water out, your body is in fact in a confused state and so is operating entirely inefficiently. Also the excess amount of sugar in your body will also cause puffiness in unwanted areas, this is exaggerated more if you choose sugary booze such as tequila which is 90 per cent fructose. If you must drink stick to low sugar options like vodka.

Exercise is wise
When it comes to bloating, exercise is key. Physical exercise helps trapped air pass through your digestive tract quicker, allowing for the bloated feeling to subside much quicker than if you choose to lie down for the rest of the afternoon. In fact, a recent Swedish study revealed that moderate exercise, such as a 30 minute bike ride three times a week, significantly improves bloating.

Image by Phillip Papadis

 


Icy Berry Bowl Smoothie Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 cup Frozen Blueberries
1/2 cup Raspberries (frozen)
1/2 cup strawberries (frozen)
1/2 frozen banana
Handful Spinach
Handful Oats
2 tsp Chia seeds
1 tablespoon Flax
1 tsp cinnamon

For Sprinkling:
Cacao nibs
Desicated coconut
Pumpkin Seeds

Method:
Blend together in your blender.


The Path to Doing What You Want and Fulfilling Your Dreams: We speak to Nutritionist and successful business woman, Belinda Mann about achieving her dreams

The Path to Doing What You Want

We speak to Nutritionist and successful business woman, Belinda Mann, about achieving her dreams

girl on beach

A few years back one of my dreams was to formally study nutrition after being seriously wowed by the healing powers of healthy eating. Despite my interest, I made up plenty of excuses as to why I couldn’t study. I had already studied for a science degree and wasn’t sure I wanted to be a student again, then there was the fact I was working full time and had a partner and flat to look after. The time and money involved in retraining myself and worrying that I was too old to be changing career (at 28).

It’s funny the excuses you come up with! I smile looking back. I was almost ready to keep working for 35 more years doing a job I didn’t like! We spend more time at work than anything else in life so I had the realisation that the effort would be worth it in the end. Suddenly three years of study seemed like a very worthwhile commitment to make when I could be rewarded with a career in a field that excited me and filled me with passion. Every journey starts with a single step and so I enrolled!

After the three years of hard work I graduated from the Institute from Optimum Nutrition at the end of last year. Now the real dreams were about to begin! Full of enthusiasm I left my job in the city with lots of big ideas. Looking back at at my list of aspirations from this time last year it’s funny just how many of my goals I managed to make a reality! From working with a raw food community in Ecuador, assisting a detox retreat in Brazil, having articles published in my favourite health magazine from Ibiza (Passion), reviewing a luxury raw food wellness spa in Bali, being interviewed for a nutrition article in ELLE magazine and launching my own detox advice website (www.which-detox.com). Not to mention writing for Hip and Healthy!

We all have big ideas in us waiting to come to fruition, and now is the time to put pen to paper about how to set about making the deepest desires inside you become reality. Whether it be with work, travel, or personal development, and it doesn’t have to be a full blown change either. If you don’t want to embark on a university degree, look at short courses, or maybe set up a blog to write about your passion. When it comes to health and fitness small realistic adjustments in your lifestyle are always the way to bring about real long term change.

Setting goals for the things you truly want in life is a brilliant start. Then the next step is working out how to achieve them. With any goal (no matter how exciting!) there are bound to be times you feel tired, like everything is too hard and you want to give up.

When the going gets tough here are my top tips to keep you on your path to fulfilling your goals:

1. Don’t make excuses as to why you can’t do something, instead think about the reasons why you can! 

In Action: For example saying in the past I didn’t have the time to study. But the desire to work in a job I loved for the next 35 years was a very good reason for me to find the time and make an effort.

2. Make a big goal into many smaller goals. Plan out realistic times to have each mini goal achieved to help keep momentum. Goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed. Achieving small goals keeps you motivated to keep going. 

In Action: If you want to eat more fruit and veg start by increasing 1-2 servings every day it’s more manageable than trying to increase by a lot.

3. Keep ‘to do’ lists manageable and just write down things you know you can achieve that day. Never ending to do lists can make you feel overwhelmed before you even start. Stay in the ‘here and now’ anything you don’t absolutely have to finish today put on another list.

In Action: Don’t worry about planning next month’s detox think about buying healthy food to feed you today.

4. Motivation is key. Tell everyone about your goal, then they can help to keep you motivated. Just like a personal trainer keeps you at the gym, the best results often come when we have someone encouraging us and giving a gentle push.

In Action: That’s why I started a health coaching service. It’s for people who don’t necessarily need nutritional advice to deal with a medical condition, but want some help to identify weak points in their diet and work out practical solutions to get around them.

5. During tough times imagine yourself at the end point of your goal and how you will feel. This feeling will help pull you in the direction of making your dream a reality.

In Action: If you are trying to beat a sugar addiction and are feeling tired, persevere and imagine how much energy you’ll have in 2 weeks time when your sugar cravings have disappeared. (A few drops of Rescue Remedy is always super helpful to pull you through as well!)

Find out more about Belinda at www.belindamann-nutrition.com

image source: http://brooklynhawaii.tumblr.com/post/33827633283


Doing The Legwork: 5 ways to get perfect pins

 words by Gabrielle Hyde

Tis the season to hide our legs under thick wooly tights. But when the sun starts shining, the first thing we want to do is unveil our sun deprived gams. Take a look at the following ways to earn pins to be proud of…

Move

The average person takes between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day (www.nhs.uk). An easy and effective way to tone and work the legs is simply, to take even more steps! Instead of spending your lunch hour browsing the Internet, why not go and browse the shops? Simple changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator will make all the difference. Walking is an underrated form of exercise and we do it every day, just step it up a gear and walk further and faster.

Squat

For a more specific form of exercise to strengthen and define the leg muscles, nothing can beat a squat. Daniel Williams, founder of the blog www.getoutandaboutfitness.com recommends a particular type of squat called a sumo squat. A great one for women, the sumo squat targets the inner thigh and glutes. He explained how to do it: ‘Stand with a really wide stance with your feet pointing outwards. Keep your back straight and bend at the knees, lowering your hips until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Raise back up and repeat 10-15 times. Daniel also recommends two other essential exercises for toned, slender legs – a narrow stance squat and walking lunges.

Drink

Water. It has been said time and time again but your body will reward you for drinking 1-2 litres of water a day. In terms of your legs, plenty of water will help the skin to glow and most importantly, keep cellulite at bay. Unfortunately, our legs are most likely to store the dreaded orange peel and we will do anything we can to see the back of it. Of course, it isn’t that easy. If it was we would all be chugging water by the bucket load. Diet and exercise also play a part. Tip: To make water more interesting and detoxifying, try it warm with fresh lemon juice.

Brush

It may seem like a tedious job but body brushing your skin for a few minutes every single day will really pay off. Working hard in the gym and looking after your skin go hand in hand when it comes to getting a great body, after all dull and bumpy skin isn’t worth showing off. Body brush your whole self but particularly the upper legs where cellulite can build up. This helps to break down the fatty cells and also works as a buffing mechanism to reveal healthier, silkier skin. It certainly isn’t a quick fix, but over time you will see the condition and tone of your skin improving. Remember, always brush in long, upward strokes.

Enhance

If your Saturday night party dress requires perfect pins and you haven’t been so dedicated in the gym, then there are a few quick fixes to make your legs look amazing. Top of the quick fix list is the multitasking Prtty Peaushun Skin Tight Body Lotion (£39). Loved by the likes of Cate Blanchett and Gwyneth Paltrow, the product works to give the skin a gorgeous glow and natural plant extracts help to improve the condition and tone of the skin. Another great way to improve the appearance of legs is fake tan. Xen-Tan Perfect Blend (£34.99) is a two-in-one self-tan and instant bronzer. The colour of the tan adapts to your individual skin tone and the bronzer is designed to enhance the contours of the skin and give the legs a radiant finish. And if that doesn’t sound good enough, the product is enriched with a firming complex. Now get slathering!

Image: Swimsuit from a selection at Sweaty Betty


Food Glorious (and healthy) Food: Our Top 5 Food Blogs

words by Kathleen Fleming

1. Cookie + Kate www.cookieandkate.com

This blog is full of amazing whole food, vegetarian recipes with photos so delicious you will want to take a bite out of your computer screen. All of the recipes are easy to follow and most of them do not require obscure ingredients. Kate divides her recipes up into sections which makes it easy to search for what you want to make.

Favourite recipe: curried lentil soup with dried cherries and cilantro. 

2. Love and Lemons www.loveandlemons.com

The couple who write this blog have a passion for using whole foods creatively. The recipes are split into savoury and sweet but it is the sweet ones that will win you over. The vegan pistachio ice cream made with coconut milk looks better than gelato and comes without a sugar coma.

Favourite recipe: carrot, oat, chocolate and cranberry cookies and that pistachio ice cream! 

3. Healthy Green Kitchen www.healthygreenkitchen.com

The author, Winnie, is a naturopathic doctor and uses her knowledge to whip up some unbelievably delicious but super healthy food. According to Winnie, most of her recipes can be made in about half an hour which means ‘I am too busy’ is not an excuse for failing to try some of them out. There are so many recipes that you are bound to find inspiration. Also unlike many healthy eating blogs I read, there are great recipes for poultry and meat.

Another great thing about this blog are the ‘one simple change’ articles. In these posts Winnie gives advice as to how a specific small change can make a difference to your health. Previous posts include ‘one small change: be wise about fish’ and ‘one small change: more raw foods’.

Favourite recipe: raw chocolate mousse…..who knew chocolate mousse could be so easy, delicious and healthy!

4. Sprouted Kitchen www.sproutedkitchen.com

Another clean eating couple – she does the cooking and he takes the beautiful photographs. The pictures are mouth watering. The great thing about the Sprouted Kitchen blog is that the food they use in the recipes is seasonal produce. This is an education for a lot of us who are clueless about food seasons due to the abundance of everything in our supermarkets. Buying seasonally is healthier and more environmentally friendly as our food is less likely to be genetically modified and hasn’t had to cross the globe to our plate.

Favourite recipe: quinoa falafel a with tahini.

5. Oh She Glows http://ohsheglows.com/

Oh She Glows is a vegan blog with food ideas guaranteed to make you glow with health. There are some incredible vegan recipes which will leave even the most avid carnivore satisfied. The biscuits, chocolates and desserts look better than their non-vegan alternatives and they are surprisingly easy to make. In addition, Angela’s story is inspiring as she has turned a long struggle with food into inspiring others to be healthy.

Favourite recipe: edamame hummus. 

image by Sprouted Kitchen


Calling All Yummy Mummies – Get your pre-baby body back

words by Lydia Lerner

Before giving birth to my daughter last July I had no idea that completing the most basic task would now elude me. Naively, I thought having a baby would allow me the freedom to do all the things a full time job had prevented me from doing, I could feed my baby whilst taking part in a ceramic class, jog through the park as she gurgles contently, all while making my own preserves.

Yep, turns out I was wrong. Not only do I have no free time for these activities, but after the huge physical change my body went through and the shock of caring for a new born baby, even popping out to the shops is a military operation. So the thought of juggling a workout into my daily routine seemed out of the question.

The medical professionals don’t recommend doing anything too strenuous for the first six weeks after giving birth, but once my doctor had given me the all clear I was keen to look for a way to get out the house and start improving my fitness levels.

After searching the internet and speaking with other mothers I came across Buggyfit classes in my local area. The Buggyfit instructor, Christine Griffin, has been running this particular course in Waltham Abbey Park for the last 9 months. This mother of two said, “the reason I started Buggyfit classes was because I understand myself how difficult it was to get my fitness back after having my own children. It’s very important for women to be in great shape and health when raising a family. Any women attending classes should expect to regain a good level of fitness, strength and body tone”.

The class is an excellent way to ease you back into exercise. Your first post-natal work out can be quite nerve racking and it’s reassuring to exercise in a class tailored to your needs. Christine takes into account how new a mum you are and adapts the programme if you’re breast feeding. Every class provides the opportunity for a full body work out while enjoying the fresh air and will always include those easy to neglect but oh-so-important pelvic floor exercises. Most importantly though Christine and all the mothers take responsibility for ensuring the babies are all safe throughout the class. My initial misconception was that Buggyfit would involve tearing round the park with my buggy. Although lunges and stretches do involve using the pram, no running is allowed with your baby and when I was jogging I felt pleased my child was under the watchful eye of the other mothers.

Even though Christine pushes the class hard, changing the workout programme every 6 weeks; the environment is very relaxed. It’s a great way to get some fresh air with your baby and meet some likeminded mums.

I didn’t realise until recently that having a baby is a lot like starting school. You’re forever learning new lessons and my mother keeps asking me if I have made any new friends yet. At least at Buggyfit class any nerves about meeting new people are soon eclipsed by the concentration required to complete star jumps and squats and the joy that your body still allows this to happen.

Buggyfit is a great concept. Entering the world of motherhood is a daunting road to travel and I have enjoyed the friendly yet challenging environment of the classes. Physically and mentally my stamina has improved with every lesson. Forcing myself outdoors in all kinds of weather really has had made a positive impact and my daughter seems to enjoy it too. I still have a long way to go before returning to my pre-pregnancy body, but Buggyfit is definitely an enjoyable way to help me achieve it.

Buggyfit wonderfully operate all over the UK: www.buggyfit.co.uk

For more information click here.

 


Pretty in the City: We pick our top beauty products to suit a range of different cities and their climates

Samantha Organ has searched the globe to find the right beauty product to suit a range of different climates, this is the travellers guide to beauty

We all have a favourite beauty brand we tend to stick to, but when abroad in a different climate, that particular brand may do nothing to encourage a healthy complexion and even skin tone. Your skin’s needs change from season to season, so whilst your skin may be dry in cold conditions, it can become severely dehydrated in hotter temperatures. Here we take a look at a range of the must have beauty products according to the climates of the top five cities in the world – helping your skin to stay healthy and hydrated whatever the weather.

London

The dark mornings and evenings can certainly take their toll on our appearance as we long for the summer sunshine. But for those of you struggling to find the perfect eye product that not only hydrates but adds that secret sparkle, try the Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream. Upon application, dark circles and puffiness are immediately diminished due to the hydrating properties of panax ginseng and magnolia extract. They work together to gently energise skin cells, allowing the eyes to pop with a vibrant radiance. With its soothing and creamy texture, apply once in the morning and allow for complete absorption before applying makeup. Tip: remember that the skin around the eye area is extremely delicate, so I recommend only applying half a pea size amount to each eye contour. It’s truly the perfect beauty wakeup call. Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream – £21.00

New York

Currently in the depths of winter, New York is not being so kind to the skin. Colder conditions see our complexions become uncomfortably dry with a red hue as our skin is constantly trying to adjust to the changing temperatures of the indoor heat and outdoor cold. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find your skin is red, sore and puffy … not exactly supermodel material! The solution? Avoid harsh exfoliating products and try a restoring peeling mask twice a week, which helps to restore the skin to its normal pH balance. Try The Comfort Zone’s Skin Resonance Peeling Mask. Containing Aquaderm™ and sunflower lipids, not only does it strengthen the skin’s capillary network to reduce redness and puffiness, but the skin is left in a much more comfortable condition.  Comfort Zone Skin Resonance Peeling Mask – £23.95

Hong Kong 

My key beauty secret in any hot country? Lip balm with a wonderful scent and high SPF! The skin on our lips is much thinner than that on the face, so it’s most important to keep them thoroughly hydrated and protected against the beating sun. This not only creates the perfect pout, but helps to avoid painful chapping and lip cracks. Kiehl’s Lip Balm SPF 15 is a must have for any globe trotter, but particularly for those planning on visiting Hong Kong where summer temperature soars to an average 35°C. This combined with the city’s high levels of humidity and external aggressions (caused by the increasing levels of pollution) means lips quickly dry out. Kiehl’s lip balm contains the soothing and hydrating property of cotton seed oil which allows lips to stay hydrated for longer, meaning no need to constantly reapply. For a more sensuous feel in the cooler evenings, try Kiehl’s Scented Lip Balm #1. With only a small amount of SPF protection, it’s perfect for an evening beauty indulgence. Available in a selection of tropical scents, including mango and vanilla, this beauty balm leaves lips alluringly luscious. Lip Balm SPF 15 – £12.50 | Scented Lip Balm #1 – £9.50

Cape Town 

In the city known to have four seasons in one day, it’s important for skin to be hydrated, protected and moisturised all day, every day. The ultimate thirst quenching triple protection beauty product? Guerlain’s Super Aqua Day Triple Shield SPF30. With its water like consistency, this serum is three times more concentrated than that of an ordinary moisturing cream, allowing for optimum hydration and skin comfort. Whilst protecting the skin against Africa’s Mediterranean and unpredictable climate, this super soothing serum locks in moisture throughout the day, whilst the SPF 30 protects against the sun (as well as against wind and rain). Using only a small five pence piece amount, a little goes a long way. A must-have beauty investment. Guerlain Super Aqua Day Triple Shield SPF 30 – £48.00

Sydney

Having one of the harshest climates known to man, Australian summer temperatures rise to an average of 40°C, creating an unpleasant, hot, and humid atmosphere. As a result, skin often becomes dehydrated rather than dry, meaning it’s depleted of moisture rather than oil. Fortunately for Australia, Gaylia Kristensen, a native and local, took her 20 years of cosmetic experience and founded the Gaylia Kristensen beauty brand – specially formulated to keep the skin healthy and hydrated in such searing conditions.  My top product from this luxurious range? Gaylia Kristensen’s Velvet Facial Polish. This luxurious, creamy texture, contains tiny jojoba beads to gently exfoliate dead skin cells, whilst jojoba oil and natural Australian botanicals (including Quangdong and Wild Rosella) hydrate the skin with long-lasting moisture. Whilst this perfecting exfoliator leaves skin feeling cleaner than ever, ensure to only use it twice a week so the skin’s natural oils are not stripped. I recommend then using the Gaylia Kristensen Heaven Hydrating Facial Mist to tone and refresh the complexion. It’s also perfect for a quick hydration spray throughout the day and has a beautiful rosy scent. Gaylia Kristensen Velvet Facial Polish – £53.00. Also available at the Mandarin Oriental, London.


Health Speak with Yogi, Author and Artist, Liz Lark: We talk snacks, teaching Ralph Fiennes and fave postures

 interview conducted by Kate Prince

Liz Lark is a yoga teacher, specialising in Vinyasa Flow inspired by Astanga, and has been teaching since 1995. Through her work she aims to reach people of all levels, in the spirit of Vini Yoga, by adapting sequences to suit individual needs. Liz works with the Monteverdi Choir and the conductor Sir Jon Eliot Gardiner, the Indian Dance Company and English National Ballet School, she teaches  ‘yogadance’, freestyle movements seamlessly linking postures together as well as working with trainee teachers. She also runs retreats and workshops in the UK and abroad.

What is the first thing you do in the morning?
I look out the window at the garden, observe how I am feeling and stretch out like my cat (Timmy Quezlet);  then I make some Earl Grey tea and go out into the garden to let the hens out and notice the still stillness of the trees.

What do you eat for breakfast?
I ear porridge, sprinkled with cinnamon to help stabilise the blood pressure; I have Greek or live yoghurt and an apple.

What is your work place like?
I have a studio with wooden floors, where I lay out my yoga mat. Above are wooden beams and below is under-floor heating. In one corner there is a pink velvet sofa and a weathered table from an antique shop for writing my books, emails, planning retreats and, as I am a keen artist, for drawing.

What do you eat for lunch?
I call it ‘Blunch’ because of the time I eat it but it includes fresh laid eggs from my hens (I live in the country and it is such a treat to have my own eggs), soda or rye toast with hummus and avocado, spinach, or quinoa and vegetable stew.

Do you snack, if so what on?
I love roasted almonds, oatcakes and goat cheese, or homemade lavender biscuits, natural yoghurt and fruits  and a purple smoothie because purple skinned fruits boost collagen production in skin. I also like ‘teecino’, made from roasted vegetable roots which I use as my coffee but sometimes I do have a decaf coffee as a treat.

What is the healthiest thing you do every day?
Yoga practice! I do an hour; combining deep relaxation over yoga blocks to open the heart and extend the thoracic spine, and active, energising deep postures which flow together, including handstand, backbends, forward bends, side angles, twists and balances.

What do you have for supper?
Supper includes vegetarian protein variations of quinoa, wild rice, bulgar wheat, lentils; tasty warming stews or risotto, in winter months with garden herbs.  I eat fresh fish once a week with steamed greens, in summer months, ‘otto lenghi’ style salads with eggs. I avoid cow products as I do not find it easy to digest, so I tend to opt for goat or sheep cheese or Oat milk.

What do you snack on?
Almond/ vanilla yoghurts/ fruits, toasted nuts, and Dark chocolate……which I love.

Why did you become a yoga teacher?
Yoga teaching has given me a fulfilling, meaningful career, with humanity and warm contact with people. It teaches me compassion, patience and professionalism. For me, teaching is another form of yoga; I have found that touch breaks down barriers; it is a form of self exploration and body-mind psychotherapy. It is poetic. I share what I am exploring myself. My art work and yoga increasingly merge together and I hoping to write more, using art and imagery with bodywork yoga.

What is the most interesting thing about teaching others yoga?
Finding a unique connection with each person, and seeing their own connection with the process to become absorbed and in a timeless experience, where ego and ‘self’ dissolve. It is a body art and creative exploration which is wonderful to witness.

What is your favourite pose and why?
Headstand. I love handstands and inversions to give strength of upper body and the playful courage it brings. Inversions boost fresh circulation and ultimately refresh the whole body and mind.

What is your least favourite pose and why?
Lotus. I am cautious with lotus because of the potential knee strain.  I had a skiing injury 10 years ago which humbled me to not practice lotus pose. I do cross legged (Sukhasana) and kneeling (Adho Mukha Virasana) on blocks, instead.

Which three celebrities (dead or alive) would you invite to take your yoga class?
I have had the good fortune to teach Alan Rickman, Peter Gabriel, Ralph Fiennes and actress Mariel Hemingway….. And I am grateful for having been in their presence but I would love to teach Javier Bardem, Kate Bush and  Fiona Shaw.

What is your biggest luxury in life?
Access to Amazing bodywork such as  Oil massage and water therapy  and, of course,  access to swimming in beautiful ocean or pools while I am teaching workshops and retreats in places such as Bali and Ibiza where the nature is wonderful and where I gain balance and help others find their bliss. (Details at www.lizlark.com)

Which three things can’t you live without?
Affection, purpose, fun (and creativity)

What gets you up in the morning?
Curiosity and a further search for connection.

What do you go to bed thinking about?
I go to bed thinking about ‘not thinking’, aiming to process the day and let it dissolve, and get into ‘being ‘ mode with the teachings of the great yogis in mind…. To be happy with what I have. I often think of a quote: ‘Sow a thought and reap an action, Sow an action and reap a habit, Sow a habit and reap a character, Sow a character and reap a destiny’.

What is your motto for life?
‘Suspend judgement and live with a freedom from extremes…..’ I think that is summed up in the following line:  ‘I gained it so, by climbing slow, by catching at the twigs which grow, between the bliss and me’, by Emily Dickinson.

Liz is running an Easter retreat in Seville from March 30th  www.destinationyoga.co.uk

IMG_0068