Wedding Workout – Get Fit and Gorgeous in 4 Weeks: achieve the best body ever (for your wedding and beyond!)

Personal Trainer and Fitness Expert, Max Wilcocks, gives us his 4 week program to achieving the best body ever (for your wedding and beyond!)

Everyone wants to look fantastic for their wedding day and every bride knows that be to looking your very best for that special day it takes a bit of effort. Here we’ve put together a one week program (to be done four weeks consecutively) that will help you achieve the best possible version of yourself. Some of the session will require determination and more than a little sweat and others will be gentle runs/cycles to promote steady fat loss. Note to reader: click on the exercises that you are not sure how to do and Max Wilcocks will talk you through it.

Monday
We’re going to introduce the week with a gentle workout designed to work your larger muscle groups and improve your range of motion. The focus for this session is taking your time and doing each exercise correctly and steadily improving the range that you are able to work at. We’re targeting the glutes, hamstrings and quads.

20x walking lunges
30x squats
20x split lunge (each side)

Repeat this sequence 5 times. Focus on improving range of motion.

Tuesday
Take the time to either walk, run or cycle for up to an hour. This can be a 1/2 run in the morning and then another 1/2 hr later in the day. The idea is that your legs may well be suffering from yesterday and we want to promote blood flow to stimulate recovery so we’re ready for tomorrow. Don’t push too hard on your run/cycle unless you’re feeling comfortable.

Wednesday
Today we’re going to put the focus back onto our resistance training and incorporate a little cardio at the same time. We’re going to superset some body weight exercises with some moves that are going to get your heart jumping. Does everyone know what a burpee is… You will in a bit!

20x squats straight into 15 burpees
20x standing lunges into 40 mountain climbers
20x reverse lunges into 15 burpees
20x squats into 40 mountain climbers
20x push ups into 15 burpees

Repeat this 4 times with 5 mins rest in-between each set.

Thursday
Today we can taken the tempo back down and put the focus on our stomachs. Here is a great ab routine, don’t be afraid to use this as many times during the week as you want. If you find you still have the energy at the end of a session the get down and work those stomach muscles.

30x bend knee sit ups
30x abs crunches
30x elbow to opposite knee sit ups
40x leg cycles
30x alternate leg raises
20x double leg raises
1 min front plank

Repeat whole thing twice.

Friday
I would suggest either having a rest day or again going for a gentle run. Keep it similar to Tuesday’s exercise. It’s always going to be better if you get out and do something, it doesn’t have to be hyper active, take a walk or brave a run.

Saturday
This is going to be our first session where we use actual weights, so far it’s just been based on our own body weight. Everyone should be familiar with a kettle bell and every gym worth it’s membership will have them lying around.

Have a go at this. These exercises are based on time NOT reps.

1 min- kettle bell swings
45 sec rest
1 min- split lunge with kettle bell in one hand. Left leg
45 secs rest
1 min- split lunge with kettle bell in one hand. Right leg
45 secs rest
1 min- step up, alternating legs
45 secs rest
1 min- squat into one arm snatch. Left side
45 secs rest
1 min- squat into one arm snatch. Right side
2 mins rest then repeat
Get at least two circuits out

Sunday
It’s been a great introductory week into training and hopefully yesterday’s program has got you hungry for more. Today we’ll go back to focusing on our core and will keep it simple and relatively short.

1 min front plank
45 sec side plank each side
Repeat this 4 times

15x Swiss ball roll outs (elbows on Swiss ball, knees on floor)
15x Swiss ball roll out ab crunches ( hands on floor, feet on Swiss ball)
Work from one to the other of these and see how many times you can do each in 8 minutes.

If you feel up for it then incorporate a few ab exercises from Thursdays session.

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Hip and Healthy Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free Beetroot Brownies

Can’t Beet them Beetroot Brownies

Ingredients

125g Coconut Flour

75g Raw Cacao Powder

1/4 tsp Baking Powder

175g Beetroot, boiled

200g Agave

175g Pure (alternative to butter)

3 Eggs

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 celcius/ 350 F/ gas Mark 4.

Mix the coconut flour, cacao powder and baking powder in a large bowl. Blend the beetroot, agave, pure and eggs in a blender until smooth. Slowly pour the mixture into the bowl and gently stir. Line a small baking tray with parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until set on top with a gooey middle. Serve with raspberries and sprinkle with desiccated coconut.

Serving Suggestion

We like ours in a bowl with oat milk! Just pop the brownie into a shallow bowl and fill with oat milk. Leave for a few minutes so that the brownie goes all gooey and then tuck in. See below!

beetroot brownie in oat milk
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Cocoa Crazy: Chocolate can make you beautiful… yes really!

It’s pretty obvious what you’ll be doing this Sunday. Stuffing your face with chocolate. Especially if you’re one of those crazy people who chose to give it up for Lent. Seriously, I salute you. Chocolate isn’t all bad (so long as you steer away from the heavily processed, sugar-laden kind) and it’s been proven that a small amount of organic, dark chocolate is actually very good for you. It contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and can help lower blood pressure and improve cognitive brain function – all whilst releasing those feel good endorphins. The higher the cocoa content – the better it is for you, so always go for the darkest possible.

But cocoa doesn’t just make for a delicious and healthy treat, it also works wonders for the skin. It breaks down free-radicals (so products have more anti-ageing and anti-oxidant properties) and contains soothing vitamin E to calm irritated or sensitive skin. It’s also a mighty moisturiser as it penetrates the top skin layer, effectively moistening and repairing skin beneath to leave you soft, supple and glowing. Being such an excellent emollient makes it brilliant for those suffering with dry skin conditions, such as psoriasis or eczema, and it smells divine. With our top 5 products, it’s no wonder we’re going loco for cocoa.

Kiehl’s Crème de Corps -£16.00-£75.70

There’s a reason this butter-yellow moisturiser is one of Kiehl’s all time best sellers – it simply is the crème de la crème. Containing beta-carotene, aloe vera, and Vitamins A and E – this super-enriched formula nourishes and moisturises magnificently. Top tip – use it after bathing whilst skin is slightly damp to seal in surface moisture and you’ll be silky soft in seconds.

Organic Surge Million Dollar Anywhere Balm – £22.50

When dryness or irritation strikes, this beautifying balm is all you need. Certified organic and crammed with essential oils, shea butter and cocoa butter, it can be used anywhere – from your hands to your feet and from your nails to your nose. This host of intense natural hydrators will work wonders on dry, flaky or irritated skin (perfect in these Arctic conditions) and will leave you feeling and looking like a million dollars. A handbag essential.

BLEND Collective Unwinding Handcream – £12.50

A hero for hands, this cream caresses skin with hydrating cocoa butter, aloe juice and sea buckthorn. It’s a nourisher for nails and a healer for hands, and it softens and smoothes with an unwinding, fragrant blend of sandalwood, frankincense, cedarwood and neroli essential oils.

Skin Blossom Replenishing Face Moisturiser – £7.25

Free from harsh ingredients, this award-winning moisturiser is lightweight and suitable for all skin types. Working alongside cocoa you’ll find jojoba oil to prevent dehydration and help skin rejuvenate, anti-oxidant rich acai, and shea butter and vitamin E to condition and protect. It deeply hydrates without the need for a thick, gloopy cream, and is lightly scented with essential oils or rose and ylang ylang.

Dr Andrew Weil for Origins Conditioning Lip Balm With Turmeric – £15.00

For a smooth smile with no flakes or chapping, this highly emollient lip balm is packed with organic goodness to rapidly restore softness to parched lips. Turmeric contains anti-inflammatory properties to soothe, cocoa butter, jojoba, beeswax and murumuru hydrate and soften, and mango seed butter and rice bran oil provide anti-oxidant protection. Sesame seed oil helps to heal, and essential oils of sweet ginger, lime and magnasweet to leave your lips smelling luscious.

words by Frankie Rozwadowska

 

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Easter Tarte au Citron Recipe

Sugar-Free Easter Tarte au Citron (makes 10 tarts)

by Madeleine Shaw

This is my favorite dessert. I have eaten it for my birthday almost every year of my whole life. So fresh, light and creamy.

Since quitting sugar I have got very experimental with dessert, making treats that taste amazing without the sugar! Stevia has been my new best friend. Stevia is a great natural sweetener that is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar (so please be very sparing with it). Stevia has been used for centuries by the Guarani Indians of South America. Not only is it a sugar free sweetener but is also acts as a anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic agent.

I have used desiccated coconut in the base which gives it more sweetness and a slightly tropical feel to the dish. This is the perfect Easter afternoon treat to serve after lunch. It goes really well with some fresh raspberries and cream.

Base

  • 6 TBSP of coconut oil or butter
  • 300 g of almond meal
  • 150 g of desiccated coconut
  • A pinch of stevia
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 egg whites

Filling

  • 2 egg yolks and 4 eggs
  • 3 lemons
  • 2 TBSP of coconut oil
  • 2 TBSP of almond meal
  • A large pinch of stevia

Directions

  1. Set the oven to 180 C
  2. Base: Melt the coconut oil in a pan on a low heat, take it off the heat and add in the almond meal, desiccated coconut, stevia and salt and mix this together.
  3. Crack two eggs and add in the egg whites (leave the yolks for the filling.) Stir well until the mixture forms a slightly gooey texture, press the mixture in small tart molds, ½ a cm thick, to make crust shapes.
  4. Place in the oven to cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Filling: Whisk the eggs with the other two egg yolks in a bowl using an electrical mixer until frothy. Zest and juice the lemons. Add the zest, juice and the other ingredients. Beat for another minute or so.
  6. When the base is done poor in the filling into each one. Then bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges get crispy.
  7. Allow the tarts to cool for ten minutes before you dig in.

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Run Wild: We discover what barefoot running is really all about

Barefoot running, otherwise known as natural running, is the latest craze to take the fitness world by storm. At Hip and Healthy, we decided to delve a little deeper into this topic and sent Bex Fairbrother to find out what all the fuss is about

Barefoot running is not a new phenomenon. In fact it is one that is steeped in history. People have been running barefoot or in very thin shoes for millions of years and as a result evolution has made it so our feet are well-engineered for running long distances with little or no support – or at least this is what the advocates of barefoot running believe. They would suggest that Darwin’s evolution theory has made it so our feet are well adapted to uneven terrain. Furthermore, barefoot runners believe that we have evolved to running long distances without requiring the hi-tech, heavily cushioned, modern footwear that have been the go-to shoe since the fitness industry (as we know it) started to mature into a global, profitable industry.

Benefits of Going Bare

Barefoot running has certainly been met with mixed reviews. At first, most people’s stance seems to be one of skepticism. We have become accustomed to thinking that we need cushioning when we run, in order to protect us from injuries and our joints from rapid deterioration. However, this type of minimalist running is certainly gathering pace. The main perks of barefoot running is that you feel lighter and really do have a spring in your step. This in turn encourages you to run faster.

Another benefit of barefoot running is that it helps the runner to strike the ground with the front of their foot rather than with a heel strike which is often the method employed when wearing traditional running shoes. The latter can be detrimental to your joints and muscles as it places more impact on the body.

It is also thought to strengthen your feet and is believed to be a much more natural way to run. With a standard pair of running shoes one tends to pound the ground much harder, which can lead to long-term problems with knees, ankles, feet and other joints.

What Shoe to Choose?

As a recent guinea pig for barefoot running, I would recommend Vibram if you are looking to invest. Vibram are one of the best barefoot running brands around and have remained at the forefront of the industry due to their innovative and performance-enhancing designs. Their pioneering shoe is the Vibram FiveFingers which was created in 2006. Featuring a thin, flexible and deconstructed sole, this enables the foot to curl, flex and move with ease as nature intended.

When I embarked on my barefoot running journey, I was in the midst of training for a 20 mile, off road run. The shoes I was roadtesting were the Vibram FiveFingers – beautifully designed and extremely comfortable (once you get them on but that’s another story altogether).

The Vibram FiveFingers are essentially a mould of our feet. Made from thin, lightweight, abrasion-resistant stretch polyamide fabric, this ensures the user’s feet are comfortable, supported with enough freedom to move their feet. The thin, razor-siped soles have been designed so that they are slip resistant so they can withstand different surfaces, whilst also providing protection from hot surfaces and rugged terrain.

When I first opened the box of my new Vibram FiveFingers I was extremely excited as I am an avid runner and am always interested in anything which claims to be able to improve my passion. Barefoot running shoes have a ‘glove-like’ design, which is constructed so that each of your toes slip comfortably into ‘five fingers,’ hence the name. These innovative, individual toe pockets were designed to help strengthen the muscles in the feet and lower legs, which in turn is meant to enhance balance, increase agility and encourage range of motion.

I thought the glove-like design was a great concept as well as being quirky and fun, thus in keeping with the overall purpose of the shoe, although getting your toes into the individual pockets was quite challenging as this is not something our toes are accustomed to. However the more you use your shoes, the more your toes get used to it so slipping them on becomes just that – it ends up being pretty painless and takes no time at all.

My first barefoot run was a training run for my 20 miler and I ended up clocking up 9 miles. I started out feeling light, free and exceptionally fast. However, the next day my calf muscles were in agony. My advice to anyone who is going to make the transition from standard trainers to barefoot running shoes is to take it slowly – as the saying goes slow and steady wins the race and I think when barefoot running is concerned, this is definitely true. Don’t go hell for leather like me. Start by wearing them around the house first to get used to the feel. They will seem alien at first, but you should start to get use to them.

James, owner of website www.BornBarefoot.co.uk, which sells an extensive range of barefoot running shoes believes “that if you’re going to buy some minimalist shoes you should at least try running barefoot first. Then if you like it but would like a little more protection for running across gravel etc. then get some minimalist shoes.” I would completely agree. They are definitely worth giving a go and I think if you are willing and patient enough to build up slowly, they can actually be an extremely fun way to exercise.

For more information visit: www.vibramfivefingers.it/default.aspx

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If you only do one thing this week… Focus on Fibre

Fibre is our friend. It can help alleviate bloating, keep us regular (ehum) and assist with keeping our blood sugar levels consistent. We should be getting at least 18g of fibre a day (it is understood that the average adult in the UK only consumes 12-14g). Jane Clark in her book “Nourish” (Collins & Brown) discusses the importance of fibre and explains that not only does it keep our digestive system in order but it also promotes a healthy heart. What a lot of people don’t know is that fibre only comes from plants. There are two types of fibre; insoluble and soluble and a normal healthy diet should contain both.

Soluble Fibre
This type of fibre can be digested by your body and helps to reduce the amount of cholesterol in your blood. This is also the type of fibre that can help with constipation and our blood sugar levels. Soluble fibre is mainly found in fruits, vegetables, pulses and grains such as oats. Golden linseeds are also a fantastic way to up your soluble fibre intake. We like ours on cereal and in smoothies.

Insoluble Fibre
Insoluble fibre cannot be digested by the small intestine. Therefore, it acts as a brush sweeping its way through the gut helping bits of other food that has found itself stuck there to be dislodged and passed through the body (how glamourous!). Sources of insoluble fibre include wholemeal foods, cereals, nuts and seeds and oats.

Another benefit of adding more fibre to your diet include… Feeling fuller for longer. 

Top Tips: 

Keep the peel on fruits like apples to up your intake as they are full of the stuff.

Drink plenty of water to avoid bloating.

Increase your fibre intake slowly to avoid unwanted gassiness!

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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

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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.