If someone would have told me that aged 40, I would be writing a blog post on how you can tell you’re actually not a fully-fledged, perfectly formed, been-there-got-the-tee grown-up, I would panic.
Surely by know I should have it all figured out?
I’ve ticked some of the big boxes. Books, books, books. Work, work, work. Kid, kid, and phew … kid. I worry about global warming and have abolished palm oil Nutella. I drink green smoothies, workout and read books about preventing Alzheimers.
But doubt lingers. Is this enough to qualify to the upper echelons of human beans worthiness (sorry, I obviously meant human beings but I’m clearly experiencing a Roald Dahl epidemic* #GoodMum)?
Life expectancy is on the rise, as is the collapse of the social security system (more on this later – all very grown up). With extra decades on our hands we’re in a never-seen-before privileged position to reinvent ourselves. But it also means we need to re-think the classic milestones that have defined who we are – regardless of density of grey hairs that insist on screaming at you first thing in the morning:
“You’re not getting any younger, babes.”
To which, I reply : root-tint, a***ole.
Despite biological evidence that time does not stand still, I’d say there’s a strong argument to be made as to my own adult-ness or lack of it.
Don’t believe me?
See below for 11 clear tell-tale signs of a maturity-challenged over 35 year-old (!):
I don’t wear matching underwear.
My hair is a mess. Can’t remember the last time I went for a blow dry. Unless I’m going for a root tint (see above).
On point 2., does anyone know the expiry date on hair spray? I’m quite sure the can doesn’t self-destruct though.
I steal chocolate from my children. Mini-fudge is my kryptonite.
I Don’t know how to read the gas meter. I’m not even sure to find it. But I’m pretty sure every house comes with one, right**?
I don’t own a pet. Except for a lonely goldfish, which technically belongs to the kids. Of which I have three, but yes I realise they do not qualify as pets.
I have no idea how much I need to save per month not to starve in old age. Has anyone written a post on this? No, wait – I don’t think I’m actually ready.
My wardrobe looks less like my mum’s and more like my 9 year old. She’s very mature for her age though.
I have no interest in creating “my own traditions”. Let’s do it differently every time. Unless it’s pancakes on a Saturday morning #CarbsForever.
I don’t have a career plan. Mostly I do stuff I like/ am good at and hope for the best.
I giggle. A lot. Sometimes at people I don’t know. Which can be rather embarrassing and totally un-adult-like. And lots of fun.
When in doubt (which is pretty much the theme of today’s story), I find it comforting to reach out to my collection of favourite quotes. This one by Maya Angelou feels spot on today:
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Good news: I’ve recently come across a word that perfectly encapsulates my current state of mind. It has its own hashtag and is reported to be first in line for Oxford English Dictionary new entries (ok, I’ve just made this up – very grown up).
There. Fits like a glove.
Anyone else out there with me? Say yes, please!
*If you’ve read the Big Friendly Giant you’ll know exactly
what I’m talking about…
** I have, since writing this story, finally uncovered the secret location of the gas and electricity meters. But before I had to google “what does a gas meter look like”.
You know you’ve reached wellbeing nirvana status when you’re a step ahead of Gwyneth. You know, the Paltrow. That’s right. Well, that’s exactly what’s happening here, people.
On a recent interview, a propos of her new GOOP shop opening in Notting Hill, she said a number of things that were extraordinarily sensible – shocking, right? Like she can’t do juicing diets anymore. Or how walking is so good for you. Fine, she stopped short of not mentioning those golden handcuffs again (apparently sold out on GOOP website, whaaat?) and does go on a bit too much about the jayjay, but something else caught me by surprise.
GP has announced that her new interest is (*drums roll*): intermittent fasting. “I’m going to try that” she says. Newsflash: this fitster is already doing it! And whilst for the Paltrow that’s the equivalent of “Gwyneth goes IF” cookbook soon, I’ll boil it down to one blog post for you lovely ladies.
Having said that, if
there’s an editor out there looking to publish “That Fitster Goes IF And This
Is What Happened” I’d be all too happy to elaborate. DM me for deets.
What is Intermittent Fasting ? Well, it’s basically not eating for an extended period of time. There are different approaches to it:
The Ugly: Going for days where you only drink water or herbal teas. Sounds absolutely dreadful and nothing I’d voluntary put myself through. Note to publishers: unless book deal involved of course.
The Bad: Restrict calories for 2 days a week and then eat normally for the remainder 5 days, concentrating your food intake in a shorter hour window. The famous 5:2 diet. Since I can’t be asked to count calories never, ever again in my life, this just won’t do either.
The Good (ish): eating normal (healthy!) 3 meals a day every day, during an 8 to 12 hours window, fasting the rest of the time. Basically having a late breakfast and an early dinner.
What are the benefits of IF? Rather spectacular actually, according to recent scientific research.
It gives your body a chance to get rid of any waste, promoting autophagy. That’s a fancy word for out with the old, in with the new.
It also leads to a metabolic process called ketosis (another fancy one, soz). The result is that the cells in your body start burning fat as fuel, which is a much more efficient source of energy than glucose.
All this is doing is reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases, diabetes and even cancer. A slimmer waistline too, obviously.
And all this by doing, well – nothing, really.
Could this be the one of the simplest, yet most powerful changes you could make to have a healthier body? I think so.
Intermittent fasting has been on my radar for a while, as many of the MDs whose research I follow have been consistently raving about the virtues of going food-free-ish. I must confess however that what triggered my trial wasn’t so much a brain cleanse to sharpen my Sudoku skills but more a mission to squeeze back into my pre-Christmas jeans. Anyone else can relate??
Fast forward 3 weeks and I’m delighted with the results. Whilst I can’t attest for the impact it has had on me not going looney-loo (here’s to hoping), there are a number of visible, short term benefits:
I feel more focused and productive
My skin is at its best: clear and spots-free
I can fit comfortably back into my skinniest of
What does a typical IF day look like? On a day when I’m taking it seriously I’ll have breakfast around 11am, after my morning workout. I’ll have a light lunch around 2pm and then dinner with kids at 6pm. Or if I’m not feeling super hungry I’ll just skip lunch altogether and have “dinner” at 5pm. and that’s it until breakfast the next day.
Sounds tough? Well, it’s not as easy as sitting down with your favourite box set sponsored by Lindt dark & mint, that’s for sure. You have to want to do it, babes. Can’t help you with that part, I’m afraid.
I can however share some tricks I’ve learned in the process to make it easier – I give you my 8 Top Tips for Intermittent Fasting, ladies:
Be serious about the meals you do have. Not bunny portions, ok?
Always, always have protein at every meal. I’ll have eggs, meat or a scoop of protein powder in my smoothie. Keeps you nourished and full for longer.
Stick to 3 meals a day. Don’t snack in between. It’s like the more food you eat, the hungrier you get. If your body is “trained” to keep a 4-5 hour gap between meals, then that becomes the new normal.
Ideally I’d love to keep a 14-16 hours between dinner and breakfast the next day. Most days that’s simply not gonna happen and I aim for 12 hours instead.
Stay busy. Outside the kitchen.
Go to sleep. If you’re up on a Netflix binge until the early hours, there’s hardly no getting around the buttery toasts or cookies n’ cream. Your skin will also thank you for the extra snooze.
It doesn’t get easy (duh), but it does become easier – your body adapts to smaller amounts of food.
Be kind to yourself. Can’t stress this one enough. Some days this works, some days it won’t. I’m not working towards a specific size/ weight, so I go with the flow. Typically on weekends there’s more going on – friends are over for lunch, there’s baking with the kids and snuggling up with hubby to watch a movie. Life before IF, ladies.
Happy New Year! Welcome back to the blog, lovely people. Hope you had a splendid holiday season. Mine was packed with family, friends, endless gift wrapping and late night carb feasts. Bliss.
So now I’m back home in London and hitting my workouts with a renewed sense of resolve – ie having done f*all for weeks, my abs are crying for sit ups (really, I know!)
I’ve been going to group classes for years now and I’ve come to realise that, just as in life outside the gym, there are certain personality types that I just need to stay away from. They come with different toxicity levels, ranging from the slightly irritating to the so-disturbing-I-can’t-bear-having-you-on-my-line-of-sight characters. You’ve probably come across some of them and know exactly what I’m talking about.
I have decided as the first story for 2019 to just cleanse the system by letting it all go. Or at least that’s the plan…
Warning: this is judgmental.
I’m a perfectly flawed human and that’s that. Take it with a pinch of salt/
sugar and have fun.
These are the 7 different personality types I’ve come across in my extensive years of thorough, unscientific research:
1.The very, very loud
I had to start with this one. By far the worst culprit in the history of how to ruin group classes for everyone else but yourself. I don’t care if this lunge is really, really hard for you. Or how good it feels to stretch out that hamstring. Please shut up. It does not make you interesting.
Sadly, since I’ve realised some of the offspring actually read this blog I must edit my choice of words #noswearing.
2. The (really) late arrivals
Landing the mat with a bang-bang-boom on the yoga studio floor when I just got into the zone. You know I’ve got a life too? And still managed to get to the studio on time?
3. The pig tails fans
Should only be legally allowed up to the age of 6. No, it doesn’t make you look cute. I just want to give you a good shake but I can’t.
4. The duck lipped humans
Always disturbing. Easy to dodge when you’re browsing Zara @ Duke of York Square. Not so much when the studio is covered in mirrors and you’re confined to that small area for a full 60 minutes. The trick is to locate the creature when walking into the studio and securing a spot at the opposite end of the room.
5. The teacher’s pet
We all know one. Before class. After class. But the worst – during class. The silly giggling and relentless flirting. I know he’s cute but I actually did pay for him to do his job and fix my posture, you can let go now, thank you.
6. The self-obsessed
Coming from someone who won’t go a week without a #ReformerSelfie or two this may come as a bit of a stretch. Still, I try to perform the selfie act with a good sense of humour with varying success levels) and minimising the disruption to passers-by. Unlike the girl taking over the changing room, pouting in front of the mirror for 10 minutes (I mean seriously, who casually wears wool gloves to Pilates class and looks like the dog has just died?)
7. The moaners
Oh too light, could I have a heavier set of dumbbells? Oh too heavy, could I get those back please? Excuse me, there was a yellow band here. Why is there no water left? How come Suzie is not teaching today? I think they’re moving all the best instructors to the City studio, I’m calling the manager. Why can’t they just get proper mats? Who are all these paying customers I’m forced to share this group class with?
Ok. I promise this is going to be me logging out soon. And noisy lady, beware: I’ll be the one flashing out the six pack ready to crush. As soon as I’ve wiped out the effects of 3 weeks of High-Intensity-Pastry.
What’s your gym pet hate? I’d
love to hear about it, please share on the comments box below!
Could this possibly be this the shortest post in the history of simple & easy things to upgrade your autumn posts? Is my subconscious is trying to emulate my 7 year-old’s son prose?
Poor kid has given up on asking mum for help with his English homework: “how about you add an interesting adjective here, sweetheart?”
I respect my male offspring’s take on spelling sentences, I really do. He has his priorities straight (football, football, football), showers with an acceptable frequency and gives the warmest hugs upon request, without a fuss.
He is a simple, to-the-point creature. Autumn however, is very different animal. If seasons were animals, of course.
Autumn is transition and these can be tricky… My take? Slow it right down.
For a happy go-with-the-flow pace, it’s worth not leaving it all to chance. Otherwise it can be way too easy to give in to the doom and gloom of shorter, colder days.
These are 5 simple and easy things I have been doing to add more * insert happy emoji here* into my days this November.
Surprise: it does not include chocolate (only because it’s not season-specific).
1. Light it up
You can’t beat candles as the easiest, biggest bang-for-your-buck feel good seasonal addition. A burning flame has these awesome soothing, almost magical effects in any room. I love to light up a Neom candle ahead of going to bed but for the living room anything goes. It even makes the kids want to do their homework!
2. Spice it up
Curries. Crumbles. Anything and everything with warming spices, like turmeric, ginger and my Autumn favourite: cinnamon. Body and soul warmers. Ginger and turmeric have the added plus of preventing aforementioned colds. Check out my perfect turmeric latte recipe here for an extra special boost, yum!
(Ps. I’ve been feeling a bit of a sore throat for days and this latte has really helped).
3. Doodle away
What’s that one weird thing that makes you lose track of time? Probably something that engages your brain in a totally different way. Did you know that old school arts and crafts workshops like sewing, knitting or drawing are having a huge comeback (a bit like the Spice Girls)? The antidote to the always-on digital life takeover.
This may need some extra colouring, no?
Doodling is my bag, although I’m also partial to some modern calligraphy. Pick your poison, choose something you can do at home (probably setting up your own pottery studio is a no-no) and brush up your skills. Even better if you can get a buddy to join in with you (that cheeky birthday gift voucher she wasn’t expecting, right? ;).
4. Warm Yoga
Loving sweat after sunset (see what I’ve done here?!). Power Yoga in particular is the perfect combo: an actual strength workout that brings your pace right down.
Autumn is my favourite season to get cosy on the mat at The Power Yoga Company. There are a few challenging moves ahead of the final shavasana, that part when you lie down on the floor and do nothing, but I promise it’s all worth it. Even better: check out the schedule for their candlelight yoga classes.
5. Go (a bit) wild
No plant spirit whispering here, people. I’m not your hippy happy let’s-all-get-barefoot-and-forage kinda gal (check out my glamping fiasco story here). But there’s something very empowering about going out into nature and braving the elements – I always feel super energised afterwards. Which makes the lounging in your cosy XXL cashmere jumper even better, right?
Guess what? Science backs this up too. Pump up the good kind of oxygen into your cells and get you heart rate up with a brisk walk. Posture, ladies! Tuck the tailbone in and squeeze those abs while you’re at it for extra brownie points (the kind that’s good for your waistline). Even if you don’t live in a farm (*raises hand*) we’re spoilt for choice with awesome parks around London.
Have you ever inhaled the whole chocolate box? Alone?? Then this one is for you.
Picture this. Real story. You just got home from taking the kids swimming (happy day). There really wasn’t time for a proper lunch and with the backstroke cheerleading and shower-get-dressed-let’s-get-home-quick-before-the-traffic-goes-nuts time has flown by. You’re famished.
Alone in the bedroom you find some lost mini fudge bars inside the swimming bag…
They smell good. You go for it. Like really go for it. You close the bedroom door in case the kids hear the wrapping. And you (well, by now you’ve figured out it’s really ME) hide in the corner between the wardrobe and the bed, munching, in case offspring comes marching through the door to find mum has had all the fudges! Hiding, people!!! Seriously, and you call yourself a grown up (by now I actually kind of already knew I was a fraud).
In my defense I have since writing this discovered that lots of mums hide from their kids for all sorts of different reasons. Solo chocolate gobbling being top of the list #SharingIsBoring.
As it turns out I’m not one to give in to sobbing and guilt feels over chocolate bars (even if it’s bad chocolate). But my point is that it’s much healthier all around when you have control over cravings and take time to appreciate your food. You’re more likely to make better food choices, avoid the sugar roller coaster and feel better after your meals.
Mindful eater: a cross between someone who’s into food + willing to give this whole mindfulness business a good go = ME.
So when you throw a mindful eating workshop at one of my favourite London wellbeing destinations I’m game! Gazelli House has been hosting the Healthy Habits Series this October, delivered by the leading UK lifestyle behaviour change specialist Dr Heather McKee.
We talked about the science behind the benefits of mindful eating, cravings vs. real hunger and practical ways to “train” your mind to tell one from the other (it’s easier than you think).
There was a weird point during the workshop when you’re taking a whole 5 minutes to eat a chocolate Lindor (!). I confess was ready to push for the finish line… But everyone seemed to be going with it #PeerPressure and guess what – I can’t remember having had a more delicious treat.
These are the 7 Mindful Eating tips I learned:
Have bigger portions during mealtimes to avoid mindless snacking.
Go French. They usually start the meals with a salad, before the most exciting flavours make that spinach leaf look not so terribly appetizing.
Don’t leave it to chance. Plan your meals and snacks as much as possible and leave the house with something healthy in your bag. And frankly, sometimes you’ll just have to eat when it’s convenient, punto.
Respect your hunger, ie. do eat if you are hungry. Don’t berate yourself for wanting to eat. But before reaching out for the biscuit tin, ask yourself if you’re not just bored.
Embrace “Urge Surfing”! If it’s just a craving, it will go away. Ride the wave, do something else you enjoy, like reading a book or eating ice cream (lol).
Keep healthy snacks available for you and the kids. No, packs of digestive biscuits don’t count.
Tackle the low-hanging fruit first. Start with smaller, easier changes. It builds momentum and will keep you motivated. For me that’s a distraction-free lunch once a week, certainly not tea time with the kids (#Mayhem).
Mindful eating is not about depriving yourself, it’s about making the most of your food. It’s not about what you eat, it’s how you eat it. And by being more mindful at meal times, you’re reaping greater benefits – in becoming an altogether more patient, kind and happy creature. That sounds pretty nice, hey?
Check this out everyone, it’s a nap cult gathering!!!
I’m guessing that’s what they would say if someone took a peek through the window. Also ”What a bunch of wackos, some people have waaaay too much time on our hands, man”.
It looks weird, I grant you.
Welcome ladies to Re:Mind , London’s drop in Meditation studio.
I’m lying down on a soft mat, my head resting on a pillow, knees supported by a bolster. The eye mask is on, covering the bright light that shines from the studio windows. There’s a wholly blanket keeping me warm and the crystal bowls vibrations are singing in my head like you’re diving under water and there’s not another soul for miles.
Maybe just some sharks, then.
I’m not going to pretend that I get the logic of how sound activates our chakras (yes, it’s an actual thing) but I challenge you not to feel good as you let it in and magically zone out.
(I was joking about the sharks).
On a geekier note, recent scientific studies do prove that particular types of sound can have a tremendous positive effect on human physiology, particularly on brain health (it can even help treat autism and Alzheimer’s). That’s not something I simply turn down, people. Specially since all I need to do here is to lie down, all warm and cosy. No brainer, right?
Re:Mind’s promise is beautifully simple: find your calm. I think of it as a workout for the mind.
Crystal Bowl healing is just one of the sessions on offer on the rather (how should I put it?) unexpected menu of classes available at Re:Mind, the new London drop-in meditation studio.
This is what happens when you check in for a class.
The lovely scent of burning candles instantly signal you’ve arrived “somewhere else”. Freshly brewed herbal tea is on offer (out with the office kitchen mugs, say hi to the pretty teacups), so I definitely recommend arriving 10-15 minutes before class to settle into your calm zone.
The studio is utterly gorgeous. Think calm meets interior design, with carefully curated materials, furniture, books and of course the aforementioned cosy class props. The tones are organic, greys and taupe brought to life by perfectly scattered indoor plants – pretty and cleansing.
Basically this would be my dream den.
If I did not have to cohabit with 3 small kids and one amazing yet gadget- addicted hubby covering the house in wire to boost internet signal.
Dress code: whatever you want. My choice is leggings, warm XL sweater. Ideally bra-less but that’s a step I haven’t quite taken yet… I’ve also seen girls who obviously came straight in from the office wearing their power dress to get their calm fix in (they were not bra-less either).
Now. Slow it. Right. Down.
Shoes off, you walk upstairs to the mediation studio. “Omg it’s sooo perfect” is what usually springs to mind the first time you step in. This is where the real magic happens. Get cosy with the array of soft cushions and blankets and make sure you do pop the eye mask on.
During the class I kept my eyes shut as the lovely teacher went on about letting go. For me it was less about the words, more about the tone and pace. Calm inducing chatter. This is when you start to really zone out and relax.
Next in line is a double whammy treat. As the teacher goes around each and every person playing the crystal bowl, amazing sound waves echoing in your head, another teacher is working her Reiki magic on you. Now, I don’t understand anything about Reiki, but the feeling of those warm hands hovering over your tummy give me the good kind of butterflies and I wish she would not have another 8 people to get to.
Having said that, I was seriously grateful when she did her thing to the snoring creature at the back. It was like hitting the off switch. Phew. That was really killing my vibe.
As I lie there, initially struggling to put all thoughts of to-do lists and omg-no-clean-uniform-shirts-for tomorrow-school-photo-day, you suddenly realise that chatter is no more. Bliss.
Re:Mind is a bubble of calm and I never want to leave.
Alas, real life calls. Reluctantly, I comply. After another cup of tea, as I popped my shoes back on, I felt grounded. Even though you sadly do have to leave, the zen endures.
The results: clearer mind, sounder sleep.
Mediation has a positive effect in the part of brain that controls decision making (for the science geeks that’s the frontal cortex and frontal lobe activity). Which just makes you a better person, right?
Re:Mind has a sweet intro pack for newbies and you don’t need ant meditation experience before giving it a go. The location is just a 10-minute walk from Victoria tube station, so easy to get to.
There’s a lovely selection of eco-friendly goodies on sale, including scented candles, skincare and some strange looking but oh-so-pretty meditation parafernalia. I want one of each.
The real-life benefits kick in when the kids are back home. The evening flows at a happier pace. Not even the kids-dirty-underwear-straight-after-shower-incident that would usually drive me off the edge made me snap! Wouldn’t it be great if life was like this all the time?
Have you ever wondered what it feels like walking on clouds? Literally speaking, that is.
Is it just like a big, thick fog, without the option to switch on the lights? Does it smell of cotton candy?
Can you hear music? It would have to be Guns n’ Roses, right ( knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s doooor) ? What happens when you finally land on the ground below? You bounce back up, of course.
This might very well be the silliest debate I’ve entertained in these digital pages (and I know I’ve touched a fair number of not so serious topics). But #SillyIsTheNewHappy and it all serves a very good purpose.
This is my Chubby Cloud tale. And it does not (always) make sense.
I know, just bear with me. It’s rather brilliant, actually.
Anya Hindmarch set out to celebrate the start of London Fashion Week with the launch of the new limited edition bags: the Chubby collection. Starting to make some sense here, right?
Of course, the only logical thing to do would be to create an actual big, fat, chubby cloud.
The world’s largest, whiter-than-white bean bag. This wonderful installation was made to cover up the floor at Whitehall’s Banqueting House. Oh, where the ceiling happens to be covered in unique, extraordinary Rubens’ paintings.
It gets better.
Grown-ups are only allowed in if wearing white overalls (yes, really). Blending-in and so on. What happens next? You step on the “cloud”, or rather try to balance and not fall flat on your face. Then: jump backwards and forwards, sink in, listen to music, stare at Rubens’ generously, joyfully curvy creatures, take selfies and giggle hysterically in the process.
What do you think of my outfit?
Confused? Yeah, I would be too. Which is why I’ve make videos, no-one would believe me otherwise!
That Fitster at the Chubby Cloud! - YouTube
All very grown up. And there’s a special guest!
No, not Father Christmas. Although Rubens would have been just the guy to depict the lovely, fat, long-bearded creature on canvas. Coca-Cola just hadn’t yet invented him yet.
One of my favourite nutritionists and best-selling author Amelia Freer is talking all things food and body image. In fact, she’s the main reason I’m here, giving this chubbiness business a go.
Let’s recap here to make sure it all makes sense: there’s Anya Hindmarch, new bag collection, London Fashion Week, body image, chubby cloud, chubby chubby Rubens, Amelia Freer.
Phew, and here I was thinking that grown-ups jumping on bean bags whilst wearing disposable white overalls was slightly bonkers…
Amelia being interviewed under a regal canopy. As one does.
These are some of Amelia Freer’s top healthy food tips:
At each meal, the first two mouthfuls should be protein.
Leave 5 hours between meals. Feeling a bit hungry is actually good for you.
Stop eating by 9pm and break your fast 12 hours later. Give your digestive system a break.
Ignore the scales. Healthy is not a size.
Confidence makes the woman. Not her weight.
Don’t go around pointing out your faults. Attracts the wrong vibes.
And if there’s a guy putting you down because of how you look, well, he’s probably not the right guy.
The word I would use for it would be a**hole.
Heaps of science-backed common sense, Amelia has. As the interview drew to a close, I felt for her. Standing up from her chair under the burgundy canopy I could see her hesitate, clearly just a girl wanting to join in the bean bag fun… That’s when I almost raised my hand and said “Here, Amelia, you can have my white overalls!”.
That Fitster jumps on the Chubby Cloud! - YouTube
This is when I quickly made an escape to collect my things from the cloakroom – with kids pick up time looming, clock ticking, I do a Cinders and suddenly … whoop! Just like that, it’s back to real life.
White overalls gone, I make a short stop at the Chubby Cloud cafe to stock up on cloud-shaped, lemon filled, over-priced macarons. This should keep the magic going on the way back to home & homework!
Back with my foot firmly on the ground, head up in the clouds.
On a recent study researchers found that an increase in happiness is directly proportional with a reduction in mortality. So I’m kickstarting my September stories with a list of feel good intentions!
Do you love a list? I looove mine.
I keep special notebooks just for them, with pretty pastel covers and silky, smooth paper. I even have special pens* to write on them. Kept inside a special, slim, white case. I take great pleasure in sitting down at the coffee shop and take time to magically get my life sorted by writing down.
It gets worse.
Having left my pen case at home the other day I made a (not so small) detour specially to pop into a stationery shop and purchase suitable replacement pens. God forbid I have to make an important note (think “book MOT”) and I must resort to borrowing a sad biro from a random stranger.
Ladies, lists are also a trap. When you go down the rabbit hole of obsessing over unfinished business, it springs to mind that scene on “I Don’t Know How She Does It”; she’s there lying in bed at night and there’s that animated To Do List franticly dancing over her head.
Which is why I’ve chosen to name this one a Could-Do List. As in “it would be really nice to tick all the boxes but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t”.
Also.Here’s a silly, pointless video of myself.
That Fitster - Because I’m Happy! - YouTube
So here they are. A collection of good intentions. Inspiration for a better life that will not get in the way of actually living it.1. Get the kids into daily probiotics.
I’m a firm believer in preventative medicine and that means topping up the good bacteria colonies in your gut. Thus minimizing number of sick days so no skipping workouts to tend to child’s wellbeing (#GoodMum vs. #BadMum ?).
Number 3 still thinks it’s disgusting and ends up squashing the little pill between her fingers every time she announces she’s willing to “give it a go”. At least the other two think it’s very grown up to take pills for breakfast. Half full, people.
2. Try a new fitness class.
I need to shake things up this September and have come to sadly realise that not all the best studios are on my doorstep (how unfair is that?). So I’m actually willing to leave the square mile and commute for sweat. On top of my list are BoomCycle and Re: Mind. Who’s coming with? Who’s been already?
3. Talk more, text less.
It’s too easy to just fire messages away. And yes, sometimes it’s just what you need. What about when you don’t have anything specific to say? You just want to hear the others’ voice and make pointless chat, digress?
Mind you, this does not include more Face Time (who else thinks FT is hard work?). Frankly, no-one needs to be reminded of that horrible spot on their forehead.
4. Restart my meditation practice.
The word restart here is used relatively loosely as it implies that I’ve actually done it before.
Well I have, just not consistently (read about what happened at my first mediation class here). Since mornings are war zone, I’m starting with 5 minutes on the bolster in the evenings. Apply a bit of your favourite relaxing body oil (I love this one by Neom), pop some quiet music on and focus on your breathing.
5. To not skip kids’ bedtime reading.
When you’re already knackered after a whole days work it’s too tempting to just say “it’s really late” (in my defence, it usually is). So as part of my #GoodMum mission this is one for the list.
Note to self: purchase children’s books that I actually enjoy reading. Which would mean anything from Emily Hughes, like this one: Everything You Need For a Treehouse. Dreamy pictures that speak a million words.
The kids book for the grown ups who love pictures
6. More doodling and calligraphy.
I’ve read that it’s great to do something with total abandon just for the fun of it, which immediately resonated (!). If you’re curious about modern calligraphy I highly recommend one of Imogen Owen’s beginners workshops, I went once and it was just the thing I needed. Do more of what you love.
Does not include eating the a whole pack of mini mars bars kept for kids emergencies (what kind of mother would do that?).
More Emily Hughes. Magical.
Do you have a September To Do List? What’s in there? Please comment on the section below, I love hearing from you!
Kids summer holidays. We have migrated from London to Lisbon for the season and gosh I do love this city. Then there’s the chill factor, of course. No alarm clock ringing, after school activities, only days of blissful outdoors play.
Finally I have time to devote to those things on my to list that have been waiting for this moment to unfold.
I love the fact that I don’t have to set up the alarm in the morning (although I often still do – more on that later) and I‘m so grateful to see the kids’ happy faces with the absence of teeth brushing routines. However…
Here are 5 things that I did think I would be doing but have until now completely failed to do:
Writing lots of blog posts so that I would have a complete content library to publish for the next six months. Reality: this is the first one of the holidays.
Make the most of the fresh produce in the Lisbon markets and take my healthy food regime to the next level. Once I’m done with the local carbfest, of course.
Focus on the present moment. Focus on the present moment. Focus on the present moment.
Progress on writing my novel. In my head it’s so much fun. Now I just need to sit down and get on with typing. Right.
Print out current family photos to replace old ones and use actual picture frames.
On the other hand, here’s a few unexpected things that I did achieve during my holidays, despite what the season let’s-all-be-happy-and-forget-our-worries rules tell us:
Setting up my alarm in the morning (too) often. Partly self-inflicted and unnecessary. This included workouts (perfectly reasonable) but I also recall one occasion that it was just a reminder to pay for that day’s car park. Pathetic.
Stressing over stuff that I have little control over but that still drives me crazy. Result: a couple of sleepless nights. Talking of holiday beauty sleep, hey?
Continue to relentlessly try to maintain a tidy home despite the fact that the art and crafts material that seems to emerge out of nowhere like crazy aliens trying to take over the flat (or maybe it was because of that last trip to Wilco before leaving to Lisbon?)
Before you think I’m that person who only sees the negative side of things (and who never gets asked out for drinks, including mum’s night out), here are a few things I did achieve and that I’m actually proud of:
I helped my children to “make memories” by buying them a XL float the shape of a berry milkshake.
Had a facial with a Japanese facialist visiting from Kyoto. And they said fairies don’t exist.
Spent time with the people I love and who I don’t get to see half as often as I would have liked.
I went for brunch at Fauna e Flora and had the most amazing, delicious pancakes in Lisbon (that’s where I took the mouthwatering photo, if you’re wondering).
I did drink my green smoothie in the morning (sometimes) and kept my body moving with some kickboxing at Academia Kolmachine and the occasional 3 minute morning workout (!).
Went out with hubby and the kids for mornings at the beach, collecting shells, followed by lovely lunches of clams and real chips.
“Wasted” a whole morning in Pjs, me and the kids, letting them make a mess of the flat, toys and crayons all over the shop.
I finally binned the CD the kids insist on playing but that I hate.
I wrote this piece. And it felt really good.
Reality is that don’t have an ON/OFF switch as far as holidays go. If someone has nailed this please email me urgently. I’ll be just there typing the final chapter of my next best seller, Aperol-spritz next to the laptop and the 3 offspring shouting some version of “mummy she stole my float!”.
I’m soooo looking forward to a family trip to Azores later this month! I’ve planned most of the two week island hopping myself and I’m keeping my fingers crossed I haven’t forgotten anything. Like the flights back home. I have promised myself and my big girl C. we’d be keeping a diary of the trip – let’s see how this one goes… Keep your eyes peeled on my Insta!
What do you do when you’ve committed to join a group run but… haven’t worn your running shoes for months?
Option 1: U turn; that gastropub you walked past smelled delicious (probably the double cooked chips)
Option 2: Lie. Twisted ankle. Period pains. Broken heart.
Option 3: Blend in. Hope for the best.
Me? You can probably make a wild guess. What is it they say? Fake it till you make it.
On that note:
It’s the first FitBit City Run and I’ve got this!
(Or do I?)
Starting line: Tower Bridge.
Meet the legend: Greg Whyte.
Can I just start by saying how amazing it is that I got a chance to listen to this guy? The FitBit Ambassador and Olympian in modern pentathlon Professor Greg Whyte gave a Q&A before the run and man, does he know his stuff; it was mind blowing. We talked carbs before a workout, toughest challenges and the biggest fitness mistake he sees people do (more on this later).
With the legend himself – soz for the very sweaty pic
The crowd was pretty diverse – phew, what a relief. Not everyone looks like a personal trainer, 8-pack and glutes of steel included. Bonus: we’re all wearing the same FitBit tees. Maybe I’ll get to blend in after all?
The geek kit: FitBit Ionic
Remember when James Bond meets Q for a top up of the bestest, most bad-ass gadgets to help save the world/girl/suitcase full of secret agents lists? It’s like that, only we’re all wearing lycra.
Doesn’t it look super clever?
The crowd of keen city runners are fitted with the Fitbit Ionic. With this baby on my wrist I almost feel like Wonder Woman. Now let’s take it on a test drive…
City Run, here we go!
Covering all the main City landmarks, we went up, down and across the Thames, dodging commuters, waving and shouting “Fit-Bit-RUUUUN!!!” to please the crowds! Stopping by a green area overlooking Tower Bridge, our team of running wizards (significantly sweatier than 20 minutes ago) took a break to check in with our FitBits and squeeze in a full body Adidas 10 minute workout, led by Greg-the-master-Whyte.
On the run the way back we even passed by the glorious Golden Hind Pirate Ship, which I had never actually seen in my 10+ years of living in London – talking about sightseeing meets getting stronger!
Brownie points if you can spot me…
These are the 5 things coming out of my City Run with FitBit:
1. Running is not just about running. Mix up your training to strengthen your core and legs to avoid injuries and max out your performance (did I just say that?). Those people running like they’re looking for the missing keys on the floor? Not a good look.
This is what saved me, actually. Even though I had not run for months, the fact that had been doing my regular Reformer Pilates classes, TRX and spin meant I did hit the ground running and was not (always…) at the back. My legs still remembered that 6k run for days though…
2. It’s a lot easier to run as part of a group. Just chase the guy in the front. Chat to the girl next to you. If everyone else is doing it, then you can do it too (really, she says?)…. Note to self: do more of it!
3. However. It’s a lot harder to run when you’re constantly racing past pubs. That smell of chips. Burgers. Hot buns. Pit stop, anyone?
4. Take your REST seriously. The mistake Greg sees more often when getting ready for any fitness challenge is instead of giving your body a break at the right times, you just keep pushing and end up burned out before you even start! This includes lighter (not tougher) training sessions just before the big day and (you’re going to love this one) making time for quality sleep.
5. Break it up for extra fun. I used to face my jog as get in, get it done, get out. I’ve realised that if you have a proper break halfway through and squeeze in a mini workout time flies by quicker.
That’s where the Fitbit Ionic is so brilliant. It comes lots of exclusive Adidas workouts which you can follow on a proper-sized screen. Just pick a 10 minute sesh, follow the easy instructions and BOOM! That’s on top of doing everything else FitBit has already got us used to, like clever tracking of your daily steps, workout burn, heart rate, distance and delivering perfectly baked scones.
For the amateur athlete, the main take away from today is to mix it up. If you’re out of ideas, don’t know where to start or keep repeating the same routines, well, something like the FitiBit Ionic really can be the missing piece of the puzzle.
Now, did someone mention chips, burger and hot buns?