All posts by Pollyanna Hale

13Aug/18

The Instafit Challenge – a Bournemouth Uni Diet Documentary

Could you eat like an ‘Instafit’ Instagram ‘wellness’ influencer?

 

That’s the challenge one Bournemouth University student took on when she decided to make a documentary about the different diets people follow in a bid to lose weight, be fitter and healthier and look, well, like an Instagram wellness Influencer!

 

I was asked to bust some myths around diets and why they do (or don’t) work. Here is their final short documentary about their findings.

 

Want to try ‘clean eating’ yourself? There’s a free 3 day plan here. 

 

Click Here to watch the video on YouTube and Subscribe to hear as soon as new videos are uploaded.

Or click on the image below.

26Jul/18

We Enter The World of Beatrix Potter

This Summer I achieved a childhood ambition of visiting the magical world of Beatrix Potter by booking a holiday to where she lived near Lake Windermere in the Lake District.

 

Not only that but a quick google led me to a special ‘Beatrix Potter Experience’ holiday run by the Lindeth Howe hotel, the only hotel which is a former home of Beatrix, as she became quite a property investor with all her book royalties.

 

The experience included a tour of the area including a trip to Hill Top Farm (where most of the Beatrix Potter boos are set) and a boat trip on the lake, plus entrance to The World of Beatrix Potter experience centre. Not to mention enjoying the beautiful chocolate cottage hotel and 6 acres of grounds and gardens, and finding time to slot in some obligatory walks over hills and round lakes.

 

The reason for this post, which as you’ll notice has nothing to do with healthy eating (other than the odd mention of meal times) is because after two family members being quite ill in the last two years I decided enough was enough and it was time to ‘Live More’, while we could. Not everything has to be expensive – we’ve spent more time having family meals, going for country walks and playing in the garden together this year than we have done, well, ever. This holiday was the first thing I booked and symbolises our goals to live life to the full.

 

Whether you’re after some light reading or are considering a family trip to the lake District yourself, you’ll find information you need here on all the places we visited and hopefully be entertained and inspired to take your own magical trip somewhere.

 

P.S. I’d love to know where you’ve always wanted to visit so please do take the time to come and tell me in my Facebook group here or email me at polly@thefitmumformula.com!

 

 

Hotel Tonight App

Our adventure started with hitting the roads with nowhere to go or stay. Well for one night anyway. We didn’t want to either get up at 3am or waste the first day of our holiday travelling, so decided to hit the roads on Sunday night, see how far we got (it’s a good 6 hours from us on the South Coast, without wee stops), and find a room using the Hotel Tonight App. Not having used it before it was a little concerning, but what’s the worst that could happen? Somewhere would have a room, even if we ended up having to pay more than we’d hoped for in a cheapo travel inn style place because we only really needed the beds for a few hours.

hoteltonight app

The app combines your GPS location or desired destination and links to a huge database of hotels, plotting them on a map with price labelling. This first step was fab – we literally just needed cheap beds for a few hours and quickly found a few suitable. Unfortunately you can only seem to search for 1 or 2 beds, no good for a family of 4, but I simply called a couple of hotels that the app had shown up and in 5 minutes had a room with two double beds for £89 and that included breakfast. Big up to the Holiday Inn which was not only clean and staff polite but there was a lovely pool (which we didn’t have time to use), a fully equipped gym (which I did use at 7am while the others slept), and 24 hr room service. You can’t get a single with no kettle for that money south of Oxford.

Get the HotelTonight App Here

 

Lindeth-Howe

The only hotel that was a home once owned by Beatrix Potter herself, Lindeth Howe on Lake Windermere is the only place to stay for a Peter Rabbit and friends short break in the UK.

I’ve been told about the wonders of the Lake District for years but as a child who, for every night for two years running made her single Father read ‘Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’ at bedtime, visiting the farm and surrounding areas where the stories are set was a must for me, and preferably before my girls got too old to emerse themselves in the stories and help me spot locations and animals from the books.

lindeth howe hotel review

The hotel itself is a charming country home adorned with Beatrix Potter memorabilia, with beautiful gardens and spectacular views over the lake. The rooms are cosy and the restaurant serves local, family friendly food, and while there’s free WiFi throughout, this is the closest place you’ll get to tech-free peace and bliss without sending the kids off to Grandparents while you go to a spa.

The gardens and surrounding area turned out to be just perfect for some early morning ‘me time’ too. I’m an early riser so while Daddy and kids slept in (following holiday typical late nights) I took advantage and went on an hour-long power walk/run/uphill climb hybrid that cleared my mind, blew the cobwebs away and allowed me to dive into enjoying the day ahead refreshed.

https://www.lindeth-howe.co.uk/

 

 

The World of Beatrix Potter

The slightly more commercial and child friendly walk through experience ‘The World of Beatrix Potter’ was walking distance from our hotel but don’t worry, it’s not ‘if Butlins did Beatrix Potter’ and is way more charm than chav, with a fully planted vegetable garden, a cute walk through of all the locations in the stories like Mrs Tiggy Winkles kitchen complete with flagstone floor, Mr McGregor’s Greenhouse, and there are shows to watch and characters to meet every day throughout the Summer.

world of beatrix potter

Queues were long (30 minutes wait) and it took about the same time to walk round but the children loved seeing all the characters, especially 5 year old Bella who loves cuddle animals and insisted on spending most of her saved up pocket money on a fluffy talking Lily Bob Tail.

Visit The World of Beatrix Potter website here

 

 

Hill Top Farm

If you’ve read a Beatrix Potter book, you’ll already be familiar with Hill Top Farm. Bought in 1905 with the proceeds from her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, she used Hill Top Farm and the surrounding countryside as inspiration for many of her subsequent books.

The house is full of original artefacts and Potter’s possessions and the garden, a National Trust area, is maintained to exactly how it is in the books.

hill top farm review

While not huge, the gardens are beautiful and Mr McGregor’s garden is exactly as you’d expect, complete with blackcurrant bushes to stain little blue rabbit jackets and a little path just right for a hedgehog to run up. The house is almost untouched, and you can see areas that are right out of the book, as if the illustration was done that very morning. It brought the books to life for the girls, who were completely enchanted with the dolls house inhabited by two bad mice, and I bought the Miss Potter movie in the gift shop so the girls could learn the story behind the amazing woman who created the stories.

This was a truly magical place if you were ever read Beatrix Potter stories as a child, it’s like walking right into the pages of a book.

hill top farm review

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hill-top

 

 

Peter Rabbit; Let’s Go! App

It’s it incredible how fast children learn to use technology? As an online business owner I’m pretty tech savvy but to be honest I’ve got better things to do than spend ages figuring out children’s games they’ll ultimately be playing without me. I wasn’t sure what to do as soon as we opened the app but neither was I worried. 5 minutes in Bella’s hands and she’d figured out how to hunt for bugs and vegetables and was over the moon with her fruit reward badges.

We couldn’t see any introductory instructions (this would have been helpful at first) – this would be one thing I would add – some kind of walk through that’s easy and clear (but not annoying) enough for both kids and non-techy adults to understand so that children can get playing asap with minimal frustration. But I wasn’t worried as Bella seemed happy swiping and clicking away and discovered the colouring in area, where she can create Beatrix Potter pictures and save them to be printed when we get home.

The games can be played ‘as’ various characters; Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny and other hoppy friends, and there’s a map hunting game, a ‘catch the butterflies and bees’ and the aforementioned colouring in. Cute children’s voices narrate (in a surprisingly non-irritating way) and fruit badges are rewarded for efforts and wins. Bella was very proud she could recognise every fruit and vegetable – and as I nutritionist so was I! If your young kids are totally against fruit and veg in every way this could be a way of making them fun. In fact in the ‘free hand’ drawing Bella chose to actually create bright pictures of all her favourite fruits, which made a refreshing change from the hundreds of ‘Mummy Daddy and Aurora and our two cats’ pictures I have stuffed in an art folder and smothering the fridge.

The app really came into it’s own at a family wedding. We hadn’t taken their iPad but come 9pm when the older kids were still going on cake and Bella had had enough, colouring in on my phone kept her going on my lap for an hour before we retired to our hotel. It was a novelty that there was a game on my phone as I don’t let them use it normally but I was pleased it was there at the time. So many kids’ games are noisy and stimulating and annoying but this was calm and quiet and well, like the Beatrix Potter books I guess in that respect!

In fact this is probably the best bit. The vast majority of children’s apps are noisy, shouty, musical, and stimulating, with all sorts of unsavoury characters who are either trying to kill each other or dress up like prostitutes (I’m looking at you, Barbie Fashion…). The app retains as much of the calm and charm as the Beatrix Potter books as you can for a digital app, and if we can survive a 6 hour drive to the Lake District with it with neither kids nor parents going insane, that’s pretty impressive.

 

Find the Peter Rabbit; Let’s Go! App here

 

If you have young children or are a Beatrix Potter fan yourself it’s a lovely short break. And if you’re not a fan then I think the Lake District is now my favourite British holiday I’ve ever been on. If you have any other suggestions I or my followers might like then please let us know!

 

16May/18

10 absolute must-do’s for staying mentally well and happy

My medical notes are piled high on the consultant’s desk. Complex, is a very mild way of putting my mental health history. In fact I was even used as a ‘demonstration’ at Southampton University, giving talks to psychology students about my experiences, to help them with their studies.

I shouldn’t really be here at all, if my prognosis is anything to go by. Once you go above a certain threshold; a number of relapses, numerous and mixed conditions, unresponsive to therapies and medications, you get put into the ‘chronic’ category where one is destined to be in and out of hospitals and treatments before dying prematurely either through physical complications like heart failure (from eating disorders) or suicide.

This blog was originally published on Mumspiration, click here to read it there.

But despite the serious nature of mental health illnesses and the degree to which I struggled, I’m here to tell the tale, stronger than ever, and hopefully by sharing my story I can inspire and give hope to others suffering behind an ‘invisible’ illness that has no proven cure.

I didn’t see the eating disorders team for the first time until I was 18, but the first time I made myself sick I was only 12. I was diagnosed with depression alongside anorexia, but I’m pretty sure the recurring headaches and sick bugs I got as a child were my way of expressing this. Children aren’t able to make clear how they feel mentally, so often childhood mental illnesses manifest in physical ways. The blood tests when I was 8 showed up nothing, so the doctor said it was for attention. He was probably right, in a round about way; after all my parents had got divorced and remarried recently, all big changes for a young child.

I did my best to control my own discontent, dabbling in everything from painkiller abuse to self-harm and had borderline OCD. I was sectioned and have resided in no less than 4 different psychiatric hospitals, often for months at a time. I attempted suicide twice.

Then one day, a sunny spring afternoon when I was recently out of hospital and having a diet coke with a couple of friends in the local pub garden, I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. One of my friends told us she was pregnant, the other that she was now engaged to be married. It was a tuning point; I was being left behind in this thing called ‘life’ and one thought remained…that I wanted to have a little baby girl of my own one day.

The journey upwards was tough, really tough, and I have so much respect for anyone who has overcome mental difficulties as I know how hard it is. But this time I really wanted it, and now I stay pretty well, and medication free, with a strict regime of my own medicine, as I’ll describe below. I even managed to get married and have not one but two miracle little girls of my own.

At first they’ll look too simple. Normal, everyday things that are good for everyone surely?

Well yes, but for me they are a must. The following list is my daily medication and I absolutely must do them to stay well. I will take my own snacks on outings, be late for social events if I needed a few minutes ‘me time’ before going out, and make my kids walk, moaning, in the rain if I have to.

Being selfish and putting my mental health first is the only way I stay well, and if that means being a bit stubborn so that ultimately I can be a better Mum, wife, daughter, sister and person in general, then so be it.

Here are my 10 absolute must-do’s for staying mentally well and happy:
1. Sunlight
Sunlight boosts serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’. It also boosts vitamin D, which in turn boosts energy and mood.

2. Fresh air
This goes hand in hand with sunlight, but is a separate mood booster in itself. As my Mum says, let’s go and ‘blow away the cobwebs’. I’m more of a fan of warm and dry than windy, personally, but I agree with windy days being invigorating when you’re stuck in a warm stuffy house in Winter.

3. Walking
If you’re going to get fresh air and sunlight you may as well walk at the same time and get some exercise benefits too. The rhythmic nature of walking is thought to be why it’s an active form of meditation. Bonus points for walking in nature like parks and woodland; greenery is highly beneficial to your mood. We walk to school in all but the most dire of weather, and enjoy a little chat on the way too. It’s lovely time between the girls and I when at home there’s always chores to distract me.

4. Exercise
In addition to walking, formal, intense exercise is my daily therapy. I use workouts like some use a literal punch bag; pounding and pushing the stress away. It’s also highly effective in short bursts when you’re feeling wound up – a few jump squats can be as good as counting to 10 when kids wind you up!

5. Good food
I learned the hard way, though being very ill with anorexia, how lack of nourishment will ruin not just your body but your brain too. Food isn’t the enemy; it’s life giving when you eat well. A happy brain needs nourishments and nutrients. Positive eating yields positive mental energy. Don’t make it complicated; less junk, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, minimally processed food, good fats and plenty of protein.

6. Sleep
Less than 8 hours and I can already feel the effects. Less than 6? I’m a nightmare. Yes we’re all busy. But trust me on this one you won’t be losing time if you prioritise sleep, because you’ll be that much more effective in getting things done when you’re awake. I’m in bed reading by 9pm if I can help it.

7. Meditation
Like sleep, condensed, meditation is a way of calming your body and mind and is proven in scientific studies to be highly restorative for both body and mind. If like me you’re hopeless and quieting your monkey-mind, use an app like Headspace which guides you though the process. Just 10 minutes daily is beneficial.

8. Fun
As a working Mum I don’t get much time for socialising, so I make sure to prioritise the things I really want to do and people I really want to see. That means saying no to endless coffee mornings and drinks at the pub, but I’m fully there and 100% happy when it matters, whether that’s giggling over some trashy TV with my husband a couple of nights a week, or drinking tea and chatting to my Mum on a Sunday afternoon.

9. Hugs
Hugs instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. Air kisses don’t count; when I need a hug I’ll turn to my husband and kids, and we all feel better immediately.

10. Priorities
I’m a perfectionist and driven, and typically want to do everything, now! But that only leads to overwhelm. Some things just don’t need doing (ironing?!) and others can wait because today is full enough. Not rushing to cram as much as possible into each day, and instead taking time to think and reflect and just be in the moment, was one of the biggest and most profound mindset changes I made last year. I’ve never felt more at peace without the feeling there’s always the next opportunity to chase.

Have you overcome or are struggling with mental health problems? Come and join in the conversation and get support in my Free Facebook Group Here.

16May/18

Daft Things We Do as First Time Parents (that never made life easier)

Having a baby is a massive decision for anyone, but for first time parents? THE biggest overhaul life will ever take.

 

With constant pressure to keep up with those parents who are breezing through it getting everything perfectly right, combined with Mother Nature’s blessing in disguise that makes us mothers settle for no less than perfect, and the standards are set high.

 

Now throw in the fact that, for baby #1 at least, we don’t have a fricken’ clue what we’re doing, inevitably we’re going to end up in a whirl of combined panic, anxiety and over protection, not to mention overspending, while trying to produce the next ‘happiest, healthiest, smartest child ever’.

 

I’m the eldest of eight kids (yes, 8), the youngest being 16 years my junior, so I KNOW what babies involve. On a knowledge level, I was fully equipped to keep a baby alive, so if I fell prey to this new Mum neuroticism then I can only begin to imagine what less experienced parents must feel.

 

One day someone WILL write that elusive handbook on how to be a parent (in the real-world sense). Until then, here’s some of the daft things I did as a first-time parent that, in hindsight, didn’t make life any easier whatsoever.

 

  1. Listened to Classical music while pregnant.

Apparently this develops baby’s brain, improving chances of emotional wellbeing and high intelligence. My Eminem DVD’s were banned. No swear words in the house from now on.

 

  1. Went to pregnancy Pilates and swimming lessons.

Because we will be a healthier, calmer mother to be and have short, easy, pain-free labours. Oh, the naivety.

 

  1. Worried that every niggle, twinge and unfamiliar sensation was a medical emergency.

By #2 we’re just so grateful if we got through a day without vomiting.

 

  1. Bought a top and tail bowl.

I still don’t know what this is for?

 

  1. Bought hundreds of pounds worth of baby phonics DVD’s, books and matching word cards set.

These never saw the light of day with #2 (because I would just put on whatever kept #1, now a toddler, happy, for some peace). For the record, child #2 is the best reader in her class. #1 is on the ‘extra help’ list.

 

  1. We kept charts of every feed.

Which boob, how long, what time (start and end), or ml of bottle milk. But we panicked because every time they threw up (which was often), we couldn’t measure it, so lost track of exactly what they’ve ingested.

 

  1. At the other end (sorry), poo is no longer a taboo subject, but an important health marker.

How many times today? Too hard or soft? Colour?

 

  1. Sleep monitoring.

Theirs not ours (nothing to monitor for us, no sleep here…). How long? What time? Nap duration? How quickly did they fall asleep? When should they stop napping? Why didn’t they nap today? Oh God I need a nap!

 

  1. Measuring growth.

The red book has spoken. Your child is not growing ‘averagely’. They are far too big/small/fat/thin/tall/have big feet / hands are too small in relation to their forearms…..

 

  1. Sterilise everything.

The conflict between strong enough anti-bacterials and minimal chemicals is real. And once crawling starts, we wipe the floor with anti-bacterial wipes when in public spaces, just in case.

 

  1. Anything non-organic is now poison.

Never mind we haven’t really bought organic food in the past. From now on it’s organic even if we have to re-mortgage the house.

 

What daft things did you do with your first born?! Do let me know in the comments!
16May/18

How to Get More Protein for Women who are Too Busy

Protein powders have been popular in the fitness industry for years, but only recently have they become more mainstream, and too often I find people, especially those new to getting fit and healthy, suspicious about a big tub of powder with labels they don’t understand.

 

But dismissing protein powders is missing a trick, and today I want to show you how high-quality protein powder can make healthy eating so much easier, more convenient, and often tastier and cheaper!

 

This blog was originally published on the MyProtein blog here. Myprotein make lots of tasty, convenient and nutritious foods, snacks and shakes

 

When my first daughter was born I suddenly found my life thrown into a whirlwind of nappies and washing, with virtually no time to shower myself let alone prepare healthy meals. As a health-conscious person and personal trainer by qualification, how was I going to find time to eat well?

Now my two girls are at school not much has changed, time wise. Us Mums are constantly running around after everyone else, sometimes on not enough sleep, and it’s very easy to rely on quick energy fixes like biscuits and crisps to keep us going through the day.

But these foods have very little in the way of nutrients, don’t keeps us full for long (so we need more to stave off hunger), and lead to energy crashes, and more sugar cravings!

It’s a vicious cycle but one that I see rectified with one very simple addition to a person’s diet; more protein!

protein shake

 


Why is Protein Good for Women?

Protein is needed to build and repair muscle. Want to look toned? That’s simply muscle definition you see on ‘toned’ people, and without protein, you won’t have much muscle. For weight loss, protein is the most satiating type of food. Eating enough protein at each meal and snack will satisfy your appetite and help stop you picking at junk in between.

Protein, or rather the amino acids it’s made of, are even necessary for immune function and detoxification. So yes, protein is a better choice than (virtually protein free) vegetables juices to undo the effects of a heavy night out!

Vegans and vegetarians are even more likely to be lacking protein, since meat and fish are good protein sources.


Why Use Protein Powder in a Busy Lifestyle?

Not all protein powders are created equal and it’s important to buy one that isn’t bulked up with cheap fillers and sugar. In addition, while whey is the fitness industries favourite, casein is slower to digest so can keep you full for longer, and people who can’t or choose not to consume dairy have the options of pea, hemp or rice proteins which are all nutritious.

Protein powder has a long shelf life, is extremely versatile, quick to prepare depending on how you’re using it (more on that in a moment), and comes in a variety of delicious flavours, or alternatively unflavoured for savoury meals.
While protein powders are traditionally used to make protein shakes, in this article I’m going to show you some other ways of how to use protein powder in your meals and snacks to boost the protein content.

Protein mug cake


7 Easy Uses of Protein Powder to Help a Busy Lifestyle

If you’re struggling to make nutritious meals and snacks in a hurry, then try some of these ideas I’ve listed here. You’ll likely find you lose excess weight more easily, recover from exercise better, and even have as much energy as your kids!

1. Protein pancakes

So easy, as batter can be made the night before and simply poured into a hot pan. Try one egg plus one scoop of protein powder, plus your choice of nut butter, mashed banana, oats, ground flax, or anything else you fancy. Top with fruit for a nutritional boost. Savoury pancakes made with unflavoured powder, with added herbs or spices, make a great lunch with salad.

2. Mug cakes

The cheats’ pancake. Same mixture but whisked in a mug and cooked for 1-2 minutes in the microwave. These are a life saver on school mornings when I need a satisfying and warm but quick breakfast.

3. Proats

Protein oats, porridge; whatever you want to call them, just add a scoop of protein powder to your morning porridge to make your bowlful keep you going that much longer.

4. Protein bars

Either buy some protein bars in a flavour you like or have a look online for easy recipes. Wrap individual bars in clingfilm then freeze; simply take a bar out instead of going to the corner shop for a chocolate bar.

5. Soup

Turning slightly past it vegetables into soup by boiling and blending with stock is a great way to reduce waste and eat your veggies, but for a meal it needs some protein too. Unflavoured vegan proteins work best here as they’re thick and are less likely to clump. I got through a week of flu this Winter on pea protein boosted soup.

6. Shakes

It wouldn’t be fair to leave shakes off the list completely. Mix the protein powder with your choice of liquid, and shake in a shaker bottle or blend in a smoothie maker or blender. If your blender can crush ice it makes your smoothies thick and slushy! Add other ingredients like nut butter, yoghurt, berries, spinach and oats depending on your needs.

7. Pudding

Mix protein powder with plain Greek, soy or coconut yoghurt, or cottage cheese, for an instant pudding that’s also super nutritious, especially when topped with extra fruit, or some seeds.

 

Check out Myprotein’s huge range of high quality protein powders to suit all preferences and tastes, which are appropriate for all the ideas I’ve mentioned here and more.

Experiment to see what works best in your favourite meals and you’ll see there’s way more to protein powder than just shakes and no easier way to make your food healthier with such convenience, however much those little people keep you on your toes!

16May/18

Closer Magazine Beach Body Special

About this time of year I get panic emails from Mums who have booked a family holiday and want to get beach body ready so you feel more confident in a skimpy swim suit.

 

If I’m honest I don’t really like the ‘beach body’ concept for several reasons.

 

1) It implies a temporary goal. Presumably once Autumn returns along with baggy jumpers, you won’t feel such a need to take care of your health.
Health should be a goal for everyone, regardless of size or shape. Health = a better quality of life, more energy, fewer illnesses and better mental well-being.

 

2) It suggests you can only be confident on the beach if you like at least slightly more like a Baywatch (showing my age there?) lifeguard.

 

Confidence is psychological, a mental state. Even if you do actually need to lose a few pounds for health reasons, you should still be confident. You’re still an amazing, beautiful person with or without those extra pounds.

 

3) It suggests bigger bodies must be covered up.

 

I hate overhearing people slag off big bodies in skimpy outfits on the beach. Mind your own business will you?! People can wear what they like, you and me included. Being slim doesn’t necessarily you even look good so it’s a mute point. And carrying extra weight usually increases body temperature, so larger bodies are even more in need to strip down and cool off.

 

But of course magazines are all over the ‘get a beach body’ theme at the time of writing so I guess if it encourages a person to make healthy, positive, long term changes to they way you eat and exercise, that can only be a good thing.

 

So Closer Magazine asked me to contribute to their Diet & Fitness special and here’s what I told them:

 

“Carbs aren’t the enemy. The body uses the right kind of carbohydrates for energy. But if you’re trying to lose a few pounds pre-holiday, ditching processed or refined carbs is a good way to see quick results. This is simply because carbs are metabolised by the body into sugar. And that sugar is then turned into fat.

 

Of course all food that’s ‘excess’ calories get turned into fat, but refined carbs and sugar are the easiest to overeat and least satiating, so since weight loss requires a lower calorie intake, they’re usually the best place to cut calories from. – This bit was missed by Closer, so I thought I’d clarify it here!

 

Closer suggests you swap refined carbs like white pasta and potatoes for high fibre foods like beans, brown rice and nuts. For breakfast, toast some rye bread and each with two protein rich poached eggs. For lunch, have a crisp green salad with prawns or mackerel. Then feed your body with nutrients with a dinner of stir-fried chicken and broccoli with brown rice.

 

“People try to improve their fitness and health by punishing their bodies with exercise they hate and horrible diets they can’t stomach. If you take a positive approach you’ll make better fitness regime choices, which will lead to a healthier body – without you becoming so resentful that you give up”.

 

This last quote is really important. If you hate your body, you won’t treat it well. If you don’t treat it well, it won’t feel good, it won’t look good, and diet and exercise plans that you do out of spite to your love handles just isn’t the way.

 

Respect your body, care for it and nourish it, and trust me the aesthetic results you’re after will happen too.

 

Click on the images below to enlarge them to see the magazine feature. And for a great exercise that tones your bum as well as giving you a stronger (less injury prone) lower back, click here for my fave glute exercise. 

 

  

31Mar/18

Why Do We Have To Make Lists For Daddy?

Every time I go out for longer than half a day, child-free, I have to make a list as long and comprehensive as the NHS budget report just to make sure the  day runs smoothly.

Read This where it was originally published on The Motherload website here

Your first thought; “You went out for the day?!”

No, not very often (I run my business from home during school hours), but very occasionally I’ll have a work-related trip to London which entails a 6:34am train to Waterloo, leaving Daddy in charge.

Now I don’t know about your significant other, but mine seems to think being ‘the parent’ is easy; they are old enough (5 and 8) to dress themselves and even get basic non-heated, no-knife foodstuffs, but on a typical school day there are just a few more details in between.

And we’re not talking days like ‘Bella – ballet day’.

Oh no, that particular scenario would require:

1. Start prepping tea early so that they can eat right after ballet.

2. Snack after school – oat biscuits are in the red tin by the cereal.

3. Ballet bag is ready for you on the sofa – she needs to be dressed by 4:45.

4. She wears coat too, it’s cold by the time she comes out.

5. 4:50 set off – lots of traffic so need extra time.

6. Buy Aurora hot chocolate while Bella is in ballet. NO sweets.

7. Tea as soon as home, they’ll be starving.

You get the idea.

A whole day out? The list gets pretty long.

It’s not the big stuff he’ll forget. It’s the details. Vests when it’s cold. Sun cream in summer. And no, 8 hair clips randomly placed does not counter not brushing hair.

What’s Dad’s usual response?

Well, six times out of ten I’ll get a call mid-morning from school asking if the kids are sick, since they’re not there. My reply is ‘Daddy is in charge today while I’m away’. They understand.

If they do go to school, he won’t need to cook, because he’ll meet up with a single Dad friend and they’ll all go for pizza. The kids will stay out too late and then go to bed in their uniform. We’ll locate the book bags when I’m back the next day, and explain again to the very understanding teachers that ‘Daddy was in charge’.

Aforementioned ballet will probably be skipped, though this week I (smugly, I’ll admit) threw him because I have a sensible arrangement with a fellow Mum where one takes Aurora and her friend to tap dancing, the other collects, so he couldn’t get out of it. I did giggle to myself over that one.

For all the ‘why are you so tired, you don’t do anything’ comments I get during a typical week, you can guarantee Daddy has fallen into bed (also fully clothed) by the time I arrive home that evening.

I’m used to it and I don’t even resent it, but a day out is more than a military operation, and the one time I went away for 4 days (! – to America, including 2 days travelling) I actually got my mother-in-Law to stay. Four days would have finished him off.

The Aftermath

As I’m driving back from the station I’ll be anticipating the state of the kids, and the house. I’ll go through each step of the day and assess how it went like any real business-woman (or Army Sergeant) would.

Did they eat breakfast? Doesn’t look like it judging by the bowls of uneaten, soggy Weetabix still on the kitchen side, dried a little only because the cat has been helping herself (cat alive? Win).

The dishwasher is still full of clean plates, the wet washing is going rancid in the machine, the toothbrushes are dry and I’ve no idea where aforementioned ‘ballet bag’ is. They seem to have tried on every outfit they own at some point in the day, dirtied it, and left it on the floor. Perhaps this is a positive sign they were always clean and presentable?

It sounds like I have the worst husband ever that’s useless in every way right? Actually no, as my best friend and soul mate, there’s no one I’d rather spend my life with. He’s just good at other stuff.

And that’s fine with me, because after dealing with the possibility of not being able to have children, and yearning to be a Mummy, I’ll put up with anything knowing that I’ve got the most wonderful kids and a lovely home. Even if they are for the most part totally my responsibility. And so long as they’re alive and well, Daddy will do things his way.

As any Mum will know, a 14 hour day, child free, to be an adult and be able to switch off from having to make Weetabix correctly and remember the book bag, is the parental equivalent of a week at a spa in Bali.

I’m writing this on the train, by myself, hot cup of tea next to me, on my way back to the hurricane that will be my home in about an hour, refreshed and spirited after a day of metal rejuvenation. And I’ve blocked out tomorrow to clean the house.

Image credit: Mug by Lavender and Wolf

31Mar/18
fat loss tips

Fat Loss Tips from 8 Fitness Professionals

Everyone trying to lose a few pounds is looking for the secret fat loss tips that will make their progress faster and easier. In this post you’ll hear from 8 fitness professionals who share their insight into the best ways to burn fat.

 

But rather than take it from just me, the article I contributed to contains advice from no less than 8 health, nutrition & fitness professionals who all share our pearls of wisdom on the best ways to lose fat.

 

Note that we talk about ‘fat’ not ‘weight’ because weight can be water, which might happen if you have water retention before dieting or suddenly lower your carbohydrate intake. It could be muscle which we definitely don’t want to happen as muscle keeps you strong, prevents injuries, and gives you the defined ‘toned’ look most people want.

 

Here’s my excerpt:

 

“To lose fat you must be eating in a calorie deficit.

While there are various ways to do this, all weight loss diets work by creating a deficit in some way. However, this can lead to hunger when you’re eating less food, which you can only ignore for so long before ‘falling off the wagon’.

One very effective way to prevent hunger is to eat a diet that revolves around protein and fibre. Protein from meat, fish, eggs, some dairy products and also good quality protein supplements are best, or Quorn and tofu for vegans. Vegetables are both high in fibre and very low in calories and are high in water which adds bulk.

Example meals could be an omelette with lots of vegetables, big chicken salad, Greek yoghurt with blueberries, or a steak, salmon or Quorn fillet with loads of veg.

Eating enough protein has the extra benefit of supporting muscle, which will help keep your metabolism high while eating less and as you lose weight.

The Government’s recommendations for protein intake are too low for active people, and most health professionals agree we should be eating much more than the advised 5 portions of veg and fruit a day.

Eating a diet rich in both has helped many of my clients lose weight without ever going hungry.”

 

You’ll like this video too: Why a Low Calorie Diet Won’t Work

Read the full article here:

30Mar/18

New Fitness Festival in West Sussex!

There’s a brand new wellness and fitness festival coming to West Sussex in May 20018!

 

Fit As A Fiddle (#FAAF) Festival on May 25-18 is all about finding your own strengths in a motivating and positive setting. Situated in the heart of the South Downs at Plush Tents Glamping, East Ashling, the running territory is sublime, with miles and miles of treasured South Downs trails and grassy routes taking us directly to areas of outstanding beauty.

 

 

The festival site itself is well equipped for our agenda full of yoga, pilates, HIIT training and seminars with the most influential and authentic professionals in the fitness and health arena right now. We have deluxe yurts which each have a wood burning stove, beautiful lighting, sheep skin rugs and four poster beds. We have an outdoor hot tub with panoramic views and our very own moonlit cinema, under the stars. 

 

*** 25-28 May 2018 ***

Bring your friends, bring your Mum, you kids, there’s something for everyone!

 

This is your festival if you crave high intensity training and meditative relaxation in equal measures; your festival if you love running, love the outdoors, believe in holistic living and natural remedies but don’t get enough time to practice; and it is definitely your festival if you want to learn new things including how to empower yourself to feel completely nourished. We believe in living life to the full and never, ever (ever) giving up. #FAAF #MOVE 

 

Fit As A Fiddle Festival (FAAF) is a 3 night, all inclusive, luxurious, boutique festival. It is a wellness event for fitness enthusiasts and positive women. I have designed this festival to welcome people to reconnect with their strengths in a motivating, upbeat and positive setting. Set in the heart of the South Downs, high up in East Ashling, the yurts are situated in a private woodland with panoramic views across the Downs. Close to Kingley Vale, the running activities will take in 5, 10 and 20km of the picturesque views via trails; led each day by notable London based running coaches and GB athletes. There will be 3 activities to choose from, every couple of hours, every day of the festival, ranging from seminars on topical and interesting aspects of wellness and natural remedies, with experts from fields of nutrition and dietetics; physiotherapy; mindfulness as well as many inspirational speakers all the way through to HIIT classes, independent personal training, consultations, pilates and yoga teachers.

We have DJs, acoustic musicians and many members of staff, to make this exclusive event one free of stress and logistics for its attendees; full of as much activity or relaxation as one cares to experience. It is the festival to attend if you believe in living life to the full! Each guest can cherry pick their activities for the days over al fresco breakfast, sat by the fire pit, in the home yurt, or gazing out across the landscape. There will be 70 attendees for the all inclusive 3 day, 3 night event, with 100 more on 26th and 27th of May – ‘day guests’ who will be able to experience everything but the yurts, until 10:30pm before being taken back to the train station nearby.

Proceeds from ticket sales will go to a charity I am passionate about : ’MOVE’ which educates young people living with cancer on the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The founder and CEO of the charity is a cancer survivor who will be at FAAF to promote her cause, tell her story and motivate others. The ethos is very much about empowered women empowering other women through sharing stories, good vibes and a healthy outlook. Please visit www.fitasafiddlefestival.co.uk for full details and for a breakdown of what is included in the ‘all
inclusive’ ticket price.

Get tickets via the button below and use code pollyatfaaf to get 15% off!

fitness festival tickets

 

Check out the awesome line-up confirmed so far!

fitness festival sussex fit as a fiddle

 

The “All In” full weekend ticket is priced at £370 plus booking fees. This weekend ticket includes:

  • Luxury accomodation in a yurt for 3 nights: solid oak beds; plush furnishings; sheepskin rugs; wood burning stoves; beautiful lighting and incredible washroom facilities
  • Champagne welcome hamper for your yurt of 4 or 5 people
  • Personalised and decorated yurt for your group, including festival must haves
  • #FAAF T-Shirt and bag full of goodies from #FAAF’s partners and sponsors as well as access to merchandise from lululemon’s pop up shop
  • Food for the festival – with extras supplied by leading street food companies from East and West Sussex
  • Shuttle bus return trip from Chichester train station on Friday 25th at 5pm and Monday 28th May at 10am
  • Unlimited fitness classes and your own scheduling
  • Unlimited yoga sessions with Together Yoga at the break of dawn, throughout the days and during sunset
  • 1:1 technique sessions with a GB triathlete and international runners
  • 5km and 10km guided running routes with master trainers (small groups designed for pace)
  • Outdoor cinema under the stars
  • Unlimited seminars – sessions with the UK’s leading experts in holistic living, natural remedies and wellness. Meet Hollie Grant; Libby Lemon; Nicky Clinch; Rosie Millen; Rhiannon Lambert; Pixie Turner; Daisy Hughes; Pollyanna Hale and more
  • DoTerra trials – therapeutic grade essential oils and supplements
  • Pre and post workout hand blended protein shakes from #Formnutrition
  • Live music from London DJs and the best in UK EDM
  • Access to the hot tub until 10:30pm


Day Ticket price £100.00 includes:

  • FAAF T-Shirt and bag
  • Goodies from FAAF’s partners and sponsors as well as access to merchandise from carefully selected sportswear houses and independent fitness brands
  • Shuttle bus return trip from Chichester, Arundel or Pulborough train station on Friday 25th and Monday 28th May
  • Unlimited fitness classes and your own scheduling
  • Unlimited yoga sessions at the break of dawn, throughout the days and during sunset
  • 1:1 sessions with experts in your chosen field: massage, physiotherapy, nutrition, endocrinology, sleep
  • 1:1 technique sessions with a GB triathlete and international runners
  • 5km and 10km guided running routes with master trainers (small groups designed for pace)
  • Outdoor cinema under the stars
  • Unlimited seminars – sessions with the UK’s leading experts in holistic living, natural remedies and wellness
  • DoTerra trials – therapeutic grade essential oils and supplements
  • Pre and post workout hand blended protein shakes
  • Live music from London DJs and the best in UK EDM
  • Acoustic music sessions every evening
  • Access to the hot tub (12 people at a time) and exit from the festival by 10:30pm

 

Full scheduled here

Get tickets via the button below and use code pollyatfaaf to get 15% off!

fitness festival tickets 

 

Find Fit As A Fiddle Festival across all social channels (click the image to go there):

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the beautiful countryside location:

Get tickets via the button below and use code pollyatfaaf to get 15% off!

fitness festival tickets

 

19Nov/17

The Truth About Being Pretty: Why Being Attractive Shouldn’t be so Attractive

A departure from my usual blog topics? Yes, but I felt it was something I needed to get off my chest, so wrote this post from the heart for Mum’s website The Motherload.

 

For what is a fairly controversial and potentially segregating subject, I hope that I’ve opened some eyes and dismissed the misunderstanding that to be traditionally good looking is always a positive. I’d love to hear your feedback after you’ve read it.

 

It was around my early teens that I noticed I was getting attention from men. Not just boys in my year at secondary school but in older years, and even adult males who didn’t seem to notice, or perhaps mind that I was in my school uniform as they’d chat me up in town after school, or on the beach on weekends where I’d hang out with my friends.

 

Far from being bothered, this was the self-esteem boost I’d needed after recently moving to the area and having to adjust and make new friends.

And what teenage girl doesn’t want to be made to feel attractive?

I learned as I grew up that leaning in at a bar (necessary due to my 5’3 stature) would get instant service, a smile could get the best table in a restaurant, free entry to a club, backstage entrance to a gig. I could get the attention of the most attractive man at a party, from models to celebrities. Yes, I exploited it and had fun. Heck, I was 18, and I was going to make the most of the party years. Some minor modelling work came along at various points over the years (I’m too short to take it seriously), so I even made money from how I looked.

It’s funny how the world has become so image obsessed. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t part of that, but there’s a fine line between vanity and insecurity, and while I didn’t realise it at the time, my insecurities were brewing into a host of mental health problems that were to surface later on.

When asked if I’d rather be slim and pretty, or fat and ugly, the answer isn’t simple. The question itself is flawed. I’d rather be happy. If being attractive makes you happy then sure, take that. Unfortunately if it was that easy cosmetic surgery would be the answer. It’s never that easy, and while many people think I’m lucky, or have life easy, or am #blessed with wonderful genes, I’d like to shed light on a life that so many are craving.

There are two sides to every coin, including this one.

1. You will be seen first and foremost for your appearance

It’s not just blondes who are stereotyped. People think it’s not possible to have brains and looks. Okay, I may have fluttered my eyelashes to get out of a speeding fine once, but I’m not proud of it, and it says as much about the shallow policeman who let me go. Perhaps the reaction was encouraged by the fact I was wearing my beauty therapist uniform, another career choice put into the ‘all looks and no brains’ category.

Looking good becomes your identity. I’ve done a bit of modelling so it’s even on my CV. But that means people expect you to look good. Not in the way that it’s on their mind but if I turn up somewhere looking tired, with greasy hair, no make-up and premenstrual spots, it doesn’t go unnoticed. For many years I couldn’t let this go and would make the effort to live up to these expectations, which I think in hindsight were my own as well as others’. Thankfully age and confidence have both risen simultaneously, and I happily don’t give a damn if people start wondering if I actually own a shower. I’m pleased I’ve made this turn. Self-esteem built on looks is doomed. Even the most beautiful woman in the world will lose her looks eventually.

2. I’m young and inexperienced (except I’m not)

I remember when I was handed a leaflet in the street about a support group for young (aka teenage) mothers, as I waddled along 8 months pregnant with my first child. I had to hold my tongue not to go into a hormonal rage and wave the ring on my finger in the well-meaning social worker’s face. This isn’t to dismiss teenage or unmarried mothers at all – in fact my own sister is a fantastic young mum, but some people do have preconceived ideas about unplanned teen pregnancies, and I guess it said something about my own insecurities that it bothered me others may also have these judgemental ideas about me.

Now that Aurora is eight, nothing has changed. I ‘must have been a teen mum’ given I’m not old enough to have an eight year old. If I had been, it wouldn’t make a difference to what kind of mother I had become, but why is it that people feel it’s appropriate to make a point of it? You wouldn’t say to an older looking mother, ‘oh, they must have been an IVF baby, you’re too old to be a Mum’. And yes, it is the same thing

3. I have to work hard to be taken seriously

When people presume you are young and dumb, try walking into a business meeting and being taken seriously as a mature and level-headed business woman. I can hold my own very well on the phone but the looks on the bank manager or company owner or potential joint venture’s face doesn’t evade me; ‘she’s not a business woman, she’s just a girl’. It takes a while before they realise what comes out of my mouth isn’t all fluff, after all.

4. I’ve never had male friends

I’m actually quite a tomboy at heart, and with three brothers I understand the other kind quite well. But somewhere along the line a great budding friendship has always turned awkward when they try and make a move, or admit they’d like to be ‘more than friends’. Was it my fault? Was my friendliness giving the wrong impression? I don’t know. I thought being friendly was a good thing. I didn’t know it could so easily be misinterpreted.

I was at a marketing event recently and a lovely guy kept coming over to chat. About halfway through the second day he asked if I was single and I showed him my left hand and said actually I had two children too! He walked off and never spoke to me again. Shame, he was really sweet.

5. I have to be so careful of what my girls pick up

Any mum of girls knows it’s pretty much built into them from an early age, this instinct of wanting to look ‘pretty’ to attract a mate (though that last part thankfully hasn’t clicked in our house yet!). Whether it’s insisting on wearing a princess dress to the supermarket or plastering pink glitter on their eyelids, being pretty matters.

They are pretty girls, but that’s not what I want them to be valued for, and even more what they value themselves for. When friends and relatives call them pretty it angers me, and maybe this is an overreaction, but I wish they were called kind, or thoughtful, or generous, or someone said that they worked really hard at their painting. I don’t call my girls pretty. We must look presentable to go to a party, yes, and dresses and bows and shiny shoes are part of that for my girls (I never pushed this stereotype on them, I battle every winter for them to wear jeans outside when it’s cold; pink dresses always win). But that’s because self-pride is important. Making an effort for others is important. It’s a sign of respect to yourself and to your hosts. You don’t have to be conventionally ‘pretty’ to do that.

6. Male attention can turn bad

While a wolf whistle is nice on occasion, I noticed something as I was growing up that was different about the way these men behaved towards me compared to my friends. I was curvy as a teen – I had boobs worthy of page 3 (breastfeeding sadly said goodbye to those), and somehow wearing a fitted top (as you do, in your late teens) meant men felt they had license to pass all boundaries. It’s one thing getting a ‘hey chick’ across the street, quite another to be cornered, pushed up against a wall, boobs grabbed, and having to resort to kneeing them between the legs to escape.

7. Looks don’t make you happy

While most people think they know this, to really see how true this is you only need to look at my mental health history. I have recently been diagnosed with cyclothymia (a form of bipolar), was hospitalised three times with anorexia, complete with drug-resistant depression and organs that were failing. I’ve overdosed on legal drugs, self-harmed, and have to put my mental health first just to stay functioning on a daily basis. As a personal trainer who’s in okay shape, I frequently hear ‘it’s okay for you and your lack of wobbly bits’. No, it’s not ok for me. I wish it was, but it’s not. Exercise is my therapy, not beauty treatment.

Do I resent looking a certain way?

Absolutely not, I resent and regret nothing in life; I’ve always seen both as a little pointless. And I don’t blame or resent anyone who’s judged me on my looks, from the builder who pinned me up against a wall to the businessman who looked down at me to the dance teacher who casually stamped on my dreams saying I probably wasn’t good enough to get tonnes of work, but why not try modelling? Oddly enough, that was not why I’d spent nine hours a week training for the last six years. This was the same dance school where I’d been praised for being the only one who’d not gained weight over Christmas; I’d been vomiting and taking laxatives.

I hear some women say their looks have alienated them from making friends with other women who feel threatened and jealous. Thankfully that’s never been the case for me and I have some wonderful female friends, maybe even because I don’t want to rely on looks to get things and attract people; I’ll always be as good a person as I can be first and foremost.

In Dr Nancy Etcoff’s “Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty”, she believes that appreciating beauty is not learned, but rather it is a biological adaptation. Research on infants’ perception shows that children as young as three months are staring at attractive faces longer than at unattractive ones. Uneven skin and lacklustre hair are a sign of sickness, which to the ancient instinctive human in us means less fertile, which means less attractive. Humans were designed to survive.

Some things just are as they are. There are plus sides, there are downsides, but isn’t that the same with everything in life? At nearly 34 and having found my first two grey hairs already, I’m finally feeling comfortable with who I am as a person, and if I lose my looks completely, that’s okay with me.