Happy New Year everyone. As I write this the first week of January is over and all around me everyone is starting to get back into the swing of the 9-5. I’m easing back in gently (this week being my first full week at work) and I have spent a lot of time since Christmas reflecting on whether to make any new year resolutions (I usually have some goals or good habits I’d like to develop) and if so, what would these look like?
It’s been a strange couple of weeks. I’ve been busy with work and studying which meant that as my free time decreased I sort of lost my motivation for social media, blogging and being honest there’s not been a whole load of cooking going on either. So in my time away I’ve been enjoying a whole host of non-foodie things that I thought I’d share with you as they’ve definitely kept me motivated and happy these past couple of weeks.
With the time I’ve saved being off social media I’ve been making inroads in to some really exciting books. First on the list has been the wonderful work of Brené Brown. I was introduced to the magic of Brené by my good friend Siobhan and I am not over stating it when I say it has knocked my bloody socks off. I’m currently reading The Gifts of Imperfection and for someone who thought she had her shit together, well this book has definitely turned a few ideas on their head (for the better, I hasten to add).
This book hasn’t been the easiest of reading but I’m learning a lot about myself that I know is going to help me in the long term. I’d really recommend this to anyone who struggles with perfectionist, feelings of inadequacy or even imposter syndrome. Studying nutrition is a huge passion for me but I sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by the amazing people already working in that field which makes me question whether there’s room for me. This book has certainly been helping with the de-motivated days. Especially a good one for those of you who aren’t in to ‘self help’ books.
In addition to Brené’s work, also on my radar has been Nourish and Glow by Amelia Freer. I have Amelia’s first book (although not her second) and would highly recommend either of them. Amelia is a qualified Nutritional Therapist (fun fact: Amelia trained at the same place I am studying at, and she was a big influence in my decision to undertake my change career). What I love about her books is that she provides sensible healthy eating advice without being dry and preachy. She’s all about incorporating the principles of eating well every day to nourish your body so you feel the best possible version of you but without repeating the same ‘eat more veggies, eat less junk’ that we often hear over and over again. If you want a good introduction into nutrition and the principles behind diet improvement her books are a good place to start.
If you’re not already in to the podcast game then you’re seriously missing out. First off, they’re FREE. Yep, that’s right. Free. Totally free entertainment. There are so, so many I enjoy but there’s nothing like a good episode of something on the foodie/ wellbeing arena to perk me up.
My current favourite is the Butter Your Life podcast. Kari is a lawyer turned wellbeing investigator who has been reviewing health and wellbeing topics ranging from the importance of sleep to why bread and cake should be part of your life. I love that the podcasts cover topics I’m interested in but in a credible and accessible way. There’s no advocating of faddy diets or pushing certain products, just interesting conversations with genuinely knowledgeable people who are specialists in their area. I can usually be found listening to these on the commute or first thing in the morning whilst I’m getting ready to leave for work.
Other podcasts of note this month have included the BBC Food Programme (I highly recommend the recent episode on Tumeric, as there’s such an interesting discussion going on about whether the claims about it being the miracle anti-cancer spice have any scientific basis), The Badass Women’s Hour (seriously good topical chat from three inspiring women that will get you thinking) and The Guilty Feminist Podcast (exploring feminism in an accessible and realistic way. It’s worth it for the ‘I’m a feminist BUT’ section at the start alone).
Being off my own social media channels recently has given me an opportunity to catch up on some of my favourite blogs and vlogs. Now, I should be totally transparent and say that one of my triggers for feeling shit about myself is when I spend too much time comparing myself to others on social media but I found that by focusing on only a couple of bloggers within the health and wellbeing sector who differ to me and focus not just fitness or not just nutrition but a balanced approach to wellness has helped me to feel excited and energised with minimal ‘I’m a loser’ feeling.
In particular this month I’ve been enjoying The Food Medic from Dr Hazel Wallace who is a junior doctor and qualified personal trainer with a special interest in nutrition. Trust me when I say that Hazel knows her stuff. Her site is packed with useful information and she’s done a great de-bunking article here about the recent scares over coconut oil that you may have read about in the media. I recently bought her book and can highly recommend it if you want a comprehensive mix of nutrition, recipes and fitness. I’ve already tried out her tandoori chickpea and courgette burgers and her summery feta, mint, tomato and lentil salad which have both been cheap, quick to make and really tasty. No Instagram pics of these though because well, I ate them all too quickly.
I’ve also been enjoying catching up with Zanna Van Dijk’s blog and vlogs recently. Zanna is a qualified personal trainer and has started to branch in to mindfulness and conscious living in addition to her fitness posts. Zanna recently launched the ‘Conscious Living Crew’ Facebook Group which I’ve joined where currently there’s about 2000 of us sharing tips and tricks for more ethical and sustainable living. It’s a really supportive group that I highly recommend. I’ve not been a particularly active member of the group as yet but there’s been so many interesting discussions that a quick dip in now and again has brightened the day.
In addition to the Facebook Group I’ve been watching Zanna’s vlogs which has massively cheered me up as she has such a sunny, down to earth style it makes you feel like you’re catching up with a mate rather than it being another impossible standard to compare myself to. I’ve met Zanna in real life and she is exactly as she appears in her vlogs – genuine and warm.
I’m not the best at exercising consistently but when I do I never regret it. One of the most enjoyable things I’ve found I’ve managed to stick consistently to is a regular yoga practice. I’ve not managed to get out to classes as much as I would have liked (and haven’t really had the motivation) but the routines on the Yoga with Adriene channel has been great because I can practice them at anytime, anywhere and without any pressure.
I’ve also been enjoying the odd HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session again. I’ve had a pretty sore back the past few weeks so, so I’m not going to punish myself for another thing I haven’t managed to do yet. Baby steps and all that but i have managed the odd Body Coach work out.
If I’m bad at committing to regular exercise then I’m worse at a regular meditation practice. In the past I have tried to use various meditations on youtube and via the Headspace App but it didn’t seem to click for me. I’ve recently discovered the Insight Timer App (free) and it’s changed my life for the better. I know the idea of meditation puts some people off but please don’t dismiss it. Even finding even 5 minutes a day to quiet your mind can make you feel loads better. And there are a myriad of health benefits to mediation including improving your mood and reducing stress levels. There have even been claims that it can improve the connections in the brain. you can read about it here and make up your own mind but personally I’ve found it a real help during this busy period.
I’ve been turning to the app for guided meditations once a day, usually when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed, and it genuinely has made a difference. I’m much calmer and less anxious immediately after the session but I’m also feeling much better in myself throughout the whole week. Meditation and mindfulness really is for everyone and there will be a way you can fit some form of it in to your day, you just need to find what works for you.
And that’s it. A few simple things I’m enjoying this month and not a veg box in sight! Service as usual will resume shortly so bear with me. I’ve a couple of highly exciting chemistry exams and an essay to submit by Friday and then I’m all yours guys.
Thanks for reading. I’m always looking for new books, podcasts or blogger recommendations so please do leave any suggestions in the comments below and let me know if there is anything you think I need to try. Catch you on Wednesday…