My 5-day simple pre-Christmas Detox

What is it about the magic of Christmas that makes you excited? The fairy lights? The chance to spend some quality time with your nearest and dearest? Or perhaps the turkey with all the trimmings, Christmas pud, chocolates, and the never-ending finger buffet?

It doesn’t matter what it is, most foods makes me feel uncomfortable (unless its cheese because, lets be honest, there’s no such thing as too much cheese). And whilst its inevitable that I’ll put a couple of pounds on over Christmas, its the bloating that I hate. And its not just over Christmas itself, I primarily feel bloated in the lead up to it.

My weakness is bread and all manner of bread-related food. I could eat a whole loaf in a day if I let myself. But unfortunately, whilst I have learnt to eat bread in moderation (I have two slices of toast each morning), it still makes my feel bloated, even the wholewheat seeded variety.

Having a calm tummy makes my day so much better and I’ve learnt over the years a few tips and tricks to enable me to have an enjoyable festive season. Please note that this is in no way a diet, I’ve just learnt to be in tune with my body and its needs. I’m lactose intolerant and have to substitute some foods – my post about it covers some of that – so I have quite an awareness of food generally.

I’ve discovered that just 5 days are enough to help me feel better, and the changes to my everyday life are tiny. No green juices or gym memberships here!

  1. Drinking lemon with hot water each evening. Lemons contain calcium, potassium and vitamin C and helps both digestion and your colon.
  2. Walking more. Taking the steps instead of the escalator at the train station.
  3. Reducing my bread intake. Not all carbohydrates, just bread.
  4. Eating more vegetables. I already eat plenty of red peppers, mushrooms, potatoes, garlic, squash and leaves, but I feel much better for adding a few stems of broccoli here and there – it goes a long way. Bananas and ginger specifically help to reduce bloating. Try spiralizing vegetables to get them into your diet – courgetti with your spaghetti!
  5. Getting more sleep. Everybody needs more rest but so many people over look it. Take time to look after yourself.

    fruit and veg
    These are some of my favourite fruits and vegetables

These are simple steps for me, and don’t involve drastic changes to my life or habits. I try to live by them but ordinary life does get in the way sometimes. A positive outlook and an awareness of what you are doing – eating, sleeping, moving, etc, – all helps. So far, on the 4th day of December, I am feeling quite well and have no bloating issues yet.

Finding motivation within

Staying motivated to achieve a particular goal can be hard; whether its to lose some weight, get fit, eat well, read more, make time for others, the list goes on.

We put so much pressure on ourselves these days. Our working hours are longer then ever, we face difficult commutes and to top it all off we still have to do the more mundane tasks like bathing, washing, getting the kids to bed and finding time to eat. Its a wonder many of us can find the time to fit in any hobbies during the weekdays. I’m sure we all feel that we could do with an extra hour or two in the day sometimes.

I don’t think it helps when we switch on to social media and see idealised lives and images. Sure the quotes and captions are designed to be inspirational, but when I’m stuck in a rut I struggle to see a way out and being confronted with motivational images and captions makes me sink even further; comparing myself to those who clearly have far more time on their hands to work for their beach body.

I go through many phases in the course of the year, each and every year. I, like many others, feel the need to eat well and healthier at the beginning of the New Year, and to try and become fitter. A general push towards wellness and having a healthy balanced lifestyle. Usually, though I’m motivated following the Christmas splurge, January is actually a hard month for me because its my birthday and one of the busiest months of the year at work. Then its February and I hate that month – rainy and miserable – I really don’t want to have to trek to the gym!

But despite struggling to fit it in and having to traipse up town in the rain, I am always pleased when I fit a work out in or make a healthy choice (as opposed to a Greg’s sausage roll!)motivation quote1

I was very happy earlier this year in July when I achieved my weight-loss goal just in time for my holiday. I’d been trying to lead a healthy lifestyle since the previous August, but really stepped it up a gear in January. Unfortunately, once we returned from holiday I lost all my motivation to work out, though I did continue to try to eat healthily to maintain my weight. By September I’d cancelled my membership altogether.

And thats the point when I realised where motivation came from. It comes from within. Not from buying the latest gadget to help you achieve your goal, or from being jealous of those who are achieving their goals and trying to emanate them. Its finding something you love so you can stick with it.

Then, it dawned on me that whilst I have always wanted to be active in some way, running was just no longer comfortable for me (I have ligament problems) and that instead of doing it half-arsed I should find something else. Something that still allows me to feel like my muscles are moving, but without putting so much strain on my body.

This month, I started taking yoga and Pilates classes, one of each a week. And I have never been so excited to go to class before! Pilates satisfies my desire to try and be toned and to build up core strength using only my own body weight, and yoga helps me stretch and to improve my (apparently non-existent) flexibility. I feel the stretch and pull after each class and even in a short couple of weeks I’m noticing improvements. I can safely say, I am enjoying myself keeping active in a way that is sustainable.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about motivation, why it ebbs and flows and why some people barely seem to suffer at all. Yes, you need a positive attitude and a support network would be ideal, but I believe it comes down to this:

  1. To look forward to reaching your goal but being content with the journey it takes to get there. It may be a long road, but the journey is just as important as the destination.
  2. Little and often. You don’t have to completely change your life in order to achieve something. You just need to make one little change, and try and practice that everyday. Don’t feel bad if you eat a pizza after promising yourself it will be another salad for dinner. Accept it, and move on. The whole day is not lost just because of one decision. Get back up and start again!
  3. You might feel uncomfortable now, but being happy in your skin knowing you are doing what you can do, at your own pace, should bring you some peace and comfort.

motivation quote2We’re heading in to the Christmas season now and its going to be so tempting to indulge in chocolate and all manner of sweet and savoury goodies, but a little bit of awareness goes a long way. I’ve decided not to deny myself any treats, but to not overeat either. I’ve found over the last few months that the key to maintaining my weight whilst not working out is to enjoy the naughtiness but know that I don’t need to eat a whole tin of Celebrations to feel enjoyment.

Lets say positive to avoid the age-old January detox next year!motivation


Catching 40 winks

Sleep is literally one of the most important things in my life. Not because I obviously need it to function, but because there’s nothing quite like lying around, snuggled in a blanket all warm and fuzzy. I’ve found the best sleep comes after I’ve fallen asleep on the sofa in the evening (probably shortly after putting on a Netflix film) and then making my way up to bed in a drowsy one eye half-open state and collapsing on my bed. It only works, of course, if I’ve already de-make-uped and taken my lenses out otherwise I have an awful tantrum having to wake up again to do that!

I’m not as bad as the rest of my family though – my brother once fell asleep waiting for an elevator and we nearly left him behind!

I’ve always been a very light sleeper – I can wake up just from moving my arm, never minding turning over completely. But I’ve generally always found sleep easy. I could sleep most places; the car, the train, in public, it doesn’t bother me.

I love an early night, staying up til the wee hours just doesn’t interest me. I like to get into my pjs pretty much as soon as I get in from work, have some dinner, a cup of tea or three and then have an hour of down-time watching the telly. Whilst I’m sure I could go to bed at 8pm, the ‘adult’ in me insists on having some sort of evening so I usually head upstairs around 9pm unless there is an interesting post-watershed program I’m dying to watch.

On average, I reckon I fall asleep, properly fall asleep, one hour after I’ve gotten into bed. Say 10.30pm for argument’s sake.

I’m up at 6am for work, though lately I have been stretching this out until 6.30am, and then have a mad panic because I simply must leave the house by 7am or I’ll miss my train.

As that’s 7 ½ hours of sleep roughly, I didn’t think I was doing too badly. Many people want 8 or even 9 hours of sleep, but I imagine only a few are lucky enough to get that, especially during the working week.

The last 6 months for me have been quite bad. This weekend was the first weekend I’ve slept properly since April, and I certainly felt it. Back in April, I noticed that I was struggling to get to sleep and was waking up all hours of the night. I’d pop to the loo at 1am, feeling shattered but convinced my alarm was about to go off. I put it down to stress, though I couldn’t figure out what. I don’t get stressed that easily; I’m a lawyer and have a very stressful job per se, but I’ve learnt to compartmentalise my life which works well for me as otherwise I’d be worrying all the time. So if it wasn’t stress as such, was I worrying about something subconsciously? Well, if I am, 6 months on and I’ve let to figure out what it was.

By the summer I was waking every morning without fail at 5am. A whole hour before my alarm, but wide awake nonetheless. That’s the worst kind of rest – the lying there because you think you should and dreading the noise of your alarm kind of rest. I thought maybe I was getting too much sleep and waking up early as a result, but when I tried to get up I realised I was still shattered.

I tried reading in the evening before bed and had some herbal tea. It certainly helped, but as Sam is not a reader he tends to poke me or watch youtube videos in bed which distract me somewhat.

I’ve tried eating dinner earlier in the evening, and not eating as much; having fewer lamps on; drinking calming teas; having a lavender bath; having some peace and quiet; changing my pillows; sleeping the other end of the mattress; cuddling my stuffed bunny (don’t judge). Nothing really worked for more than one night.

Its quite unnerving in a way, feeling your body going through a change you can’t explain. I suddenly realised just how much I can’t function without sleep, or having poor quality sleep. My headaches have increased from a few a week to pretty much everyday. I’m tired by 10am. I’ve taken more paracetamol in the last few months than I have in years.

Sam doesn’t think that this is normal. My headaches are a concern to him, but what with my lack of sleep and inability to drink more than tea during the day (and certainly not enough to fulfil my 2 litre daily quota), I’m sure the headaches are explainable.

Last weekend I slept for 9 hours straight one night, and nearly 10 hours the next. Uninterrupted. I didn’t wake once despite desperately needing the loo. I thought I’d turned a corner and my body had automatically corrected itself, but Sunday night and I was waking once again throughout the night.

Do I have insomnia? Probably not. But surviving on 5 hours sleep a night can be tough and I’m sure its going to start impacting on my work unless I can get it under control.

I’m desperate for ideas on how to get better quality sleep, and more of it. So if any of you have any tips, please share them! If its a phase, that’s fine. But if I’m in it for the long haul, I may have to stock pile some Nytol.insomnia

back to basics: a strive for balance

I’m sat here with a cup of tea, my fourth in only a few hours, and some mini shortbread biscuits. Aside from the horrific morning I’ve had, I’d say I’m as relaxed as I possibly could be at this moment in time. In a minute I’m probably going to put some cheesy film on Netflix whilst I finish writing this.

But it was whilst I was chewing on my second shortbread that I started pondering life. Not the big ‘why are we here questions’ – that’s far too deep for a Sunday. But I’m sat looking out on my [badly maintained] garden and all the greenery; the trees, plants and my sunflower. My sunflower is my pride and joy. I grew it from a seed and its now nearly 4 feet tall. But it doesn’t seem to like much rain – the clue may be in the name? Anyway, with the amount of rain and wind we’ve had the last couple of weeks its looking pretty sorry for itself. And I’m thinking, given my stressful morning, why do I feel so calm all of a sudden?

I’ve pretty much always loved the great outdoors – albeit camping out in it took a bit of getting used to. Perhaps, I thought as I munched, its living in the countryside and all its calming influences. Hearing the wind whistling through the trees and rustling the leaves. The birds chirping to each other (though I do not appreciate the ravens who have made their home in next door’s tree who circle and squawk very loudly at all hours of the day and night).

No traffic noise. No pollution. Not being reminded of work at every turn or the fear of bumping into clients whilst you’re dressed in ripped denim and an oversized cardigan with slightly greasy hair (its a look I rock most Sundays). Being able to see the seasons pass. When I lived in Guildford it went from summer > winter > summer. I barely saw any open spaces to see the leaves fall and then the buds starting to sprout months later.

You can lose yourself in nature. Walking, cycling, just getting out there and immersing yourself in it. You don’t need company, you can go it alone. & maybe we all should more often. Get away from it all. From everything. You can lose yourself in thoughts; a flask of tea and a notepad and you can be someone else entirely.

 “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.”

– Lord Byron

We live such fast lives nowadays. Always trying to get somewhere quicker than we did yesterday, moaning about everything; service, the weather and that guy who walks so slowly off the train. Doesn’t he know you have somewhere to be?

Its got me thinking about my commute to work tomorrow. A 40 minute fast-train ride. I see the same people everyday. I know where they stand on the platform for the carriage they want. The business men in suits, newspapers under their arms and smart phones tucked into a pocket. The lady who had a walking stick long after her twisted ankle healed, simply so she could get on first out of pity. Everyone moves in unison. A shuffle, a step and then settling in for the journey. The same mumblings to the conductor, day after day. The hoard of people, seamlessly moving towards the barrier and out, into the big city to go to their desk jobs and bark orders down the ‘phone. Drones. Coffee, coffee and more coffee in cardboard cups; the Starbucks logo quite possibly the epitome of modern day living.

People passing through without really noticing their surrounds, at least, not til its too late.


Head down, looking at a ‘phone. Images that flood our daily lives from social media. Idealised images that are far removed from reality and which cause you to question your life. Some aspire to craft a life like that which they see online, as if everything is perfect and in vibrant colour. And if they try hard enough, maybe they will succeed and appear to have such a wonderful life as they would lead you to believe. Social media is here to stay for the foreseeable future, yet how relevant is it in our life? To have your life documented online for the world to see; but only the good parts. Not the bad, the ugly the dirty or the reality of it.

Don’t get me wrong, the irony is not lost on me. I’m a blogger and I have a Facebook and Instagram account.

To always be connected and close to those around you. A positive, depending on the circumstances, but also so often a negative. My ‘phone is ‘meant’ to be connected to my work emails. It was for nearly two years until 3 months ago when I disabled it before I went on holiday. I had full intentions of re-installing it with the swipe of a button on my return, but figured I would see how long I could get away with it. 3 months on and I can’t imagine having access to those emails ever again in my downtime. I hadn’t realised it before, but simply hearing the buzz when an email came in caused me to worry. What if? What if that email was the one that would show that I’d done something wrong? The beginning of the end of my career. Dramatic, I know. I’m not even a worrier compared with some of my colleagues; calm, level-headed I’m described. But I can’t not read it. That little red circle hovering over the envelope symbol glaring back at me. So I do. And its always nothing. Something I could have dealt with in the morning.

& thats it. For me, in a nutshell. Its all about being connected. And I just don’t want to be. I would throw my ‘phone in the river at a drop of a hat if I felt that I could. But I can’t. Modern life wouldn’t allow it. How could I possibly know if my train was running on time? Or what the people I follow on Instagram are up to?

So I strive for balance. I do what I must during the working week and try to fit in. To show that I can do it. An old person in a young body. But downtime is me time. And if I want to make onion soup and live in wellingtons and not wear make-up, well I’m damned well going to. I’m far from perfect. I don’t take good photographs and my vocabulary feels like its become limited to only those words that I need to use being a lawyer. But I’m learning. Every day is a school day and with each day, I’m settling in to myself and appreciating what I have more. Sometimes, I feel older than my years as if I’ve lead a full, enriching life and I’m looking back it on it with hindsight in my 80’s. Maybe I just want to make sure that here on in, I’m doing the right thing. Noticing the right things. Being true.

My life with Sam is great and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Except, perhaps, to go back 20 years to a world without ‘phones and targets and to the ease of a time where there was no immediate expectation of reply.

So, appreciate the beauty around you. It doesn’t have to be green and breathing. It can be grey, concrete or a tower block. But just make sure that you are happy and doing whatever it is you’re doing,  for you and live for the important things in life. Not the latest craze or getting the perfect photo, not messaging inane rubbish for the sake of it.

Just, going back to basics.

My shortbread is making me feel bad. I know its full of butter but it tastes so good. If only I could eat a normal amount and not the whole tin.