Cold showers

Have you tried switching to cold water at the end of your shower?!

📷 ‘shower in the middle of nowhere’ by @takemeoutphotography via @unsplash

I’ve tried ending my showers with cold water a few times in the past but not stayed under for more than a second or two! Over the past 2 weeks or so, I’ve been getting braver and I have to admit it feels great.

After a cautious start, I can now dunk my head under the shower and stay there for a good 20 seconds. I know that’s still not very long but it’s a big increase since I started out. I’m also starting to master the art of not squealing too loudly because one day the dog was sitting at the bottom of the stairs wondering whether or not he needed to come to my rescue!

Even with this relatively short blast of cold water, when I turn the shower off, my body feels like it’s glowing in spite of cool air coming in through the open windows. I don’t have my central heating on yet and the cold showers are really helping me to feel warm as I’m getting dressed and ready for the day.

Probably the most positive thing I’ve noticed is that it makes me laugh out loud every day, which is a really mood-boosting way to start the day. AND it 100% makes me feel like a super-hero!

Health benefits of cold showers:

There are so many reported health benefits, including:

  • an increase in endorphins (our so-called ‘happy hormones’) which may help to counteract depression
  • increased alertness, clarity and energy levels as a result of deeper breathing while exposed to the cold water – all of which are ideal at the start of the day
  • improved circulation – the body will always work hard to maintain core temperature by sending fresh blood to an area which is cold, so taking a cold shower can create this response
  • increased resistance to common illnesses such as colds and flu as a result of our immune response being stimulated
  • reduced stress levels due to a lowering of cortisol levels in the blood – the cold shower itself may be a mild stressor but exposure to this type of stress helps us to be more resilient when faced with other stressful situations
  • reduced pain levels &/or a reduced perception of pain / muscle soreness in the body
  • increased willpower and self-belief – this small daily ‘challenge’ can strengthen your will-power and boost your super-hero status!

Have I persuaded you to give it a go??

The easiest way to start is by turning the dial down at the end of your usual shower, until the water is noticeably cooler. I prefer to step out of the water while it cools down and then step back in, but you may prefer to feel the temperature changing.

Once the temperature is set, focus on slow deep breaths and notice how it makes you feel. Gradually go a little colder each day until you’re at the coldest setting, and then start building up the time you spend there…

I honestly have been surprised how good this feels to me, and it’s so simple to add into your daily routine when you’re having a shower anyway.

📷 ‘the face behind the mask’ by Joey Nicotra via @unsplash

I’m going to keep building up my times because apparently that’s when the real benefits happen. And if 20 seconds makes me feel like a super-hero already, I can only imagine how much more invincible I’ll be after 60 seconds!!

PS wouldn’t you just love to take a shower in the middle of nowhere?!


Pilates in your everyday life (part four)

How do you spend your days? Do you tend to be in one position for prolonged periods of time? Have you noticed that this affects how your body feels?

When we stay in one position for some time it will have an impact on how our body feels but we might not always be aware of it. If we then repeat that same pattern every day, the impact is likely to become much more noticeable.

For example:

  • If you spend a few hours in the car driving to visit a friend, when you get out of the car you might notice some tightness in the hips, or stiffness in the low back, or maybe some tension in the neck and shoulders. As soon as you stand up and move about, most of those issues will ease-off and you will carry on as usual.
  • If you drive every day for work, you might start to experience more of the same issues more of the time, and you might find that they don’t ease-off quite so quickly/at all. Over time, some of the on-going tightness or tension might then begin to affect your posture, which in turn would cause more tightness or tension in the body.

By changing our posture throughout the day we can try to break the postural patterns we are creating and help to reduce repetitive strain, overuse injuries and fatigue. In part three I talked about ways to break up your day with some movement, and today we are looking specifically at changes you might need to consider for your working environment if you are largely desk-based.

Your working environment:

The goal is to set up your work space so that you can minimise any negative impact on your posture. Here are a few things you might like to consider:

  1. find a supportive chair to reduce muscle fatigue in your lower back – make sure that it is adjustable so that you can get the best fit for your body. Personally I don’t like traditional office chairs but I use a saddle stool on a wheeled base, which enables me to maintain a neutral alignment for my spine without any tension. Find what works for you.
  2. check that you have room under your desk to place your feet flat on the floor – use a footrest if necessary. Aim to have your knees slightly lower than your hips and your feet slightly forward of your knees.
  3. have your keyboard and screen directly in front of you rather than off to one side or at an angle. This allows your shoulders to be square and face the screen fully. Arms are best supported – forearms on the desk and upper arms comfortably by your sides.
  4. set yourself up so that everything you need to access most often is within easy reach to avoid repeated stretching and leaning to one side.
  5. look after your eyes by having your screen about arms length away from you with the top of your screen level with your eyes. Reduce glare from nearby windows by using blinds or curtains. Use appropriate lighting levels to further reduce eye strain.
  6. try to keep your wrists straight while typing, with hands and wrists hovering just above the keyboard. Choose a mouse that fits your hand and move it with your arm instead of bending your wrist into weird positions.
  7. this last one is still on my to-do list, and I know it would make a huge difference – learn to touch-type so that you can keep your head in a neutral position rather than always looking down at your keyboard (as I am doing right now!)

In your car:

Maybe you are not desk-based but spend considerable amounts of time driving each day?

You can apply the same approach to your car:

  1. check your seat position, tilt and height and adjust it again if someone else has been driving your car
  2. position your mirrors so that you are not straining to look at them
  3. consider what shoes you are wearing – heels will change the position of your foot and ankle in relation to the pedals
  4. keep your hands, wrists and arms relaxed

Alignment cues:

Making small changes to your posture will help to reduce neck & shoulder tension, ease back pain and support your body throughout the day. You might also like to think of the alignment cues we use in Pilates and apply these to your working day:

  • lengthen your spine from your tailbone to the crown of your head
  • soften your shoulders
  • gently lengthen the back of your neck by dropping the chin slightly
  • maintain soft, relaxed breathing into your ribcage
  • plant your feet in the earth so that you are grounded (this applies whether you’re seated or standing)
  • find an even weight through your sit-bones when seated

I hope some of these suggestions help you to make some positive postural changes. Keep checking-in with your body as you go through your day until you naturally start adjusting your posture as required.

Let me know if you have any questions at all?

Pilates in your everyday life (part three)

For most of us, a large part of our day can be spent in a seated position. Think about all the time that you spend driving, at your desk, on the sofa, eating, having a coffee – it all adds up to a lot of hours on your bum!

If we lead this sedentary type of lifestyle, the chances are that we will experience some postural issues at some point. Over time you may start to notice an increase in neck or shoulder pain, tension headaches, low back pain or issues with your hips. Lots of these will occur because we tend to have a more relaxed (slouching?!) posture while sitting down but also because we are not using our core muscles to stabilise us, as we do when standing.

Stand up!

A simple way to change your posture and movement patterns, and introduce some elements of Pilates into your everyday life, is to stand more often. Over the next week why not try some of these ideas and see what differences you start to notice:

  • if you are at your desk for long periods during the day, get up and stretch (see below) or have a quick walk around your work-space every 15 minutes; if you’re really short on time, just stand up and sit down again every 15 minutes
  • look for more active ways to socialise with friends – eg.
    • grab a coffee-to-go and take it for a walk rather than sitting at a café
    • visit places which will involve some walking (eg. wander around a NT trust property rather than going to the cinema)
    • encourage friends to join a Pilates class/running club/dance class with you
  • if you’re travelling on public transport alternate between sitting and standing every 10 minutes – don’t try this while driving!
  • when you’re watching television, stand up / change position every 15 minutes (or when the adverts come on) – also try limiting TV time.
  • notice if you always sit on the same section of your sofa and/or in the same position (eg. legs crossed the same way every time) – if you do, making some changes to those habits will make a huge difference to how you feel in your body. It will feel weird to start with but only because your body has become accustomed to being in a certain position – mix it up a bit and your body will quickly adapt
  • finally, if there’s anything that you do which keeps you in one position for prolonged periods, try to change your posture at regular intervals – eg.
    • if you’re reading, keep changing your position and be aware of your head posture (as the head starts to move forward, the neck muscles will have a whole load of extra work to do, so think of stacking your head above your rib cage or using cushions behind your head for support)
    • craft activities often involve looking down at our hands; if you notice that this is an issue for you, take regular breaks to bring your head and neck back into a neutral position and add in some gentle stretches
    • gardening can often involve long periods spent in a bent-forward position – try kneeling down to avoid this and take regular breaks so that you can stand tall again

Standing rotations:

Click here for a short video with some ideas for rotational stretches for your upper back.

These are great to do when you have been sat down for any length of time. You don’t need to do them all – find one or two moves that feel useful and add those to your day whenever you can.

As you start to notice the amount of time you spend sitting down, you can also start to make some small changes which will have a positive impact on your body. Give it a try and let me know how you get on…

step away from your desk & go out to play!

If you missed the earlier posts in this series, you can find them here & here

Pilates in your everyday life (part 2)

Starting Pilates as a new activity can sometimes be frustrating because we tend to naturally want to push ourselves and feel that we are working hard, but the best results come when we work more gently.

Maybe you have been in a class and have found yourself rushing through progressions of exercises, believing that the ‘harder’ options are more beneficial? Or maybe you sometimes engage the muscles really strongly, without noticing that you have created tension somewhere else in the body?

Pilates works more effectively when we take time to build stable foundations. Focusing on the more basic versions of the exercises, paying attention to our breathing and being mindful of our alignment might not seem challenging enough, but they enable us to do the harder work later. This is particularly important if you have/have had chronic pain.

Coping with chronic pain:

If you have experienced pain in the past, it can be hard to come back to exercise without worrying that the pain may recur. It may lead to an avoidance of exercise altogether or it may result in you over-doing things when you’re having a good day, causing an increase in your pain symptoms.

In an ideal world we want to take a more consistent approach by setting some realistic, sustainable activity goals with sensible gradual increases over time.

If you are recovering from a previous injury or a pain condition, start by establishing your baseline for activity – ie. the amount you can do without causing any flare up of your symptoms. It might be a small amount to start with but it will form the foundation for your future progressions. Once you are moving without pain, you can gradually start to increase your activity levels, always staying within your pain-free volume and type of exercise.

Although chronic pain may still cause you flare-ups or setbacks from time-to-time, taking a more structured approach to exercise will help to off-set these issues and be of long-term benefit.

Ideas for daily Pilates practice:

Here are some ideas of how to bring Pilates into your everyday life as part of your daily baseline activity:

  • start with becoming more aware of your posture & alignment (see previous post)
  • practice engaging your core muscles in different positions – eg. when lying down on your side, your back or your front (you could try these before you get out of bed in the morning); or when standing (maybe waiting for the kettle to boil)
    • start by finding a neutral position for your pelvis
    • begin to notice how your body feels as you breathe in and out
    • on an exhale, add a gentle contraction of the deep abdominal muscles – imagine that you are wearing a corset – whilst gently lifting your pelvic floor muscles
    • on an inhale, let the abdominal muscles gently relax again
    • repeat for a few breaths
  • add some gentle stretching to your daily routine, keeping within a comfortable range of motion – try this or this for some seated upper body stretches

I hope that gives you a few ideas about how to bring the benefits of Pilates into your everyday life. It was never intended as something you only do in class – the magic happens when you fully embrace Pilates as a daily practice…

Pilates in your everyday life:


For the next few weeks I’ll be sharing with you some suggestions for how to integrate what we do in a Pilates class into your everyday life. Maybe you already do this? But if not here are some ideas to get you started:

Think about your alignment when standing:

 In particular, try to attach this habit to something you do at intervals during the day (eg. when washing your hands):

  • be aware of your foot placement – aim to stand with your feet hip width apart and your weight evenly balanced
  • position your shoulders directly above your hips
  • widen your collarbones with softness in the ribcage and length in your spine
  • gently tilt your pelvis forwards and back a few times in order to find the neutral point right in the centre – think of your pelvis as a bowl or a bucket, when we’re in neutral the water won’t spill out at the front or the back
  • once you’ve found your neutral position, add a gentle contraction of the deep abdominal muscles – thinking of drawing in your belt one notch whilst gently lifting your pelvic floor muscles
  • finally, all you need to do is breathe naturally and notice how the body feels when it is aligned

 Think about your alignment when you’re sitting down:

Try to attach this practice to something you do at intervals too (eg. when sitting down to eat)

  • sit towards the front of your chair and feel your sit-bones sink into the chair, evenly weighted
  • be aware of your foot placement – hip width apart and under the knees 
  • position your shoulders directly above your hips
  • lengthen your spine
  • gently tilt your pelvis forwards and back (without moving the rest of the body) and then find the neutral point right in the centre – think of your pelvis as a bowl or a bucket, when we’re in neutral the water won’t spill out at the front or the back
  • once you’ve found your neutral position add a gentle contraction of the deep abdominal muscles – thinking of drawing in your belt one notch whilst gently lifting your pelvic floor muscles
  • breathe naturally and notice how the body feels when it is aligned

As we bring awareness to our posture we can make subtle changes which will have a positive impact over time. None of the movements need to be big and the contraction of the tummy muscles will be gentle, but regular practice will help you to feel better in your body as you go about your day.

I hope you’ll give these a try.

Let me know how you get on.

re-entering

Just a quick post to let you know that everything is gradually changing as we emerge out of 2020 and into the longer light days ahead.

The past 14 months have been an adventure that probably none of us wanted to take, but I think it has also been a huge opportunity for growth on so many levels. As we head back into the wider world again, I am determined not to lose the lessons I have learned along the way, which means that I am taking gentle steps for myself and taylor-made fitness. You can find out more details below, and I will update regularly as things evolve:

Fitness classes:

Online classes have been a fantastic way to stay connected and stay/get fit and I am happy to say that they are here to stay!

There will be some in-person classes too but ‘fitness mornings’ will be staying online so that you can workout in your own home, either at 7am with me, or by catching-up with the recordings later in the day.

Pilates sessions will be available as in-person and online classes so you can choose the best option for you. There will also be some occasional in-person workshops throughout the year.

In-person classes will follow COVID-safe guidelines, with social distancing between clients, no shared equipment, and no hands-on contact from me

Personal training:

Over the next few weeks we will start to transition from online to in-person personal training, but the online option will still be available for those who prefer it, those who are not local, and those who like to train at times when I can’t get to them!

Online personal training has been really successful but it will be good to see clients face-to-face again. Training will need to be held in an open, spacious area, with good ventilation, preferably outdoors, and social distancing will apply.

Sports massage:

One of the casualties of the past year has been my massage space!!

In March last year, I turned my spare bedroom into my ‘zoom-room’, which meant that my massage room became my overflow space for all the things that used to be in my spare room! My office has recently been moved into the studio space, leaving that room free as a my new massage room…

I’m currently finishing off a complete redecoration so that when I start offering sports massage again, the new space will be a calming area for your treatment.

As soon as I am back to hands-on practice I will let you know!

Please get in touch if I can help:

If you are interested in returning to in-person Pilates classes, looking for online fitness classes, keen to know more about personal training, or want to be the first to know when I’m back at my massage table, please get in touch by email: jane@taylormadefitness.biz

In the meantime, there will be website updates in the coming weeks so check-back soon

Jane

what type of fitness class is best for your body?

We all know we need to exercise on a regular basis, but how do you know what type of fitness class is best for your body?

Benefits of regular exercise* include:

What type of exercise is best & how much do I need?

Ideally you will be active every day, aiming for 150 minutes of activity each week.

Daily activities such as walking, cycling or swimming will give you a really healthy base, but you will also benefit from adding in some activities which include added resistance and increase your heart rate further. This is where fitness classes can play an important role in supporting your health.

Resistance exercises help to build and maintain strong bones as well as strengthening the muscles which support those bones. It might involve resistance bands or weights (dumb-bells or kettlebells) but your own body-weight and gravity will also provide resistance (eg. when standing up from a squat or coming up from a push-up you are working with resistance).

Resistance work also plays a role in your cardio-vascular fitness which supports heart health. You don’t need to add high-impact to get your heart rate up – moving with a pair of moderate/heavy weight dumb-bells will give you a great cardio workout! This means that you don’t need to find separate strength and cardio sessions – you can get great results, with more time-efficiently, by choosing the right class for you.

How do my online classes support your health & fitness?

My sessions can loosely be split into three-tiers, each of which offers its own advantages.

Tier 1 = Total Body (Fridays @ 7am)

total body
  • no weights are required – this is a body-weight session
  • it is a 45-minute class
  • it is more manageable than tiers 2 & 3, but you’ll still get a bit sweaty, feel fitter and move your body

Tier 2 = Functional Fitness (Mondays @ 7.15pm)

functional fitness
  • 1 x weight required (DB / KB / tin of beans will work)
  • it is a 30-minute class
  • your weight can be light/moderate but if you prefer to go heavier that’s fine too
  • we will include lots of uni-lateral (one-sided) moves to replicate the way we move in everyday life

Tier 3 – Metabolic Bootcamp (Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 7am)

metabolic bootcamp
  • you will need a pair of heavier DB – as a guide, pick a weight with which you are only just able to do 10 biceps curls, but see the notes below if your weights are lighter than this
  • it is a 30-minute class
  • it will include combined/complex exercises to push your body to the point where you need to take a quick breather before continuing
  • this is a rest-based fitness class which means that you can rest whenever you need to!
  • you’ll feel totally awesome when you’re done

Where does Fitness Pilates & Core Pilates fit in?

Fitness Pilates and Core Pilates are really good sessions to include in your regular weekly activities, but they won’t contribute to fitness in quite the same way as my other classes.

The focus of these classes is on posture, breathing, body awareness, core control, supporting and managing the spine, stretching and stability work all of which are hugely beneficial for health.

How to find the right balance & modify fitness classes to suit your body:

Fitness and resistance training is super-important for all of us, particularly as we get older. In a perfect world your week would include:

  • daily activities which are gentle enough for you to do them over longer periods of time (eg. walking 20+ minutes, cycling or swimming)
  • 2-3 sessions per week of activity which increases your heart rate to a moderate or vigorous level and adds some resistance exercises (fitness classes would fall into this category)
  • 1-2 sessions per week of mindfulness and stretching activity (such as pilates, yoga, tai chi, etc)

My commitment is to offer you fitness classes which are safe and accessible for your body, regardless of your current fitness level or previous experience.

When designing the sessions, I aim to be mindful of joint health and pelvic floor health so everything is low-impact (no jumping) but don’t be fooled into thinking that means low-intensity!  

My goal is to push you, but ultimately you are in charge of your body, working at a pace and intensity that suits you on any given day. If you need to modify any of my classes you can:

  • work harder by using heavier weights, taking bigger movements and/or working at a faster pace
  • ease off with lighter weights, smaller movements and/or a slower pace 
online class timetable

Although the tiers are there for guidance, please feel free to jump in wherever feels good for you and know that I am here to support you with safe and effective exercise.

*source: NHS

Top tips for eating more fruit and vegetables

A few weeks ago I wrote about trying to up-spec my eating game to include at least 30 different varieties of fruit and vegetables a week, and I’m still doing it!

layered salad bowl

Obviously there are plenty of items that repeat weekly, but I’m trying to add in a few newbies each week too. Across the last four weeks I have eaten 50 different fruit and vegetables in total, which is probably four or five times more varied than in the four weeks before that! As an example, the salad above included mixed lettuce leaves, pea shoots & spinach as a base, topped off with olives, garlic, lentil sprouts, avocado, pickled red cabbage, tomatoes, hummus and sesame seeds – 9 veggies added to the list in one meal!

I’ve bought myself two sprouting jars and I’m really enjoying growing my own vegetables in miniature. Favourites so far are sprouted sunflower seeds and lentil sprouts (below), both of which work well in cold or hot dishes. Sprouted pulses and seeds taste amazing, add texture and colour and a whole heap of nutritional value and they are super-simple to grow.

lentil sprouts

Two jars allows me to stagger them and keep a continuous supply, or sprout two different things at once. I currently have lentils and broccoli sprouts ready to eat and I have sunflower seeds soaking in a separate pot ready to add to one of the jars when the sprouts have been moved to the fridge/eaten. Of course you don’t need to buy a special jar to sprout seeds and pulses but it makes the process very easy. And also I felt that having invested in the jars I might be more likely to keep using them long term…?!

Since the first week of doing this, I have found a few things which help me to stay on track:

  1. keep a pencil and paper in the kitchen to write everything down on a meal-by-meal basis
  2. start the week well – by bedtime on Monday this week I had already eaten 17 different fruit and vegetables, so I felt like I was winning right from the start
  3. make up batches of meals which contain a lot of different vegetables so I have them in the fridge or freezer when I need them
  4. use different fruits to make up fruit compote to go with porridge/chia pudding/granola/etc (frozen fruit is great for this)
  5. make use of what you have around – I cut down the last of my tomatoes at the weekend and made a jar of quick pickled green tomatoes
  6. collect windfall apples, pick damsons or forage for sweet chestnuts if you see them while you’re out and about (I’m not sure whether sloes for sloe gin counts but I guess you can decide for yourself!)
  7. don’t forget to include frozen, tinned or bottled fruit and vegetable options to your list – sauerkraut is one of my favourite fall-backs when I don’t want to cook but I need to up the veggie-quota
keeping track

Now that I’ve started, I’m going to keep the momentum going on my #30fruitandvegetables mission. It makes sense on so many levels – upping nutrition for heart, hormonal, bowel & cognitive health; promoting a feeling of self-care; managing energy levels; and creating a better connection with & enjoyment of eating.

You may already be far more evolved than me on this issue, but if not, and even if you don’t want to go for the full 30 in one go, why not start by adding one extra portion of vegetables to each meal or try buying one new vegetable ingredient each week. Small changes really do add up over time…

Do you eat 30 different varieties of fruit and vegetables each week?

Did you know that eating a broad range and number of fruits and vegetables each week can support your hormonal health?

Last week as part of a course I’m studying, and with my own health in mind, I felt inspired to see if I could follow the advice to eat 30 different varieties of fruit and veg in one week.

home grown!!

The aim is to use dietary measures to naturally support the body in processing & managing oestrogen levels, which in turns supports us through times of hormonal change, such as peri-menopause. In addition to eating a range of plant-based foods (including legumes, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables) and brightly-coloured foods, the goal is to broaden the range of fruits and vegetables we consume.

I am vegetarian so in theory it maybe shouldn’t be that hard. But I’m also lazy about cooking for one and a bit of a fussy-eater after a childhood of strict ‘eat what you’re given’ parenting, so I was really intrigued to see how I would get on.

I started last Tuesday and tracked back over the previous day to start my count. I had also recently done a good food shop so I already had a few different options available to get me started.

I arrived at 17 different items quite easily and really enjoyed challenging myself to fit extra vegetables into my meals:

  • cavolo nero
  • mushrooms
  • green beans
  • sweetcorn
  • tomatoes
  • spinach
  • sugarsnap peas
  • apples
  • blueberries
  • red grapes
  • leeks
  • red lentils (not sure if legumes count but I counted them anyway just in case I fell short!!)
  • kiwi
  • nectarines
  • carrots
  • avocado
  • broccoli

At this point I realised that back-up supplies would be needed so I trawled the supermarket for as many different things as I could find, including some things I had forgotten about & some that I don’t really like.

I added a few ‘deli’ items:

  • olives
  • artichoke hearts (I’d forgotten how much I love these)
  • sauerkraut (love this and eat it often but had run out)

Some vegetables I normally avoid:

  • brussels sprouts (which were better shredded and pan-fried than any other way I have ever eaten them)
  • parsnips (I don’t mind them but wouldn’t usually choose them)
  • mustard cress (tasted way better than I remembered)
  • celery (I hide it in ragout-type recipes)
  • cauliflower (I had some in the freezer so I used it to make cauliflower, parsnip and garlic mash)

Some basic extras:

  • potatoes
  • butternut squash
  • garlic
  • onions
  • white cabbage (I made coleslaw with added apple and sunflower seeds)

And, last but not least, some lovely additions:

  • pea shoots (such a great flavourful addition to a salad)
  • mango (post 10-mile hike purchase)
  • blackberries (picked en-route)

So I finished my week on 32 different kinds of fruit and veg (33 if I include the red lentils, but in that case I can also include butter beans and cannellini beans so 35!) I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t really more on fruit (as I am a bit of a fruit-bat) and actually I really enjoyed finding new ways to include more vegetables into my meals.

brussels sprouts made better

One of the things I learned from this (which came as no surprise but all the same it was a good reminder) is that I basically eat the same ingredients nearly every week. Probably many of us do. Food shopping can become a bit of a chore and I think I have been following the same path through the shop each time, so that I buy food without ever needing to veer off-course. I really enjoyed thinking about what I could eat to increase my veggie uptake and it was good to look along shelves that I normally by-pass.

The best thing I gained from doing this, was a stirring in my soul – a little bit of excitement about my meals, a joy in new found flavour (& texture) combinations, and a better connection with what I was eating. My meals are usually ‘bistro bowl & single utensil’ options so that I can eat without thinking, mostly sat on the sofa, distracted by a bit of catch-up TV. Last week I think I used two utensils together more than once, I sat at a table to eat more often and I actually took notice of what I was eating.

I felt like I was bathing my body in nutrients, colour, flavour and a big dose of self-care.

breakfast favourite – chia pudding, fruit compote, ground flaxseed, soaked sunflower seeds, organic yoghurt

I ate (& craved) less chocolate & consumed significantly less cheese-as-a-meal-substitute last week. Interestingly I don’t think I spent any more than usual on food because I didn’t buy snacks or lots of cheese like I might usually do. I guess time will tell how much it costs but I plan to do lots of batch-cooking of dishes which include as many vegetables as possible. Yesterday I made a green lentil ragout with eight different veggies in it – knowing that I have portions of this in the freezer will be a real bonus when I’m short on time and need a veggie-boost.

There was a downside…I used the dishwasher more than usual, but I guess that’s just part of being a grown-up & cooking actual meals?!

fresh supplies

One week on and I’m still going with the goal of 30 but I’m trying to make some changes from last week so that I don’t stick with the same 30 each week. So far I’ve added in beetroot, spring greens, pomegranate & raspberries; I’ve grown broccoli sprouts and I’m sprouting some sunflower seeds; and I have pak choi and sweet potatoes lurking in the fridge. I think the key is to layer in a couple of extra veggies at every meal – so instead of a meal consisting 3-4 ingredients, I will bump it up to 7-8 different ones, so that every meal makes a contribution to my total count (and more importantly my health!)

broccoli and friends!

So how about you? Do you (or could you) eat 30 different varieties of fruit and veg in one week? If not, might you give it a try?

If you are a way off to start with, you might not want to make such a sweeping change all in one week so perhaps start by gradually adding in a few new items each week until you get there.

Please let me know if you give it a try – would love to know how you get on and what differences you notice, particularly if you are also trying to balance your hormone levels.

(cont’d)