antiperspirant vs deodorant

I’ve been wanting to write a post about antiperspirant vs deodorant for ages and every time I sit down to write it I chicken out because it seems like a slightly bizarre thing to be writing about. But it is also something I feel quite evangelical about so I’m going to do it anyway!

The back-story:

Before I went to university I decided that I didn’t want to leave a boyfriend behind at home, so that I could experience all that uni-life would offer without pining for someone who wasn’t there. So my then-boyfriend soon became my ex-boyfriend, and off I went – young, free and single and determined to stay that way…

One week later I met the most amazing guy (ever!!) and not long afterwards we were living together, which was how it stayed for two years. So much for being young, free & single!!

One of the things about the amazing guy was that he was an eco-warrior, light-years ahead of his time and he was absolutely passionate about looking after the planet as well as his body & soul.

I used to laugh at him for always rinsing the washing up before it was dried, but he insisted  that chemicals in the washing up liquid were damaging to our bodies, and so I kept laughing and he kept rinsing. In the years since then I have often smiled because I always rinse any washing up that I’ve done by hand and I now believe that he was right all along.

The other ‘eco’ thing I remember about him is that he only used deodorant, never antiperspirant, because he believed that disrupting the body’s natural sweat mechanism was hugely damaging to the body. I didn’t change my behaviour on this one until fairly recently, but I have often read articles (like this one) debating the pros and cons of antiperspirant vs deodorant which brought about a gradual change in my thinking.

The present day:

I started experimenting with deodorant, rather than antiperspirant, late last year but the problem was that I couldn’t find a product that I liked enough to make the swap permanent. I tried a few brands (roll-on or stick – I don’t like aerosols) but they felt horrible on my skin. And then quite by chance I came across an online discussion and saw someone recommending a brand called Native. She said it was a brilliant product and that the company offered free shipping, so I took a look.

The first time I looked I didn’t buy anything because I saw the company is based in the USA and assumed they wouldn’t ship to the UK, or at least not for free. But on a second look I realised that they do ship free to the UK so I ordered and received my delivery. [Please don’t shoot me down for the air miles thing – I figure the plane was coming here anyway!!]

And then I didn’t use my Native deodorant for a while because I didn’t really think it would work. And then I started using it sometimes. And then I started noticing that my skin felt a bit sore on the days I used the antiperspirant instead. So now, I just use my Native deodorant all the time.

The trade off is that I do sweat a bit more – of course that’s actually the whole point, letting my body do what my body needs to do – but given that we have had some pretty extreme temperatures lately I am super-impressed by this product.

It is made from natural ingredients, contains no aluminium and is paraben-free. It has ingredients to absorb moisture and others to eliminate odour-causing bacteria.  It feels really nice to use (not sticky), it smells great (there are loads of options to choose from) and it lasts really well (which more than offsets the slightly higher cost).

So there you go. My thoughts on antiperspirant vs deodorant in case you are thinking about making the switch too.

I think the amazing guy would be very impressed, and probably quietly amused, to know that I have finally caught up with his thinking on this one, along with so many other things. If only I’d had the wisdom to listen to him all those years ago…

Jx

(PS I didn’t laugh at all his advice. I took it very much to heart when he told me that brandy was a great soother for a delicate disposition after too much cider the night before. It worked every time!)

What is SpineSafe™ Pilates

What is SpineSafe ™ Pilates?

Pilates focuses on strengthening weak muscles and stretching areas of the body that are restricted with a view to reducing postural issues in the body.

The SpineSafe™ approach is based on the 8 principles of Pilates, alongside the latest research from the world of physiotherapy, and the class caters for clients with specific spinal conditions such as low back pain, disc prolapse, spinal stenosis, osteoporosis, scoliosis, surgery, etc

spinesafe pilates The aim of this class is to help you to develop postural balance through your body and build a strong, stable, supportive base for everyday movement patterns. The exercises we do will complement and support the work you are doing/have done with other health care professionals such as your GP or physiotherapist.

Class numbers are limited to ensure that you have the support and attention that you need, as well as sufficient time in class to practice each exercise.

You will be guided through each exercise safely for your body with the specific goals of

  • managing & reducing your pain symptoms
  • improving your posture
  • developing functional core strength
  • creating stability in the pelvis and shoulder girdle
  • increasing mobility and range of movement
  • supporting activities of daily life (ie. walking, sitting, standing, lying down, getting up, carrying shopping, reaching up to a shelf, picking up the kids, getting into the car, etc, etc)

I have been teaching Pilates for 8 years and decided it was time to go deeper with this training to further develop my teaching practice and offer this new class. I am also an Advanced Clinical Massage Therapist and it may be very useful for you to incorporate some soft-tissue work alongside your SpineSafe™ Pilates class to create a really effective back care routine.

For further details and SpineSafe™ Pilates class information please click here

Please let me know if you have any questions at all about my classes

 

Jx

what can Barre Pilates do for me?

What can Barre Pilates do for me?

Over the past 24 years I have taught (and attended) a very wide range of fitness classes and during that time I have often changed my mind about which class is my favourite. Like most things, fitness classes go in phases (I think I always knew that slide was never going to last!!) and gradually evolve as new options come along, and that is one of the things I love most about this industry.

Regardless of the variations available I have always tended to prefer low impact classes – I think I just like to keep my feet on the ground!

barre pilates

And although I have never been inspired to dance, I somehow always knew that I would love the discipline of standing work at the barre. So I tried it…and I do! So I trained to teach The Barre Pilates Method and I thought I’d share with you my thoughts on the benefits you can expect from Barre Pilates.

  1. it’s a low impact class which is kind to your joints, whilst toning and strengthening the muscles which support your joints; but don’t be fooled – you will still sweat because we will overload the muscles with full-range and part-range movements
  2. it’s a standing class (with about 10 minutes of mat-work at the end) which means that is great for bone loading; as we age we naturally lose bone strength so any exercise that is weight-bearing actively promotes our bone health
  3. barre pilates exercises focus on your butt, legs and core to strengthen and tone these areas of your body for better functional movement patterns in your everyday life; your butt and core are key to supporting spine health and reducing non-specific low back pain and it is important to include a focus on these areas as part of your regular fitness routine
  4. you can work at your own level so it doesn’t matter whether you can perform a deep knee bend in plié or not; you will be guided through each exercise and work within your fitness level and experience, resting when you need to
  5. we focus on your posture throughout the class to help you to find a balanced alignment in your body; this in turn promotes improved breathing patterns, improved recruitment of core muscles and improved pelvic floor function
  6. each class includes stretching and flexibility exercises during the workout and at the end of the session; stretches are used to target specific muscles but also to promote a sense of relaxation and well-being after the workout

Barre Pilates is a great addition to your regular fitness routine, and a perfect complement to other classes that you do. If you want to give it a try, I’d love to see you at the barre!

 

Jx

core stability vs hands under your bottom

A few weeks ago I wrote about something that I see when I’m teaching mat-work exercises.

Do you sometimes feel that you need to put your hands under your bottom to support your back when you’re on the floor for abdominal exercises?

Click on the links below to see my article on this topic, and why I think it matters & a simple flow-chart I created to hopefully help you if this is an issue for you:

Let me know if you have any questions Jx

 

change

2018 is proving to be a year of change. I have been feeling a real shift happening over the past few weeks and I am nervous, excited, anxious and interested in seeing where it will lead me all at the same time.

I guess it is not unexpected that my Mum’s death last December would change me, but it feels more than that. Inevitably there has been a huge shift in the family dynamic, with some pretty major stress along the way, but now that my body & mind are feeling nourished and stronger, I also feel that there is an adjustment within me on a deeper level, which is changing the way I think about my work & life.

In thinking about all the changes happening right now I have also been thinking about the resources I have used to help me at various times in the past. Aside from hiding my head in the sand sometimes (which is never really the best plan), here are four books I like and one habit that might be of interest to you too in times of change:

  1. If there is something in your world that needs to change, or just something which would feel better if you found a different way of looking at it, ‘Flip It’ by Michael Heppell gives some great insights into turning your head around
  2. If you need to get on top of tasks that feel onerous or daunting, try reading ‘Eat That Frog’ by Brian Tracy. The theory is that if you get the worst thing in your day done at the start of the day, you free up your energy to do everything else. If you have more than one frog to eat, you eat the biggest and ugliest one first! It doesn’t matter whether your frogs are work or life related, it all works the same way
  3. Things Are What You Make Of Them – Life Advice For Creatives’ by Adam J Kurtz is a great little book – really easy to read or flick through – full of simple suggestions which can be applied to any business or life situation. It’s also one of the prettiest books I own with rainbow coloured pages and hand-written notes, which are all presented on perforated pages so that you could, if you didn’t mind defacing the book, place them up around your house/workspace as daily prompts
  4. If you feel that you need a ‘life-bible’ have a look at ‘The Life Book’ by Nina Grunfeld. It focuses on different aspects of life (for example: health, creativity, work, family, money, etc, etc) and provides exercises and ideas for working on the areas that are most relevant to you. It’s another book that is good for dipping into when the need arises. It is thought-provoking, also quite pretty, and packed full of proverbs such as: ‘gratitude is the heart’s memory’ which I kind of like
  5. A habit that I have adopted recently is setting myself a daily task list with each item on the list numbered from 1 to 3 as follows: 1 = needs to be done today; 2 = hope to get it done today; 3 = can be done any time this week. On Thursday, for the first time, I completed all my 1 & 2 tasks which gave me a real sense of having made progress, and all the 3s got carried on to my next task list ready for action at a later stage. There’s nothing new about task lists of course, but the numbering has really helped me to keep focus – thanks to Jenny Burrell for this one

I’ll leave you with a few ‘change’ quotes just in case you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed or in need of a nudge:

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading” Lao Tzu

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been” George Eliot

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection” Mark Twain

And of course, the best change quote ever!

Jx

what’s your ‘entering the ring’ song?

I recently found my ‘entering the ring’ song thanks to Jenny Burrell

The idea of the song is to find a track that is uplifting to your ears, that stirs your soul, that lights you up, so that when you play it you are instantly in your zone, fired up and focused on whatever it is that you need to get done. Preferably you play it through headphones (to cut out other distractions) and play it on repeat for as long as you need to.

Now I am a lover of silence. I am not a player of background noise/radio/TV/anything – I like to hear NOTHING. But, given that I trust Jenny at least 100% I decided I should try to find my ‘entering the ring’ song, and I did, and actually it’s AMAZING!!

It took me a while because I like music to soothe rather than music to stir but after a few false starts I remembered a track from the film Gladiator, which was one of my favourite Body Pump cool-down tracks from another lifetime. So I found it, and it’s been on repeat every time I’ve been at my desk since, and sometimes in the car as well, and I’m feeling super-focused and getting loads of stuff done…

Here’s my ‘entering the ring’ song.

What’s yours? Please share.

(PS once you’ve found your song, you don’t have to play it all the time you’re working – its job is just to get you started – but bizarrely, I’m finding that keeping it on repeat creates a sense of order because there’s nothing unexpected, so I don’t need to take any notice of it, leaving my brain free to focus on what I’m doing. I never thought I’d be listening to noise while working!)

green soup

In February I started following a blending/smoothie plan (see my separate blog post to find out more) and although I am still blending sometimes, the thing that has stuck the longest is green soup for lunch. I have it nearly every day! It fills me up, loads my body with nutrients and is just the easiest thing to make.

Simple green soup:

This idea originally came from Jason Vale – I think it came up in one of his juice plans  and this is my version of a simple green soup, which is effectively a hot smoothie!

You will need some green vegetables (you knew that already!) – I use whatever is in the fridge/freezer: peas, fresh or frozen spinach, fresh or frozen broccoli, leeks (washed & sliced), fresh or frozen kale, a few stems of asparagus, cabbage, broad beans…really whatever you have.

You might want to add some fresh or frozen herbs at the blending stage – basil is great, mint would work too. I also add a little chopped garlic (I have the cheat version in a jar in the fridge but you could drop in a whole fresh clove). You could add spices if you like them.

You will need some stock – I use vegetable bouillon powder but you could use chicken/ham stock.

I add creamed coconut to give it a creamy flavour but this is optional.

Here’s what you do:

  • bring the stock to a boil in a pan (I have it coming about half way up the side of the pan and then fill the pan with vegetables)
  • add all the vegetables (frozen ones in the bottom, tougher ones next, leafier ones on the top where they will steam) & garlic/spices is you’re using them
  • bring back to the boil then simmer for 3-5 minutes – enough to heat through & cook the frozen vegetables and soften any leafy vegetables, but still keep the green colour
  • stir in a chunk of creamed coconut (I cut about 1” off a standard-sized block) & allow it a few moments to melt
  • ladle everything into your blender & blitz until smooth
  • pour back into the pan, check and adjust the seasoning, add more liquid if it’s too thick and gently reheat if needed
  • if you like a bit of texture in your soup you could add a topping (toasted sunflower seeds, crispy shallots, croutons) or add something to your soup after blending (peas, cooked rice, softened leeks, tinned cannellini beans or chick peas…)
  • enjoy!

I make a batch of this every 2-3 days. I use what I need when I make it, put the rest in the fridge to reheat the next day. I tend to add cooked black rice or sweetcorn when I’m reheating it rather than when I make the whole batch.

If you’re short on time, plan ahead by making a batch at the same time as you are preparing your evening meal, and then it will be ready & waiting for lunch the next day Jx

blending

(from February 2018)

I’m currently living on a (mostly) liquid diet and I’m pleasantly surprised by how it is going. I started following Jason Vale’s ‘super blend me’ plan three weeks ago with the intension of replacing meals with smoothies for seven days, but I haven’t really gone back to eating from a plate again yet!

The plan is promoted as a health/weight loss plan with various suggestions for how to incorporate it into your own lifestyle. For me, the primary reason for getting started was to give myself a break from cooking. Living alone and for the past three years, I’ve been solely responsible for feeding myself – there’s no taking turns when you live alone, no-one else to offer suggestions or discuss meal plans with, no-one to share the washing up & sadly no-one to share a meal with.

Just after Christmas, still grieving the loss of my Mum, I reached a point where I just didn’t want to be a grown-up anymore! I was so sick and tired of being responsible and started to feel particularly anxious about food. With Jason Vale’s latest book in my hand & my new blender shouting encouragement from the side-lines I decided I would give myself a one-week ‘holiday’ from food.

My plan was to then sign up to a food/recipe box delivery company so that I had someone else taking on some of the work-load but three weeks later I’m still blending every day, still enjoying the benefits and feeling so much less anxious about mealtimes.

In case you’re interested in giving it a try, here are some of my thoughts on blending. I’m not on commission and I’m sure there are other blending plans available but I genuinely think this approach might be a workable solution for so many people who are struggling around food, or trying to lose weight or facing digestive issues. By the way, I’m also not a doctor so please do not read this as medical guidance or advice and do your own research before embarking on any radical dietary changes.

Pros & cons:

I was worried I’d be hungry, but surprisingly I really haven’t been. My appetite has definitely decreased over the past three weeks and I’m grazing far less than previously. Now that I’ve started to add in some solid foods again I notice that my portions are much smaller with more focus on adding lots of green vegetables.

I made sure I planned ahead by bagging & freezing the ingredients for individual smoothies on a Sunday, ready to simply add the liquid and blend them as required. The first week I made up bags for all the smoothies suggested for the seven-day plan which was great because I didn’t have to think at all about what I was eating – I just opened the book and blended what I was told to blend! Thereafter I’ve made more decisions about which ones I liked best and bagged them up accordingly.

I’m not a fan of packaged milk alternatives, so I make my own almond milk (I’ve been freezing it in small bottles so there’s no waste) and I’ve been adding coconut ‘meat’ and water to my smoothies when coconut milk is in the recipe. If I don’t have nut milk available, I just use filtered water which works just fine.

I did find myself feeling very cold after the first couple of days (I think my body has been holding back a throat/chest infection for a couple of months so the coldness might have been more to do with this than the smoothies) but as soon as I started adding in a simple green soup (see separate blog post for recipe) in place of one of the smoothies, I felt much better.

I have had to substitute avocado in place of bananas as I had a pretty extreme reaction to bananas at the end of the first week. I’ll spare you the details but can happily report that avocado is a really good alternative.

One of the best things about the plan is that I can take my breakfast with me on a morning. I never really feel like eating before I head out to work but usually do it because I think I should – and because I can’t really eat a bowl of apples and yoghurt whilst training a client or driving!! With a smoothie, I can head out and drink it when & where I want to.

My stomach feels so calm and peaceful right now, no doubt as a result of having less digestion to do and a lighter load to process. I also feel that I’m getting a far higher ratio of nutrients than previously when my evening meal would often be a piece of cheese, followed by an apple, followed by another piece of cheese, followed by some nuts, followed by a packet of oat cakes…

I feel that my blood sugars are more even right now. I haven’t had any ‘hangry’ moments in recent weeks and I think it is down to the level of nutrients and the less sporadic eating patterns. Given that my Mum died as a result of a condition linked to her diabetes (type II) I am more than a little concerned about my own blood sugar levels and tend to use how I feel as a benchmark for whether I’m eating the right things.

I didn’t set out to lose weight but I suspect that it’s happening anyway (I don’t have scales so I have no ‘weigh’ to check but my clothes feel a bit easier as far as I can tell when I effectively wear pyjamas all day)

There has been a drastic decrease in spending on food over the past three weeks and no waste at all, which is great. Bagging and freezing the ingredients as soon as I buy them, means that there’s nothing left in the fridge being unused. The reduction in waste has also meant that the only things going in my household bin are the outer wrappers from fruit and vegetables (& if I had easy access to a fresh food market it would be reduced further).

Washing the blender three times a day is a bit dull (& obviously only a first world problem) but it’s a small price to pay. I tend to hand wash it the first two times and then place it in the dishwasher at the end of the day so it’s really not enough of a negative to get in the way of blending.

I’ve started to add in some ‘solids’ most days now but I’m still enjoying liquid meals most of the time. I usually have an apple or two or an apple and half and avocado over the day and most days I’ll eat a few almonds too. This week I’ve made myself a bowl of salad on two occasions just to add some different flavours (olives, hummus, feta cheese, balsamic vinegar). The big thing I’ve noticed now is that instead of hoovering up my food I’m really enjoying the process of chewing it. As an added bonus everything tastes great – I’m much more aware of my taste-buds now and it is helping me to connect with food again.

The longer term:

I think I’ve always had a pretty strange relationship to mealtimes.

As a child there were fairly old-school rules around eating (having to eat everything on my plate, not being allowed to get down until I had, being made to eat things I really didn’t like, being ‘tricked’ into eating things I said I didn’t like – and laughed at for doing so, etc, etc) but as a teenager I became more interested, once I could cook my own food. As an adult I have always tended to work at traditional mealtimes – first as a chef and then as a fitness class instructor – so I think I never really got into the habit of regular meals.

Now that I have no-one to cook for I realise that cooking has always been about cooking for someone else. Cooking for myself feels like a massive effort & frankly not worth the bother.

Blending, on the other hand feels like a quick and effective way to get nutrients into my body. It is really well suited to a vegetarian/plant-based diet and it gives me flexibility for my working hours. I think, for me, it is the way forward – probably not every meal forever but certainly one or two meals a day for the foreseeable future.

If you decide to try it, or you already do it, I’d love to know how you get on

Jx

self care

Written in November 2017:

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about #selfcare & what I can add to my life to fill up my bucket over the next few months. I think over the course of 2017 I lost the balance of work & life a little bit and I don’t want to continue this way.

I’m very aware that if I’m not careful the things I add will start to feel like stuff-that-has-to-be-done which of course takes away the joy of doing them… The hours I work don’t leave much time for regular extra-curricular things so I’ve decided to focus on adding ‘ad hoc’ things I can do when I feel able to. My goal is definitely to add quality but not quantity. I already have enough quantity going on…!

In the context of my own life, I was already thinking about how important #selfcare is when I had a conversation with a client one evening and was quite saddened by something she said.

She has recently experienced some leg pain and after some successful soft tissue work with her last week, I advised her on a couple of simple release exercises she could use during the week to keep her feeling more comfortable. She has been frustrated by her limited ability to exercise and is keen to get back to running. We were catching up on her week, and talking about whether she had done any of the releases I had suggested and she said that she had literally not had the required two minutes on any day since I had seen her last!!

Really??!

We had a pretty light-hearted chat about where she might have found those two minutes each day, but I really hope the message was loud & clear:

if we never put ourselves at the top of our own to-do list, we’ll never be at the top of our to-do list!

My lovely (& undeniably very busy) client had put everything else on her list – stroke the dogs, sort through the post, organise the children to practise their music, make the dinner, a large G&T…and I’m not in any way saying that those things are not important BUT I am definitely saying that those things are not more important than her leg. I hope she heard me – I’ll be checking with her next week for sure!

Self-care comes in all shapes and sizes.

If we ignore our body when it is in pain, the pain is not going to go away, and it will probably get worse and require more time in the long run.

In the same way, if we ignore a lack of balance in our work & life, it probably isn’t going to become any more balanced…

What shape does your #selfcare look like?