Keeping it Healthy at Christmas

No, I’m not joking, I know it sounds completely absurd to even try to contemplate the idea of having a healthy Christmas, but just imagine it for a moment. If you managed a healthy Christmas holiday, would facing January be easier? I don’t know about you, but for me Christmas has always been the time of year I eat and drink more in a single month than I do across all other months of the year put together. By the time January rolls around I feel lethargic and heavy and the thought of exercise seems a million miles away, not least because January is by far the coldest month of the year and being outside in my running shoes sounds particularly painful in sub-zero temperatures. If I could be healthier at Christmas then perhaps and I could see my way through a super healthy January without the usual pain and discomfort? I suppose I’ll never know unless I try. I’ve decided that instead of setting over-optimistic goals, I will simply make time for exercise at least 3 times a week over December and I will try to limit the Christmas meals and drinking to weekends and special nights out – of which I’m hoping there won’t be too many. I realise it is the silly season and one should therefore plan for the unplanned events and super silly situations one invariable finds oneself in during this particularly silly and over indulgent time of year. One? I’m using silly language and making very little sense…. and so it begins.

Healthy Xmas

I will be travelling a bit over the Christmas period which often makes this more difficult, so I have decided I will make it my mission to try some new and interesting classes at gyms in both New York and London in order to avoid getting stuck in holiday mode. The problem I have at Christmas is that it’s so bloody cold; I love running and I love exercising when I can be outside but I have always had a passionate dislike of gyms and gym goers (sorry to lump you all together but there are some real ego-maniacs in most gyms), but when it gets cold I simply DO NOT want to be outside in the pissing rain trying to keep warm by running harder and faster and being completely exhausted and miserable by the end of the run. It simply destroys my love of running. I was not built for cold climates but it seems I have made the decision to live in one and although London is a wonderful city, it does not make up for the fact that the winters here are quite inhospitable for Africans like me who enjoy the outdoors. I digress; my point is that there seems to be a movement occurring in London at the moment; all of sudden there are lots and lots of interesting and fun classes taking place in all sorts of nondescript locations and non-gym type establishments across the city in a battle to fight the mundane, and positively outdated, views of what exercise and going to the gym are all about. I, for one, absolutely LOVE the fact that this movement is taking place, and I will be making it my mission to try as many of them as humanly possible throughout 2013 in support of all the awesome people making this happen. For now I will just pick a few to get me going over Christmas. Oh, and if you are also looking for new and interesting classes in London, just check out FitnessFreak.com – they have hundreds of listings in all locations of London that cover all possible fitness personalities.

PUREARTH Juice Cleanse – Day 4

It’s HUMP DAY!! I made it half way, and then some, and I am feeling really proud of myself for making it this far without caving in to temptation. The temptations to eat are far from gone, but they are fewer and that can only be a good thing. I didn’t get enough sleep last night; I went out for dinner with some friends (and was the only person not eating) and got home fairly late, I then had to be up at the crack of dawn to go house-hunting and Christmas shopping in the rainy gloom that is so typical of winter in London. Despite this obvious lack of rest I still felt absolutely great today; I seem to have more energy with each day that passes and I can see and feel my body cleansing itself. The first 3 days of the cleanse I could feel my skin flushing out toxins, it felt heavy and oily, but today was the first time it felt clear; I woke up with a bright complexion and had several people comment that I was ‘glowing,’ which made me very happy indeed. On the first and second day of my PurEarth Juice Cleanse I felt as though the world was against me and I almost didn’t believe I could do this, but now that I’ve managed to pass the half way mark, and do it with such enthusiasm and energy, it’s made me realise that I am capable of far more than I once thought.

People may have mixed views about juice cleansing, but if it makes me feel this good, and right now I feel better than I have in a very long time, then it must be something special. It’s not easy, I’ll give you that, but it is more than worth it. This isn’t a trend that I see disappearing any time soon; it’s rooted in the basic knowledge that raw foods, particularly in liquid form, are extremely beneficial to the body as well as the mind. This is not new science, this is ancient history, quite literally. Our ancestors ate mostly raw fruit and vegetables, as well as the occasional portion of meat when it was available, which indicates that our bodies are best suited to these types of basic food sources. Over time we have modified our food and most of it now contains numerous toxins and additional waste that our bodies cannot process and which therefore have a negative affect on our systems. Organic fruit and veg is not a new thing, it’s simply our way of trying to get back to our roots and eat as naturally and healthily as possible without the addition of harmful chemicals. When organic fruits and vegetables are consumed in juice form, our bodies are able to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients possible without having to process the parts we do not use. This means we are getting all the good stuff, and none of the bad, or anything which is surplus to requirement. Not only am I getting everything I need in terms of daily nutrition, but my mind is clearer and my body lighter because I have far fewer toxins weighing me down. Basically, the bottom line is, if it feels good, it probably is.

PUREARTH Juice Cleanse – Day 2

So today is the second day of my juice cleanse and it’s been a quiet day on all fronts. I started the day well enough, pretty much the same as yesterday, just with a little less energy. Today has been a peaks-and-troughs kind of day; I’ve been a pendulum of energy, one minute I have absolutely none, and the next minute I have what feels like boundless energy that might well last forever, but doesn’t. In fact, my short energy bursts seem to last no more than 20 minutes, during which time I try to make the most of them by writing furiously or doing household chores as I have been working from home all day. Then I have energy slumps which last much longer, anything up to an hour and a half. Once or twice today I almost nodded off, although I didn’t get very much sleep last night so I won’t be blaming this entirely on the detox. On a more positive note I am craving food far less, and the hunger seems to come occasionally, though not nearly as often as yesterday, which is a big step in the right direction for me. I’ve been very distracted today too so work has been somewhat drawn out and painful; again, this may be due to my lack of sleep and not the detox. I was heading out for a Bikram Yoga class this evening and am quite glad I ended up having to work instead since I’m not sure I would have managed an hour and a half class in a hot room feeling the way I did. Still, not feeling too bad, no headaches or anything strange to report. I think the test will be day three; tonight I plan to have an early night and catch up on some much needed sleep before tackling the third day of this detox. I am considering a light jog in the morning too, if I feel up to it, which might actually help with the energy levels.

Now, there is something I should tell you about this detox that I am really quite impressed with. The Juice! Yes, it’s a juice detox and there is no food involved and perhaps that sounds quite tedious, however, with juice that tastes this good it’s actually become quite a pleasurable experience. I have found myself drinking much slower than I normally would because I want to savour the flavour, and then when it’s gone I start looking forward to the next one. Not because I’m hungry or because my body needs it, purely because I genuinely enjoy drinking them. When the juice arrived 2 days ago I thought I might not enjoy having the same juice every day; today I had the same juice as yesterday and somehow it was still interesting and still refreshing. There is only one part of the cleanse I don’t enjoy quite as much, and that’s the Bentonite Clay and Psyllium husk drink; it tastes a little like oats and chalk in water, and although it makes my tummy happy, it’s not exactly the most exciting thing on the menu. This is a small price to pay for the incredible benefits of the whole process though, and its not bad in any way, just somewhat flavourless. I can live with that. I am thoroughly enjoying the juice; I’m even thinking about taking this to new extremes and trying out the 14 Day Juice Cleanse in January once the Christmas season has restored my toxin levels and I start to feel the need to be clean again! I’m not committing to anything yet though, let’s just see how I do on a 7 day cleanse first; if everything is still running smoothly on by 7 then I will definitely be doing this again very soon.

Taking Control

Over the last year my exercise and diet has fluctuated and at times come to a complete standstill, or something resembling an atomic bomb; so after a year of procrastination and failed attempts I decided that it was time to take back control of my life and start fresh, with new goals and new inspiration. I have, in addition to this, decided that I will begin posting a fair amount online to add some motivation and to put it out there so that everyone else can see my high’s and low’s, of which I am sure there will be plenty. This is as much for you as it is for me; I hope it inspires, or at least makes people laugh.

Step 1: ENHANCE DIETARY HEALTH:

1.1. Food diary – this is a good way to start monitoring food intake – just be honest because let’s face it, at the end of the day you’re the only one reading it and the only person you are lying to therefore, is yourself.

1.2. A daily Green Smoothie to help boost the immune system and get all the minerals and vitamins you might otherwise be missing out on. I tend to use whatever is in the fridge for these – as much variety of greens as possible, a few teaspoons of Green Powder for added value, some of my favourite fruits and a cup of liquid (50% juice 50% water), the juice can be any variety you prefer. Occasionally I add Greek Yogurt to enhance the creaminess, but I’m sure any good yogurt will do and some naturally sweetened or natural fruit varieties might be nice.

1.3. Throw out all the bad foods – start with anything refined like white flour, bread, sugar, sweets, biscuits – all the usual baddies lying around the house, and fridge.

1.4. Grocery shopping! Retail therapy always helps me feel a whole lot better (especially if it’s food shopping). Go grocery shopping for healthy alternatives to your favourite things, and start reading more healthy cook books for inspiration on what to buy.

1.5. Cook more – eat out less. That way you know whats in each meal because you have prepared it yourself and there won’t be any hidden fats or sugars.

Step 2: ENHANCE FITNESS:

2.1. Start building a training schedule – I like running so I use MYASICS.CO.UK and create new running schedule with a small goal (at this point a 10 km run before Christmas should be small enough to tackle).

2.2. Do something good for the body when you wake up. Get up earlier and practice yoga or find a running club or group training session; try to do this at least 3 mornings a week.

2.3. Find nearest gym / fitness centre and make a promise to yourself to go at least 3 times a week. Do something fun if you can – group sessions can often be a lot more motivating and stimulating. I love CrossFit and MMA fighting, both of which I plan to start again as soon as I return to London as they are great fun and incredibly good for the fitness levels. For now though, running and morning yoga is my plan to begin with since I’m in a foreign country.

Step 3: DOCUMENT + MONITOR

1.1.This is the important part and it’s the best way to stay on track – keep the food diary going for the first month, it will help motivate you to keep going when you read over it. Don’t be too hard on yourself, everyone has bad days. Allow yourself one or even two days a week where you can eat one good meal and not restrict yourself too much.

1.2. An exercise diary has the same effect. Try to do at least 30 minutes of exercise for 5 out of every 7 days of the week and write about each session. Keep notes for when you don’t exercise and write the reason why. You may notice excuses creeping in, just remember – YOU CAN HAVE EXCUSES, OR YOU CAN HAVE RESULTS – YOU CAN’T HAVE BOTH!!!

1.3. Write about your goals at the outset, start with lots of small incremental goals which lead to bigger goals in the future, this makes it more manageable and you will feel like you have achieved something more often as you reach each of the smaller stepping stones on your journey. Write about each time you improve on something – this will show how far you’ve come and encourage you to keep going.

1.4. Read lots of health and fitness magazines, blogs and web pages to keep you motivated. Here are some favourites of mine;

Livestrong | Roni’s Weigh | Daily Cup of Yoga | Fit Bottomed Girls | Nom Nom Paleo | Eat, Live, Run | Choosing Raw | Simply Scratch

If you prefer photographs, check out tumblr for some great photo blogs for fitness motivation.

#HealthKick – Getting Started

Being in the summer sunshine has had a strange effect on me, not least because I’ve been staying outside of Sydney in a quiet suburban area and indulging in the peace and quiet, but I’ve suddenly been motivated to get back on the health and fitness train. The intention is to get myself back to fighting-fitness and super-glowing healthiness. This is no small task, so I decided that I would start small with a few runs a week and some diet changes, the start of which was a pledge to have a daily Green Smoothie.

I look back through old photographs and realise that I was once super-healthy and quite fit; I was of course working as a personal trainer at the time, which may or may not have something to do with it. I was also happier and more settled, which is another set of personal obstacles I am currently working on. All this self-improvement seems like an awfully big and rather daunting task.

I will not be defeated. I will remain positive. I will not beat myself up. I will keep on keeping on. Even when I take a step backwards from time to time, I will take two more steps in the right direction to make up for it. Even when all the cards seem to be dealt against me, I will find the positive and the seek out the motivation to return to my present goals. 

I keep telling myself these things because honestly, I know that sometimes the hardest thing to do is keep going. Results take time, they do not come over night and sometimes we get tired, or the climb to the top gets tough, or we feel like giving up when there seems to be no end in sight. I have different goals for myself these days too, more realistic and healthier goals – I am not on some foolhardy vanity mission to lose 10kg’s in weight by Christmas, I simply want to improve my fitness and health on a daily basis and for this there is no end goal, there are just lots of little goals that keep growing every day and keep me motivated.

I don’t want to live in an all consuming, all-or-nothing world of weight watching, calorie counting madness, I want to eat well and live well. I do not want to be skinny, I want to be stronger and fitter than I’ve ever been. The hardest part of my day is putting on my running shoes and stepping out the door; the best part of my day occurs a mere 2 minutes later when I find my rhythm and feel the warmth in my body and the wind on my face and the pure, unadulterated freedom of the open road.  There is no better feeling in the world than knowing you are taking the steps you need to take to being the best version of yourself that you can possibly be.