Reviewed: The #Paleo30

Today I have a guest post to share with you from Erin. Everybody gets a health makeover in January but I watched with interest as Erin did the #Paleo30 and made it look easy on Instagram. Of course it wasn’t easy but I asked her to share her experiences with you guys here in case you’re interested. Thanks Erin!

*****

Hello Readers! When Rebecca asked me to write a post about the Paleo diet I followed throughout January, I jumped at the chance. I’m what you would probably describe as a normal dieter. Every so often I feel like I need a reset so for a while I count my calories, eat less and exercise more. I don’t tend to go in for diet fads as I don’t believe they are sustainable long term, and well, I love cooking and food! Whilst my favoured strategy has worked for me in the past, adding a child into the mix means there is far less time for the latter.

I’ve always been one of those women who can’t shift a lot of weight with food alone. In the lead up to our Wedding in March 2011 I started exercising in earnest the Summer before, just after we got engaged, and found myself in the gym 4 out of 5 mornings before work, and then at least once of a weekend. The results after 6 months of (more or less) this routine spoke for themselves, with me being the probably the lightest I’ve been in my adult life, but not only that, toned too.

I digress. Now that I’m a Mum to a 19-month old, who works full time, time for myself is rare and therefore, gym time is pretty non-existent. Just getting out of the door in the mornings is a miracle, and by the time the food, bath and bedtime routine is done, speed is of the essence with the food we prepare. I have been trying to watch what I eat, but it’s difficult to remain healthy all of the time.

After the excesses of the festive season last year, and having read about it last year on Jessica’s blog, both my husband Richard and I decided to give the Whole30 a go. Not so much a diet as a way of eating, I hoped it would act as a re-education exercise too.

What is the Whole30?
Put simply, it’s eating only whole foods for 30 days (or in our case, the month of January). It follows the Paleo principles of eating… but is just a bit more extreme as it’s meant to act as a reset for previous bad food habits. When people asked what Paleo eating was, I usually described it as “eating like a caveman” meaning you were only allowed food that you could hunt or gather – nothing that has gone through a process.

No sugar, no grains, no diary, no legumes and no alcohol.

Richard and I decided if we were going to do this, we were going to do it the right way. Taking the plan from It Starts with Food (which you don’t need to buy, it’s more about the science behind it – the website has most of the information), we cleared out our fridge and hid all the alcohol. Coming from months of diary, wheat, alcohol and grains, we were pretty much left with a bare fridge. After a VERY expensive shop (guided by what to buy), it was full of colourful vegetables, meat, fish and berries, and our cupboards were full of coconut oil, nuts and lots of spices. We were ready.

How to do it…
If you are embarking on this diet, and you don’t have the willpower to watch your partner devour another slice of bread, it’s easier to do it together if you can. Having the support of your partner is invaluable, and you really can spur each other on. The other point to note is that you need to meal plan. Rich and I are meal planners anyway, as we find it easier to shop this way for the week ahead, but we had to add breakfasts and lunches into the mix as well.

Breakfast’s were easy for us both as we both have microwaves at our workplaces, so making scrambled eggs was pretty simple. Eggs will definitely be your friend during this. I’m not actually sure what we’d have done for breakfast if we weren’t egg lovers!

Lunches were slightly harder since you can’t pick things up on the hoof. Mostly mine consisted of chicken that I’d roasted at home mixed with mashed avocado and rolled in a Gem Lettuce leaf, or a portion of leftover supper from the night before. This is a good tip – make more for dinner so you can eat it for lunch the next day.

Dinner’s were fine as they were usually planned in advance with ingredients bought for specific recipes.

Have in your mind that there will be a lot of repetition for the month – this helped me get through. Yes, eating the same thing for breakfast for a whole month seemed daunting, dull and boring, but the reality was fine. The simpler the better.

Favourite Dishes:

  • Scrambled Eggs with Avocado for breakfast
  • Egg and Bacon “Cupcakes” for breakfast
  • Steak with Sweet Potato Chips and Green Veg
  • Prawn & Cucumber Curry with Cauliflower Rice
  • Homemade Spiced Chicken Legs

The Pros
The obvious one is weight-loss, but the Whole30 is more than that, which I’ll get to. I also haven’t really done any extra exercise in this period so the loss is all down to changing my eating habits.
Better sleep and consistent energy levels
Clearer skin
A more efficient digestive system
Learning how to spice food properly for taste
Changing the way I think about food and what I eat. The Whole30 really has made me realize what and how to eat in order to maintain a healthy, well running body. You will be AMAZED at how much sugar is added to everyday things, even down to roasted chicken fillets from good old M&S! It’s definitely made me look more closely at what we buy.

The Cons
The cost. Our weekly shops have gone up by about 50% during the month, and that’s down to the organic produce and fresh food gracing our trolleys. The weekly visits to Whole Foods haven’t helped either.
Making your baby yummy looking shepherd’s and fish pies, tasty looking sandwiches and watching him eat creamy yoghurts is torture!
Eating on the hoof is impossible, and this goes for eating out too. Rich and I had a huge row whilst out in our local town on the second weekend as we wanted to eat lunch out, but the choice of your usual Italian establishments and sandwich shops didn’t offer anything we could have. Cue us missing lunch altogether and having a really nice steak supper.

The Results
I’m not going to lie, the first week was hard. Hungry, tired, suffering from bloating and headaches, you wonder why on earth you are doing this and what the benefits will be. Most of these symptoms are reactions from the change in the way in which your body is fuelled, and as we hit day 7, we were feeling less tired, less bloated and as if it was actually making a difference.

Strangely enough, about half way through, both Rich and I suffered from VIVID dreams of cheese – it’s the point at which you think you should just eat the damn cheese but we persevered and the feelings passed.

The end of the month then came pretty quickly actually and after having not weighed myself all month which you are told not to do, I’m amazed to report that not only have I lost 6kgs (which in old money is just under a stone), I’m sleeping better, my skin is so much clearer and less dry, my energy levels are constant (I don’t have the mid-afternoon slump) and I’m not suffering from some of the digestive issues I was having before I started on this way of eating.

All in all, it’s been an eye-opening month. I can honestly say that it really has changed the way I am going to eat. I know I have labored that point, but it really has. I’m following a whole host of new Paleo inspired blogs and getting lots of ideas for new suppers and snacks to try. My spice draw is full of new flavours and I’m in love with everything Coconut (Oil, Milk, Flour, Water!) You can also eat out. Rich and I managed lunches at Byron Burger (Skinny Burger with a Mushroom and a side salad with dressing on the side) and a dinner at a Shellfish restaurant in Soho. I also managed to stick to it whilst I was on a work trip to the US. We were strict with ourselves, but that was the point. This is a month reset, but I know I won’t be going back to my old way of eating.

As a detox, or perhaps a reset before a holiday, it’s worth thinking about giving the Whole30 a go. Once everything is planned, it’s easy! Good luck if you are going to give it a try, you won’t regret it.

Read more from Erin over on her blog Love From Cornfield, or follow her on Twitter @CornfieldLove and @ErinLauraWalsh

#JanuaryJoy: Make a fitness target

It’s easy when the new year rolls around to start with good intentions but not actually go on with your fitness plans. In 2012 I joined BMF and then 12 months later was just about admitting that I wanted to quit. Last year was a total flop for me when it came to fitness and I’m not proud to admit it. Work got the better of me but I did manage to tackle the 30 day shred twice with great results.


This year, I honestly don’t know what my plan is yet, but I need to do something. I’ve dabbled with re-joining the gym but don’t want to commit as let’s face it, even the fee looming over you isn’t enough motivation once signed up unless you really want to go. And I’d really be wanting to swim more than anything which I find very relaxing.

One thing I have done is to get back to yoga – my best friend Jess chose getting back to yoga as her new years resolution and so far we have got together both of the last 2 Saturdays to do my favourite DVD Love Yoga, and I’ve done it between times too.

Perhaps I need a little inspiration from you guys for a change… I’d love to hear what your fitness goals are in the coming year or maybe months. I think having an ultimate goal is always a better idea – is anybody signed up for a race or marathon? I want exercise to be fun again!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Jillian Michaels: #30DayShred

Ok, so a little while back I told you all I wanted to lose some weight, but what I also wanted to do was tone up – big time. Aside from being a little bigger than I’d like I was 100% wobblier and I think having been a lot more toned this time last year after 6 months of BMF, I missed it all the more. You can certainly carry a lot more weight when it’s in a solid package!

Anyway, I digress. My motivation is Jess’s wedding at the end of August – I’m going to be a bridesmaid and who wants to look bad in those photo’s for all of eternity? As my arms are the only bit of me that will be on show I thought I would get some weights, then remembered this DVD being recommended by some of you before and thought I’d have a go. A few of you have been doing the 30 Day Shred along with me on Twitter and so I thought I’d do a little mid-point review (and maybe get some more of you on board!?) before discussing the real results when it’s over. My short term aim was to get slimmer and more toned for the hen do which is in 3 days time and I’m pleased with the results so far.

So what is it?
Basically it’s circuits of resistance, strength and cardio work that lasts about 25 minutes. The DVD follows a basic pattern of 3 levels, each with 3 sets of circuits that comprise 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio and 1 minute of abs with a brief warm up and cool down. I had never watched The Biggest Loser, which is Jillian’s most well known project, but I knew it was going to be tough as she seems pretty no-nonsense. The video doesn’t actually make it clear but as there are three levels and 30 days I’d assume you do 10 days of each, although you might want to move up sooner if you’re bored or even mix them up for a more balanced work out.

Do I need anything?
Jillian uses a mat and some hand weights. For some reason my mat has disappeared into the ether so I’ve been doing without, and I didn’t want to invest in weights until I was sure I liked it so I started off on my carpeted floor with 2 tins of tomatoes. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this method as you really won’t get the most out of the exercises, but if you have never worked with weights before it might be a good start and easier on those arms.

Is it hard?
This is a hard question! The type of strength and resistance exercises Jillian demonstrates are the kind I used leading up to my wedding in the gym then again at BMF and I think there was still some muscle memory there for me so I didn’t find Level 1 that bad. That said, when I stared using 1.5kg weights (In the gym I would normally use 2-3kg) it killed me!

Is it fun?
Actually yes. I’m enjoying it. For me the biggest bonus is that even as busy as I am, it’s unlikely that I can’t make time for 25 minutes of exercise. Most nights I have done it late at night straight before bed, after simply running out of time in the day but not wanting to miss one. So far 14 days in I have done it 12 times, taking one Saturday off that was just too busy and choosing a brisk dog walk on another glorious evening that was too sunny to spend bouncing around in the living room. I like Jillians attitude – ‘If you want to work out for 20 minutes a day, you have to WORK OUT.’ and the exercises and whole thing are done before you can think twice. I did get a little bored with level one but there’s no time for that with Level 2. The music is better, Jillian and her girls look like they are working as hard as you (and loving it,) and she seems a little more fun and personable. And I’m happy to report 3 days in to Level 2 after panting non-stop through the first time, I’m already finding it easier.

In another 2 weeks when I have completed the shred I’ll get back to you with a diary of how I found it and my results – I’ve measured myself and weighed myself. No holds barred.

I’d love to hear if I can tempt you to join us or if you are already doing it (or have done) and what results you got. Every bit of motivation is required to keep me away from those Cronuts!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Cervical Screening Awareness Week

It’s been a while since I have written a women’s health post on Florenec Finds and as it’s Cervical Screening Awareness Week, now seemed like an excellent time to talk about one of those things we all probably dislike doing and might even put off. I’m going to write this in a Q&A style post and I’d love you to both spread the word and get involved if you have any questions – I’ll do my best to answer them throughout the day.

What is a Cervical Smear?
The ‘smear test’ is an examination for women in which cells are taken from the surface of the cervix and examined under the microscope. It is looking for any changes in the cells which may be pre-cancerous and enables early treatment or monitoring. As the cervix is hidden away at the top of the vagina, the test is done using an instrument called a speculum which holds open the vaginal walls for a better view of the cervix.

Who needs one?
All women, (that includes lesbians, nuns, people who have never been sexually active, those who have always used condoms etc etc.) over the age of 25 should have a smear. In normal circumstances it needs repeating every 3 years, but this may change if there is an abnormality. It will never be less frequent until you are over 50, when the tests become 5 yearly and stop at age 65.

Why should I have one?
Smear tests are looking for PRE-cancerous cells – that is cells that are showing signs of changing and that could potentially become cancerous. This is a golden opportunity to prevent cervical cancer ever occurring and potentially save your life.

What if they find a problem?
If abnormal cells are spotted on a smear test (under the microscope – pre-cancerous cells can’t be seen with the naked eye, but other problems can be,) they are separated into different ‘grades’ of severity and the treatment is arranged accordingly. In the most mild cases, it may simply require observation and a repeat smear in 3-12 months. This is because some changes that are seen on smear tests can go back to normal by themselves. Most abnormal findings however require a colposcopy – a test that is often done in hospital where in a similar way to how the smear is first done, the cervix is examined, and a special stain is applied to see if there are any problem cells. They are then sometimes frozen or burned off or cut out. That’s about as pleasant as it sounds but is a small procedure, relatively quick and should solve the problem.

Can I get a smear when I’m pregnant?
No. You can’t have a smear whilst pregnant or for 3 months afterwards as the cervix changes and the results are unreliable. When you’re 3 months post-natal, the cervix has settled down and you can book in. If you are due a smear whilst pregnant, it is perfectly safe to defer it until 3 months after having your baby.

Is there a ‘best’ time to have it?
They say that mid cycle is the best time to have a smear but it really doesn’t matter. If you’re bleeding then the cell sample is often inadequate so avoid your period.

I went to the GP with a female problem and he/she didn’t do a smear. Should they have done?
A smear is not a diagnostic test, just a screening test, so if you are being investigated for a problem it won’t be part of the tests a doctor or nurse does on you. If your symptoms are suggestive of cervical cancer you will be directly referred for a closer look with a colposcopy. You might find however that if you go for another problem that requires a speculum examination and you are due a smear, that the doctor will take the opportunity to get it done at the same time. If you have had a normal smear within the last 3 years, it is very unlikely that you could have a serious cervical problem.

What’s the science behind it?
The reason smear tests are useful is that it takes many years (between 10 and 20,) for cells to change from normal cells into a cancer cell, and they go through many stages on the way. If we can catch them before that, we can offer treatment to prevent the cancer.

Cervical cancer is caused by HPV16 and 18 (2 strains of Human Papilloma Virus or the common wart virus) and it is passed on through sex. This is not the same virus strain that causes genital warts. There are also some rarer forms of cervical cancer that are not related to HPV. Increasingly now smear tests also look for HPV – the virus often clears itself, but in some women it causes changes called CIN (Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia,) which can go on to turn into cervical cancer. HPV infection doesn’t guarantee you will develop pre-cancerous cells or cancer, but it makes the risk much more likely. You may have heard of or received the cervical cancer vaccine – it is actually against HPV.

I think that’s all for now and I suspect I am preaching to the converted. I hope many of you have had your first smear already but knowing how easy it is to forget, (I have done!) move house and not get the invitation, or just put it off, I thought it was worth reminding you all. Once again if there are any questions, just shout. Even if it’s something silly that you never wanted to ask your GP. ;)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

More Resources:

Disclaimer: This article was compiled using my knowledge and day to day practice. Although written by a qualified GP, this article does not substitute you attending your own GP and should not be used for individual medical advice. No liability can be accepted for decisions made on the strength of information contained here or elsewhere on Florence Finds.

#JanuaryJoy – Family Planning

A while back, following one of the medical posts I have written, a reader who shall remain nameless ;) wrote to me and asked me to do a pre-conception post. I think a lot of women skip that pre-natal trip to the GP to ask advice before they get pregnant as so much is freely available on the internet and they feel they might be wasting our time. In fact nothing is more important than staying healthy and never more so than when creating a new life.


Image Credit: Baby Space

This isn’t intended to freak anybody out, nor to make those who simply got on with it and got pregnant feel bad. I figured that 2013 might well be the year that many of you have decided will be the year you’ll try to get pregnant, so thought this might be useful to stash away and read when the time comes. I won’t be covering getting pregnant as if you’re struggling that’s definitely one for your GP, and if you’re not then, well, I guess you knew what to do ;)

So here’s my check list of things to think about both from a health and sensible point of view.

1. Take Folic Acid
Number One on any pre-conception list has to be Folic Acid. Taking 400mcg of Folic Acid daily from the day you decide to start trying (all pregnancy vitamins contain the correct amount, or you can buy it alone,) will help prevent neural tube defects, or Spina Bifida. You might not think it’s important, but Scotland saw a nasty rise in Spina Bifida births in recent years when folic acid usage took a dip. The neural tube is the part of the baby that forms the spinal cord and surrounding structures and as the foetus develops it arises from the cells folding around the developing cord. This takes place from conception to 12 weeks, and if it doesn’t happen properly can cause problems below the level of the defect (with the bladder, bowels or legs for example) and babies born with deformities in their back. All these things can often be corrected but prevention is better than cure, especially as most people don’t know they’re pregnant until 4-6 weeks. It’s never too late to start taking folic acid if you find out you’re pregnant and haven’t been taking it, but it’s better even if you think there’s an outside chance of an accident happening to be covered all the same. (NB! Women with some conditions such as epilepsy are recommended to take a higher dose of 5mg daily – check with your GP if you are unsure.)

Now we have covered my number one issue, onto the other stuff.

2. Get in shape.
To give yourself the best possible chance of pregnancy you need to be fit and healthy, which also gives you a head start on enjoying your pregnancy. If you’re overweight, think about trying to shift a few pounds as obesity makes a pregnancy higher risk and can affect your chances of getting pregnant in the first place too. Whether you stop drinking entirely is up to you, but reducing your alcohol intake to an occasional glass won’t hurt and if you smoke it goes without saying, just stop.

3. Review your medications.
Plenty of medications are fine to take in pregnancy and often we have to weigh up the pro’s of mum being happy and healthy against the possible risks to the baby, but some are not, including anti-depressants, anti-epileptics and acne treatments. Unsurprisingly there is always a lack of evidence for drug use in pregnancy as nobody tests drugs on pregnant women, so the advice will often be to stop if you can. In the case of essential drugs however like anti-epileptics, it’s often just a matter of switching to a baby friendly variety in good time before you get pregnant. Diabetics should also see their GP prior to trying to concieve.

4. Get your cervical smear.
You can’t have a smear early, (and don’t forget you’re due one every three years from the age of 25,) but you also can’t have one when you’re pregnant, or for 3 months after having a baby as the cells the test samples are different due to the hormones of pregnancy. If you’re trying and a reminder comes through, don’t delay!

5. Lastly, check you are up to date with your jabs.
Once pregnant you will be offered (correct at time of posting, Jan 2013,) a flu jab and whooping cough vaccine. However your immune system is slightly suppressed whilst pregnant and catching some diseases like rubella or measles can seriously damage an unborn baby. We’re seeing a big risk in incidence of these diseases due to the fear over MMR vaccines some years ago now. If you aren’t sure if you have been vaccinated, check with your GP and get up to date.

One last thing. You may not be ready to try for a baby yet but if it’s on the cards in the next few years you might want to re-think your contraceptive choices. Especially if you’re a little older, it pays to be able to start trying as soon as possible from when you discontinue your chosen contraceptive, so you want one that’s immediately reversible rather than taking ages for your fertility to return. The main one to watch out for is the Depo Provera contraceptive injection. This can take several months to fully leave the system before your fertility comes back and you start ovulating again, so I don’t recommend it for women thinking of having a family in the next 12-24 months, or even between babies, unless you’re happy to deal with a long wait. When coming off the pill your periods can take a few months to settle into a normal pattern but it’s not a widely recognised problem. The coil, Mirena or IUS and implant are all immediately reversible.

Do let me know if this was useful and of course, remember, reading this is no substitute for a chat with your GP – we really enjoy seeing people for chats like this – it’s our job! Now I’d love to hear if any of you have been thinking about getting ready for trying, or if you’re already a mum or pregnant, how did you prepare? (Feel free to write anonymously if you want to stay private.)

Happy weekend readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy – Try a new Exercise class

There are a few things that are traditional to January… healthy eating, trying to lose weight after Christmas excesses and most of us feel compelled to try and get fit again. Last January saw me starting BMF classes – in fact my first class was on the third of January 2012. At the time I was looking for a cost effective way of exercising that I could do outside and that I would enjoy. Pete plays football 2-3 times a week and I wanted to ditch the gym as I was never going, but I couldn’t vouch for my safety running alone at night, or my motivation to keep it up.


Image Credit

I totally got the bug and although there were times I let it slip for a week or two, or weeks when I was on holiday, I managed to attend over 60 classes last year and that’s even despite the fact I barely went in November and December. For those of you who don’t know much about it, it’s group exercise outdoors, in all weather, at parks across the UK – near cities where it’s hard to exercise outside. You don’t have to be a fitness guru to attend and it’s not at all sadistic. Instructors are all ex-military and amongst the most supportive and motivational people I have met – they really know how to make you keep going. Classes are intense but as a result they go really quickly, and the effort you make starts to pay off really fast, spurring you on further. If you would like to read more about my experience of British Military Fitness, you can click through here – it’s no-where near as scary as it sounds! And if you fancy having a go, try a free class!

This year, I have a different fitness objective. 2012 was all about getting physically fit, strong, increasing my resistance and stamina. In 2013, I’m aiming for a more holistic approach. I’m keeping up my BMF classes but I’m going to add in some Yoga classes. This is partly a need – I’ve never been particularly bendy, but the strength work at BMF means I am permanently tight. It’s about more than fitness though. Yoga is something I have dipped in and out of for years with several longer spells of regular classes. I know enough Astanga yoga now to be able to run through a short sequence by memory and I’m always left with the most incredible feeling of well being.

Last year was busy and stressful at times, I certainly didn’t get much time for reflection or quiet contemplation. In short, there wasn’t much ‘me time’. So this year I’m going to try and attend a yoga class here and there, but more frequently to practise at home – I have a brilliant DVD Jayne Middlemiss: Love Yoga (don’t be put off by Jayne Middlemiss – she just does the yoga in the background!) which has 2 workouts for different levels of experience and my goal is to work up to the harder one this year.

Now it’s over to you… have you any plans to improve your fitness or goals you want to achieve? Or will you be looking for a more holistic approach like me this year?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy – Overhaul your Skincare

January is a time for fresh starts, clean slates and good intentions. I don’t know about you but I’m always in need of a kick up the behind when it comes to skin care and I can’t think of a better time than now, when I’m feeling motivated and thinking about all the events I have coming up this year that I want my skin to be glowing for.

In a moment I’m going to share my skin care resolutions and I’d love to hear yours. As with so many of the #JanuaryJoy prompts, just writing something down makes me feel much more committed to the idea and it’s fab sharing tips and thoughts with you all.


Image of and credited to Keiko Lynn

First though, I want to update you all on something I have been doing for my skin for a while now. Back in June I wrote 2 posts on Adult Acne… One busting the myths and encouraging you all to seek treatment if you need it, instead of putting up with less than perfect skin and a second detailing the acne treatments you might be offered. At the time, my skin had been particularly troublesome. Barely a day went by that I didn’t get a new red lump under my skin and whilst they were easily coverable with make-up, who wants to have to do that everyday? The spots were also leaving areas of increased pigmentation behind and after looking back at some honeymoon photos of ours, (when I had been on treatment for spots) I realised how good my skin had been and how I had really just got used to the spots, kidding myself when I had a good few days that it wasn’t that bad. Don’t get me wrong, I was by no means acne-ridden, but I certainly fell into one of the categories of women who I was trying to target in those posts – Living with acne and not feeling like I really warranted medical treatment for it.

Fast forward 6 months and after 5-6 months of treatment, my skin is massively improved. I barely get a spot now and if I do they are much less significant. My skin tone is also so much better. All the pigmentation I was worried about has almost completely faded and apart from my desert island beauty item of blusher to brighten up my monotone skin, I’m happy to go completely barefaced any time, any where. (Here I am, doing just that.)

I’m so glad I went back to my GP (GP’s have their own GP too!) and got it sorted out. As with all my other skin care tips I wanted to remind you, if one of your resolutions this year is to sort your skin out, before forking out on expensive cosmetics and skincare, go back and read those posts and think about whether you actually need professional help. (It was interesting to note, even after writing those posts, that when I tweeted about how much my skin had improved yesterday, everyone was hoping I would reveal a miracle cosmetic product.)

Ok, so skin sorted, what am I focusing on this year when it comes to my skin?

  1. My devotion to Eve Lom is unwavering but my laziness seriously gets in the way of maintaining her regime. I’m going to try my very best not to fall into bed without taking my make up off and at the very least, keep some make-up remover wipes in my bedside to use if tiredness gets the better of me.
  2. Now I’ve turned thirty, I feel like it’s time to start thinking more seriously about anti-aging products. I’m not entirely convinced any anti-aging product actually works but I am going to endeavour to apply my eye cream at night and to moisturise my neck too.
  3. On the same note, I’m going to start the search for a super-serum to improve my skin and at the very least hydrate it better.

So let’s hear your thoughts now. What are your skin care resolutions? Did you visit your GP after reading my Adult Acne posts and have you seen a difference? Or has this post made you realise now is the time?

Here’s to your best skin ever in 2013!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS. Here are those Acne posts if you want to re-read.

#JanuaryJoy – Dry January

The health service is full of health initiatives, I should know – each new one brings a slew of patients worried about the recently highlighted health issue. There was Stop-tober (Stop Smoking) recently and this month Alcohol Concern is promoting Dry January and Cancer Reaserch is simultaneously running Dryathalon and using it as a fundraising opportunity.


Image credit

So time for a tough question. Do you ever feel like you drink too much? I definitely drink less than I used to (in the Uni years for example!) but the festivities seem like a never ending marathon of drinks and overindulgence. When the party season isn’t in full swing it’s all too easy to unwind after a busy or stressful day at work by heading straight for the fridge and pouring a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

So until 25th of January (when we’re planning a weekend away for Pete’s birthday) and with the exception of next Saturday when I have an annual Black Tie event to attend, I’m staying off the hard stuff, the bubbly stuff, the lot. I know it’s not the whole month, but it’s what will work for me and a good start.

For me this is about health. Cutting out alcohol not only cuts out the calories it contains but hopefully is going to seriously help my will power when it comes to making healthier food choices. You see, put a drink in my hand and I suddenly lose all ability to make sensible choices when it comes to food. For me, a drink goes with nibbles, olives maybe or some bar snacks. Then I’m hungry, and I go for a burger or the cream sauce pasta instead of a healthier choice. That’s before I even get to the dessert menu.

So who’s with me? I’m hoping cutting out alcohol is going to make me feel fitter and brighter. No hangover at the weekend and a healthier start to the New Year. I’d love to hear what your attitude to alcohol is – have you ever given up the booze for a short period like this or wanted to do it? Let’s raise a glass (of tonic, hold the gin,) to Dry January.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#BeYourPersonalBest [Part 3]

Last week, amidst the other swimmers in the pool, it suddenly struck me that triathlon is a real challenge. When I started this Be Your Personal Best challenge, I was pretty fit, after months of BMF classes and I was feeling pretty smug when I had my gym induction and tore up the treadmill with my usual activity of running. The cycling was harder, definitely harder, and then last week came the swimming. As I did my lengths I realised that doing all three back to back was going to be even harder. And it’s going to be even harder on my holiday!

You know what though? I think I’m getting the bug all over again. Being fit is addictive. Before this year, I never missed exercise, even when I did it regularly, now 2 or 3 days go past and I’m desperate to properly exert myself. And I’m not talking about a brief amble on the treadmill, or 10 minutes on the cross trainer, barely breaking a sweat and paying more attention to Coronation Street than what my arms and legs are doing.

Just like I said last week, trying something new has got me excited again. Whilst I can’t see myself taking up cycling (the thought of cycling on the road terrifies me and unfortunately I don’t live close enough to work for cycling there to be a viable option,) I am loving getting into swimming again and the fact that I have something to aim towards. I want to improve my front crawl (currently I swim breast stroke pretty well,) and I’m going to do what Carley did, and try and build up my ratio of crawl to breast stroke over the coming weeks. I think winter will be all about swimming for me :)

In the meantime, I have just under a week of training left for me to improve my fitness and Be My Personal Best! So this weeks question is, have you ever trained for an exercise related challenge like this? What was it and how did you train? Did you follow a plan or just keep practising? I’d love to know :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#BeYourPersonalBest challenge [Part 2]

This week, to continue my #BeYourPersonalBest challenge in association with Virgin Active, I wanted to talk about swimming. I’m a really big believer in switching up your exercise routine to get better results, and not only that, but swimming is often a form of exercise you can take on holiday with you. After all, it’s nothing but a pleasure doing a few lengths in the sun, rather than in a local pool. I’ll admit, so far I’ve been a bit slow to take advantage of the pool at my local Virgin Active, but I’m really excited to try it out today and see what my personal best is for the 400m I have to complete as part of the triathalon challenge. Eek – it’s not far off now!

First up, I’m all about the kit, and I think lots of women avoid swimming because they dont have appropriate swimwear for exercise, as opposed to poolside in the sun. I must confess, I’m a bikini lover and yet it feels more than a little bit silly heading into a lap pool wearing a two piece. I invested in a new sports swimsuit last year for exercising in and now I wish I had investigated some of the options from the more design led brands aimed at women. Here’s just a few that I would snap up if I was in the market for a new one-piece and some other finds that make swimming that bit more exciting. :)


Dynamo swimsuit and Power swimsuit (black) both from Sweaty Betty // Merlin Swim MP3 – 4GB Waterproof MP3 Player // Microfibre Sports/Travel Towel // Boots Sun Swim & Gym Shampoo for dry or damaged hair.

It’s funny, when I was a child, swimming was one of my ‘things’. You couldn’t get me out of a pool on holiday and I had swimming lessons and took part in competitions for several years until I was into my mid teens. Why do we get so lazy about it when we get older? One of my friends has recently got back into swimming competitively, has lost a ton of weight, met a whole new group of friends and is getting amazing fitness results after a lapse in her competitive swimming since being a teen. It seems to me that for women it has so many benefits, the type of exercise protects your joints, supports your body through pregnancy and post-natally, and it the kind of exercise that promotes lean muscle rather than bulking up, which some women are afraid of in the gym. For me it’s pure laziness and a constant battle with my hair that keeps me away from the pool- how lame is that? I tend to wash my hair every other day and think it is the most boring activity known to man, so if going swimming and inevitably messing up my hair doesn’t co-incide well with my hair-schedule (i.e. if I have already washed it that morning,) then it’s just another excuse.

This week, I’d like to hear if any of you reading enjoy swimming – do you go regularly, did you use it through pregnancy, or would you like to restart after doing it as a child like me? What’s your favourite stroke?! And do you have any beauty tips for keeping your hair protected from the chlorine?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Disclaimer: Rebecca has been provided with Virgin Active membership whilst completing the challenge but all subsequent posts are an honest appraisal of the service provided and the benefits she gained.