5 Ways to Find a Little more Balance

5 Ways to Find a Little more Balance

Finding balance for me has been the pinnacle of my career change and the most important thing in becoming a yoga teacher. Until just over a year ago, I was living a pretty unhealthy lifestyle. Working all hours as an Assistant Director in TV meant that I never had time to exercise. I didn’t have time to see friends and family, I was so exhausted that I didn’t put much thought into what I ate and wellness just wasn’t a priority. After 8 years in the industry my body began to give up and I suddenly realised that things needed to change. After a bad bout of insomnia I quit my job and decided that what I needed most was to get fit and healthy again. I needed to spend time with the people I loved, I needed to do the things I loved…and I needed to find balance.

In the hectic, high-pressured working-world of today, my story is far from unusual; it seems more and more of us chose to tip the scales in favour of chasing career goals, trying to do it all, often neglecting our own health and happiness in the process. It’s easy to burn out entirely if we don’t maintain some kind of equilibrium.

I always knew yoga would make me feel healthy and exercised but I wasn’t prepared for the immense shift it would bring, towards true balance in my life. Literally; gas bills and shopping lists are the last thing on my mind when I’m negotiating a tricky pose. It’s that much needed ‘Me Time’, I can close off the incessant buzz of London and instead just listen to my body and mind, hear what it takes to nourish those things rather than strain them to breaking point.

My five tips for maintaining balance:

1. Discover that Imbalance. Write down what your perfect day would look like. Then write down what it looks like now. Work out what is missing – are you working too hard? Seeing friends and family too little? Whatever it is, recognizing what you are lacking in your life is the first step.

2. The Value of ‘You-time’. Make sure you have a little bit of time each week where you do something that makes you happy. Giving yourself time for a little bit of self love and self care is super important. So often we are trying to give our time to others we forget to give time to ourselves.

3. Just say no! We often feel obliged to say yes to everything and find that we end up doing exactly the opposite of what we actually want to be doing. Have the courage to say no and make the choice to do what YOU want to do – even if that’s sitting at home watching TV rather than go out with friends. Saying no will actually help your relationships – it allows for honesty, creates boundaries and allows you to be the person you want to be, rather that the person you think you should be.

4. Boundaries, people! Try and give yourself times to switch off and then stick to them. With modern technology we have become available to everyone at all times of the day and this can be exhausting. Perhaps telling yourself that after 6pm you won’t check work emails anymore, or switching your phone off at 9pm, or saying that Monday night is cinema night….whatever it is, make it part of your weekly routine.

5. Take a break. Make sure you have something planned to look forward to. A weekend away, a holiday, an afternoon walk…. Whatever it is, knowing that you have something coming up that will take you away from your daily routine and the stresses of life makes everything a little easier.

Yoga has been such an important part of my journey in finding balance. Yoga has helped me realise that in order to be successful, you must find balance – a balance between wanting to be the best you can be whilst also enjoying life. So many moments pass you by if you are constantly trying to achieve the next big thing. Find your balance and you will be on your way to feeling healthier and happier in no time.

Turmeric latte

Turmeric latte

Such a great winter warmer – deliciously filling, sumptuously healthy and a bit of an explosion of flavour.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond milk

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon grated turmeric

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1 teaspoon of rice syrup or sweetener of choice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon coconut oil

A pinch of pepper

Method:

Heat the milk to a simmer.  Place all other ingredients in a blender with the heated milk and whizz up until nice and frothy.  Serve with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Q & A with Bootcamp pro Brit Williams

Q & A with Bootcamp pro Brit Williams

I met Brit recently and realised straight away that she was woman I wanted to know in the fitness industry.  We immediately clicked – she is a strong and inspiring woman and I know that I will learn a lot from her determination, energy and sense of fun.

Brit and I are teaming up for our first Bootcamp and Bend special event on the 17 September.  Expect a full on, feisty 45 minute bootcamp followed by a 45 minute dynamic vinyasa flow.  Start the weekend with an energetic workout that will leave you feeling strong, balanced, revitalised and glowing!

Here Brit shares a little about herself…

When & why did health and wellness start to become a top priority for you? 

My family upbringing was pretty laidback when it came to exercise and nutrition. I was naturally active so movement was always a part of my lifestyle, but after various school sporting matches unhealthy snacks and dinners at fast food restaurants weren’t unusual. I chose to give up sport in order to work part-time and save money to go to university abroad, and that’s when I started researching more about fitness programmes I could do at home or in the gym, and how to complement exercise with balanced meals.

By the time I hit university I was hooked, and movement and wellness became as much about training my mind as it was about becoming fitter in the body. I continued to exercise regularly as I worked in various office jobs as a journalist and copywriter, but the several hours I spent sitting still left me feeling incomplete. Training for my PT qualification as a hobby alongside my day job allowed me to test the water, and it was no more than a few months of part-time work in the fitness industry that I decided to take the jump and build a full-time lifestyle based around being active and inspiring others to love exercise. So many opportunities have opened up to me since, and every day I’m grateful for the work I get to do.

How often do you personally work out, and what benefits does a regular exercise regime offer you? 

I move by body in some way at least 5 times a week. I say move my body, because life can get messy and it’s not always possible to stick to a strict regime. One week I may enjoy loads of fitness classes, while another week may be so busy I just manage to squeeze in home workouts using my TRX and kettlebells. I thrive on the variety, and this way of prioritising movement allows me to celebrate my body and what it can achieve rather than over-analysing body fat measurements and beating myself up if I miss a ‘leg day’.

Describe your unique teaching style in one sentence… 

Smart and balanced in format and personal in delivery, with every session and class designed to make you feel top of your game.

What’s your most exciting fitness career highlight to date?

Becoming a Sweaty Betty Ambassador this summer has been an amazing highlight. Another ongoing passion project is my weekly Fit Brit Collective Bootcamp; it has been so exciting watching a small idea evolve into a committed fitness family, with new people joining every week.

Who do you look to for inspiration in the fitness industry or in the business of fitness?

Jillian Michaels is such an icon to me – her programming is innovative and effective, her style is straightforward and authentic and her growth has been a result of hard work and commitment to her clients and followers. Not to mention that super strong bod!

Which exercise makes you feel strongest? 

Bodyweight pull-ups always make me feel unstoppable! I love how functional they are – every time my chin passes that bar I think about how I could pull myself to safety should I ever find myself hanging over a cliff! Now that’s functional fitness ;).

What fitness discipline pushes you most out of your comfort zone?

Yoga is the most humbling fitness discipline to me. I can lift heavy weights, jump high and run fast, but ask me to hold a headstand and a variety of factors will determine whether I’m successful on any particular day. I love the fusion of mind and body, and how empowering the breath is for strengthening the body and focusing the mind.

You grew up in Canada and have travelled around the world for work and play. How would you describe the London fitness scene compared to other countries and cities you’ve visited?  

Canadian fitness culture and sporting culture go hand in hand. Exercise is all about getting outdoors – whether it’s to run, snowboard, cycle, rollerblade or golf. There is a deep appreciation for leisure. When I visited Australia last year I found a lot of similarities, with a nationwide consciousness of movement for the sake of health and sporting goals rather than pure aesthetics. Sometimes I feel the London fitness scene can come across as a little vain – yes it’s important that you feel confident in your own skin, but I think it’s equally important that you feel proud of what your body can do. Fitness for me extends far beyond the workout – it’s a tool of empowerment that influences everything I do. I think we’re getting better and I love social campaigns like #strongnotskinny, so it will be interesting to see how it continues to evolve.

What are you most looking forward to ahead of the Bootcamp & Bend event? 

I think the event will unite a lot of bootcamp and HIIT enthusiasts who have never tried yoga, and likewise a lot of yogis who may be reluctant to try bootcamp. One of the most exciting things you can do is push yourself out of your comfort zone – so I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone feels as they come out the other side having achieved something the find challenging. I always call Fit Brit Collective a family, and working out together definitely cements that connection, so hopefully everyone who comes will leave feeling as though they’ve been part of something bigger than themselves.

Five Reasons Why…. You should eat blueberries

Five Reasons Why…. You should eat blueberries

(Image curtesy of Steph on Flickr)

I eat blueberries everyday in my breakfast and here are five reasons why…..

 

  1. Blueberries are rich in phytochemicals – in particular flavonoids which are responsible for the deep blue color of blueberries. Flavonoids are bursting with anti-inflammatory properties which help protect against numerous diseases.

 

  1. Blueberries are rich in Vitamin C – an essential nutrient that helps boost the immune system, lowers blood pressure, improves the mood and helps repair wounds.

 

  1. Blueberries are high in antioxidants – helping protect us against free radical damage that can cause cancer and helps reduces those wrinkles. Blueberries also contain high levels of folate, which helps with DNA synthesis and repair and therefore helps prevents the formation of cancerous cells.

 

  1. Blueberries help improve cognitive function – the anthocyanins in blueberries aid cognitive function by improving memory and motor coordination.

 

  1. Blueberries help protect against cardiovascular disease – our bad cholesterol (LDL) can become oxidized and damaged – a cause of various cardiovascular diseases. Blueberries lower LDL oxidation, helps lower blood pressure, and the anthocyanins reduce the risk of heart attacks.

 

Blueberries can be used in a variety of ways – in baking, puddings, breakfasts, as a snack…  More reasons to try adding them to your diet!

 

3376903418_5b4847a4b1_o

Five Reasons Why….You should add Turmeric to your diet.

Five Reasons Why….You should add Turmeric to your diet.

Photo curtesy of Carol Mitchell

 

Turmeric is an Indian spice that comes from the root of the curcuma longa, a relation of the ginger family.  Nicknamed ‘Indian Solid Gold’ for all its incredible health benefits.  Here are five reasons why you should add a little turmeric into your diet.

 

  1. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory – the curcumin in turmeric has been show to inhibit various molecules that play a role in inflammation. Inflammation has been shown to have a major role in various diseases such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic diseases – such as obesity and diabetes, pulmonary disease, arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases.

 

  1. Turmeric can help sore muscles after exercise – turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties have been shown to ease the pain of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that you may have experienced 12-24 hours post exercise.

 

  1. Turmeric improves your blood lipid profile – turmeric has been shown to lower cholesterol levels, in particular LDLs (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides. This is good news as LDLs and triglycerides increase your risk of heart disease.

 

  1. Turmeric can help with IBS – the curcumin in turmeric has been show to reduce bloating, abdominal pain, reduce bowel movements – all the nasty things that come with irritable bowel syndrome.

 

  1. Turmeric can help protect against cancer – the curcumin as well as the phytochemicals (super important nutrients for the body) in turmeric have been shown to have chemopreventive and anti-tumour properties.

 

Turmeric is such a vibrant, wonderful colour and can be added to all sorts of recipes either in powdered form or the fresh root.  Add it to smoothies, soups, curries, scrambled eggs and rice!

 

See my mango, ginger and turmeric smoothie recipe here. Enjoy!

 

Photo curtesy of Carol Mitchell

Photo curtesy of Carol Mitchell