One of the easiest New Year’s resolutions

Drink more water!

You will be amazed how much better you feel if you can drink around 2 litres of water every day.

Although there’s no scientific research that I can find, which states that 2 litres is the optimum amount of fluid required daily for a healthy body, I know from own personal experience that it’s the minimum amount I need to help me feel hydrated. If I drink any less, my skin will start to look dry and my head starts to become ‘foggy’, it won’t be too long before I feel the start of a headache and in-fact I can feel quite nauseous.

I’m not surprised though, as our bodies are made up of 60% water. I think we sometimes forget the effect water has on our bodies. Water is in all our cells, organs, and tissues, helping to regulate body temperature and maintain bodily functions.

More importantly, our brains depend on adequate hydration to operate efficiently. There’s a fine balance between water and other elements within the brain. When too much water is lost, our brain loses this efficiency, it becomes harder to memorise and concentrate, and I think this is when my head begins to feel ‘foggy.’

So, your brain will really welcome that ‘first glass of water of the day’, the brain becomes dehydrated just after a nights sleep, with every single breath our bodies are losing water.   

Let’s be kind to our bodies this year, it doesn’t take too much effort to stay well hydrated. I recommend that my clients take a bottle of water wherever they go, just take a couple of ‘glugs’ every hour, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to down 2 litres over 12-14 hours of the day.  For 2018, Chloe, Naddie and I all plan to drink more water in 2018!

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Naddie x

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Chloe x

Post by Irene x.

 

What is dressing appropriately for your age?

There are so many articles in the glossies about what to wear for your age, and what  we should be wearing as we hit each milestone decade. But then come the rules – no miniskirts over 35, no long hair after 40, the list goes on.  

Irené and I believe that there should be no hard and fast rules when it comes to dressing for your age.  After all, many women in their 40’s, and even older look fabulous in miniskirts, and there are also stunning fashion icons who are well into their 80’s.

Our lifestyles are changing, there are many women choosing  now to work into their late 60’s and 70’s,  who are extremely interested in fashion and looking good.

We feel strongly that this older age group has been forgotten by the magazine industry.

Yes, we see the occasional article titled ‘What To Wear In Your 50’s’ etc. but why don’t we see women of all ages routinely showing fashion trends?

Perhaps this helps to explain why so many women struggle with the question of what is ‘age appropriate’ in fashion, when we see magazines categorising women this way… by age groups.

Although we don’t believe in ‘dressing for your age’, we do think that what is appropriate for one person can be quite different for another.  Instead of focusing on your age, dress according to your body shape and style. For example, if you are curvy with a fuller bust, a wrap dress is more likely to flatter you than a shift dress whether you are 25 or 65.  The way that the wrap dress is worn may vary according to age – a 25 year old may choose a short, lower cut version and look stunning, whereas an above knee, less cleavage option may be more flattering for the body shape of the woman in her 60’s.

Focus on good fit and what flatters you.  Very few people are completely happy with their body shape.  Although I am naturally very slim and able to wear many styles, I do have narrow shoulders and have to work to accentuate them, and often struggle with good fit.  Changes in body shape, due to aging or having children, can often bring about new insecurities.  Concentrate on the parts of your body that you are happiest with and show them off!  Accentuate a slender waist with belting tricks or jackets that nip in at waist level.  Learn to disguise your problem areas – whatever your age, there are many tricks.  

As we get older our dress sense will often change, but our sense of style should stay the same. If we had an eccentric style in our 20’s and 30’s, why should we change it as we get older?

Since having 3 children, my skirts and dresses are longer, often closer to knee length than minis, and my jeans are higher waisted.  This is by no means frumpy or a ‘mum jean’ but a reflection of my lifestyle and body shape.  Comfort is important to all of us, but you can be stylish and comfortable!

Life changes can also affect the clothes that we wear.  Breastfeeding springs to mind, that certainly brought about a few style challenges for me!  Also around the time of the menopause, physical changes may alter the styles that we gravitate towards. For example, Irene found that she was no longer comfortable wearing clothing with high necklines, and has since then opted for more relaxed cowl and Bardot styles – equally as flattering but a great example of how our clothing choices may alter with age.

Many clients struggle with shoe choices – yes, bunions can present problems for some! But really, women of all ages complain of overly wide or narrow feet.  I have also had clients who complain of finding shoe shopping difficult because their feet are slightly larger than the average size.  You may need to adjust the style of shoes that you wear according to physical constraints – but there is no need to compromise on style.  

Irené has found that Russell and Bromley and M&S both have up to date styles with a wider fitting and slight platform which are both comfortable and look fab.

Whatever your age, ensuring that clothing fits well is essential in achieving an overall stylish look.  This is equally as important for underwear!  It is amazing how many women wear the wrong size bra – regular fittings are invaluable.  The right support and uplift can change your body shape and fit of clothes.  Our body shape changes with age and so do our bra sizes.  What fitted pre-children in our 20’s is unlikely to do so in later decades!  Regular bra fittings are a quick and easy way to ensure that you are wearing the right size, which in turn enhances your waist giving a cleaner silhouette.   

Trends come and go, how much you embrace them will depend on how they fit with your style.  I love the velvet that is currently flooding the high street.  In my 20’s I may have embraced this head to toe – now in my 40’s I prefer to limit it to a jacket or a midi skirt and mix it with other fabrics.  Like me, Irené is also embracing this trend but wears a figure hugging,  knee length velvet pencil skirt.  This being a good example of wearing ‘a trend’, not according to your age but in relation to body shape.  

So, instead of focusing on age and what is or isn’t appropriate, dress according to your style and your body shape.  It’s so important to have a sense of what suits your body, personality and lifestyle – whatever your age.  

Please contact us with any comments or questions , we’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Irene and Chloe x.

It’s not too late to make your Christmas cake

I have a family who love cake and are so appreciative for anything homemade. As I scorn them for the amount they are eating, I am told,

“It’s ok Mum, it’s homemade therefore healthy, all good ingredients and no preservatives”… so it must be then!!

Perhaps that’s the reason I’m now making my third Christmas cake, not that they are in a tin waiting to be decorated…they’ve been eaten!

My first was a light coloured fruit cake, then a rich dark Creole one, my third one, and it will definitely not be cut until Boxing Day, will be my mothers Christmas cake recipe.

Mum used this recipe year after year, it’s very basic but would actually stay moist for a year if wrapped in greaseproof paper and placed in an airtight tin.

Before starting the cake I line the tin, which was my grandmother’s, with greaseproof paper, and also give the outside of the tin a jacket of double thickness brown paper, this helps prevent the sides of the cake burning as it has to bake for 3-4 hours.

PREHEAT OVEN

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1x 20 or 24cm Cake tin, the 20cm will give you a slightly deeper cake and take a little longer to cook
  • 350g Plain flour
  • 225g Butter
  • 225g Moist brown sugar
  • 700g Dried mixed fruit, I also include some chopped stem ginger and cranberries within my fruit mix
  • 1 tbsp Black treacle
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 4 Eggs
  • ½ tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp Marmalade
  • 1 wineglass of stout
  • A little milk if needed

METHOD:

  • Cream together butter and sugar
  • Gradually add beaten eggs, adding a little of the flour if eggs start to curdle
  • Add the marmalade and treacle, mixing well
  • Gradually fold in flour, baking powder and nutmeg, alternating with the stout.
  • Continue folding the mixture until evenly mixed, add a little milk if required to give the mixture a soft dropping consistency.
  • Spoon the mixture into the lined tin, resting a piece of brown paper over the top of the lining of the tin, this will help prevent the top of the cake becoming too brown, bake for 3.5 to 4hrs.
  • Leave in the tin to cool slightly before removing from the tin and onto a cooling rack.
  • When cold, wrap in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight container until you’re ready to decorate it.

A Recipe for Healthy Mince Pies

At this time of year I hear so many people using Christmas as an excuse for overeating, but then complain about their weight gain come the New Year !!

I love all the traditional foods around Christmas time, especially mince pies, but I’m very aware of how many calories they contain, and also where those calories will sit if I don’t burn them off!

I found this recipe in a magazine, but had to improvise it slightly.

The traditional pastry case is replaced with almond paste, which is rich in monounsaturated fats, which help lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, and increase ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.

The raisins and sultanas too are high in resveratrol and antioxidants, all of which are thought to  help keep a healthy heart.   

As we are using almond paste, this recipe is not suitable for anyone with a nut allergy.

You will also need a nonstick mini muffin tray, I use one from Lakeland, which is the perfect size for these mince pies, as well as some star shaped cutters.

PRE-HEAT OVEN, 180’C/160’C Fan

INGREDIENTS for the filling 

  • 100g raisins
  • 50g sultanas
  • 50g dried goji berries
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp runny honey
  • Grated zest and juice of one orange.

PASTRY

  • 250g ground almonds
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil…..I omitted this, it would have made the mixture too wet.
  • ½ a vanilla pod
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar for dusting.

 

METHOD:

  1. For the filling, combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix well
  2. Cover with cling film and leave to macerate in the fridge for 24hrs. I left mine for 5 days, and it was delicious.

For the Pastry

  1. Combine the almonds, egg, and seeds from the vanilla pod in a bowl and mix….it’s here that it’s suggested you add the oil, I didn’t as my mixture was wet enough.
  2. Work the mixture into a ball on a very lightly floured board, cover in cling film and rest the pastry for an hour in the fridge, this will make it easier to handle.
  3. Gently roll out the pastry, on a lightly floured board, it is slightly more difficult than rolling shortcrust, but don’t let that put you off making them.
  4. Cut out the rounds, gently lining the holes in the muffin tin.
  5. Fill each pastry case with some filling.
  6. Cut out the stars and place on the mincemeat.
  7. Bake for approx 12mins or until golden and crisp, if you have a fierce oven, check at around 10mins.
  8. Leave to cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack.

These mince pies are delicious, and when made as ‘mini’ have only 80 calories each…so worth the effort.

Dhal with butter and ginger recipe

I found this recipe in a magazine and loved it, although I did cut back on the amount of butter, that’s just personal choice.

Ingredients 

Enough for 12-15 people, but so easy to cut back on the amounts.

  • 400g yellow split peas (I always soak split peas overnight, some do some don’t, I think they take a little less time to cook if soaked).
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric.
  • 8-10 small green chillies, split lengthways and chop.
  • 160 unsalted butter.
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds.
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger, plus extra cut into matchsticks to garnish.
  • 4 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped.
  • 1 heaped tsp garam masala.
  • A handful of chopped coriander.

Method

  1. Wash the split peas thoroughly under cold running water. Put into a large pan and cover with plenty of cold water, add the turmeric and chillies and bring to the boil.
  2. Skim off any foam that comes to the surface, then simmer until the peas are tender 35-40 minutes, you may have to add a little more water as they simmer (I had to simmer mine for around 50 mins).
  3. Drain in a sieve and set aside.
  4. Wash out the pan and return to the heat.
  5. Add the butter, cumin and ginger, and cook gently for a minute. Then add the tomatoes and garam masala, cook for another minute.
  6. Add the split peas and cook for around 3 minutes.
  7. Season and add a little more water if the dhal is too thick.
  8. Top with ginger matchsticks and coriander

 

Breast or bottle? Isn’t it a mums choice?

Why are women made to feel so guilty when they don’t want to breastfeed their babies?

Having had a career in nursing, before becoming a fitness and performance coach, I am very aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, but also believe that women should be able to make an informed decision about bottle or breast.

I breastfed all three of my children, weaning them off the bedtime feed at around nine months old.

There was no pressure to breastfeed, encouragement yes, but we weren’t made to feel guilty or  bad mothers if we chose not to.

I’ve felt strongly about this topic for some time. Having listened to so many distraught young mothers telling me how they were not enjoying breastfeeding and wanting to stop, but afraid to tell the midwife/ health visitor or clinic how they were ‘really’ feeling.

So today I’m sharing my thoughts on this somewhat controversial subject.

There’s no shortage of articles in the big tabloids who have all shared articles on breastfeeding and continue to do so. 

One headline I came across recently in The Mail: ‘It’s MEN’S fault that women stop breastfeeding!’

They want their wives back says Jeanette Kupfermann who’s seen it first hand as an NCT teacher.

An interesting article, with many reasons why women give up breastfeeding, ranging from jealous insensitive husbands, to the pressures of returning to work.

Nowhere in the article does it say, not every mother wants to breastfeed, some mothers just DON’T LIKE IT.

Actually, Ms Kupferman does mention how Queen Victoria,who had a very active sexual relationship with Prince Albert found breastfeeding and children repellent… forget the sex, perhaps she just didn’t want to breastfeed!

I did smile as I read that ‘things do not immediately go back to normal’, physically or emotionally, after a baby is born.

The reality is, ‘things’ will never be the same, ‘things’ will be different, there’s another person in the house, who is totally reliant on the parent s, the feeling of this dependency can sometimes  feel totally overwhelming… but that’s for another day.

Then another article in The Times:

Sisters, please, stop bickering about breastfeeding,

By Deborah Ross.

I’m with Ms. Ross on this one, the bottom line being, ‘choices are choices and each to their own’

But please, NCT, midwives and health visitors, don’t make new mums feel guilty, when they make an informed decision to choose a bottle instead of the breast or when to stop breastfeeding.

Childbirth can be one of the biggest life changing experiences for the whole family, and stressful for many.

These new mothers need to feel supported not alienated.

I’d love to hear your experiences of breastfeeding.