Optimise your health and weight together at the same time.

easy ways to sleep better

Many of us are not getting enough sleep. This is a fact of life and one that too many people don’t seem to think is very important. But it is!!! Getting enough sleep is vital for a healthy life. If you want to look good, feel good, thrive at work and at play, you need to hit that golden pillow and get some heavy zzzzzzz’s. Lets take a look at 9 easy ways to get more sleep and why you need to…

No time to read? Why not download my free handy Pdf that will help you Sleep Better, Look Better and Feel Better.

Reasons We Don’t Get Enough Quality Sleep

  • Personal resistance to an Appropriate Bedtime – There are many reasons why we might be resisting going to bed when we should. We just don’t want to go to bed early… Maybe out of habit or fear of missing out…of not having a life. You might feel you have too much to do… Maybe you’re a night owl which is fine if you have the luxury of sleeping late in the morning…
  • Alcohol, Caffeine and Nicotene are all drugs with stimulant effects that can damage the quality of your sleep. Caffeine and smoking overstimulate the brain and/or body. If it’s too near bedtime this can make it hard to fall asleep. On the other hand alcohol tends to knock you out but then wake you up in the middle of the night. All 3 interrupt natural sleep rythyms and patterns which if chronic can result in ill health.
  • Eating or drinking too late at night interrupts sleep. Simply by the discomfort caused by being ‘full up’ or from digestive issues. There is some evidence to suggest that eating too late can also disturb healthy sleep patterns especially in women. Click here for more from The Sleep Doctor.
  • Inability to fall asleep at night due to stress, anxiety and mobile phone usage. Stress and anxiety are modern day curses that can have us tossing and turning all night long. Unable to get to sleep, or waking in the middle of the night, our bodies and minds unwilling or unable to shut down to allow us to rest and recharge for the night.
  • I mention mobile phones here because, whether we know it or not, they are a major cause of stress and anxiety. Click here for an excellent article all about it.
  • Absence of a relaxing  evening routine that readies you for sleep. You need to send strong signals to your brain/body that it’s sleep time now. More on this later.
  • Noisy partners or environment. This includes things like a snoring partner, noisy neighbours, traffic or city noise, noisy household appliances and also light pollution from our own lights or outside ones.
  • Ignoring your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rythym is that internal natural rhythm that tells you when its time to sleep (ie when you feel tired) and when its time to get up (ie when you feel wakeful and alert). It tends, or ideally, should coincide with night-time and daytime, dark and light. For the best sleep health you should always respect your natural circadian rhythms. Below is quoted from an excellent article from sleepfoundation.org click for the whole article.
how to sleep better

Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as your sleep/wake cycle.

A part of your hypothalamus (a portion of your brain) controls your circadian rhythm. That said, outside factors like lightness and darkness can also impact it. When it’s dark at night, your eyes send a signal to the hypothalamus that it’s time to feel tired. Your brain, in turn, sends a signal to your body to release melatonin, which makes your body tired. That’s why your circadian rhythm tends to coincide with the cycle of daytime and nighttime (and why it’s so hard for shift workers to sleep during the day and stay awake at night).

Solving the above sleep issues will get us well on the way.

But Why Should We bother?

how to improve sleep your circadian rhythm

Health Consequences of Not Getting Enough Sleep

I think not getting enough sleep is one of the most under rated of our many modern day problems.

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee!!!😉

Prioritising your sleep will pay you back many times over. Here’s some of the many issues caused by lack of quality sleep:-

use an eye mask to improve your sleep

9 Easy Ways to Get More and Better Sleep

The tips below are all taken from my own sleep routines. I take my sleep seriously.

  1. Bed at 10 Up at 6 – This may not suit everyone but for most of us this is the optimum time for bed because most people have to get up fairly early in the morning to get to work or the kids to school on time. You have to prioritise this early bedtime above all else. You may have less hours awake to do what you want but you will enjoy the hours you do have so much more with a full nights sleep to nourish you. Quality trumps Quantity.
  2. Make sure your room is dark. Your room has to be pitch black, light will seriously disturb your sleep. Use black out blinds or curtains if needed. Make sure you turn off all your appliances completely and turn your mobile to sleep mode. (or put it in another room). When travelling or if you prefer use an eye mask. This will immediately and easily black out all light to your eyes. (I find wearing these too often (as I do) can cause my eyes to get puffy. To stop this I just place the mask over my eyes rather than wear it, so it falls off during the night whilst I am sound asleep allowing my eyes to breathe and therefore no puffiness)
  3. Make sure your room is quiet. Check your bedroom and the immediate vicinity and stop all noises that are under your control from happening while you are in bed. Persuade your snoring partner to wear one of those stop snoring devices or move them to a separate bed or even room (it’s that serious). When all else fails and the noises are outwith your control (hotel rooms, airplanes etc) use ear plugs.
  4. Don’t eat or drink after your evening meal. Eat as early as possible and after that don’t eat or drink a thing. No discomfort or uncomfortable indigestion for your body to cope with and no sleep disturbing trips to the toilet in the middle of the night… It’s also great for your health in other ways…
  5. No screens 2 hours before bedtime. Make a time, mine’s is 8pm, and after that try not to look at your mobile or laptop. Apart from the stress and anxiety responses they may cause the light coming from these can confuse your brain into thinking its still daytime… plus the sheer amount of input and information going into your brain is bound to overstimulate you making it much harder to fall asleep. Try It!!!
  6. Have a quiet relaxing evening routine. The closer it gets to your bedtime, the quieter and calmer you should become. This is going to be different for each person. For me I always sit in candlelight to signal to my brain it is nighttime. Sometimes I watch a nice easy going television program (nothing too exciting or overstimulating) or maybe sit and draw or write a journal. You may want to read a book, chat quietly or go for a bath.
  7. Indulge in a Bedtime Story. If you don’t do this already you are in for a treat. Try it!!! Its so nourishing and pampering.😁 You can use audio books in their various formats (tape, cd, MP3 etc) or you can subscribe to Audible and use their app. from your phone. This is what I now do, it means I have all my books available to me all around the world. Whatever format you choose remember for a sleep story it shouldn’t be too exciting and set the sleep timer so that it turns itself off. If you have Calm app they also have sleep stories specifically designed to help people sleep.
  8. Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine and Nicotene before Bedtime. Im guessing this won’t be popular, I’m sorry, but these really do affect your sleep. Try to leave as much time as you can between engaging in any of these and going to bed.
  9. Meditate. As soon as you wake up in the morning do a 10 minute meditation. A regular meditation practice helps you cope with anxiety and stress (too big sleep thiefs.). There are lots of options for meditation. You could just close your eyes, set a 10 minute timer and concentrate on your breathing for 10 minutes, continually returning to your breathing when your mind wanders… or use the Calm app and do the daily calm everyday.
how to get more sleep, no mobile

Prioritising your sleep is easy, and more or less free. The health benefits you gain are priceless. Why not try some or all of the above and see how you get on. I’d love it if you let me know.!!!

Prioritising your sleep is easy, and more or less free. The health benefits you gain are priceless. Why not try some or all of the above and see how you get on. I’d love it if you let me know.!!!

Click button for My free handy Pdf that will help you Sleep Better, Look Better and Feel Better.

Dance is my passion so for me cardio fitness is a breeze and a blast. I’m a specialist and master teacher in Egyptian style bellydance, I’m also an international award winning bellydancer. If you fancy a free bellydance class with me click below.

I also run a fantastic group Health Coaching program where we optimise your health and weight together at the same time in a way you will LOVE. Get rid of middle age spread and bloated belly, get more energy and revive your va va Voom. Click picture for more details and to register for the next course beginning May 8th 2021.

healthy and loving it online course
click picture to go to Healthy and Loving It course information page.

I also work with a small number of clients on a one to one basis. Tailored to your requirements, taking into consideration all the little things that make you and your situation unique. We’ll collaborate together and find the perfect fit that works for you.

ubscribe below to receive my occasional blog post, Healthy and Loving It coaching programs news and Bellydance news direct to your inbox.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, suggestion, comments or questions in the comments box below.

Further Reading

Alcohol and Sleep

km

Exercising can be a struggle especially now during lockdown. The gyms are shut and it’s hard to get motivated. You keep meaning to get started but just don’t make it, or just feel too unfit and overweight to make the effort. It doesn’t have to be this way though. We can get involved in our new reality and even make it work to our advantage. Workout from home, join an online dance class, fitness session or yoga studio. The benefits of excercise on the way you feel and look are too good to miss…

Special note: most of my tips are “home based’ and so are perfect during lockdown. .

Firstly, Make it Fun

If you love it you will do it. 

It’s that simple. Find something you love. This should be especially easy for your cardio:-

If you love dancing:-

Click Link for Free Bellydance class.

love your exercise make it fun

If you love being outside, do something outside:-

  • A brisk walk, run or cycle 
  • Exercise in the garden
  • Play outdoors tennis 
  • Swim outside
  • More ideas below

If you love yoga:-

  • Join an online Zoom yoga class (I’m currently training as a yoga teacher, look out for my online classes in the future)
  • Do your own yoga practice wherever you love could be the beach, your garden, or just in your favourite room in your house.

If you love sport Do it…

Benefits of Exercise

We need Exercise so we can enjoy its many healthy benefits which include:-

  • Cardiovascular health.
  • Lung health.
  • Muscle strength.
  • Toned muscles.
  • Endurance.
  • Improves sleep.
  • Increases our energy levels.
  • Improves our mood.
  • Reduces anxiety, stress and depression.
  • Healthy glowing skin (click here to read more)


Exercise versus Movement.

What exactly do I mean by ‘exercise.’

To maintain our good health it’s widely accepted that we need to move more and sit less in general, click here for my recent blog post on this subject.

General movement will tend to be in the low to medium intensity excercise category. Please see below:-

  • Low Intensity Exercise – You can talk easily in full sentences and sing.
  • Moderate Intensity Exercise – You can talk in full sentences but not sing.
  • High Intensity Exercise – You are too breathless to talk easily. You need to take breaths between words.

Today, however, I’m talking about the more formal exercise which will normally fall into the moderate to high intensity range dependant on your current fitness levels.

There are 3 types of exercise we should be doing for all round good health:-

  • Cardio (vascular) – anything that makes you breathe harder – things like dancing, running, aerobics, cycling, Zumba, HIITS
  • Strength Training – bodyweight exercises like press-ups, pull-ups , resistance band training, weight training, Yoga, HIITS…
  • Flexibility – Yoga, stretching, Pilates. Tai Chi.
amazingly healthy life exercise at home

How Much Exercise do we Need

Common recommendations are:-

  • Cardio:- 2/3 times per week with at least 24 hours of rest before the next.
  • Strength Training – 2/3 times per week, with at least one day to rest in between.
  • Flexibility – 2/3 times per week

But if you’re just starting out put these recommendations to one side. It’s more important just to get started!!!

The first step is always the hardest!!!

Getting Started

If you’re just starting out, chances are you need to start small, really small. Set targets that are easily achievable.

If it’s more exercise than your doing now then that’s a win, if you’re achieving targets that’s also a win and great for your morale…As is tracking your progress, wether that be on paper or on your fitness watch…

Here’s what to do:-

  1. Right now this minute, make your yearly target that you will exercise on at least one day each and every week.
  2. Every week make a target for the coming week. If it’s just to exercise the one day then schedule the day, if you decide to do more then schedule that in your diary.
  3. Every morning make an exercise target for that day, no matter how small. You may decide it’s a rest day and that’s fine.

Starting Small really, really smallMy regime for starting or restarting

I’ve had to start small on many occasions when recovering from injury and multitude of other reasons.

You just don’t feel like doing it. The only thing that got me motivated was to make it so small that it took no time at all and was almost effortless then build up from there.

This works because it gets you to take that all important first step:-

Cardio – Start with 1 minute of your favourite cardio exercise. (add 1 minute the next time you do it and then another the next time and so on until you reach your desired amount, 30 minutes is a good target)

Strength Training – I would start with good old fashioned body weight training. Just do 1 rep.(repetition) of each exercise. so 1 squat, 1 lunge on each leg, 1 press-up against the wall. These 3 exercises are a good start. On your next strength training day do 2 reps. and keep adding on 1 rep. at a time until reaching the desired amount. Once you’ve reached 5 reps. that’s 1 set. (5 reps= 1 set) 5 sets of 5 reps is a good target to aim for.

There are loads of online videos to show you correct form for these exercises if you need that. My favourite strength training site is www.nerdfitness.com.

Flexibility – Fitting in some stretches after your cardio and strength training sessions will be enough. Again there are loads of online videos from experts to help you out if you’re not sure how to stretch.

Make it Easy

It seems pretty obvious to say that if you make it easy to do you are more likely to do it. So how can we make it easy:-

Doing something fun that you love (as above) will also Make it Easy.

bodyweight training at home

Use your own spaces to workout.

If you work out in your own home or garden you save time and money…You also don’t need to find that double motivation to get off the couch get yourself ready and go out to get fit.

Use your own garden to workout in. This could be

  • Walking briskly or running circuits around it.
  • Do your body weight training out there.
  • Get some TRX training equipment, find or install a bar to anchor it to or use a strong branch from a tree.
  • Do your HIIT sessions out there. HIITS are fast and super efficient (click here to read more)
  • Yoga in the garden.
  • Dance in the garden.
  • Zumba
  • Possibly you can play sports out there.

Use your own home:-

  • Body weight training.
  • Home gym, free weights, a pull up bar.
  • HIITS.
  • Yoga.
  • Dance.
  • Zumba.

Doubling up

If you’re short on time, which most of us are, doubling up on our self care and health goals is golden and can really help make exercising easier.

Here’s some examples of double ups:-

  • Strength training plus cardio – HIITS tick the strength training plus cardio boxes. you only need to do 2/3 times per week and they should never last longer than 30 minutes per session. Find a local class or do it in the house or your own garden, there are literally millions of free online classes you can follow. (click here to read more about HIITS)
  • Strength training plus flexibility (plus cardio) – Yoga ticks the strength training and flexibility boxes (ashtanga yoga and similiar can also tick the cardio box)
  • Move more plus exercise – Since we have to sit less and move more anyway we may as well double this up to include exercise. So for example plan a gentle, enjoyable nature walk to include some harder terrain which will take us into moderate/high intensity exercise. This could mean including some up hill or cross country or you could just run or walk faster for a duration of the overall walk.
  • Exercise plus outside in nature – The health benefits of being outside in nature are widely acknowledged (click here for my recent blog post on this subject ). There are a number of ways which have already been mentioned where we can combine our exercise with being outside in nature, even if it’s just in our own garden.
  • Exercise plus relaxation – Some exercise, Yoga being the most obvious one contains elements that are deeply relaxing. You could try and fit in a short meditation to end every exercise session. Its a nice way to finish. Anything from 1-10 minutes with some relaxation meditation music would hit the spot. (click here to read my recent blog post on meditation)
  • Exercise plus Play – Bringing more playtime into our grown up lives is becoming more popular mainly because of its emotional health benefits. PLAY MAKES YOU HAPPY. Exercise and play can go easily together. Many of the suggestions already listed would be considered grown up playtime. Click here to read my recent blog post all about grownup playtime for more suggestions

In a nutshell

Exercise can be made easy by making it a fun part of your life. It can be simple and inexpensive to fit in if we use our imagination and our own resources. Just take that first small step and away you go…

Further Reading

Amazingly Healthy Habits


Dance is my passion so for me cardio fitness is a breeze and a blast. I’m a specialist and master teacher in Egyptian style bellydance, I’m also an international award winning bellydancer. If you fancy a free bellydance class with me click below.

I also run a fantastic group Health Coaching program where we optimise your health and weight together at the same time in a way you will LOVE. Get rid of middle age spread and bloated belly, get more energy and revive your va va Voom. Click picture for more details and to register for the next course beginning May 8th 2021.

healthy and loving it online course
click picture to go to Healthy and Loving It course information page.

I also work with a small number of clients on a one to one basis. Tailored to your requirements, taking into consideration all the little things that make you and your situation unique. We’ll collaborate together and find the perfect fit that works for you.

I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, suggestions and questions in the comments section below.

Subscribe below to receive my occasional blog post, Healthy and Loving It coaching programs news and Bellydance news direct to your inbox.

amazingly healthy life snorkelling
Snorkelling in the Blue Lagoon, The Yasawas, Fiji.

When we were children life was all about playing, having fun and enjoying ourselves…and I’ve got something to tell you that might be a revelation…IT STILL IS. Do you really think your whole life should be about taking everything, including life, so seriously??? Yes, of course, sometimes we have to put our serious and sensible heads on but NOT ALL THE TIME. Lighten up, loosen that top button and let’s take a look at Playtime for Grownups, how we can play and why we should.

Special Note:- I wrote this blog post a few weeks prior to the current coronavirus emergency. While I realise that ‘Being playful’ might be the furthest thing from your mind right now, it’s actually now more important than ever. Maybe you are sitting in your home ill with the virus (as I currently am) or you’re just terrified by the whole situation and you may not feel like you will ever ‘play’ again but you will… We’re going to get over this.

A playful heart is a wonderful thing, I’m convinced it’s helping me get through….

Obviously some of my suggestions for play will have to wait until after the lockdown but there are still plenty of things you can do. They might even help you survive this thing.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” (George Bernard Shaw)

Its about a 4 minute read, here’s a brief outline:-

  • What is Play.
  • Why We Should Play.
  • Ideas for Play.

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What is Play?

There are many meanings for the word play, such as when involved in a game or a sport or when an actor ‘plays’ a part or is in a ‘play’. The one I’m most interested in today is the following:-

Engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.

Oxford Dictionary

Of course the above definition doesn’t exclude playing sports, games and acting especially ‘play’ acting for fun but many of these are also serious competitive careers so let’s just keep the above definition in our mind.

For me Playtime is simply part of Self Care and Self Love.

It is extremely beneficial for our overall health and wellness alongside our existing self care activities:- healthy eating, relaxation, movement and excercise.

Play can be the following and more:-

  • Just Goofing around.
  • Rough and tumble.
  • Creative arts -drawing, painting, sculpture…
  • Board games.
  • Games.
  • Sports.
  • Dancing like nobody’s watching.
  • Playing a musical instrument for fun.
  • Daydreaming.
  • Indulging and enjoying a playful state of mind so being frivolous, cheeky, flirtatious, curious, grateful…

I have a bee in my bonnet about the lack of support we were given when young for things like sports, art and music. If we didn’t show potential for professional greatness, we were discouraged, or at least certainly not encouraged to do it.

art for fun
A self portrait. I enjoyed drawing it and that’s all that matters.

We should do these things just for the sheer joy they give us!!!

Dr Stuart Brown founder of The National Institute for Play and a specialist researcher on the benefits of Play identifies 5 main types of play as following:-

  • Rough and tumble play – Tug-of-war, tag, play fighting…
  • Ritual play – Chess, board games, sports with set rules…
  • Imaginative play –  Storytelling, painting, drawing, colouring, crafting, play acting, dress up, comedy and improv. classes…
  • Body play – Yoga, Pilates, hiking, whitewater rafting, riding roller coasters, mountain climbing, surfing, and snorkeling…
  • Object play – Lego, Jenga, building things like sandcastles, dens, Wendy houses, and snowball fights…

Why We Should Play.

Play is crucial for childrens’ development and is extremely beneficial for adults continued development, wellbeing and happiness.

Research on the benefits of grownup playtime is limited but has shown that playful adults:-

were more likely to be good at observing, see things from new perspectives, be more innovative and have lower stress levels.

https://neurosciencenews.com/stress-playful-people-5918/

At some point between childhood and adulthood we stop playing. But the stresses and strains of adulthood is exactly the time when we really need the relief that play can give us.

Do we forget how to play or are we just embarrassed to be playful for fear of looking childish?

I fear the latter may be the case although for me I’m heading in the opposite direction…What’s wrong with being childish?

…Children are great, they have great attitudes towards things. They have beginners mind so are curious and open to learn. They don’t think they know it all. They are delighted and enraptured and awestruck, they are joyful, and always laughing… I Rest my case.

playful performance shona hagan amazingly healthy life
a playful performance, sharing the joy with the audience

Laughter is the best medicine.

Did you know that there is a UN Statute defending childrens right to play, We need one of those for adults too.

Why we should play in a nutshell:-

  • It’s fun
  • Keeps You Young :- We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” (George Bernard Shaw)
  • Relieves stress – play releases endorphins, our natural feel good chemicals that relieve stress.
  • Self worth and confidence.
  • It gives us that wonderful freedom we enjoyed as a child
  • Self expression – develop new ideas for creating or about ourselves
  • We can enjoy experimenting without fear of failure, reprisal or criticism.
  • Our sense of self (to know and understand ourselves better).
  • We can let our imaginations run wild.
  • Emotional wellbeing – helps with depression. It’s down to those endorphins again. Also the social interaction of playing with others helps.
  • Improves brain function – games like chess, puzzle solving and memory games help this.
  • Sharpens your problem solving skills. Many play activities involve problem solving.
  • Helps develop and enhance social skills – Through social interaction and team building during play. Also just improved mood and self confidence makes you a more sociable creature to be around.
  • Improves your career prospects. A happy worker is a productive worker.

If I had to sum up what play means to me I would use 2 words

Fun Freedom!

grownup playtime on a rollercoaster
me and the hubby on a roller coaster ride

Ideas for Play

A little bit of play goes a long way, We don’t need to be constantly playing to reap the benefits. Even if you can only manage 5-10 minutes per day it’s a start. Taking the first step is always the hardest.

Even better, if you can develop and nurture a playful frame of mind. You can take it with you everywhere and always…

Ideas for Playing:-

  • Do anything that makes you laugh out loud and/or happy.
  • Be with anyone who makes you laugh out loud and/or happy.
  • Go anywhere that makes you laugh out loud and/or happy.
  • Think hard about what you loved to play as a child and do it.
  • Creative arts just for fun. paint, draw, colour, paper mâché, make a puppet, make candles…
  • Learn to play a musical instrument.
  • Dancing, classes or just put on your favourite music and dance. (one of my students (Hi Ellen 👋) once said that my bellydance classes were like kindergarten for adults. 😂
  • Act goofy with your family, friends and even your pets or just by having conversations with yourself.
  • Play with your children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces.
  • Play sports like tennis, crazy golf etc but remember its all about the taking part not the winning 😁.
  • Build sandcastles on the beach.
  • Fly a kite.
  • Blow bubbles.
  • Climb trees or play on a climbing frame (be careful).
  • Get your partner or friend and play hide and seek.
  • Just grab your friends hand and run as fast as you can. (this will probably end up in you collapsing in giggles.)
  • In the summer play rolly polly down a hill.
  • Go down the beach and jump over the breaking waves like you used to when you were little. Feel your bare feet connecting with Mother Earth.
  • Get your wellies on and go paddle in th stream or jump in the puddles during a rain shower.
  • Go out in your garden whilst its raining in your bikini and just dance around. (naked even if you can get away with it🤣)
  • Make a Daisy chain and wear it on your head.
  • In the summer start a water fight in the garden with your partner, kids or friends.
  • Get a friend and do a dressing up photo shoot. Strike lots of ridiculous funny poses and photograph them. Share them on Instagram if you dare!!!
  • Play harmless pranks on people you love.
  • Flirt outrageously.
  • Wear bold clothes that make YOU happy.
  • Go to a theme park and ride the roller coasters.
  • Always be awestruck by all things nature, the forest, the woods, rainbows, the beach, sunsets, sunrise, the moon, the stars and go out of your way to see them regularly.
  • Take a nature walk and put sticky willows on your partners bum in secret.
  • Take a nature walk and moo back at the cows or baaaa back at the sheep.
  • Hold your friend or grown up Childs hand and start skipping down the street with them.
  • Play ropes.
  • Have a game of hide and seek.
  • Sing out and loud especially if you can’t really sing.
  • Build a snowman.
  • Go sledging.
  • Have a snowball fight.
  • Get a pet and have fun playing with it.

I was giggling and itching at the bit to do them just writing some of these. 🤣 Of course this is just some ideas there is so much more you can do. Some of these will make you giggle until your tummy hurts some will simply fill your heart with joy.

If you’d like a PDF copy of these Ideas for Play to download or print click the button below.


How I can Help You.

Work with me on a tailored for you 1-1 basis.

Perhaps you prefer the companionship and camaraderie of a group. Find out about my group health coaching program by clicking the picture below.

healthy and loving it online course
click picture to go to Healthy and Loving It course information page.

Bellydance is my passion and an amazing way to keep fit and healthy in body,, mind and spirit. Click below to find out more about my Zoom bellydance classes and maybe try them out. First Class is free.

Subscribe below to receive news of my group coaching programs, Zoom bellydance classes and occasional blog posts direct to your inbox.

Further Reading

Amazingly Healthy Habits

As the New Year begins (Let’s hope it’s a good one) and the excesses of the holiday season fade into the distance it’s the time of year that we start thinking about getting healthy. We tend to concentrate a lot on what we will eat but what we drink is important too. I thought a few healthy drinks suggestions would be useful so I’ve gathered together a collection of Healthy Drinks You Will Love.

Reasons Why You Need Healthy Drinks Alternatives

We talk a lot about what we should eat to stay healthy and to help us stay slim but what we are drinking counts too.

For me this post on this particular week is doubly meaningful because on Monday January 5th I celebrated two years…104 weeks…720 days without alcohol!!! It’s my Soberversary!!! A fact I can hardly believe myself, but it’s true. Cheers🥳 (read more about my thoughts on life without alcohol here.)

I can’t say it’s been hard because really it hasn’t, it’s been a doddle. You might expect me to talk in detail about how I struggled without alcohol at parties and social occasions, but for the most part that’s not true. In actual fact I’ve been loving my life without it.

What has helped alot though, especially in the early days while I was still getting used to the idea, was the replacement drinks I chose. I hate fizzy sweet drinks, well, all sweet drinks actually.

I replaced my alcoholic drinks with grown up drinks drinks that made me feel specialdrinks that felt special to drink drinks that looked special, that added a bit of theatre to the occasion.

Of course healthy drinking isn’t just about excellent replacements for alcohol. I gave up tea and coffee many moons ago so I have a fair few alternatives for this type of drink up my sleeve too.

And as I said I hate sweet drinks so I have several drinks that I drink when others would choose a sweet, soft drink.

There are many reasons to be looking for healthy drinks alternatives. Here’s a few:-

  • Avoiding or cutting down on sugar laden drinks.
  • Avoiding too much caffeine.
  • Finding alternatives to alcohol for the drivers.
  • Finding alternatives to alcohol for those on a break from alcohol or those who want to quit altogether.
  • If you just want to cut down on your coffee or tea or give it up altogether
  • if youre trying to avoid dairy or if you’re lactose intolerant.

What follows now are my suggestions for healthy drinks alternatives. Most of these are my personal favourites and I wholeheartedly recommend them.

The Ultimate Way to Drink Water

We need water to live but it can be a bit boring right? A nice glass of chilled sparkling water with a slice of lemon and/or lime can really hit the spot when out and about but you don’t really want to be having your full recommended daily water intake with gas included!!! It’s a good idea to find a still water drink that you like to help you reach your recommended daily water intake of 6-8 glasses per day.

The Ultimate Way to Drink Water – Not only does it taste great but your adding extra nutrients too. I give you;-

Fruit Infused water

  • Get a Mason Jar
  • Add one lemon sliced and/or
  • One lime sliced
  • Fresh Mint (a large handful)
  • Add Water to the top of the jar
  • Chill and infuse over night, wake up and start sipping as soon as you wake up and for the rest of the day. Honestly delcious!

As an alternative to lemon, lime and mint try:

  • Orange slices and cardomam
  • Berries and basil
  • Lemon and rosemary
  • Cucumber and mint or dill
  • Anything you fancy

To Replace the Alcohol

What I’ve discovered over the last 2 alcohol free years is that alot of it is just about theatre when it comes to our drinks. We want something pretty to look at , something that looks special so that we can treat ourselves after a hard day, or that feels like it goes with that amazing meal we’ve just cooked. I’ve come up with some wine replacements and mocktails that do just that, here are a few of my favourites.

healthy drinks you will love
freixenet zero alcohol cava

Bubbly
Friexenet Alcohol Free Cava – as an ex wine drinker and cava lover I can honestly say that this is great. It’s not sweet, it tastes like cava without the poisonous aftertaste, it’s fairly inexpensive (currently £4.50 from Tesco or Morrisons), it looks the part and it comes guilt and hangover free. You can buy it in Rose or White, both are lovely. I serve mine with a frozen organic raspberry at the bottom of my glass and the best thing is… you can even drink it for breakfast!!!

Hibiscus TeaRed Wine
I first came across Hibiscus in Phuket, Thailand. It was in a fantastic little cafe that served organic food and amazing, raw desserts. After ordering a set meal of soup , curry and salad it came with a drink on the side called Rosella, which I found out later was in fact cold hibiscus tea. The drink was served with a jug of syrup to sweeten it. When I tasted it, it was very bitter, but what I found is that if I drank it after I ate some food it was really good at cleaning the palate and the bitterness was not an issue. It tastes good too a bit like unsweetened cranberry juice.

healthy drinks you will love
hibiscus tea

For me it has several similiarities to red wine. As you can see from the above picture which is in fact hibiscus tea not red wine, it looks exactly like it. This really helps with the theatre at the table. It looks the part and feels very familiar. It also washes down and cuts through the food in the same way as red wine does.

You may have to work to like it (in much the same way as you probably worked to like red wine) but it is worth it.

Hibiscus has some truly amazing health benefits. It is full of anti-oxidants and is particularly renowned for lowering the blood pressure Personally, I already have quite low blood pressure so I make sure not to drink too much of it. I stick to just one large glass per day with my evening meal. Click Here to read an excellent article which outlines the many benefits of drinking hibiscus tea.

Hibiscus Tea – How to Make It:-

  • I use a glass teapot with an infuser section
  • Fill the infuser section half full with hibiscus flowers
  • Add boiling water to fill the teapot
  • Leave to cool and refrigerate overnight
  • You can bottle this, it will keep for a few days

Notes -Apparently you can use the flowers a few times although I don’t, I use a fresh batch every time. I like it strong.

It’s important that you buy quality tea. Not teabags with hibiscus dust mixed with god knows what. You can buy organic, whole dried hibiscus flowers. If you have no local supplier you can buy them on Amazon.

Please note:- I have no affiliate links with any company whatsover. I’m genuinely recommending where I buy them from myself to help you out in sourcing the best ones.

Mines a ‘Gin and Tonic

lemons
healthy drinks alternatives

Sometimes I have a healthy ‘gin’ and tonic or should I say seedlip and fevertree light. I’ve noticed these are becoming pretty mainstream but thought I’d mention them here for those who haven’t come across them yet.

Seedlip is an alcohol free ‘gin’ which comes in three varieties = grove, garden and spice. Each of these have different botanicals and flavours, there are no calories in them and the ingredient list seems relatively harmless.


Fevertree light offers many different varieties of tonic water (and a mean ginger ale). The great thing about them is that they don’t use unhealthy artificial sweeteners neither are they laden with sugar. Instead they have a little sugar in them which makes them taste much better, and of course they are much better for your health and your waistline. Just be careful though you have to pick the fevertree light options as they also do full sugar versions too.

Seedlip and Fevertree light are widely available at most supermarkets in the UK.

mocktails
skinny virgin mojito
healthy drinks suggestions

Mocktails
Of course there’s loads and loads of mocktails you can make with various fresh fruits, juices and herbs. My favourite is a skinny virgin mojito.

Skinny Virgin Mojito

  • Juice of 1 fresh lime.
  • Raw honey to taste (suggest half teaspoon).
  • Handful of mint. Crush it in a tall glass along with the lime and honey.
  • Add ice to three quarters up the glass.
  • Fill remainder with fevertree light or sparkling water.
  • Decorate top with a sprig of mint and a slice of lime

Make Your Drinks interesting and colourful

Use natural colours and flavours to make them exciting, that’s fairly easy when using natural products like fruits and herbs.

You can also use Butterfly peas flowers (another Thai discovery) to colour other wise boring drinks. They turn drinks various shades of blue or purple/pink when mixed with citrus. You can buy these dried flowers from Amazon, they last forever since you only need a few to colour your drinks.

butterfly pea flower 
make healthy drinks

To Replace Coffee or Tea


Of course there is nothing wrong with drinking tea and coffee in moderation but here’s some healthy alternatives in case you want to cut down or just for a change.

Coconut MilkMy homemade Recipe

  • Dried coconut (unsweetened chips or dessicated)
  • Water
  • Vanilla, a few drops to taste (fresh,essence, paste…)

Put all ingredients in your blender (high speed works best) at the highest setting and blitz until your milk starts to get warm. Squeeze milk through a nut milk bag into a large jug and that’s it made. Transfer into a sealable glass bottle and store in the fridge. It should keep fresh for around 3 days but will probably be gone by then.

Some more tips:-

  • Drink it warmed but don’t overheat it, it tastes better and will preserve all nutrients.
  • You can add spices like cinamon and dried ginger.
  • If you really want to you can sweeten with a little raw honey or coconut sugar. Personlly I find it sweet enough.

You can also make the very popular Golden Turmeric Latte.

Golden Latte
Contains turmeric, a much revered superfood. Click here for my recipe from a recent blog post of mine which was all about the health and beauty benefits of coconut.

Cocoa
We all know how to make this. The trick is don’t buy sugary hot chocolate powder buy actual cocoa powder and skip adding sugar. I make it just with boiling water and just drink it straight or add a little of my homemade coconut milk. There are a few good brands, I always use Green and Blacks Organic Cocoa.

Espresso
If you enjoy a coffee espresso shot you will probably enjoy a chocolate one even more. Here’s how:-

  • Around 25g (about one quarter of one of the blocks) of Willies 100% Cacao (available at Waitrose)
  • An espresso shot cup of water
  • Put both in a pot and heat until chocolate is melted and mixed into the water.
  • Pour into an espresso shot cup and drink.

Genmaicha – Japanese brown rice tea,
A personal favourite and again I discoverd this in Asia, this time Penang, Malaysia. If you like the burnt sticky rice at the bottom of your rice cooking pot you’ll love this. If not try it anyway, it’s funky and really grows on you.

You can drink it hot or cold to suit yourself. It’s basically green tea mixed with popped brown rice. Click here to find out more about it in wikipedia.

To make it you steep in boiled water for a few minutes to taste. You can buy good quality Genmaicha from Amazon. Yamamotoyama brand is the only one I’ve tried and very good. I’ve generally bought mine on my travels in Asia and it lasts forever. You could also try your local chinese supermarket or Japanese restaurant.

Pukka Organic herbal teas

There is a huge variety and all are good according to your own personal taste. My favourites are three ginger and wild apple and cinamon. Pukka is a good solid company with high food and environmental standards.

You can buy it online or at your local supermarket.

To Replace the Sugary Drinks


Drinking our calories is really bad news. Especially when the calories are coming from the sugar. If you’re addicted to sugary, sweet drinks I definately advise you to wean yourself off this habit as a matter of urgency. Drinking sugar is a major cause of obesity and it’s related health issues. Not to mention the damage drinking sugar is doing to your teeth. Below are a few suggestions for healthy replacements:-

Fruit Infused Water
As described above. This is my number one recommendation. It doesn’t get any better.

Fevertree Lights
An excellent brand of soft drinks with the light variety being very low in sugar rather than full of chemical artificial sweeteners. A staple in my drinks cabinet. As a soft drink replacement I would choose Ginger Ale Light or you could try mixing the following delicious drink.

Grapefruit Fizz

  • Half fill a tall glass with ice
  • Squeeze in juice of half a grapefruit
  • Fill glass with fevertree aromatic light.
  • Decorate top with a stick of rosemary or a stick of lemon grass
healthy drinks you will love
coconut water

Coconut Water
Fresh out of the coconut is premium… but the chances are you don’t live in an area that has these readily available. If you live in the UK Marks and Spencer do a coconut water fresh in the coconut. Pricey but nice if you can afford it or for a treat.

You can also buy from a carton. To be honest it’s not something I do alot as it is processed but I will occasionally have one of these. Check the carton, you’re looking for ‘not made from concentrate’ and you also don’t want added sugar or chemicals. Here’s an excellent article on the best coconut waters if you are interested in learning more.

Kombucha
I have to fess up here and say I still haven’t made my own kombucha. I guess that means I don’t need it in my life… I have to mention it here though as Kombucha has many heathy benefits and apparently tastes awesome and so is an excellent healthy drink. I really must get around to making it. Here’s an excellent article on why.

Important Note:

Please don’t replace your sugary soft drinks with the diet versions. These are proven to be extremely unhealthy and do not help keep you slim. Below is an clip from my earlier blog post ‘Let Food Be Thy Medicine’ click here to read the whole post.

Soft drinks were also under fire this month, September 2019, when the public were urged to drink water instead. A massive scientific study has found a higher risk of early death linked with both sugary and artificially sweetened soft drinks. The sugary ones most linked with digestive issues (like liver disease) and the artificially sweetened ones with cardiovascular disease. Read a balanced article about if here by The GUARDIAN

So there you have my Healthy Drinks You Will Love suggestions. I hope you try them out and love them.


I’m currently building a coaching designed to help with quitting alcohol without replacing it with sugar. I’ll be working 1-1 and with very small groups. If this sounds like something you might be interested in I’m collecting research in the form of a very short survey. If you’d like to help me with this please click the Sober and Loving It button below.


My next Healthy and Loving It Coaching Program starts January 9th 2021. Lose the middle age spread and bloated belly effortlessly and revive your Va Va Voom. We work on optimising your health and weight together at the same time with my Unique system for Amazing Health. Click link below for all the information.

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click picture to go to Healthy and Loving It course information page.

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Further Reading

The Wine Witch, Wine o’clock and Pink Fluffy Clouds. When You Stop Drinking Wine!!!

is sugar bad for me

Is Sugar Bad For You? Is sugar Like a Drug? Do they put Sugar in Cigarettes?

Yes! Yes! Yes! and more…Read on…

There are loads of detailed, measured articles out there about how sugar can destroy your health but I’m in the mood for a bit of a rant😠. It’s how I feel about the whole subject. It’ll take around 2.5 minutes to read it. Here’s a brief outline:-

  • Sugar is Not a Food Group
  • The ACTUAL 5 Food Groups
  • The White Death
  • Sugar as a Drug
  • Smoke Anyone???
is sugar unhealthy

Sugar is NOT A Food Group

I came across a post on social media not along ago having a pop at people for avoiding whole food groups. I agreed with the core message of the post. Avoiding food groups completely isn’t the best idea.

But…

…then I looked closer.

They had included sugar as a food group. WTF Erm…SUGAR IS NOT A FOOD GROUP.

For Your Information...

The ACTUAL 5 Food Groups

  • Fruit and Vegetables
  • Proteins (e.g. fish, eggs ,meat, nuts, seeds, legumes)
  • Carbohydrates (e.g. grains, bread, oats , starchy veg.)
  • Dairy (milk, cheese, butter)
  • Fats and oils

Sugar, the white stuff, it’s not even a real food!!! it’s a mass produced, processed product made for massive profit and, unfortunately for us, mass human consumption.

sugar is not a food group

The White Death

I’ve heard it called ‘The White Death’… It’s dramatic, I know, and I normally err on the side of reason but in this case, I have to agree IT…

…and when I say IT I mean the white processed stuff and all of it’s offshoots(1) NOT natural sugars contained in their natural containers…

…is the root of most of our health problems.

Perhaps the social media post was written by some sugar lobbyist keen to keep the profits rolling in. But it could equally be just your average Josephine, making herself feel better for her own consumption. Keen to justify and protect her precious sugar and her addiction to it from the constant attacks it receives.

And it’s true, sugar really is under fire from all angles. It’s easy to understand why people are defensive nowadays. Everything seems to come under fire from somewhere or someone even the things we thought were healthy or were last weeks darling superfoods.

It can all be very confusing but don’t let this mask the actual facts, don’t let it be an excuse for you to ignore all warnings.

Sometimes the attack, the criticisms, the warnings, are for real.  In the case of sugar…and I’m really sorry… but the case is undeniable!!!

IT’S BAD FOR YOU FULL STOP

A DISASTER for your health

Makes You Fat,

Bad for your Teeth.

A disaster for your looks.

But you already knew that…

At what point in your life did you ever think or believe that sugar wasn’t bad for you. You’ve always known it.

Of course it’s bad for you!!! Have you noticed how addicted you are to it. How you crave it. Nothing with that much pull over you can possibly be good news for you.

is sugar like a drug

IT’S LIKE A DRUG !!!

Apparently, sugar hits all the same buttons as drugs like cocaine. Giving us that feel good high. The idea of sugar as one of if not THE most dangerous drugs in our society is really gaining traction. Click here for a short but concise Healthline article.

There are those who argue that sugar can’t be like a drug because it’s a food and our bodies need food to survive unlike drugs.

But…

That white processed substance IS NOT A FOOD.

We don’t need it, it has no nutrition at all. As my old food and nutrition teacher Mrs Bell was fond of telling us

ITS AN EMPTY CALORIE.

No nutrition zero, zilch, nada!

is there sugar in cigarettes

Smoke Anyone?

Did you know that they add sugar to cigarettes to make them easier to inhale , more ‘appealing’??? It also makes them EVEN more toxic and EVEN more addictive.

I MEAN PLEEEEEAAAASSSSSEEEEE…WTAF

Below is a quote from an article by the American Association for Cancer Research:-

Sugars are commonly added to American-blended cigarettes, and the presence of sugars in cigarettes increases the appeal, toxicity, and addictive potential of smoking

Click here to read the full article, it’s short and concise. https://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/27/3/357.1

Who knows what that means to Diabetics…I believe there is ongoing research.

Scientists are also researching the link between the sugar in the cigarettes and Cancers…

Look!

I’m not saying you need to cut every grain of sugar out of your life, not at all. I’m just saying we need to be aware of its true nature and act accordingly. For a start, let’s at least know when we are eating it, there’s so much of it hidden in surprising places like savoury meats, and pre cooked foods (and cigarettes😌.

I am most definitely not saying that we should stop eating natural sugar containing foods like fruit out of our diets. Quite the reverse, these and the sugar within them are essential to our wellness.

Notes

(1) Anything ending in “ose is basically processed sugar or worse. Like sucrose, dextrose…


Healthy and Loving It

Quitting sugar is one of the main features of Heathy and Loving It, my group coaching program. The next one is about to start on January 9th 2021 with a closing date of 7th January for registration. Get help quitting sugar, lose middle age spread, banish bloated belly and so much more. For further info. on this click the picture below.

healthy and loving it online course
click picture to go to Healthy and Loving It course information page.

Zoom Egyptian Bellydance Classes. Click below to find out more and sign up. First class free.


Further Reading

Reset Your Tastebuds and Ditch the Processed Food

Because You Deserve It, Marketing Bad Habits

Let Food be Thy Medicine


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how do I eat healthy

How to eat healthy isn’t complicated it really is quite simple. There’s so much clutter out there so let’s cut through all the noise and just get down to the basics. What follows are 3 simple rules that, if you follow them say 85% of the time, will put you well and truly on the road to eating healthy and amazing health.

Quit Processed Food

If I had to choose the most important of the 3 rules this would win hands down. In fact doing just this one rule will make you one million times healthier. The other 2 are just the icing on the cake.

It’s much easier to tell you what is not processed food than give you a long list of all the processed foods of the world.

Everything that’s not a whole food in its purest natural form is processed food…

…But

Think of Processed food as on a spectrum from unprocessed whole foods to lightly processed all the way through to medium processed which we can tolerate in small doses and ultra processed  “junk’ foods, chemically laden, sugar laden, salt laden and full of bad fats which we should aim never to eat.

processed food spectrum

Eat always from the top 2 green boxes, sometimes from the amber box and never from the red box, and you’ll be eating healthy.

85% Green is a good target.

Why?

  • Processed foods are addictive
  • They are crammed full of all the things that have been scientifically proven to cause illness, obesity and higher risk of early death. Sugar, the bad fats, too much salt, chemicals to preserve them, colour them, flavour them and to add texture.
  • They are very low if not devoid of nutrition. We need nutrition to keep us healthy and ALIVE.
  • It tastes disgusting, nothing can beat the flavours of real foods.
  • Bad for the Environment
  • You will just feel much better on a regular day to day basis. This on top of the fact that you will be protecting yourself from the epidemic of lifestyle disease plaguing our society

For much more insight into the problems with processed food read my blog post ‘Reset Your Tastebuds, Ditch the Processed Food.

How?

  • Use the Processed Food Spectrum as a guide. Eat mostly from the green boxes.
  • Use Your common sense.
  • Check labels.

As a general rule of thumb the less ingredients there are the less processed it is and if you can’t pronounce it you probably shouldn’t eat it😂. But remember the 85% rule. You don’t have to be perfect😁

quit sugar quit processed food

Eat More Raw

When I say raw I mean raw produce, or to be specific fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Yes, of course you can cook your veg. and still be healthy but eating much more of your produce raw just makes you feel and look amazing and for that reason alone it’s worth doing.

Everyone can benefit from eating more raw. There are some essential vitamins, antioxidants, nutrients and enzymes that are destroyed during the cooking process. So, to protect us from illness and just for our general health and wellbeing it’s a really good idea to try and up our raw game.

Note that I say Eat MORE raw not Eat ALL raw.  You don’t have to be perfect!!!

Why?

  • It’s alive – all nutrients intact.
  • You will Look amazing.
  • You will Feel amazing.
  • Helps weight control – High in fibre, low in calories. win win!!!
  • It’s fast food. Nothing quicker and more convenient than just picking up and eating or chopping and eating. NO heating up, no cooking…
  • It just tastes better. Raw produce tastes juicy and fresh. With a lifestyle reset you really learn to appreciate this.

Click here to read my blog post ‘Why we should be eating more raw

.’

How?

There are numerous ways for you to eat more raw. If easier, you can start small and slowly increase it.

Try to work up to 5 raw a day.

Here’s a few of my favourites.

  • Drink a Green Juice or Green Smoothie every day.
  • Swap out cooked veg. for your favourite salad with every weekday dinner.
  • Make some raw chocolate brownies or other raw dessert.
  • Chia seed pudding with fruit for breakfast.
  • Have a salad for lunch everyday.

For more detail click here to read my blog post Rawlicious,5 easy and delicious ways to eat more raw.

Try to Eat Organic

Basically Organic food is food grown or reared without the use of artificial pesticides and fertilisers and should not contain genetically modified ingredients.

Click here for what Wikipedia has to say about Organic food.

The UK Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) states that:

‘Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products produced from or by GMOs are generally prohibited by organic legislation. 

DEFRA – Crown Copyright

Why?

  • To avoid consuming toxic chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers.
  • You are what you eat and so are the animals. A healthier animal/vegetable = a healthier meat/vegetable = a healthier YOU.
  • Nutrition. Organic produce does generally have superior nutritional value. Although sometimes it’s minimal.
  • Taste – Generally organic tastes better but it can be subtle or even non existent.
  • Organic farming is more humane and environmentally sound.

I’m currently writing a more detailed post on ‘Why You Should Eat Organic’.

How?

  • You can buy products labelled organic in the shops. Even the budget supermarkets have jumped on the bandwagon.
  • You can buy online and get it delivered to your door. Companies like Abel and Cole, or local farmers sometimes do a vegetable box delivery.
  • Go to your local farmers market and speak to the farmers. Many of their produce is in fact organic but they can’t afford to get the organic certification. Use your intuition to guide you.
  • Eat wild fish from the fish counter or freezer section or things like tinned wild salmon. Wild = organic, actually, it trumps it.
  • Grow your own. There is no better way to know that your food is chemical and GM free than to grown your own. You are in control of what goes in your soil. It tastes better and is conveniently local and cheap. More on this next week.
  • There are some fruit and veg. that you really don’t need to buy organic. It’s generally those with really thick skins which prevent the chemicals seeping through to the parts we eat. Click for a list on my blog post Amazingly Healthy Food.

You are what you eat. The healthier the food you eat, the healthier your body will be. It’s really that simple!!!

Healthy and Loving It

Do you want to get healthy but just can’t get started or stay started. Would DAILY community, accountability, support, advice and friendship help? My Healthy and Loving It coaching program could be just what you need.

Next Healthy and Loving It starts 9th January 2021. Closing date for registration 7th January 2021.

Click picture to find out more.

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Do you have a question? Use my cool new feature ‘Ask Amazingly Healthy”. It’s free and really easy click below.

I’m also offering a free Eating Habits Checkup. Click below.

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One day we wake up and we are 40… meaning we are now middle aged. This fills most women with horror. Old ideas, perceptions and images of what middle aged is and represents are not encouraging. Nowadays though, there is no need to worry. By prioritising yourself and your own health, you can age beautifully. You can unleash a complexion that you would have killed for back in the day. Getting healthy will shine, magnify and multiply your natural beauty. This is healthy beauty and it works at any any age.

When I was 22 I thought I was old…passed it. No seriously, I really did. I remember thinking it. The absurdity of this truth has helped me a lot over the years to just be happy with what I’ve got and who I am now…Because I know that in 20 years time, my 72 year old self is going to look back and think how beautiful and young I was at 52 and I want to appreciate and enjoy that fact now, not look back with regret wishing I had realised it and enjoyed it at the time.

Are We Middle Aged?

In my 40’s I desperately searched for the answer NO to this question but unfortunately the answer is yes. Even at the tender age of 40, if we are lucky enough to live until 80 , that’s still half way. We are in the middle. There is no getting away from it.

Should we rebrand– Middle aged – it’s such a negative term. Surely we could come up with something better. Since we are in the Prime of our Lives, the term Prime Lifers could be appropriate. I think that has a more positive feel to it. What do you think?

What images does the term middle aged conjure up?

  • Old…
  • Greying hair
  • Stout
  • Going to seed
  • Excess fat around the middle
  • Dull
  • Lifeless
  • Invisible even
  • Undesirable and Undesiring
  • Grouchy
  • Jealous
  • Must wear appropriate clothes

Not a pretty picture really.

Not something to aspire to. It’s no wonder it fills us with horror and dread.

Middle Aged Realities – Angst/symptoms


What are the realities in your life? Do some or all of these sound familiar to you.

  • Are you worried that you are losing your looks? or that you will never be able to regain your youthful figure?
  • Are you suffering from the dreaded middle aged spread?
  • Are you getting bloated belly?
  • Is you skin looking a bit dull and lifeless?
  • Have your eyes lost their sparkle are they a bit puffy, do you have black circles under your eyes?
  • Are your joints starting to ache, muscles getting a bit tired and weak?
  • Have you lost your get up and go, your Va Va Voom?
  • Do you feel like life is passing you by and you haven’t achieved your full potential?
  • Do you yearn to laugh and love like you did when you were in your youth?
  • Do you wonder what happened to that crazy, vivacious child that was once you. (the one that used to relish the rain, get on her khagoul and wellies and tramp about in the puddles for fun) Where is she?
  • Are you starting to suffer from lifestyle dis-ease and/or digestive issues?

I confess, at some point or another over the past 12 years, I can hold my hand up to all of the above.

Some will say these are all just part of getting older and that’s true up to a point. Certain things do start to fail and fall as you get older. You get a bit scuffy around the edges. You’re bound to feel a bit jaded.

Also, at some point in our 40s and 50s we have hormonal changes to contend with. This is very real and no laughing matter. Amongst many other symptoms hormonal changes can (note the word can not will) contribute to weight gain. To read more about hormonal weight gain click here


All of this angst and these symptoms though, they do not happen solely because of your age. They are there because of years… decades of neglect. I know this because I had them and now I don’t…

  • Eating junk food, poisons, addictions and bad habits
  • Neglecting to feed our bodies with the proper nutrition it needs to function
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of relaxation
  • A life full of stress
  • No stress management
  • No play time
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Burning the candle at both ends…

Of course we will all have some signs of aging it is inevitable…

…But surely anyone can see that neglecting ourselves as I’ve described above… Pumping our bodies full of chemicals and toxins while at the same time not feeding our bodies with the nutrients it needs to function correctly… is a recipe that’s bound to end in disaster.

That disaster often starts to happen around middle age as the carefree attitude of our youthful selves, the blatant disregard for our own health, starts to catch up with us.

Ageing Beautifully!


Have you ever wondered how the rich and famous stay looking so good into their 40s and beyond. Yes I know, some have very good surgeons, but that can only do so much. Do they have a secret?

Can I tell you a secret? You’re too young to be old!


When we get older, from where Im sitting, we have 2 choices:

  1. Give up and let ourselves go to seed.
  2. Get wiser and start prioritising ourselves and our health.


Presuming that since you are reading this you’re not ready for choice number 1 yet I give you…

Healthy Beauty

When you are healthy on the inside it shines through to the outside giving you glowing skin, sparkling life, filled eyes, a healthy figure, a healthy head of hair, a spring in your step, that energy , the internal joy seeping from every pore of your body that comes from complete health and wellbeing. This is Healthy Beauty.

I’m not just talking about healthy diet and exercise to look after our physical bodies and appearance although that is important. We need to look after mind, body and spirit. Taking care of all 3 adds up to one healthy, happy and beautiful person.

When you feel good you look good. When you are happy you look good. There’s nothing more attractive than a happy person.

How To get Healthy Beauty? click items for more.

Those seemingly age defying celebrities you see in their 40s, 50s, 60s and indeed beyond, they already know this. Of course they have surgeons and injectables… But no surgeon in the world can give you that unmistakeable Healthy Beauty look and the internal happiness that shines through from a person who has true health.


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When it comes to getting healthy no matter what that means to you, why is it so hard for us to get there? Whether healthy means finally starting to eat proper whole food or finally managing to quit the foods you KNOW are not good for you, what is it that stops you.. I suggest that it’s Procrastination: Health Enemy Number 1.

Perhaps for you it’s about losing that few pounds in weight that’s making you feel uncomfortable and unhappy in your clothes or indeed the few stone of excess weight that really does place you in the unhealthy zone. Why don’t you just do it? most people already know what to do …is it procrastination?

For many people getting healthy is about physical fitness. They just cannot get started or stay started on a fitness routine. Getting into it during and after lockdown has proven to be even more tricky. Has it been a challenge for you to get your act together and just do something?

Have you found it difficult since lockdown to get back into your old routines. Have you been slobbed out on the sofa for months? Maybe you’ve just kind of lost the habit of looking after yourself like you used to or you’re not quite managing to getting around to do anything. Doing anything and everything is difficult , you just can’t get started or you just don’t seem to care enough anymore. You know you should but actually you don’t…Is lockdown 2 (if your country is doing this) going to be different or do you think it will just be more procrastination?

 In light of the current Covid 19 situation many of us are facing a real strain on our mental health too. This is not surprising considering the absolute battering of negativity we face not just from mainstream media and social media but also from our ‘friends’ and indeed even families are torn about the best thing to do during this unprecedented situation. The added stress at work, worrying abut our loved ones and ourselves…it’s too much,,, We are overwhelmed!!!

The whole situation has caused anxiety and reluctance to go out because of fear of catching the virus or annoyance at other peoples attitude to the virus (both flippancy of not taking it seriously enough and conversely taking it so seriously that you forget to treat your fellow humans as humans). Maybe it just depresses you to see the horrible situation we are all in with no normality in the shops, pubs, restaurants… Actually, when you think about it, it is our fun things that have mostly been hit. Our holidays, nights out, shopping trips, leisure classes and pursuits all the things we did to relax and unwind have taken a beating.

Anyway I digress…

Feeling like this is can be really irritating because you know you are procrastinating so you find yourself getting annoyed with yourself for not just getting on with it…for not going out, for not doing your fitness…for not eating properly…for eating the sugar…the junk…the wine.

You are aware that you should and could be doing so much more, but in an effort to self sooth you’re just not doing it. Effectively killing yourself with kindness. Almost like cocooning yourself as a form of self protection and self care.

Who Can Blame You

No matter what way we look at it there’s no doubt about the fact that on this occasion we really do have an excuse to feel sorry for ourselves… to drink too much alcohol, to stuff ourselves with junk and sugar, to put it off until tomorrow…to procrastinate… it’s been shit, lets not beat about the bush.

BUT THEN WHAT

When your stuffed full of everything you can possible conceive of that’s bad for you. When you’re putting on weight and your belly feels like it’s too big for your skin. When you start to feel unwell because of all the rubbish you’ve eaten. When you can’t settle at night with anxiety. When you start to ache because of what you eat or because you’re not moving enough. When regardless of how much comfort food you’ve shoved down your neck you’re still not comforted...then what…

The fact that it’s all very understandable is all well and good but we do need to move forward from this and start with the good habits again or even for the first time.

Now more than ever health , self care , wellness, living a holistic lifestyle should be at the top of your list. Health is not a luxury its essential.

How do we deal with procrastination???

You can only begin to find a solution to a problem when you know that it exists and you admit that it is a problem so the first steps are to become mindful of your procrastinating and admit to yourself that it’s happening. It’s also a great idea to get company to join you on your health journey. It’s much easier to procrastinate with yourself and get away with it than it is when other people are involved.

(I’ve written extensively about habit making and breaking and dealing with procrastination. I’ve put some links for further reading below.)

You dont have to do it alone.

I realise a lot of our groups and activities are severely curtailed due to restrictions and lock down but there are still ways to get support. At the moment it’s either alot harder or impossible to just go to the gym, or your aerobics and dance classes, or whatever it was you used to do. However, there are a multitude of resources available online to help you with your health and fitness. Zoom classes on a huge variety of subjects, accountability coaches, coaching programmes like my own. (links below). You really don’t have to do it alone.

Turn 2020 Around

2020 has been a total disaster, but it doesn’t have to end like this. Turn it around and make it the year you stopped procrastinating and finally took ownership and control of your own health and wellness.

https://amazinglyhealthylife.com/healthy-and-loving-it-course/
Healthy and Loving It Group Coaching Program

Further Reading

Starting Good Habits, Stopping Bad Habits.

Because You Deserve It? Marketing Bad Habits!

Living Without Crutches, What’s it Like to break free from Bad Habits.

Boredom and Bad Habits: Are We Just Bored?

Getting Healthy or Losing Weight: You know what to do but are you doing it?

My Coaching Programmes

Group Coaching Program

1-1 Premium Coaching

My Zoom Bellydance Classes (coming soon, sign up to be kept in the loop)

Zoom Bellydance

Healthy and Loving It Online Course
Bridging the gap to healthy

Lets face it, we all want to be starting good habits, stopping bad habits and sticking to it.

We all want to replace bad lifestyle choices with healthy ones. Who wouldn’t? It’s a no brainer.

Regardless of our age we still want to be enjoying our lives to the full, looking mighty fine and feeling it.

So what’s stopping you?

Why aren’t we all springing around like..

fit, healthy 🐼??? What…

That’s better😬!!!

Anyway..

Why can’t we just do it?

Let’s have a look.

This isn’t an all singing all dancing, everything you ever needed to know guide about habit making and breaking.

It’s a focused insight into some major factor’s that are stopping you being successful.

As always, knowledge is power, awareness is key. Both can help us get the results we deserve.

3 Major Reasons we fail at starting good habits and stopping bad habits:

  1. Never getting started
  2. Yes to the end goal but nah to the path
  3. You keep falling off the wagon
  1. Never Getting Started

To start a healthy habit or stop an unhealthy one we decide on a start date. It’s always in the future!

  • Yes I will start being good tomorrow.
  • I will stop smoking next week when I have less stress.
  • It will be easier for me to concentrate on getting fit and healthy next month when I will be less busy at work or when my son has started at scouts or whatever…

Our excuses reasons are endless.

We should really congratulate ourselves on our creativity.

You put things off until you fool yourself perceive the time to be ripe, everything will be perfect, the moons will all align and then, you think, I can finally start being good.

But, In truth this never actually happens. Life ticks on and something else turns up that stuffs up your plans for that perfect moment to start.

The truth is Tomorrow Never Comes.

It’s all a very clever ploy that our mind tells us in order to stay in its comfort zone and avoid the change we are trying to make.

We should give ourselves an award for best at self sabotaging our own goals.

You have comforted yourself in the knowledge that you will start this much needed project in your life. You have told yourself that it is going to happen. Just not right now. So you feel good about yourself knowing that you will solve this issue soon.

In truth though it never happens, it just keeps being delayed and put forward and postponed. Before you know it, 20 years have passed and you are still smoking, still overweight, still not fit, still eating trash, still drinking too much alcohol…

2. Yes to the end goal but nah to the path

The body, your mind, the brain…whichever is the part of you that makes the important decisions re your wellness. Its pretty lazy, and prefers what it knows.

It’s comfortable in its routine and does not relish the thought of change. It doesn’t fancy the discomfort needed for an upgraded lifestyle.

In actuality, that part of us doesn’t really want to the make the change.

It wants the benefits, the end goal, the dream but it doesn’t want to put in the work it takes to get there.

Its comfortable where it is thank you very much and is employing avoidance tactics. Hence the very clever I will start tomorrow tactic.

It also uses another self sabotaging tactic which appears when we have actually managed to start or stop a habit.

I will start again tomorrow.

Which leads us to …

3. You Keep Falling Off the Wagon

Let’s say you finally found a today and did make a start on that goal you really want, that benefit you really desire. But now you keep cheating, falling off the wagon and saying it’s ok I will start again tomorrow.

  • I can cheat now and start again tomorrow.
  • Im so stressed I can have a ciggy now and start stopping again tomorrow.
  • I will skip my workout today and get back in to the flow tomorrow.
  • I will start up my healthy eating plan again tomorrow.

In a way this is ok. Stopping and starting new habits is hard. Upgrading your lifestyle is difficult. It is a journey and as the old cliche goes it’s the journey that matters. You will learn and improve along the way. Never give up trying, every millimetre closer is a step in the right direction.

But

I think it’s easy to fall into a trap where you aren’t really trying. Your just very conveniently using the tomorrow excuse again and again and it’s not doing you any favours.

If you cheat too much, if there are too many tomorrows, you won’t be reaching your goals. You won’t be getting anywhere. You’ll be in the worst possible place. Half trying, half putting in the work, but going nowhere fast and not reaping the benefits.

The Tomorrow Cycle

This cycle will continue until you see it clearly for what it is and put a stop to it.
You are self sabotaging your own goals, your own health, your own future, your own happiness, your own life…

Today, now ,this second…

No matter how small the step towards your goal it has to be today. That may just be as small as starting to make a plan but do something!

If you have to or want to loose weight, stop smoking, quit junk food, get fit, eat healthy etc etc decide that it will happen today or this minute, this second, just now.

  • Just now, right at this moment, I will not light that cigarette.
  • Tonight just for tonight I won’t drink that glass of wine.
  • Right now I won’t eat that chocolate bar
  • Today I will not eat junk food
  • Today , just for today I will not smoke
  • Today I will take one small step towards my fitness goals by doing a 10 minute walk.

The point is to decide to do it now, in this moment, today.

Just be good today.

Tomorrow can be decided tomorrow.

After all tomorrow will eventually be today and today we are going to be bad ass and achieve our goals right!!!

There is no such thing as the perfect time to start or stop habits. Your life will never stop giving you reasons, obstacles and excuses.

This will never end!

You have to make your goals fit into your lifestyle or make changes to your current lifestyle to fit your goals. Here’s some quick tips.

Practical tips: starting good habits, stopping bad habits

  • Work from the inside out
  • Step by step
  • Be realistic
  • Use short time slots
  • Track your progress
  • Use a toolbox of healthy replacements
  • Get accountability
  • Make a plan
  • Make it fun

And last but definitely not least…

Persistence not Perfection

I help women switch to an amazingly healthy lifestyle that they love with my online coaching programme Healthy and Loving It. Click the picture below for more details.

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click picture to go to Healthy and Loving It course information page.

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Related Blog Posts

Exercise Made Easy

Getting Healthy or Losing Weight, You know what to do but are you doing it?

The Wine Witch,Wine O’clock and Pink Fluffy Clouds. When you stop drinking wine.

How to Eat Healthy, 3 simple rules

Read about my journey into amazing health

I would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions and questions in the comments section below.


Learning to love yourself is an amazingly healthy goal. It will bring you health, vitality and happiness. It will help you to fulfill your full potential. Learning to love yourself will help you re-find you and that’s where your real power lies!

This subject is huge, whole books are written on it. This post is merely scratching the surface.

The point is to get you thinking about it and possibly taking a few steps in the right direction.

Knowledge is power. Awareness is key. Only when you are aware of something can you begin to work on it, change, and improve.

The subject of self love is well worth your time.

Why?

Because true and genuine self love is powerful beyond measure. If you truly love yourself you are invincible. There is nothing that you cannot do or achieve. We all have greatness in us we just have to believe in ourselves, wholeheartedly, to tap into it. That’s the power of self love.

There are basically 2 sides to learning to love yourself:

  1. The psychological side: Changing and improving your mindset. How you think, feel and talk about yourself.
  2. The practical side: Changing and improving how you look after yourself. Body, mind and Soul.

Both are interconnected. So improving one will automatically improve the other.

Altering our mindset is much deeper and harder to achieve. We have to breakthrough years and decades worth of learned behaviour and thought patterns, much of it from our childhood. Depending on your own personal life you may need a professional therapist to help you with this.

I don’t want you to think about rushing towards some end goal. It’s the journey that matters. That’s truly where the enjoyment, learning and satisfaction lies.

It’s a lifetimes work really but every step closer is a victory. For every step you take towards deeply and truly loving yourself you will be a little bit happier and more contented.

I’m not talking about loving yourself in the narcissistic, vain way where you constantly admire yourself in the mirror and only thinking of yourself and how you look.

Nooo!!!

This doesn’t mean that you will be perfect or think of yourself as perfect. You will learn to accept and love your ‘flaws and imperfections’ as an integral and necessary part of your unique self.

Nor does it mean that you will live in a Disney like existence where everything is perfect and you are always joyful and bright. You will accept that life has its ups and downs and that so do you.

I’m talking about including yourself in your own circle of love. Being your own BFF Best friend forever , after all, let’s face it , your stuck with yourself… forever. You may as well make peace with it and get on with yourself…

I mean treating yourself the way you treat your most cherished people, like your own children, your best friends, your partner.

Most of us treat ourselves much worse than we treat these important people in our lives.

We abuse ourselves terribly:

  • Trash talking ourselves
  • Judging ourselves harshly
  • Being dismissive of ourselves
  • Putting ourselves and our needs last
  • We have expectations of ourselves we would never demand of our friends and family

This has to stop!

This falls into the deeper, psychological , mindset reset side of learning self love. It’s roots are entrenched in our culture, our childhoods , our personal circumstances…hard to master, needs chipping away at, but not impossible and worth the effort.

The practical side of self love is easier to master:

Self Love = prioritising your own health and wellbeing.

but we still often neglect it:

  • Failing to feed ourselves properly and in fact loading up on poisons and junk
  • Lack of physical excercise
  • Bad habits and addictions
  • Not prioritising our sleep and not understanding its importance
  • Not taking time to relax, unwind, de stress and just be.
  • Neglecting playtime
  • Not spending enough quality time with family, friends and fellow human beings. We all need human connection
  • Not spending time outside in nature

In comparison, ask yourself honestly how would you treat your past self, the child that was you. Your inner child. If you had to look after her right now. What would you feed her, how would you talk to her, what would you encourage her to do and not to do?

The answer to that question should tell you exactly how you should be caring for yourself.

It’s not too late you can look after her now!

Can you tell me one valid reason why you are less important than everyone else?

No I thought not…

So what you really need to do is prioritise your own health and wellbeing on every level. Not just the body but the mind and soul as well. All need to be thriving for you to be healthy. All are interconnected. Only by nourishing, cherishing and nurturing yourself will you ever be truly happy, healthy and contented and be able to reach your full potential.


Self love in practice

I’ve covered foods that properly nourish your body here in my blog post Food List and there are some delicious and nutritious recipes in this one. My blog post healthy habits is a fantastic resource with suggestions on different ways we can nurture and care for our whole selves with exercise, relaxation, sleep, nature, play etc etc, Give it a read. Special mention to yoga which manages to tick all 3 boxes of caring for your body, mind and soul. My personal favourites is Ashtanga Yoga.

If I can do it so can you!

I didn’t always look after and care for myself properly, in fact I had som seriously bad habits. Click here to read about my lifestyle reset and journey to amazing health.

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click picture to go to Healthy and Loving It course information page.

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I would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions and questions in the comments section below.