I’ve never had a solid track record with exercise. I was in one of the rubbish sub teams for netball and due to my premature Hagrid-height I was forced to compete in high-jump for sports day every year; aside from that, I was disqualified from cross-country when our friend had hidden Happy Hippos along the route beforehand. We finished half an hour after everyone else and successfully missed maths. Through the various shapes and sizes I have found myself in over the years, I’ve come to realise that if exercise is ever something to look forward to, it has to be on my own terms. Everyone has their own way of living a healthy lifestyle, so I thought I’d share mine!
Firstly, I’m a vegetarian – something I’ve written about here, and the best thing I’ve ever done for my body and soul. When I first gave up omnivorism I was a little careless and didn’t factor in a few key nutrients that are abundant in meat – mainly iron, zinc and vitamin B12 – and I definitely experienced an increase in sluggishness. But as soon as I actively returned these to my diet the transformation was complete! (Tip: Marmite is great for B12…) Since becoming a vegetarian I have lost excess chub, gained energy, improved my skin and hair, and felt much more clear-headed. Plus I can look a pig in the face guilt-free, which is useful when you work on a farm…
Aside from following a vegetarian diet (I occasionally eat fish if it’s seasonal and included on the Marine Stewardship Council sustainability list), I try really hard to find a balance between nice and naughty foods. I eat lots of dried fruit, vegetables, nuts, pulses and complex carbs, but I also enjoy bagels, cake, ribena, chocolate and mountains of cheese; I love eating healthily but life’s too short to miss out on delicious things. Having said that, I did complete Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar eight week sugar detox a couple of years ago and it felt amazing – if you can just do it once I definitely recommend it!
Something else I try and do when possible is avoiding processed foods. This is obviously easier said than done, especially when we’re late for work or too busy to make things from scratch, but it makes such a difference to the nutritional value of your food – and the state of your bank balance! Working on a farm means I had access to goat’s milk last year when our goats had kids, and I spent a few hours here and there making cheese and yoghurt (below). I recently invested in a blender to make my own soups and avoid shop-bought products with high sugar and salt content, and for the same reason I also now make my own bread! It takes a little time to incorporate these things into your lifestyle, but without good, healthy food life can be a real struggle, so I reckon it’s worth the effort.
I’m no exercise fanatic, but I do have a little routine I find keeps me fairly slim and happy. Firstly, I do yoga once a week. I started this last September and will probably now do it for the rest of my life as it’s completely amazing. I’ve grown so much stronger and more supple, and my core strength is the best it’s ever been. Men, women and children around the world, I beseech you to give it a try.
Secondly, I’m a member of my local gym. Now I realise the gym isn’t for everyone and I’ve certainly been through some love-hate moments with it, but since going I’ve developed my own way of doing things that makes it actually more than tolerable. I alternate short shifts between treadmill, cross trainer, bike and rowing machine to avoid getting too bored with them, with resistance machines and planks (ugh) in between. After an hour or so I may then head to the pool and swim a few lengths to cool down, and then hit the health suite for sauna-steam-jacuzzi rewards.
♪ Spring Playlist ♪
Starlight – The Supermen Lovers
Lean On – by Major Lazer
Tusk – Fleetwood Mac
Temperature – Sean Paul
Get Me Bodied – Beyonce
Don’t Call Me Baby – Madison Avenue
Reet Petite – Jackie Wilson
Being a vegetarian, I am always conscious of where I source my protein to repair and build muscle. I’ve tried a couple of different protein shakes over the years, most of which have been crammed with sweeteners and really quite horrid. To my delight, I’ve found a vegan protein mix created by Elle Macpherson’s wellness company WelleCo. Famous for their Super Elixir made of alkalising greens, I’ve fallen in love with their Nourishing Protein, a chocolatey powder made with Peruvian Cacao and a number of organic, vegan-friendly plant nutrients, including peas, dandelions, pomegranates, sprouted brown rice and pea protein. The flavour is delicious; post-gym it means my muscles are repaired and nourished, and in the day I can enjoy it for breakfast or lunch. I also make sure I drink at least two litres of water a day to give me energy and stamina around the clock; I’ve found that if you can get your body used to that then it will soon tell you if you’re forgetting, usually via headaches, breakouts or excessive fidgeting.
Trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle can be quite a challenge in this silly, fast-paced world of ours, and I don’t judge anybody who finds it a struggle. Aside from gym memberships and protein shakes, my favourite thing to do to feel healthier and happier is to get outside and immerse myself in the natural world. The fresh air clears my head and hiking about in the countryside is great for the heart and muscles, not to mention the joy of watching birds, plants and mammals throughout their life cycles. Nature is free and has no closing times; if you can get out for just a few minutes each day, I guarantee it will improve your mood. The picture below was taken on Mount Rosskopf in the Black Forest, Germany, a place I visited in February simply to enjoy the beautiful, dark landscape and stunning views.
If anyone has any health or exercise tips (particularly for vegetarians) I would love to hear them!