Spring and Sparkle

Have you noticed the lambs in the fields? I love to see them jump and play in the sunshine, full of the joys of spring. We should feel like this too.

Wikimedia commons

Watch people walking down the street and notice how few of them have a spring in their step or sparkle in their eye. People in the Western world are used to struggling along with low energy, aches, pains, excess weight and minor ailments. They think that not being ill is as good as it gets. Real wellness is rare.

When we think about energy use, we think of exercise. Another big drain is digestion. Yes, we use up energy when we eat! Ever fallen asleep after a meal? When you eat unsuitable food, your body can’t cope and keep you awake, so it shuts down all non-essential systems and you nod off. Inside your body’s working flat out. The fashion for processed food is robbing us of energy. It’s called ‘fast food’ because you buy it instead of making it from ingredients. The preparation part is certainly quick – but once you’ve eaten it, fast food is really, really slow. Your body has to work very hard to digest it. The process takes a long time and uses up lots of vitamins, minerals and enzymes and huge amounts of energy.

Contrast this with fresh, natural food. It takes time to prepare but is quicker and easier for your body to use so more of the energy is available for you to feel great.

Dead, processed food may be convenient but it won’t allow you to live as vibrant, healthy a life as you could be enjoying.

Top tip – have more spring and sparkle with fresh, natural foods!

Temptation Time

I love Christmas, but not the way it’s been turned into an excuse for weeks of over consumption. How did that happen? Money of course. Promotions start earlier each year – was it September this time? Each of us chooses the degree to which we throw ourselves in. Perhaps you don’t want seasonal excess to wreck your body (and bank balance) completely and decide to partake in moderation. Even if you favour the ‘bring it on’ approach, leaving damage repair for January, you might be supporting a friend who’d rather be more restrained.

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So here are some tips for resisting temptation:

1. Develop an automatic response. Immediately say, “No, thank you”, before you can engage your brain. That feels easy. The moment passes quickly. Gazing at cake/chocolate/crisps and pondering whether or not you fancy some, means you’ll almost certainly have some. If you gaze and ponder and then say, “No” it will take will power and feel like a big sacrifice.

2. Have a mindset that bad foods/drinks are nothing to do with you – they’re other people’s problems. Let your eyes slide over them as irrelevant. Then seek out some real food.

3. Focus on other things. Have a conversation, look at your surroundings, dance, take your attention onto anything you can’t put in your mouth.

4. Be prepared. Find out what might be on offer at any ‘Do’ you attend. Drink some water and eat something good before going out. Have emergency supplies with you (eg nuts or some cheese) in case everything is processed or sugary. Keep supplies at work too, ready for the inevitable appearance of mince pies and chocolates.

Have a look at this hilarious video of children resisting temptation in the famous marshmallow test.

Top tip – Temptation’s coming, so be ready but most of all have a very Merry Christmas.

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday

I’ve been noticing adverts for perfume on the telly, have seen Christmas cards in the shops and realise that there are only a few weeks left to buy suitably pleasing presents for my loved ones (deep breath and don’t panic). A shopper I am not. Whist I really enjoy giving presents, it’s having the inspiration to choose gifts that are suitably pleasing that gets me in a tiz.

Last month I had reason to spend most of a day in the Metro Centre. I had no success at all. The chain stores are doing their usual thing which is fine but I’ve decided it’s small businesses that will save the day. Cockermouth of course is full of them. The sheer diversity is a delight. They’re personal and friendly. The owners are knowledgeable and passionate about what they sell whether that’s delicious, locally produced edible items, books, jewellery or toys. If you have family from other parts of the country, they regard with wonder things we take for granted. One year I bought all my aunts and uncles hand made chocolate. My cousin lives in France and was bowled over by venison pie and Cumbrian pickle. (No, I didn’t post them – he was over here!)

small-business-saturday-uk-2016-logo-english-blue

3rd December is Small Business Saturday so do go shopping and support them. I’m taking part along with 5 million other small business. I’m offering 25% off a 1 hour skype or telephone appointment from the 3rd to the 8th December on a first-come-first-serve basis until I run out of appointments. If you’d like a better body – more energy – better health – and freedom from diets, let’s talk about how you can learn to eat well. Drop me an email to book.

Top Tip – support small businesses.

Our Hostile Food Environment

What’s the hardest thing about a healthy lifestyle? The exercise? Juicing wheatgrass? Growing sprouts? Actually the hardest thing is constantly resisting temptation in our hostile food environment.

We live in a sugar and oil saturated food world. Last month I found myself in a typical town, past lunchtime, without having brought anything to eat. The mass of non-food for sale was depressing. I felt like a reformed drug addict in an opium den. It’s very, very easy to eat badly but difficult to eat well. Amid the throngs of willing consumers, I stood out from the flock like one of the decorated (model) sheep we had around Cumbria this summer.

To improve our food environment we can support the taxation of sugar in drinks and foods; we can oppose the advertising of sugary products to children; we can stop supporting sellers of junk by refusing to buy what they sell; we can just say, “No”.

As an antidote to mass-produced fodder, we were treated to a wonderful weekend when Taste Cumbria came to Cockermouth. What a great event!

There were artisan producers you could talk to, samples to taste and all sorts of delicious foods to buy. We bought smoked mackerel for tea that evening. The next day I enjoyed scrambled eggs with smoked salmon for breakfast. Monday evening it was smoked sausages for dinner (many thanks to all you lads at Haverigg).

On the Sunday I put the slow cooker on – well it’s not summer any more – and made a casserole with venison from Deer and Dexter which we ate with the last of our home-grown potatoes and lots of veg. Delicious.

Finally we popped into the United Reformed Church to restock my favourite Rhubarb and Ginger from Jill’s Jams. Jam isn’t health food but a teaspoon on a cracker topped with the creamy unpasturised Lancashire from a cheese stall was yummy.

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The Rotary Club’s Human Fruit Machine was an absolute delight and brought smiles all round.

Top tip – Buy real, local food.

Yoga Challenge

imag0770From the 3rd to the 23rd of October I did yoga every day to raise money for the wonderful debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty who rescue people from the crushing misery of debt.  CAP is 20 years old and to celebrate, they and their supporters are doing 20fortwenty challenges for 20 days.  I signed up for yoga even though I’m fairly new to it and usually only do it once a week.  I’ve been stretched in every direction and ached in muscles I didn’t even know I had.

Here is a selection of pics from my twitter feed @eatwellcoach.

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Why would I put myself through this?

Because of people like D who came to my local centre. Health problems and hospital visits meant she was down graded at work and lost income. Her son wouldn’t look for work and her youngest had irregular school attendance; thankfully her eldest daughter helped and supported her. D pared expenditure down to the bone and worked diligently with CAP on her finances.  In August she became debt free and now has a house and a new start in another town.  She found faith at a discovery break and is off the anti-depressants she took for nearly 8 years.
You can see some more stories here – check out ‘Break the Silence’.

You know my passion for eating well – people in debt often miss meals.  My book Survival Guide for the Skint talks about priorities including food and CAP’s budgets always allow people to feed their families.

Even though I’ve finished the challenge, I’d be thrilled if you’d sponsor me to help clients like D.  Here’s my Just Giving page.  If you see me in town, I’ll have a paper sponsor form with me.

Thanks already to Christine, Tim, Heather, Brenda, Cathy, Tom, Jean, Julie, Garry, Brenda, Maurice, Joyce, Janet, Barbara, Jackie, Tony, Sarah, Hilary, Robert, Alec, Caroline, Clear North, Glynis, Pete and Heather, Wolf, Betty, Pauline, Cyril, Suzanne, Davy, Vera, Lindsay, John, Carolyn, Brenda, Cynthia, Val, Jane, Betty, Barbara, Anne, Warren, Jennie, Alan, Val and anonymous donors!

My total to date is over £400.

 

Avoid Weight Gain this Christmas

Weight gain seems inevitable at this time of year but if you don’t want to start 2016 fat, tired and ill, how can you minimise the damage?steak salad

Eat as much natural, realS/W Ver: 85.83.E7P food as possible. Buy fresh meat, fish and vegetables and fill yourself with good home cooked meals. Bake your own Christmas cake (nice with a slice of Wensleydale and some almonds) and mince pies using butter and reducing the sugar content.  Make salad dressings, dips and healthy treats (ask me for my no-cook chocolate, seed and nut recipe). Doing a bit of something in the kitchen can be great fun if the family gets stuck in too.

My breakfast green smoothie prior to whizzing

My breakfast green smoothie prior to whizzing

The right breakfast can set you up for the day. Include some protein and fat eg nutty muesli with natural yoghurt, poached egg on toast, home made porridge (not sachets/pots) with flaked almonds and cream or a low-sweetness smoothie (mine is based on avocado and coconut milk).

The worst choices are cereal, toast with jam, fruit juices/smoothies and chocolate which will have you on a blood-sugar roller-coaster for the rest of the day, and craving for more bad things.

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Water

Have a healthy snack before going out and drink plenty of water before and during parties. You’ll be less likely to drink too much alcohol or over-eat. Sugar and vegetable oil are in almost all processed ‘party’ food and will cause weight gain. Soft drinks are sugary and, surprisingly, “diet” drinks also increase weight.

NutsHide biscuits, chocolates, cake, crisps and alcohol in cupboards and leave bowls of nuts, veg sticks and dips in plain sight. Treat treats as treats. Enjoy them but don’t make a meal of them. If you try to abstain and you’re more likely to have a blow-out. Ditch the diet ‘on it, off it’ mentality and allow yourself to have a little. Accept that there will be naughty goodies everywhere you go; you will eat some, and so will I!

Top tip – Eat well and have a Merry Christmas

Holiday Food

I recently went to Norway on holiday, brilliantly arranged by the lovely people at Cockermouth Travel. As well as the breathtaking beauty of the place, I was struck by the slim, healthy build of the population and the fabulous food! Game stew was a highlight plus lots of fresh fish (they love their herrings) and vegetables. (OK there were fast food places for tourists in the town centre; you’ll find that everywhere in the world nowadays.)

Breakfasts were a feast of cold meats, cheeses, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and yoghurt. That’s a high nutrient breakfast to fuel the national pastime of walking up mountains, come rain or shine. Over here continental breakfast has been diminished to coffee and a croissant – not satisfying, not healthy and not continental.

Breakfast

Breakfast

More breakfast

More breakfast

And more breakfast!

And more breakfast!

 

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Going on holiday is a great opportunity to reconnect with real food. You might go to more exotic places that I do. Perhaps you’ve sampled the delights of young coconuts or fresh bananas which I’m told are divine.

It’s a shame we emulate the Americans more than Europeans. We eat more processed food than any other European country. We also have the fattest population plus the resultant deteriorating health. The French and Italians love their food and you can enjoy locally grown produce, artisan breads, grass-fed meat and amazing cheeses. Food is a high priority for them. They spend money on good ingredients and take time cooking and eating. Meals are not rushed or gulped down alone in front of a TV or computer. There’s a strong social element with lots of talk and laughter round the table. Enjoy it while you’re away and keep it up when you come back.

Top tip – make good food culture a holiday souvenir to bring back home.

ChangeFest

The programme for ChangeFest is now complete!

I’ll be doing an interactive workshop on Integrated Performance Coaching.

You’ve focussed on your goal, you’ve worked at it, and you’ve yet to achieve it. In this practical session you will explore a broader way to create a personal plan for success. Integrated performance coaching is the approach I used as an international sportswomen to prepare for big competitions. Starting with an area of your life you want to change, I’ll help you to prioritise and achieve your goal with confidence.

 

Here’s the flyer.  You can download a pdf of the flyer at Cumbriacoaching.net

Please book through eventbright.

Change Fest flyer

Frozen Yoghurt in Cumbria

If you’re at one of our many country shows this year, you’ll find all sorts of treats for sale.  Look out for freshly made frozen yoghurt by Sheila of Sheila’s Fruity Cumbrian Fro-yo.

Here are some dates:

Cockermouth Georgian Fair 2nd Mayyogurt in cone
Langwathby May Day – 16th May
Ulverston Food Festival – 23rd and 24th May
Holker Hall Garden Festival – 29th -31st May
Cumberland Show – 6th June
Whitehaven Air Show – 19th and 20th June
Skelton Show 4th July
Penrith on a Plate 18th July
Penrith Show – 25th July
Ulverston Show – 29th July
Ambleside Sports – 30th July
Cockermouth Show – 1st Aug
Hawkshead Show – 18th Aug
Grasmere Sports – 30th Aug
Hesket-New-Market Show – 5th Sept
Westmorland Show – 10th Sept
Holker Chilli Fest – 12th and 13th Sept
Acorn Bank, Apple Day – 11th Oct

Sheila has been working on some new flavours over winter and along with all the
old favourites: plum and damson, raspberry, blackcurrant, strawberry,
blackberry and apple etc she now has gooseberry with elderflower and rhubarb
and ginger.  Sounds delicious – I’ll be having one!

yogurt stand

Change for Healthy Eating

How did you get on with your New Year Resolutions? It’s common for people to start January by joining gyms and going on diets only to bail out by the middle of February. Why do we set resolutions? Possibly because we fear deep down that bad eating habits and inactivity are setting us up for a miserable existence of aches, pains, ailments and early death. That’s not a cheery thought so most of the time we sweep it under the carpet. No matter how we feel, we say breezily, ‘Oh I’m fine.’ But something about the arrival of a new year enables us to look at our lives and gives us a desire to make them better.

Change isn’t easy. New Year style change – switching overnight from a life of take-aways slumped in front of the TV to daily running and plates of lettuce leaves, is almost impossible. If we make things too difficult, we set ourselves up for failure before we begin.

The change equation states that to generate enough impetus to start making a change we need three things. 1) dissatisfaction with how things are, 2) a clear vision of the future, 3) some practical first steps. As a coach, I can help you to face up to reality (number 1) and to explore what you want instead (number 2). For the practical steps (number 3), I won’t put you on a diet because diets don’t help you long term and your body needs more than lettuce!S/W Ver: 85.83.E7P

My Eat for a Better Life course includes gradual improvements. Squeeze out bad things by cramming in more good things. Each time you drink some water or have a bit of salad with your lunch, you can feel good about yourself for building better habits.

Top tip – take small steps towards eating well.