How to love the life you live

On our bathroom window ledge resides my favourite of all those positive affirmations that do the rounds on the Interwebs:

“If you love the life you live, you will live a life of love.”

It would probably look nicer in the living room but, what’s the first thing you do of a morning? Hop out of bed to spend a penny, right? And what better words to be greeted with to start the day?

I’m so often called out as one of life’s insanely positive, smily people. I know I rub a lot of folks up the wrong way with my ridiculous cheeriness (especially first thing in the morning) and the extent to which I get excited about even the most mundane of things is exhausting for many. Regardless, I’m proudly positive. I’m also a little bit loopy.

Take this week for example. I volunteered to dress up as a blood clot to raise awareness around DVT. Wearing nothing but thin sleeves and lycra tights I took to the runway at Cardiff airport as it started to hail. Everyone looked on with pity. “You poor thing, having to do this.” But I reminded them, I’d volunteered to do that. It was fun, it was silly, it was supporting a brilliant cause and it was a random life experience that I’d never get to do again. That said, my clot like behaviour came so highly commended I may get the gig again some time…

Told you it was brilliant – also, see wet patch on knee. Lost my balance just prior, rolled around the runway like a dead fly. Brilliant it was…

[Photo: Matthew Horwood]

(Photo by Matthew Horwood)

Continue reading

Mindful Cooking at Lucknam Park Cookery School – Review

I was very fortunate to recently attend the Lucknam Park Cookery School’s Mindful Cookery day.

Lucknam Park Cookery School

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It was a beautiful exploration of how cooking and mindfulness so wonderfully combine.

The day began with introductions to our hosts and tutors: head chef Hrishikesh (Kesh) Desai and founder of Soul Nutrition Katie Sheen. Before we even took to the stove it was seriously inspiring to be in this kind of company. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Katie in the past but sharing a kitchen with a Roux scholar and National Chef of the Year was an equal privilege. Kesh embodies drive, passion, commitment and his journey to professional success is a seriously inspiring one. It’s one of giving it all you’ve got, harnessing your true potential and is, perhaps (un?)surprisingly, underpinned by mindfulness and meditation practices.

Katie & Kesh

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Fuelled by strong coffee and biscotti, the day started with intros; where we’d come from, how familiar we were or weren’t with mindfulness and what we hoped to get out of the day. There was room for everyone – irrespective of prior mindfulness or cooking experience. Continue reading

An open letter to summer 2014

I got all shaky and giddy. There it was, my final result of the year on the screen before me. A passport to 10 weeks of freedom. Day after day of brilliance lay before me. You’ve been good to me you have Summer 2014, and for that, I am seriously grateful.

I was scared you’d peaked too early in dolling out the enjoyment factor. Day 2 and this woman is thrusting herself upon me.

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The next morning I’m in someone else’s gorgeous kitchen, learning to bake. Savouring every mouthful. The start of an important journey, about being kinder to myself.

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More culinary adventure that same weekend and an introduction to Eritrea – in the deepest depths of South East London.

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You brought with you rain but that didn’t matter. I’ve got a new coat that pretty much stinks of sunshine so we gave the gloomier days a run for their money together.

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There were siestas

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And summer parties

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People sharing kindness and gratefulness

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Family time in France

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Visitors that brought with them full permission for me to play tour guide for the day

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There were things we would never have done together in London. Like Saturdays spent at waterfalls

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And clambering to the very edge of the coast line

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Bike rides as the sun set

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We invited so many to eat at our table. Lunch clubs and supper clubs. We were only too happy to share a slice of the good life.

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Summer 2014, you came at a time when I needed you most. You’ve left me revived, recharged, just like the old me again. You were awesome. Thank you xxx

Mindful approaches to positive nutritional change

Right before holiday I attended Katie Sheen’s truly brilliant course on Mindful approaches to positive nutritional change. It was six and a half hours of light bulb moments and metaphorical jumping up and down in agreement with a resounding series of internal “yes, yes, yes-es!” It was a wonderful continuation of my mindfulness journey.

The course made a big impact and allowed me to have one of my most enjoyable holidays yet. A week of treating myself, a week of next to no guilt, a week of thinking about and appreciating every mouthful of French deliciousness that passed my lips. Here are just some of the culinary highlights from our week in France:

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Katie is wonderful; an honest, open character who brings bagfuls of personal and anecdotal experience to her sessions as well as the confirmation that she’s no purist and can’t be left alone with a box of Fondant Fancies.

Here are just some of the takeaways from Katie’s session that helped me really make the most of my recent holiday Continue reading

Mindfulness: Session 1

A raisin d’etre

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Mindfulness is weird. And wonderful. Session one left me with so much to think about it’s taken me over two weeks to pull this post together.

I met Loraine, my teacher, on arriving 15 minutes early for the session. We made idle small talk about the journey there and the day I’d had whilst she munched on a Greggs chicken mayo baguette. We ‘knew’ some of the same people via the Herbalife-esque pyramind scheme she’s involved in. All the while I spoke I was convinced she was hanging on my every word. Sussing me out, sizing me up. I felt exposed, vulnerable and not at all like me. The sooner we could get it started and over with, the better!

I’m hoping Mindfulness will support me with:
1. Stress management
2. Mindful eating Continue reading

It’s a love plate affair – Mindful Eating

It was the four portions of fish in a week

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It was the rebellious couple of glasses of wine on a school night

It was the pizza night where I opted for the salad

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It was the cheese plate when he was at the football

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It was the many greens that made their way through my new juicer

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It was warm, perfectly toasted buttery panettone

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It was more raw broccoli and less crisps dipped in the houmous and shared with friends

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It was the sunshine-drenched sips of Orangina drunk in a cafe on a rainy day

It was an effort to have liver once a week

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It was a four hour lunch on Papa

It was one, sometimes two (never three) cups of coffee a day. The first, as often as possible, enjoyed together, in bed, before work

It was the weekly 5k that got faster

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It was the weekly slice of cake thereafter that got tastier

It was all the new foods I experimented with and old favourites that made their way back onto the menu

Pasta

It’s been a couple of months of doing things a bit differently. A time of removing any sort of pressures I’ve previously put on myself. No CrossFit. Instead thrice weekly two mile walks, eight hours on my feet every Friday, weekend mountain climbs and Parkruns that aren’t against the clock. It’s been a lot of what I’ve fancied without a religious commitment to a “cheat” on this day, at that time.

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It’s not been easy. I’ve missed that heart racing, lung busting euphoria that only a sweaty gym session can deliver. I’ve contemplated buying a set of bathroom scales on too many occasions, “just to check”. But I’ve pulled myself back. I’ve gone with my clothes. I’ve benefited from the reassurance of a recent shopping trip where the assistant kindly went to fetch me the dress in a size down. I’m squidgier and admittedly some days more self conscious than others but I’m almost certainly a heck of a lot healthier.

I feel rested, yet full of life. Nothing’s too much trouble. Meal times are full of excitement, every mouthful savoured.

For too many years I felt trapped by my relationship with food. A brutal battle of deprivation and gorging and days of intense guilt that followed. It takes so long to break out of that and I’m still only part way there but I’m certainly feeling a heck of a lot better for it as this clean eating journey continues.

This summer I’m signed up to a Mindfulness course and I simply can’t wait. Another step towards final breaking free and hopefully plenty of nuggets I can share in the process.

I feel I’m on the verge of a bit of a rebrand. Is Let Her Eat Clean destined to become the Thoughtful Foodie…?

Are you blessed with a positive relationship with food?