Let’s Talk HIIT

HIIT. The term that can either have you running for the hills or grabbing your workout kit and jumping for joy! This style of training can be very polarising due to its nature. HIIT has been around for many years with a quick Google search showing it dates back as far as 1912 where it was used as a training method by some Olympic runners. However over more recent years has grown rapidly in popularity due to its convenience, adaptability and effect on calorie burning to name but a few.

I wanted to write todays blog because HIIT is absolutely everywhere these days and I think it is important for people to understand both the pros and cons of this type of training before deciding if it’s for you.

First let’s break down what HIIT actually is….

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and although HIIT comes in many shapes and sizes these days there are some fundamental principles surrounding it. HIIT training consists of short bursts of maximal effort exercise followed by a short recovery period or we alternate between high and low intensity exercises. This causes our heart rate to fluctuate throughout the workout and due to the high intensity nature of HIIT our metabolic rate remains high after we finish, as it takes longer for our bodies to recover.  Generally, the effort level we are aiming to within our HIIT workout should be around 80-95% heart rate max. Workouts will vary in length depending on structure and aim, however typically this can be anything from 5-30minutes.

So, let’s start with the sexy stuff! What makes HIIT so great?! Practically HIIT is brilliant because you can pretty much do it anywhere with minimal to no kit! In terms of designing your session you can include a variety of different exercises and equipment to suit your needs and include things you enjoy. For example, you can complete HIIT on a bike, running or with a set of dumbbells to name a few. Furthermore, this style of training is great for people with busy schedules or those who want just a short, sharp burst of activity.

Then of course there is the physiological effects on the body. Naturally, HIIT boosts similar health benefits to all exercise, however in addition, due to its intensity we burn more calories in a shorter time frame. As mentioned previously we also continue to have an increased metabolic rate hours after a HIIT session which continues our calorie burn post workout longer than other activities. This is the stuff that people get excited about because everyone is on a calorie burning mission these days!  

However, we must note that there is always another side to the coin. The main thing that worries me about HIIT training is when people jump into it too soon! Remember this is maximal effort training so if you are mainly a sedentary person looking to start up exercise, this wouldn’t be the best place to start. Of course, that isn’t to say you will never get there, but its best to ease the body into movement with easier workouts and build your fitness before tackling a maximum intensity workout. Secondly, one that grinds my gears a lot in the gym when teaching…. HIIT should be maximal effort stuff. So, if you try a HIIT class and barely break a sweat then you aren’t working at your max. You should be out of breath and barely able to talk, not finish an interval and be able to have a chin wag with the mate next to you! (personal rant over)

With all of the above in mind it’s also important to note that the recovery time for the body is longer. You may find you feel more fatigued than with other training sessions. This is perfectly normal and of course the more you train this way your body will adapt, however make sure you are listening to your body and don’t over do it! Allow rest days between HIIT sessions to avoid burn out. Generally, the intensity and high impact exercises you see in HIIT workouts can place a lot of stress on muscles and joints etc which can lead to a greater risk of injury. This can be exacerbated if you are performing movements with incorrect technique or you have previous injuries. Finally, it goes without saying that if you have any current medical conditions it is always best to consult your GP or medical expert before starting any new exercise!

So, some key points to finish:

  1. If you absolutely hate HIIT DON’T do it! This isn’t a compulsory thing you have to do. If its calorie burning you are after there are other ways to exercise which may suit you better
  2. If you are just beginning to exercise more start with some lighter activity and don’t jump straight the deep end with HIIT.
  3. Recovery is key so make sure if you are HIIT mad like I am that you don’t over do it! You’ll know when you smash a session compared to when your body is telling you to just CHILL OUT!
  4. Those of you regularly taking HIIT classes always keep in mind the effort level expected of you!

If you have any questions my comments, email or Instagram DM’s are always open!

Lots of Love

CK

Emotional Eating

Emotional Eating: “propensity to eat in response to positive and negative emotions”

What is emotional eating?

Defined as above emotional eating happens when we overeat in response to our emotions. This can include feelings of stress, boredom or sadness to name a few and causes us to eat, even when we are not feeling physically hungry.

It is important to understand the difference between emotional eating and binge eating as they are often confused. The main difference is that emotional eating doesn’t tend to be as habitual as binging, plus those that binge will eat a far greater volume of food within a shorter time frame.

Why do people find themselves emotional eating?

There are multiple triggers that can cause emotional eating and sometimes there may be numerous things at play at any one time. Some of the most common causes include stress, boredom, childhood habits, social influences, specific environments and emotional events that can cause someone to resort to food for comfort. It is also very important to add that emotional eating affects all ages and genders!

Some of the classic signs for emotional eaters include struggling with maintaining body weight, finding themselves consuming a higher level of feel-good foods (those high in fat and sugar) and sudden feelings of hunger which rise in connection to an experience or feeling.

Of course, it is important to understand that when I say hunger in this instance it is in the case of ‘emotional hunger’. It is imperative to distinguish the difference between this and ‘physical hunger’.

Emotional hunger starts suddenly and generally will result in the consumption of foods we ‘crave’ or our go to comfort foods. It is also paired with emotions and can result in feelings of negativity after consumption has occurred. Further still those suffering with emotional hunger will find themselves mindless eating which will lead to generally eating past the point of satiety.

Physical hunger in comparison builds gradually and we are able to control this hunger, waiting longer if we necessary to eat. In addition, our body also gives us physical cues when we are hungry for example belly rumbling or feeling a bit tired and weak, so we know when we should be eating. This hunger than dissipates once we have eaten and we have no guilt or shame attached to the process. We are also generally able to make much better food choices as it is more planned rather than instinctual response.  

What effects can emotional eating have?

The effects of emotional eating are both physical and mental. From a physical perspective you may find you are consuming more than usual and thus may put on weight or struggle to maintain your current weight. Mentally however the effects of emotional eating can be far more detrimental. What tends to happen is a cycle effect of emotions. An eating episode is started by an emotional event or feeling that happens to us. We then look to food as a way of soothing ourselves and make us feel good. It can also act as a temporary distraction from the initial cause. However shortly after these feelings subside and then we find ourselves experiencing feelings of guilt or shame, which in turn leads to negative self-talk and leads us straight back to the start of the cycle again. As you can see over time this cyclical cause and effect can wreak havoc on our headspace, causing emotional eating to become a coping mechanism.

How can I change this behaviour?

Recognising that you may be emotional eating is a great step in the right direction. There are many practical tools you can implement to support change. You may find not all of the ideas work, but it is best to try different methods to see what resonates with you.

Some tools to try:

  1. Feed yourself well – Make sure you are looking after yourself including your general health and diet and also ensure you are eating enough.
  2. Try to reduce your alcohol consumption – Alcohol affects our body in many ways but can increase feelings of anxiety and false hunger for some people which can lead to unnecessary eating
  3. Physical Activity – Goes without saying that exercise give us that feel good feeling! It can be a fantastic mood and energy booster and also help to shift some of those nagging emotions we may be feeling.
  4. Emotional awareness – Become fully aware of yourself, what makes you feel good? What makes you feel bad? when are you usually bored? What has been a trigger for you in the past?  Etc etc. The more questions you ask of yourself the more you will be able to understand your reactions in the future. (This will help you in all areas of life!)
  5. Food Journaling – Linked to the above it is always worth writing down your thoughts and feelings and link it to your food consumption. Try writing down how you feel before a meal and how you feel after. You will quickly see a pattern emerging … and of course knowledge is power!
  6. Mindfulness – something we should all be doing anyway! But mindful practices can be a massive help when it comes to an emotional episode. Always stop, breathe and think. Check in with yourself regularly throughout the day, how are you feeling? Find the coping mechanisms that works best for you, this could be going for a walk, taking a bath, a cup of tea and 5 minutes of mindfulness or perhaps reaching out and speaking to someone.
  7. Sleep & Relaxation – Always make sure you are getting enough sleep and finding some time in your day to simply relax. It really does us the world of good.

I really hope this blog is useful to those who may be struggling with this topic at the moment. As always if you need further help the best thing you can do is to speak up and reach out!

Be kind to yourself!

Lots of Love

CK

Digital Wellbeing

Yesterday I decided to take the full day off social media. Now more than ever I’m finding I’m spending hours on end trawling through feeds not looking for anything in particular, but feeling my mind getting sucked into the vortex that I call the ‘scroll hole’. Some days I think I can actually feel my brain cells draining out of me!

Now before I begin, I should start by saying that I think there are lots of positives to social media! It allows us to connect, follow and help thousands of people at the click of a button, enables us to share knowledge, ideas and creativity and learn from others, it can be an amazing platform for businesses and let’s be honest if you get it right you can earn a lot of money off it. HOWEVER, with all of these positives there is of course a flip side to the coin. The biggest one I believe is the fact that WE ARE ADDICTED.

So, going back to yesterday, my rule was to not go on any social media platforms. I had breakfast and took myself off for a long walk (on which I try to never use my phone anyway as that’s my ME time) and then I got back and as it was Sunday I totally chilled and watched TV most of the day. Throughout the day I counted 8 TIMES that I subconsciously unlocked my phone and just clicked Instagram before I even had a chance to think about it. HOW SCARY IS THAT! Every time I instantly closed it down, locked the phone and carried on my day. Let’s be real…most of the time we trawl our feeds because of boredom, and right now things are really bloody boring! But rather than scrolling being a couple of minutes of entertainment it turns into hours… it has well and truly got us, we can’t get enough of it! We’re hooked!

Here’s the thing… I am sure a lot of people will be there saying “well to be fair I am only on it a lot at the moment because I’m bored or there isn’t much to do”, and I agree to an extent. However I always think about when things like social media didn’t exist… everyone still found things to do to fill their time, and most probably they were more rewarding things like reading a book or going for a walk or baking a cake to name a few. Bit of a tangent but I guess the point being everyone wasn’t sitting around staring at a wall waiting for social media to be created, there is always something you can do when you’re bored.  

I sit there and think about the amount of time I waste on pointless scrolling. Take for example my digital wellbeing times from last week on my phone:

Total daily average screen time 3hours 57minutes  

Roughly 18 hours this week spent on social media

Now I have no idea how bad or good this is compared to other people and of course will naturally be a little higher than if I was at work all day. However just think about those hours across a year. That is around 936 hours every year I am spending achieving nothing. Imagine if I had spent those 2.5hours every day reading, or meditating or learning a language or helping other people or developing a new skill I mean the list is absolutely endless. When you think about it like that it surely hits home a bit. It certainly does for me!!

I have thought about deleting my social media so many times because of this very reason, however I also know that I can use my profile as a platform to share knowledge and to help others and this is something, I am really passionate about (there is always good with the bad!). So for now I’m sticking with them, but making some changes.

This has been on my mind for a while now and yesterday’s little ‘digital detox test’ really showed me that I need to make some changes to the way I use my phone and social media in order to STOP WASTING MY TIME, therefore I have come to this:

  1. Conscious usage – before you know it your phone is out, insta is up and your fingers are sore from scrolling so much is a NO NO. I am going to try to engage my brain every time I seem to just open social media up to ask myself ‘what did I come on this for?…. if I can’t give myself an answer then I close it back down
  2. Understand where social media fits into my day – For example if I am needing some workout inspiration, a new recipe, some advice on something or just a bit of a laugh and release… by knowing this I can then target my usage into what it is I actually am looking for. As I say there is a lot of POSITIVE content on social media you just need to know what you are looking for.
  3. Bedtime Ban – This one is becoming a savage for me to the point I sometimes think I can still feel my eyes scrolling when they are closed!! 30 minutes phone free is a minimum before bed to support a healthy night’s sleep. Fall out of this habit and you soon realise why you set it in the first place.
  4. If it doesn’t make me feel good, I don’t follow – SUCH an easy one this one! Anyone’s content who makes me feel inadequate, belittled, useless or envious I just simply click the unfollow button it’s that simple. Ask yourself does this person’s content either help & educate me or make me feel positive in some way or another.
  5. Accountability – That same old word I go on and on about in my posts.  I am setting myself limits each day. Most of us have phones now that actually track our digital wellbeing so you will know full well how much time you have wasted. You can even set timers to bar the app if you go over your limit.
  6. Digital detox days – I liked my Sunday vibe so I am going to try and make Sunday my day off. Maybe this might work for you too?

Use your phone, but use it wisely😊

Lots of Love

CK

Needing some motivation?

Ahhh motivation…. See the funny thing about it is that at some point we ALL need motivation and there isn’t a single person on this earth that is motivated all day every day (or I have yet to meet them!).  Motivation can be defined as ‘enthusiasm for doing something’. If it is something you are really passionate about you will find it a lot easier to motivate yourself, but even within that there will be times you are just not feeling it! A good example for me is exercise as I absolutely love training and keeping fit, but some days I just really can’t be arsed.

Now you may fall into two camps on days where motivation evades you. Camp A are the people who say to themselves ‘oh well, these things happen, I will just try again tomorrow’, they acknowledge they are having an ‘off’ day and are able to let it go. Then you have Camp B…. now you guys are with me… we are the kind of people that feel like we should wake up every single day motivated and that if we don’t, we are the laziest arseholes on earth and don’t deserve happiness. Sounds dramatic? These are genuine thoughts I know people have (including myself) daily.

Now I wanted to write about motivation because I see it being banded around everywhere during lockdown. I also see and hear people beating themselves up about not being motivated at the moment, or feeling like they should be doing and achieving more. Therefore, I think it is important to firstly address the thoughts, feelings and mindset you may be having and then secondly find ways to help!

So let’s address some key points first:

1: IT IS OK TO NOT BE MOTIVATED EVERY DAY! During this lockdown I have had days, weeks even months lacking motivation so believe me you are not alone with that feeling. Problem is we spend so much time scrawling through social media with lots of people posting stories about how motivated THEY are and how we could be achieving X,Y & Z and we are all sitting there like yeah alright mate. Therefore, MY advice if you are feeling this way is to first of all just acknowledge it and be at peace with the feeling. Embrace it, have a laugh at yourself, take a moment to breathe and reset your thought pattern. I do this a lot… especially when even Netflix asks me if I am still there because I have watched it for so long, its like me cue to say oh yeah, I need to get off my arse and do something now! My second piece advice on this is to unfollow or remove people on your socials who make you feel you are not doing enough. Believe me you don’t need them.

2: UNDERSTAND WHAT TYPE OF MOTIVATION DRIVES YOU. It goes without saying that the more we understand ourselves the more likely we are to be successful, so work out what really motivates you… is it perhaps competition, social recognition, money, praise? Or more internal achievements such as solving a problem or learning something new. Naturally this will differ based on our goals, but I do believe we have a tendency to veer towards certain types of motivation and its good to get an understanding of what really floats our boats.

3. WHEN WE DON’T HAVE MOTIVATION, WE STILL HAVE COMMITEMENT. Big one for me this! If you have committed to doing something you are more likely to get it done even if your motivation is at 1% … why? Because you’ve made an agreement with yourself that you will do something… without the caveat of if you can be bothered. This doesn’t have to be massive (especially at the moment!) but a commitment to achieving something every day can have a huge impact. For me this works in the form of a to do list… because the perfectionist in me HATES not ticking something off, I am far more likely to do it if I have written it down. An example I have taken this year is that I will do yoga 6 days a week. Every single morning it’s the first thing I put on my to do list. The days when I am feeling ‘meh’ I just roll out the mat and do 30minutes (just so I can tick it off)… by the time I get going I’m like “oh yeah, I do love this actually let’s do some more” and there I have created my own motivation.

Which leads me perfectly onto ways I believe you can boost your motivation:

  1. What can you commit to doing? If you have a goal, you’re looking to achieve what small things each day can you do to work towards this. Once you have planned this out WRITE IT DOWN or TELL SOMEONE you are going to do it. That way you are ACCOUNTABLE. When we have accountability, we are far more likely to complete a task.
  2. Ask yourself WHY? If you find you are constantly unmotivated with something specifically ask yourself why is that? What is the limiting factor stopping you? My example would be my flute. I really want to get better at playing the flute and reading music and yet every time I put it on a to do list, I always seem to leave it until last… why? Because I am not naturally good at it and I would prefer to make myself feel great by doing something I know I am good at rather than actually taking the time to focus on it. However, the sense of achievement I get when I see improvements on this is ten-fold and links back to what motivation drives me.
  3. Remember the feeling. When you are motivated and smash everything you set out to achieve in a day, week, month remember that feeling! We all know how good it feels to get stuff done, so on those days when it just isn’t there we have to step back and remember those feelings. This can be a huge help in just taking a small step, perhaps ticking one thing off your list or completing one task… chances are you find some momentum and wind in your sails once you get going.
  4. CHOOSE to do something rather than NEED or HAVE to. By using the latter words, we back ourselves into a corner and without knowing probably internalise some inner resentment and resistance in getting the task done. I am sure we can all think of a million examples where people have told us we have to do something or we say to ourselves I NEED to get that done…. Which makes us bitter and resentful right? Think about the language you use during the day. It can make a big difference.

So always remember to celebrate the little wins, understand the losses and most importantly don’t beat yourself up every day over it! Motivation comes and motivation goes …. “You can’t stop the waves but you can learn how to surf”

As always I genuinely hope this helps!

Lots of Love

CK

2020. A Year Like no Other.

Well, what a year that was! I am sure when we all woke up hungover on 1st January 2020 we didn’t envisage where we would be today and how much the world will have changed on so many levels. When I personally look back on this year, I can honestly say it has been one of the toughest ones I have had. I always feel guilty saying things like this because I can think of millions of others who are far worse off than me, but as I said to my friend once, if we constantly compared ourselves to others, we would never allow ourselves to fully embrace and acknowledge the way we are feeling. It is only when you do this that you can begin to make change and heal.

Next year I want to focus on making more ‘real’ content, and talk more openly and honestly about things that really matter. Anyone that knows me very well will know that opening up is not a strength of mine, but I know that there is real beauty in sharing your life with others and it can actually help and make a difference, which is something I have vowed to do more of. So, I decided to fully reflect on this year, warts and all.

Of course we should always start with the highs. Normally my highlights are of nights out or trips away (Ibiza 2019 was lit!). However, this year they look very different!

  1. Giving back to others – I have found real happiness and joy in giving back. As you may know throughout the lockdowns, I was providing Instagram live classes for free for everyone.  I didn’t have hundreds joining me daily but the messages I received from the few that did warmed my heart in ways a big night out couldn’t! In the middle of all the madness I really felt that I was making a difference to others, and even managed to raise some money for charity at the same time! What a feeling😊
  2. Relationship resilience – I couldn’t write about the highlights of this year without mentioning my partner who has been an absolute pillar of strength for me throughout. Having someone who recognises your struggles, who listens wholeheartedly, who endures the bad days & months, and who supports you unconditionally is something I know I am EXTREMELY lucky to have and I owe him the world this year.
  3. The gift of time – Something I used to say ALL the time pre lock down is “I wish I had more time to do…” let’s just say my wish was granted! Of course, there was the days of endless Netflix but I generally have to be active or doing something. The lockdowns allowed me time to start blogging, teach online classes, read more books, play more flute, take more walks and appreciate nature to name but a few.
  4. I became a Yogi – Possibly the most exciting thing to happen to me this year was finding yoga and becoming a teacher. It has ignited a very different fire inside me and has made me look into who I am, who I want to be, and what difference I can make to the world. I am absolutely BUZZING with what 2021 is going to bring on this front!

But of course, with life it isn’t always highs. This is the bit that’s scary to share, so I’ll take a deep breath and just write.

Mentally this year has really taken its toll on me. Even now when I try and write about how I feel I can sense that my thoughts are slightly chaotic, but I’ve tried to order it into some coherent points. Firstly, the feeling of being surrounded by others but still feeling alone and isolated. Now pardon the Micky Flannigan pun here, but I have noticed in myself when I am out and socialising with others I am ‘out out’ but when I am alone and can’t see other people I am fully ‘in in’. For some reason my brain just seems to recoil into this isolated space where I don’t speak to anyone or even attempt to communicate as much as I usually would do. I guess in my head I can only explain it as I get so much joy from real life human interaction that I find electronic options almost make me feel even more out of sync… if that even makes sense?!

Secondly, although I have desperately tried to fill my lockdown time there has still been a vast expanse of ‘thinking time’. If you are an over thinker like me this can be a nightmare! Sometimes I found myself lying there at night unable to sleep because I am thinking about something reckless or idiotic I did years ago, or contemplating if a decision I made when I was like 15 was the right one…as just a couple of examples. And this would genuinely keep me up at night! Better still I would even start to fabricate future situations and totally over analyse where I am in my life compared to others (which may I add is the WORST thing you can do!). The truth is not one of these thoughts has been helpful or productive, it just made me more anxious and annoyed at myself.

Control. One thing I KNOW about myself is that I like to feel I am in control. This year has turned that completely on its head. For me I find when I feel a loss of control I try and place that focus in others areas of my life, for example my diet, exercise or overplanning. This can often lead to some quite self-destructive behaviours which I have walked a fine line on but luckily succeed in resolving this year, but it’s been tough!

There have been a few moments this year that have stayed in my mind. I went into work one day and spoke to someone there who said “it seems you’ve lost your spark”.  They couldn’t have been more accurate and pretty much sums up exactly how I have felt this year. I have been completely lost and at times totally uninspired. I have cried more times than I care to imagine and have questioned so much about myself and my life. I have seen it in myself, and others have seen it in me too. But I strongly believe we get these ‘turning points’ in our lives when we know something has to change and we must fully embrace that. That sums 2020 for me.

Therefore, I am going into 2021 with these clear resolutions:

  1. Take more care of myself both physically and mentally – Get that spark back and be unapologetically me😊
  2. Fully understand and challenge my thoughts, actions and mindset & share more when I am struggling.
  3. Spend more time giving back to others and making a difference in this world through things I am passionate about

Here is to 2021 everyone!

Lots of Love

CK

x

My Month Vegan

I get asked a lot in the gym about vegetarian and vegan diets and my thoughts on them, if they are healthier and how to maintain a healthy balanced diet whilst not eating meat or animal products. I myself have tried multiple different diets, not only for personal preference but also so that I am able to articulate my thoughts and knowledge on them after living and breathing them for a period of time.

I will quickly say before I start that I won’t talk about any environmental benefits to switching diets as it’s not my remit and people are able to do their own research to decide what they think is best for our world and environment without me influencing this.

Sometime last year I decided to do one-month vegan. I did this mainly because its something I had never tried and let’s be honest it’s a massively growing market so I wanted to check it out😊. It came with plenty of pro’s and con’s but I’ve tried to consolidate below the main points for me.

One of the biggest challenges I personally found was keeping my protein intake high. Now that isn’t to say it’s impossible, it just took a lot of thought with my daily meals and also a lot of trial and error on some vegan protein powders which personally didn’t work for me. I increased my intake of beans, lentils and pulses which are packed full of protein…however I also found they packed me pull of wind so that took both myself and my boyfriend some getting used to!! Although my protein levels did drop in this month, I still found I was able to roughly maintain muscle with a consistent gym programme, but it was certainly harder. I would say that come week 3 my body had adapted slightly to the increase in pulses and I felt less swollen and had more energy. I also lived off peanut butter rice cakes for month for a quick and easy high protein snack which was a highlight!

Second thing I found was that I was amazed as to how many products were not vegan. Of course, you expect the usual suspects, however there was plenty that I wasn’t aware of. For example, some of the Quorn products are not vegan (they have a separate vegan range), some sauces and even things like crisps sometimes contain milk. Luckily, I found out pretty early that Lotus Biscoff spread is vegan so I found myself spoon feeding mouthfuls of this every night after work (I do NOT recommend this in a healthy diet!). I also discovered that some packaging isn’t as clear as you would assume it would be. Lots of things I found were vegetarian, and when I read the ingredients couldn’t see anything that wouldn’t make it vegan but it wasn’t labelled as it. This may be due to manufacturing methods so my rule to myself was that if it doesn’t have any animal products in the ingredients, I brought it.

The final thing I spotted was that the vegan Quorn products I was having were higher in fat than I had anticipated. The first couple of weeks I was scoffing down Quorn pieces, mince, nuggets etc with most meals but quickly found that I would be better off limiting this slightly. I have always really enjoyed Quorn products and would certainly recommend to people, just make sure you read the label and check your portions when consuming.

Oh, and before we move on to the positives, I CANNOT go without mentioning the vegan cheeses I tried! I do believe that overall, there are some great vegan alternatives out there, HOWEVER I don’t think anyone has nailed it on the cheese front yet! I am a cheese fanatic…but some of the vegan cheeses had me almost sick to my stomach! I found a couple of the really subtle vegan mozzarella equivalents I had on pizza were ok, but anything resembling a hard cheese to add onto pasta etc was absolutely foul. I still have nightmares to this day thinking about it!

Anyway, moving on to the positives, I would certainly say that the vegan offering available in supermarkets and other food establishments at the moment is absolutely amazing! Most of the big supermarkets have whole ranges of vegan products, clearly labelled and most importantly providing a diverse and delicious array of ingredients and meals! Gone are the days of vegans just getting salads and soups everywhere! It really does show the massive rise of veganism in the UK. I was even more impressed with the restaurants I went to as well, with almost all of them having at least 2 vegan options and some even having a full vegan option! It was nice to feel that you weren’t the burden around the table and also to feel like you were spoilt for choice. Some of the meals I had were so delicious as well!! One of the highlights was The Vurger Co. in London, which my boyfriend took me to as a surprise and honestly you would never have known the mac and cheese and burger were vegan, they were SO GOOD!!

It was also great to try and recreate some of our favourite meals, but make them all vegan. It made you think outside the box a little more, with some very impressive results! We managed to produce a delicious fully vegan shepherd’s pie using lentils and also a hot and spicy chickpea curry which again really hit the spot! There are some fantastic vegan recipe books on the market and there is also the power of Google, which gives us thousands of recipes at the click of a button. It was nice to get back to scratch cooking and to also follow a recipe again as I am the queen of either winging it or just eating similar stuff everyday because its quick, easy and healthy.

The only thing I supplemented with during my vegan month was vitamin B12 as this can generally be lost in many vegetarian and vegan diets. I also generally take iron, omega 3 & 6 anyway, more for general health and wellbeing.

I would say overall it wasn’t as challenging as perhaps I had first expected. Once the terrible wind and cheese trauma had passed, I actually found I was adapting really nicely to my new lifestyle! Naturally I only really dipped my toe in the water but I can now see how people choose the vegan lifestyle. I went back to eating meat after my month vegan but have since become pescatarian, as my own personal preference.

Overall, it was a great experience for me and I recommend if you are thinking of perhaps dipping a toe in the water like I did to give it a go! Perhaps even as a little challenge to yourself for a month and see how you feel, you never know it may be the best choice you ever make!

My Be Kind to Yourself Advent Calendar 2020

Here are 25 things to try & smile about this December 😊

1.  Think of one person you value in your life and let them know how much they mean to you

2.  Write down 3 things you were grateful for today

3. Try a new type of exercise … think outside the box! I would recommend Yoga!

4. Treat yourself to your favourite meal for dinner

5.  Go for a long walk and explore the beautiful nature around you

6. Try to go phone free for the morning…. You will be amazed how much you get done

7. Start your Monday right with a to do list for the week. You will feel like an organised legend!

8.  Practice mindfulness today – switch off from the world for 10 minutes and try to calm and quieten your mind

9. Do 30 minutes of exercise today … whatever takes your fancy!

10. Drink more water – try and track the amount of water you drink… is it enough?

11. Complete a task you have been putting off

12. Write down 3 things you love about yourself today

13. Have a ‘do nothing’ day and enjoy it!!

14.  Start your Monday right with a to do list for the week – Remember how good it made you feel last week

15.   Cook a healthy midweek meal and try one new ingredient in your dinner tonight!

16. Enjoy a hot bath or shower and listen to some calming music before bed. This is your YOU time!!

17. Make time in your day to stretch! Even just 15 minutes will make such a difference.

18. Do one kind deed for someone else today

19. Think of one thing that made you laugh today

20. Enjoy a phone free evening – especially 30 minutes before bed

21. Give someone a compliment

22. Put on an outfit you feel killer confident in!

23. Write down 3 things you want to achieve next year & reflect on 3 things you have accomplished this year

24.  Don’t forget to watch at least one Christmas movie today

25. Have an amazing Christmas Day and celebrate the best way you can!

Here is to a positive December full of kindness 😊

Lots of Love

CK

My Yoga Journey

In August I wrote to you about investing in yourself and mentioned that I had recently invested in a yoga teaching qualification. Now I am on the verge of finishing after a fair few months of hard work, long hours and LOTS of yoga and I am really excited to begin my yoga teaching journey and get everyone as inspired with yoga as I am!

I wanted to take the time to reflect on my journey, because for me it has been more enlightening than I could have ever imagined. If we wind back to the first lockdown, I had renewed my love of yoga by doing some online classes with the main motivation to keep fit, keep moving, get more flexible and to give my body a new challenge. If you asked me now why I do yoga my answer would be completely different!

This journey came at a time of real uncertainty for me. Coming out of the first lockdown and back to work my anxiety was through the roof, I felt completely lost, full of self-doubt and quite honestly was really miserable. Alongside the course I was having to try and rebuild my business and recover from the mental strain of lockdown. It wasn’t without its challenges, but it gave me a focus, it taught me a lot, but most importantly it became more than a course, it became a personal transformation.

So, whilst reflecting I decided to list the changes (I’ve kept it brief but there are whole chapters and worlds of things you could say for all of them), I have noticed in myself over the last few months, because Yoga to me has become so much more than movement on a mat.

  1. Mindset & Self-worth – Spending so much time with yourself, your thoughts and your body makes you see things in a whole new light. Taking the time out every day to clear a path for your mind has been really inspiring. It has also helped me change and shape the things I see as important and of value. This can be quite an overwhelming experience but in time it can make a big impact.
  2. Reflecting on situations – Removing emphasis on the material things in life and being more in the present. Before this course I was struggling with feeling like I wasn’t ‘where I should be’ in my life. Now I am more thankful and beginning to try and take each day as it comes and see the beauty in that. Also, and a very important one, I have tried to stop comparing myself to others! We are all on our own path and this negativity spreads. When faced with a situation which may trigger negative emotions now, I am slowly training my mind to pause, regather, breathe and re-frame. 
  3. Gratitude & Humbleness – I feel I have really shone a mirror to myself over the last few months and I have seen both the good and bad in me. That is itself is a very humbling experience. My focus now is on what joy, love and support I can bring to others and be less self-absorbed. Remove the jealousy, pessimism and self-doubt from my life, and be more engaged in what difference I can bring to the world. Further still spending more time enjoying the world around me! I have become an avid nature lover😊
  4. Lifestyle – Looking after myself more! I have given up caffeine completely, reduced my alcohol intake and also, I have gone back to being vegetarian as this is a personal preference for me.  We should honour and love our bodies and look after them the best way we can!
  5. Silence in the noise – The time I spend doing yoga now is my time for absolute silence from the world. I have been practicing meditation 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes and am training my mind to silence the noise around me, even for the smallest of time. Game changing! When you step on your yoga mat this is your time, for you!
  6. Challenging the mind – All of the above doesn’t come overnight, everyday I am stimulating my mind, changing its preconceptions, focussing on removing the noise of life around, changing its ingrained responses to situations, teaching it new ways of working and most of all being kind and looking after it! Our mental health is so important and yet we never seem to put the emphasis on caring for it!

So, if you asked me now why I do yoga… my answer would be because:

“I am accepting who I am and caring for myself from the inside out. It isn’t about perfection it’s about progress”

Namaste

CK x

Shall we talk about periods?

Right let’s be honest periods can be an absolute bitch can’t they! Whilst men think it’s just a bit of bleeding once a month it is actually so much more than that. Every week within our cycle the body is affected in different ways. If you ever take the time to track your cycle you will be able to clearly see changes in your mood, performance, weight, energy levels, hunger levels the lot! I decided for this blog to take a bit of a deeper dive into our cycles and attempt to explain why we feel certain ways each month. It was only when I took a step back to understand my cycle more, that I realised some distinctive patterns and thus could give myself a bit of a break instead of beating myself up! … it all just made sense!

Now if you are a guy out there reading this, I suggest you continue to read because there could be a few light bulb moments as to why your girlfriend goes from a princess to a demon overnight …. or when may be the best time to try and give your girl a ‘special cuddle’ so stay tuned!

Firstly, our cycle can be split into 4 sections: Menstruation, Follicular phase, Ovulation and the Luteal Phase.  Normally a full cycle will be roughly around 25-30 days (although naturally things like the contraceptive pill etc may affect this). I am going to briefly look through the full cycle with you and explain some of the changes you may notice in your body.

Let’s start in week 1-2 – During the follicular phase our body starts to slowly increase in levels of oestrogen. As this hormone increase, we see a boost in our mood and our energy levels and may feel a bit more positive about things. We will also generally feel a little less hungry, so will be able to regulate our diets better, and we may also find we can build muscle a little quicker than in the latter phases of our cycle. Throughout the follicular phase as we head towards the ovulation peak (guys this was the bit where you need to listen up), we will also start to find that our libido will steadily rise reaching a peak around week 2 and ovulation. It is at this stage where we will feel the most confident, sexy and self-assured (HORRAAAYYY!!)). Remember from an evolutionary perspective this was the world telling us to procreate and get bonking at the best time! During this stage our testosterone also increases which boosts our libido even more… and if you are a gym goer means we can do some of our best lifts! What a win win… SEX AND PB’s! On the downside with all of these hormones raging around our body some women may get a little bit anxious around this time so be mindful of this as well!

So that is all the good news… now to weeks 3-4 the Luteal phase – To put it bluntly this is where is all starts to go a bit tits up. As our hormones begin to change, we see a lowering in oestrogen and an increase in progesterone. With this hormone now being more dominant we can begin to feel a little more tired and fatigued and also our appetite increases so we generally tend to find ourselves falling off any diet wagons or just eating more comfort foods. I know from my own experience it is during week 3 of my cycle when there literally isn’t enough food in the world and I am constantly STARVING! Now interestingly when I read up about this it is because our metabolic rate rises, which increases our calorie needs, because our body thinks that we could have gotten pregnant during ovulation… how crazy is that! It is at this point when we can also experience those hungry mood swings… you know the ones … where if you don’t get some sugar in the next 30 minutes someone is going to get it!

The best thing we can do during this phase of our cycle is eat little and often and turn to options such as fruit for those sugar hits we are looking for. Naturally our libido drops more now, as in theory if we were going to get pregnant it would have happened already, and thus instead of searching for some late-night action, we search more for affection and closeness as we sometimes can feel a bit down, sad or exhausted in this phase (onesies at the ready!). This leads me nicely on to that final week pre period. As our hormones continue to lower this is where we can really feel that change in mood including anxiousness and sadness …. This is the one girls where you find yourself crying over every advert on the TV… or because you were 5 minutes late to your bus. Generally, this can also be the time when the more physical effects can show for some, with pre period cramps etc causing havoc for many… before finally we complete our full cycle ready to go again!!

This all being said, every single person is different and for some they may not experience any mood swings, cravings or even physical pain at all. Therefore, the above is only an explanation for some and cannot be generalised. HOWEVER, if you do experience any of the above, I have some recommendations for you:

  1. If you are feeling fluctuations in your mood try and write a cycle diary. I did this for a couple months and I could immediately see where my mood began to change around week 3. This allowed me then to put in some positive habits such as being kinder to myself those weeks, going to bed earlier and not pushing myself as hard in the gym. It also enabled me to understand why I was acting a certain way and thus try and mindfully work with my body rather than against it. I now know each month what to expect that week and I can fully embrace it.
  2. Plan your workouts for your cycles. When our energy and mood is high, we are generally able to perform better in our workouts. Therefore, I tend to lean towards heavier weight training and high intensity work during my first 2 weeks and then focus more on lighter training with more reps in weeks 3-4. This is mainly so I can look after my body, but also so I am not beating myself up constantly about dropping back on PB’s etc.
  3. Our weight can change weekly throughout a cycle (daily even!) so make sure if you are tracking your weight you are always comparing week 1 to week 1 and not weeks within a cycle as you will end up feeling disheartened and lose motivation.
  4. If you know, like me, that come week 3 you want to eat everything in your path then try and lower your calories across the first couple of weeks of your cycle to allow for this and also try and make food choices which are going fill the need but also add some wholesome benefit to the body such as fruit.
  5. Know your body, Respect your body & Love your body! We are all unique and that is what makes us all so special!

Love CK

Gratitude

Definition: The quality of feeling of being grateful or thankful.

A few years ago, whilst hitting a bit of a crossroads in my life I purchased a happiness planner on Amazon. Within this planner you had to document a number of things each day for 100 days. This included a daily intention in the morning, to do list and also a small section at the end to write what you were grateful for that day. I have to admit at first it all felt a little bit flowery and quite forced trying to sit down at the end of a long, hard working day and get some thoughts down on paper, but overtime I recall actually taking note of things that happened in the day that I could write about when I got home and it was a really nice feeling.

Skip forward however many years up to present day …. I was taking a beautifully long walk through the woods yesterday when I turned to my boyfriend and said “I am so grateful for just feeling completely relaxed and carefree today”. We carried on our walk and I didn’t think much else of it until I got home that evening and was deciding what to write for my blog post this week. You see sometimes it takes a little moment of complete calm to realise how grateful we could be for even the smallest things in life. Yesterday I was grateful for the crisp autumn weather, the beautiful smell of the woods around me, the delicious hot chocolate I got for my walk (Ruby Cocoa Hot Choc from Costa for those wondering), having a laugh with my boyfriend, seeing loads of cute dogs and being able to be completely in the present moment. And want to hear the best bit about all of this… bar the hot chocolate it was all absolutely free!! It can be extremely easy in this mad world we live in to get swept up in the chaotic wave of the everyday…. but if you take a little step back each day, I am sure you could find one small thing you were grateful for that day. Now I am a firm believer that the more positive energy you radiate the more positive energy you get back…. Or in other words the more you are grateful of things the more things you are going to have to be grateful for (that 100% made more sense in my head!!!). Therefore, my mission to you is to take 5 minutes each day to think about all of the things you are thankful for that day. You don’t have to necessarily write them down, but just take a moment to have a think… (it could even be while you are on the toilet!)… and remember it can be as simple as a nice cup of tea in the morning, or the fact it didn’t rain, for the beautiful blue sky, that you managed to finish work 5 minutes early perhaps, or that your favourite TV programme was on. Try it for the next 3-4 weeks and see how you feel. Going to bed thankful for all these amazing little things will guarantee you a peaceful night’s sleep… and hopefully a positive mindset when you wake!

Today I am thankful for….

Love CK x