Archive of ‘Health’ category

Run, run, run

It’s finally happened! I’ve achieved something that I’ve always struggled with…I’ve started to enjoy exercise!hot pink trainers and bright blue leggings

Exercise and me have always been fair-weather friends – I give her my all for the briefest of moments and then give her up with barely a backwards glance.

That was until the luggage of my perimenopausal journey reared it’s ugly face – and by that, I mean the roll of something extra around my middle. I no likey!

I decided my only option was exercise. I started running about 6 weeks ago and to be very honest (please don’t hate me) I’m absolutely LOVE it! Blow me down with a feather, I really do enjoy it.

Tina and me may be very alike in some respects, but in relation to exercise, we’ve always been worlds apart. Tina loves it with a passion while until now I’ve never found a form of exercise that I really enjoy.

I only run twice a week – both days of the weekend as, with a full-time job, this is the only time I can really squeeze it in. I started off covering short distances and have gradually built up how long and how far I run for. It’s great – my body feels stronger, less wobbly, and my mummy tummy is decreasing, yay!

I didn’t realise that as we get older, our metabolism changes. It slows down, and starts to store more fat. Marilyn Glebville explains it beautifully:

“Your ovaries produce less oestrogen as you go through the menopause, so your body tries to compensate by making you fatter. Fat around the middle of your body manufactures oestrogen, which can offset the lower levels of oestrogen produced by the ovaries”.

So getting your wiggle on will really help to get rid of any extra fat you might find yourself with,

It’s important to find something you love, or at least like, that really gets your heart rate up.

Now, this is soooo me, but I just can’t run in any old thing, I want to look nice too. So I took myself off to H&M and got some really fabulous gym clothes that didn’t break the bank but look good and feel good too. My husband even bought me some hot-pink trainers, woo hoo!

I’ll keep you posted on how I get on. Fingers crossed that this newfound friendship will last forever!

Watercolour photo of a pinky red heart

 

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SPARKLE FROM WITHIN

girl holding a sparklergirl holding a sparklerThis week’s blog is all about maintaining a healthy lifestyle long-term.

Here at HC-HQ, we firmly believe that what you put into your body shows on the outside, hence our term “sparkle from within”.

We just love the idea of everyone walking around sparkling “How?” we hear you ask. Never fear, we’re on hand with our top tips for helping you to maintain your inner and outer loveliness. Health is wealth, right chicks!

ANTIOXIDANTS

You’ve probably heard this word bandied about a lot in any discussions about healthy foods, but you may not know what antioxidants actually are. Well, they’re mainly found in vegetables and fruit – particularly the ones that are brightly coloured – and contain anti-ageing properties that fight ‘free radicals’ (the nasty substances produced by environmental pollutants like car fumes and preservatives that can make you susceptible to cancer, heart disease and premature ageing). The more antioxidants you consume, the slower you’ll age, inside and out. Yikes, pass me the rainbow salad!

Here’s a list of foods that are high in antioxidants to help fight those naughty free radicals and make you sparkle from within (and the good news is that these foods are all pretty yummy so it’s easy to increase your intake of them):

  • Vitamin A – apricots, sweet potatoes, watermelon, chilli pepper, lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes
  • Vitamin C – dark leafy vegetables (kale, broccoli), citrus fruit (fat juicy oranges, lemons and lines), peppers, tomatoes and berries, (think juicy strawberries, blackberries and blueberries)
  • Vitamin E – brown rice, lentils, nuts and seeds
  • Beta Carotene – red and yellow peppers, carrots, mango and broccoli

Selenium – fish, shellfish, red meat, chicken, brazil nuts, onions, brown rice

So stock up chicks, and before long you’ll be sparkling from within. Why not try for 28 days and see how you feel.

Let us know, we love to hear from you.

Love Carol and Tina

Watercolour photo of a pinky red heart

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Wheat free – is it just hype, or should we really ditch the gluten?

girl running in a field of wheat

What’s the deal with wheat? One minute we’re told that it’s good for us, the next we’re told that it’s not. Confused? We were, so we thought we’d do a bit of digging. Here’s what we found…

Growing up, most of us probably ate wheat at most meals: breakfast was cereal or toast, lunchtime was a sandwich, and dinner would often have included a sizeable side of pasta or bread. So what, if anything, was wrong with that?

To understand whether wheat is good, bad or indifferent, we need to know what it is and how it affects our bodies. So, let’s start with the basics. Wheat is a type of grass grown all over the world and, once picked, is made into flour which is used to make bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits and cereals.

Wheat contains high levels of sugar – two slices of toast contain more than six teaspoons! When we digest wheat, we convert the proteins into exorphins – these are like the endorphins you get after running. So after consuming wheat products, we get a short high, followed by a low where we feel tired, and start craving more wheat products for energy. And so the cycle repeats itself.

The cycle – poshly called “wheat dominance” – will cause weight gain around your middle, and can cause skin problems, migraines, joint pain and even heart disease. It also can produce symptoms that mimic the menopause, including mood swings, weight gain and food cravings. That daily sandwich isn’t quite so appealing now, is it, chicks? Erm, nope!

It’s always important to eat a healthy diet, no matter where we are in the lifecycle, but given the changes that our bodies experience during the peri/menopausal years, reducing our wheat intake now just makes sense.

Why not eliminate it for two weeks and see how you feel? What have you got to lose…other than your love handles?

At HC/HQ…..

We’ve found that cutting out all the white stuff works best for us, so no more white pasta or white bread. If we’re craving bread, we eat rye bread – it has more nutrients than white bread, and doesn’t have the same affect on your blood sugar levels. Note: don’t be put off that rye bread is a very dark brown colour, it’s seriously tasty, particularly with a dollop of homemade hummus and tomatoes, or a mashed avocado. Yum!

Cutting out wheat does require you to shift your mind set. Lots of people struggle with breakfast, but the toast and cereal has to go – think protein at every meal.

We love gluten-free oats, sweet potatoes and quinoa, and always fill up on our veggies.

Try it, we promise you will feel better…

Let us know what you think xx

Love

Carol and Tina xx

Watercolour photo of a pinky red heart

 

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WHAT TO EAT???

fruit and yoghurt breakfast

Nutrition is an interesting topic, but it can be a tad confusing, especially when the experts disagree – eat this, don’t eat that, eat some of that but only a little…phew, brain ache!

Here at HC-HQ, we use the 70/30 approach – which means that we’re good roughly 70% of the time (avoiding carbs, dairy, sugar and processed meals), and 30% of the time, we’re more relaxed about what we eat. We find that this approach means that we can have the occasional food treat without feeling guilty, yay! But of course it’s all about finding your own balance, and what works for you.

In particular, we try to steer clear of gluten. It does mean waving goodbye to some yummy foods like bread and pasta, but it also means waving goodbye to your love handles – go gluten-free for a week or two, and you’ll notice how you feel less bloated, and start to lose inches from your middle.

We know how hard it is to cut out some of these foods, but as tasty as they are, we find that they always leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable and wanting more – are we right, chicks? And there are lots of great alternatives – wholemeal rice is okay, spelt spaghetti is good and have you tried cauliflower rice? Honestly, it’s completely delicious and has exactly the same texture as regular rice. Give it a try!

Sugar’s another one that has to go. Did you know that it can give you wrinkles, argh??!! That’s a massive reason to say a big goodbye to it. It also has zero nutritional value, is bad for your teeth, and triggers the stress hormone cortisol, which causes irritation and anxiety. No thank you!

Those of you who follow our blogs will know that we are just a little bit obsessed with baking sweet treats that are sugar free. They really do taste delicious and, better still, they mean that you can have that yummy treat without all the downsides of sugar – so there really is no excuse not to cut it out.

We also try to cut down our intake of caffeine. Caffeine dehydrates you and can increase that dreaded cortisol level again, which plays havoc with your mood.
Okay, that’s enough of what not to eat, let’s talk about what you can! We don’t advocate calories counting here at HC-HQ, yippee! There really is no need to when you eat clean foods, foods that are high in protein and, of course, plenty of veggies. Enjoy a treat meal every week, just not a treat meal every day. And don’t forget about the water – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. It’s great for your skin and it gives you energy.
Each meal should contain a protein. Our favourite breakfasts (at the moment) are either protein pancakes with berries and a little maple syrup or homemade granola with soya yoghurt and berries, which are so easy and quick to make.
We find that if we can make a good choice at breakfast, good choices are easier to make throughout the day. Lunch is usually something simple like an avocado with scrambled eggs, a quick veggie stir-fry, or leftovers from last night’s dinner. Dinner is always protein (often fish) with lots of veggies or salad; one of our favourite quick and cheap meals is homemade tomato sauce with cannellini beans, cauliflower rice, chicken and broccoli. Yum!
Of course, no one is perfect, and if you fall off the wellness train don’t waste time worrying about it, just jump back on.
You don’t have to change your whole diet in one go, even just small changes will make a positive difference. Sugar was the last thing we gave up, and we did both fall off the wagon towards the end of last year, but we started again in January without any guilt.
We have found the key to eating more healthy food choices is to plan plan plan. If you have everything in that you need, it’s easier to stick to your healthy menu.
We can 100% promise if you eat this way, you will lose weight – especially around the middle, have more energy, fewer mood swings, sleep better, and look amazing…. win win win and happy happy happy!
Let us know how you get on… we love to hear from you.

Lots of love Carol and Tina xxx

Watercolour photo of a pinky red heart

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Delicious sweet treats without the sugar – really!

sweet_treatWe all love a sweet treat now and then (probably more ‘now’ than ‘then’ if you’re anything like us)

But if you’ve read our blog Let’s Talk Sugar, you’ll know just how bad for you sugar really is.

Before you plummet into the depths of depression envisaging a life without cake (and reach for the Haagan-Dazs to lift your spirits), read this week’s blog to find out how you can get a regular sweet fix without damaging your health.

It’s all about clean ingredients. No, we don’t mean donning your best pair of Marigolds to wash a bar of Dairy Milk. We mean avoiding processed and refined foods and basing your diet on healthier whole foods. If you replace sugar with medjool dates and chocolate with raw cacao, coconut oil and maple syrup, you can enjoy delicious, guilt-free sweet treats.

Here are a few of our favourite clean sweet treats by some of the best health and wellness experts around – Dale Pinnock, The Medicinal Chef; Rachel Holmes, Kickstart Fat Loss; Sarah Wilson, I Quit Sugar and Deliciously Ella.

Sweet potato brownies by Deliciously Ella

Makes 10 brownies

• 2 medium to large sweet potatoes (600g)

• 2/3 of a cup of ground almonds (80g)

• 1/2 a cup of buckwheat or brown rice flour (100g)

• 14 medjool dates

• 4 tablespoons of raw cacao

• 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup

• a pinch of salt

Start by pre-heating the oven to 180C, and then peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into chunks and place into a steamer for about  twenty minutes, until they become really soft.

Once they are perfectly soft and beginning to fall apart remove them and add them to a food processor with the pitted dates – this will form one of the sweetest, creamiest, most delicious mixes ever!

Put the remaining ingredients into a bowl, before mixing in the sweet potato date combination. Stir well. Place into a lined baking dish and cook for about twenty minutes, until you can pierce the brownie cake with a fork bringing it out dry. Remove the tray and allow it to cool for about ten minutes – this is really important as it needs this time to stick together! Remove the brownies from the tray, leaving it another few minutes before cutting them into squares – then dig in and enjoy!

Pure Chocolate by Deliciously Ella 

Makes 20-30 chocolates

• 1/2 a cup of cacao butter

• 2-3 tablespoons of raw cacao powder

• 3-4 tablespoons of rice syrup or pure maple syrup (the rice syrup gives them a more caramel like texture and flavour)

Simply place the three ingredients in a sauce pan and heat really gently until the three have melted together, don’t let them come to the boil though. Then spoon the mix into your moulds, freeze for about thirty minutes to an hour and then store in the fridge – if you don’t eat them all at once! Enjoy

Find more of Ella’s fab recipes a http://www.deliciouslyella.com

Gorgeous Granola Bars – Dale Pinnock 

• Bake 180 x 20 mins

• 180 g porridge oats

• 3 tbsp ground flax seeds

• 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

• 1 tbsp goji berries

• 2 tbsp chopped dates

• 1 tbsp chopped figs

• 2 tbsp coconut oil

• 2 tbsp peanut butter (a good quality one without added salt or sugar)

• 1 tbsp honey

Melt the honey, coconut oil, and peanut butter together in a pan. Stir in all other ingredients and mix well to form a sticky mixture. If you find the mixture a little too sticky, you can add more oats to firm it up a little. This will make slightly crumblier bars though. Press the mixture firmly into a greased baking tin (about 8inches x 8 inches should be big enough). Place the tin at the top of a hot oven (200c/gas9) for 10 – 15 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool fully before cutting into bars.

Find more fab recipes at http://www.dalepinnok.com

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Let’s talk sugar

SUGAROkay ladies, let’s talk sugar…This has to be one of the most universal love/hate relationships that exists – so don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone

You know it makes food taste good. And you probably know that it isn’t very good for you. But do you know just how bad it really is?

This week’s blog is all about what sugar does to our bodies – it’s pretty scary, so read on and it might just help tip the balance in the battle between you and the white stuff.

When we eat sugar, we get an instant high…weeeeeeee! We’re happy and full of energy for about an hour. But after the high, comes a low – a lack of energy, tiredness and mood swings, following by cravings for more of the sweet stuff. We become slaves to this awful rollercoaster of highs and lows. Is this ringing any bells?

Let’s delve a little deeper. When our blood sugar levels drop after our sugar fix, our body automatically releases hormones called insulin and cortisol. The more we ride the sugar rollercoaster, the more of these hormones we secrete. These are the hormones that cause weight gain, especially around the middle…and premature ageing…and water retention…and tiredness…and spots…and mood swings…and hunger pangs…And if you’re over 40, sugar can even intensify menopause symptoms, eek!

But you can take control! If you kick the sugar habit, you’ll lose weight, have more energy, experience fewer mood swings, enjoy great looking skin, feel more motivated, suffer milder menopause symptoms, and feel empowered that sugar is no longer ruling your life. Doesn’t that sound amazing!?

Sugar is an addiction, so I won’t pretend that kicking the habit is easy. The first few days will be tough. But I promise that once you get through the induction period, you’ll feel fantastic and wonder why you didn’t give it up sooner.

A few little tips that really helped me:

  1. eat three protein-rich meals a day to stabilise those hormones
  2. drink plenty of water (including herbal teas)
  3. keep sugar-free strawberry gum handy for when you really fancy a sugar fix.

And don’t worry, giving up sugar doesn’t mean giving up delicious sweet treats altogether. We’ll post a few fabulous sugar-free recipes that you’re sure to love.

Now, LET’S DO THIS! C’mon, what are you waiting for…?!

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Struggling to stay awake? Could vitamin B12 be the answer?

VITAMIN BLOGWe here at HC-HQ were recently bemoaning how tired we are, blaming our lack of energy on that pesky menopause

However, after a bit of Googling, we were surprised to learn that our symptoms could in fact be down to a lack of vitamin B12 in our diet.

What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 helps produce the red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. If you’re not getting enough of this vitamin, you may well experience some of the following symptoms:

✓ Fatigue

✓ Irritability

✓ Depression

✓ Headaches

✓ Lack of appetite

✓ Memory problems

✓ Constipation

Tick, tick, tick – all of the above sound familiar.

Which foods contain vitamin B12?

It was when we found out what the main sources of vitamin b12 are – meat, eggs and dairy – that the penny dropped. We don’t eat a lot of these types of foods, so no wonder we’re often tired, irritable and constipated – eek!

Although many of these symptoms could be due to the menopause, we’re keen to challenge that diagnosis and see whether incorporating more vitamin B12 into our diets might help. We’re firm believers in the importance of nourishing your body with wonderful foods to stay healthy.

If you don’t fancy eating a lot more meat and diary, you could try taking a B12 supplement instead. And it’s worth noting that some of the symptoms of B12 deficiency can also relate to Foliate (B9) deficiency, so add some more of these yummy foods to your diet too: spinach, broccoli, green beans, peas, chickpeas, brown rice and kidney beans.

We chicks are now on a mission to increase our B12 intake, so will report back soon on our energy levels.

Happy B12 eating, chicks!

P.S If any of the symptoms above are severe or prolonged, we would always recommend that you talk to your GP.

 

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Nuts about granola

Today we’re talking about homemade granola

YFdIoUsRJCAehcoUnQaS_StrawWe know that granola isn’t universally loved – there are those who think it looks like sawdust and therefore must taste like it too, while others appreciate the gorgeousness of this breakfast snack, but are put off by the exorbitant amount of sugar found in many shop-bought varieties.

Before you condemn it for being tasteless and / or unhealthy, we beg you to hold your fire and read on, because you are in for a real treat. We recently stumbled across an amazing recipe for homemade granola, courtesy of the fabulous Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella fame (check out her website http://www.deliciouslyella.com).

This easy peasy granola recipe is soooo delicious that your friends and family won’t believe for a second that it’s a genuinely healthy snack. Best of all, it’s so jam-packed full of vitamins, it’s perfect for helping to control peri-menopausal and menopausal systems.

What’s not to love?

Ingredients:

  • 2 and ½ cups of oats
  • 1 cup of pecans
  • ½ cup of almonds
  • ½ cup of flax seeds
  • 1 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 3 large tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 3 large tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 3 teaspoons of cinnamon

Method:

1. Combine ingredients together in a bowl.

2. Eat. Yum.

Health benefits:
  • Vitamin B – great for protecting and enhancing your memory
  • Omega 3 – controls moods and menopause symptoms
  • Vitamin E – full of anti-ageing antioxidants
  • Selenium – antioxidants
  • Phytoestrogen – reduces menopausal symtoms
  • Zinc – elevates moods, boosts immune system, increases energy levels
  • Magnesium – helps to fight off migraines, prevent insomnia, combat depression and relieves peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms.

Wow! All of these goodies from a bowl of granola – pass the spoon!

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Get juicing!!!!

juicingChicks, have you ever wondered what the deal is with juicing?

Celebrities are always bigging-up juicing as the answer to their weight loss prayers. So, armed with a new juicer, we decided to see what all the fuss is about.

 We eased ourselves in with fruit smoothies and juices. You can find loads of great recipes online, but our firm favourite is a berry smoothie [worth giving it a name?]: blend frozen mixed berries (cheaper than fresh, but just as healthy) with coconut water, banana, apple, pear and a little milk (preferably soya or coconut milk). Yum. Once you’re making your own juices and smoothies, you’re in total control of the sugar content, and they taste delicious and fresh.

As we got a bit braver, we gave green drinks a try…Please don’t be put off by the thought of kale and greens in a drink; we promise that they can taste amazing and the health benefits are huge. It’s a great way to get veggies into your body – even celery (yuk), which we hate to eat but love to drink as part of a delicious smoothie.

Hand on heart, if I could only give one tip for a healthier body, it would be to GET JUICING.

Carol & Tina

 Watercolour photo of a pinky red heart

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