Tag Archives: wellbeing

Life begins at fifty – Healthy life #13 – Why Vegan?

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This post documents my personal journey from being brought up as a meat eater by my parents to my ethical and health based choice to be counted as a Vegan. Everyone’s story is different. My reason for sharing my story is my inability to understand how a person can stop being a Vegan, if they’ve made a stand to be counted as one, and return to eating animal products. Let me tell you why…

I was born and brought up in a typical, ordinary household, where we had a roast dinner on Sunday, that also made up a dinner of cold meat, chips and peas on Monday, and the remnants added to the curry on Tuesday. As a child, I always disliked hot meat.

It wasn’t until I left home, bumped into an old friend at a wedding reception, that I learned there was an alternative to eating meat and fish. I was in a position to cook for myself, but didn’t know how, so I signed myself up for an evening class in vegetarian cookery. I chose to give up eating living creatures when I committed to being a vegetarian. It wasn’t easy. Though I rarely ate out, omelettes were the usual choice available at a restaurant. Over the years I built up a repertoire of delicious vegetarian meals, sharing recipes in the school playground if asked. At that time, I believed I was doing my best for animals, the human family and the planet by not eating meat and fish. I’d read as widely as I could (before the internet) about the huge swathes of land and water given over to producing beef that could feed the world, and I wanted to be part of a movement that had that as a goal.

Almost fifteen years later, with my life maxed out with stress, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. In order to stop the pain, I needed to change my diet. With little guidance, I struggled to work out what was causing the problem. Further tests revealed I was intolerant to wheat and dairy, as well as a list of other foods. Wheat and dairy were the main culprits, causing most of my pain, yet I’d spent years cooking and perfecting recipes that regularly featured both (hence the problem), and I struggled to cope with the change. I continued to cook for my family, while eating very little in an attempt to keep my pain small too.

Bellydance saved my life. I joined in a class at the age of 40 with my daughter, then aged 9. I knew if I wanted to dance, I needed to eat. I began to learn to put meals together for myself without wheat and dairy.

It took me years to get the balance of foods ‘right’ in my body, and I tended to eat less, just to be on the safe side.

Five years ago my partner and I moved to Wales. Around this time, one of our sons switched from vegetarian to veganism. He pointed me in the direction of videos and books, explaining how damaging dairy can be on the body. He lives with arthritis, has done since he was twelve, and he decided to remove dairy from his diet. The inflammation in his joints reduced significantly and he felt a lot better, so my partner and I took a step in that direction; I gave up the goat’s cheese I occasionally ate and the Magnum ice lollies (made with skimmed milk powder that didn’t affect me as much), and my partner cut down on cheese. The biggest change was adding more green vegetables to our diet and making them a much bigger part of our plate share. Eldest son and his fiancee joined in the plant based eating, switching from eating meat to focussing on plants. Recipe swapping was prevalent, though the youngsters were so much freer with trying new ideas, making up recipes as they went along.

January 2018 my partner and I gave up smoking nicotine. The hormones in my body went ballistic. Weight landed around my middle, I felt weighed down, depressed and anxious. I took up walking regularly. In the time we’d been in Wales, we’d watched documentaries and Youtube videos about the environment, knowing a crisis was coming. We’d always done our best to recycle and make as few trips in the car as possible. By December 2018 it was evident that the climate crisis was upon us. Everyone needed to do their best.

I knew eating a whole food, plant based diet was best for my body. I now know it’s best for the planet too. I can’t proclaim to care about the amazing planet we live on, if I don’t stand up and be counted as a Vegan. I know Vegan means different things to different people; it must do, or the vloggers who can quit so easily were lying all along. I was a vegetarian; I am now a Vegan, and for me that means not consuming animal products or derivatives, but it also means I live my life caring about the causes of all my actions; from driving to a supermarket for only three items, to buying a bag of salad in a plastic bag. I need to think, and make choices not just for me. I’m not perfect. I have a long way to go, but it’s no longer a good enough excuse to say ‘but plastic is so convenient’ or ‘but I prefer drinking from a plastic straw’.

The new array of Vegan products in the supermarkets made to taste like meat, are a step in the right direction for all meat eaters to join in Meat Free Monday, but small steps need to be converted to big strides quickly. We need celebrities to get on board now. I was appalled to read Dr Michael Moseley’s articles on why he won’t be going Vegan or giving up meat, and even more disheartened to read in the comments the hateful abuse against vegans. It’s time we woke up to what is really happening to our world, or there won’t be a world to wake up to. It’s time to care. The time has gone to say ‘I’ll think about it’. We need to act now, so why not join me on my Vegan journey?

I’m excited! I’ve thousands of new recipes and food combinations to explore. Plant based food tastes good and it does you good! My energy levels have definitely increased since the beginning of this year, and my excess weight is disappearing. Check out the recipes on this website – put in ‘plant based’ or ‘healthy eating’ into the search box and away you go. All recipes are tried and tested, and my tips and alternatives are listed for your convenience.

We already do clothes swaps within our tribe….why not organise a similar one with your friends? Use local swap sites rather than buying new. Recycle items yourself….the inside of a washing machine makes a fabulous fire pit!

We can do this! Let’s join forces to save our planet.

 

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Life Begins at Fifty – Healthy Life #7 – Listen to your body – exercise

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I began the Healthy Life blogging on 22nd February, well into my plant based living journey, but striving to find the right balance of food and exercise to suit my newly ‘nicotine free’ body. It’s for anyone, not just those of us with those numbers beginning with 5, because the problem with any choices we make about diet or exercise won’t necessary be perfect for our bodies. We need to find the balance that works for us.

This post ‘Listen to your body – exercise’ will be followed by ‘Listen to your body -food’. I really hope you enjoy them and find them useful.

Not getting hung up on what the scales say has made me get on with my life, do my best and feel a whole lot better…well enough to show you the changes in my body shape since 22nd February. I’m not sure how well you’ll see them as I live in an old farmhouse with tiny windows, so lighting is always tricky…as is the fact we are effectively living inside a renovation project so there’s mess everywhere, but I’ve done my best.

It’s only been five weeks, the changes are subtle, but what you can’t see is how tight my bum is getting and how the hills on my walks are much easier to climb now.

For me ‘Listen to your body – exercise’ has been about working out the exercise routines that work for me, while still aiming to reach achievable targets that I know are beneficial to my health and fitness.

What I’ve learned in 5 weeks

Walking 10,000 steps EVERY day isn’t essential – I was quite obsessive to start with, but now I aim for more ‘active minutes’ on my Fitbit, minutes of exercise that work my heart and my muscles a little bit harder. I’ve kept my Fitbit minimum on 30 minutes though, because on a particularly heavy writing day (it does take time to write a novel!) a good morning walk and another in the evening, might be all I can manage. I know this works for me…on my Fitbit, my cardio fitness has risen to 38-42.

I can use a lot of what I do to aid my reaching exercise targets without needing to go to a gym – After the weight piled on, I worried I might need to go to the gym to address specific areas of my body that needed to be exercised. I’m learning to use what’s around me…

I move a lot of wood! My partner chainsaws while I do the picking up and barrowing…I make sure I’m  doing single or double arm curls when I pick up logs, and depending which way round I barrow, I’ve found this uses different muscles in my shoulders, back and arms.

Collecting tiny new trees on our land gives me a great squat work out. I collect one plant on each squat, come up, walk to the pot and plant the tree and walk to the next one….I have knee damage after falling about fifteen years ago, so I find repetitive squats hurt almost immediately and I can’t do more than half a dozen. This way, I get to do more and I don’t hurt at all.

Due to back damage, I find digging in the usual way with a spade down into the ground undoable, but using a mattock to break up the earth, and my new, smaller curved handle spade to scoop up the soil and stones, I’ve turned the final corner digging out the foundations for my potting shed (an old conservatory we helped to take down that we’re recycling) I can mattock straight in front of me with my legs bent, or to either side, all three positions have strengthened arms, shoulders, back and legs. Digging out the earth and throwing it up into the barrow works my triceps really well!

Dance is the best and most fun exercise ever! I always bill bellydance as a full body work out, and having started another beginners class in Aberystwyth, I’m now teaching six hours each week, plus a regular private lesson, plus any events we dance at.

I’m thoroughly enjoying my yoga when I get back from my morning walk. I do as many and which ever poses I feel like (sometimes I just sit and breathe) and I’m loving the peace it’s bringing me.

I wish someone had told me I would feel like this a year ago

A year ago, having to go back on HRT after the lack of nicotine in my body sent my hormones manic, and being put on a different dosage to the one I’d had before, I put on at least two stone in weight in a matter of weeks. Only now, one year on, after trying jogging, walking millions of steps and trying all sorts of different foods and combinations am I starting to feel like ‘me’ again.

The return of the menopausal symptoms dragged me down, both physically and mentally. I felt like my whole body was out of my control, condemned to be ‘down’, droopy and saggy, being pulled without my say so. Although my doctor was keen to recommend ‘Couch to 5k’, which proved too much for my knees, she told me I’d have to put up with the band around my middle….lucky for me, I’m a fighter.

It’s been hard work…actually, it’s been DAMN hard work! There have been mornings when I’ve wanted to stay in bed and let the world carry on without me, but I didn’t give up….all life is far too precious to waste it.

One year on I do still get ‘down’ days, but life is generally on the ‘up’, and I make the most of every one of them.

Thank you for reading. Join me next time for Healthy Life #8 – Listen to your body – food. Bright blessings xx

 

Life begins at fifty #healthy life 6 – The scales are not your friend

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I never owned bathroom scales because I didn’t need them. While I was smoking, if my jeans felt a little tight, I increased the amount of exercise I did, watched what I ate, and over a few weeks, the jeans would loosen, but not anymore….

My absolute conviction that eating five hundred calories a day less than I’m burning would make me lose weight has been shattered. I’m sure it plays a part, but I should have realised my mistake; we’re amazing, complex individuals – why would only one formula apply to everyone?

In a bid to affirm my belief, however, I bought bathroom scales in the January sales. I read lots of helpful advice online about weigh ins, the best I thought was weigh myself three days running, once a month to get an average of the weight loss….

What I did was weigh myself every morning, even though I said I wouldn’t. Why? Because I was exercising loads, following my plant based diet to get good nutritional benefit from my food and logging my calorie intake into Cronometer, so my reward would be to watch the pounds drop off, right? Wrong!

On the first three mornings I gained weight. Even though I knew I was being dumb, I got upset about it…and then I increased the exercise, to the point I was permanently exhausted. I continued this self berating/weighing scenario for about a month, before sharing with women in my dance class to find that they too were experiencing the same problem….their shape was changing, but they weren’t losing any weight, even though people were commenting that they had.

You may ask, why am I hung up on the amount I weigh and it’s a simple answer…the less weight I have to carry, the less pressure it puts on my already damaged knee. Yes, it would be nice to fit into my clothes again, but carrying less weight while increasing my exercise has to be better for me.

I am starting to listen though…my shape change could be because the fat is going and muscle is appearing, which we know is heavier. Since my body did its ‘return to factory settings’, I’m beginning to feel the benefit of the exercise in my legs…I’m walking quicker but getting less breathless…

On Saturday, my ATS® Bellydance tribe, Tribal Unity Wales and I hosted a hafla, a bellydance party, to raise money and collect donations of clothes, blankets and toiletries for S.H.A.R.P., Swansea Humanitarian Aid Response. We had so much fun, raised £132 and took in bags of donations….and I clocked up the most active minutes ever on my Fitbit!

I’m not getting hung up on the weight anymore, but instead, I’m looking for more ways to have fun with exercise, eat new, interesting food, try new recipes and live my life to the full.

I hope you’re enjoying Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life! Please like and follow and let others know!

Visit again for recipes, tips and sharing.

 

Life Begins at Fifty – Healthy Life #5 High Carb Hannah and my salad bowl

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High Carb Hannah was one of the first whole food, plant based YouTube channels I began watching, and I loved her immediately. She’s refreshingly honest and inspiring to watch, her recipes are straight forward and she isn’t afraid to tell it how it is!

She’s been YouTubing for a while and lost loads of weight with a whole food, plant based, high carb diet. Her channel is stuffed full of videos of recipes, what she eats in a day, her workouts and hilarious mukbangs, where she, and sometimes her husband, make and try different foods.

Let me say straight away, I can’t eat carbs the way she does! White rice and white potatoes aren’t easy for my body to digest, but she’s found a way of eating that works for her, and she wants to share it to help other people. It doesn’t matter though, because I can alter her recipes to suit my body. I love watching someone make fresh, wholesome food, because it makes me want to eat it. Tune into her channel here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs1uwp7bB1J_3r5xN2ioL_w

Watching videos about plant based eating has inspired me, and helped me make the changes to plant based eating.

I’ve discovered I love rocket, or arugula (love that word!), and that’s a good thing as it counts as a tick in the box for cruciferous vegetables on Dr Gregor’s Daily Dozen (Use this link to take you to Dr Gregor’s website https://nutritionfacts.org/)

Cruciferous vegetables are vital to our health and wellbeing, protecting us against cancer and other diseases. You can watch videos about the benefits of cruciferous vegetables here https://www.youtube.com/user/NutritionFactsOrg/search?query=cruciferous+veg

In my salad bowls above I’ve included rocket and red cabbage for cruciferous, mixed salad leaves for greens, carrot, tomatoes, potato and onion for other vegetables, hummus for beans and sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds and a couple of walnut halves and a brazil nut for nuts and seeds.

The beauty of the bowl is you can have lots of different food. Get creative! Go for lots of colours. Sweetcorn and peppers brighten up any bowl of food. And with every new creation, there are twenty different salad dressing options! High Carb Hannah has a sauce book out, and you can find all sorts of options on her vlogs. I put ‘salad’ in the search box and here are the results. Enjoy, and share the love for the salad bowl https://www.youtube.com/user/Rawkaholics/search?query=salad

 

Tip of the day

Whenever you have the oven on for baking or cooking, pop in an extra potato, or sweet potato, as they’re both great cold in salads the next day.

 

 

 

 

Book Review – The Wiccan Wellness Book by Laura Perry

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Having ‘met’ Laura Perry on the Witch Lit group on Facebook, and seen that she had updated this book, I treated myself to a copy, and I’m so glad I did! It’s been on my bedside table for me to dip into for a few months and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

Laura Perry, N.D. is a Pagan author and artist, herbalist and Reiki master who considers natural healthcare to be part of her Earth-oriented spiritual life, focussing on healthy living in body, mind and spirit. Here’s my review of The Wiccan Wellness Book by Laura Perry…

This is a gentle, beautiful and caring book, well put together and offering the reader a host of ideas and options for ultimate wellbeing. The author’s knowledge and experience is evident throughout the book, but more than that, her intuition and spirituality shine through, giving the reader the experience of being healed and nurtured.

The Wiccan Wellness book is an interesting read in its own right, the author paying heed to all aspects of our lives that have a bearing on our wellbeing. However, I can see it being a wonderful reference book in the future too. The reader is able to select a specific section or chapter, depending on their needs at that moment, finding help from the author, or links to other books or societies who can offer more help.

The concept that mind, body and spirit working in harmony leads to well-being, is the basis of this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring all the possibilities to seek further balance in my own life.

It’s a versatile and informative book, while still being a magical read. A perfect ‘pick me up’ when you need a personal, spiritual boost.

You can purchase this book on Amazon UK here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wiccan-Wellness-Book-Natural-Healthcare/dp/1720269459/ref

And for friends across the pond here https://www.amazon.com/Wiccan-Wellness-Book-Natural-Healthcare/dp/1720269459/ref

If you are interested in magical writing or reading, join the Witch Lit Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1055104057875422/

or subscribe to our new channel on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHtAJO5uh6c9TSai1lhwF7g

We’re hoping to interview Laura Perry on our podcast very soon!

 

Life begins at fifty – Healthy life #3 Ignore the images!

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I have no problem with young women taking charge of their lives, and looking to be as fit and healthy as they can be, but I do have a problem when the media bombards women with only images that are not attainable by most.

I was twenty three when I join a gym for the first time, and I wanted to look like this. The reality was, I trained twice a day, six days a week and in five months, I pretty much did, but it wasn’t sustainable…or rather it was if my whole life revolved around exercise.

At this stage in my life, I have so many things I want to do! Exercise can be part of my life, and I’m happy about that, but I want it to be part of who I am, so the exercise HAS to be enjoyable.

From all I’ve read about exercise and health, there seems to be two things that are important:

Consistency

Active exercise

Consistency means you do a certain exercise, in a certain way, often, and I’ve chosen walking for this. Every morning, I walk between 2k and 4k steps around my land before breakfast. I’m now following this with 3-5 yoga poses. So, my walking is consistent but the length and intensity of my walk may vary, depending on what else I’m doing for the rest of the day. When I started, I worried I wouldn’t make 10k per day and pushed the mornings too much, especially on a ‘dancing day’. I managed the day, but struggled to get up the next morning! I’ve let go the need to achieve the 10k, listening to my body more, and going with how it feels.

Active exercise is about raising your heart rate in order to burn calories and fat efficiently. I use my Fitbit to monitor this and its really useful…yes, I can programme in extra data, but I don’t want to get obsessed by this. My active exercise can be pushing the walking harder, dancing or working on the land….mattocking and digging works well!

Should you have a goal? Should you have a weight target or a dress size? Should you have a fitness challenge?

It depends what motivates you,

I’ve set myself the challenge to lose 14lbs – 21lbs, because I think my knees will thank me for it! Carrying less weight and fitting back into my jeans is my motivation, but I’m not setting myself a time limit.

I’m also not on a diet as such. My eating is whole food plant based and I’m using Cronometer to monitor the nutrients I’m getting in as much as the calories. Most days I’m eating between 1.3k and 1.8k calories, while burning more than 2.1k. As my body muscle increases and the fat slowly drops away, my weight will decrease and I’m happy for it to be a slow process.

Join me next time for a delicious, versatile smoothie that you’ll love!