Healthy Living London, an online diary of three busy Londoners who are seeking different health & fitness goals and documenting their adventures, trials and tribulations as they go.
ELIZA FLYNN: WRITER, BRAND PARTNERSHIPS
HEALTH WARRIOR WHO LOVES OBSTACLE COURSE RACES, NEEDS TO STILL HER RACING MIND AND HAS AN UNHEALTHY OBSESSION WITH HEALTHY FOOD PLACES IN LONDON.
To be honest, I’ve never really been someone to think about health – after all, it’s never been a problem. However, at the end of 2012, mum was diagnosed with dementia and in 2013 I had to have two operations for a cervical cancer diagnosis. Having that happen in your early 30’s was so much of a shock that to be honest, I kind of just ploughed through it all and didn’t stop to think about it – that was my survival method. I was aware, however, that I needed to make myself as healthy as possible and for me that meant really examining what I ate. I’d always been an ‘I exercise to eat’ kind of person and now that just wasn’t good enough – I had to eat right regardless of the exercise I was doing. And in 2013, I barely exercised – I wasn’t allowed.
So fast forward to 2014 and my world is crumbling again – all the emotions that I kept bottled up are now seeping through the cracks and this is showing in my energy levels, condition of my skin (I had a terrible breakout of eczema which I’m still dealing with) and it turns out that no matter how well I eat or what exercise I do, it’s not solving the problem. The problem? Many people reckon severe stress, something that I feel a little bit pathetic having an excuse – after all, everyone’s stressed right? Slowly, I’m realising that I can pile money into fitness classes and good food but in order to move forward, I have to spend time on myself and this is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. So whilst I love fitness and food and it’s very important to me, I’m now also focusing on that third, really important leg, the mind.
I love writing for Healthy Living London in the hope that it inspires and comforts others who may be in the same situation. I’m also planning on doing my Personal Trainer qualification and Yoga Teacher Training in 2015. Who wants to join me for a HIIT session followed by a spot of yoga once I’m qualified?!
Motivating factor/s: To pro-actively manage my health and keep illness at bay for as long as possible. Oh to die of nothing but old age!
Biggest challenge: Learning to love myself and by this I mean valuing myself more – I often put others first.
Kitchen equipment I couldn’t live without: My Nutribullet. So long chewy smoothies!
Health & fitness goal: To still my mind – not very active, I know but it’s part of good health.
Health tip: Never go on a diet unless a doctor recommends it. They’re such fads and not made to make anyone feel good about themselves!
Foods I can’t resist: A really ripe avocado, tropical fruit, thai green curry, ramen noodles, anything from Dotori, fish and chips, a good macaroni cheese…
Favourite healthy snack: Avocado with anything. Or on its own. Or homemade raw chocolate balls. And a really good smoothie.
Favourite exercise: I can’t have just one! Boxing, HIIT and yoga hits the spot.
Something we didn’t know about you: I defeated the big red balls on Total Wipeout. Just.
Follow Eliza’s journey:
AMY BURTON: WRITER
JUICE JUNKIE, WITH A LOVE OF SPORTS FASHION. NOT AFRAID OF GETTING SWEATY.
I started this journey in a serious way at the beginning of 2014. I had been dabbling in and out of a healthy lifestyle for a few years. But 2014 was the year I decided to take it seriously and make some big lifestyle changes. It was necessary… and here is why..
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety problems in my early 20’s and basically spent the next 10 years or so having recurring bouts of it, being on a few different medications, trying different types of therapy… but it wasn’t until I had a bad relapse about 3 years ago that I realised I had to get this under control… and it wasn’t really until 2014 that I finally have. It has been a long, hard struggle for me, my family and loved ones. The one thing that has always remained constant for me and always been noted by my loved ones is that when I am fitter, I am happier. This is the foundation of the reasons I am on this journey, there is more around it but basically, I don’t want to stay on medication for the rest of my life. I want to be able to look at myself in a mirror and not hate what I see. So my journey is not just about fitness, although that is the core, it is also about my mental health journey. I have found formulas that seems to be working for me. I can’t pretend the same things will work for everyone, but if one thing helps one person then that makes it worthwhile in my mind.
Now back on a more fun note – writing for Healthy Living London has given me enormous motivation and I love meeting like-minded people, learning about other people’s journeys and exploring the rapidly blossoming world of healthiness that London has to offer. I have discovered that I love yoga…. I am not very good at the moment but I hope to improve! I also love a great sweaty workout and recently discovered that I love lifting! I get bored easily so I love mixing it up although I do like to frequent certain classes that I have fallen in love with.
I live in west london with a hungry (greedy) puggle called Humphrey and an equally hungry boyfriend, Mo. I’m a jewellery designer by trade and work in my family business dealing in fine, period and bespoke jewels. I’ll be looking at all things fitness, health and wellbeing, focusing in and around West London …oh I also love a good cold-pressed juice or smoothie…. I’ll be writing about a lot of those.
Motivating factor/s: Simply a healthy mind and body.
Biggest challenge: Physically: doing the London marathon twice was my biggest challenge. Mentally: my biggest challenge is to stop myself from getting overwhelmed.
Kitchen equipment I couldn’t live without: Spiralizer and my Nutribullet.
Health & fitness goal: I want to be able to do un-assisted pull ups. Oh and be able to do yoga inversions…away from the wall. Run a 10k under 1 hour (I’m currently 2 minutes off).
Health tip: Watch out for alcohol, its going to mess up your calorie intake without you even realising it…. not to mention the damage those munchies do later on….
Food I can’t resist: A burger…. yeah yeah i know its a healthy blog but I really like burgers.
Favourite healthy food: Love eggs and avocados with a little touch of jalapeno tobasco…. yum.
Favourite exercise: Boxing, running, weights and yoga.
Something we didn’t know about you: I am a fully qualified Beauty Therapist (CIBTAC & CIDESCO).
Follow Amy’s Journey
HANNAH COX: WRITER
EXPLORER SEEKING NEW HEALTHY ADVENTURES & GLOWING SKIN.
All my life I have been a ‘Bridget Jones’ girl. I have felt uncomfortable, frumpy and extremely self-conscious, especially on a beach holiday. I have tried many different ways to lose weight, but none of them have been sustainable. At school, I used to skip meals, which left me tired and unable to concentrate. At nineteen, I tried the cabbage soup diet which actually affected my personality; I became grumpy, moody and unenthused. During my university years, I substituted meals for cocktails, naively unaware of their large calorie and sugar count, not to mention how unhealthy this is! I gained the predictable, “Freshman Fifteen”, plus some! More recently, I have tried Weight Watchers and buying food from lower calorie ranges, such as LOVE Life. But what I have learned is… diets don’t work. What does work is making a lifestyle choice; making healthier food choices and exercising regularly as well as educating yourself about what you are consuming. Recently, I have been cooking with fresh ingredients and not buying packaged food, which means I now know exactly what goes into the meals I eat. I have made a commitment to exercise. I find exercise hard and often boring, so I am on a mission to build up my tolerance and to find exercises that I enjoy. I am therefore open to persuasion to attend new classes…
As well as wanting to become healthier, there is another reason for me deciding to change my lifestyle choices. A year ago, my doctor refused to prescribe me with the pill, due to the fact that I suffer from occasional migraines, which when combined with the pill, gives you an increased chance of a stroke. For some reason, this had previously escaped their attention! Whilst I am happy to allow my body to be free from the added hormones that the pill gives you, I am not so happy about the side affects. My hair, nails and skin are not as smooth and glossy and I am starting to look a little older. Previously, I was carded at bars (not just because the drinking age in New York is higher!) but because the hormones in the pill gives you a youthful glow. In deciding to exercise regularly and make healthier eating choices, I believe I can get my glow back and feel healthier, both inside and out.
I enjoy writing for Healthy Living London as each new exercise experience is an adventure. I will have a go at most things!
Motivating factor/s: I have always been a little bit fat, so I need to get fit and lose weight. My long-term goal – I want to make healthy choices, I want to feel good about myself and I want to feel confident. My short-term goal – I want to feel fit and healthy for the summer!
Biggest challenge: Learning to value and like myself. I am insecure and lack belief in myself.
Kitchen equipment I couldn’t live without: My Brita filter as I live in an old house with old pipes. And Ziplocs! And my blender, I love my blender.
Health & fitness goal: To build up my running ability. 10k, half a marathon, and, dare I even suggest it, a Marathon!
Health tip: Drink lots of water. Exercise with a friend. Set a goal. Be accountable!
Foods I can’t resist: Chipotle!
Favourite healthy snack: Popcorn, love it.
Favourite exercise: Fun dance workouts that make you move and keep you smiling!
Something we didn’t know about you: I have swum with wild dolphins! This is also classified as the best experience of my life.
Follow Hannah’s Journey
GOURMET GLOW: CLEAN-CATERING CHEF & RECIPE DEVELOPMENT
AMBASSADOR FOR HEALTHY EATING THAT ACTUALLY TASTES GOOD! NEEDS TO ACT HER AGE & TAME HER BURNING OBSESSION FOR COOKING, DISNEY, HOLIDAYS & THE OCCASIONAL CHEEKY COCKTAIL.
Until now, life hasn’t been as straight forward as my naive 12 year old self had dreamed. Studying Biological Sciences at Warwick University instigated an unhealthy view of food and exercise, culminating in an eating disorder which I still battle 14 years on.
Life began to piece together, working for Disney in Florida. But, again my world crumbled when I was run over crossing a crosswalk. I was literally shattered from head to toe and, after 3 resuscitations, I had a long recovery ahead. Mentally this was devastating, living life in my head with my body physically unable to fulfil my dreams. Numerous surgeries and rounds of medication left me confined to wearing wigs due to drastic hair loss.
All in all my body has been left a mess. My gut is irreversibly damaged from the burden of my eating disorder, my joints are damaged, not only from the injuries sustained in my accident, but from my severe osteoporosis, culminating in 2 hip replacements. My grandmother died through kidney failure as a result of drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. I began thinking, surely there must be a way to heal through nutrition?
Being unable to work gave me plenty of time to assess my life. Fast forward to last year. At the age of 32, I was devastated to find myself with no career, assets or life. My friends were all marrying and beginning to start families, all I could do to get by was dog sit.
I took the bull by the horns and put my confidence issues aside. I enrolled at Leiths School of Food and Wine to qualify as a professional chef. Since dot I have been passionate about food and cooking. Even my eating disorder couldn’t dampen this passion, I never stopped eating, I just found mechanisms to cope with this. Food has always had a heightened status to me, so I decided, why not make my passion my life?
Training was amazing, but again, my happiness was not to be. Training had to be put on hold until January 2016 as a result of major surgery on my hip in January 2015. So now, after recovery, my focus is experience. I have been lucky enough to fulfil work experience in one of Heston Blumenthal’s Kitchens, with Frederick Forster at Bounday and soon, with Michel Roux Jr in each of his three restaurants in addition to working with Dominic Jack at Castle Terrace in Edinburgh.
All this has made me aware that fine dining, while delicious, is not always nutritionally beneficial to us. The research I have done into healing and maintaining a healthy body through diet points to it being socially awkward, especially when eating out. How can you choose nutritious options from fine dining menus? This is my goal, not only to educate and make people enjoy a healthy approach to diet, but to make it readily available and special.
My own trials and techniques will lead me to my dream of opening a gourmet restaurant that can over nutritious food that is above all TASTY!
So Today, here I am, my hair has grown, my skin and nails have improved. Yes, I still battle my demons but I am winning, all due to my relationship with food. Years of living on ‘low fat’ and ‘diet’ foods has poisoned me. I couldn’t comprehend that not all fat units and calories are equal and quintessentially, the energy from these units can either be used to store or burn fat. By choosing natural, wholesome foods, as close to their natural state as possible, we can be a healthy weight and glow from the inside. If I had my way, I would ban all chemically induced low fat foods, but I can’t. For now all I can do is share what I learn, try and love myself, embrace the ‘strong not skinny’ ethos, and hope you are inspired.
‘If You can dream it, You can do it’
Kitchen equipment I couldn’t live without: Spiralizer and my Nutribullet.
Motivating Factors : To restore my body weight and glow from the inside. To spread my knowledge and be inspirational.
Biggest Challenge : Learning to accept and love myself
Kitchen Equipment I couldn’t live without: Vitamix!!!! If I start talking about it I won’t stop! Its on at least 5 times a day so enough said!
Health & Fitness Goal: To be able to live a medication-free life and not be restricted by my body.
Foods I can’t resist: Good quality chocolate, all fruit, anything mexican and did I mention the odd cheeky cocktail?
Favourite Healthy snack: I can’t choose between oven roasted Garbanzo Beans, Sweet Potato Brownies or Raw Chocolate balls!
Favourite Exercise: Swimming and walking doggies (I LOVE doggies!)
Something we didn’t know about you: I passed the audition to be Minnie and Mickey at Disney!
Follow Susie’s Journey
LUCINDA BOWDEN: WRITER
YOUR BODY IS THE ONLY HOME YOU’LL LIVE IN FOREVER. NURTURE IT, HONOUR IT, LOVE IT AND RESPECT IT
I’ve always been sporty and fitness and exercise have been a way of life for as long as I can remember. I was very competitive through school, university and my twenties, pushing my body to its limit. When everything else was falling apart around me, I would just push my body harder when training. Ultimately, this was not a sustainable coping strategy, and my body eventually said enough was enough. A series of injuries and traumatic events in my personal life, saw my health deteriorate physically and mentally, and I had to learn about ‘moderation’ and make changes to lead a more balanced life.
If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health. – Hippocrates
I believe everything happens for a reason, and sometimes not getting what you want, is a wonderful stroke of luck. My experiences stopped me in my tracks, forced me to take stock, change course and embark on a healing journey that has developed into a passion for health and wellbeing.
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. – Socrates
I am particularly interested in the gut / brain relationship and how this can be harnessed in restoring physical and mental health. I am an advocate for holistic therapies, naturopathy, acupuncture, TCM and schema therapy. I have experienced first hand how emotional stress and trauma can manifest in the body and create all sorts of disease. I have also experienced the remarkable healing that can take place in the body when it is nurtured and nourished in the right way and I am forever astonished at the power of the human body to repair and heal.
The food you eat, can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison – Ann Wigmore
I have an enquiring mind and am passionate about leading a balanced, happy and healthy life. I love writing for Healthy Living London, sharing new products and experiences, meeting like-minded people and adding to and sharing the bank of knowledge I am gaining on my wellbeing journey.
Kitchen equipment I couldn’t live without: My Vitamix and frying pan
Motivating factors: A long, happy and healthy life. I aspire to still be fit and agile at 80!
Biggest challenge: Patience! I’m very goal orientated, but sometimes our lives and bodies have their own pace and time for things, and I’m learning to respect that. I have found meditation hugely beneficial in the art of acceptance and living in the present.
Health and fitness goal: A daily yoga practice. My body and soul love yoga, but like stretching at the end of a workout, it often gets sidelined when life gets busy, so a commitment to yoga and improving my flexibility and alignment is my focus.
Foods I can’t resist: Cake.
Favourite healthy snack: Avocado and hummus on just about anything, eat natural bars and oatcakes; the perfect alternative for those days that I need a ‘biscuity’ fix.
Favourite exercise: Ideally in nature! Rowing, cycling, running, walking, swimming, yoga and pilates are my staples, but I love to shake it up with a HIIT workout, circuits and weights too.
Something you didn’t know about me: I sailed around the world and won a Gold Medal for England at the 2006 Commonwealth Rowing Regatta.
Follow Lucinda’s Journey
CHRISTINA IERONYMIDOU: WRITER
MAGPIE OF ALL THINGS FITNESS, WITH A LOVE FOR BEAUTIFUL ACTIVEWEAR AND A PROPENSITY FOR GOING UPSIDE DOWN
There’s nothing special about me. Seriously. I’m just a normal boring human, with all the usual normal boring problems. I have no back story, no great adversity that I’ve overcome or bad situation I’ve turned around. I’m lucky. Lucky to have a good standard of living. Lucky to be surrounded by loving friends and family. Lucky to be in a body that works.
I’ve been into sport and fitness for a long time. I used to compete in athletics while I was at school (high jump) and during my teens I started practising Power Yoga. Following an unfortunate trampoline incident and resulting back injury, I was introduced to core activation and strength training for rehabilitation. Rehab slowly turned into a hobby and I became a bit of a gym bunny, working out mainly so I could look good naked. In 2013, I discovered CrossFit and I’ve never looked back since.
Since then, I’ve become a small part of a growing community of women and men who are recognising that the most important thing is for our bodies to be healthy and work well. Not fit into some unrealistic or fabricated standard. That movement is joy, not punishment. That food is both fuel and pleasure and not something to obsess over or feel guilty about.
Along the way I’ve been privileged to sample the joys of the London fitness scene and I am delighted to be able to share them with you through Healthy Living London! I hope that by reading about my adventures you will be inspired to try something new and maybe even achieve something you never thought you could.
Motivating factor/s: To have fun, meet people and break down some mental barriers along the way.
Biggest challenge: Achieving a healthy balance of work, exercise, friends and family and maintaining my emotional wellbeing at times of stress.
Kitchen equipment I couldn’t live without: My husband, who does the cooking and without whom I’d surely starve.
Health & fitness goal: Keep getting stronger than I was yesterday and quash the little voice inside my head that insists on pointing out my love-handles.
Health tip: Find a sport or fitness activity that makes you happy. That way, being active will never be a chore.
Foods I can’t resist: Nutella.
Favourite healthy snack: Does a banana smooshed on peanut butter toast count?
Favourite exercise: CrossFit.
Something we didn’t know about you: I’m also an ornithologist, but not a birdwatcher.
Follow Christina’s Journey
ROSIE FLYNN: WRITER
PROCESSED SUGAR-PHOBE, HUNGRY FOR ENERGY
I’ve been interested in seeking good health for the best chunk of my life, as I’d heard (in so many words) that health and happiness go hand-in-hand.
Reassessing my diet and lifestyle was mainly provoked by the following things:
- My awful teenage skin, which later turned into awful adult skin.
- My depressive personality. I’d done so much research about how diet affects your mood and I was willing to try anything to avoid taking medication and to get energy from something other than sugar-free Redbull.
- An eating disorder. Whilst I was greatly in denial about having one and blamed my mood for my weight-loss, a diet of apples and laxatives didn’t communicate a healthy mind or body.
- My mum. Diagnosed with an early onset of Dementia, I now realise how fundamental it is to be both mentally and physically healthy. You can’t neglect one whilst obsessing over the other.
Healthy Living London has given me great opportunities to partake in classes which I hate remind me that moving and being active shouldn’t be a novelty: it should be a habit. As reluctant as I may appear or feel before a class or a race, I’ve never regretted enduring the mild physical pain and I’m grateful for anything that takes my mind off the real-life worries that we all go through on a day-to-day basis.
Humans have a knack for choosing precisely the things that are worst for them.
– J.K. Rowling
Motivating factors: Fun and good health!
Kitchen equipment I couldn’t live without: Nutribullet! I’m a smoothie fiend.
Biggest challenge: Lack of confidence.
Health & fitness goal: GET RIPPED!! To make being active and eating well a lifelong habit. And maybe, finally become vegan??
Health tip: I’m probably the last person to ask for health advice…But I think cutting out processed sugar has been the best thing I’ve done.
Foods I can’t resist: Where do I start??
Favourite healthy snack? Smashed avocado with sweet potato wedges. (Made by Eliza.)
Favourite exercise? Hahahaha To be honest, I like just using the weight machines at the gym…
Something we didn’t know about you? I play drums as a hobby/passion. So far, it’s been the best therapy I’ve ever had.
Follow Rosie’s journey:
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