Pregnancy & TTC favourites: Books, Apps, Supplements, OPKs & all things Baby!

baby lying on white fur with brown blanket
Photo by kelvin octa on Pexels.com

Sorry not sorry that the baby spam starts now…! I’d look away if this isn’t your thing… 🙂 you’ve been warned!

In this post I’ll cover:

  • Supplements
  • Books
  • Apps
  • Podcasts
  • Books
  • Mummy youtubers
  • The technical stuff – tests, OPKs, sperm friendly lube etc!

But first, I just need a quick natter with you guys!

It’s crazyyyyyyy to be expecting our little cub after so much planning…! I am the kind of crazy person who before we even started trying (like, months before) had done ALL the research, read all the books, listened to all the podcasts, read all the blogs and articles and magazines and watched all the youtube videos. I was on special supplements well over 4 months before we started trying and went to see my nutritionist to discuss my ‘planning to conceive’ diet and check my supplements, and had loads of chats with Boy about his nutrition and supplements too and he was even taking the Wellman Pregnacare trying to conceive ones before we were trying – we were checking his zinc levels and all sorts haha! (You can buy the Pregnacare Him & Her pack for couples here which will have you both covered!)

I get that not everyone would want to be that prepped, and also that some people are more spontaneous – totally fair! We’d known for about a year that we were ready, and we just wanted to wait for the wedding in December to be sorted so I could enjoy my champagne (!), my training contract to end so I was a fully qualified lawyer, and Boy’s probation to be over as he changed jobs during the year. We then had a month to get healthy and back on track post Xmas, so the trying point was set to Jan 2020 and we expected it to take 6 months to a year to conceive (that’s totally normal for healthy couples our age). I know that doesn’t match what we told people our plans were, but we wanted to keep it private and pressure free.

Also, it seems it paid off, because we had expected to be trying for a year and then bam! First try, we had a little cub!

So, OTT though all that planning might be (I can’t help being over-prepared!), it means I’ve collated some useful resources that you may or may not fancy trying if you’re a mum, about to become one, or just super keen to know what you’re in for before you start your TTC journey (trying to conceive for anyone who hasn’t yet stalked all the mummy corners of the internet!). So much of this stuff is personal taste and unique to you, so you might haaaate the things I love, but here are just a few resources that helped me feel prepared!

These are my pregnancy & #TTC  favourites, covering everything from nutrition, wellbeing, keeping baby healthy, fertility and maximising your chances of conceiving, baby psychological development, and keeping sane on the pregnancy new mum journey… plus the ever-terrifying and intriguing topic of labour/childbirth aka the stuff of most girls’ nightmares! Knowing more can take some of the fear out, so get reading gals.

Supplements

Pregnacare – before conception

I took these for 4+ months before we started trying which is potentially overkill, but 3-4 months in advance is good, and 3 months ahead of trying is apparently when you ideally need to begin building up your folic acid stores especially.

We also got these joint packs about 2 months before so Boy could be on the right stuff too:

Pregnacare – him & her conception for couples trying for a baby

As soon as I was pregnant I switched to these Pregnacare  Plus ones which also include omega 3s for brain and eye development 🙂

Books

Of course, being a book obsessive, before we were even trying I ordered a tonne of stuff to get reading up on everything I wanted to know on Amazon. These are the ones I’d recommend you give a go too! For me, I just felt like if you’re going to try for a baby, obviously you want TTC information, but also it’s important to know what you’re in for! The most useful were easily the Henrietta Norton Pregnancy Nutrition Guide, Your Baby Your Birth by Hollie De Cruz, Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make your Birth Better by Siobhan Miller, and The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill (it didn’t make me feel v positive haha but it’s super informative and helpful and worth a read anyway).

Apps

  • Clue – (free!) this was my go to for period/fertility tracking in the period before we were properly trying, just to familiarize myself with my cycle, so I’d know the dates of my periods and rough fertility windows etc. but then I changed to a different one which if you’re TTC is more accurate because in Clue, you can’t log ovulation tests. In the app below, you can log what your ovulation tests say and it feeds into the algorithm and re-calculates your dates!
  • Glow – (the basic version is free, and is super extensive but I did upgrade to premium as they did 40% off for the new year!) I downloaded this before we were TTC officially and I used the info I had from Clue about my cycle to input all my previous periods. This one is a lot more involved. Clue lets you track emotions and sex as well as periods, for example, but with Glow you can go the whole TTC 9 yards (TMI possibly, but you can include if you were on the bottom or top, or had sex multiple times, log your cervical mucus consistency (this is something I never thought I’d care about when I was younger haha, and you can also log, believe it or not, whether or not your orgasmed!) It also lets you record your basal body temperature so you can really hone in on the ovulation day predictions. You can also track your stress levels, join groups (and weirdly even talk to women on the same cycle as you, but I must admit I didn’t do that!) Anyway, this was so helpful, and I might do a proper review of the app on here if you guys might find more details useful?! It also has meditations if you subscribe to premium, both for general life and de-stressing, and also fertility-specific meditations. But key for me was that while it and Clue looked equally accurate (they initially predicted the same fertile window), Glow updates according to your ovulation tests (it turned out I was ovulating a day earlier than it thought!)
  • Glow nurture – once pregnant, I used the Glow sister app to track Cub’s development 🙂 ❤
  • RelaxMelodies – for keeping calm and helping me sleep, and de-stressing (you need to reduce stress as much as possible while TTC and pregnant!)
  • Freya – this is The Positive Birth Company App and helps with breathing exercises to try to reduce pain and stop you freaking out during labour. I’m all about trying to learn these kinds of techniques in advance! You can also use it to time contractions when the time comes…!
  • Peanut – I’ve heard the founder interviewed loads. She is an amazing entrepreneur and mum, and this is like tinder for mums, to help you meet friends who will also have little ones and be around at the same times as you (and help you find like-minded mums so you don’t end up bored out of your brain on nappy chat if that’s not your thing!) I joined a bit early and spoke to some TTC mamas too!

Courses

I’ve done the Hypnobirthing Digital Pack by The Positive Birth Company which was comforting, and I’m now doing their Post Natal course which teaches you what to expect in the period immediately after birth, and recovery from their, feeding, all that jazz!

Podcasts

These two episodes from Rhiannon Lambert’s Food for Thought:

Also, every single episode on Made by Mammas. I’m addicted to this podcast – it will answer ALL your questions on ALL aspects of pregnancy and having a baby!

I also love Get your Glow Back by Madeleine Shaw, and Happy Mum, Happy Baby by Giovanna Fletcher.

These are just a few but there are loads out there, I guess it just depends what you like.

Blogs

Made by Mammas (by Zoe and Georgia, who do the podcast of the same name!)

And then I was lucky enough to already know of two mummy bloggers as we were friends at school years ago for a bit – Sarah over at Whimsical Mumblings and Kerry Conway at Lived with Love .

I also discovered Kayla Buell on my TTC googlings and she has a blog over at Lost Gen Y Girl that I also found helpful.

Plus the gorgeous and glamorous Rose – of The Londoner fame, who was an old fave lifestyle, fashion and general recipe blogger of mine – now has a baby and so does some posts on mum and baby life which are helpful. (Ps an old non-mum fave: check out her recipe for Slutty Brownies!)

I didn’t discover her until I was pregnant, but Lucie and the Bump is great too, and I like following her because she’s just a couple of weeks ahead of me in her second pregnancy.

Mummy youtubers

I am very particular about the youtubers I watch, and I struggle with mum youtubers sometimes. These are the ones I like, most others I struggle with. Always keen for recommendations though!

  • Fleur De Force & Fleur De Vlog (I love that Fleur didn’t start as a mum vlogger, she’s first and foremost herself doing mostly beauty, fashion and lifestyle but NATURALLY her life changed once she found out she was having a baby, and I love her pregnancy vlogs etc. I find her really relatable and maybe one of the youtube mums I feel like I’d be similar to, so I really like and relate to the style of her videos. Also her little girl River Wren is ADORABLE and I REALLY RESPECT Fleur’s decision not to feature River too much and put her all over the internet and keep it about River’s choice as she gets older!)
  • Kerry Conway (we went to school together so maybe I’m biased haha but I love following her adventures with her 3 girls and her husband back where I grew up. Loads of helpful info and tips, and she juggles motherhood with entrepreneurial work which is great!)
  • Kayla Buell (most US based mommy vlogs haven’t been my cup of tea but I love Kayla’s videos! At the time of writing she has a little girl called Riley and is about to pop with her baby boy! I love that she was smart, educated, with a career but fully owned her choice to say “screw the haters, I want to be a stay at home mum”)**
  • Lucieandthebump – I discovered Lucie when I was almost 10 weeks pregnant and she’s at 14 weeks so a little bit ahead so it’s fun to follow her journey as we’re so close with where we’re at! She does other content too that I don’t really follow so much.
  • Jessica Hover – she has a couple of baby 101 and newborn tips videos that seem like they’ll be super useful**

**with these American ones, if you’re an atheist like me, the religion can get a bit much, so usually I skip any of those parts!

The technical stuff – tests, OPKs etc.

So I was determined not to use ovulation kits and not to obsess and just enjoy our period of trying when we first talked about it. That went out of the window for various reasons, including Boy having to travel for work and us wanting to maximise our chances… obviously at this point we had no idea it would happen first cycle. So… we ordered the OPKs and then I ordered a BBT thermometer to be extra careful. Here are my technical bits & pieces that I’d recommend.

  • Clearblue ovulation test advanced digital – these are pricier than the super cheap ones on Amazon, but I wanted a clear, definitive answer on fertility, not to stress about whether there was a line or not! You have a super clear smiley face if you’re ovulating, and a flashing smiley if you’re high fertility. Simple. Stress-free!
  • Clearblue digital pregnancy tests, especially the Clearblue Pregnancy Early Detection Triple Check kit – these just feel more reliable to me to confirm what you’ve seen on a cheapie, but obviously they’re too expensive to keep shelling out for if you’re testing a lot, so also invest in the below!
  • ‘One Step’ test strips (Amazon cheapie pregnancy tests!) – life savers if you’re getting obsessive in the two week wait. You get x50 in this pack and don’t have to pay a fortune. Obvs I now have millions left over that I didn’t end up using haha… oops!
  • Pre-seed lube – apparently regular lube can kill swimmers (fact of the day haha!), and even if you don’t normally need or want lube, if you’re having a lot more sex than normal to try, trust me – buy some of this! Makes everything super easy, and it’s sperm friendly. Woo!
  • Femometer Digital Basal Body Thermometer – accurate to 1/100th of a degree, it also has its own app to help you chart and tell when you’re going to ovulate, but I also tracked my results into my Glow app.

Your recommendations…?

I am obsessed, as you can tell, with learning what the hell I’m in for as I want to be as well prepared, happy and healthy as I can be so that in turn our little cub is super happy and healthy too… so any books, pods, apps, you name it, hit me up!

Also please, PLEASE share your fave pregnancy workouts and any youtubers you think I might like who are similar to the above.

How crazy is this?!! I can’t even explain how excited we both are ❤

B xoxox

New rituals & health habits | my morning wellness routine January 2020

body stretching yoga beauty
Photo by Roman Davayposmotrim on Pexels.com

So you may have seen on instagram I became a bit sporadic posting in early Jan this year, and then went offline for a few days with some health stuff.

Nothing like something feeling wrong with your body to make you focus on taking care of yourself, right?

I usually rely on my hardcore boxing workouts in mornings, but in giving my body a break I established a new morning routine that has definitely helped me heal and get better.

Sleeping in

Rather than a 6.30 start for hardcore workouts, I let myself sleep in til 7.30ish.

Yoga

I started trying to start 4 out of 5 working days a week with a 10 minute yoga flow. No videos, no structure, just listening to relaxing music, moving my body and finding what feels good a la Yoga with Adriene’s philosophy.

Cutting caffeine

I’d then, post yoga, wash up, clean my teeth, dress and make my way to the kitchen where I drink peppermint tea, a weak green tea, and/or plain old hot water to start my day.

Handful of spinach

I don’t eat breakfast until I get to work at 9.30 but during my morning down-time, I started grabbing a handful of spinach to munch on, so I know I’ve got a hit of some good stuff first thing in the morning. Spinach is amazing – just one cup contains, according to Medicalnewstoday.com:

Downtime

I’d then chill out and read a book, or watch an episode of One Tree Hill (guilty pleasure from my younger days!) before I have to leave for work.

Meditation

Some days I’d also do a 10 minute guided meditation (usually a Jody Shield one, or via the Tone It Up app).

Better breakfasts

Instead of being sporadic with breakfast at work, I’ve decided to opt (every work day) for something I know gets as many nutrients, antioxidants, a good burst of fibre and keeps my blood sugar levels steady with slow-release energy as possible – I make blueberry, banana & cinnamon porridge by microwaving plain quaker oats (1 sachet) with water for 2 minutes, stirring in a lot of cinnamon, a handful of fresh blueberries and chopping up 1 small banana on top. Voila! Even when I’m not hungry, I have this at my desk at 9.30 and it’s meant I’ve already got 3 portions of fruit & veg in (the spinach at home first thing included!) before lunch, and I don’t get hangry later in the day or crash out of energy.

Verdict?

So, while I do want to get my boxing back and feel better, putting self-care first and allowing my body the rest it needs has taught me some valuable lessons, especially how much you have to work at keeping your stress levels down! But I feel like all of these things have helped me de-stress, helped my body return to normal and I’m hoping my hormones should all be balanced out now.

I’m definitely going to keep up the caffeine free habit, the handful of spinach, and incorporating as much yoga and meditation into my day as I can.

I’m also going to keep up the better breakfasts, but some days I may swap the blueberry-cinnamon-banana porridge for raspberry, goji berry and maca or blue spirulina just to get a bit of variety.

Some other elements of my January self-care I’ve been loving (not morning-specific!) are:

  • being alcohol free;
  • warm baths with essential oils (rose and jasmine are my faves at the moment!) and epsom & himalayan salts;
  • focussing on getting as many portions of fruit and veg in per day as I can, as per usual but ramping this up to as near to 10 a day as possible!;
  • eating whole foods;
  • cooking from scratch as much as possible;
  • experimenting with new recipes, and being more adventurous with vegetarian recipes for Boy and I; and
  • making as many of our meals plant-based as we can

What are your January wellness routines or rituals (morning or evening!) that you’re hoping to hang on to for the rest of the year?

B xoxoxo

My top 6 food, fitness & wellness podcasts

woman inside studio
Photo by The Teens Network Daytime Show Studios on Pexels.com

I don’t know about you, but I’m addicted to podcasts for my commute, for spicing up boring admin tasks, and for keeping me company while I’m cooking in the kitchen.

I just wanted to share some of my favourites in the realms of food, fitness, wellbeing, health and all that jazz that you might like to give a little listen 🙂

So here you go! In no particular order:

1. Talking Tastebuds, by Venetia Falconer

I love this one. Venetia Falconer is a vegan and sustainability guru but this isn’t a vegan podcast. She explores amazing food-related topics, health, wellness but also ideas around activism, mental health, and society, interviewing an amazing range of guests. Definitely check it out. Easy and fun to listen to.

2. Food for Thought, by Rhiannon Lambert

Rhiannon Lambert is a super-smart, highly qualified Harley Street nutritionist and her podcast explores all kinds of nutrition-related topics and issues with amazingly qualified guests. Definitely one to inform and bust some myths!

3. The Doctor’s Kitchen, by Dr Rupy Aujla

I love Rupy’s philosophy of food is medicine – he discusses all kinds of health topics and the role food can play, and interviews some great people. A good commuter podcast.

4. The Rich Roll Podcast

The episodes can be long and occassionally a bit woo, but Rich is an incredible example of what we can achieve. He found himself overweight and an alcoholic approach mid life crisis, and almost overnight turned his life around, becoming vegan, and becoming an ultra-endurance athlete achieving incredible things. He explores fitness, nutrition, wellness and spirituality with long, meandering, chilled conversations with a range of guests. Pop on in the background if you’re working on boring admin tasks!

5. Feel Better, Live More by Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Much like The Doctor’s Kitchen, this is another podcast by a medical doctor who explores nutrition, fitness and lifestyle issues and questions. A great one to help you live a healthier, happier life.

6. Fit & Fearless, by The Girl Gains (Zanna Van Dijk, Tally Rye and Victoria Spence)

A BBC 5 Live podcast hosted by young, kick ass female PT and influencers, this is a positive, upbeat and uplifting podcast where the girls chat all things health and fitness, bust workout myths, interview leaders in their fields (athletes, nutritionists, you name it!) and give you a much-needed confidence boost to love yourself and your body, and to find workouts you enjoy. A girl power podcast that’s not just for the girls. A nice pre-gym motivator.

What do you think?

Any others you’d recommend? I also love podcasts more generally that aren’t just on health/fitness/food but wanted to share these first as I think they’re really great introductions to these topics by people who are experts in their respective fields, and/or super super inspiring.

B xoxox

Book Me Up #2 – HEART BERRIES

35840657.jpgSorry it’s been a while – I’ve been so busy reading I forgot about sharing exactly what I’m reading!

I’ve read a lot of really awesome stuff recently, but I reeeeeaaaaally had to share this one with you next.

Heart Berries, Terese Marie Mailhot

I’ve taken a summary of the book from Goodreads as it’s a pretty good introduction to jump in with:

“Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot’s mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father―an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist―who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.

Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn’t exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.”

This book is an unusual one but it’s absolutely incredible. I don’t know how well you know Sylvia Plath but there’s a line she writes that ‘the blood jet is poetry’. This book brings that to life because my god, the blood jet really is poetry. Heart Berries is incredibly raw, vivid, almost Plath-ian and ‘confessional’, but its also so refined, carefully crafted and wrought, so the intimacy isn’t just dumped on you or exposed, but painstakingly built into art.

The vivacity, brutality and pure honesty of both language and content is refreshing – sometimes hit-you-in-the-face loud, and sometimes so subtle.

It’s not an easy read but the rhythm of her writing and the way she weaves words and disjointed syntax together is something you eventually fall into. Mailhot pushes the emotion via both content AND craft, into your very bones.

I love the way she writes about life, love, motherhood, mental illness, and she takes genres of abuse narrative and Native American writing and makes them hers, simultaneously defying and transcending claddification. This book shatters any box that could try to contain it.

Mailhot rejects white culture’s exoticised conceptions (a la Said’s Orientalism) of Native American mysticism but doesn’t disown those aspects of her culture – she just strips out the whites’ imposition of romanticism and mystical tropes and crafts her own magic with clarity and authenticity and a very personal, sometimes wavering, poignant yet strong voice.

One of my favourite quotes in the book is:

“In white culture, forgiveness is synonymous with letting go. In my culture, I believe we carry pain until we can reconcile with it through ceremony. Pain is not framed like a problem with a solution. I don’t even know that white people see transcendence the way we do. I’m not sure that their dichotomies apply to me.”

I can’t recommend this read enough! If you’re not already sold, I also recommend reading Roxane Gay’s review of it – it’s brilliant!

“Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot is an astounding memoir in essays. Here, is a wound. Here is need, naked and unapologetic. Here is a mountain woman, towering in words great and small. She writes of motherhood, loss, absence, want, suffering, love, mental illness, betrayal, and survival. She does this without blinking but to say she is fearless would be to miss the point. These essays are too intimate, too absorbing, too beautifully written, but never ever too much. What Mailhot has accomplished in this exquisite book is brilliance both raw and refined, testament.”
Roxane Gay, author – Review of Heart Berries 

B xoxo

Top 5 Skincare Secrets

daylight forest glossy lake
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

I’m not a beauty blogger so this is straying a little out of my natural territory, but I’ve recently developed a bit of a new passion project for skincare, and working out how I can better take care of mine.

I’ve never had massively ‘problem skin’, growing up I was quite lucky… but as I got more active, I did find that parts of my cheeks got much drier… from all the salt in my sweat from working out so much I think (nice!)

It took me a while to perfect my plan of action as this moved me from the normal skin range to more combination skin – not super oily, but very slightly more oil-prone T-zone, and then drier elsewhere. After much research into the routines of my favourite beauty muses, and sampling lots of different products, I’ve arrived at something that’s simple and quick (it has to be, to be sustainable for me!) and seems to get results. Obviously we’re all prone to the odd breakout now and then, especially around that time of the month (!) but I’ve definitely honed my beauty routine and learned to love the skin I’m in much more. Here are the secrets I’ve discovered and stolen from the glitterati!

woman in black top beside green leafed plant
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

 1. Invest in good skincare products

I love Pretty Athletic, as it’s specifically targeted at athletic women so it’s great for gym-problem-skin. Their cooling cleanser doubles as a facemask which is amazing, and their workout glow hydraulic vitamin tonic just makes you feel super fresh and glow-y.

Whatever your jam for products, I really think spending a little more on quality here helps. Cheap and cheerful makeup wipes are fine in a pinch for when as a one-off you’ve had a few too many cocktails with the girls and don’t have time for a full facial and just have to get your makeup off, but they’re quite harsh and drying on the skin. Ditching the makeup wipes for quality cleanser has made a measureable difference for me.

I personally also really love Rituals skincare products. Their face oil is my secret weapon.

2. Royally flushed – face-sculpting facial massage

Sounds strange or super-expensive? It doesn’t have to be. I discovered this releatively recently while internet-stalking my long-time girl crush Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex (who seems to have managed to convert me from a republican to an okay-with-the-royals kinda girl! I’m ridiculous haha. I didn’t like her in Suits as she went from being sassy and independent to Mike Ross’s whiney girlfriend, but then all her humanitarian work and now defunct lifestyle blog made me fall IN LOVE. And as much as I want to be all ironic and nonchalant and politically principled, the Royal Wedding was beautiful and so much fun to obsess about! I am a bit ashamed of myself ha!)

Meghan Markle’s facialist (Nichola Joss) gives you the low-down here on how to nail the facial massage yourself from the comfort of your own home.

I pop 2-3 drops of this rituals face oil on my hands and follow the steps Nichola Joss gives above and it honestly feels AMAZING. I don’t know if scientifically it actually makes any real difference (although massage does stimulate blood flow to the relevant area and allegedly give the benefits listed below, taken from the Elle article!) but it just makes you feel so good… and even if they’re ‘placebo’ cheek bones, half of the battle with skin and beauty generally is feeling confident, in my book!

1. Removes tension and stress from your jawline leaving you with a softer but stronger muscle and the face shape you’re actually meant to have.

2. Improves blood circulation which helps speed up skin cell renewal which in turn means nice, plump new skin.

3. Gives your skin vibrancy and bounce.

4. Moving the muscles in your face helps flush out toxins and pollution that can cause congestion in your skin.

5. Improves your overall facial structure so there’s less need for botox or fillers.

6. Stimulates your lymphatic system, draining fluids that can cause puffiness.

7. Stimulates endorphins! You’re always happier after you’ve done some facial massage.

8. Helps you relax.

Elle Magazine, How To Nail Face Massage In Five Minutes By Meghan Markle’s Facialist

[Edit – after original blog publishing update – On the theme of this ‘massage’ tip and my new skincare obsession-cum-quest, I discovered (thanks Harper’s Bazaar) and bought a jade roller this week. While I personally don’t believe in the alleged powers of crystals, although I am of course always open to being wrong and hearing new evidence, my mind can always be changed if you show me why  – and I really do enjoy learning about other cultures’ beliefs around them. I totally appreciate that science doesn’t understand everything yet, so it would be crazy to be certain about anything. Jury’s out on if jade rollers have scientific benefits, apparently, but they feel damn good.

They were part of the beauty rituals of ancient Chinese Princesses throughout history, some claim [this article states that dermatologist David Lorscher, MD,  consulted a colleague from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, who said she’d found ancient textual references to jade being used to even out a spotty complexion]

I’ve recently tried it – pop it in the fridge and use it for a morning ice-cold massage and it feels amazing and does seem to reduce puffiness (supposed to be from the lymphatic drainage benefits!) Either way, it feels bloody good. I bought mine from Spitalfields market for just £18. This chalkboardmag post tells you how to use one, or this greencreator article!]

3. It’s what’s inside that counts

Water

Okay, so it’s totally boring to keep being told to hydrate and drink water for clear skin, but drinking water really is key. Our bodies are made up of crazy amounts of water. Drink lots of it kind of goes without saying, really.

Micronutrients

But it’s not just water. Getting the right vitamins and minerals can do wonders for your skin, so make sure you’re aiming to beat the recommended 5 a day. I often strive for (not that I always achieve it!) 4 – 5 different portions of dark greens a day (so maybe spinach, broccoli and watercress on my lunch salad, then kale, rocket and asparagus with dinner!) plus 4-5 more serves of the ‘rainbow’ (red or yellow pepper, apple, Satsuma, pomegranate, carrot, blueberries, raspberries, courgette…) as Rhiannon Lambert, my beaaaautiful Disney Princess-esque Harley Street nutritionist days, NUTRIENTS NOT NUMBERS! (Her skin is flawless, too).

An easy way to do this is a green juice. I stalked this video interview from Shape Magazine of Meghan Markle prior to her relationship with Prince Harry and it prompted me to give up coffee for four months and swap for her fave green juice (apple, kale, spinach, lemon and ginger)- and I did feel pretty amazing (but then switched back to coffee as it tastes f****** good and life’s too short!) The Duchess also loves this superfood smoothie here.

Healthy fats

Omega-3 and general healthy fats in salmon and avocado and nuts like almonds are important for that plump, healthy, dewy-skinned effect too.

Yoga glow

And finally, when working from the outside in, both of my celeb skin crushes who have the most glowing skin – Emma Watson and Meghan Markle – are yoga fans (Emma Watson is even a certified yoga instructor!). Whether or not this has any direct impact on your skin is of course dubious, I’m not saying it’s magically skin-linked, but it’s great for body, mind and just generally feeling more poised and confident.

4. Keep makeup minimal

This is easier said than done for some people, but I’m a big fan of a natural look (although on actresses who are naturally beautiful I guess it’s easier than for mere mortals like me who don’t have an inbuilt glow and often feel a bit horrible bare-faced!) I do think it’s silly though that we’re made to feel less-than without makeup so it’s good to try to make peace with the skin we’re in and use makeup to enhance things, not cover them.

I try to ONLY WEAR A FULL FACE for a big event or if I need to have a photograph taken (and even then if I can avoid foundation, I will).

Try to perfect a daily 5 minute face that lets your skin breathe. Just mascara, gloss or lipstick and eye-pencil, with some emergency Touche Éclat conceal, highlight and contour pen or bobbi brown concealer can make you feel a million times better than being bare-faced, but doesn’t swathe your pores in product.

5. Saving [your skin from] the world

Sadly, living in cities, we’re exposed to a tonne of pollution, so a daily cleanse is super important… it’s scary how much gunk can collect just waltzing around London for a day.

Similarly, sunscreen is super important to protect from UV light and not just avoid burning, but avoid prematurely ageing the skin. It’s the number one thing that ages women quickly – and not in a graceful way! To avoid dry, leathery, extra wrinkled skin, it’s best to use SPF (high factor ideally!) and don’t forget to moisturise. I prefer face oil to moisturiser, but it’s personal preference and skin type I think.

Alcohol and cigarettes are also like kryptonite for the skin, so if you can’t quit, make sure you at least cut down as they’re pretty bad for our general health too!

And finally, we think a lot about what we put in our bodies food-wise… but have you ever considered what we put on our skin? Natural makeup and skincare products go a long way to minimising the additive junk we’re pouring through our pores – The Body Shop, Lush and The Honest Company are great places to start collecting ‘cleaner’ products. I didn’t even think about the chemicals in beauty products and the idea of using more organic stuff until I read this interview with Emma Watson. While maybe going 100% organic or whatever isn’t sustainable in affordability/practical terms, we can certainly aim for more!

Recently I’ve become super interested in sustainability and transparency and understanding what I’m putting on my face and on my body. It’s been a fun little mission to see how far I can go with it… Can I create a completely sustainable wardrobe? Can I dress sustainably on the red carpet? Can I put together a hair and makeup look with completely organic products? I needed to figure out if it was achievable or not. You can’t talk the talk if you don’t walk the walk. So that’s what I’ve been discovering over the past couple of years.

– Emma Watson, interview with Into The Gloss

 

Fit Lawyers Unite: Get this limited edition (for 1 month only)

oie_zMjy5GcwzwEXJust a little thank you to all the amazing professionals I’ve connected with via Instagram, whether you’re studying or working… and since you all loved the meme so much on Instagram, I got Bruiser to sniff out and Elle to approve a cheeky brunch or post-workout snuggly bargain…

As of TODAY you can shop this brand new limited edition sweater! Shop now.

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You have 28 days from today to get your hands on one ❤

xoxo

 

Activewear Valentines GIVEAWAY

12801307_535229466651547_8913664360817129029_nIf you follow me on instagram you’ll already have seen that I’m feeling all loved up this week (courtesy of a post-workout high!) and I wanted to share the endorphin buzz with all of you! So I’m planning an exciting giveaway that will run EXCLUSIVELY on my instagram so wriggle your perfect peach-emojis over to @legallygymliving and keep your beadies peeled for an opportunity to win some prizes (they’re beaaaauuuuutiful, I promise!)

The giveaway will open on Valentines Day (aw!) February 14th 1933934_10153892722214571_10975500865702357_n2017, and run until 15th March 2017. That’s a whole month and a day to get your mits on some free workout gear!

Details of how to enter will be announced on instagram, so keep an eye out… but a bonus 5 entries will go to anyone who can guess why the giveaway stops on March 15th. Hint: what’s special about that day?

Good luck lovelies!

In the meantime you might want to check out Resisting Temptation: Healthy Food Swaps,  Fitting Fitness Around Relationships or Motivation 101 to keep you going.

And since this is all about spreading the love check out today’s featured recipe: the Love That Body Chocolate Shake (protein powder free!). It’s DELISH and one of my favourites! Or sex it up with the Bootylicious Berry Smoothie. They both make great breakfasts, or post-workout options!

B xoxo

Zucchini Pizza Party Boats!

10522089_10154074095539571_742486296110860964_nThese little bruschetta inspired babies are more filling than you’d think (I guess zucchini or courgette is basically all water!) and they’re a super fast option for a healthy, pizza craving busting supper after a long day at work.

All you need is:

❤ 1 courgette/zucchini

❤ Some crumbled / chunky chopped goats’ cheese

❤ Chopped plum tomatoes

❤ Black pepper and mixed herbs to taste.

It is this simple:

  1. Preheat your oven to around 180.
  2. Halve your courgettes then halve them again (so you get 4 ‘party boats’ – see picture above!)
  3. Top them with your goats cheese and chopped plum tomatoes. You could also add a little red onion or tuna to vary it.
  4. Place on a baking tray and leave in the oven for around 8 minutes (but it really depends on the power of your oven – check back regularly and some of it will be down to taste – how melty you want the cheese and how soft the courgette!)

You can have these with a mixed salad, I like mine with raw spinach, but you could also have veggies, or kale, or a little quinoa or sweet potato.

They make a nice entree too if you have guests, and they never need know how clean you’re keeping the eating for the evening 😉

Bootylicious Berry Smoothie

12963794_10154141186774571_2117300014501066370_nThe Bootylicious Berry Smoothie, otherwise known as ‘Peanut butter & I-don’t-think-you’re-ready-for-this-jelly’ is an amazing breakfast option, but also works as a post workout shake, or an afternoon pick me up!

Bootylicious_CD_Cover

It’s so simple to make too. You can do it with or without protein powder, whatever your preference.

You need: a blender, and then…

2 tbsps organic natural peanut butter, honey, 1/2 banana, frozen raspberries, approx 3 tbsps oats (and 1/2 scoop natural soya protein powder, optional).

Along with maybe 1/4 cup of water, blend your peanut butter half banana, 1 handful of frozen raspberries, oats and optional protein powder until smooth. Take of the lid and check consistency – you can add more water at this stage if needed. You could even use almond milk if you really want, but that’s not my jam.

Add a little liquid if needed, and a teaspoon of honey to taste. Blend, and serve!

You can add chopped nuts, a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut or raw cacao, or a couple of fresh raspberries and some mint to garnish ❤

This is a new favourite for me, and a happy blending accident. Some of the best recipes come from improvisation!

gym bag dive: post-workout beauty secrets

12321390_10154043329909571_5635629465917082248_nI always used to find lunchtime workouts stressful – having to shower, sort your hair and makeup, and get back to the office looking half presentable after a 40 minute sweat session, and rocking back up to your desk either a few minutes late or still flushed and bare faced? Nightmare!

A lot of you have commented that it really puts you off too, so I thought I’d share what I’ve now perfected as a 5 minute post gym beauty routine… it’s not perfect, but it’s a quick fix, with some great products!

Hair

Mark Hill Get Gorgeous No Knots Detangling Spray – I have crazy thick hair, so this is a must! A few spritzs and brushing my hair is a breeze… but only with my

Best Hair Day Tangle Teaser which I got from Birchbox– if you haven’t tried one, you really must. They’re old news now, but it’s a little grooming miracle.

Leave in conditioner – my hair is naturally very dry so I always have one of these two in my gym bag – Toni & Guy, or Aussie are my favourites.

Styling – From here, my favourite post-gym styles that take seconds are the Balmain high pony (do a real one or use this!), a side braid (or fishtail – see Zoella tutorial here for a quick how-to if you have very quick fingers!) as these disguise you if you still have damp hair but still look tidy and smart enough to return to work (or life outside the gym!)

Makeup

My aim is to be quick, but look like I’ve made an effort. I also like to take advantage of feeling healthy post-workout and fresh post-shower to let my skin breathe!

Grab these for your gym bag, and you’ll get your after-workout face on in literally seconds!

If my under-eye area is a bit dark, I’ll throw on some concealer, but my main gym rush makeup tactic is to focus on the lips.

My two favourite post-gym vibes are:

Rimmel London Kate Moss Lipstick Nude 40 – I love this nude for a natural, chilled look

Max Factor Colour Elixir Bewitching Coral 827 Lipstick – I am really into beachy tones, and this is a bit of a bolder lip, but feels fun, girlie and energetic, and it’s nice for a sassy post-workout glow.

Because I’m always feeling my most ‘sparkly’ after a workout, I like to team both of these with lipgloss. My favourites these days are these Beauty Rush Flavoured Glosses from Victoria’s Secret. Pictured is the Candy Baby  flavour, but I take Sheer Tropical Pineapple and Sheer Sugared Watermelon just as often, and I REALLY want to try the Sheer Mango Blush because I think the name is really evocative haha!

Queen Bee Vaseline – An alternative to lipstick and gloss, especially in Winter, is some nourishment. It gives your lips a subtle sheen too. Go queen bee for power woman lips!

Fragrance

I love scent, and am notorious for collecting perfumes. I picked these three for my gym bag recommendations as they’re my most-used post-workout scents, and they cater for low budget, mid budget, and a little higher.

I think scent is really evocative of mood, so I like to choose ones that prolong my workout high, and feel suitable for whatever’s up next!

Adidas Women Fizzy Energy – Super cheap, I picked this up for a couple of quid in Sports Direct, believe it or not! It’s a very simple scent – lemony, zesty, and energetic – exactly what it says on the bottle. Suitable for going back to work revved up again, or prolonging your endorphin-happy and feeling fresh, clean and light. I think the scent is a bit sporty and androgynous, so if you’re feeling that kind of vibe… do it! It doesn’t last long though, you do need to keep re-applying.

La Vie de Boheme, Anna Sui  – this bottle makes me so happy! Keeping the clean, fresh vibe of the above fragrance, but with fruity and floral tones. It’s very sweet and girlie, and usually that wouldn’t be my kind of perfume (I like them quite heady, spicy, woody) but it really keeps me in a post-gym mood. It’s light and playful, and a little bit magical. And I love the story it tells:

Born of a heart that embraces life to the fullest, the woman who seeks La Vie De Bohème is a poet. She lives half in the past with a nostalgic love for vintage, while firmly in the present with her own definition of style. She prefers authenticity and individuality to society’s norms. She won’t be tamed by convention, or controlled by the world. Self-expression and freedom are important to her, in a live-for-the-moment way. She’s playful and free-spirited, creating her own world one day at a time. La Vie De Bohème opens with a blend of feminine pink florals, rich burgundy berries, and a kiss of electrifying, sensual woods. The juxtaposition of fruity florals plays against mysterious woods to deliver Anna Sui’s signature good girl-bad girl ideal in a captivating, addictive fragrance. Life is beautiful. Life is romantic. Life is La Vie de Bohème. Notes of: Turkish Rose, Pear, Red Berries, Dragon Fruit, Magnolia, Peony, Freesia, White Wood, Skin Musk, Red Raspberries, Vanilla.

– fragrance description, Debenhams

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle – again, keeping it fresh. This can be a little sweet for me (I’m more of a Coco Noir girl!) but after a workout that can be too heavy. Coco Mademoiselle feels feminine, with a little boldness. Still a floral heart, but with a bit more punch. Wear to march back into meetings at work with determination!

 

So go ahead girls, pack your gym bag!

B xoxo