Health & Wellbeing

How to find time for motherhood, fitness, health & maintaining a Paleo lifestyle!

Minime

Yup mini me, some things never change!

So I often get asked by a lot of people how do I have time (and willpower) to cook all of this delicious food, exercise and maintain my knowledge of health whilst running a household with 3 children (including a 1 year old), 2 dogs – of which one is a crazed husky with bags of energy, and 4 cats.

The simple answer is time management. It all boils down to having a timetabled routine that would put any military operation to shame, or at least I am pretty sure it would.  I am not Wonderwoman, I suffer from depression & anxiety, I have an autoimmune disease, however I am no different to anyone else in the world – I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, I can’t be arsed washing the dishes, I don’t want to scrub everyone’s shit off of the toilet or wipe my son’s urine off of the toilet seat 5 times a day, but it all has to be done in order to stay sane and keep things running smoothly.

I do however realise that I have trained my brain into having a different mindset than most. I don’t want to wake up in the morning and feel so groggy for the rest of the day or to feel like I can’t do the things that I need to do.  I want to feel the energy I had as a child, I want to set myself mental and physical challenges so that I can hang on to my confidence and self worth. If I don’t exercise, eat healthily, and sleep well then all of those things don’t happen. I am a miserable zombie and my depression, anxiety and illness all worsen.

If all of this sounds all to familiar then and you don’t want to be a miserable zombie then maybe you have to ask yourself if you are ready to make the changes, because if you truly 100% don’t want it or aren’t ready then you won’t let it happen anyway. You’ll have to then face the disappointment that comes with those decisions. What I will say is it’s not as hard as you think – once you get past the first hurdle of just doing it it becomes easier, you gain confidence, the world becomes more beautiful and you grow into the person you have always secretly been but has just been in a deep sleep like Sleeping Beauty herself.

Now before I go any further I have to do that serious bit that goes all bold and italic and remind you all that I am not a qualified fitness instructor, nutritionist, scientist or therapist. I am merely one person with an interest in all of these things and the knowledge possess I have gained through various means. Please always do your own research before embarking upon new ways of living. Although this is what works for me I can recognise that this may not work for everyone.

Anyway I’m not all bold or italic anymore so it’s time to crack onto the good stuff!!!

My Family’s Weekday Routine

As I said before having a routine is imperative for a fully functioning household to be possible. This sums up how our weekdays go except for a Tuesday as the both kids have Thai boxing until 16:30 – this means the kids can either do chores or homework but are not expected to do both. Before you read through my terrifying looking routine you can take a mosey at some pictures of my beautiful but crazy family!

Luna & MeAnyaphoto 2(21)1662544_10152709125411702_2661821971575212819_n

The Timetable of Doom

5:00 Alarm goes off – my partner takes the dogs out to the loo and runs our little dogface Charleston. I will either wake the baby up and breastfeed her or let her sleep and get myself dressed, go downstairs and start prepping breakfast.
5:30 I drink a glass of salt water (I will go into this later) wait for my partner to return and go out on my run with Luna our rather energetic husky.6:00-6:30 I return and either eat breakfast or if the baby isn’t awake yet I’ll breastfeed her and then wake up the kids then feed everyone breakfast.
6:30 I send the kids off to get dressed, brush their teeth and get all of their things for school ready.
7:00 I’ll quickly jump in the bath whilst the kids get to have their free time – this means watching TV, listening to music but any devices like tablets etc. are limited to 30 minutes. My partner will watch the baby and when I come down will go to work.
07:30 by now I am usually dressed and ready to roll. I play with the baby, get her dressed for the day and the kids are enjoying a huge amount of relaxation time before they have to get to school.
08:20 I get everyone to get their shoes and coats on, place Luna in her crate with her food, same for Charleston. I get Anya into her baby carrier and leave the house at 08:30 to do the school run.
09:00-09:15 If I manage to escape the nattering mums of the school run then I get home at a good time. I take the dogs out to the loo straight away.
09:20-10:45 I will play with Anya before she has her nap, I chase her around the living room, this can be doing bear crawls, or a bit of a Russian dance, anything that gets my muscles working and blood pumping. I then will do a basic Yoga flow for 20-30 minutes and Anya often interacts within this. It is this little bit of exercise that sets me up for the day. I will have a little snack of some 90% dark chocolate and a herbal tea.
10:45-11:00 I pop the dogs into the crate for a time out. I then get Anya ready for her nap and then put her down.
11:00-12:30 This can be my free time – I will workout, try and write some blog content or even just sit down and chill out. This is rare for me.
12:30-13:30  I will prepare lunch, eat mine, put Anya’s in the fridge and have a quick wash if I need to.
13:30-14:15 I will wake Anya up and feed her her lunch. If I have any social media stuff to catch up on now is usually a good time to do so.
14:15 I get Anya cleaned up, pop her into her baby carrier and then walk Luna for an hour.
15:15 I return home pop Luna in her crate with some food, then go straight back out and do the school run.
16:00 I get back with the kids take the dogs out to the loo, let the kids grab a snack, remove Anya from her carrier and for the next hour it is free time for the kids – this time they have to play out for 30 minutes and the remaining 30 they can choose what they want to do. I play with Anya in the living room during this time. I might make myself a Bulletproof Tumeric Tea if I feel like I am lacking energy.
17:00 I take Anya upstairs for her nap and crack on with making dinner. The kids do their chores for an hour.
18:00 My other half comes back from work and Anya wakes up. We then all have dinner.
18:30 Dinner finishes and one of the 2 kids goes upstairs for a bath whilst the other does homework.
19:00 The next one goes up for a bath and the other does their homework.
19:30 Anya gets bathed and then breastfed, then put down for the night. The kids get 30 minutes free time.
20:00 Kids go upstairs for ‘winding down time’ this entails staying in their own rooms and being quiet. A time to read, play and well unwind. This is the beginning of mine and my partner’s freetime but about 30 minutes is usually consumed washing up and doing lunch prep.
21:00 Lights out for the two. This means sleep time! Me and my other half will watch something or play a board game etc in this last half hour.
21:30 Take the dogs out to the toilet and go to bed!

As you can see, on a weekday we do not get much unwinding/free time to ourselves but to be fair by that point neither of us care because we are exhausted and the majority of what we aimed to achieve often happens fairly succesfully. On the weekend there is still a similar structure but no homework or chores for the kids. They largely get free time but we do have chunks of family time where we all have to play board games and whatnot if we are not going out anywhere special. This is generally a time to catch up on major cleaning and to just relax.

Now this schedule doesn’t have to be stuck to but just having it gives us something to work towards, if someone gets ill then obviously it can’t always work but the key is to pick back up where you left off and not to put so much pressure or stress on yourself (or others) when things fail to happen to schedule. It is there to utilise in order to do the things that we enjoy in life and to help keep us healthy and happy. Chaos has never been the basis for happiness – it might be fun for a while but in the end it ends up as a big sticky mess!

How to stay on track, stay positive and lose weight

Every mum I know wants all three of these things without having to ignore their children or at the cost of their partners. Or if they don’t have a partner they think that these things aren’t possible to do on their own. Life can feel overwhelming but when you break it down into small little bits and figure out what the necessities are the rest will fall into place. I have been a single parent before and whenever I had a routine and was organised I felt my life was incredibly easy to manage it was only ever my own brain that made things harder and more complicated!

Post PregnancyPost Pregnancy Now

The photo on the left is me a couple of months after having my 3rd child Anya, and the photo on the right is me currently which is about 14 months after this photo.

These are my bulletpoints that keep me on track. My life essentials if you will:

  • Drinking salt water and Bulletproof Coffee first thing in the morning along with a little protein for brekkie
  • Staying hydrated – if you’re thirsty drink, if you’re not don’t drink it’s simple.
  • Stay well fed and keep on a high fat diet – Make vegetables (especially greens) your best friend and eat plenty of raw grassfed butter if you can! Try and stick to higher carb foods for your evening meal. You are what you eat, if you eat crap you will be crap. Fuel your body with the best quality energy it can have.
  • Eat your desserts and treats after dinner/at night – this believe it or not aids in a restful sleep, if you have these things in the day you will crash out.
  • Use tumeric and ginger for anti-inflammatory purposes – can be used as pain relief and great after working out too.
  • Add cinnamon to your hot drinks and food as it helps to prevent blood sugar spikes.
  • Have a tablespoon of raw honey straight before bed (do not heat it or put into a hot drink) and sleep like a baby.
  • Set yourself goals, these don’t have to be big goals, just little goals. Maybe you want to be able to do 5 minutes of exercise a day. Keep it small and realistic until things settle in. If you go the whole hog you will most likely burn out (trust me I know).
  • Get moving, little things like doing 20 star jumps will warm you up and get you feeling alive. It’s nothing strenuous and it’s not scary so what’s the harm.
  • Take up a hobby, i.e. go to a class – get out there get away from the kids and enjoy yourself. If this is going to take you outside of your comfort zone then great – you will build confidence, you will lose your inhibitions and your fears. If like me you can’t get out anywhere then you will have to bring the hobbies to you. Think of something you always wanted to do as a kid but couldn’t i.e. skipping, hula hooping, sewing, cooking just anything. Take an interest in something and you will be taking an interest in yourself.
  • Read. Yes not news feeds on Facebook but read a real book in something that intrigues you. Set aside 20 minutes a day for this if you can, your brain needs to switched on too!
  • Get off of the social media. A bit difficult when you write a blog but think of something you can do that is more positive and more constructive. Indulge when you like but believe me you can do something even better with yourself and I bet you save a lot of time along the way.
  • Say something positive to somebody you love and one positive thing to yourself daily. Sounds a bit cliche I know but I really do think this works.

You are what you eat!

So like I said earlier if you eat crap you will feel crap. You might remember me mentioning drinking a glass of salt water every morning. I had heard about this before but only drinking a teaspoon of the diluted solution in a glass not drinking an entire glass. It was in Dave Asprey’s book that I had read about doing this and so gave it a go. Before I go to bed I dilute 1/2 tsp of Himalayan pink salt into a glass of cold filtered drinking water – this little solution is known as sole and has been around since the crack of dawn. This will kick start your adrenals and get you feeling less groggy in the morning. Himalayan pink salt contains over 80 minerals and trace elements that all aid in getting your electrolyte balance regulated, lowers your blood pressure, improves your skin and even aids against muscle cramps. If I do a pretty heavy workout I like to drink it after that as well. If you choose to do this then use a plastic spoon not a metal one!

I have also found that drinking Bulletproof Coffee helps me to have sustained energy throughout the day and any hunger that I felt becomes non existent. High fat diets don’t make you fat they make you healthy and encourage weight loss. If you use butter it must come from grassfed cows. I like to use raw butter personally even if it has been salted with sea salt I would rather just go there for the nutritional benefits (sorry Mr Asprey!).

Grassfed butter contains a whole host of vitamins and aids in weightloss. To read more about grassfeed butter and it’s benefits click here. I personally use coconut oil in conjunction with the butter as I can’t yet afford MCT oil but the results have been fantastic. I definitely think you need the mix of the two rather than just one of them.

If you want to purchase some grassfed butter then this is the best stuff that money can buy, not only is it grassfed but it is raw:

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http://www.ocado.com/webshop/product/Isigny-SainteMere-Unpasturised-Raw-Butter-with-Sea-Salt/86223011

Now I thought that you had to avoid Kerrygold as it is not 100% grassfed butter it is a mix but it appears to now be labelled as fully grassfed? Anyone with any knowledge of this please do drop me a message! What I do find is that French butters tend to do be made traditionally and are typically from grassfed cows milk. A brand called Echire is grassfed and I think that President & Yeo Valley Organic also are but I cannot vouch for that myself.

If you want to learn more about Bulletproof Coffee then click the link here.

As for my eating I am currently following a Bulletproof Diet which is an upgraded version of a Paleo diet. It does exercise a form of intermittent fasting but my diet consists mainly of grassfed butter, coconut oil, some activated nuts, wild caught fish (you can eat grassfed meat), green vegetables followed by the starchier kinds and not much of the nightshade family (peppers, tomatoes, aubergine etc.). I also only consume fruit in the evening (sticking to berries as they are low in sugar) and I pretty much eat a whole bar of Lindt 90% dark chocolate daily. If you’re interested in tracking my progress then check out my Instagram account. I would highly recommend Dave’s book it’s a simple read and only took me less than a day to complete.

What exercises should I do?!

Me getting my yoga on...

Me getting my yoga on…

Unless your hobby is strength training or endurance running keep your exercise simple and short. I am currently training for a half marathon however and I often try to PB myself on my weightlifting.

I did read somewhere that you will reap the same benefits of running for 5 minutes as you would for running one hour, although rather unhelpfully I cannot for the life of me remember where I read this. If I can’t be bothered or don’t have the energy for a workout I will run on my treadmill or skip for 5 minutes. Sometimes when I walk through the doorway where my pull up bar is i’ll do a couple of pull ups. That’s it.

If you are new to exercise or it has been a while then this is a good point to start at but always consult your doctor before trying a new training routine especially if you have any existing health problems.

Get your Yoga pants on girl because you will love to get bendy. Being flexible is exhilirating and empowering, not just for women but for anyone. The energy that is generated from even the simplest yoga flow is immense and your mind will feel clear and content. Not only will you tone your body, yoga will come in handy in the bedroom.. ahem… Here is a little basic flow, see what you make of it!

If you are looking to lose weight then HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts will become your best friend (and your worst enemy). These typically last for less than 15 minutes and will get you working so hard you will want to puke, cry and then die. Lovely huh? But the good news is they won’t actually kill you and the fat will just melt off (sexy). If you want to learn some great skills whislt enjoying a HIIT workout get yourself off to a CrossFit class locally and you won’t regret it – in fact they often run free trial weeks. The atmosphere is great, instructors are brilliant and won’t let you injure yourself, they teach you proper form and you will pick up a whole range of athletic skills that you probably never even thought you could. Don’t think you’re going to go in there and see some meatheads working out like in a regular gym, I mean yes you will but they are nice meatheads and in the classes you will meet people of all sizes, ages and backgrounds.

Anyway here is a little video of a HIIT workout you can try out at home with no equipment.

If you’re not ready for this then grab a skipping rope. Firstly aim to skip for 1 minute and every week add an extra minute, or if you’re ready sooner just go for it – before you know it you will be skipping like a pro. Make sure to take gentle jumps (with knees slightly bent) just high enough to clear the rope and move your wrists not arms, in fact you don’t really use your wrists much as the momentum will move the rope around anyway. Do not be alarmed by the way if you slightly pee yourself whilst skipping, this will be due to a weak pelivic floor, just get onto your pelvic floor exercises ASAP –  see I will tell you the unglamorous things that will happen to you after childbirth.

Anyway even if you do pee yourself who cares you had fun doing it! Skipping is not only a really efficient tool for burning fat but it also helps to drain your lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system is responsible from removing toxins and waste from your blood but as it doesn’t have a pump like your heart it relies on muscles contracting. Skipping is a whole body workout and helps to massage the lymph nodes around your body thus draining them! It will really boost your energy levels and can even help to clear up acne.

Strength/resistance training is your best friend. It’s so true, you will not bulk up and look like a man unless you take heavy amounts of unnatural, awful & unlawful supplements. Start out with basic bodyweight exercises like press-ups, chair dips, and pull-ups. If you can’t do these exercises you will be able to find some good progression exercises online. What people don’t realise is that if you do the negative action to these exercises the full ones will come. I.e. if you can’t do a press up you practise lowering yourself to the floor as slowly as possible as many times as you can. The same goes for pull ups, you jump up and slowly lower yourself down. I am halfway through writing an article about this so hopefully I can share that with you all soon. We all start out not being able to do one so never feel daft! It can and will happen with time and dedication. Always use proper form though otherwise you will find that you may become injured or are just short changing yourself.

Kettlebells are my favourite weights of choice but I have been learning some olympic lifting too. I think kettlebells are great as they don’t take up much space, and just the simple kettlebell swing can kick your arse and work your whole body. It’s pretty much a cardio workout mixed with strength training. Get a small one to start with like a 6kg or 8kg. If you’re a bit stronger then start at 12kg. There are millions of great videos online. My favourite lady is the beautiful Lauren Brooks. She’s a momma and a hottie too!

Have some ‘playtime’

Yes this takes exercise to another level. You can mix things up but nothing is better than grabbing a hula hoop and flipping some tricks, or throwing down your best dance moves to your fave songs… and even better going to the park and doing the monkey bars! Make things fun when working out at home, learn how to inchworm, crabwalk, tuck jump and bearcrawl your way around your house. Yes you will look like an idiot but these simples exercises will help work your whole body especially your core. Which brings me on to the next exercise – the plank. Start off just trying to do 3 sets of 15 seconds and add on more time when you become comfortable until you can hold it for 1 minute straight. Then start looking into plank variations.

Ok, sorry I have to admit that the last part wasn’t fun but I couldn’t help but share. I think I shall leave the rambling for today and if you have any questions about anything at all just drop me a comment. I’m a pretty honest and open person and would always love to help. I am hoping to interlink with some future fitness posts and also meal plans too for those of you new to Paleo.

Lots of Primal love to you all…

Georgie xxx

Agave nectar – to consume or not to consume on a Paleo diet?!

GOTSA

The great agave nectar debate…

Before I get verbally attacked when I post my reviews on certain products containing agave nectar, I would just like to put out my rationale on the matter of agave and also why I am reviewing products containing agave. I want to inform those of you new to Paleo on the matter as it is an absolute minefield and very confusing to gain a grasp on!

Firstly agave is Paleo Friendly but not Paleo Certified. What is the difference between the two?

Well.  Paleo Friendly products are essentially products that have labeled as being Paleo buuut within a grey area – like say blackstrap molasses, xylitol or dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has been processed, it contains sugar but it still sort of sits within the realms of the Paleo diet. These products can be called ‘Certified Paleo Friendly’ Confusing huh?! It is up to you to make the decision to include these products within your diet or not.

Paleo Certified products fit perfectly within the bounds of a Paleo diet and are not within any grey area. They contain no legumes, grains, dairy, preservatives, or additives.

So agave nectar comes from the agave plant, it’s not a legume, grain, it’s not dairy it’s not a lot of things but it is indeed a plant. The processing is what makes it Paleo Friendly rather than Paleo Certified.

If I am going to consume agave then it’s likely going to be organic so that is why I am focussing on organic agave within this article.

Now that we have got that out of the way let’s go onto the processing of organic agave nectar.

Organic Agave nectar is made by extracting the milky white juice from the ‘pinas’ (a sort of juicy core) of the Agave plant, filtering it (removing any pulp from the extraction process) and then heating it (typically at a low heat) until it turns into a concentrated ‘syrup’. It doesn’t have any enzymes added to it artificially however during the heating process an enzymatic change occurs and the inulin contained within the agave is broken down into approximately 80% fructose and 20% glucose (worst case scenario). So the good news is that it has minimal processing. Don’t forget that bees also go through an enzymatic process when making honey.

But what about the fructose? Doesn’t that lead to obesity?

No, fructose is not the direct cause of obesity, people are. Through and through. If you consume excess amounts of sugar your body will eventually process and store it as fat. All sweeteners should be used minimally and never as part of your everyday regular diet.

Do not forget that when people are consuming fructose and it is leading to obesity it is generally being consumed in the form of high fructose corn syrup soda/fizzy pop drinks and sweets. The calorific intake is way in excess of what you would consume in an agave sweetened product and also most people won’t have a can of pop and not eat anything else either.  I’m sure you can all figure out what an excess in calories can cause. A glass of fruit juice over a glass of say – coke is always going to be better for you.

But back to the fructose. So the positives about fructose are that fructose is very low on the Glycemic Index (somewhere in the late 20s) so it won’t spike your blood sugar like glucose or high fructose corn syrup would and as it is 1.5 times sweeter than regular sugar a lot less needs to be used to reach the desired sweetness. It is also classed as containing some probiotics. It is also a good option for a Vegan sweetener.

The Agave plant does contain saponins and phytochemicals that are great immune boosters but I cannot vouch for how much of these components are kept intact through the processing of the agave.

The negatives about fructose is that it is metabolized by the liver into triglycerides and so stored as fat and in the long term high fructose consumption can lead to inulin resistance and essentially cause diabetes. If you have liver or renal problems then I would avoid agave nectar like the plague. Like any sugar it is high in carbohydrates that will not fuel your body efficiently either.

Now agave is typically somewhere between 50-80% fructose (depending upon how it is processed) and a tablespoon of agave will typically yield 12g fructose per tablespoon. High fructose corn syrup is somewhere between 50-90% fructose depending upon the manufacturer and will yield around 8g-13g fructose per tablespoon. So they’re around the same. But remember before? when I said that agave is 1.5 times sweeter than normal sugar? Well you’re typically going to use less than high fructose corn syrup – a whole 330ml can of coke (in the UK) contains roughly 35g of fructose. A 50g bar of Conscious raw chocolate contains anywhere from 6g to 10g. I think I rest my case in saying that the fructose consumption is going to be fairly low. I myself cannot eat a 50g bar of any chocolate and usually have a square a day if I have a bar in the house. It’s also a good point to note that a whole mango contains 27.5g of fructose – and I dread to think what a whole dried one contains. Now I will agree that a mango contains more antioxidants, vitamins and minerals without a doubt and I would rather eat me some mango than some pure agave nectar.

Can I consume agave if I am pregnant?

I thought I would add this question in here as there has been research to indicate high levels of saponins leading to miscarriage. Consult your doctor or midwife before consumption. Personally I wouldn’t take the risk.

So would I consume agave nectar and allow my children to? being that I am Paleo and all?

No I certainly wouldn’t buy a bottle of agave nectar and use it in my cooking, I prefer raw honey, maple syrup and cocont sugar because they bring flavour to my cooking, agave is relatively flavourless.

Would I consume agave nectar in a product? Yes I would. Would I consume it regularly? No. I don’t believe in consuming any kind of sugar on a regular basis (which can prove to be a hard task being a food blogger) as it is not healthy to do so. Agave I would certainly consume less regularly than the others but this is because my body does not react well to it in large quantities as I suffer from an autoimmune disease that effects my renal function. If I am out and about with my kids and they want some chocolate and there is a little agave in it, yes I am willing to turn a blind eye. If Santa brings us some agave filled treats will I throw them away? No? In my eyes a treat is a treat – it’s something that you consume less regularly than most other items.

What I am trying to say is that ultimately it is your choice what you want to consume responsibly and I am trying to inform you of what products are available on the market at the moment that you can make a choice from. That is the purpose of a review. When I have finished getting my ‘Paleo Product Guide’ section finished I will be rating products as being green, amber and red. Red being something that you should consume rarely and this would fall into that category.

DISCLAIMER: All information within this article has been gathered from multiple sources and all opinions voiced are solely my own. Please always do your own research too 🙂

What is your take on agave and high fructose intake? Will you have the odd sneaky treat? Please feel free to comment below and if there any mistakes within my writing please feel free to voice those too!