5 things to make your New Year’s resolutions easier to keep… Pre-solutions!

Pre-solutions? Things you do before Christmas to make your New Year resolutions easier to keep.

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GET A GRIP – Everywhere you turn, piles of pointless calories: tubs of sweets, mini
chocolate bars, bowls of crisps and peanuts, mince pies, and (my favourite) cheese footballs. You’re going to need a steely resolve to avoid these so rather than feeling sorry for yourself, recognise that the instant gratification you get for saying, ‘No thanks’, is worth ten times the long-term misery of succumbing.

 

lowres-0178TONE UP YOUR LIVER – Use your exercise routine to stimulate liver circulation by adding some deep stretches and working your arms more. We tend to think that twists will help, and they do, but using the strength of your arms, and stretching them over your head allows access to the liver. (Look out for the New Year Yoga Routine coming soon!) Foods to eat include sprouted grains/seeds/legumes, micro-algae, spices and herbs – cumin and turmeric – and lightly cooked brassicas like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and (guess what?) brussel sprouts! Avoid sugar, and carbs generally – you really only need 130g per day, a few small potatoes and the odd slice of bread, but more about that in the New Year blog.

 

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3:2:2 – Alcohol, and managing your intake needs careful planning. Divide your weekdaysinto blocks of days 3:2:2. Look at your diary and map out the points during the festive season when drink will be the theme. Then, depending on your natural habits, order your blocks of days into non-alcohol, low-alcohol and party time. This is a much better system than all or nothing. You can use one of the goal setting apps to keep track – I like HabitHub.

 

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PLAN AHEAD – Forewarned is forearmed: if you’re going to make a success of this, and above all enjoy yourself, you need to plan ahead so you can have the kind of Christmas season you won’t regret afterwards. Take each day as it comes and think through how you’ll avoid the trip wires: exercise first thing, don’t skip proper meals, carry healthy snacks with you, and if you’re eating out, make sure there’s water on your table, not just wine!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! We’re all human and we won’t get it right every day of the holiday season. So put yesterday behind you and concentrate on getting today right and you will be moving in the right direction. Give your body and mind a merry Christmas and a happy New Year too!

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Christmas Restorative Yoga sequence.

When you’re feeling tired or stressed, it can be hard to tell what you need most: is it exercise or rest? Restorative yoga practice gives your body the best of both. By using stronger extensions and the time to rest, the nervous system becomes calm and the brain feels soothed. You’ll feel relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated.

The body also needs a different kind of practice in the morning to that at the end of the day. But in both cases, you need to reconnect brain and body first, so there are supine poses at the beginning of both these sequences.

Morning version: pose number 2 (hold for 4 minutes), then poses 4, 6, 5, 6, 5 at your own pace. (Repeat if you have time and energy!) Finish with Tadasana standing against a wall: lift your chest, roll your shoulders back, head UP and breathe in! Maintain that posture for the day – diaphragm UP – when you feel your energy or enthusiasm dips.

Evening version: (practice slowly) 2, 4, 6, 9, 11. Lying down poses – set alarm for 3-4 minutes. Hold the others long as you can and come out slowly.

 

Hannah Lovegrove Yoga Sequence

Bobby Clennel is coming from the USA as our guest teacher in April 2018.

Gluten free, low GI Christmas pudding cake

     

This recipe substitutes low GI apple, prune and apricot for the traditional high GI currants, raisins and sultanas, so it may help people who suffer from digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, which is notoriously sensitive to sugar-laden dried fruit.IMG_2548-1

If you want to reduce the carb content, substitute 100g of the flour with oat bran.

You could serve this recipe warm with double cream or crème fraiche, as a lighter alternative to Christmas pudding. It also keeps extremely well, if you can resist it!

Ingredients
250g            gluten-free self-raising flour
1 tsp            baking powder (Supercook do a gluten-free version)
150g            xylitol (Total Sweet is the one I use)
250g            butter, softened
3                 eggs
1 tsp            vanilla extract (buy good quality – lasts for ages)
150g            dried apricots, stoned (organic/unsulphured)
200g            prunes, stoned
one large or 2 small Bramley apples, peeled and chopped (should total about 200g)
150ml          orange or apple juice or (replace 50 ml with brandy)
grated peel of 1 orange and 1 lemon
3/4 tsp         ground ginger
2 tsp            cinnamon
1 tsp            mixed spice
100g            ground almonds

Instructions
Grease a 22cm (9”) cake tin and double-line with baking paper.
Heat oven to 160 degrees c
Boil prunes, apricots and chopped apple in the juice for seven minutes, then blitz in a food processor, or chop very finely before you boil.
Beat the softened butter and xylitol with a spoon or electric hand mixer.
Beat in eggs singly, then vanilla extract. (Don’t worry if it curdles.)
Sieve in flour, baking powder and spices, and mix gently.
Mix in fruit, then ground almonds. Spoon into tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 60 minutes. Don’t hang about – the heat from the fruit will activate the baking powder so get it in the oven! It’s ready when a skewer comes out clean. Cooking time will vary – you might need more if you have conventional oven, less in an Aga. Cover the cake to prevent browning – I used butter paper. Cool it in the tin – it’s quite fragile when it first comes out but firms up when cool.

http://www.hannahlovegrove.com