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August plotting and planning and bootcamping…

I didn’t blog as much as I’d have liked last month but the 2 solid weeks of Pilates Instructor Training preceeded by months of hard work and followed by a week of mooching around wondering what to do with myself meant that blogging was the last thing on my mind. I’d given so much of myself in the Pilates course that I didn’t think I had anything more to say to anyone. But I think I’m rediscovering my voice. I had a lovely day yesterday training Karina of Stressless Solutions in children’s yoga stretches which I am an expert in and which I think I had forgotten about. Then Chris and I sat for hours yesterday evening talking and planning and dreaming about the Stretch NI studio and what this will look like when it gets off the ground this autumn. And now that’s only a month away! So, it’s back to laptop so that my plans for world domination can continue unabated!

One thing I am hoping to do in the new studio is a Stretch NI Body Bootcamp. Basically, this will consist of three 45-minute sessions of yoga and Pilates moves a week combined with dietary advice (not by me who think a Mars Bar is a vegetable but by a real-life dietitian from the Southern Health Trust). This bootcamp will take 7 weeks which will make us all gorgeous just in time for Christmas! But the serious reason for doing a 7 week programme is that the yogis used to say it took 21 days to create a habit so 3 sessions over 7 weeks will give us 21 sessions and lead us into a new way of relating to food and fitness. It’s also much more achievable at this rate rather than 7 sessions a week for 3 weeks. I don’t want this to be a diet or a fitness fad. I want it to lead us into a healthier lifestyle… And, I’ve already started! I am going to be trying the bootcamp principles throughout August and will be reporting back my results. After all, it’s about time I started to practice what I preach! What do you think? Does this sound like something that might interest you?? And would you attend morning classes to make sure you get your 3 sessions a week?? Or does it all sound like too much hassle and you’d just prefer to do a regular ‘Weightwatchers/ Slimming World/ Unislim’ style weigh-in??? Cos that could be arranged!



Raw Food Diet

Not everyone know this but I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 12 years old. The reason not everyone knows this is because I spend all my time in yoga and Pilates classes telling people about having pizza, or ice cream, or Chinese, or M&S treats, or CHOCOLATE!!! They also wouldn’t know to look at me because I am overweight (with a pot belly that stopped being cute when I left my 20s) and I pretty much always have spots somewhere on my face or chest. Lovely! So after over 20 years of eating mostly a wheat-based diet with mostly pre-prepared foods, I have finally decided to diet. And not just any old diet but a raw food diet!

According to

“People who follow a raw food diet believe it has numerous health benefits, including:

  • Increased energy
  • Clearer skin
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced risk of disease

The raw food diet contains fewer trans fats and saturated fat than the typical Western diet. It is also low in sodium and sugar and high in potassium, magnesium, folate, fiber, vitamin A, and health-promoting antioxidants. These properties are associated with a reduced risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. For example, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that consumption of a raw food diet lowered plasma total cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations.

The raw food diet is also thought to have a favorable acid-alkaline balance, being low in acid-forming food. Too much acidity in the body is thought to result in disease.

Besides the immediate benefits, the raw food diet may theoretically slow the aging process and reduce inflammation, because it contains fewer advanced glycation end products and other potentially damaging compounds.”

I don’t want people to start panicking though, because I’m only doing this for a week to see how it goes and then I’m going to reintroduce more processed foods (like bread, pasta, chocolate – PLEASE). I have been doing this since Sunday and, although it’s only Tuesday, I have noticed that my stomach is not as swollen as usual and my skin has a real glow about it. Plus I feel full of energy so long may this last!


Does my Inner Goddess Look Fat in these Jeans – Elephant Journal

on May 3, 2011

Using the yoga yamas and niyamas to learn self acceptance.

I’ve never been on the fat girls team. Then again, I’ve always been on the outer edges of the skinny girls team.

I’m the girl who has been called thick, big boned, muscular, athletic. I’ve never been called waify, dainty, delicate or petite. Through sheer determination, very strict food rules and fear of what others think of me, I’ve managed to keep my place on the skinny side. And then I got kicked off the team.

I gained one pants size.  The equivalent of about 10 pounds. There are reasons I gained the weight, but those reasons are irrelevant. I’m a yoga teacher / personal trainer and in an industry where looks matter, what matters is the 10 pound gain.

“Why would you hire her? She’s too fat to be a personal trainer”.

Apparently when you gain 10 pounds you suddenly go deaf and can’t hear what’s being said about you, to your own client, that you are standing less than five feet away from at that moment.

A 10-pound gain also must mean my qualifications, education and intelligence got lost somewhere deep down in my fat cells and I no longer am capable of understanding the needs of a young woman with an ACL injury and therefore have no idea how to modify her physical activity.

I’m very grateful to my client for defending my skills, and my size, yet it sent me flying to a place of self-doubt, insecurity and self-loathing.

We live in a society where according to a poll by Fitness magazine, 51% of women would rather be skinny than sexually satisfied.  And Kirstie Alley goes on Oprah to announce she is losing weight because she doesn’t want to have “fat sex.”

What the hell is wrong with us women? We value skinny over smart and satisfied? Thin is in. And no one gives a shit about smart. Are we really willing to throw away our infinite potential for skinny jeans?

I began my career in the fitness field teaching high impact cardio classes. I wrongly believed I had to be pounding my joints, even if it meant causing stress fractures in my foot, to be healthy and fit.

Eventually I found my way to yoga and I got smart.  The yoga asanas provided me with the physical workout to help keep my body on the skinny team. The yoga meditation and pranyama gave me the self-esteem to realize that up 10 pounds or down 10 pounds, my body was the outer shell for my real self inside.

“It is through your body that you realize you are a spark of divinity.”  — BKS Iyengar

Through yoga I’ve learned I may feel temporarily good about myself when I hold urdvha danurasana longer than the person on the next mat, but I love myself even more for laughing when I fall out of bakasana.

As a yoga teacher studying yoga therapy, I feel smart and confident assessing a client and prescribing a program to heal an injury or relieve chronic symptoms. I’m rocking my brain not my body. And I feel pretty damn sexy doing it too.

I like being thin and fit and wearing cute yoga clothes. But, I want to be known for being intelligent and kind. Call me fat and I’ll sulk for a little while. Call me stupid and you’ll get a lesson in feminine empowerment.

So if I want to be known for being an educated, strong woman, why does image bother me more than intelligence? Why did one comment,  from someone who doesn’t even know me, set me into such a tailspin?

Even at my thinnest I don’t fit the image of a stereotypical yoga teacher or personal trainer. At 5”9’ I’m a pretty standard size 10 jeans. Not fat by any standards, but not Shape cover model size either.

The irony is, 99% of the time I’m ok with that. I’ve made my peace with the fact that Yoga Journal isn’t going to come calling for a photo shoot. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am in this industry. I’ve studied and educated myself to a level beyond many of my peers in my area.

I’m a damn good yoga teacher and I’m proud of it. I’m a damn good personal trainer too. I approach my personal training sessions with the yoga yamas and niyamas in mind –  ahimsa (nonviolence), Satya (truthfulness) and santosha (contentment):

  • Don’t harm your body with unhealthy diets or inappropriate exercise.
  • Be truthful with yourself about your motives and desires.
  • Embrace yourself with love exactly where you are.

When meeting for the first time with a new client I begin with an approach of you are perfect exactly the way you are. Now where would you like to go from here? And together we plot the path to get you there.

For a brief moment I forgot to apply those principles to myself. I forgot I am perfect exactly the way I am now.

Ten pounds be damned. Inside me is a spark of the divine.

Well said Jennifer!


Tight Tummy Plan

Clean and Lean Flat Tummy Fast!

I have been doing some reading about James Duigan’s ‘Clean and Lean Flat Tummy Fast’ in the Mail on Sunday which suggests eating more alkaline foods than acidic and doing at least 90 minutes of physical activity a week. Sounds reasonable… until you get into the nitty-gritty which suggests eating turkey and scallops for breakfast and doing lunges, push-ups, burpees and squats on a regular basis! Much as I would like to look like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley or Elle Macpherson I have to take into account the fact that genetics might have something to do with their shape, weight and height and somehow I think that all the work involved is not for me and will instead stick to eating healthier meals and less snacks than I have been doing of late ; as well as increasing my fabulous yoga and Pilates moves to wake me up and get me ready for the day. I’ll let you know how I get on 😉