Holiday season is upon us once more! I’m super hyped becauseI have actually planned a couple of trips this year, which means my suitcase will be more than just a weekend bag for a few days spent with a friend. Or will it? Is packing a huge suitcase, 5 pairs of shoes and both a hair straightener and curling iron really necessary?
Having less is seriously cool. I’m no longer worried about stuff not matching in my wardrobe, or that pink jacket I never wear: if I’m not using it, I’m not keeping it.
But then come your exotic trip, and you think you need the entire asos swimwear department to survive it. (Just a piece of friendly advice before we start: you don’t.) I take more long weekend trips than weeklong holidays so I’ve become accustomed to packing a small carry-on and making the most of what I bring! Here’y how you can apply underpacking to longer holidays like I am this year!
1. Think ahead
If you’re not one of those people that starts packing or thinking about packing at least 2 weeks before you leave, start now. Honestly, this is a huge help – ask yourself where you’ll be, what you’ll be doing and how often, think of what you already have and what should be replaced or bought for the occasion. I’m leaving for Italy in a couple of days for a super casual poolside reading and city exploring break. Realistically, only 3 scenarios are likely: a day out, for which I’ll need some comfortable, functional and breathable, a day at the pool, for which I’ll need swimwear and a cover up and a classier option for the evening to wear to a nice dinner. My make-up and hair routine can be adjusted accordingly by increasing the intensity rather than the amount of products used. Instead of just slapping on some mascara and eyebrows, I might spend longer on some eyeliner or contouring. And then there’s the airport days, where you should think of wearing something comfortable and layerable, for example the only thicker jacket you’re bringing in case of colder weather, and to keep yourself warm on the flight, over a t-shirt you can wear on a city day later on. Write it down, draw it out, whatever you need to do: just think!
I love the YOGABODY Yoga Talk Show podcast. Every week, I look forward to the latest episode; the range of topics covered is so broad I’m guaranteed to learn something new. A couple of weeks ago, the topic of discussion was life balance and the causes of adrenal fatigue. It’s not a sexy topic, but it’s an important one.
I’m 21 and I truly believe our generation is seeking balance, or at least trying to tip the balance in favour of their well-being as opposed to reckless enjoyment. More than ever we are seeing turmeric lattes and superfood açai bowls and cool yoga studios. Public figures are healthy cookbook authors and instagram yogis and fitness ebook writers.
And yet so often it’s an all-or-nothing affair. You’re vegan or you’re not. You’re a yogi or you’re not. You’re healthy or you’re not. And you only ARE if you take things to the next level. You a raw vegan, and practice 90 minutes every day and always drink your lemon water in the morning. I’m not sure why there is such an obsession with perfection, but let me tell you, it’s not perfection you seek. It’s balance.
Have you ever regretted eating so healthily you couldn’t eat your mother’s apple crumble? Probably.
And have you ever been so careless you regretted eating the entire brunch spread last Christmas? Probably, too.
But did you regret having that one bite of your friend’s pancake stack and ordering the smoothie bowl for yourself? Probably not.
We also mistakingly feel that balance is just a food thing. Balance is an everything thing. Because what is imbalanced in one aspect of your life may be counterbalanced by something else. Balance is something that is advised by yoga teachers, nutritionists and life coaches; not choosing one extreme over the other. It’s a way of life, not a means to an end. Balance should not inspire guilt, either. It’s not because you’re not a raw vegan you’re a bad vegan. It’s not because you haven’t done the whole30 that you’re a bad paleo. Balance for you will look nothing like balance for someone else. But balance is so abstract, don’t you think? It’s an ideal that’s hard to pinpoint, you can only feel it. There’s no common denominator or way of measuring balance on a scale.
So how do you add more yin to your yang, so to speak? Well here are 8 things you can do to bring balance, rather than an extreme of good or bad, into your life!
February has been a beautiful month. I’ve been feeling energised and replenished, rested and peaceful. I’ve tried to reduce stress as much as possible, and I’m proud to say it has improved my quality of life enormously already!
I’m not a winter-lover. I love snow and Christmas vibes, but once January comes to a close, I am ready for spring. I’m ready to see trees and flowers blossom and to wear lighter coats. And put my UGG boots away. But this year, I’m trying to embrace the seasons, and I suggest you try, too! Seasons come and go for a reason, and nature is constantly changing. It’s a cycle of death and rebirth, and we should honour it rather than let it pass us by 🙂
As always, my (slightly) obsessive nature has ensured that this past month’s favourites were very easy and obvious to put together in this post! Let me know what you’ve been loving, I’m dying to know! 😀
I don’t know if it’s because I’m channeling my inner Viking or trying to find a substitute for shaving one side of my head [eek!], but these side braids have been stuck to my head most of the month. Having short hair means you have to be relatively creative in tying it up, and I’ve said goodbye to The Topknot aka that shaggy pile of hair that is not-so-artfully tied up when I’m exercsing/working/doing the dishes to keep my front layers out of the way. Yeah. Not glamorous. These half french braids are way easier than they look, very functional and I always get complimented on them 🙂
I’ve been 99% gluten free over February. It just sort of happened, and I also sort of decided. I’ve been reducing my gluten intake since the beginning of 2017 and don’t really miss it. I’m an absolute bread fiend [will-travel-the-world-for-bread type of fiend] and thought I would miss all the carbs! But buckwheat has saved the day.
I’ve always loved buckwheat, my mother has a delicious recipe for Galettes Bretonnes, a buckwheat crêpe from Brittany, generally served with savoury toppings like ham and cheese. But I also love roasted groats, cooked with water instead of a gluten grain or even rice! And raw groats make both an excellent quick baguette [above] or a naturally fermented loaf (here’s the recipe I use.)
I’m really not very good at being upside down, but that’s ok. What would be the fun in learning to be upside down if there was no learning process? I’ve come to accept that I’m not comfortable upside down, and that it will take me longer than some to get into a handstand. It’s my goal for this year, but it’s been hard work! I spend around 5 minutes a day practicing wall handstands, I do a lot of core work using the TRX bands at my gym and I’ve generally been trying to find comfort in the discomfort of having my head to the floor!
I found this 28 days to handstands resource very useful.
sweaty betty merino top
My style has always been very simple, but now more than ever. I don’t own a lot of clothes, and most of them are neutral colours. I love my clothes. But come the winter I realised I had a lot of thinner tops and very heavy jumpers, but nothing in between that isn’t so bulky under a coat. This top was definitely an investment (£85, but is now on sale), but considering I hardly buy clothes, it was a worthwhile one. I have worn it almost every day, under dresses and tops and on its own. It’s breathable because it’s activewear, and super fitting. It has really long sleeves. It’s perfect!
We ALL know I love my daily coffee break. I’ll take 15 minutes off every day, whether I’m at uni or at home or in town to sit down and have a coffee. I’ll have it on my own, or with a friend. Sometimes filter, sometimes cappuccino. It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s a coffee break. it’s almost ritualistic for me, I look forward to it every single day! And as much as I love Starbucks (I personally think they have the best roast and milk to coffee ratio in a cappuccino), I’m also very adamant to support local trade. Buying from a small coffeeshop is a meaningful contribution to a small business’s existence, whereas Starbucks will still be standing, so I’ve been loving tasting different coffees and seeing different places! 🙂
Try to get out of your commercial comfort zone; supporting local business is much easier than you may think!
being less wasteful
I find it really upsetting to see how wasteful we are. We had One Planet Week last month and I took a sustainability quiz. I thought I was doing ok, but turns out we would still need 2 planets if we all lived like I do. I don’t find food waste to be problematic, but food packaging drives me insane. Just the other day I ordered mushrooms through an online delivery and switched from buying a case to buying loose, by the kg, and was still delivered ecxessive packaging. My bin is full of plastic trays and foils and wrappers. My goal last month was to bring my own coffee cup when I have coffee to save me throwing away a paper cup every day. Next month, I want to buy more bulk goods, like porridge oats and nuts, by going to the health food store rather than buying a supermarket bag, which is often plastic.
My biggest tip is to look out for bulk sizes and eco-friendly packaging. Stop buying the single wrapped energy bars and small bags of nuts and upgrade to bigger sizes, or to the cardboard alternative. And make sure you recycle, it’s so easy and has a huge impact! 😀
I’m so excited and can’t wait to do yoga/take pictures/have a digital detox/walk barefoot on the beach. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a real holiday! And that’s because holidays are costly. I would never take out a loan or get a credit card to pay for a holiday. I know saving money isn’t difficult per se, it’s just the execution part never seems to happen. And I’ve accepted I’m kind of rubbish at it. So I’ve put my savings into Plum‘s hand, which is a Facebook robot/app that puts your money aside in the easiest way ever. It calculates how much you can spare every week, and puts away very small (about £10 for us) amounts. You can set goals, save extra if you’re feeling ambitious and you honestly won’t believe how quickly you’ll be saving. I highly recommend it!
I was going to leave this one for March but… I’m almost through the latest season. Chef’s table is just. So. Good. It’s relaxing and stimulating and emotional and beautiful and inspiring. This is truly the show for anyone who is into cooking and food, and anyone who isn’t, too, because it has so much to teach us about life and the world! It restores your faith in humanity and makes you want to spend more quality time in the kitchen. If you’re so over drama/superhero/zombie TV shows, it may be time to take a break and binge watch this instead!
In a nutshell: it simply wasn’t the right time, the right solution or the right fit for me.
the reason why
So I decided to complete the Whole30 because the lovely Kate, my nutritional therapist, advised I remove dairy and gluten from my diet to regulate my digestion, and the September Whole30 was about to start, and I thought it would be a good excuse for me to combine the two. So I did, and it took a great deal out of me at the beginning. My digestion took a hard hit. It is very fragile on my regular diet (mostly vegetarian, occasional animal products, lots of grains), and I didn’t give it enough time to adjust to the changes of a paleo-style diet (lots more meat, no grains).
You may or may not know that the paleo diet includes moderate amounts of meat, fish, nuts and dairy-free animal products, as well as an abundance of vegetables. No grains, no pulses, no peanuts and no soy. You are expected to eat a moderate amount of animal and plant fat to keep you satiated. The paleo community has become renowned for recreating pancakes, cakes and tortillas employing tricks using cashews, cauliflower and avocado. Now, the Whole30 encourages the paleo part, but not the recreating part. You can read more about it here.
Happy Thursday everyone! The summer is coming to an end, and for some reason, I have been feeling so creative this month in the kitchen! I have been making and testing plenty of new things ready for the autumn, and you can expect to see a lot more food on the BARE. blog. Lots of unsweetened, pumpkin spiced things, in particular. Nom.
So it came to my attention my foodi-ness has reached a new high. I’ve tried plantain. I like seaweed. I snack on homemade sauerkraut. I know how to make cashew cheese.
Foodies are a unique breed of people. Food is at the very heart of our lives, and nothing makes us happier than tasting new foods and testing new kitchen tricks. I thought I would round up 10, pretty good indicators that you’ve become an uber foodie.
you’ve come to like food shopping more than clothes shopping
You would rather shop for a bagful of fresh and vibrant vegetables than have to try on a new dress. It’s so much more satisfying, looking at all those beautiful leaves and roots.
SWYPO, or Sex With Your Pants On, is the term used by Melissa Hartwig, creator of the Whole 30, to describe recipe recreations of our comfort foods using compliant ingredients. A commonly used example is banana + egg pancakes, which are not allowed, even though banana and eggs are compliant ingredients. Pancakes, waffles and anything that attempts to mimick the real deal is out, because it doesn’t serve you well. And I agree!
Apart from the initial temptation to make paleo bread and tortillas, leaving all the foods I can’t stop eating behind is not excessively hard. I’ve done it before and I know what to expect. It’s all about the mindset (and of course I know it’s hard. I’m just trying to make it easier. Tough love applies to yourself, too.)
SWYPO closely relates to ‘Foods With No Brakes’, the foods we start eating and can’t stop eating. Like potato chips or sweets. Or almond butter; Foods With No Brakes don’t have to be junk to make you crave more. I watched Melissa’s live Facebook Q+A on this topic today (day 3) and I realised I could fine tune my approach and improve it for the 27 days to come. I didn’t sit down to evaluate my Foods With No Brakes at the beginning, but it is worth doing now.
Carbs are a big thing for me. I love them dearly, and I’m a massive bread-lover. I have my addiction under control, but always wish I could have seconds of my rye sourdough after having a slice or two for breakfast. My attitude towards bread is not healthy, hence it is a Food With No Brakes. And so is pasta, healthy crackers and rice cakes. Even oats in the morning! I can just eat and eat and eat. Luckily, these are all out by nature (wheat! gluten!), so it won’t be as hard to resist. Two years ago, I moved from Europe to England, where bread is like sponge. That quickly put me off the bread, because I couldn’t find anything I liked. Added to this, I wanted to lose weight and cleaned up my diet. I missed the bread at the beginning, but got very good at avoiding it, and then I didn’t miss it anymore. I know I can manage my addicition, because I have in the past!
Hello lovely readers!
I’m doing the September whole 30, which I announced on instagram. I’m pumped, scared and sceptical at the same time. I must admit I’ve sort of been eating lots of bread this past week. I haven’t really been meaning to, but I’m guessing I’m going to miss the bread. I love my rye sourdough.
But anyway, I’m doing the whole 30 for so many different reasons. I’m doing it for my health, trying to figure out whether gluten or dairy have an impact on my digestion, which has been off since last summer. I figured the September whole 30 would be a great opportunity to find out. I also want to take better care of my gut bacteria but don’t know where to start. I want to know what the fuss is about. I want to become a dietician and be able to tell my patients: I have tried it, and it works/isn’t worth your while/is as amazing as everyone says/is not enough to see any results. Purely for experimental purposes, it is worth completing. I also want to stop thinking about food in the way that I do, thinking every meal isn’t complete without such and such a carb and such amount of protein. So yes, many reasons.
Noooo it’s the last month of summer. I’m sad, not gonna lie. Although I am a teensy bit excited about wearing heavier + darker clothes, I haven’t quite had enough sunshine! I’m relying on the next few weeks to give me my final sun fix, and hopefully, I’ll be good to go until next year (yikes…).
But August has been a great month! I’ve done, eaten and read plenty. Here are my favourites!
The Microbiome Solution
I’m obssessed with gut health. My own, other people’s, and beneficial bacteria in general just really, really floats my boat (weird I know). I occasionally listen to the Inspire Nation Daily podcast, so when I saw an episode with Robynne Chutkan of Gutbliss, I had to tune in. Not only was I completely sold on getting her new book, The Microbiome Solution, I actually learned a fair bit. I learned about the adverse effects of our uber-sanitised world, the benefits of gardening and became adamant to fix my own gut health. I’m pretty sure my gut could use some healing, which is why I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands and start a pretty serious gut healing process (but more on that later). Gut health is the new ‘in-thing’ if you’re into nutrition, so if you’ve not joined the hype, I recommend this podcast and her book.
Cavolo Nero, or black kale
Look who’s late to the party. I had tasted curly kale, but black kale or cavolo nero, is a new thing for me. It tastes so good! I love the delicate flavour, compared to the bitterness of curly kale. I’ve had it lightly sautéed in oil with a helping of cream cheese, and raw multiple times in a salad. I’ve been eating it Kimberly Snyder style, which is essentially a very simple kale salad before a meal to coat your stomach and ease digestion (it’s the Dharma’s Kale Salad, and it’s awesome!). But really, can you ever go wrong with kale? I don’t think so 🙂
The Healthy Gut Cookbook
So back to my gut obssession, I’ve found this book to be an excellent resource this month. I considered doing the GAPS diet after being on a few heavy antibiotic cycles, but found it a little extreme (and it IS very restrictive and drawn out). I didn’t realise this book was GAPS compliant until I opened it, but the recipes are just amazing. So yeah, I might accidentally end up on the full GAPS diet – the recipes are far from boring (i.e. not what you would expect from a diet based on bone broth, egg yolks and sauerkraut) and make very good use of all the cheese that is allowed (think Parmesan tuiles and turkey Reubens). There are plenty of basic meal plans and how-tos in addition to the many recipes, and a few staple items to always have on hand (like homemade yoghurt, ghee, bone broth and a grain-free bread that looks BOMB.) I don’t know where my diet will take me at this moment in time; if you follow me on instagram, you’ll know I’m doing the #SeptemberWhole30, and after the reintroduction phase, I might do the full GAPS and see where it takes me! 🙂
Sarah’s Day Youtube Channel
This girl is my Australian alter-ego. She is so down to earth, so watchable and so educational! Just like me, she loves fitness and nutrition, but not the tupperware-chicken-and-rice kind, or IIFYM kind. As I’ve mentioned before, tracking food doesn’t work well for me. I like doing it, but don’t really reap any benefits from it. So I pack on the nutrient-dense foods and don’t worry too much about the numbers. She is very focused on keeping her diet clean, hormone-balancing and high fat, which is so refreshing. My only complaint: not enough videos! 😀
This is new for me too, but such a revelation! I haven’t quite curbed my addiction for bread (and probably never will. French blood, you know.), and a slice of dark rye bread is generally sitting next to my eggs in the morning. I also love sourdough but don’t eat it very often, because the flour is refined and healthier options exist. So a rye sourdough?! That couldn’t be a better match for me. When made traditionally, it’s actually a great source of probiotics. The sourdough starter is a fermented paste (rather than commercial yeast) that is added to the bread, which gives it the distinctive sour taste. This particular loaf is delivered to the Alligator health food shop in York on Saturday mornings by Bluebird Bakery. If you live in the UK, Everfresh Bakery make a pretty decent packaged one, too. It’s nutty, super dense and very tasty. And it lasts for ages! I’m never going back!
Myprotein Water Bottle
I’ve been looking for a bigger bottle for ages, but never gave in to the gallon-sized container-looking water bottle, because I thought they looked lame (and it’s called a ‘gallon hydrator’. Lol.). They seemed chunky and very large, too large for my dainty handbag. But after training with a PT I realised I officially needed a bigger bottle if I wanted to survive the killer sessions he was putting us through, so I got one. I got this one from Myprotein, which is 1.9 litres (about 1/2 gallon) and a little smaller than the average gallon bottle. It’s nothing special, but it does get me drinking more water. It’s BPA free, but it is still plastic, so when I’m at home, I generally stick to my glass VOSS bottle. 🙂
And that’s it for this month! WHat have you been loving this August?