Archives for category: healthy

What with one thing and another it has been an incredibly long week so this morning I allowed myself a lazy return under the duvet this morning to drink my morning tea and watch The Mind of a Chef on Netflix. This follows a binge watching of the latest series of Chef’s Table.

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I was hooked on Chef’s Table from the first series (especially Dan Barber and Massimo Bottura) enjoying the tour from the chef’s childhood and struggles through formative years into finding their raison d’être and becoming the admired chef they are today. Some of the later episodes have not made that connection as clearly as the early ones, but then I was blown away by the 60 year old Zen Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan cooking vegan meals for her temple community in South Korea. The peace, tranquility and connection with nature just took all the chaos of my week and transported me into a state of calm there and then. And believe me that was quite a feat given the week I had.

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The Mind of a Chef wasn’t a programme I had heard about but when I saw it featuring Gabrielle Hamilton, I thought I would take a sneak peak. I really enjoyed reading her book “Blood, Bones & Butter” and was gutted not to get into her restaurant Prune when I was in NYC. She is clearly not a woman to mess with and yet I love her approach to food. In the intro credits she says: “Its so good to be classic and not trendy” and I love that about her. The dishes are so simple and yet the flavour she extracts and the combinations she creates are just my type of thing. I have lots more minds to explore and suggest you dip in and out too.

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As I was having a lazy day, I thought I would create a nice healthy brunch and took my inspiration from our outing last weekend. We ventured to another Israeli inspired restaurant from an Ottolenghi protege, Eran Tibi. Whilst reviews have been up and down for Bala Baya, we really enjoyed discovering this alley under Southwark railway arches, just off Union Street and liked the open bakery at the back. These guys make the most delicious pita bread fresh every day and it came beautifully warm with our brunch choices of hummus, Israeli salad, Shakshuka and their open sandwich.

img_7793It was the Shakshuka that inspired me this morning with the deep rich tomato and pepper base flavoured with Middle Eastern spices and those perfectly baked eggs dropped in at the end. Now I have an evening with Gabrielle to entertain and lots more inspirational combos to rise to. Happy Sunday everyone!

 

 

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I have been on boot camp this week and believe me that is not something I normally say.

The Prestige Boot Camp programme was suggested to me by Mr Jones, who has attended twice with incredible results. As he is a pretty discerning kind of guy I knew that he would have made the right choices about where to go and it seemed that Prestige was the chosen one.

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The Coastal Walk

My initial experience was a good one with very friendly helpful staff, a total lack of pretension and in the knowledge that 50% of the people going were returners. On arrival that tone remained. We arrived at our Portuguese villas with some nervousness just taking it all in and what struck me was just how mixed we all were: all ages, all sexes, all weights and all sorts of goals. Clearly we all wanted an element of weight loss and improved fitness but when asked up front what we wanted to achieve there were a whole host of additional reasons for making this journey and what a journey it turned out to be.

The heart and soul of Prestige hangs on founder Iain Reitze who is the visionary. He is ex Military with a degree in sports rehabilitation and the most incredible drive to learn all about the body and what makes it healthy. His approach is about fitness and quality of health to ensure long and healthy lives which is a much more rounded and reassuring way of looking at the camp. But the most compelling thing about Staff R (as we were told to address him) is his personality which drives you towards his mantra of self application. He is everything you need going through a week like this: tough, soft, approachable, demanding, charming, persuasive and above all hilarious and motivating.

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Some of our group of 22

Supported by Staff W, Jo and Chef, this quartet looked after everything we all needed throughout the week, adding in two massage therapists who could deal with any sports injury or simply do a manicure. They built this random group into a team and by the end we had supported each other, bonded well and made some really good friendships.

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Morning warm up before sunrise

One expects a lot of exercise on something like this and we certainly did our fair share of that. Mornings began at 7am going down the steps and steep hill to the beach before the sun rose so chilly warm-ups before morning circuits and then breakfast. Every meal was followed by time to rest, recuperate or get in extra exercise for the really committed. Late mornings meant more intense sessions, a mid morning snack (think one strawberry or a rice cake with beetroot dip), a rest and then normally a pretty severe session in advance of lunch. After a good hour break, it was much the same in the afternoon: exercise, snack, break, exercise and dinner at 6. After a shower, a quick check on e mails and potentially another extra walk at night we were all in bed by 8.30/9.00 and asleep one minute later.

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The morning session

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A harder hitting sessions proving all it takes is 20 minutes

As someone who is knocking on the age of 50 with a catalogue of niggles the exercise was incredibly well managed. It accommodated all levels of fitness and pushed every single one of us to the core. Every day it was different with clever ideas for short bursts to address those who say they don’t have time, to intense focus on one area such as arms or the hardest ever… Glutes of Steel! We also managed some fun team warm ups, long runs and a mean rounders match on the beach (it’s not so easy to run a round in thick sand – that is for sure.) But all adding up to exercising that most important muscle of all – the heart…and who wouldn’t want a well honed heart?

 

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Our last supper – and yes, the fork is to scale!

The bigger revelation for everyone and the thing that you hear before you get there are the portion sizes of the meals. Women are managed to 900-1200 calories per day and men between 1200 and 1500 calories and when you consider that we burn well over 4000 calories a day you know the results are going to be good but the journey a challenge. The opening dinner is stuffed peppers: half a small red pepper with a meat filling and this was only one of three meals with meat in it. By day 3, lunch was simply a skewer of three tiny bits of chicken, a couple of pieces of pepper and aubergine. The recommendation is to eat off a side plate going forward and that is a generous plate for the portions we had.

Nevertheless, the food was well balanced and personally I didn’t find it as hard as I thought proving that I clearly don’t need to eat as much as I usually do.

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Staff R talking us through the next session

But the most interesting and life changing thing for me was the approach to health which Staff R took time to talk to us about. He rightly pointed out that our bodies naturally form free radicals which bombard our make up and at worst can ultimately kill our cells. Additionally, in this modern age, free radicals can be increased because of environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke or herbicides and clearly in a city like London we have even more cellphones, car engines and microwaves than out in the sticks so it is more prevalent where I live.

The body’s defends itself from this with antioxidants which neutralise the free radicals thus preventing cell and tissue damage that can lead to diseases such as cancer, heart problems, strokes, ageing and diabetes. As the body cannot manufacture antioxidants, we need to supply them to ourselves through the diet and this is what Staff R is passionate about.

In his time at Prestige and indeed throughout his rehabilitation work, he has seen the power of healthy eating in tackling many issues and whilst it is clearly not the answer to some of those debilitating diseases, it is always better to give your body its best fighting chance to be as well as possible and that is what Prestige promote.

The final parting gift Staff R gave to us was a relaxation session by the pool just after the Wall of Doom (!) which had us lying in the sun, eyes closed listening to this Baz Luhrmann’s ditty: Sunscreen

Does it work? Well the average weight loss on this camp was 9.6 lbs and I lost 12.8 lbs this week and 11 inches from across my body and that was in 6 days of training. But more importantly to me, and I think to all those many many people who write about it being a life changing experience and who return year after year, it puts you on a different track and helps you review where you are with your life approach. I for one am making the changes that I learnt about and am sure that I will be once again paying to be destroyed on camp in the months to come.

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We made it – time for one final beach walk before we leave