Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Wellbeing Christmas Gift Ideas

Wellbeing and Fitness Christmas Gift Guide from Alice Mary Barnes

The season is pretty much upon us, and I'm getting that festive feeling already. The tree is going up this weekend (early I know, but it is technically the first Sunday of Advent) and I'm looking forward to seeing those twinkly lights, and getting in Christmas shopping mode.

With most of us getting our last pay before Christmas this week, I know I'm not the only one searching for gifts for my nearest and dearest, ready to hit "order" when I get that dollar hits my bank account, so, I'd thought I'd pull together an edit of top five Christmas gift ideas for the wellbeing aficionado in your life. This list is all based on things I'd love to receive (and will probably end up gifting myself a few...), and there is everything from stocking fillers to something a little bit more substantial.

Neom x Sweaty Betty Gift Set
Packed with 100% natural ingredients to help boost energy and aid muscle recovery, this is a perfect introductory set to Neom products (side note: their candles are also divine). Featuring four mini sizes of their products, these are ideal for travelling. For a starter kit, it is a bit pricey at £30 but I am guessing you won't need much of a product at a time, so it works out pretty good value.

Make your own wellbeing subscription box
Subscription boxes are a brilliant idea for a Christmas gift,  and I've had a few different beauty and lifestyle versions in the past, but I think making your own is where its at this year. You can get so many substantial sizes of health supplements and super-foods online, and at insanely good prices, that it works out better curating your own wellbeing box. That way, it can be enjoyed longer than about two seconds. As an example, I've picked out things like chia seeds, nut butter sachets and raw brownies, but you could put loads of other things in there - coconut sugar, goji berries, etc, The list goes on.

Therapie Himalayan Detox Salts
I've been pining over these for probably about the last two years and finally hoping that this is the Christmas they make their way into my life. These Himalayan salts are a bit too pricey to justify buying for yourself, therefore, the ideal thing to put on your wishlist to Santa. I'm obsessed with their product description on Cult Beauty - like a natural version of Valium -  meaning you know they're going to be the shit when it comes to de-stressing. Get 'em in your basket now.

Oxo Good Grips Spiraliser
As much as I bloody love my Hemsley Hemsley spiraliser, it's an absolute beast that takes up a ridiculous amount of cupboard space and is a PAIN to clean. I was browsing the Lakeland site the other day, and came across this absolute gem of a kitchen product. Finally! A good quality handheld and very compact spiraliser. This is a perfect stocking filler (only £15) and a must for those courgetti-loving people in your life.

BKR Water Bottle
Because everyone needs a damn chic BPA-free water bottle in their lives. And what better colour than a festive red. Merry Christmas!

What's on your wishlist for Christmas? Are there any wellbeing and healthy lifestyle products that you're coveting? 


Friday, 20 November 2015

5 ways to stay healthy this winter

Alice Mary Barnes Guide to a healthy Christmas
Image via Pinterest

No one likes the bloat. And that's generally how we all feel come the end of December after overindulging on Christmas pudding and all that chocolate, vowing to go on a crash detoxes and juice-only plans once New Year's Day comes around. Now, I hate to it break it to you, but these quick-fix schemes never work and it's easy to fall off the wagon (come on, you knew this already).

With this in mind, I've pulled together a list of five ways to help you stay healthy this winter, which will leave you feeling pretty damn fantastic, so they'll be no need for any of those unrealistic crash diets in the new year.

Up that H20
I know what it's like. December equals warm drinks in those red cups - hot chocolate with cream, gingerbread lattes (YUM). But don't forget about your old pal water. I really can't stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated all year round, but especially when those chilly months creep in. If the thought of drinking water leaves you cold, then try simple ways of increasing your hydration like plain hot water instead of tea or coffee (sounds seriously dull but is actually not that bad), or to make it a bit more interesting, throw some orange and lemon in there. Heck, maybe even a cinnamon stick if you're feeling wild. Christmas in a mug.

Keep moving
Even though it's cold outside, and you want to stay cosy under the covers, getting out there and keeping active will help you feel virtuous (those endorphins though). The best winter workouts I've done in the past, and things I'll be doing this festive season to make sure I'm continuing to burn fat, are to head to things like bootcamp sessions, gym classes like spinning or Metafit, or parkrun. Group workouts are hugely motivational and will keep you on track. I'm always more likely to give up easily if I'm out say on a long run on a chilly day alone, so get signed up for some group training to kick winter's arse.

Pick high quality indulgences
Instead of reaching for the Dairy Milk or the tub of Quality Street, try better quality chocolate such as Booja Booja or Ombar to satisfy your sweet tooth. Their higher cacao content will mean you don't need as much to get that sweet fix and won't be mindlessly consuming calories. Also, when you do want something a bit naughtier make sure it's things which are homemade (Christmas Cake, anyone?) and therefore, less processed.

'Tis the season to be merry 
Everyone enjoys a celebration and having a few festive beverages is high on many a list at this time of year, so opt for drinks like vodka and soda with fresh lime, or a glass of really good quality red wine, to make sure you're not drinking your calories and having too much sugar.

Meal prep
I always seem to forget about meal prepping at this time of year with all of the festivities going on, so one thing I'm going to make sure I do, especially in December, is to meal prep on the run up to Christmas and get that freezer stocked up too. Meals like lovely warming soups and stews with good sources of protein and loads of green veg will help to keep your immune system in check, and try adding in spices such a ginger and turmeric to boost the flavour and keep any bugs at bay.

Were any of these tips helpful for you? How will you be staying healthy this Christmas? Hit me up in the comments below.


Thursday, 12 November 2015

3 Instagram Food Heroes #2

Healthy food feeds on Instagram
It's that time again to shine the spotlight on three food-based Instagram accounts I've been drooling over recently. Check them out and see more of this deliciousness in all its glory.

Top With Cinnamon
Healthy Food instagram account Top with Cinnamon
Izy Hossack's beautifully curated feed features (amongst others) more oat-based goodies than you can shake a stick at and me-oh-my, I want to at all of it. Now. Warming baked oatmeals, granola bars and tasty cake, this is a place for proper, considered food with a clean slant, from a food science and nutrition perspective. Check out Izy's equally beautiful website for a shed loads of recipes - her Flourless Browned Butter Brownies are top of my to make list at the moment. Yum. (Also need that avo t-shirt immediately #avo4lyf)

Local Milk
Healthy food and lifestyle Instagram account Local Milk
This is well photographed food porn at its finest. Stylist and photographer Beth Kirby's feed is damn good-looking. You won't just find well shot and filtered photos here, you'll find a whole host of lifestyle stuff that is a visual treat. She makes the simplest of foods look exciting and I guarantee you'll get lost in the beauty of images (I definitely lost a good couple of hours trawling through her images the first time round). Enjoy.

Medicinal Kitchen
Inspirational food and fitness Instagram Medicinal Kitchen
Where to start with my love for this feed. It started with stumbling across Emma's Genetic Supplements based recipes, as I'm a huge fan of the brand. I delved a bit deeper and found Emma's story, and what a story it is. Coming from a background of ill health, Emma has become a specialist in nutrition and health, and all of her recipes are all multi-allergy friendly (from an allergy kid POV, this is frickin' awesome). She's also recently overcome breast cancer too and is championing being body positive post-op (those fitness competition shots though - I can't helped but feel overwhelmed with admiration and respect). Seriously, go and check out her feed (and her site) - you'll not only feel truly inspired by her journey but come away with a bank of recipes to improve your health to boot.

Who have you been loving on Instagram recently? Who should I be checking out? 


Sunday, 8 November 2015

How to make protein zoats

Protein Zoats Courgette Porridge with whey protein

The hugely knowledgeable (and always lovely) Laura at Wholeheartedly Healthy got me into this supercharged porridge/overnight oats recipe years ago, and when I was doing my Saturday morning cruise through the socials this morning, I saw a video from fitness babe Zanna Van Dijk showing the very simple method for this and why they're so good for you. I hadn't made them for absolutely bloody ages and thought, "Y'know what? That's what on the breakfast menu this morning."

That's right, I'm talking protein zoats. To you and me, that's protein porridge with added courgette. Yes, courgette. Definitely sounds a little bit mental, but do not fear; you can't even taste the courgette once it's cooked down, and this is a brilliantly simple way of getting a healthy dose of greens in with your breakfast. It also packs a volume punch, so keeps you full for ages. It's ideal for your post-workout meal or as different option for breakfast.

What you'll need:

1. Combine your grated courgette with your dried oats in a pan and cover with almond milk/water - you want enough liquid so that the courgette and oats have soaked up quite a bit, but with some liquid to spare (do this by eye).
2. Cook in a pan over a low heat (or in the microwave) and when everything is starting to cook down, with just a tiny bit of extra liquid, add in a scoop of your favourite protein powder (I used a classic vanilla flavour)
3. Add in any extra flavourings you might like (zero syrups, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg etc) and cook until this forms a thick creamy consistency.
4. Serve with whatever take your fancy - I topped mine with frozen blueberries, raspberries and chia seeds.

I can't stress how simple this is to make and a brilliant way of getting those extra nutrient-packed greens into breakfast. And trust me, you can't taste the courgette.

Have you tried courgette oats/protein zoats before? Let me know if you give these a whirl.

Friday, 6 November 2015

A Guide to Healthier Skin

Healthy Skin with Origins, Pai and Dermalogica
Image source: Pinterest

It’s fair to say my body’s been through the mill a bit and I’ve had my fair share of weird health ups and downs. One of my best pals always used to call me the Allergy Kid in our teens, and for good reason. I was always run-down, had skin woes and pretty bad asthma

One of the biggest issues I’ve had though, has been with eczema, a painful skin condition which stopped me from doing a loads of things as a kid. I had a couple of particularly bad episodes when I was around 11/12 (thanks body for giving me this awesome look when becoming a teen, really thank you), when eczema all over my legs became infected after a summer holiday; I shudder thinking about it now. It was not pleasant.

Even though my skin on the whole calmed down into my late teens/early twenties, it then pretty much thought “What can I do next to piss Alice off?” and prickly heat then ensued after every tiny bit of sunshine I came into contact with, leaving me with giant itchy red patches in my elbows creases and behind my knees. I badly wanted to cover them up so that I didn’t look like a ‘freak’ (<<<this? ridiculous) but it just made it worse. 

Over the past 5 years, since my love for wellbeing, cleaner eating and fitness has grown, I can’t even begin to tell you the difference this kind of lifestyle this made to my skin, confidence and general life. So, here I thought I’d share with you some of the best things that have helped calm my skin issues and how they could help you too if like me, you’ve suffered and/or are suffering with a skin complaint. (Disclaimer: I’m in no way a skin expert. These are things that from my own personal experience have helped my skin get healthy). 

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

November Goals

Alice Mary Barnes Nutrition Goals
I've really struggled with my goals the past few months. I don't know if I'm trying to do way too much or making goals unrealistic, but whatever it is, I've found the whole thing very throw-away and pretty demotivating.

One of the biggest things I haven't got to grips with at all is my nutrition course. Basically, I just haven't felt motivated to do it and have been using the 'I haven't got time' excuse at every opportunity. possible, which for someone proactive and usually very motivated, has been a bit of a weird one. Yes this nutrition course is a bit out of my comfort zone in terms of the biology aspect, but I need to remember this is the whole reason I wanted to do it - to challenge myself and to throw myself into something I have such a passion for and want to explore further.

After a chat with my life coach and the oracle that is my Mum (how is it that Mums always have the answers? Go Mamas), I've decided I need to simplify to get ahead. Set myself smaller goals. Have weekly check-ins. So, here we go; a different approach to my monthly goals.


Monday, 2 November 2015

Riley's Fish Shack

This post is overdue. Like about 3 years overdue. So, when Travelodge* got in touch to set me the challenge of writing about what I think are the best kept secrets in and around, Newcastle, I knew this was the time to write about one of my favourite food haunts (especially now that it's had some major developments), that you all need to get yourselves down to and discover.


Sunday, 1 November 2015

October Favourites

Quite simply, here's a round-up of my favourite things from October, from the worlds of nutrition, fitness and beauty.

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