Well hello long lost readers!
It's been a while! First up, a big apology that things have been so quiet around here! To come totally clean, I started a new job at the start of October, and while it's been an amazing experience so far, unfortunately it hasn't left much time for non-work activities!
As I've written here many times before, I'm a firm believer in balance, and to be totally honest that's been a real struggle for the past two months. I've tried to maintain the absolute basics of a proper night's sleep and 80:20 plant-based, unprocessed diet, but I'd be lying to you if I said my commitment to my lifestyle hadn't suffered amongst the 12+ hour days and covering time zones across three continents. It's not that I haven't had the motivation to be here, just that I haven't had the time and keeping up my posting schedule inevitably would have led to many late nights and a detrimental effect on my health - which kind of defeats the point!
When I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and struggling to balance everything, I really find ritual and habits to be my best friends. Again, this is still something I'm trying to find my feet on given my professional commitments, but below are some of my fundamentals:
- Sleep: 8 hours of shut-eye are an absolute must for me, given that my new role involves very early starts inevitably this means weeknight socialising has had to be cut back but for me I know sleep is a non-negotiable for me;
- Smoothies: my morning green elixir has been a real saviour over the past few months - even if I know I have a manic day, I've at least given myself the fuel I need to tackle whatever is thrown my way! The current basic rotation is: Banana, Blueberries, Kale, Spinach, Celery, Flaxseed, Chia Seed and Amazing Grass' Raw Reserve but sometimes I spice it up a bit with some other superfood powders or seasonal greens.
- Bath: my favourite Sunday evening ritual is the perfect way to get some headspace before the week ahead, there's nothing better than a steaming candlelit bath brimming with Epsom Salts, Almond Oil and Lavender Essential Oil on a chilly December evening.
- Electronic Shutdown: given that the majority of my colleagues are based in Silicon Valley this has been one of the toughest to stick to, but I've found it's vital to draw a line on my day, shut down my laptop and switch my phone onto aeroplane mode an hour before going to bed to allow my mind to wind down.
- Meditation: to be honest this is one of the one's that has slipped a little over the last few months given the early starts, but I really do notice a difference when I carve out even just 15 minutes from my day, not to mention the fact I recently saw Andy Puddicombe in the flesh and he was actually glowing, the perfect advert for developing a meditation practice!
- Exercise: this is definitely the one I've found the hardest to keep up when work is busy and my body is definitely feeling it! While it's far from ideal, I try and force myself to at least get outside for half an hour walk at lunchtime to blow away the cobwebs a little. Scheduling in non-negotiatble workout time to my work day is definitely a major focus for me going forwards!
So bear with me while I try and work out how to balance everything in this new role including time for The Holist, but in the meantime I've got a few exciting festive posts planned for you in the coming weeks!
Having been an avid Instagram stalker of Tara for a while, I was overjoyed when the lovely people at Hay House sent me a copy of her latest book "The Make Your Own Rules Diet" (while they kindly sent me the book, all opinions below are my own!).
While the title suggests this is a diet / weight loss book, personally I think that's a little misleading and reductionist. Actually the book is a lot more 'lifestyle' focused and centres around three main aspects Tara recommends for optimum health - yoga, meditation and healthy eating.
Unlike a lot of 'health celebs', Tara doesn't purport to be perfect and in the book she lays bare a very honest and personal account of her own journey to health including her struggles with an eating disorder. In fact that's one of my favourite things about the book - its lack of pretension. Tara's candid, warm tone, (while a little 'American' for us sarcastic Brits at points) is motivating without being condescending, you sort of feel like she's a long lost BFF.
When I first flicked through the recipes section I must admit I gasped, "a health celeb that eats gluten!?", but when I read the book properly I realised that's exactly Tara's point. The healthy eating world is becoming increasingly restrictive and devotees are defined by labels, raw, vegan, gluten-, dairy-, sugar-, everything-free, which are used as a badge of honour. Naturally this competitiveness leads to pressure not to mention a dangerous predilection towards disordered eating as evidenced by the recent increases in sufferers of Orthorexia.
I therefore actually found Tara's 'make your own rules' approach to be a real breath of fresh air. Given where I'm at right now with work, the book came at the perfect moment. If it had of been full of stories of unattainable perfection, or recipes that involved hours of preparation and a ton of weird ingredients, it would have just made me feel terrible, that I was failing to do the best for my body. Instead, Tara's book gave me the boost I needed to reset the way I've been approaching my health. While I definitely still believe in everything I've been preaching, as I've always said, this lifestyle definitely takes time and commitment. The former is something I just don't realistically have at present so I've realised I need to just be ok with stripping my routine back to basics and not feel guilty for it.
Of the book's three major sections I think the yoga and meditation sections have been the most useful for me personally. The recipes sound scrummy, but if you're already a firm convert to an unprocessed plant-based lifestyle they probably won't be revolutionary to you. That said, Tara has inspired me to get out of my smoothie rut and mix things up a little and there are some perfect quick weeknight supper recipes in there!
I'm always looking for ways to nudge my loved ones into healthier habits and I think this book is the perfect pressie to get someone started on the road to healthier lifestyle in 2015. It's really accessible and not at all intimidating, the recipe section doesn't require any crazy, specialist ingredients and Tara's gracious and amiable approach is relaxed but inspirational at the same time. So if you're still umming and ahhhing over present ideas I'd definitely consider this book, or if you feel like you need a bit of inspiration to keep your motivation in check during this season of overindulgence, flutter your eyelashes in Santa's direction!
Make Your Own Rules by Tara Stiles is published by Hay House and out now! Read more here.