FROM BUTTER ICING TO BUTTER BEANS…
I haven’t always been obsessed with eating plants and daily forward folds… and I’m not sure I ever would have believed that I would trade Topshop binges for trekking through the Andes.
When I was a kid I discovered that mixing butter and icing sugar together made something fluffy and beautiful called BUTTER ICING. Even better, I discovered that you didn’t even have to spread butter icing on a cake – you could just lick it straight off the spoon, directly from the bowl. After school. At 4pm.
Like most teens of my generation it wasn’t long until drinking fluorescent orange Bacardi Breezers became a regular weekend activity, which propelled me further along my journey of culinary discovery as fried egg and sausage sandwiches became a morning-after hangover busting staple.
[typical pic of me around 3rd Year of uni time… the really unfortunate hair-cut had nothing to do with my diet or exercise routine. That was purely down to poor decision making.]
The majority of my uni years were fuelled by a diet of instant mash and entire packets of ginger biscuits washed down with a pint of milk*. Drank from the carton. Yoga was just for hippies, I didn’t know what running was and nike free runs weren’t fashionable yet so why even bother?
*Sometimes substituted for cider.
Incredibly I’ve never been outrageously obese, but less surprisingly I did find myself in my twenties feeling grey, lifeless and increasingly disgruntled by what I saw in the mirror. I had a thousands ambitions and creative hobbies but still spent most weekends in my flat in London wearing a dressing gown and wondering how the hell that half eaten Big Mac got in my bed…
It was time to make some changes.
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FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOGA & WELLNESS
Sadly my first port of call was a few idiotic diets. No carbs. No fat. Less calories. No food at all, just juice. No fun. All of these were stupid attempts to find a shortcut to looking healthier and happier, rather than taking the time to really make my life healthier and happier. Somehow a bikini body for the summer was far more desirable than a glowing, strong body and mind for life.
I was broke so running home from work seemed like a good idea to save money and try and beat the bulge – it gave me shin splints and made me feel like a sea lion trying to waddle up a beach but it was a start.
And then I tried yoga. Just yoga at the gym first, in a chilly room with a cheerful bendy lady with wild black hair and a wrinkled face which defied her bendy bones. I couldn’t touch my toes, or even my shins and I cringed every time anyone said ‘OM’, but I felt lighter after taking a class and it made my achey hamstrings feel better.
Then Groupon happened which joyfully coincided with hot yoga getting trendy, so 5 classes at studio in Clapham for 15 quid was a no-brainer.
[a snap from Yogahaven, Clapham Common – one of my favourite studios.]
It was a beautiful studio full of warm faces and super-hot heaters. Going to a 6pm class in mid-January London after a shocking day at work felt like entering the womb. I managed to reach my shins in forward fold although none of the yoga teachers there said it mattered one bit. All that mattered was that I was there, doing something good for my body. Breathing and moving (not particularly gracefully) through space and time for 90 timeless minutes. I was in love.
After a couple of years of sporadic Grouponing, my addiction was finally cemented when my then fairly new boyfriend (now bearded long-term lover and travelling partner in crime) bought me a package of classes for Christmas which led me to meet a brilliant teacher who taught me to find my edge in class and, millimetre by millimetre, stretch it a little further. With patience. Just enjoying the journey. Accepting my limitations and allowing the process to calm and focus my mind.
Weekly classes turned to twice weekly classes. It became easy to trade in a couple of 40 quid nights out in London for another month of yoga classes. I didn’t fancy filling my body with pizza and wine, preferring to fuel my practice with green veggies and superfoods which helped me spring out of bed for 6am yoga classes before work. I felt more alive than I ever had before. I wanted to cook new colourful plant-packed foods and draw and paint in the evenings. Life wasn’t grey anymore. I was smiling in savasana at 7am.
Every. Damn. Day.
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