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Sleep Hygiene

Hands up who feels full of energy and vitality?

There can be a variety of reasons, including nutrition, but one of the simplest lifestyle habits we can look at is sleep.

If you’ve been following me for a while you probably know that I am a fan of having good sleep “hygiene”.

What’s that you may ask?

Well, it’s a way to ensure you get a good nights sleep by following certain rules including:

1. Having a room as dark as a cave – so no l.e.d lights showing (in hotels I turn clocks around and cover TV light with something). At home we have black out blinds so that in summer when sun rises early (and I don’t want to) I won’t be awoken by light.

2. A cool room with some air – having a window open is vital and if you live somewhere where there is outside noise you may need earplugs to help at first until you get used to it. Ideal temperature is 60-67 so maybe you need to turn down the radiators in the bedroom if you like the rest of the house cosy.

3. Establishing a good wind down routine is essential and that means turning off phones, laptops and any other “blue light” brain stimulants at least 30 mins before sleep. Better to switch to reading a good old fashioned book if you want to wind down. Having a bath will also help as it raises your external heat so your core temperature drops slightly.

4. I’ve put this as a separate point because I think it is too common – do not have your smart phone in the bedroom as an alarm. Go get a cheap battery powered travel one and use that and turn your wifi and phone off at night and keep in another room. The electromagnetic frequencies are messing with our brains and at night when we are trying to repair we shouldn’t be interfering with it.

5. Don’t do a hardcore workout too close to bedtime as it will stimulate your central nervous system. Yoga and stretching exercise is better late in the evening.

6. You probably know that avoiding stimulants such as coffee in the afternoon is wise if you have trouble sleeping and also not eating a rich, heavy meal late at night won’t help you drift off either so pay attention to those habits.

7. Getting outdoors into natural daylight, especially in the winter will also help you sleep better along with regular exercise – I always sleep better the days I have exercised. That’s one of the benefits of our group outdoor exercises in Bath at Zest Bootcamp.

8. Trying to get up and go to bed around the same time each day will also improve your ability to sleep.

So hopefully that will give you some ideas and here is the science bit….

Click here to read a great article about WHY we need to get more sleep – it’s very informative and a bit worrying really at how damaging the lack of sleep can be.

Go on have a read – you may not know that sleep has a huge impact on weight loss too.

And if you’d like to get a healthy eating kickstart then grab a free copy of my 7 day kickstart packed with delicious, filling recipes HERE.

Sweet dreams

Zita x

ps I’d love to know what you do to get a better night’s sleep so let me know below …

5 ways to boost your energy

So last week I was invited to talk at a local business hub to a group of business men and women so I chose the subject above as most people I see really need to improve their energy levels – standing at Starbucks or Costa every day waiting for your shot of caffeine is not a long term solution (much as I love coffee too).

The talk must have gone well because they have invited me back despite me pointing at the complimentary pastries and saying “don’t eat these”!

raspberry water

Here are my top 5 simple recommendations to help boost your energy and to make you feel alive!

1. Drink the right amount of water – 0.039ml per kg body weight eg 10 stone = 140 pounds. Divide by 2.2 to get kg = 2.43 litres a day. Also herb & fruit teas can count towards this total. Start the day with warm water & fresh lemon juice to kickstart liver and alkalise the body. Take bottles of water with you so there is no excuse not to have a drink. Every time you drink a coffee have some water, the same with alcohol.

2. Eat your greens – raw, colourful fruits & vegetables. Limit “beige, dead food” eg pastries, pasta, biscuits, chips etc. Eliminate sugary cereal for breakfast instead have homemade smoothies, eggs, fish and more lunch style breakfasts that will fill you up for longer and avoid blood sugar crashes.

3. Move your body every day – ideally in the morning, lunchtime walks, use stairs all the time instead of lifts and escalators in hotels, at work, car parks, department stores – you just have to go look for them. , park further away. Can you walk instead of taking the car or maybe cycle? What’s the best exercise? It’s the one you will do more than once that will become a lifelong habit. Find something you enjoy doing – whether it’s Zumba, rock climbing, ballroom dancing, yoga, tennis – anything.

4. Get some Fresh air – get outdoors into nature, green of trees and plants is very calming and can help de-stress us. Take time away from electronic devices such as computers etc. Breathe deeply – it is one of the best ways to alkalise and calm the body and we often neglect it. Breath right down into the bottom of the lungs – let the belly expand. Sit and stand tall (as if you have a helium balloon on the crown of your head lifting you up) Correct posture will allow for better digestion and better breathing.Lack of oxygen can really impede concentration – the brain relies on it.

5.Sleep – its not just how much but when you take your sleep, ideally somewhere between 10.30 – 6am in a cool, totally dark room (like a cave), with an open window and no electronic devices (use a real alarm clock not your phone). Set up a regular wind down routine, no screens eg ipad, laptop minimum 30 mins before bed as that will stimulate the brain and make it harder to get straight into restful sleep.

So although you probably know most of these already, it’s always good to be reminded and focus on them more if you are not feeling as great as you would like. The great news is that most of these are free to do so no excuse not to is there?

Getting fresh air and getting your body moving is one of the things that website Adventurely is passionate about. For any of you needing some ideas of exercises you can do outdoors (or even at home) check out these 5 great exercises we filmed a few weeks ago.

So now you know how to boost your energy what are you going to do with it all?
If you want to exercise with a group of like minded people and you live in Bath then come to Bath Bootcamp but if you are further afield and would like to try some fitness equipment that you can use at home or anywhere you like then check out the Ztrainer and Zbands which we use at bootcamp and I also use with my personal training clients for strength training and more.

Happiness

My last few posts seem to have all been about food – mostly chocolate 🙂 so now it’s time for a change.

Gratitude …

When was the last time you felt grateful for something or someone?

Hopefully not too long ago – maybe even today already.

I finally started a gratitude jar to make a note of little things I am grateful for each day. Many people keep a gratitude journal and log some positive events that happened during the day before they go to bed. Another way to do it is each morning to state 2 or 3 things that your are grateful for. This can help set up your brain ready for a positive day. You may have seen on Twitter and Facebook the “100 happy days” challenge where people have been posting pictures of things that make them happy.

gratitude jar

Some days it can be hard to find the positivity we all love and benefit from, infact some weeks, months and even years can seem to bring nothing but “challenges” or you might call them problems.

It’s unlikely any of you reading this have not experienced illnesses, deaths, marriage break ups etc of close friends and family, even work colleagues but even during these low points you can still take a moment to notice all the nice things around us.

I’m currently working with someone who has terminal cancer, a brain tumour and the way it manifests physically is similar to symptoms of a stroke survivor (but a bit worse in terms of his speech). I was really saddened to hear how he was treated recently at an upmarket hotel – the staff thought he was drunk and refused him to go into the bar. Imagine how upsetting that was for his family who were with him. We need to be more accepting if people don’t fit the norm, they may be a reason they walk and talk funny.

It’s ok if you think the fact that putting on a few pounds is the end of the world but in reality it probably isn’t, so how about thinking of all the lovely things that make you smile or feel warm inside – they are out there we just need to see them.

It might be the:

Colourful spring flowers

The sea

The pretty pattern on top of a flat white at a coffee shop

The smell of fresh bread baking

The smile from a stranger

A hug from a friend

A car letting you out at a busy junction

Hearing a busker playing some beautiful music

Coming home to someone special after a tough day

An unexpected card saying thank you for something

A beautiful sunrise

The list really is endless…..

The gratitude log, journal or jar can help us take our thoughts to more uplifting experiences.

Did you know the brain is programmed to remember negative things easier than positive ones – this is what helps us realise that when we step out into the road and almost get hit by a car that next time we should look both ways first. It is our self preservation toolkit…. but doesn’t help our mood somedays when all we seem to do is negative brain chatter.

So my challenge to you over the nest few weeks is a daily gratitude log or jar – whatever works for you.

I’m grateful that the Blood Service can accept my blood ( as many people are unable to donate who want to) so a few times a year I give about 45 minutes of my time (the actual donation takes about 10 mins) to donate blood. In fact this week was my 23rd pint! Why not give it a go as you can book an appointment plus there is free tea and biscuits so what’s not to like! You can find out more or book up at a local venue here

ps I am VERY grateful for the fact my body works and allows me to get out and exercise – what is your excuse for not exercising?

168 hours

If you want to sign up for a trial at our bootcamp classes in Bath click here  

Chocolate vegetables

Eating your 5 a day can be easier than you think if you blend in smoothies, soups and even better into a chocolate cake!

beetroot choc protein bites

In Bath we are finally lucky enough to have a new health food place called “Beyond The kale” that makes amazing fresh juices and blends (healthy smoothies) as well as loads of other goodies.

Today I had a lettuce, kale, coriander, lemon and banana  (I think) and last time it was a beetroot and other goodies blend.

Even more exciting more me is that they make fresh almond milk which I love and don’t always get time to make myself. It’s not only dairy free but also loaded with enzymes  and goodness – plus it tastes wonderful.

If you are on my email list, have the 7 day detox (you can sign up for above) or have my cookbooks then you should already have tried a few delicious smoothy recipes. Also you can see my famous “kermit” recipe here on Martini Mum Blog

Anyway here is a super simple recipe (if you have kids it might be a way for you to get them to eat beetroot!)

Have a great weekend and if you are in Bath we start our April 4 week bootcamp on Monday – outdoor group fitness for all abilities at either 6.30am, 9.30am or 6.15pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Trial weeks available too – Click Here for more info

pastedGraphic.pdf

Zita’s Beetroot Chocolate Protein Bites

These are dairy & gluten free sweet “treats” that are high in protein, good fat and are easy to make and taste great.  Great alternative to biscuits, chocolate or cakes.

Ingredients

100g of 80 to 90% dark chocolate

150 cooked beetroot (either cooked from fresh or vacuum packed – not in vinegar!)

3 eggs

3/4 cup almond or coconut milk

3/4 cup chopped dried apricots or dates

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup almond butter (or unsweetened peanut butter if can’t get almond)

1/2 cup ground almonds

2/3 large tablespoons coconut oil

Cinnamon

Method

  1. Melt chocolate and coconut oil slowly
  2. Blend beetroot & almond milk until smooth
  3. Mix all other ingredients then add beetroot mix then finally melted chocolate mix
  4. Spoon 10 or more bites onto greased baking tray & cook at 180 degrees for approx 15 mins
  5. Let cool then store in fridge
  6. Enjoy!

Zita x

Other options:

Could try banana instead of dried fruit and grated carrot or courgette instead of beetroot.

Also could add spoon of flaxseed or chia seeds for omega 3 and fibre 

 

Chocolate and Lent

After most people have eaten too many pancakes, they are giving up chocolate for Lent – me… no way!

I love a couple of squares of 70- 85% cocoa dark chocolate or better still some raw chocolate – Loaded with antioxidants and magnesium a small amount actually does us good 🙂

banana chocolate bites

Infact, I used to make my own raw chocolate a while back but it’s a bit messy and pretty time consuming so prefer to buy it from the health food shop now.

As I’m not sure giving up high quality, dark or raw chocolate for Lent is necessary, although giving up the “sugar” that a lot of chocolate is disguised as maybe a good idea though 🙂

How about giving up some of the following instead over the next 40 days:

– Toxic thoughts

– Envy

– Criticism

– Comparing yourself to others

– Gossip

– Self sabotage

and anything negative that serves no benefit.

***** “Do something today that your future self will be grateful for” ******

Anyway, the sun is shining, the spring flowers are out and with Easter on the way in the UK we might be considering getting our bodies out of hibernation soon!

The forecast is looking lovely so get outdoors and move your body.

If you are near Bath don’t forget our 1 hour Saturday class is open to everyone – 9-10am in Alexandra Park with Sarah, £7 on arrival – perfect way to kickstart a healthy weekend.

Have a great weekend, enjoy the sunshine and spring flowers

Zita “raw chocolate rocks” Alves

ps I was in the Bath Chronicle this week but didn’t even know until a friend told me!

http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/Judges-decide-shortlist-businesswomen-s-awards/story-20770253-detail/story.html

Merry Christmas

So it’s the last day of work for many people today – time to wind down and focus on other things.

Thank you for reading my blog and wishing you happy holidays

Xmas greeting

ps For any of you in Bath you can see our Christmas Survival Tips in The Weekend Magazine in this week’s Bath Chronicle

pps Here is the link if you want to book your place at January Bootcamp Trial Week – Book NOW