Monthly Archives: September 2014

It’s great to be alive

I’ve got a good friend who has lived through all the challenges one person doesn’t deserve to face in one lifetime – one very tragic accident that affected her whole family, and then – just when things were sort of on an even keel – a life-threatening illness for my friend (from which she has thankfully recovered).

Meanwhile, I am kind of coasting along through the rollercoaster of raising a family and becoming a responsible adult – two daughters (now 18 and 11 years old respectively).

{By the way – my journey to becoming a parent was beset with turmoil – but that is another story.}

Back to my friend who has had all those challenges in her life, in parallel to my lesser but still significant challenges in life. Whenever I meet her, she always says how great it is simply to “be alive.” This statement probably resonates strongly with anyone who has faced a serious illness. For me, it signifies a growing awareness of how each day of one’s life is really precious.

So, I’m starting to grab every moment in little ways. And what better way to do that than to go hiking in the mountains? Tipperary is made for hill-walking – there is tremendous beauty in the hills that are never far away – the Galtees, Sliabh na mBan, the Knockmealdowns, the Comeraghs. Where else would you be on any kind of decent day, but up there in them hills? A pair of boots, some sustenance, map, compass, raingear, and a few hours away from your responsibilities.

The great thing about a weekly pilates class is that the work you do on the mat – stretching and strengthening your hips and legs, relaxing and balancing your shoulders and whole body – equip you to be able to go out and walk and climb, to be up there in the awesome landscape that surrounds us. The beauty of the world awaits you!

Become strong, stay strong, enjoy being alive!

Put good things in your body!

Doing pilates regularly can certainly help with toning muscle and improving posture (so you feel and look better), but it is only part of the picture. Try including this life-changing bread as well!

One of the often-quoted sayings of Joseph Pilates is that “in 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 you will see the difference, and in 30 you’ll have a whole new body”.

Through teaching pilates, I meet lots of people who would indeed like to “get a whole new body”. For some, the impetus for doing pilates is to relieve backache, sciatica or ease tension in neck and shoulders; for others, it’s to lose “shape up”. Often, it’s a bit of both.

But I have always been uncomfortable with the idea that pilates will give you a “whole new body,” because your body’s shape and weight is the result of the calories you consume (food and drink) less what your burn off (through everyday and other physical activities).

Into this equation comes the tricky issue of metabolism. While some people appear to have a slower metabolism than others, for what it’s worth, I think people who have a “fast metabolism” are probably more just active – more fidgety maybe – than others?

Clearly, the more active you are, the more calories you burn. You can control how active you are – decide to be more active! and you can control what you put into your body – decide to put good things in your body.

Back to the idea of putting good things in your body: my suggestion is to cut back on bread and to choose to eat only really good bread.

Commercially produced white sliced pan may taste good in the mouth for a few minutes (especially toasted!), but makes me feel bloated before long. In my house, white bread is a rarity – often bought by my other half if we are on holidays! I tend to seek out a good, wholemeal brown or rye bread. But lately, I’ve been baking this bread – it’s got no flour at all in it and it’s full of really good things like nuts and seeds. Very nutritious and does not cause bloat.

It is heavy, but it is very filling and you don’t need much. And you can toast it and put delicious things on it! My two daughters are starting to like it; my other half, now he’s another day’s work!

[Thanks to both Helen Costelloe and Vanessa Pearse for sharing this recipe with me in the first place.]

The Life Changing Bread

1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2cup hazelnuts or almonds (put into a sturdy bag and smash with rolling pin to break up)
1 ½ cups oats
2 tbsp chia seeds
4tbsp psyllium husks
1 tsp sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil (changes the flavour a bit)
1 ½ cups water
Optionally, add two spoons of maple syrup or honey in with the water (again, changes the flavour)

Mix all dry ingredients
Add oil and water (maple syrup/honey); mix well.
Allow to stand for 1 hour, at least.

Put into greased and lined standard loaf tin; press down so it’s about an inch thick.
Bake in 180 degree oven for 40 minutes, then turn over and bake again for 20 minutes.

Cuts really well when cool. Keeps for a good few days in the fridge.
(If you feel like a biscuit, cut off a little bit instead and put some honey or jam on it!).