Gift Guide for Female Tennis Players

If your girlfriend/wife/sister/daughter plays tennis and you would like to get her something a little bit different for Christmas, then perhaps you’ll find it in my gift guide for female tennis players. I have had a couple of husbands contact me in the past, asking for advice on what to buy their tennis-loving better half, so I know first hand that there is a definite need for this guide.

For some reason I have gone for a green theme. You may have noticed that I have also recently changed the colour theme of my blog to green. It is either due to my recent plant-based diet 🌱 or it could by my Irish roots shining though 🍀.

If nothing convinces you, or you are looking for a tennis present for a guy, then read my gift guide from last Christmas here.

1. Lucky in Love Envy Print Racer Tank. I feel I should make a joke here about this top making your opponents green with envy at your tennis skills, but that is certainly not the case when I wear it… It’s a great tennis top though!

2. Lululemon Lost in Pace Skirt. This is sold as both a running and tennis skirt. I have never run in a skirt, and I’m not sure I ever will, but I have no doubt I would love playing in this skirt. Just look at that swish!

3. Nike Women’s Aerobill Featherlight Winter Visor. You might wonder why you (well, she) would need a visor in winter, especially if you are in Europe and play most of the winter indoors. Well, they also double up as great sweat- and hair-bands.

4. S’well Bottle (Waikiki). Probably the most stylish water bottle in the world, hands down.

5. Tiffany Charm Bracelet. You will score major brownie points when she sees that little blue box (though if she is your girlfriend, be careful she doesn’t think it contains something else..)

6. Sweaty Betty Super Grip Yoga Mat. If she cares about avoiding injuries, she’ll make good use of this cute yoga mat for stretching out before or after a match.

Good luck with your Christmas shopping and I’m sure she will love-all that you get her!

Vegan Piadina Pizza Recipe

Piadina pizza recipe

Ah, my first ever recipe post! If you knew me (and my lack of culinary skills), you would appreciate how hilarious this is. Anyway, since I have transitioned to a plant-based diet, I have had to expand my repertoire of everyday dishes, especially at lunchtime, as I had got into the habit of having two-scrambled eggs on toast almost every day.

I first got the idea for making a simple vegan piadina pizza from a fitness blogger called Carly Rowena (see her version here), but as I live in Italy I have replaced the two tortillas in her recipe with a ‘piadina’, naturalmente! It is quick and easy to make, so I thought I would share it with you (and just so you know, until you tell me to stop I’ll keep sharing my latest recipes with you!)


1 wholemeal piadina (or tortilla or whatever flatbread you have or can find in your local shops)
Spicy olive pesto (or tomato puree)
Vegetables (whatever you have in the fridge, but I find the following work particularly well): broccoli, peppers, cherry tomatoes, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, olives (ok, maybe some of these are officially fruit, but you know what I mean)


Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (it doesn’t really matter, just let it get hot – I have noticed that this seems to be a pretty standard lower-bound temperature in most recipes…)

Spread the pesto on top of the piadina, placed your chopped veggies on top so that they look aesthetically pleasing (well, you may want to take a photo later for Instagram) and pop it in the oven for about 8-10 mins.

Remove from the oven and devour!



The Best Instagram Accounts to Follow (for Fitness, Food & Fun)

After a bit of a digital detox over the past few months, I am back to enjoying Instagram again, and I have realised that there were a few accounts that I missed more than others. It turns out that all but one of these accounts belong to young, female, fit and healthy Brits living in London. I spent 5 years living in London from when I was 18 to 23, and I think I am somehow trying to vicariously relive those years (though perhaps in a parallel universe, as I was in no way fit or healthy at the time!)

I am obviously still following all of my favourite tennis accounts, and you can find out more about those here. But read on for my opinion of the best Instagram accounts to follow that don’t focus on tennis.



Follow if… you love pick and mix but don’t like avocado (or any other green slimy foods), you are fed up of bullshit in the fitness industry, and you like a good white IG theme



Follow if… you want to follow a blogger with substance, someone who cares passionately about fitness, conscious living, mindfulness and meditation, plant-based food, positivity, self love, and empowerment of women.



Follow if… you want to follow someone who speaks to you as though you were her best friend (and shares everything related to her workouts, recipes, clothes and feelings)



Follow if… you have bought some chia seeds, avocado, chickpeas, sweet potato, quinoa and kale, but you have no idea what to do with them



Follow if… you think the Instagram fitness/health industry takes itself too seriously and needs the piss taken out of it every now and then!

And, of course, make sure you follow @40ish_love if you are a fan of tennis or even just its fashion (!) and you are curious to see how my plant-based diet is going. Let me know who you think I should be following the comments below.



Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet

I’ve written on the blog about my varying diet over the past couple of years, from using MyFitnessPal to ‘cleaning up’ my diet during Dry January, and I have been fairly happy with the balance I have achieved this year. Despite following many bloggers and vloggers on Instagram and YouTube that promote vegetarian and vegan/plant-based diets and enjoying many of their recipes, I felt no need to make any drastic changes to my diet. I felt healthy, I enjoyed my food, I cooked most of my meals, and I just didn’t think there was anything wrong with what I ate.

A couple of months ago I read the book ‘Sapiens: A brief history of humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari, and some parts of it really got me thinking about humans and our interaction with (and impact on) the environment and other animals on the planet. I read other books (e.g. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer), began listening more to those aforementioned bloggers/vloggers (my favourite being Zanna Van Dijk who has taught me so much – I still can’t believe she is only 24!), listened to podcasts, watched documentaries on Netflix, and whilst I didn’t always trust everything I read/heard, it got me thinking about where my food was coming from. I started thinking more about the sustainability of our current approach to feeding the planet, about some of the practices used in industrial/factory farming to keep the prices of animal-based products down, potentially to the detriment of our health (and most certainly to the detriment of animal welfare).

Now, I really don’t want to preach to you here about these issues, as I am certainly not the right person to inform you about these things – I am still only learning myself – but also because I don’t want to feel like I am promoting a religion or a cult. Nevertheless, if you haven’t already, I would encourage you to read around the subject and form your own opinion. The important thing is to have an informed opinion, and this is something I did not have before. There were so many things I didn’t know about where my food was coming from, and that I hadn’t even bothered to ask.

So, that brings me to the past couple of weeks, where I have been slowly removing animal-based products from my diet. It has been a really interesting experience and I am learning so much about nutrition, about what my body needs, what it can’t get from a plant-based diet (e.g. vitamin B12), and I’m experimenting so much in the kitchen with more vegetables, legumes and spices. I am less obsessed with macro-nutrients (e.g. eating lots of protein) and more interested in micro-nurtrients, and making sure I am eating a wide range of colourful whole foods. There have been some unexpected side-effects such as headaches, waking up in the night and more trips to the bathroom, which I imagine is due to my body detoxing from animal-based products and my increased fibre intake. I have also noticed that I am snacking less and my cravings for sugar and alcohol have decreased.  I am really excited to see where this journey takes me. Will I have more energy when playing tennis? Well, I’ll be sure to let you know, as I plan to share my journey with you here, with the occasional post related to what I am learning, the recipes I am making, and how I am feeling. I am also interested to see how I am going to cope in social situations, at restaurants or with my family for Christmas – stay tuned to find out!

Blogging Hel, I’ve Been Shortlisted!

Yes, that’s right, I have been shortlisted for a blogging award! To be more precise the Best European Blog at the That Protein and HBC Health Blog Awards 2017.

You may be wondering why my tennis-related blog is included in the Best European Blog category, rather than say, the Best Fitness Blog category. Let me explain. These health blog awards are for UK-based bloggers, but they have one category for a blogger that lives outside the UK. I’m originally from the UK (from Hertford, to be precise), but I’ve been living in Italy for the past 16 years (wow, has it really been that long?!…)

Now that my blog has been shortlisted (along with two others in this category) I need to get as many votes as I can by 1st August 2017 from my colleagues, friends, family, neighbours, blog readers, Instagram/Twitter followers, or really just anyone I can convince to spend 1 min to fill in the form. So before you read any further, please do click on the hyperlinked image below (or click here) and vote for me!badge_shortlisted-600x600

Now if you have come across this blog before, you will know that it documents my recent journey to becoming a stylish tennis player. One of the reasons I am so pleased to have been shortlisted for a health blog award is that I am hoping this will help raise slightly the profile of this blog, and in turn encourage more people to give tennis a try. Tennis has so many physical and mental health benefits. All that running around after the ball improves aerobic and anaerobic health – as Bjorn Borg once said, a tennis match is like thousands of little sprints. The more you play, the more you will improve your mental agility and reaction times, and you will have fun in the process. In my case it has even had a positive influence on my relationship – my partner and I enjoy having a shared passion, and we often train together or team up for a mixed doubles match.

Regardless of whether I end up winning the Best European Blog category or not, I am already so pleased to have been shortlisted. Sometimes it is difficult for me to keep up with blogging with all the other activities in my life (as I discussed in a recent post), but this recognition has helped me realise it is worth making the time.