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!

30Fifteen Meets 40ish-Love: Smash Hit Tennis Fashion

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the best dressed tennis player of them all?

Well, thanks to 30Fifteen, I am feeling pretty well dressed right now! They sent me a number of outfits from their new tennis fashion collection to review, and I have to say I am a big fan of this Cleo dress which comes in pink, blue, black and white.

30Fifteen Cleo Dress

My partner raised an eyebrow (or two) when I first put the dress on, as it is rather short at the back due to my not-insubstantial derrière (nicely cropped out of the photo above!)… So to ensure thoughts of overexposure wouldn’t distract me during play, I have been wearing the dresses with leggings, and I actually think they look very stylish. They also allow me to wear some of my thinner leggings that have, shall we say, ‘transparency issues’.

30Fifteen Cleo Dress

Another item from the latest 30Fifteen collection that has been accompanying me to many of my tennis and Pilates sessions is the Kara Match Jacket that comes in both black and white. It has a bomber jacket style and according to one of my Instagram followers, makes me look ‘sharp’. Enough said!

Let me know what you think of these looks below!


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.


My Body Needs Exercise!

On Monday I finished a few weeks of intensive travel and my body was broken. My back was stiff, I couldn’t lean over and touch my toes, and I felt sluggish and pretty damn tired. Over those 2-3 weeks I had managed just one (slow) run and a few half-baked attempts at yoga/Pilates. And as I had predicted would happen at the beginning of this year, my work has started to take over and I haven’t been writing on this blog or posting much on Instagram, and I can’t even imagine putting together a video for YouTube!

I am back home for a week before my holiday to Sagres and I have been using it to get my body moving again. I have had 4 hours of tennis training and 2 hours of Pilates and I feel amazing! My body hurts, but in a good way. It has made me realise how important it is for me to be consistent with exercise: my body needs exercise! To think I spent years and years ignoring my body, and now after just 2 weeks I start to really miss the benefits of working out.

Whilst I am pleased that I managed to fit in tennis and Pilates despite all the work I am trying to complete before my holiday, I am still struggling to find the time for all my blogging hobbies. Hence I decided to write this short post, both to take a break from writing about seismic risk (that’s my job btw!) and because I was worried that the more I abandoned this blog, the more difficult it would become to get back into writing for it again. So this post is more for me than you, but I realise that’s probably the case with the majority of my posts! 😉

Is My Life Bidi Badu?

Apparently the Bidi Badu life is magical, slightly crazy, and always positive and authentic. Is my life Bidi Badu? My partner would definitely say I am slightly crazy (but who doesn’t talk to themselves in funny voices, sing songs from musicals in the shower and twerk whilst making dinner?!) and I try and be as positive and authentic as possible (also in this blog, which reminds me – I received some free clothing from Bidi Badu for this blog post, but I will, as always, give you my honest and unbiased opinion), but is my life magical? There have been, without question, a number of magical moments in my life, including trekking the Inca Trail for days to see Machu Picchu at dawn, sky diving over Fox’s Glacier in New Zealand, and snorkelling with sharks in Thailand. And I am sure I will continue to experience moments of magic in the future. So I think I can confidently say my life is Bidi Badu and I am thus well-placed to provide a review of their sports clothing 🙂

I received a LOT of clothing from Bidi Badu for this blog post: a dress, three tops and matching skorts/shorts, leggings, three t-shirts, and a lightweight jacket! The quality of all the pieces was extremely high, but there was such a wide range of colours and styles that, unsurprisingly, I found some of them suited me and were more to my taste than others. I have thus decided to select the outfits I liked best for this post.

My two favourite outfits come from the new Kilian Kerner collection: the Ambar Tech dress with its flirty white pleated skirt and longer shorts (much needed for such a short dress), and the Karin Tech Tank with its sexy black mesh back and matching Anna Tech Skort.

Bidi Badu tennis fashion

Bidi Badu tennis fashion

The black Lori Tech Capri leggings are super comfortable and come with a tennis ball holder, so they can be used for both training and matches. The two t-shirts I have matched with the leggings have such a cool fit that I would wear them both on and off the court. I have discussed in previous blog posts my desire to cover up more when playing tennis in the summer, to avoid overexposing my skin to the midday sun, and these leggings and the lightweight pink t-shirt will be great for that purpose.

Bidi Badu tennis fashion

Bidi Badu tennis fashion

Bidi Badu tennis fashion

The final look I selected is the coral Bella Tech V-Neck Tee (which just happens to match my nail colour right now) and the Nica Tech 2 in 1 Shorts in the same coral and navy blue. In the height of the Italian summer I wear shorts for anything from running, to fitness training, to tennis lessons, so I am sure to put these to good use.

Bidi Badu tennis fashion

Bidi Badu tennis fashion

I’d love to hear what you think about these outfits in the comments below. And if you are interested to see how these outfits perform on the tennis court, then make sure you follow my Instagram account as I’ll be posting some videos there soon.