It’s Friday, we’ve all had a hard week and are ready to jump right into the weekend. To provide some inspiration to add a pinch of healthy to this weekend’s plans, here is an interview with NZ health blogger Naturally Leah. Leah inspired me to embark on the Whole30 programme so I was very excited to be able to interview her on London wellness trends, surviving the Whole30 and her new online venture PICK + PALEO.
Friends back in the UK have been telling me that the wellness trend that I’ve observed in Sydney has also hit London. Did you find that there was a growing interest in healthy living?
I arrived in London in 2012 having lived in Canada prior, and I think I hit the real start of the health/ wellness/ fitness trend. Within a year I noticed brands sponsoring races to get themselves in front of potential customers, and boutique fitness classes popping up all over the place. By the time I left London in 2015 – healthy living brands and business were everywhere.
What in your opinion are the biggest diet and exercise trends in London currently?
The rise of the boutique fitness class, for sure! Studios are charging over 25 pounds ($50NZD) per class for specialty treadmill or spin sessions. Boom cycle, Barrecore, Project Fit, Psycle, 1Rebel, Tempo Pilates and Barrys Bootcamp are just a few I tried (and loved). Classpass (where you pay a monthly fee for a number of credits that you can use across boutique studios) launched last year too – a concept straight from the New York market.
Class pass is now in Oz too! Sign up here and get $20 off – Jennie
Do these differ from what you’ve experienced so far back in New Zealand?
Absolutely. It’s still a “gym membership” market here – everyone has got one, even if they don’t use it. The only individual boutiques I have been exposed to so far are yoga, where it seems people prefer local and more specialised attention – so are willing to pay for it.
Some people find exercise difficult to fit into a busy city lifestyle. London is definitely a busy city! How did you make it work?
I made fitness my social time – using a long Sunday run as a chance to catch up with friends, followed by brunch or coffee afterwards. I was luckily in that most of my friends were fitness junkies too – so always up for meeting at a class or event. There is SO much free or low cost fitness fun to be had in London, and amazing places to explore on foot too. I had a gym membership (through work) but I never used it, preferring instead to be outdoors whenever possible, and supplementing this with the occasional boutique class.
You’ve said that you found it more of a challenge to stay healthy now that you’re back in NZ, What have been the biggest challenges?
The general time and effort it takes to set up in a new country has been a big barrier. I’ve been flat tack with buying a house, moving, finding a job etc. Then there is the social side of things – I like running with others, and I haven’t yet found “my crew” yet. It takes time to build those friendships, but I will get there! Logistics are also a big one – there is no underground which takes you wherever you want to go – here in Auckland you need a car, and parking!
Why did you opt to follow the Whole30 eating plan?
I used to suffer a whole host of health issues, and so I started experimenting with my diet. My first Whole30 (a 30 day strict nutritional reset) was in January 2013, and it was revelationary. Cutting out grains, dairy, legumes, sugar and preservatives gave me crazy good energy, great sleep, and an overall shine of healthiness. Since that point, I aim to undertake a Whole30 two-three times a year.
What were the biggest challenges with adopting this change in diet?
Eating out is a tough one – I pretty much became a hermit the first couple of times I did the Whole30. Now, I know what I can and can’t have when choosing off a menu (or how to construct a meal from a difficult menu). Handling other people’s perceptions is a tough one too – so many will try to (lovingly) sabotage you, so learning how to kindly, but firmly, decline food and drink is a big one.
You’ve recently launched the joint venture PICK + PALEO, tell me a bit about the website and why you decided to launch it?
My friend and fellow Whole30’er Alisha noticed that there was a gap in the New Zealand market. We are a country full of creative foodie entrepreneurs and paleo brands and products, cafes and restaurants were popping up everywhere. But no one was bringing it all together in one place. So we decided to create our own – and PICK + PALEO was born! PICK + PALEO is a one stop shop for all things paleo in New Zealand – info, recipes, products and brands.
What in your personal experience is the biggest blocker to leading the healthful life that you want to lead and how do you try and overcome that?
Paralysis by analysis. Meaning – too much thinking, not enough doing! Half the battle is just pulling on my shoes and getting out the door – somehow I always seem to find an excuse or run out of time! I try and overcome it by telling myself to just do 10 minutes, and then if I REALLY hate it, I can finish and be done for the day. Guaranteed – within 10 minutes I would have totally forgotten that feeling and will be enjoying myself! For some reason I never remember the post-exercise endorphins, and how good they are!
You’ve written about how stress has an enormous impact on your personal health. What have you found to be the most effective methods for reducing your stress levels?
I suffered from Chronic Stress a few years ago, and my health rapidly declined. I had IBS, was covered in eczema, had insomnia, and anxiety attacks – and I kept stacking on weight despite a huge amount of exercise and restricted diet. Changing my diet to paleo has had the biggest impact, I no longer get the 3.30 energy slump or hangry food pangs. It has evened out my cortisol levels and now I know to recognise the stress symptoms, and work to counteract them through diet and exercise.
What’s your favourite go to healthy snack?
I used to have a weakness for nacho chips, but now if I am making nachos, I finely slice sweet potato and bake them until they are crispy (they key is keeping the oven on a low heat, and baking them slowly) – once you have had nachos with sweet potatoes, you will NEVER go back to corn chips again! So delicious!
If you want to exercise but are low on energy, what routine do you chose?
A yoga class would be my pick – they always start slow and warm you in to the practice, and by the end you have had a great workout, a dose of de-stress, and feel a hundred times better than if you had stayed at home on the couch. As the saying goes – you never regret a workout!