LOVE ... real self-love

In my journaling this morning I was exploring why it can feel so hard just to do the things that make you feel good, that really nourish and nurture you ...

I KNOW I feel better, stronger, calmer, happier when I practice yoga every day but I stopped during that heatwave a couple of weeks ago and despite knowing how good it makes me feel ... I fell out of the habit.

So last night I got my mat out and yes - it was only a 7-minute practice - but the 'hard' part was deciding, and getting the mat out. And deciding at 10.30pm to make time to start again right then - that felt really good.

Same with my 'daily' journaling - I'm not sure how but the last few weeks it's only been maybe half the week.

And I really notice the difference - spending that 15 mins or so with my own thoughts and affirmations, my own 'stuff' - before reacting to other people's and 'stuff' and well, the WORLD, clears my head, sets me up for success - again, how does it sometimes feel so hard to do what we know will feel so good.

More than that, what we NEED really.

Same with food choices, same with so many areas of life.

And as always it's simply about making a decision, a commitment and making real 'self love' a priority.


Rachel Redlaw real self love

PS. My fave 'LOVE' tee by Ruth Ridgeway at ruthxo.com


Who do you want to be? What's your identity? Who are you?!

You know sometimes, when you realise you've been identifying with something ... and realise you don't have to? That you can change that belief. And that it doesn't define you.

That's how I was with smoking ... I smoked 20+ cigarettes a day from 16 years old until 38. And when I stopped I was worried about WHO I WOULD BE.

It sounds insane, but my identity was as a smoker. I wondered who I would be as a non-smoker.

The answer of course, was me ... the same as I was as a smoker during all the time I didn't smoke. If that makes sense.

It really made me think though - I'm glad I realised it but it felt stupid and I wondered why I wanted that identity, why I was actually worried about who I would be without it.

That was 9 years ago now.

Last year when I decided to lose weight I thought I'd like to get back to a (UK) size 14.

It felt like an achievable goal, and it felt like a size where I would feel 'normal'.

I also identified that it was a size I'd been happy at as an adult and had been kind of default size for me - I loved getting smaller and hated getting bigger but 14 felt 'enough'.

Well, then I became a 12 and THEN decided to reach for more, be braver, bolder, go for what I really want - and hadn't been, hadn't lived in my body at a small size as an adult.

But why should that mean I couldn't? Why shouldn't I choose the big goal?

Why not say it, go for it, commit to it? Just because you haven't done it before, doesn't mean your life has to be lived in where you've been comfortable before.

And ... I've never been very fit, well, since a child/teenager who loved sports and running and ballet.

Not part of my identity.

Not until now. I've been softer, curvier, warmer ... as a child I was lanky, free, needed movement.

So I'm now making that my identity too.

I am going to become the fittest I've ever been in my life.

This is BRAND NEW!

Fit and strong and lean (and still soft).

I don't know why I've been scared of saying it, wanting it, doing it.

But now I do.

We can choose our identities, shrug off those that no longer serve, that in fact hold us back.

What do you really want?

Who do you want to be?



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9 reasons NOW is the right time to start the (Tiniest Thai) diet

ONE

Starting a diet, starting anything.  

All it REALLY needs is a conscious choice and a confident DECISION!

I AM GOING TO DO IT.

Why not make that decision now and get started, rather than having it half hanging over you, with that feeling of you KNOW there's something you want to be doing, but you're kind of pretending it's not there because for whatever reason you don't think you can do it, or you don't want to do it, right now.

You CAN do it.

DECIDE.

It feels so much better when the decision is made!


TWO

It's still (just) June and at the end of 8 weeks, if you got similar results to me, you could have lost 20 pounds.

Other Thai Diet Revolutionaries have had similar results - HERE's some of them.

PLUS during that time you'll be feeling more and more comfortable again in your skin (and your bikini - ok, or summer dress).


THREE

Why wait?

I think there's a correlation between 'wait' and 'weight' - when we put our lives on hold waiting for when we're this or that, when we're thinner, in another job, a different person (ha!) THEN we'll do x, y, z. How about just do it NOW?

HERE's the full post if you want to read more.


FOUR

Because we start the live, group round on Monday 10 July and after that we close until the Fall.

So if you do want to lose a few pounds THIS summer, now's the time to do it.


FIVE

Hmmm, I just remembered there's people for whom it's NOT actually currently summer!

Well, then I guess for you, why not now?!

Why wait a couple of months when you could just START.

And I bet the weather's better than it is here right now anyway!


SIX

There's a discount if you sign up before midnight BST on Sunday - we don't start until the following Monday 10 July.

The $97 off the full $297 price is to say thank you for your decisiveness (in joining early) and patience (as you then have to wait a week!).

Both decisiveness and patience are qualities that are great for achieving your goals! 


SEVEN

OK, this isn't actually time sensitive at all but most of the food on the eating plan is so simple to cook from scratch and really fast to make too.

Who doesn't want to get some time back each day to do what they love or spend with those they love, whilst eating delicious food AND losing weight?!

Win, win, win.

EIGHT

Because you want to lose some weight and you're kind of excited about actually doing it and kind of nervous and I want you to know that you can do it, it won't be difficult and you'll have our community of other Thai Diet Revolutionaries on your side and cheering you on?

THAT's a good reason!


NINE

Talking of support from the group, I am also always available ALL the time there, or for a chat on messenger, or a quick call or skype to help with ideas, general support, to talk something through, just to catch up and hear how you're doing. 

I really want you to know that you're supported and welcomed into this way of eating.

This is NOT some PDF course, or self study thing, we're a group of real live people, and I love those conversations and connections.

And I want to start as I do go on and extend that kind of individual personal conversation even BEFORE you join.

If you've any niggling concerns about joining, or questions, or just wondering if this is right for you - let's talk. Let's talk and then you can decide if it's a great big YES or a definite NO for you.

Zero pressure from me to join - I am just as keen as you to make sure this is something that's right for you before you join.

So if you want to book in and discuss ahead of joining, here's the link to find a time in my calendar that's good for you.

And even if it's not right for you and you don't join, there's nothing lost and we're sure to still have a great chinwag about food and eating and life! 


The little dog with big self esteem

You can see by the way he stands that this is a little dog with a lot of confidence.

Sure of himself, happy, secure.

That stance, full of pride and contentment, almost looking like he's surveying his empire.

That tail, upright and sure. He's interested and alert and eager - and he rarely doubts himself.

In fact, he usually believes he can do anything.

In the very best way, he feels he is entitled to good things, for things to go well, to be loved for being him and even to get to sleep in a huge bed (well, sometimes!).

Rachel Redlaw Rocco
Rachel Redlaw Rocco

And I think that's partly his character, partly the traits of his breed and partly the way I talk to him. 

Every day he hears how great he is, how clever, how funny.

Every day, many, many times a day he hears things like, 'YOUR'RE THE BEST!' and 'I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!'.

So much positive reinforcement, positive messages for the whole 8 years of his life. 

And I do think it's got a lot to do with it.


Which every now and then gets me thinking that this is not the way a lot of us speak to ourselves.

Language is so important, and the way we talk to ourselves has such an impact.

Many of us talk to ourselves in a way would NEVER talk to anyone else - we can be harsh and judgemental.

Our inner voices often tell us that we're not great or clever or funny. 

We tell ourselves we should do more, could do more, aren't doing enough and what we're doing isn't good enough.

We can be very harsh on ourselves and yes, just sometimes, it might be useful and the push we need.

But often I think we could do with giving ourselves a bit more praise and love.

I think if we told ourselves several times a day, 'YOU'RE THE BEST!', 'YOU'RE SO GOOD AT WHAT YOU DO!', 'I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!' etc etc, it would have a big effect.

No more, 'mm I'm not sure that's good enough'.

A lot more, 'that's fantastic, press publish!' would go a long way.

Even just as we go about our daily lives, an inner voice could be encouraging us, bolstering our confidence and courage and growing our ability to create, share, grow and help.

To be the people we were meant to be, want to be.


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The connection between 'weight' + 'wait'

Wait + weight.  

They've definitely got some connection over and above having the same sound.

You know those times you realise you've kind of put your life on hold, waiting to live it when ... when you've lost weight, when you've done something else, when you feel 'ready' or good enough or whatever it is and certainly for me I put on weight during those times of waiting.  

When I look back those times were when I was 'waiting' in other areas of my live - so in a relationship that wasn't right or good but that I was kind of frozen in, not seemingly able or willing to make a change, or in a job with a bullying culture that I'd sort of started thinking was normal and ok ... and the weight crept on.

It's also been times where the weight WAS the cause of the wait itself ... me avoiding the weight gain, pretending I was happy, ignoring what was happening.


And actually you can change the WHOLE THING, the whole domino effect in your life ... by changing one thing. 

You don't have to really DO anything but DECIDE and then, then it's easy ... but making that decision feels ridiculously hard!

Until you've done it of course and then you look back and think what took me so long, why did I WAIT like that?

I literally had to get to the point where I was SCARED that I wouldn't be able to do anything about my weight and that it was just going to keep going on and on and on, slowly, as it had done for years.


I also hid from it.  I love food and cooking and sort of hid behind that as a reason (excuse) why I couldn't, wouldn't, be able to lose weight.

And I lied too - I was eating much more alone than I did when with others - not what I've always imagined 'binge eating' to be, like bags and bags of crisps or sweets or cakes ...

I just ate probably enough for two or three people and would eat - very good - food but to excess.

I knew I was doing it but it felt as thought I couldn't stop - it's kind of difficult to understand now I look back but in some way I was hiding behind it and I suppose keeping myself stuck but keeping in that mindset and in that body.


Sometimes it can be comfortable in a way just keeping on doing what you're doing - even at the same time as you wish you could jump straight to the outcome and result, without taking action or making it happen yourself.

Honestly though that day I just looked at myself and thought NO MORE, it's starts NOW was the hardest day and then also the easiest.

It was GOOD finally feeling that I'd made the decision, no more hiding, no more pretending - to be happy with my weight, in my body, that I wasn't eating as much as I was - just one foot in front of the other and keep going, make the small changes I KNEW would work if I just did them.


For the first time in years I stood on the scales and confronted the fact that I was the heaviest I'd ever been. The weight itself doesn't matter - it's all about how you feel and if I'd GENUINELY felt good and happy at that weight, well that's great .... but I didn't.

I was unhappy in my skin and when I stood on the scales that day I felt real fear - ridiculous though it sounds - because I hadn't looked at the facts for so long and had hidden from the facts and the scales. I weighed myself, and cried a bit, and then DETERMINED that that day was Day 1 of just starting to take responsibility and make changes.


After that, the wait was over, and the difference in how I felt changed pretty much straight away.

The wait was over and the weight started to come off.



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Do you eat Thai food with chopsticks?

Short answer, no.

In my experience, it confuses polite Thai people when Westerners ask for chopsticks in Thailand (well meaningly thinking they're acting in the correct local manner) and because they are so polite, you'll probably receive the requested chopsticks.

But, still no.

Thais use chopsticks for Chinese dishes and often for noodle dishes (often Chinese-adapted recipes) where the chopsticks are the best tools for the job.

Otherwise, they use a spoon and fork.

Fork in the left hand, just like we do.

Spoon in the right, in place of a knife.

The knife isn't needed as the meat will be chopped already.

And that's it.

It's the easiest, simplest way of eating and usually I eat this way now all the time, as I eat a predominantly Thai-style diet.

Super easy and works so well!



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Being your best version of you

This is what it's all about really, isn't it?

When we really get down to it, this is what's really going on.

We have this yearning inside, even if don't recognise what it is.  

This feeling that something's not right, that it's 'off'.

When we're not fulfilling our potential it, somehow irks, it niggles away at you ... sometimes (like me, for YEARS) and you kind of know things aren't RIGHT, but then again, well, they're not WRONG are they?

You're going through life like everyone else, going to work, going on holiday, passing the time, but y'know, as time passes (and passes), that urge gets deeper, that feeling that there MUST be something more.

And for us? It's even worse isn't it?  We always KNEW there was going to be more, but never knew what it was going to be, waiting for it to happen.

And now, realising that it's not going to happen.

I'll just keep turning up for work, keep doing STUFF to fill the time, not even GOING THERE with what that deep deep down LONGING is trying to say, that's trying to come to the surface.

When we were younger we just KNEW we were destined for more, but we thought destiny would find us.

After what, 20-something years of living a multiple-choice-life ('I'll choose from this, this or this that I can see in front of me) we realise ... hold on ... what do we REALLY want?

We can CHOOSE.

We can choose our lives, our reality and we can then make that happen.

THAT is being the best version of you, the one that allows those feeling to come up, searches them, finds what we really want ... and then we start to go down that path.

For me, it was both big (leaving a job to create the mind-space and time to play with, have fun with, finding what I loved) and small (what I started with - I just started a blog about Thai cooking - but oh goodness that was HUGE for me - the first creative thing I'd done for years, the first thing I was excited about, the first thing I'd done because it was truly because I HAD A MESSAGE and it wanted to come out and I wanted to share).

The best version of me was to give myself - for the first time probably since a child - time to create and share - sharing was important to me. 

I look back now and despite having had an on paper great life with great friends and family and relationships ... I was a bit stuck. I was bored, to be honest, bored with myself.

And I didn't really give anything either, this is a two-way thing! I don't think I gave much in hindsight. Creating and sharing helps with GIVING and giving makes you more open and being more open leads to more creativity, more love, more people, more ideas .. just more LIFE.

And then there was the unsaid unhappiness with the weight gain.  I put it on I think now because I was stuck in other areas of my life - it's definitely 'chicken and egg' on this one.

So if you don't want (yet) to start digging deep and working on finding your real inner motivations and creativity but you're unhappy with your body, your fitness, your food, your relationships, your weight ... well, I'd say start with tackling one of those ... 

When we start confronting, being honest about, tackling, taking control of ANY ONE area of our lives we're not happy with, it starts a ripple effect.

Taking ACTION at one area of becoming YOUR best version of you, that's all you have to.

For me, as I started creating and sharing ... I became even more aware that I was unhappy in my own body.

I had started to believe that when I DECIDE something and choose actions that will help me get to my goals then that's what happens.

DECIDING is the main thing.

BELIEVING it next.

SETTING THE GOAL and then just EYES-ON-THE-HORIZON focused just taking the actions and choices to get there.

You have to choose. But only most of the time - some times you make other choices (of course it's not a straightforward linear process - we're human!).

But once you've made THE BIG choice, you just focus on the goal, the horizon, and go for it.

Little changes, small results = huge happiness at stepping into being the figurehead of your ship.

One area of life moves to another, you see changes and feel excited and empowered and 'why didn't I do this before?' - and you know, that doesn't matter. You're (we're) doing it now.

Life leads us to THIS point and NOW is the only point that matters.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be the best version of you (whatever that looks like to you). 

Mine included losing weight and feeling really happy in my skin ... and starting to achieve that lead to wanting to be fitter and stronger.

All of it comes together for my big vision for myself as the very best version of myself - I now KNOW I can have it all (as I define having it all for me).

I think we have a tendency - and I don't really know why - to think we can't have it all.

We can be successful in business ... but not look after our health.

We can have healthy, happy bodies .. but maybe our relationships suffer. Etc etc etc.

NOW ... step into IT ALL.

Set ALL THE GOALS! Decide and choose and go for it.

Choose one at a time - I promise, one will lead to another.

Or choose all at once.

And especially for those of us with a few decades of life experience ...

Well, I think once we choose to hear the calling, listen to that little voice, refuse to accept that the weight gain is inevitable, that it's 'too late' to achieve our big goals or whatever it is ... we know ourselves well enough to just go get it all.

In the way that best works for us. 

It can be easy. It can be fun.

And step-by-step, keep going, keep taking the steps, be bold, be brave, become YOUR best version of you.



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Saying YES to your dreams

A week or so ago I wrote this post about how getting to achieve your goals means saying NO a lot of the time.

To things you don't want to do, to stop being a yes-person people-pleaser, but more importantly also to things you DO want to do!

So, you're gonna have to prioritise!

And if you SAY you want to reach that goal, then y'know, you do actually have to CHOOSE to spend the time on actions that will help you reach that goal (rather than socialising, watching TV, family gatherings, sleep, whatever it is).

But .... and this is where I think I might have misrepresented myself in the great urge to try to combat all that, 'but I'm soooo BUSY!', (poor little old me) negativity people say as an excuse (oh I do hear myself do it sometimes too of course).

Fine, don't go for your goals then, but don't WHINGE about it!

Anyway, digressing ... because what I WANT to say is actually that ...I think I misrepresented myself.

It's not a negative to say no.

It's not (usually!) hard to get less sleep, to be here writing and creating at my Macbook and talking with people rather than watching TV.

And why?

Because actually, it's not about - really - saying NO.

It's ALL about saying YES!

And that's what makes it easy (well, usually!).

Saying YES, a great big huge YES to my dreams and my goals.

THAT's what this choice is all about.

And yeah, often it's a hard choice, it's occasionally a lonely choice, but it's 100% MY CHOICE to say YES to making the choices I make that are the ones that will move me towards reaching my goals.

I want to share what I've learned and I want to impact MILLIONS!

I want to make the Tiniest Thai Diet the most successful, globally recognised, way of changing your mindset forever around food there has EVER been.

I want to share my message, and write and speak and connect with people.

So YES, I say NO a lot ... and yes I push myself.

Because I'm really, truly, actually saying YES to my dreams by doing so.

It is about saying NO ... to make space for the huge HELL YES to creating your life.

Reframe time - if you thought my previous post was berating you for not turning down things you want to do - well, I didn't mean it that way.

I meant, and mean, that to make that choice a YES rather than a NO means always keeping the goal in mind.

Keep taking the actions needed to get the results you want.


You CAN lose the weight you want easily; just DECIDE

You know what I really really really want to say?

Well, it's THIS.

You CAN do it. You can do it.

You can lose the weight you want to lose and feel like YOU, the you inside.

I put on weight fairly slowly but for years, and I kept hiding from it because I didn't want to confront it.

I didn't want to go on a 'diet' because I love good food and I love cooking.

And then I became more than a little uncomfortable.

I actually found it difficult to bend down to put my shoes on.

I definitely wasn't happy in my body.

I wore clothes that fitted rather than choosing what I liked - and by fitted I mean they were loose and hid me as much as possible.

I didn't know how to stop putting on weight.

I really, really, really didn't want to go on a 'diet'.

So I created my own and it's the best thing I ever did - and now I just want to share it with those of you who like me, love cooking and food and socialisng .... but HATE the idea of a restrictive diet - plus we're plenty clever enough to know that if you go on a temporary diet, you'll only put the weight on (and likely more) when you go back to your normal way of eating).

And we'd HATE those weeks of being on the 'diet' too!

You know, the one biggest factor wasn't actually my eating programme, or changing how I eat. Any 'diet' could help with that.

THE singular most important thing was that I made a decision.

I stood there, crying, looking in the mirror sideways on ... and then I kind of gave myself a big shake.

STOP CRYING.

And START getting on with it.

So I made the decision. And after that, it was so much easier than I'd been thinking that I don't know now quite what the fear was in admitting I felt uncomfortable, that I wasn't happy and that I wanted to lose weight.

You can make the decision - please DO make the decision, because after that it's so much easier.

And if you want my principles for weight loss, based on a Thai-inspired way of eating, and tons of support and friendship - and a great group to cheer you on and share recipes ...

Then do join the Thai Diet Revolution.

In May there's only FIVE places, so if you want one HERE's the info on how to join.

If you want to hear more what those already in the group have to say, click HERE.

I honestly feel I've changed my life so much, and in such a good way and I know now from what I've learned, that I won't be putting the weight back on again.

I just want to share it with everyone!

So, if you want to join now, then do! (HERE).

We're waiting to welcome you xx

Ps. It's ALL about you making that decision. You CAN lose the weight you want to. Whether you join my group/programme or another or do it alone - please DO!

You CAN more easily than you might think lose the weight, when you just DECIDE.



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Sometimes it's about saying 'no' to reach your goals

Some people are going to be reading my posts about Supreme Self Care and thinking ...

'Yeah ok for you, you don't have x y z you have to do',

'HOW does she find time?'

'Well, that's ok for you, you don't have kids to feed and get up for school'.

Well, no, I don't, no.

But I do know that I do have plenty of other responsibilities (as we all do) and I don't have unlimited time.

Or do I?

I believe in the concept of Einstein Time (read The Big Leap - a fave book that changed my life and concept of time).

And I really, really believe in the concept of CHOICE.

That means I prioritise my self care stuff, and my writing, and my doing ALL the things I really care about and am passionate about.

That means I also say NO a lot.

To fun things as well as the learning to say no to things you really don't want to do but (used to) feel obliged to.

It's easy to think that learning to be someone who can say 'no', means saying 'no' to things you don't want to do.

Ha! MUCH more it means saying 'no' to things you DO want to do.

I say no to TV.

I say no to parties.

I say no to meet ups with friends and family.

I say no to that book I want to read.

I say no to sleeping another half an hour.

To going to bed earlier and to getting up later.

Etc, etc, etc.

It means - when I SAY prioritise, I MEAN prioritise.

No, it's not easy.

I never said it was easy.  I said it was SUPREME self care to take the best care of me.

It means really thinking about what it takes to put you first - and not JUST your physical, emotional, spiritual .... also your CREATIVITY.

I believe we all NEED to be creative beings, whatever that looks like for you ... and for me, I need time and space to even work that out.

It means prioritising you and what you want to do ... and the results and goals you are going to achieve.



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SUPREME SELF CARE

I was talking with some friends the other night at my Tiniest Thai supperclub about how so many people just don't GET what real self care is all about.  

Think it's about lighting a candle and having a bath and talking about how 'spiritual' they are :)

Well, all those things are very NICE, sure, but they're not self care IN THEMSELVES.

I have only recently embarked on a non-negotiable regime of SUPREME self care - and it came about from understanding, really feeling and believing in a way I haven't before, that taking care of myself is what comes FIRST.

In every way.

Physically, emotionally, spiritually.

When I take care of myself FIRST then everything else flows.

SUPREME self care means - for me - STARTING with creating a commitment and a DISCIPLINE, if you like, that then becomes a habit.

And when things are habits they are EASY and natural; it's just what you do.

Everyone's commitments and priorities to themselves will be different but mine include:

DAILY journaling and movement/fitness - usually yoga, and choosing food I love and that's best for me.

A MONTHLY massage.

MONTHLY  house cleaner so my environment is as I like it and making space and time for me to do more of what I love and less of what I don't.

Every other month an appointment with my osteopath. 

Regular health appointments such as the dentist.

Regular manicures and pedicures whether at home or at the salon and regular hair appointments.

Choosing to drink water, (and good wine!), get the right amount of sleep for me.

Surrounding myself with people who bring me UP, who support and encourage and inspire me - and for whom I do the same.

DAILY time for reflection, meditation and this can be quiet at home or while out walking.

DAILY watch and / or read something inspiring. It doesn't have to be long - just a blog post by a fave blogger, a podcast, a feature in the newspaper, whatever it is.

It all creates a deep foundation of care from which to live, to create, to work, to play, to BE.

What does SUPREME self-care look like for YOU?



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CHOOSING my life ... 4 years on ...

“If you change nothing, nothing will change”

Tony Robbins


And that moment of realisation, that moment where you finally feel it and KNOW that it is YOUR decision to create your life and make it happen ...

It happened to me four years ago this month. 28th April.

I was in a very dark place, looking back, in a job I knew was terrible for me ... and harming me ... but it was really ME harming me allowing it to continue.

And I'd been letting life drift by really my whole life - choosing A over B, like a multiple choice life, NEVER and I mean NEVER really deciding what I wanted and what would make me happy and going after that.

It took until my 40's.

it doesn't matter how long it takes, it matters that one day you DO see, do feel, do know that it's ALL and ALWAYS down to you.

YES, there are pressures and challenges of life, but THE biggest step is deciding.

What I did that day, was finally say enough. I gave in my notice at the awful job - without a job to go to - and suddenly felt my long long long ago ebbed away ME power start returning.

Of COURSE I could find another job perfect for me and my career in three months (it took four weeks).

And this time I made sure it was right for me and also would allow me time, mental capacity ... to start writing, cooking more, launching my own things I'm passionate about, my own side passion projects.

It can be so easy not to even recognise that you're in a dark place and going through the motions, getting through each day, surviving basically.

I was someone who on paper looked like I had a good life - and I did ... but I was trapped and miserable and not growing, not CREATING.

You can always decide and choose.

(You don't have to give your notice in though) :)

But it is your one life and if you've been stuck for a while and this sounds like you ... maybe start thinking what YOU want.

For me ... I wanted not to be scared, ill, bullied, tired, weak.

I wanted to write and create (and be me and be strong).

It didn't LOOK big to anyone else!

To the outside it looked like I left one great job in a great industry and went to another. Oh and started a little blog about Thai cooking.

That little blog about Thai food made me alive again and got my creativity going again. That first day, on my first blog site, pressing 'publish' - no post is scarier than that one.

I was still living in a fear mode really, worrying what people would think or say, not having the incredible community and support I do now.

You CAN start creating your life at ANY time in your life.

The big thing, the only big thing ... is DECIDING.

And that 'little' project?

Could become your real BIG thing, your biggest thing.

What do YOU want to do, create ... be?



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Simple, natural, softening bath 'milk'

When I was in my early teens I was obsessed with natural remedies for health and particularly for beauty products.  

I was brought up in a family that was very into organic products, and eating natural foods (yep, I was that kid with the smelly celery soup in a flask and a carrot slice for my packed lunch when everyone else had white-bread cheese sandwiches and a packet of crisps - hard actually at the time but I'm so grateful for it now).

My sisters and I were taken as often to homeopathic doctors and to the reflexologist as we were the GP, and I was always (especially as a complete bookworm) reading my parents' cookbooks and books on herbalism and natural health.

And of course, I started making all sorts of lotions and potions .... and after a very long break (although I've always maintained an interest in organic products and natural health) I've started making some things again.

Recently I made an Argentinian cake recipe shared with me by my friend Marcela - and one of the ingredients was oats.

After making it - and it was good, here's the recipe - I had tons of oats left over. I don't like oats or porridge but didn't want to throw them away (HATE food waste!) and suddenly remembered one of my favourite teenage beauty treatments - making the simplest ever bath milk with oats.

You just need some little muslin bags - like those ones you use to make bouquet garni (or my tom yum noodles!) - that are easy to find and buy online.

You scoop in a handful or two of oats and then let the hot water run over the bag - or pop the bag straight into the bath of course.

The oats release the most beautiful milky substance that's great for keeping your skin soft ... I even squeeze the bag out more once in the bath and use it as a quick exfoliator by rubbing the bag over my skin.

I also usually add a few drops of a favourite pure essential oil - lavender or wild orange usually.

Rachel Redlaw muslin bags oats bath milk
Rachel Redlaw bath milk
Rachel Redlaw lavender oil

And that's it. Super simple, super cheap - and very good.

Also on my bathroom shelf are Epsom Salts which I use in a morning 'detox shower' and my home-made body scrub made with sugar.

There's just something that to me feels so good about using natural ingredients and making something easy yourself that's also really lovely to use.



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Celebrating 1 year on ... it's about choice, not rules or restrictions

Today is one year since I made a decision.

The decision to lose weight.

The most surprising thing to me then was how EASY I found it - the only hard part was being honest with myself, stopping hiding from myself and make that decision.

I didn't expect it to be so easy, or enjoyable or what a wonderful process it is to become happy again in your own body.

Or that it would change my mindset around food and eating forever in the most beautiful and easy way - still eating food I love and with no hard-and-fast rules - it becoming all about CHOICE.

That was a big turnaround in my thinking to move from it being not about restriction but about choice.

So today ... I journal and track and note things down - my weight, good things I've made to eat, how I'm feeling ...

And such a change from my note and what I wrote a year ago.

Hello YEAR 2, WEEK 1 ... 



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#ShareFoodStories ... Marcela Macias / 'nugaton'

Yes, it’s the weirdest-sounding combination of ingredients ... but it works!

It’s the dessert that was never missing on our birthdays growing up, and the only cake my brother still wants for his birthday now.

It is not, however, a family recipe.

Truth be told, the original recipe appeared in a box of Quaker Oats in Argentina, in the ’70s. It was quickly popularized because it was ideal for making in a whim, and kids loved it.

The original recipe, however, has been modified countless times, as it normally happens in family kitchens ....

All my friends ask me for it when I visit and it’s my most iconic dessert.
— Marcela

Nugaton - Marcela Macias

OK, in all honesty, when Marcela sent me her recipe I was intrigued ... but also dubious.

An Argentinian chocolate cake, made with cream crackers ... ?

But I loved this photo on her site and I read her full post.

 

 

 

 


#ShareFoodStories nugaton

Several times. I kept reading that recipe and wondering what it would taste like! 

She's right .. it IS the oddest sounding combination but yes, it does work.

I was a little worried as I don't have a sweet tooth at all but actually it's not that sweet - it's biscuity and was very good with a coffee.

I'm also not a baker so this was perfect for me to make as I didn't have to be too careful about weighing ingredients out etc - I'll definitely be making it again.

i made it one Sunday and we had it the next day as Marcela recommended.  I made my nugaton using half the quantities on the original recipe as it sounded a lot - and for me my smaller one was just right.


Want to make it too? Here's how ...

Into one pan went

150g butter (or margarine)

175-200g dark chocolate

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In another, large pan, goes

175g ish sugar

250g oats

And I also got ready

1 pack of cream crackers

100 ml almond milk (I think I used more like 150ml as I did it by eye. You could use any milk you like, almond's what I had)

#ShareFoodStories nugaton
crackers and milk.JPG

Melt the butter and chocolate together and when liquid, pour over the oats and sugar and mix well over a low heat, stirring all the time.

Keep stirring and then add the milk, a little at a time. Once all the milk is added and the sauce is nice and soft and the oats cooking in it, give it a last good mix, remove from heat and continue stirring for another minute or so.

#ShareFoodStories nugaton
#ShareFoodStories nugaton
#ShareFoodStories nugaton

Put a little of the sauce/paste on a plate to hold the crackers in place and start layering the mixture over the crackers, spreading with a spatular and then adding another layer of crackers.

Finish by spreading the mixture over the last layer of crackers and round the sides so it's completely covered. Then put in the fridge until an hour before serving.

I put mine in overnight and then wrapped it in foil to take it to work to share!

#ShareFoodStories nugaton
#ShareFoodStories nugaton
#ShareFoodStories nugaton
#ShareFoodStories nugaton
#ShareFoodStories nugaton

Read Marcela's original post and nugaton recipe here.


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Exercise .... sounds hard. Moving every day ... is so good

Yoga and regular movement is changing my life.

When I was in my early teens I ran. A lot. I ran and ran. I ran miles when I got home from school. I ran in the dry, I ran in the rain, I ran in the snow. I kind of hated it .. and halfway through the hour or so that I ran .. I LOVED it.

I was also, in my head, training for the next Olympics. Yep me, a lanky 13-year-old in the Norfolk countryside.

And I did ballet. From age 4 - 16. A LOT of ballet.

I loved trampolining, netball, racing around outdoors with my sisters, horse riding. As WELL as being the total 100% bookworm.

I was a skinny, tall, lanky kid ... and then around 14-15 I developed.

NOT HAPPY.

No more Royal Ballet School.

Hello sports bra.

And then I started going out and more into music and travel and writing and studying ... and I went to Uni in London in the year of the new summer of love :)

Partying, playing, experimenting, learning, being.

I never found my love of movement again.

I joined gyms, went through phases. Bought the kit - for a new hobby of sailing, or riding, or whatever.

Planned to BE THAT PERSON.

But I just wasn't.

You know, I think it also has a lot to do with weight.

It's HARD to move - let alone feel confident - when you're overweight. If you struggle to breathe when you bend over to put on a shoe ... well ...

And lugging an extra 10, 20, 30, 40 pounds along with you?

It's HARD WORK.

I increased my walking a lot last year. I started scooting home and sometimes walking the hour home from work.

And now something's shifted.

I now LOVE and WANT to move every day.

I feel my body was MADE to move.

I walk home, I swim, I walk the dog, I do 30-minute wonderful online sessions of yoga.

The yoga in particular is changing my life.

The moving everyday - and more importantly - the LOVING and WANTING to move every day .. is changing my life.

And my core muscles, and my balance and my strength ... and my peace.

Don't give up.

I'm 47 years old and I only just found how it works for me.

Don't give up.

Try things, go easy on yourself, lose some weight first, whatever works for you.

But I honestly NEVER thought I would find my love of exercise and movement again.

35 years later ... I have.

Keep going, keep trying things.

It's SO worth it to feel at one with your body again.



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There is NOTHING wrong with wanting to lose weight

It seems to me that the whole self-acceptance thing has gone too far.

It now actually feels that you're WRONG in some way and that you'll be judged for wanting to lose some weight.

You are in charge of you: you don't have to sign up to the 'love yourself at any size' brigade.

You CAN say you'd feel happier in your own skin by losing some weight.

You don't have to dress it up as wanting to be 'healthier', or 'more empowered' - although those are great things to want too.

There is NOTHING wrong with wanting to lose weight.

To wanting to feel happy again in your own skin.

With wanting to get back to your own personal happy weight.

But some days it feels like all I see are messages that you don't have to change yourself to be happy - you ' just have to learn to love yourself the way you are'.

Well, I disagree.

Totally disagree.

If that's for you, then hey go for it.

I genuinely want each and every one of us to feel happy in our own skin.

But for me, I know ... I was NEVER going to feel happy in my skin, overweight, uncomfortable when I bent over to put my shoes on, out of breath ... feeling NOT LIKE ME.

It's all gone too far I think.

The solution is NOT for everyone to 'learn to love yourself' or 'be happy at any weight, you're still the same person'.

Because ... actually for many of us?

We're NOT.

We're not the person we are when we can move easily, walk and run up the stairs freely. When we're feeling good in our skin. When we start enjoying clothes again.

When we feel more OURSELVES, our real selves again.

Yes, I think it's gone too far.

There is NOTHING wrong in saying, declaring ...

'You know what? I'd feel happier if I lost some weight'.

You don't have to couch it in other language, dress it up as something more spiritual or whatever is is.

You ARE allowed to just want to lose some freaking weight and feel happy in your skin.

We were not born overweight and we weren't designed to be overweight.

Do NOT feel that in this current climate of acceptance - which is great of course, acceptance of everyone as they are and as they are happy to be, YES .. but you?

If you're NOT HAPPY being overweight, there's nothing wrong with saying so, declaring your mission to lose the weight - there's nothing to hide.

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH WANTING TO LOSE WEIGHT WHEN YOU'RE NOT HAPPY THE WEIGHT YOU ARE.

Oops, lots of shouty caps there!

It actually makes me really angry that people are basically being told to change their mindset - to be happy being unhappy in their own skin!

F-that! You can be, do and have whatever you want!

And if you're unhappy in your skin, at your current weight? You know what?

YOU DECIDE ... YOU get to decide to change that.

Set your goals, and commit.

Then choose to take the actions needed to get the results you want.

And keep going.

I'm with you all the way :) 



#ShareFoodStories ... Jane Swift / smoked salmon pinwheels

We’ve made smoked salmon pinwheels in our family as a special Christmas treat for as long as I can remember.

Making them, and eating them, conjure up memories of all my Christmas’ past. Sometimes specific memories come to mind, but mostly this particular dish conjures up general memories of Christmas, family and tradition. 

These are so delicious and delightful to eat at any time of year, not simply at Christmas, but for me they will always make me think of Kings College carols, a glass of sherry, and my mum’s kitchen. 

They are very easy to make, perfect as canapés or as a simple starter that you can make the day before a dinner.

Personally I could scoff the plateful all on my own, but I suppose really they’re better to share!  
— Jane

To make Jane's salmon pinwheels, you'll need:

thin sliced soft brown bread

butter, soft and ready to spread

smoked salmon

fresh lemon juice

black pepper

 

Cut the crusts off the sliced bread, and spread with butter.

Carefully separate the layers of smoked salmon and lay a piece over each slice of bread.

Generously squeeze lemon juice on top,and a grind of black pepper.

Then roll the bread and salmon - to create a spiral of salmon within the bread - and tightly encase in foil so that it holds it's shape.

Best left in the fridge overnight, but an hour or so will do if you want to eat them sooner.

When you take the rolls from the fridge, unwrap them and cut into maybe four small sushi-sized spiral bites from each slice of bread. 

Eat and enjoy (preferably accompanied by a glass of something fizzy!). 



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#ShareFoodStories ... Kerrie Rycroft / tuna 'envelopes'

This was very low on my list of recipes to share but when I asked the kids which they thought was the best recipe to share they ALL picked this one.  
Tuna ‘envelopes’. 

This is one of our favourite family meals; the two little girls make it by themselves which is really important to them.  

I do cheat and use shop bought puff pastry because it is so easy!

The idea of envelopes is genius, we make them with all kinds of fillings. 

If you have leftover chilli con carne, bolognaise sauce, chicken curry, beef stew etc you can use them to fill the envelopes.  

The folding and filling is a great thing for little hands to do.  

— Kerrie

I really enjoyed making these tuna 'envelopes' for brunch today - there's something very satisfying about seeing the pastry turn golden brown. And I love the idea of using other fillings for them too - leftover bolognaise, or chilli con carne, or chicken curry ...

For four 'envelopes' you'll need (I made enough for two today):

2 tins of tuna (I used one)

1 tin of sweetcorn (I used a small one)

1/2 red onion finely chopped 

a big dollop of mayonnaise 

A sheet of puff pastry (I used half)

1 egg, beaten

Mix the tuna, sweetcorn, red onion and mayonnaise together in a bowl.

Unroll the sheet of puff pastry and cut into four squares (or 6-8 smaller squares - as I was using half the sheet mine were 'small squares').

Divide the tuna mix between the squares.

Rachel Redlaw tuna envelopes
Rachel Redlaw tuna envelopes

Fold the corners in so that they meet in the middle.  (I tried folding mine in two different ways).

Brush with beaten egg.

Cook for 20 minutes in an oven at around 200C (I used Gas 7).

Rachel Redlaw
Rachel Redlaw tuna envelopes

Kerrie says they usually serve them 'with mange tout and baby sweetcorn and a splodge of sweet chilli sauce to dip them in', but as mine were for brunch we had them with just a sliced tomato to add a little colour (plus realised I'd run out of sweet chilli sauce - so will be making more today).

 
Rachel Redlaw tuna envelopes
 

I really liked these - and can see a Tiniest Thai green chicken curry 'envelope' happening for dinner soon!


And ... food memories ...

These pastries remind me of a family favourite of my own - my mum used to make and love little puff pastry 'envelopes' (folded with all four corners brought together like the lower 'envelope' in my photo) filled with egg and cheese and herbs.  She called them 'borek' and we had them at Christmas. 

Having looked up recipes for Turkish borek since, those of my childhood weren't especially authentic - I believe borek are crisp pastries that can have a savoury meat filling, or cheese fillings with feta or goats cheese plus fresh mint, parsley and dill.

But such things weren't commonly available back in the late '70's / early '80's and ours were puff pastry with a filling of egg, grated cheddar and probably dried herbs. They were so good!

Having Kerrie's tuna 'envelopes' today took me back to this food memory of my own.

And I made some!

A mix of feta, mint, parsley, a little black pepper and some dried chilli flakes with a squeeze of lemon juice - delicious ... 

Rachel Redlaw borek
pastry.JPG
Rachel Redlaw borek


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What do you want your life to be?

So, a few years ago, four years ago, was when I finally 'woke up'.

In some ways, when I was born, or became an adult ... took responsibility.

It feels now looking back to my whole adult life before, that I'd been living in the dark.

I was in quite a dark place emotionally too - in a really awful bullying job, but then something happened in that job that made me suddenly realise I didn't have to do it. I DID have a choice.

And that was the beginning.

I realised that in the WHOLE time before then, I had never once realised that it was my choice. And now I mean my life.

I never once decided consciously what I wanted my life to be, who I wanted to be, what I wanted to make it.

I chose from the choices I could see - this holiday or that, this job opportunity or that one, even relationships.

My eyes opened and since then I've been consciously experimenting and exploring and discovering what I CHOOSE and what I WANT and make my life to be.

It started with baby steps. Well, I say that but it's was actually a pretty big step deciding that I didn't want a stressful job, and I wanted something that gave