February Feel-good Five!
Personal trainer (and former chef) Ian Eassom shares his tips on staying fit and healthy, with the occasional treat…
Here we are in February already, and we all need to keep ourselves and others motivated now more than ever; after all February is about feeling fabulous in my book and giving yourself a post-Christmas boost after that cold January start, whether that is treating yourself to new skincare products, changing your diet, or getting fitter and shapelier for your summer wardrobe.
Our mind is a strong tool and easily influences how successful and motivated we feel in our daily routines and feel-good activities. We all deserve a treat, but it’s even more important to simply make time for ourselves and do something to make us feel good. How about making a list of seven things you’d like to do this week? Try thinking outside the box and then do one of them each day of the week. You’ll find as you progress through your list, you build up some great momentum and motivation.
Being a personal trainer, my main objective isnʼt about how far I can run or how much weight I can lift, itʼs about having a workout that benefits my wellbeing and makes me feel good in mind as well as body. This also applies to my work with my clients.
This month Iʼm going to show you five simple moves that not only work your flexibility and muscle tone, but benefit your state of mind too. Making the time for this helps improve self-esteem, reduces stress, increases energy levels and improves sleep, as well as helping those of us that suffer from anxiety and depression.
My daughter is a big fan of these moves and has been working on her flexibility too, so this month sheʼs demonstrating a couple for me (yes, even I struggle with some moves!).
Using the images to guide you, a general rule of thumb is to try and relax into these positions and find your natural limits; don’t overstretch or reach, greater flexibility will come with time. Pay particular attention to the alignment of your back and limbs in the pictures, and you’ll find you are becoming more supple in no time!
Open Hip Frog Pose
Once in this position, hold it for three breaths. This one targets the hip, groin and lower back and is said to aid with stomach issues.
This is an excellent way to strengthen the core, and is especially good for the muscles in your lower back as well as your hamstrings and glutes. Once you get into it, your abs will also benefit. Try and hold (working on your posture) for 3-5 breaths to start with.
Upward Facing Dog
Great for strengthening the vertebral column and arms, together with stretching out the abdomen, thorax, lungs and shoulders.
This is great, as it stretches out the front of the body, particularly the chest abdomen quads and hip flexors, which is great for your spinal flexibility, as well as improving your posture.
Supine Spinal Twist
This is a great one for the core and helps counteract the effects of too much time sitting in a chair. This exercise improves spinal mobility and is said to aid digestion. A great one to finish on and so relaxing.
Live, Laugh, Loaf
Did you know bananas are loaded with valuable micronutrients, especially potassium, and this is one of the most important electrolytes for the body as it regulates heart function and blood pressure. They also contribute to our mental wellbeing, as they contain tryptophan, which the body converts into mood lifting serotonin. Banana bread was the runaway hit of 2020, so this month, we’re revisiting and revisioning it, with this healthy version of date and banana bread – a cake thatʼs good for you!
This is a really tasty cake, which is oil, dairy and sugar free, as well as being vegan and full of protein, which means you don’t have to ration yourself to one slice!
4 medium ripe bananas
75g finely chopped dates
2 grated apples
300g buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter*
50g plain flour*
100ml oat/almond milk
* or substitute these with a scoop of vegan salted caramel protein powder
Preheat the oven to 270˚C. Mash three of the bananas in a bowl (keeping the fourth back), then add all the other ingredients into the bowl, adding the milk last to make a paste.
Turn the mix into a loaf tin lined with greaseproof paper (to keep it oil free), then slice the remaining banana on top for decoration.
Bake in the oven for around forty minutes, or a little longer if needed.
You can serve this warm from the oven or cool, it’s delicious either way!
Lastly, my favourite thing about February is that as it draws to a close, we start to see those encouraging first signs of spring. I’m looking forward to seeing you in March, when we can draw a line under winter and start to enjoy those longer days and bursts of green in the world.
Stay safe and see you soon!