Thursday, 27 February 2014

Interview with certified health coach, Lydia McCall

Lydia is a certified health coach who trained with The Institute of Integrative Nutrition and now sees clients on a one to one basis. Lydia creates personalised 6 week programmes for her clients to support their individual goals. Whether it be weightloss, stress management, ditching the punishing diet and exercise regimes for good or addressing body image issues.

1. Why did you decide to become a health coach?

I decided to become a health coach because I struggled all the way through my teens with health related issues as you can see by the pictures below. I had Epstein Barr, which is a form of Glangela Fever, which left me feeling exhausted all the time. I was also very overweight which lead me to having major self-esteem issues and I suffered from depression. Through my long journey back to health I decided to become a certified health coach by studying at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I wanted to share my experience and knowledge to help other woman struggling with similar issues. To support them in getting them to a place where they accept their body and start to love themselves again. The most important relationship we will ever have in our lives is with ourselves. Once this relationship is strong everything will start to fall into place. You can read more about my story HERE.

2. Can you tell me about your morning routine?

I believe if you start your day off on the right foot you are more likely to continue making healthy choices throughout the day. So when I wake up I like to do some diaphragmatic breathing, which helps boost your mood by increasing the level of the ‘feel good’ hormone serotonin in the body. It also helps reduce negative stress by lowering the stress hormone Cortisol. I will hop in the shower alternating between hot and cold water to energise me and boost my circulation. I will have a glass of hot water and lemon to cleanse my system and get the digestive juices flowing before having breakfast. Recently I have been enjoying some gluten free millet by a brand called Biona with scrambled egg, spring onion and half an avocado. A breakfast full of healthy fats, protein and complex carbs to provide me with slow releasing energy to get me through my morning.

3. What is the best part of your job?

There are so many parts of my job that I love. I love seeing a client open up and share their personal fears and struggles. Seeing someone being so honest is an amazing thing to experience and I feel so honoured that they trust me enough that they feel at ease being so open with me. But what tops that is when I see a client radiating happiness and self-confidence. Witnessing a client fall back in love with themselves and knowing that they do deserve the life they have always dreamed of. Well there is nothing better than that.

4. What is your favourite dinner party dish?

Wow, that’s a tricky one. But I would have to go with my chicken, butternut squash and chickpea stew with a side of wilted spinach and broccoli. It is so creamy and indulgent while being super healthy. I am all about cooking up delicious meals without slaving over the stove for hours. Nutrient dense, quick and simple dishes are what I am all about.

5. How do you keep fit?

Keeping fit is very important to me. It doesn’t just keep my weight stable but it boosts my mood, focus and energy no end. As well as keeping my skin in good condition due to all the sweating, attractive I know. It also allows me to sleep much better and exercise has to be the best stress reliever for me. My problems just seem to fade away after a good workout.
I like to mix things up so I don’t get bored and keep challenging my body. I love running. I throw in some intervals and hill sprints to push myself. I make sure to incorporate some strength training into my week to build and sculpt lean muscle. I use hand weights, the TRX or body weight exercises in a type of Tabata style routine. I am trying to attend yoga twice a week to slow things down and rebalance myself.

 6. If you had to give someone 5 top health tips what would they be?

  1. Stop the negative self-talk. The voice inside your head that says you’re too fat, not good enough, not smart enough is lying to you. You can achieve anything you put your mind to.
  2. Slow down. Be more aware of yourself and your body. Take some time for yourself. Have a long bath, attend a yoga class or catch up with a friend by going for a nice walk in the park. This will stop you from burning out.
  3. Eat every 3 hours. This will stop you from becoming ravenous and over eating later. Eating little and often will keep your metabolism running and will help control your cravings. It will keep your energy levels stable so you can get through your day without the dreaded 4pm slump. My go to snack option is a handful of almonds. Full of healthy fats and protein plus it is so easy to carry in your bag for when hunger strikes. I also love a banana topped with almond butter and we can’t forget about a mug of green tea to go with it
  1. Sleep more. Good quality sleep is essentially if you want to feel and look your best. You should try and aim for 7 to 8 hours a night. When you have had good quality rest you are more likely to eat better, stick to your workouts and perform better at work. You will also find yourself having more energy and be in a better place mentally.
  2. Stop with the punishing and restrictive diets and exercise routines. These are not sustainable in the long run. You will just be setting yourself up for failure, as you can’t keep up with such high standards. Your self-esteem and confidence will take a major bashing by living this way and it will soon be affecting the way you live your life. As soon as you take the pressure off yourself. That is when change can occur.
7.Do you have any stress reducing tips?

My favourite way to beat stress is to get outside and go for a run or by working out at the gym. My stress and worries just seem to wash away. Taking a long bath is also another great way to de stress and un-wind. I like to take a bath straight before bed. I sleep so well when ever I do this.

8. What is your daily mantra?

We are all human. We will make mistakes and we will fall on our ass from time to time. It is about picking ourselves up, learning from our experiences and moving on. Perfection doesn’t exist. It’s about learning to love and except ourselves for who we are today and be brave enough to show our ‘imperfections’ to the world just as we are.

Contact Lydia via her website for more information on her services and to book in for a complimentary consultation to see how she can support you and to see if you would like to work together. Sessions can take place in person in London or done via skype.

Follow Lydia: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Monday, 24 February 2014

GUEST BLOG: Yoga guru, Natasha Moutran's top tips on how yoga can help support a healthier you!

This year there is one word that keeps popping up everywhere – detox detox detox! And even well into February it seems that 2014 is the year that everyone wants to start the year healthy and keep it that way.

I believe that a healthy lifestyle really needs to be approached from all directions, nutrition, fitness and mindfulness, and yoga is a great way to not only encourage the detoxification for the body, but also clear the busy mind too.

Here are some of my top tips on how yoga can help support a healthier you!

1.    TWIST

Twisting the body is a great way aid digestion, as well as helping the body flush out those unwanted toxins.  The twisting action literally rings out the body, helping stimulate digestion and get the digestive track moving, as well as being a great way to tone the abdominals.

Here are 2 great twisting poses - Do these yoga poses every time you need that extra detox boost, always twisting deeper on an exhalation.

Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated Spinal Twist)

From a seated position bend your right leg in front of you, then bending your left knee place your left foot on the other side of your right knee. Place your Left hand (or finger tips) on the floor behind your back and on an exhalation twist towards your top leg. Then either hug your left knee towards your torso, or to go deeper, place your elbow on the outside of the knee to traction a deeper twist. On each inhalation lengthen through the spine, and on each exhalation twist a little further.
Hold this for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the other side.

Parivrtta Anjaneyasana (Revolve Lunge)

From a lunge lengthen through the sides of the waist and twist towards the front leg. Take your elbow to the outside of the front knee and place your palms together, pressing them into each other. As you inhale lengthen through the spine, and as your exhale twist a little further, trying to bring your thumbs into the center of your

Hold this pose for 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.


Forward folding is a great way to encourage the function of the digestive system and clear out any blockages from the abdominal organs. These are also great at calming the nervous system and quieting the mind, allowing for that lovely cleansing of not only body but mind too. Enjoy this calming forward fold before going to sleep.

Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold)

From a seated position, extend your legs out in front of you. Draw your sitting bones back or sit on a cushion so you can sit up tall. Hug your legs together, root them into the floor and flex your feet. Then lengthen up through your spine and fold over your legs, taking hold of wherever you can reach. On each inhalation lengthen through the spine, and on each exhalation fold a little deeper.
Close the eyes and relax here. Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths.

3. Breath

There are some great breathing exercises (pranayama, as they are called in Sanskrit) that can help encourage purification of the mind and body. One of the most effective for this purpose is a technique called Kapalabhati. This breathing exercise builds heat in the body to aid elimination of toxins and waste from the system.

Find a comfortable seat and begin inhaling and exhaling through the nose.  Focus on the belly and as you exhale begin to encourage a shorted more dynamic exhalation, and a passive longer inhalation. Sometimes it helps to place one hand on your belly button to encourage this drawing in of the navel on the exhalation. A quick contraction of the abdominals draws the belly back, pushing air up and out of the lungs, and the inhalation is a natural rebound effect, drawing fresh air back into the lungs and releasing the belly into your hands. Repeat this pumping action for a few rounds, and then go back to a normal breath for a few rounds before finishing. This pumping action is great for stimulating the digestion, as well as waking up the mind and body and brightening your day.

If you’d like more tips on how yoga can support your healthy lifestyle, why not try private yoga sessions with Natasha, where she can offer the perfect yoga practice to support your needs.

Natasha Moutran is the founder of Mata Yoga & The Retreat Collection.

For more advice or to book a bespoke package contact

PLEASE NOTE: These exercises are not recommended if you are pregnant or have any health concerns or injuries.