One of the key elements to succeeding in the transition to a new lifestyle is discovering new, better things while discarding the old habits you’d rather do without. Again, this last few weeks have been jam packed with trying things I’ve either never tried or never even heard of, from food and places to eat out to new forms of exercise to fuel my day.
The highlights of this month have included my discovery of some amazing vegan places in London, experimenting with natural home-made beauty products, pilates and bee pollen..
Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden London
Oh my! What a little oasis this is amongst a busy concrete jungle! It’s so colourful and green and not to mention bursting with health.. I was literally in heaven. My favourite things here include Neal’s Yard Remedies which sells a variety of natural beauty remedies as well as various health ingredients such as tea, bee pollen, acai powder, cacao etc. I ate lunch at the Wild Food Cafe, a “raw-centric, vegan/vegetarian eatery”, and I could have quite easily eaten my way through the entire menu, it’s the epitome of healthy vegan deliciousness. And the vegan white chocolate and blueberry cheesecake was the best thing I’ve EVER eaten. Next time I visit I’m desperate to try out 26 Grains, which makes the most indulgent, tempting, nut-butter topped, spice infused porridges.. I’m licking my lips just thinking about it!
I’ve only just started out with this, so I can’t 100% vouch for the results, but so far so good. My skin was constantly craving moisture, despite having naturally really oily skin, and my chemical-filled facial toners and moisturisers were just making my skin tighter and giving me spots. I’d had enough of it! I’ve read lots recently about the wonders of natural skincare and decided it was worth giving it a go. After some research about the best natural remedies for my particular skin type and need (Combination oily and spot prone skin) I made myself a face wash and toner. In this odd concoction I included 50% apple cider vinegar as the acidity is supposed to correct the natural acidity of the skin so it can work most efficiently, gel from a 5cm cutting of fresh aloe vera to help with natural healing, a few drops of 100% pure tea tree oil, not only to mask the revolting smell of the vinegar but for it’s antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties. I then added equal amounts of water to vinegar to water it down to a less potent acidity. After trying this on my skin for the first time I couldn’t believe how amazing my skin felt. Unlike my normal toner which makes my skin feel a little too clean, completely lacking in moisture, my skin felt just right. After using this for a few days, and marvelling at the improvement of my skin, I invested in a bottle of organic almond oil to add extra moisture after cleansing, and I adore it now. It doesn’t clog my pores, which is usually a big issue with treating spots, and it’s intensely moisturising but feels incredibly light.
I also had a go at making natural face masks, with avocado, honey and coconut oil, scrubbing it off gently with a little oats and sugar. It felt really good, but I can’t say what difference it made since I only tried it today. But I loved it all the same!
And then there was coconut oil. I usually use body moisturisers from the Body Shop, which I swear by. But they usually sit on my skin until I wash it off, which feels really nice but it obviously means my skin isn’t absorbing it. So I ditched my body butter for 100% coconut oil, which not only smells (and tastes) divine, soaks into my skin brilliantly and leaves my skin baby soft for at least 24 hours. And because it melts when you rub it in your hands, you don’t need to use as much as normal body cream. I love to rub it into my cuticles before I go to sleep to nourish my nails, and once a week it does wonders for my hair when I let it soak into the ends overnight before washing it out in the morning. I won’t use it as a facial moisturiser though as it’s rated as a high pore-clogger, and therefore can cause spots.
I’ve been a regular yogi for a few years now, I love how relaxing it is, as well as the sense of achievement I get from finding I can stretch just a bit further, or do a pose I’ve always struggled with. But I was ready for a change, so swapped my regular yoga class and tried pilates. It’s very similar to yoga, so naturally I loved it, but it’s a bit more like exercise, making it more challenging as I pretend that lowering my legs down with ‘control’ is easy… but that muscular ache the next day is quite rewarding, knowing I’ve worked a new part of my body and next time it will be easier!
Not the same as honey, bee pollen comes in little bright yellow granules and is a highly nutritious super-food packed with 18 vitamins and is a great form of complete vegan protein. I wasn’t too keen on the taste at first, I tried it on porridge and it tastes a bit musty. But then I added it to my Banana smoothie and suddenly it tasted fantastic! It’s worth trying, it’s really quite unique. You can buy just 50g from Neal’s yard to sample here.
If you’ve tried anything new recently that you now love (or hate) comment below as I’d love to hear about it! I will be writing another ‘new discoveries’ instalment next month, documenting my best discoveries in August, who know’s what amazing new things this month holds!