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Rosemary Conley CBE

I find wearing a FitBit immensely motivational and it definitely encourages me to move more. Going for my early morning 30-minute walk gets me off to a tremendous start each day for many reasons – not just adding 4,000 steps to my daily tally before 8 o’clock but it makes me feel better physically and mentally too.

Having been struggling for a few days with sneezing and coughing (not COVID), last weekend I had to give in. My cold had decided to get the better of me and I felt really rough. I had to cancel my Monday fitness classes that I love teaching, and ask hubby to walk the dogs because I just had no energy and felt I wanted to stay indoors. Thankfully, I feel fighting fit again now and yesterday took the dogs for our early morning walk once again. I had really missed it. Inevitably my daily step count had dropped dramatically for six days and my daily total was way off my 10,000 step goal which normally I beat without any difficulty. And this made me think.

Mary always suggests we all take a 30-minute walk every day. As well as adding some steps to our fitness tracker, and burning some extra calories of course, our half-hour walk does loads more for our health. It is exercising our heart and lungs, helping the bones in our legs to stay strong, keeping our leg muscles (big engines) fitter as well as mobilising our hips, knees and ankles with every step we take, preventing them from seizing up and getting creaky. The benefit to our general health by making the effort to walk for 30 minutes every day is the very best ‘medicine’ we can give ourselves to make us fitter, healthier and happier - and it’s free!

I wonder what is the most rewarding present you have ever given or received?

Little did I know the pleasure that a bird table with several bird feeders to hang from it would bring to my hubby Mike a few years ago. When he first set it all up it didn’t take long for the birds to find it. It was as though the bird community had put up a notice in the wood nearby to say ‘Hey, there’s a new Aldi just opened for us in the garden next door!’ We have SO many birds visit every day that Mike has to buy bird food by the sack! Blue tits, blackbirds, robins and a family of Woodpeckers are just a few of the types of bird that visit and it is enchanting and entertaining to watch.

Recipe of the Week

Low-Fat Christmas Pudding (v)

This simple pudding is so easy to make and tastes even better than traditional recipes which contain suet making them much higher in fat. It is also suitable for vegetarians. Steaming gives a nicer, more moist pudding but the microwave method is also good. If you wish, you can soak the fruit in the brandy or rum and leave it overnight. You can make this Christmas pudding two weeks (or more) in advance to maximise the flavours. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of brandy or rum each week leading up to Christmas.

Low-Fat Christmas Cake
Serves 10
Per serving 280 kcal/2.5g fat
Preparation time 20 mins
Cooking time:
Microwave 15 - 20 mins
Steaming 3 hours to cook, 2 hours to re-heat

84g (3oz) currants
84g (3oz) sultanas
112g (4oz) raisins
84g (3oz) glacé cherries, halved
84g (3oz) plain or self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
56g (2oz) fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
56g (2oz) dark brown sugar
2 tsps gravy browning
grated zest of 1⁄2 lemon
grated zest of 1⁄2 orange
112g (4oz) grated apple
112g (4oz) carrots, finely grated
4 tbsps brandy or rum
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs, beaten
4 tbsps semi-skimmed milk
2 tbsps black treacle or cane sugar syrup
extra 4 tbsps rum or brandy for reheating

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients and all the wet ingredients in 2 separate bowls. Mix together and add the beaten egg.         
  2. Continue mixing until all the ingredients are combined. 
  3. Pour the mixture into a 1.2 litre (2 pint) pudding basin and cover with aluminium foil if steaming (not if microwaving). 
  4. Place in a steamer (or in a large saucepan with a smaller lid placed downwards in the pan, or on a heat-proof plate turned upside-down, upon which the bowl will stand) and cook, covered, for 3 hours.
  5. If microwaving the pudding, place an upturned plate over the basin and microwave on full power for 5 minutes. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then microwave for a further 5 minutes.
  6. After cooking, allow the pudding to cool, then wrap in aluminium foil or place in an air-tight container and leave in a cool, dry place until required.
  7. To reheat the pudding, steam for 1–2 hours,  or microwave for 10 minutes.
  8. When cooked, run a knife around the edge of the basin, turn out onto a serving plate and drizzle with brandy or rum. Serve with low-fat Greek yogurt mixed with a tablespoon of brandy or rum. (optional)

There are loads of traditions and myths around Christmas Pudding, including that "it should be prepared with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and the 12 apostles, and that every family member should stir it in turn from east to west to honour the Magi and their journey in that direction". 

Another says that it became popular in 1714 when the King (George I) requested that plum pudding be served as part of his royal feast in his first Christmas in England. 

In the Victorian era 'Stir up Sunday' became a popular idea as the collect prayer for the Sunday before Advent in the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer begins with the words "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people;" and this led to the custom of preparing and stirring Christmas puddings on that day.

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Fun, Facts & Fitness from Mary Morris MSc.

As each year draws to a close we will no doubt reflect on the year just gone.  Well, the last two years have been far from normal and there is no doubt that it makes us think a lot about how healthy we are in order to prevent the kind of severe illness that has befallen so many.  Health is defined as 'a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity'.  So, our aim always is to do our best to avoid becoming ill and to feel good both physically and mentally as well as to live our lives to the full. 

So how do you think you rate on the 'health' score?  Not bad, I reckon, as for a start you subscribe to our newsletter, which means you do put a value on your health and if you act upon just a handful of suggestions that we offer on our website then you are on the right road.  You may not always feel you do enough (me included folks!) but think of what changes you have made this year that have contributed to better health and build on those right from the very start of the New Year. We hope 2022 will be your year to achieve the best of health.

I listened to a revealing interview with Australian actress and comedienne Rebel Wilson this week on the fact that during lock-down she felt the need to finally focus on her health having reached the ripe old age of 40! She has made millions of dollars as a very overweight award-winning celebrity but has found that her weight loss journey has attracted so much more attention than all the rest of her career.  Why? Because others are hugely inspired by that incredible feat as we all know how hard it can be. She has now lost 5 stone and looks and feels truly amazing. Rebel knew her weight would eventually seriously affect her health.

When Rosemary and I started our careers in the health and fitness industry the emphasis was almost entirely on how we 'look' in terms of our weight and shape.  But I am happy to say that I am confident that a big shift has occurred across all age groups, with people focussing much more now on their health and how we 'feel' both mentally and physically.

Exercise plays a HUGE part in our overall health and well-being.  Regular exercise is more important than ever in the modern world as technology has meant we are so much more sedentary than we have ever been. 

In my job I always recognise immediately those people that are trying hard to combat a slothful lifestyle:

  • They are wearing a fitness tracker like a FitBit, so they are very clear on just how active each day has been.
  • When out walking they move with purpose and are clearly using it as an exercise session.  I often beep my horn at them and put a thumbs up out the window!
  • They talk about their health and look for advice from others.
  • They are inquisitive about what might improve their health further.

Start thinking NOW what you will do in the New Year to ensure the very best of health.  In the meantime, enjoy this festive time and relax with family and friends... the very best medicine!

This Week's Fitness Challenge

  1. Every day this week and at every opportunity put on some Christmas music and create your own 'Kitchen Disco'.  Your step count and calorie burn will go through the roof!
  2. Use one of Rosemary's exercise DVDs 3 times this week if you can, OR select three exercise programmes from the website. Perhaps Pilates, Standing Weights Workout or the Floor Weights Workout, and the Seated Strength Workout. If you have been inspired by Strictly Come Dancing you could ask someone to buy you one of Rosemary’s Salsacise DVDs from our Shop.
  3. Keep up those 30 minute walks every day.  Wrap up warm and look like you are on a mission! Imagine me passing you by and how impressed I'd be!
  4. Wrapping presents this week?  Stand up to do it and you will burn double the calories.

And Finally...

Have a wonderful week and enjoy preparing for Christmas. I am optimistic that we will be able to meet up with family and friends this year and make up for the different type of Christmas we all had last year. Stay safe, have fun and keep smiling!

With love and best wishes,

Rosemary Conley CBE DL


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