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Hello <<First Name>>  Rosemary Conley CBE

As we enjoy more sunshine, blue skies and rising temperatures it is lovely to dig out our summer clothes from last year, but as we try them on there is always the worry that our body shape might have changed since they were last worn! Even if we have stayed active, we probably exercised differently because of the restrictions of the last 12 months.  But things are looking up and now is the perfect time to kick-start some new healthy habits.

Do you want to lose weight?
For many, a few lbs might have crept on, so now is the ideal time to take action. If we put our mind to it, we can all lose a few lbs without too much effort. We know when we are over-eating or eating the wrong foods or drinking too much alcohol. We don’t need a diet book to tell us that, but sometimes we need some boundaries set out for us to follow. We also know that if we have stopped exercising, we will shed weight and inches faster if we get out there and become more active every day.

In 2015 I wrote The 3-2-1 Diet and we have managed to buy more stock from my publishers so if you are interested you will find it in our Shop. This weight-loss plan is based on the principles of the 5:2 diet but it is more relaxed. For others, The 28-Day Immunity Plan, which I wrote last year with Mary Morris, is proving to be very successful and life-changing for those who follow it – but it is stricter than The 3-2-1 Diet.   You can find out more if you watch my short explanatory videos in the shop. You will also find out much more about The 28-Day Immunity Plan if you go to the Boosting Immunity section of the website and watch the various videos describing how it works. 

Years ago, I remember saying to a journalist during an interview, ‘When I’m 80 I think I will take myself off to a desert island and eat chocolate and drink anything I want and not care what I look like!’ Now, with only a little over five years before I become an octogenarian, I think of my life very differently. I treasure every day that I’m alive and I know that being a healthy weight, reasonably fit, and really busy every day is a much better place to be than gorging myself and having nothing to do on an island!


Do take a look at two new how-to-cook videos which have been added to the website today. My special recipe for Spaghetti Bolognese shows how you can cut back on the calories whilst increasing the nutrients without anyone knowing! As well as the film of me cooking this great family favourite I've also featured it below as my Recipe of the Week.
Ever since I wrote my low-fat Hip & Thigh Diet 35 years ago, I have advocated Dry-Roast Sweet Potatoes and Dry Roast Parsnips as a way to save loads of unnecessary fat and numerous unwanted calories. They are delicious! Have a look at the video to watch how I prepare and cook them. 
Per Serving: 85kcal 1g fat
Prep time 5 mins
Cooking time 40-50 mins
Sweet potatoes are more nutritious than normal old potatoes and taste delicious dry-roasted. Allow one medium (150g) sweet potato per person. Peel and chop in half, or into quarters if larger.
You can dry roast parsnips in exactly the same way. Just top and tail and peel each parsnip, cutting off the narrow end to 3 cms. and leave that piece whole. Chop the top half into halves or quarters depending on the size.
  1. Place in water with a vegetable stock cube and bring to the boil. Cook for five minutes then remove with a slotted spoon and place on a non-stick baking tray.
  2. Cook without fat at the top of the oven for 40-50 minutes.


Last week Mary looked at upper body strength and encouraged you to do the Arm Curl test to compare your muscle strength against the scientific norms. This week Mary is concentrating on upper and lower body flexibility.
Mary's Weekly Challenge

How capable are you of reaching down to pick something off the floor or up to the top shelf of a high cupboard? Or perhaps fastening a zip on the back of a dress? All these actions require you to have a fair amount of flexibility in the body and that is what we are going to focus on this week.

The true definition of flexibility is the ‘Range of Movement’ around a joint (your ROM) and this can easily be tested according to your age for both your upper body and lower body.  These tests are demonstrated in our video in the Ageing Well - Exercise section of the website (or go to p 273 of The 28-Day Immunity Plan book for the description of the testing procedure.)

I remember when teaching aerobic classes in the 80s and early 90s, as we were becoming much more aware of the importance of stretching, that some class members would actually leave the room at the start of the flexibility section saying it is too slow and boring!  Thankfully, we are much more enlightened these days yet many of us probably still do not stretch often enough or long enough to give us the full benefits.

 There are many reasons why stretching regularly is so good for us:

•       It improves our ability to carry out everyday tasks

•       It encourages good posture:  Regularly stretching the back of the thighs (hamstrings) aids good alignment of the pelvis. Stretching the chest muscles (pectorals) is good for our shoulder alignment.

•       It reduces aches and pains particularly as we get older.  Soft tissue becomes less 'elastic' as we age, increasing even further the need for regular stretching.

•       It reduces muscle soreness after exercise encouraging relaxation and good blood flow to post-exercise 'tight' muscles.

•       Stretching reduces our risk of injury and helps us to recover more quickly when we are injured.

Some people are naturally more flexible than others but no matter where our start point is, it will definitely improve when practised regularly. 

For this week’s challenge I am encouraging you to test your upper and lower body flexibility both at the start of the week and again at the end. If you find you are scoring below average on the charts according to your age then by practising the test as well as doing the six stretches mentioned below, you will undoubtedly improve your ROM by the end of the week.  Give it a go!


1.     Buddy-up to Test your Flexibility
To fulfill these two tests you need some assistance in measuring and you will need a ruler.  Ideally do the tests after going for a walk with your buddy.  This will help your muscles to be warm and therefore more pliable. Before you begin find the DIY Fitness Test video (on the Boosting Immunity - Exercise page) and click on the fourth marker on the video timer to take you straight to Fitness Test 4 - Seated Reach/Back Hand Reach. Watch the video (or refer to p273 in The 28-Day Immunity Plan book) to see what you have to do. Then do Fitness Test 4 and see how many inches (plus or minus) you can reach. Record your results in a notebook or on the chart at the back of the book and date it.

2.      Walk every day for a minimum of 30 minutes. Go for longer if you can and vary your routes to help you stay motivated. Start timing yourself as a way of picking up some speed.

3.      Flexibility Practise
After you return from your daily walk each day practise the two stretch tests with both legs and both arms in a quiet place away from distractions and take your time over each stretch.  Hold each one for a minimum of 10 seconds and up to 30 seconds. Just try to gently reach a little further each day without straining.

4.      This Week’s Flexibility Workout
If you can, each day try to do the stretches from the Advanced Whole Body Strength Programme (they start 12 minutes 12 seconds in) or Post Workout or Walk Stretches to help your general level of flexibility.

5.      Test Yourself Again!
At the end of the week get together with your buddy to repeat Fitness Test 4 - Seated Reach/Back Hand Reach to see if you can improve on your previous score. Note down your result and compare! 

Here are the standard norms depending on your age and fitness.

Fitness Test 4 – Seated Reach
(No. of inches short of (-) or beyond (+) the toes)
Age Group 60+ Female 60+
Excellent +5 +3.5 +3.5 +2.53 +3 +1.5 +1 -0.5
Above Average +3 +1.5 +2.5 +1 +1 -0.5 +0.5 -2.5
Average +1.5 0.0 +1 -0.5 +0.5 -2.5 -2 -4
Below Average 0.0 -1.5 -0.5 -2.5 -1.5 -4.5 -3.5 -5.5
Needs Practice -2 -4.5 -1 -5 -3.5 -7 -6 -8
Fitness Test 4 –Back Hand Reach
(No. of inches short of touching (-) or overlap (+) of the fingers)
Age Group 60+ Female 60+
Excellent +1.5 0.0 +1 -1 0.0 -2 -1 -4
Above Average 0.0 -2 -1 -3 -1.5 -4 -3 -6
Average -1.5 -4 -2 -5 -3 -6 -5 -8
Below Average -2.5 -6 -3.5 -7 -4.5 -8.5 -7 -10
Needs Practice -3 -8 -4 -10 -5 -11 -7.5 -12
Recipe of the Week

This recipe is adapted from my Secrets of Staying Young book published in 2011 in which I share all my hints and tips on looking good, feeling great, and staying slim as the years pass. 


This recipe freezes well and the quantities are ideal for you to batch-cook and freeze the remaining portions.

Serves 6
Per serving 390 calories, 2% Fat (8.9g)
Prep time 10 mins
Cook time 30 mins


400g lean minced beef
1 teaspoon Easy-Garlic or two cloves, crushed
1 large onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1 beef stock cube (optional)
2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 x 340g jar Tomato and Basil pasta sauce
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
52g (dry weight) spaghetti per person
1 vegetable stock cube
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh herbs, to garnish

  1. Preheat a large non-stick pan. Add the minced beef and dry fry until it starts to change colour.
  2. Remove the mince from the pan and wipe the fat out of the pan with kitchen roll. Return the meat to the pan, add the garlic and onion and continue cooking for a further 2-3 minutes stirring well. Add the grated carrot and crumble the beef stock-cube over the top. Add the tomatoes, puree and chopped fresh basil, then mix well to allow the stock cube to dissolve. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, add the Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces and season generously with the black pepper. Cover with a lid and continue to cook for 30 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil with the vegetable stock cube. Add the spaghetti and cook for 12 – 15 minutes until the spaghetti is cooked but slightly firm in the centre. Drain through a colander.
  4. Arrange the spaghetti on a warmed plate and pour the sauce on top. Garnish with fresh basil.
For more recipes click here to visit the website

Did you know...


If you push your shopping trolley with your hands underneath facing up on the handle instead of facing down, you will immediately feel what a great exercise it is for your posture!

This is a great tip for an exercise for your posture from Physiotherapist Judith Pitt-Brooke.

I tried it yesterday and it is amazingly effective!

And Finally,

It takes effort to exercise and it takes discipline not to over-eat but persistence wins the day because if we never give up working toward a fit and healthy body, an active mind and a positive outlook, we will enjoy a longer, healthier and happier life. Trust me - it will all be worth it!

With love and best wishes,

Rosemary Conley CBE DL


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