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Rosemary Conley CBE

When the going gets tough, the tough get going!  Not only are these words from a well-known song, but it is also a phrase that epitomises the challenges faced by many who live in the North of the UK this week. With frightening gales, fallen trees, cuts in electricity and freezing temperatures, it has been an unbelievably tough time for those who have been affected. Thankfully, and incredibly, in times of crisis we are designed to dig deep and survive, often ‘growing’ in character from the challenges that we face in our lifetime.

A perfect example of such fortitude became so evident when this week we heard of the sad passing of Formula One icon Sir Frank Williams, aged 79. In 1986, Frank Williams became a quadriplegic after being involved in a road traffic accident and would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. After defying death and surviving many weeks in a coma and months of rehabilitation, Frank Williams bounced back to head up one of the most successful and respected F1 teams and is described as ‘one of the nicest people in Formula One’. He never gave up, no matter how great the challenges that were presented to him. He wanted to be a winner – and he most certainly was!

I think we can all be inspired by those who show such extraordinary strength and fortitude. In our own lives, whether we are aiming to become fitter or lose a few lbs, we must try not to fall into the trap of making excuses and putting it off for another day. Let’s treasure every day right now and live each one to the full and enjoy it. It is in our power to make the effort to be as healthy as we possibly can. A good place to start is by taking ourselves off for a brisk walk in the cold and appreciating the warmth as we step back into our cosy home afterwards. The great bonus is that when we walk in really cold weather, we burn loads of extra calories!

This week we had a fun day filming some Christmas and New Year recipes that will be appearing over the next few weeks in our Newsletter. In this edition I show you how you can make your own super-healthy mincemeat which tastes yummy, is easy to make, and is fat-free and full of fibre and goodness.

Recipe of the Week

Spicy Fat-Free Mincemeat

This easy-to-make healthy alternative to regular mincemeat is deliciously light. By comparison, an average 1lb jar of shop-bought mincemeat contains 1,300 calories and 50g fat!

Low-Fat Christmas Cake
Makes 450g (1lb)
Per 450g (1lb) 775 kcal/1.1g fat
Preparation time 5 mins
Cooking time 25 mins

 150g (5oz) cooking apples, grated
225g (8oz) mixed dried fruit
1⁄2 tsp mixed spice
150ml (1⁄4 pint) sweet cider
2 tbsps brandy, whisky or rum

  1. Place the grated apples and the dried fruit in a saucepan. Add the mixed spice and cider. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the mixture forms a pulp and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  2.  Stir in your choice of spirit. Allow to cool.
  3. When cool, pack the mincemeat in sterilised jars and store in the refrigerator until required. The mincemeat will keep in a refrigerator for 4 months. Once opened, use within one week.

The origins of the mince pie are traceable to the 13th century when returning European crusaders brought with them Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits, and spices.  Mince pies, at Christmastide, were traditionally shaped in an oblong shape, to resemble a manger and were often topped with a depiction of the Christ child. Typically the ingredients were a mixture of minced meat, suet, and a range of fruits, and spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. By the 1800s the recipe had become sweeter and the size of the pies markedly reduced. Today the mince pie, usually made without meat (but often including suet or other animal fats), remains a popular seasonal individual treat.

For more recipes click here to visit the website

Fun, Facts & Fitness from Mary Morris MSc.

I overheard a conversation recently between two slim, fit and very healthy older ladies that has inspired my subject for this week.
At the risk of sounding like a nosey busybody (which I am a bit!) I jumped in to join the conversation.  It transpired that one of the ladies was hugely affronted when an acquaintance recently had suggested that her being slim and fit was based on luck and that she was naturally in good shape.  Now, this lady puts effort in every day to be the way she is and it is a habit so deeply entrenched within her that she will continue that way for as long as she is able.  The dictionary defines luck as 'the things that happen by chance, by accident and without design'.  So, we decided through our conversation, that there is no such thing as luck and that you only become slim, fit and healthy, by design, and not by chance or accident! You achieve it because you put it high on your list of life's priorities. 
However, let's not be too harsh on this person who probably, over many years, has tried to reach that same state of regular commitment without much success.  They too understand the importance to their health and fitness but, somehow, reaching it eludes them.  For some, it's just too hard.  Many things stop that happening for lots of people, such as feeling too tired to get moving, (the most common reason) or their head is just not in the right place. I guess we all know someone who says something like this.  They genuinely find committing to a regular walking and exercise programme a real struggle.  So here are a few tips that might help:

  • If you regularly feel tired mentally then being physical can be a massive help.  Your head will then be in a better place and amazingly, using energy leaves you feeling energised!
  • Take small ‘bites’ of moving more.  The new trendy name for it is 'exercise snacking'. If time is a genuine limiting factor, simply break your day up into ‘bite-size exercise’ that takes just a few minutes of getting up and moving.  Make a rule that all phone conversations for example are done standing up!
  • Don't set unrealistic targets.  Not only might you get injured, but it is also almost guaranteed that you cannot keep it up and you will stop completely... again!
  • Exercise must not be a chore!  Please find something that inspires you to move.  A fab teacher who makes an exercise class lots of fun, or a happy group of 'buddies' that inspires you to go walking, makes exercise truly enjoyable.
  • For the more 'formal’ exercise such as strength training (which might feel like a chore!) try to be motivated by the HUGE contribution it makes to your body and staying younger!

This Week's Fitness Challenge

  1. Walk for 30 minutes every day. If a bit of weight loss before Christmas is your goal, then make your daily walk an early morning walk on 3 days this week. If you spend energy before you eat breakfast then you will burn proportionately more body fat as your body is low on Glycogen (carbohydrates). 
  2. There are many short videos on the website that are very effective and only take up a minimal amount of time.  Select the Seated Strength Workout if you are starting from scratch or choose either the Standing Weights Workout or the Floor Weights Workout and do at least one of them 3 times this week.
  3. If you have not tried the Balance Exercises yet, then try to do it every day for this week.  It is short but highly effective in using muscles in a different way from normal exercises!

And Finally...

As we work hard to prepare for Christmas, be sure to wear your pedometer or FitBit and be motivated by how many steps you manage to take each day. The run-up to Christmas is always a winner on the scales as we don’t seem to stop!

Have a wonderful week and stay warm.

With love and best wishes,

Rosemary Conley CBE DL


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