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Rosemary Conley CBE

Ask anyone what is most precious to them and I think most would say ‘their health’. After all, if we become ill nothing else in our life really matters.   Each week Mary Morris and I write this Newsletter with the single goal of helping you, our valued reader, to live longer, healthier and happier, but have you ever considered how you might be able to encourage your loved ones to be healthier too?

With Christmas approaching many of us are desperately thinking of ideas for presents so why not consider gifts that might encourage increased health and greater fitness?

Whether it is fitness-wear or even a football or skipping rope, they can all motivate us to get moving. A cookbook of healthy recipes might even inspire a novice cook into action. Of course, we have several items in our Online Shop that might be well received by a friend or relative who is determined to make a fresh start in 2022 – but whatever you do, please don’t buy them a diet book! At least, not if you still want them to be your friend after Christmas!  

I find my husband, Mike, is the hardest person to buy for. ‘Don’t buy me anything. I don’t need anything’ usually comes the response when I ask what he would like? This has led me to think differently. A couple of years ago I bought something from a charity in his name.... In this little video I explain how I resolved my problem: Now I need to think about this Christmas!

I was asked to become a Patron of Send-a-Cow over 30 years ago when a farmer friend told me how they literally sent a cow to Africa so that it could provide milk and dairy products to help families in rural communities. Ever since I have been touched by how many families the charity reaches and how effective the Charity is in teaching communities how to breed and care for livestock as well as educate them in clever ways to grow crops. These days cows are no longer shipped to Africa but are bred within their own country, along with other livestock like chickens and goats. The milk and eggs they produce feed the families and any surplus is sold to provide much-needed income.

People often complain that healthy food is too expensive – well, this might make you think! Several years ago, Send-a-Cow set us a challenge to live ‘Below the Line’ on £1 a day for two days – typically the daily budget for an adult living in rural Africa. Filmed on my phone, this video shows how I started to create my first day’s menu, (with an unexpected visit from my lurcher, Waise, mid-way!).

Later I cooked my main meal using lots of vegetables and a little rice. I managed to use each tea bag six times and my cheapest source of protein was my pint of milk – which made me realise how very valuable it would be for an African family to have their own cow.

This was my £1-a-day menu for the two days of the ‘Below the Line’ Challenge:

  • Breakfast: Small glass orange juice, porridge made with water served with a little milk and sugar.
  • Lunch: Rice pudding – rice, milk and sugar
  • Dinner: Chunky vegetable soup with rice (potato, carrots, swede, onion, plus 1 vegetable stock cube, rice and water)
  • During the day: 12 cups of tea using just two tea bags.Send a Cow logo

Undertaking such a Challenge certainly made me think and I was grateful for the experience but was very glad when I came to the end of my two days! Go to to find out more.

Wondering what to put on your own Christmas List this year? Or perhaps you’re thinking about the perfect present to buy for someone over 50? Treating them to a Facial-Flex® will be wonderfully received as it really does work in strengthening the facial muscles in just the same way we tone up our body with strength exercises. Helping someone hold on to their youthful looks has to be a welcome present, doesn’t it?

Recipe of the Week

Low-Fat Christmas Cake

If you enjoyed our previous recipe for Kim’s Cake, this Christmas Cake reaches a whole different level of deliciousness!  It tastes less greasy and more fruity than traditional Christmas Cake and benefits from being made at least one week before you intend to serve it. Calories are excluding any icing or marzipan.

Low-Fat Christmas Cake
Makes approximately 20 slices
Per slice 228 kcal/2.8g fat
Preparation time 30 minutes
Cooking time 2 - 2½ hours
225g (8oz) no pre-soak prunes, pitted
115g (4oz) cooking apple, peeled & grated
175g (6oz) dark muscovado sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 lemon and 1 orange, zested
175g (6oz) self-raising flour, sifted
1 tbsp mixed spice
50g (2oz) sunflower seeds
225g (8oz) currants
225g (8oz) sultanas
225g (8oz) raisins
115g (4oz) glacé cherries
120ml (4fl oz) brandy
2 tbsps apricot jam, sieved, to glaze

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C, 325°F, Gas Mark 3. Lightly grease and line a round cake tin (20cm/8in diameter, 7.5cm/3in deep) with greaseproof paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl mix together the prunes and apple. Add the sugar, then beat in the eggs a little at a time.
  3. Press down the mixture to squash the prunes.
  4. Mix in the lemon and orange zest, then carefully fold in the flour, spice, sunflower seeds and fruit.
  5. Gradually stir in the brandy.
  6. Pour into the prepared cake tin.
  7. Using the back of a metal spoon, make a slight dip in the centre to allow for an even top once baked. Bake in the oven for 2 - 2½ hours or until a metal skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool on a wire rack, then remove the greaseproof paper. Glaze by brushing with warmed apricot jam and arrange some cherries or dried fruits on top. Store in an airtight container.
For more recipes click here to visit the website
Burred image of Christmas decorations in street

Most people lose weight in the period up to Christmas as we are so busy! Writing cards, putting up the decorations and buying and wrapping the presents keeps us really active. So, whilst we might grumble that there is so much to do, it all adds up to burning extra calories!

Fun, Facts & Fitness from Mary Morris MSc.

Like Rosemary, I still delight in taking my own weekly classes with my dedicated members who have been with me for decades. I made all my class members smile this week by being SO predictable as to suggest they ask their nearest and dearest to buy them a 'physical' Christmas present.  Something that will make their heart 'sing', if you get my meaning. It was during my Strong and Lean class when I was (once again) urging them to move up to a heavier hand weight, making every exercise they do even more effective.  They just smile back at me, but they know very well that I am just delighted to see them there, exercising their hearts out every week! 

The main point I want to make here is that giving or receiving a gift that has the power to make someone fitter and healthier is the very best gift you can give.  It can be small and inexpensive like a pair of sports socks – but look at the message it gives out......get moving mate!  Or it could be your BIG present for this year because you want to make 2022 your year to get fitter and in the best shape possible.

The most up-to-date fitness trackers (FitBit, Garmin, and so on) are currently being advertised as great Christmas presents and some are not cheap but that regular feedback of important information as to how active you have been is priceless because it is so motivational.  It all comes down to what value you want to put on being fitter and healthier.  An annual membership of a Health Club that is known for its good reputation for looking after its members may be costly but it can improve and transform your life...literally! 

It is impossible to cover the subject of gifts without mentioning the kids of course.  If you are buying for the youngsters then think 'physical' as a first priority, even if it is just a small stocking filler that says that Grandma/Auntie/friend-of-the-family wants you to be as active as possible. Last year I bought each of my granddaughters a fitness-kit-set of top, leggings and socks.  A bit predictable I know from a Grandma who teaches exercise but they absolutely loved it.  I know, because when they opened their presents on Christmas Day, they put them straight on!

A few ideas.......

  • Buy a friend you want to encourage to exercise more, a small but brilliant little present of either a resistance toning band or a balance cushion, both available from our online shop.  It is a start on the road to exercising and covers those important areas of muscle strength and balance.
  • Any item of fitness wear can always be a welcome gift but I suppose you must have some idea that they are open to the possibility of getting fitter to avoid them being offended!
  • For family fun consider the game 'Twister'.  Have you any idea of how physical it is?
  • Consider gift tokens for a local sports shop where they can then choose for themselves what type of activity they would like to take up.
  • Buy a friend an afternoon tea in a lovely little cafe... but tell them you are both going to walk there!

This Week's Fitness Challenge

  1. There are just four weeks to go now before Christmas Eve and that is a perfect length of time to set a weight or fitness goal before the big event.
  2. If possible, set your Christmas shopping around walking. Is it possible to walk to town to shop rather than simply ordering online?
  3. Whether or not you are going to a Christmas party where you need to fit into that favourite dress, do the Standing Weights Workout and/or the Floor Weights Workout 3 times this week.  They really work!
  4. Remember to go for your daily 30-minute walk, keeping up the pace, and try to include an incline at some point.

And Finally...

I’m really excited about Christmas this year but it is so easy to get panicky as we draw closer to the big day. My best tip to ease the stress is to make a list – perhaps many lists – so that we can cross off the jobs and items as we complete them. I find it good for my head and for my soul!

Have a great week!

With love and best wishes,

Rosemary Conley CBE DL


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