How not to be SAD this Winter

November Topic: How not to be SAD this winter. The best recipe to deal with SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder aka the winter blues is to:

Benefits of Cold Water Swimming

What is the obsession with being comfortable all the time? As we evolved, comfort was a rare treat. Stress, cold and the fight for survival were a constant and overcoming these challenges made us human. Living in constant comfort has made us weak and more susceptible to illnesses.

“Without stimulation, the responses that were designed to fight environmental challenges sometimes turn inward and wreak havoc on our insides. An entire field of medical research on autoimmune diseases suggest they originate from fundamental disconnect between the outside world and an understimulated biology.” 

  1. Submerging yourself in cold water releases the stress hormone cortisol, your body has a fight-or-flight reaction. The stress response reduces over time, not just in cold water but also other stressful situations - you increase your tolerance to stress
  2. The stress reaction is suspected to trigger an increase in white blood cell production which boosts your immune system
  3. The 'fight-or-flight' response results in the production of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 and can reduce chronic inflammatory diseases (diabetes, Crohn's, arthritis, psoriasis, depression, ...)
  4. Chatting away with fellow swimmers in the sauna, by the poolside or in the café is a lovely way to connect and socialise
  5. Being in touch and in tune with the seasons, quietly gliding through the pool and properly feeling your body are powerful mindfulness exercises
  6. Triggers the release of dopamine, the feel good hormone - experience the post-swim high
  7. Strong circulatory system
  8. Cold water activates brown fat tissue (a good thing to have; supress the urge to shiver for that to happen) which in turn pulls white fat from your system to keep you warm

Don't want to go alone? Join us every Friday after yoga (leaving here at 11:30am to be at the Lido just before 12pm) or Sunday morning around 8:15am. I will hold your hand, no pressure, and I hate the cold as much as you do. If I can do it, so can you.

Chase the Morning Light & Dim the Evening Light

Align your body clock with the solar day for better sleep and better health.

Bright blue light (sunshine, computers, LED lights) in the morning signals your body clock that the day has begun. Preferably from sunlight, it heightens your overall feeling of well-being, boosts your alertness & reaction time and helps you to sleep in the evening. 

In the evening, bright blue light reduces melatonin production and going to sleep will be harder. Leave overhead lights off and switch off screens well before bedtime.

Exposure to morning light somewhat helps reducing the negative effects of bright evening lights.

More about the science of sunlight this podcast episode with Linda Geddes' and in her entertaining book 'Chasing the Sun'.

Spiced Tomato Baked Eggs with Sweet Potato & Guacamole

Designed to be eaten when you’re feeling a bit down, as it helps keep your protein levels high – vital on gloomy days.

For the baked eggs:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
½ red chilli, deseeded and chopped (use more or less, depending on your preference)
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon paprika (optional)
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 sweet potato, chopped into 2cm chunks
4 eggs

For the guacamole:
1 ripe avocado
Juice of ½ lime
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Dash of olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a shallow pan with a lid and gently soften the onion, garlic and chilli.  Stir in the tomato paste, parsley, paprika, pepper and sweet potato. Simmer for 2 minutes (add a splash more water if necessary) before tipping in the chopped tomatoes.  Cook for another 8-10 minutes, by which point the potatoes and peppers should be softening nicely. The mixture should be the consistency of a thick stew.

Create a little dip in the mixture and crack an egg into it, then do the same with the other 3 eggs. Try to get the 4 eggs evenly spaced out and not too close to the base of the pan, to prevent them from burning.  Put the lid on and let the eggs poach in the stew on a low heat for a further 3-4 minutes. You may want to spoon some of the stew over the eggs to ensure the tops cook properly but take care not to overcook them.

Meanwhile, make the guacamole by mashing the avocado in a bowl and then mixing in the rest of the ingredients.

Recipe from The Happy Kitchen


What is HIIT? What happens in the Yoga | HIIT | Conditionng class? Is it too hard for me?

High Intensity Intervall Training: you do a certain intense cadio exercise (such as Burpees or Jumps) for a short period of time (up to 1min), recover and repeat with another exercise.  Even a short practise will deliver great results: decrease of fat mass, increase of muscle mass and overall fitness.

In class we start with a warm up - sun salutations and stretches. Short intervalls of high-intensity plyometric training to get the heart rate up. We combined this with resistance training using your bodyweight or weights to tone and build up muscles (modifications will be given). Includes specific strengthening of core and glutes which both suffer from prolonged sitting.

After the dynamic part we will stretch the whole body and the final relaxation part (breathing exercises or meditation) will help to calm the nervous system and reduce stress. I will have boiled eggs from our chickens here that will help your muscles to restore and grow.

Is it too hard? If you work with an injury, this class may not be for you. If you don't want to jump, I give always easier options. You will still sweat and reap the benefits. It is a fun class and it will make you feel great.