Happiness, Health, Review

A Love Letter to: Bodyism

I’m not what some may call, a huge “foodie”. I don’t get excited about swanky new restaurants or Michelin Star chef’s. I’d state Whole Foods and my mums kitchen’s as my all time favourite eateries, and I let out a sigh of relief when my flatmate asks, “Shall we cook a big dinner tonight?”

But while walking in my fabulous neighbourhood last week, I noticed a place which conjured excitement within me mostly reserved for upcoming American Horror story seasons and mama’s vegan Banfoffe pie: the Bodyism cafe. I don’t know how I’d missed it.

I recognised the name straight away; I have been an avid follower of James Duigan and the Clean and Lean cookbooks since the start of my healthy living obsession in 2011. If you haven’t heard of James – where have you been? – you’ll most certainly have heard of his clientele; the wellness guru is the highly acclaimed personal trainer of Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Lara Stone and Elle Macpherson. Along with his unworldly beautiful wife Christiane and a team full of experts, he has developed the Bodyism Clean and Lean concept: not a fad diet or patronising unobtainable rule book, but a positive philosophy which is more of an empowering movement than a food and fitness guideline.

 Clean and Lean has a simple philosophy: Be kind to yourself.

Along with a range best selling cookbooks, Bodyism London, a state-of-the-art members club was opened in late 2015, ‘revolutionising the wellbeing experience’. Boasting a perfect team of top performance coaches and fat loss specialists, it is a space designed to help their clients ‘realise their physical and mental potential’. Within the club is the the Bodyism cafe; a hidden treasure, but gratefully easy to access and enjoy, as soon as you enter.

So, last Tuesday, I woke my flatmate up like a spoilt child and pleaded that we wrap up warm and go for brunch at Bodyism. It didn’t take much persuasion.

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As I stepped through the door I felt transported from rainy Westbourne Grove. The tranquil atmosphere is immediately calming; whether it’s due to the warm lighting, clean interiors and greenery, or the very inviting, bright and friendly cafe team, the welcome was similar to the one I receive after turning my keys in the family front door – if my family lived in Australia, and not a seaside town in Essex. Whatever it may be, it’s clear that the principles of the Clean and Lean lifestyle have manifested within the energies of the Bodyism cafe and club. It almost seemed as if I’d travelled out of London in a matter of seconds, only reminded that I was in fact minutes from Notting Hill Gate when I looked out the front window.

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I’d checked out the menu online before I arrived, which being very informing and detailed,  was nothing compared to the knowledge of the team – with no hesitation, they replied to my quizzing of food and products available. As someone with specific, sometimes difficult intolerances, I often find eating out tedious, forever holding the fear that the staff don’t really know what they’re selling, resulting in a unhappy tummy by the time I leave. But here, I trusted them completely. I had faith in my order before it even reached the counter.

That was, after ten minutes of whittling down my order. I went in with the intention of ordering a savoury meal and perhaps a smoothie, but at the risk of sounding cliche, it really was so hard to chose from the wide range of food available. It all sounded delicious, muddling my senses so that my ears could taste. After much deliberation, I decided on the Pancakes (it was Shrove Tuesday, after all), the Protein Boosting Paleo Slice topped with almond butter, the Nourish Me acai bowel, the Berry Burn shake, and a Clean and Lean Cookie. That really was hard enough…

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Instagram worthy #brunchgoals

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Controversial, I know – but I’m not a big lover of pancakes, and would never make my own on Shrove Tuesday. I did mention this when they were recommend to me, but, you know, the whole taste buds in my ears thing… Anyway, I’ll be honest, I was expecting disappointment. What I experienced could only be described as an orgasm in my mouth. They were without a doubt, the best pancakes I have ever eaten (sorry mum). As I ordered, I actually said, “If I don’t finish this, can I take it home in a doggy bag?” (I love that expression). Oh, what a fool I was! I inhaled the whole thing. My brain switched off for a minute or two in pure pleasure, until I attempted to scoop the bottom if the plate. Please, Bodyism, may I ‘av some more?

Buckwheat Pancakes: coconut milk + organic egg + buckwheat flower + berries + coconut oil + maple syrup + almond butter + cottage cheese

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After the inhalation of the pancakes, I doubted that my little stomach could manage the acai bowel – who am I trying to fool? I ADORE acai bowels. They are my favourite comfort food because they are oh so comforting and happy and delicious yet not unhealthy – Bodyism’s acai bowels aren’t just not-unhealthy, they are actually nourishing, metabolism boosting, and will flush out toxins and alkalise the body.

‘Nourish Me’ Bowl: Acai + Body Brilliance + granola + organic berries + almond butter + hemp seeds

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It’s very rare that I eat bread, and when I do my favourite is Pumpernickel. So I thought I’d try something different: introducing the Protein Boosting Paleo Slice. I topped mine with almond butter to continue with the sweet theme. It was melt-in-your-mouth-grainy-perfection, and I wasn’t left with the usual heavy bloat sludge after other breads.

Protein Boosting Paleo Slice: almonds, eggs, coconut flour, flax seed, pumpkin seeds, virgin coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, coconut nectar, sea salt

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Admittedly, I was now happy and satisfied. So satisfied that I had to loosen my belt. So, I took the cookie home with me. Later that evening, I dipped it into an Earl Grey tea with soy milk. When I was young I was a biscuit fiend, and cut them out completely when I went health mad, at risk of overindulging. Biting into this cookie was like looking at a childhood photo album, or reminiscing family holidays at a dinner table. Biscuits, how i’ve missed your sweet crumbly deliciousness! I wanted to weep when I’d swallowed the last mouthful. But instead, I made my flatmate promise she’d buy me another on her travels the next day.

SOMEHOW, how on Earth I do not know, this cookie is made only of lovely, nutritious things, and is completely gluten free AND vegan (and comes in the cutest little cookie bag. Although, I did forget to breathe for a minute while eating this cookie, so probably very appropriate advice).

Clean and Lean Cookies: oats, coconut flour, raw chocolate, coconut oil, coconut palm sugar, vanilla, egg, Himalayan salt, baking soda

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The Berry Burn shake was the perfect finisher to the perfect Brunch. So good, I forgot to take a photo of the actual shake: it was a beautiful rich red and the texture was incredibly thick and creamy without being sickly.

Berry Burn shake: mixed berries, goji berries, coconut water

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Also available to buy is a wide range of amazing supplements. The whole team were so helpful in explaining everything you need to know about them. It’s clear that this isn’t just a job to them – they really are so passionate about the products and food that they are offering. If makes such a difference to the usual boredom portrayed in other cafes and restaurants. Bodyism really is a lifestyle.

I was genuinely sad to end our brunch and leave Bodyism, but not before I signed up for information of their countless classes, with a promise that I would return very soon. I really could eat there every day.

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Check out Bodyism and see (and taste) why it’s my new favourite place to eat!

Clean and Lean Cafe

222-224 Westbourne Grove W11 2RH

Monday – Friday: 7am – 6pmSaturday and Sunday: 8am – 5pm

www.bodyism.com

@cleanandlean / @bodyism / @_theluckyleo

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Advice, Happiness

Comparison: the cruelest attack on oneself.

989a02cc13f76d2346a4b64c4b0de2e4Insecurities can eat you up like a parasite, until you’re nothing but an anxious shell of what you once were. Trust me, I’ve been there, along with a huge number of young women I personally know.

Living in the best city in the world has it’s downfalls: there’s an unworldly beauty starring down at you from every billboard and up at you at every magazine stand. Throw in being a model: those unreal women become very real indeed when they’re sitting beside you at a casting or appearing on your Instagram newsfeed. (Or, if you’re me, going clothes shopping only to realise the girl modelling them is your ex’s new girlfriend. This wasn’t even an isolated incident…)

Being confident in yourself in one thing. But once you start comparing yourself to others, it’s difficult to stop, as there will always be someone to compare yourself too. The world is getting smaller. Years ago, the only people we could compare ourselves to were class mates, family members and perhaps the untouchable girls on the magazine covers (who, of course, aren’t real people) But then the internet (and within it, social media) came along and presented to us the prettiest girls in every high school, in every area of every city, and opened up the flood gates in what is now an infinite ocean of faces, bodies, features and accomplishments to compare our own to.

But why do we care so much about being pretty? What is it with pretty? How about being pretty kind? Pretty smart? Pretty honest? Pretty funny? Pretty independent? 

I happen to know a young lady who is absolutely stunning. She turns one hundred heads per street, has thousands of Instagram followers and just so happens to be a successful international super model. Yet, the same woman has confided in me that she feels “too ugly” to model, as the fashion industry (the perfectionism, rejection, emphasis on physical appearance) has over time absolutely destroyed her confidence. She has been forced to compare herself to others for years. There is no one that looks quite like her, so it’s not hard to see how she is forced to compare herself to girls with a completely different look. But that’s the whole point. She doesn’t look like anyone you’ve ever seen before. Therefore, she’s shockingly gorgeous. There is only one version of her in the whole world. She is completely unique, like a rare precious stone. But to her… it’s a different story.

This both saddens me and gives me hope. Because, if this beautiful creature can look amazing while feeling rubbish, there’s hope for us all. But self perception is the most important thing of all. All that matters, if how you see yourself. Women are like flowers: there are many colours, shapes, sizes, smells, each intriguing in their own way.

All flowers are beautiful. You may prefer a rose to a sunflower, but somewhere not so far away there will be someone who prefers sunflowers. And that’s looks alone.

There are a thousand ways how someone can be beautiful: Warmth, charisma, good health, kindness. The way someone speaks, the way someone moves, what people say. These things are true beauty.

Adams Family Actress Anjelica Huston once told super model Erin O’Connor, “You’ll never be pretty but you’ll always be magnificent”. Later, when asked about Huston’s comment, O’Connor said, “That was something someone said to her once and she passed it on to me. It wasn’t some big statement, it was just kind of, ‘Here’s a theory for you, honey, and it will get you through your life.'” But how did it feel to be someone who makes their living from their looks being told they weren’t pretty? “Well, it happened to her, so it was her experience,” she insists.

You will never be someone else. You can get all the surgery in the world, but you will still be you, at the core. You don’t have to be pretty like her, or like them. You can be pretty like you. And that’s the easiest, most freeing thing in the world.

You attract the energy you give off, so spread beautiful energies that people will want to surround themselves with, and that you will be content living within. Feeling confident and sure of ourselves makes us feel amazing about our choices and drives us to live and think in a more positive way. Period. In tern, those of us who are confident without a doubt appear more attractive than those that are insecure.  They radiate strength, passion, and in term, beauty. 

“Confidence is not “they’ll think I’m pretty.” Confidence is “I love my inner self too much to care.”

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