July was the month that saw the abandonment self-control and I was well and truly off the wagon – but can you blame me? There’s nothing quite like a true British summer that justifies Pimms and rosé in such huge quantities and when it’s always a good idea to indulge in long, al-fresco dinners. The irony of course, is that muffin tops and cellulite are not invited to sit when we want to hike up our hemlines.
But what a month! The rooftop at Shoreditch house was rammed with sun-loving, cocktail-drinking punters and the Ladder Shed at the Chiltern Firehouse seemed to be roaring every night of the week. So whether I slumped out on a Sunday night in jeans and a t-shirt, or in a cocktail dress on Friday, the result was the same: a room filled with cheery people up for having a good time. As if my waist-line and liver weren’t suffering enough, the end of the month marked the biggest celebration on my yearly calendar – my birthday of course, and like any normal woman I fully embrace this as an entire week of dining-out, birthday cake and margaritas – naturally. As fun as it was, when the end of these festivities came the reality was clear: uncomfortable bloating, squeezing into jeans, bad sleep and irritable moods.
Having a good time, it seems, costs your body. So, as the new month begins I decided it was time to give myself a proper beauty MOT. I wanted to say goodbye to my low self-esteem and say hello to a healthier, happier me by the time fashion week started.
Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to work with some excellent nutritionists and fitness specialists, many of whom inspired me to get involved and educate myself through reading and research. After years of trial and error trying every fad diet under the sun, I decided to use the knowledge I’ve acquired over the years to change my body dramatically in two short weeks. With a trip to Ibiza and a bikini situation looming, I knew there was no time like the present to change my eating habits for good.
Healthy eating, an alcohol ban, and participating in all the best exercise classes London has to offer (we are really spoilt for choice by this!) as well as a stint on my favorite juice diet, the Plenish Cleanse, I began my quest to getting beach ready.
Start Weight: 59.8kg
Day 1 – 4:
For the first 3 days I decided to do a straightforward, clean eating plan, free from Gluten, Dairy and Sugar. Seeing as sugar is added to just about all processed food, and sauces, it meant that I needed to stick to organic meat and fish, legumes such as beans and pulses, complex carbohydrates (such as sweet potato) and as many vegetables as I could stomach. To ensure my palette didn’t get bored, I used an array of herbs and spice for seasoning, my favourites being paprika, garlic, ginger and chili. Rather than restricting calories, I simply cut out snacking and stuck to eating 3 meals a day. Contrary to what we have been told in the past, snacking is a no-no if you’re looking to reduce your waistline. This is all due to the fact that each time we eat, we create spikes in our insulin levels, the hormone which encourages our bodies to store fat. So if you really want to trim fat then three meals a day, eaten at consistent times is the key. One nutritionist I saw advised me that we should eat only three times a day within a one hour window – and have at least a 5 hour gap between these times in which we only drink water. It is a little on the extreme side, but it did work, so I tried to apply these principles whenever I could.
I avoided basically all drinks other than water, herbal tea, and one cup of coffee a day. The reason for this is because fizzy drinks are obviously a no-go for a clean and lean dieter, and juice and cordials are literally heaving with sugar – I sometimes think I’m better off eating a small bar of chocolate than I am drinking a glass of Tropicana. I bought a small 300ml ‘freshly squeezed lemonade’ from Tesco’s last month, and was horrified to see that it contained 29g of sugar!!! If you put 29g of pure white sugar in front of us we would never dream of consuming it all, but when it’s hidden in juices and food we consume it without even blinking. So always read the labels! I also switched from cow’s milk in my morning cup of coffee to unsweetened almond milk – I suffer from hives, and cutting out dairy (even in what seems like a small quantity) and switching to almond milk has all but cured me!
Disclaimer: Those with a sweet tooth should be aware that abstaining from sugar can cause withdrawal symptoms. These can include headaches, tiredness and mood swings but usually only last for three days or less. Just five days of going sugar-free can make a phenomenal difference to the way you look and feel, be it more energy, even skin tone and a flatter stomach. Try reading Sweet Nothing by Nicole Mowbray: it will help you understand all the detrimental effects sugar has on your body, why reducing or removing it from our diets is such life-changing benefit and help you on your journey to a sugar-free (or sugar-reduced) lifestyle.
My Typical Food Day:
1 squeezed lemon with a generous sprinkle of Cayenne Pepper, fresh ginger, and warm water to kick start your metabolism
2 eggs with smoked salmon or avocado (Don’t be afraid of good fats – they are essential for fat burning)
Sweet Potato with an array of grilled vegetables
Madeleine Shaw’s Sweet Potato Chips:
Cut sweet potato in chunky slices, cover in coconut oil and sprinkle with paprika and salt. Place on baking tray and put in the oven at 180 degrees for 45 minutes. Delicious and easy!
Baked chicken with baked kale and a tomato and onion salad
Cover chicken in olive oil, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper. Wrap marinated chicken in aluminium foil with whole garlic cloves and half a lemon, and leave in oven at 180 degrees for approx. 20 minutes.
Massage kale with coconut oil, sprinkle salt and chilli flakes and bake in oven for 10 minutes.
Day 5-8: Plenish Cleanse Juice Detox
Pre-Plenish Weight: 58.2kg
All juice detox providers will advise a very clean diet prior to cleansing, so the previous few days was just the ticket to ensure I maximized the cleansing results. I’m a massive advocate of occasional cleanses. Their health benefits are numerous and I think it’s essential to give our digestive systems a break every now, giving it a rest from everything we are constantly throwing at it, so that it can work more efficiently and effectively.
My favorite programme is Plenish Cleanse as they are mostly vegetable based, low in sugar and consistently well rated amongst my other juice loving friends. I have done 4 Plenish Cleanse detoxes over the last year and each time I have seen absolutely unbelievable results.
I have written a detailed juice cleanse diary on my blog before, and spoken about how fantastic the result were and this was no different. The 3-day Plenish Cleanse detox left my stomach flatter, my eyes brighter, and my energy levels were finally soaring and I was finally sleeping well. It really is amazing how much your body can change in just 3 days. I would HIGHLY recommend this to anyone starting a health kick or trying to shift some stubborn pounds.
I’m not going to lie, juice diets are not easy, and they do take some will-power and real motivation. If you do it half-heartedly, it will be hard to fight off those cravings. What amazed me was how much my cravings changed over the 3 days: on the first day all I could think about was red velvet Hummingbird cupcakes (my achilles heel), I was literally salivating at the thought. On the second day it moved to carbohydrates like pizza and pasta, but by the third day I developed a strange obsession with a packet of cooked chicken from Waitrose. Anyway, the cravings do come, but they go relatively quickly too. If you’ve ever tried quitting anything before then you know the drill.
My Top Tips for Juicers:
Don’t Make Any Plans: Whenever I go on a cleanse, I completely clear my schedule. The main reason is because being around people who are eating and drinking can feel sway your will-power and the smell of food alone can make you feel much more hungry than you actually are. The other reason is that when your on a juice cleanse, you are likely to feel a little tired and early nights are definitely the way to go. I like to use these 3 or 5 days not just as a body cleanse, but a mental one too. Use your evenings for some ‘me’ time, get into a good book you’ve meant to get round to starting for a long time whilst soaking in the bath, or catch up on your favourite box set for a perfect Plenish Cleanse evening.
Get Herbal: Go crazy on herbal teas, not only does each one serve a different benefit for the body, helping the cleansing process even more, they add some variety to your palette and are a great soothing guilt-free treat. My favourite brands are Pukka and YogiTea.
Post-Cleanse Weight: 57.4kg
I find the weight really starts to fall off in the 4-5 days after a cleanse. Your body is clean, and your digestion system has been reset meaning that everything you put into it during this time is crucial. Even if waking up and and eating some jam on toast is the easiest and quickest breakfast option, take time to reconsider this. Your body will be super sensitive so it’s important you ease your way back into solids by eating as clean as possible. I recommend you stick to vegetables, and a little protein on the first day then slowly introduce a little brown rice or sweet potato the following day.
As before, sticking to 3 meals a day is key. If you feel you are suffering from cravings, try taking magnesium supplements, or adding a teaspoon of cinnamon into your diet (on porridge, or in coffee is a great way). These are both found to be helpful in curbing cravings as they help regulate your blood sugar levels. Staying hydrated is also essential – your body may mistake thirst for hunger – so make sure you drink up.
I got really into cooking new healthy recipes over the week, which were both low calorie and packed with vitamins. Here are a few of my favourite healthy recipe books and blogs:
My Final End weight: 56.9kg
Total Loss: 2.9kg
Exercise: Keeping active on a detox goes without saying. Check out my favourite classes in London here
Alcohol: ZERO. Aside from the calories it contains, our bodies will always prioritise its breakdown, putting a pause on the digestion of everything else we’ve eaten. This means while our body is busy trying to get rid of the alcohol from our systems, the food we’ve eaten is being stored as fat!
Other Detox Tips:
Epsom Salt Baths: Available from Boots or any healthcare store, these salts which you use in your bath, are a great way to get magnesium into your body, relaxing the muscles after exercise and helping with water retention. I heard that Victoria Secrets Models do this every night before the shows – so naturally I’m into it.
Keep a Food Diary: It’s great to keep a note of what you’re eating. Looking over previous days meals can really help pinpoint the foods that aren’t agreeing with you as well as keeping on top of your portions. It’s also a a great tool if you slip up so you can evaluate the emotional factors that triggered it.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up: Whether you order a negroni, or couldn’t resist that cupcake, enjoy it and LET IT GO. Too often I see people, me included, beat themselves up over a tiny little f*ck up which just isn’t going to make much difference. Shaming yourself encourages negative thoughts and the likelihood of you pressing the ‘Fuck It Button’. Remember that most people do not live a perfectly healthy lifestyle all the time, and personally I think ‘everything in moderation, including moderation’ is the key to happiness.
Treat Yourself: Think of all the money your saving on going out, and get yourself a massage. Not only are they relaxing, they are great for your circulation and helping ease stiff muscles. Go for deep tissue is you suffer from tightness, or lympathic drainage to help ease water retention.
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET: This is not about punishing yourself. You should look to change your frame of mind so that you are enjoying feeding your body with vitamins and minerals rather than sugar and alcohol. It’s not what you CAN’T eat, but what you CAN eat.
Happy Detoxing! If you have any questions or would like any more information please email us at [email protected]
Roxie Nafousi x