Exercise, movement, improving health issues, body image

The Benefits of cycling for mums & why I love my Whytes Fairfield bike

benefits of cycling for mums


**Disclaimer: The review of the Whyte’s Fairfield Women’s bike is a completely independent review and is my own experience and opinion of the bike.  However, this post does contain some affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn commission from qualifying purchases**


Hello everybody,

The Benefits of Cycling for mums:

One of the areas I really struggle with improving in my life is exercise and I expect this is the case for all you mums out there.

Unfortunately, the old quote “you can’t out run a bad diet” may not be completely true.  I  believe that you still need to address diet and exercise as a two pronged approach to living healthy.  There’s  increasing scientific evidence that exercise has a positive impact on gut health – regardless of whether you change your diet or not.    Exercise has also been proven to have a positive effect on mental health and general feelings of wellbeing.

When you have kids, finding ways to motivate yourself and find time to exercise becomes even more complicated.  So, here’s:

5 reasons why cycling is a great exercise for mums:-

  1. As cycling is a form of transport it can be easier to incorporate it into our everyday lives.  Cycling to work, according to a study by the British Medical Journal in 2017, significantly reduces the risk of developing and dying from cancer and heart disease.  Perhaps you can incorporate cycling to school or work as part of your everyday routine?  Or whenever you need something small from the local shop, jump on your bike rather than get into the car.
  2. Cycling can also reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke,  reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and help control weight.  It also helps to reduce stress and is a good form of relaxation – essential for us mums!
  3. It’s a great way to bond with our children.  Getting outdoors and experiencing exercise together is really important for family mental health.   Did you know children should be exercising for 60 minutes per day?  I know mine don’t achieve that, so cycling together will improve both mine and the children’s exercise levels.
  4. If your parents are fairly active, you could get them out on their bikes too.  Cycling is a great activity for grandparents as it’s a low impact exercise which is easier on joints.  I certainly find it easier on my arthritis than running.  This increases family bonding with the older generation.
  5. You can start cycling with your  children from 12 months – with them sitting in a bike seat in front or behind you. Even now as a mature grown up, I can remember sitting as a child behind my mum on her bike.  However, have someone on hand to help you when you try this for the first time.  Trying to get onto and start peddling with the extra body weight of a child balanced on your bike takes a bit of getting used to.     You can then move over to a tag-a-long, before starting the process of teaching them to ride their own bike with stabilisers – hard work but fun!


Tips for cycling with your kids:

  • Plan your route carefully.  Obviously try to avoid busy roads and preferably use cycle paths, tow paths or country tracks.  Also if they are very young and cycling themselves,  avoid any hills – mind you I don’t like hills either!
  • Make sure you have plenty of  snacks and drinks to keep them hydrated and motivated.  Making a purpose for your cycle ride can also be helpful – maybe cycling to the park or a playground, the shop or a local café.
  • Make sure they have appropriate clothing: in summer, hats and suncream, in winter lots of warm clothing as children chill quickly just sitting on the bike.
  • Ride in a line, with your children in the middle or if you are the only adult, cycle behind your children keeping an eye on them.  It is a bit un-nerving watching them swerve around but they will get better!

Most importantly, don’t forget cycle helmets for everyone!

For more cycling safety tips check out


Why I love my Whyte’s Fairfield Women’s bike

My lovely husband bought me a new bike for my birthday.  This is a hybrid bike i.e.  it’s designed to provide a good ride both on road and off road.  My previous bike was a rather heavy mountain bike.  As I mainly tend to cycle on lanes around my home (which all involve a steep hill) a mountain bike was always a comfortable ride but it was a really heavy and tiring climb up the hills.

It’s easy to become despondent and demotivated if you know every time you exercise it will be hard and painful!.

So, my new bike makes the whole experience much more enjoyable because it has a lighter alloy frame.  I’m not very technically minded but apparently it also has up to 27 gears provided by a Shimano gearing system which makes the up hills so much easier!

I gave the Whytes Fairfield a trial first as a mountain bike with my youngest son and a friend and her son.

The gearing was easy to master and I bumped along very smoothly.  However my bum did get a bit sore – I think that was mainly due to me being out of shape though!


Whyte's Fairfield Womens bike


I love the handle bars which are much more ergonomically designed to make it easier for my achy, arthritic hands to hold and operate the brakes.

Whyte's Fairfield handle bars


The seat is wide enough for a female bottom.  I love the stitching detail and the Whytes logo of a deer head.

Whyte's Fairfield bike seat


So, as you can see, having a bike can be great fun, especially with the kids.  If you do decide to get a bike go to a reputable bike shop, who will make sure the bike is the right size for you and will be able to advise you on all the technical bits!

Remember you can get out cycling anytime you want, in anyway you want.  Cycling provides a great family activity, or you can buddy up with a friend to help motivate you both.  I would especially recommend finding a route with a coffee stop half way round, so you can have a quick pit stop and make it a more sociable way of getting your exercise in.

My last tip:-

Treat yourself to some nice gear – you will feel more motivated when you put stuff on that makes you feel good.  A sloppy old t’shirt and baggy jog pants don’t motivate you in the same way.



Here’s to sunny days, cycling through the countryside to lovely tea gardens and cafes!!

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Top 10 tips to boost brain function and this week’s meal plan

tips to boost brain function



Hello Everybody,

I hope you are having a good week.

If you are living in a house with teenagers in the UK, I expect you are probably half way through the important GCSE, AS and A level exam period.

I hope you’re not experiencing too many dramas with your teenagers – unlike my 17 year old who decided doing a bit of skateboarding between revising was a good idea.  Five hours at A & E later and we have a fractured elbow joint to contend with.  Thankfully, it’s his left arm and he’s right handed.

If your teens are hitting a bit of slump though, here’s my Top Ten tips to boost brain function – hopefully 5 & 6 won’t apply to our teens too much!


Top 10 tips to boost brain function during exam season:


  1. Hydrate – Drinking a glass of water before an exam can improve cognitive ability by 15%.  Aim for 6-8 glasses of fluid per day, more if exercising hard or if the weather is particularly hot.
  2. Eat healthy Omega 3 fats – oily wild fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies, nuts and seeds such as walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts, flax and chai seeds, green leafy vegetables, avocadoes and extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Carbs – eating complex carbohydrates through the day helps to keep blood glucose levels stable, thereby keeping energy flowing to the brain.  Suitable carbs would be wholegrain breakfast cereals and breads, brown rice, pulses and beans.
  4. Exercise – physical activity that raises the heart beat for approximately 30 minutes per day is ideal.
  5. Don’t smoke – smoking has a negative impact on blood vessels to the brain, as well as damaging the heart and lungs.
  6. Only drink alcohol in moderation.  Teens shouldn’t really drink at all as it impacts developing brains.
  7. Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.  Not only do these provide high levels of nutrients and vitamins, they are also a form of slow release carbs (see 3 above).
  8. Keep caffeine and sugar intake to a minimum – this includes energy drinks and coca-cola.
  9. Get plenty of sleep.  Lack of sleep has a profound impact on memory and cognitive function.  Any sleep deprived mother can confirm this!
  10. Rosemary – sniffing a handful of the herb rosemary or sniffing a few drops of essential rosemary oil on a tissue prior to an exam can help memory recall by up to 75% according to research by Northumbia University, Newcastle.

These top tips have also  been shown to help prevent the onset of dementia and Alzheimers in older brains, so it’s a good list for us parents to adopt too!

Wishing all your teenagers every success in their exams.

This week’s meal plan:-

  • Sausage stroganoff
  • Coconut chilli chicken and salad
  • Chicken with a white wine and mustard sauce, new potatoes and vegetables
  • Salmon with chilli lime noodle salad
  • Cottage pie
  • Pork and spicy plum stir fry and rice
  • Quiche and salad

I hope you all have a fantastic week and for those of you on half term, lets hope the weather is good!

Don’t forget to check out my Facebook page here or you can link up with me on Instagram here.

You can also keep up to date by subscribing to our Newsletter here

Signature from Janine x

A review of Hot Pod Yoga and this week’s meal plan



Hello Everybody,

I hope you’ve had a super week.

A review of Hot Pod Yoga

*Please note this is a completely independent review and is based on my own opinions*

I was really excited when I spotted the social media announcement that Hot Pod Yoga was coming to our town.  The description of yoga in a blow up pod, with an internal temperature of 37°C was very enticing to my stiff and creaky joints.

I duly booked my free opening session and counted down the days eagerly to the opening.

I hadn’t expected much from the exterior of the venue as I knew it was a unit on an industrial estate.  However, on arrival it did look rather sadder than I had imagined.  The signage was very unwelcoming for an opening weekend – a bit of bunting or some Himalayan flags wouldn’t have gone amiss!

outside view of hot pod yoga site

Inside was a typical small warehouse unit.  There was a table offering drinks and fruit but I felt it had a rather ‘Youth Club’ feel to it.  Lockers and shoe racks lined the walls for personal items.  We were assured the unit was locked once we entered the pod.  hot pod yoga external view

On entering the pod, the first sensory element to hit was the lack of light.  It was rather dark which made it hard to find a mat.  Your eyes do adjust after a while and there were a couple of low light emitting lamps in two corners of the pod.  To be honest, I thought the issue with the light levels may just have been due to my ‘old’ eyes but other younger attendees were stumbling around too.  I did feel I was the oldest person there, which may be a good thing or a bad thing?

Anyhow, our olfactory senses were given a treat from a diffuser giving off a pleasant lavender whiff.

inside view of the yoga pod

Now, I don’t want to sound like a wimp but not knowing what to expect, I did have a little moment of panic whilst waiting for everyone to arrive.  The pod isn’t massive and gets zipped up so it can feel a little claustrophobic.  Mix this in with a 37°C heat, diffusers and semi-darkness and I did have a little wobble as to whether I would be OK.  Thankfully, once we started the yoga there was no time to think about this stuff so I was fine.

Now, to the yoga.  The instructor began the session by asking how many hadn’t done yoga before – over half the class.  She then proceeded to jump straight into her routine.  She remembered to ask half way through whether anyone had any injuries but from what I could see she didn’t seem to engage with those who said they had.  In my opinion there was very little instruction on how to do each pose and I was astonished when, towards the end, we were all encouraged to do headstands.

The other issue with the yoga part was that the mats were very close together so it was impossible to stretch out sideways without poking your neighbour.  Likewise, standing at the edge of the pod meant having a sloping ceiling/side, which restricted my ability to reach up above my head.  Personally, I didn’t find the music particularly relaxing either, but again that could just be my age!

My overall review:


  • I loved the heat
  • I loved the dynamic movement of the yoga
  • it provided a good workout, with lots of deep stretches
  • there’s no ‘woo, woo’ bits which I know can put some people off yoga
  • it would probably suit a younger client than me!


  • I didn’t like the enclosed space, but some folks who are used to a gym probably won’t be concerned by this.
  • I don’t think it would be suitable if you suffer from claustrophobia
  • I felt the instruction wasn’t in-depth enough, especially for beginners
  • there was no feeling of mindfulness to the yoga practice

Now I want to make it clear, that whilst I didn’t feel Hot Pod Yoga was for me, it may well be an exact fit for you.  I would always recommend giving something a go if you think it’s safe for you to do so.

Exercise, like healthy eating has to fit the individual.  There is so much information available these days on what we should be doing but it’s really important to listen to your body and your mindset and find methods that work for you as an individual.  Society is programmed on a ‘one size fits all’ mentality, especially when it comes to food and exercise.  Making healthy changes to our diet won’t work if it doesn’t fit into our lifestyle or we just plain don’t like the food recommended.

For example, I know chai seeds are on trend and super good for us,  but I really don’t like them!  Trying to force myself to eat them, would just make me disgruntled and unhappy.  Instead, I opt for pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and nuts.  I’ve still made some healthy changes to my diet, but on a level I’m happy with.  This means I’m far likelier to stay committed to it.  Making manageable changes to your diet will have greater, long term benefits than jumping on a diet trend that doesn’t work for you as an individual.

My overall message – Always try new things (exercise, foods etc) and then see if they will adapt to you and your lifestyle so that you can be consistent with those changes.

This week’s meal plan:-

  • Moroccan chicken with mango and chickpea salsa and new potatoes
  • Pork Satay stir fry with rice
  • Duck breast with a creamy mushroom sauce, jacket potatoes and salad
  • Thai green chicken curry and rice
  • Homemade burgers/tuna burgers with salad
  • Seafood linguine

Wishing you all a lovely week with lots of sunshine!.

Don’t forget you can sign up for our free New Leaf Newsletter.

You can also let me know on our Facebook Page whether you have tried Hot Pod Yoga and what you thought of it.


Signature from Janine x


This week’s meal plan and how to reduce a bloated Winter stomach

this week's meal plan



Hello Everybody,

How to reduce a bloated Winter stomach

Now Spring is officially  here (even if the weather hasn’t realised it yet), I’m sure like me your thoughts are turning to summer holidays and the inevitable reduction in clothing!  If you are worried your stomach is looking a little bloated after a Winter of warming comfort foods, then I would recommended giving your insides a Spring boost.

As you are probably already aware, your gut and your overall health, relies heavily on your gut microbiome.  To give these friendly bugs a boost you need to get lots of probiotic and prebiotic foods into your diet.  Probiotic bacteria reside in your gut in millions.  However, these friendly bugs can  be wiped out by antibiotics, steroids, the contraceptive pill, HRT, stress, high sugar consumption and alcohol.  So, it’s important to keep adding probiotic bacteria back into your system.  You also need to feed these bugs.  This is where prebiotic foods come in. These are foods that have non-digestible parts (fibre) that help to grow your friendly gut bugs.

Here’s some of my top tips to boost your gut:-

1. Greek Natural Yogurt

Natural yogurt is a great source of protein, natural complex carbs and probiotic bacteria.  Don’t go for supermarket flavoured yogurts as these are usually full of added sugar.  I have two tablespoons of Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and pumpkin seeds most mornings.

You can also use Greek yogurt for making marinades, salad dressings and for adding to sauces like stroganoff instead of cream.

2. Kefir

If you prefer a smoothie in the morning, then you could add some kefir.  This is a fermented milk product but it has a very low lactose content so is more suitable for those who are dairy intolerant or for the elderly or young as it’s easier to digest.  Chuckling Goat ( make their kefir from goats milk which is a good alternative.  I found kefir OK but I prefer my yogurt and fruit choice.

3. Kombuchakombucha

This is a light, refreshing, slightly sparkling drink made from fermented tea.  I really enjoyed this brand from Holland and Barratt but I’m sure there are lots of alternatives available. It’s a great alternative to sugary, fizzy drinks and will ease bloating instead of increasing it.

4. Sourdough

If, like me, you love a bit of toast and marmalade or some mashed avocado and poached egg on toast then sourdough makes a really gut friendly choice. The fermented cultures used to make sourdough aid your gut microbiome, so you can eat bread without feeling guilty.  Try to find a local bakery who make it fresh, rather than supermarket varieties which may have additives.

5. Dark Chocolate

Yum! – yes, you can have chocolate and help your gut at the same time. Dark chocolate contains lots of antioxidants and fibres that feed your gut bacteria.  Some chocolate brands even add probiotics into the chocolate for a gut super boost.

6. Prebiotic foods

Most vegetables contain fibre which helps to feed your gut microbiome but the veg that work particularly well are garlic, asparagus, leeks and onions. Try to add these beauties to as many of your meals as possible.

So, start nurturing those friendly gut bacteria to ease any Winter bloating and get ready for Summer!.

This week’s meal plan:-

  • Mushroom Wellington and salad
  • Grilled tuna with spicy sweetcorn salsa and new potatoes
  • Crumbed chicken and Caesar salad
  • Pasta Bolognese
  • Lamb kofta meatballs in tomato sauce with rice
  • Enchiladas and salad
  • Chicken pie, mashed potatoes and vegetables


I hope you all have a wonderful week and we get some Spring weather soon!

Don’t forget you can sign up for the New Leaf Newsletter to receive regular updates, recipes and offers.


Signature from Janine x


Why you need to relax and my favourite relaxation activity


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Why you need to relax and my favourite relaxation activity

If you’re a mum, are you secretly looking forward to Mother’s Day?

Is it one of the few days in the year that you actually give yourself permission to RELAX?

For some reason, society seems hell bent on making sure we all suffer ‘burn out’.  If you’re not proving to everyone that your life is super busy, then society deems you a failure or loser.

I’m not religious but there is something to be said for the old fashioned view that Sundays should be a day of rest.  Nowadays, Sundays are just another day to get the cleaning and shopping done and run the kids from one activity to the next.  The weekend just merges into the stresses of the rest of the working week.

The problem with constantly being ‘on the go’ is that your cortisol levels remain in the ‘flight or fight’ zone which places enormous stress on your body.  Cortisol affects your digestion, lowers your immune system and increases your heart rate.  This can cause weight gain, insomnia and general exhaustion.  Sound familiar?

The human body needs periods of rest and relaxation to activate our parasympathetic nervous system.  This reverses the affects of cortisol and helps us to de-stress, sleep better and digest our food better.  Your overall health will improve immensely if you give yourself permission to relax for short periods every day.

If you are reading this and saying ‘I don’t have time to relax’, then you my friend, probably need it the most!.  You really need to make time to relax.

Start with 10 minute rest periods here and there in your day.  Take 10 minutes to savour your coffee, take a short walk at lunchtime or read a magazine article.  When you start making some ‘me’ time for yourself you will see improvements in your general health.

Some of my favourite forms of relaxation are:-

  • having a coffee with a friend
  • going for a walk
  • yoga or pilates
  • a long hot bath

BUT my absolute favourite form of relaxation is READING.

I will read anything but I especially love a good book.

With four children, my opportunities to read are limited but I always read for about half an hour before I go to sleep at night.  Even if I’m reading a page turning thriller, reading still helps calm my brain down ready for sleep and I drop off much easier than if I don’t read at all.

However in my opinion you must read a physical book – no gadgets allowed!  I believe Kindle now has a white page facility but generally gadgets omit blue light which messes with your melatonin (your sleep hormone).  You’re also much more tempted to check out your emails or social media which could trigger your cortisol levels back up.

As Mother’s Day approaches, how about dropping a few hints to your loved ones and making a wish list of books you might fancy reading.

Here’s my wish list for this Mother’s Day:-

I do have lots more on my list but I think that will do for starters!

If any of you have read these, do let us all know what you thought of them in the comments or on the New Leaf Facebook page 

I try to always recommended a good read in the New Leaf newsletter so if you’re interested you can sign up HERE.  (Just so you know, I only ever send you information and tips from New Leaf and would never sell your email address to any third party).

I hope you all  give yourself permission to have some rest and relaxation and enjoy your weekends.

For any readers in the Denver, US area, I came across this website Mile High Wine Tours  – they have a 5* rating with TripAdvisor.  Unfortunately I’ve not experienced their Tours but I thought it looked like a wonderful Mother’s Day treat!

Wishing all my mommy  readers a wonderful Mother’s Day.


Signature from Janine x