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Recipe: Chocolate & Pistachio Baklava

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Baklava, for me, is synonymous with 3 things…

1. A pain to make.

2. A pain completely worth the tastebud ecstasy.

3. Afternoon coffee dates with my yiayia/grandmother at home in Spetses.

I have yet to meet a single person who doesn’t like baklava.

There are literally dozens of versions of this sweet, syrupy, sticky delight but mine is simple: chocolate & pistachio.

I typically make the syrup in the morning, bake the baklava late in the evening and then enjoy perfectly syrup-ed the next day.

This is not a quick fix dessert… It’s a complete show stopper.

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cooking Time: 45-90 minutes (depending on your bakeware, see below)

Portions: 30-35 pieces

Ingredients

For the syrup:

  • 425ml water
  • 650g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Peel of 1 orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

For the baklava:

  • 400g pistachio nuts, roughly ground (but not to a fine dust)
  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped using a knife
  • 500g unsalted butter
  • 500g filo pastry (JusRol packs x2)

**Note re size/shape of baking tins:

You will need 2x 24cm square baking tins OR 1 very large rectangular. Needs to have straight sides and must be minimum 4 inches deep.

Method

Start by making the syrup. Add all ingredients to a heavy based pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for 3 minutes. Leave aside to cool down completely (this may take a few hours).

Preheat the oven to 150C fan. Melt the butter in a pot over a low heat. Combine the ground pistachios with the chopped chocolate in a large mixing bowl, reserving a large handful of this to decorate later.

Cut the filo sheets to fit the size of your tin (if you’re using JusRol pastry & 24cm tins, cut in half widthways). Have in front of you the filo, the melted butter, the chocolate/pistachio mix and the tin(s).

Before you begin assembling the baklava, grease the baking tin(s) with 1-2 tablespoons of the melted butter.

To make the base, add 1 sheet of filo to the tin and drizzle over melted butter using your pastry brush. Repeat twice more to make 3 layers of filo on the bottom, drizzling with butter in between.

Sprinkle 2 generous handfuls of chocolate/pistachio mixture over the base. Add 1 sheet of filo, drizzle with butter and repeat another 5-6 times, leaving 3 sheets of filo for the top (remember to reserve a large handful of chocolate/pistachio mix to decorate).

To make the top, add 3 sheets of filo to the tin drizzling with butter in between and ‘tucking in’ each sheet using your brush.

Pour over any remaining butter (especially over the edges that tend to get dry) and place your tin in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.

Using a sharp knife and going just 3/4 of the way through, cut your baklava into portions, around 3×4 inches. You can go square like I have for ease or you can cut diagonally if you want to go fancy.

Sprinkle over some water using just your fingers so that the sheets of filo don’t rise and fly off in the heat of the oven. Place your tray in the middle of the oven and cook as follows:

> If you used 2x 24cm square tins, bake for 40-45 minutes.

> If you used 1x large rectangular tin, bake for 60-90 minutes.

As soon as your baklava comes out of the oven, ladle over the cold syrup and sprinkle a little chocolate/pistachio mix over each square to decorate.

Leave to cool completely and until most of the syrup has been absorbed, usually 4-5 hours, preferably overnight.

Enjoy!

xo

PS Check out some extra baklava baking tips below.

Tip 1- How best to keep/store your baklava: Cover with a tea towel or muslin cloth. No foil, cling film or fridge.

Tip 2- How to know when it’s baked: You want a nice, golden colour on the top and the bottom to be cooked.

Tip 3- The ‘hot/cold rule’: You want to add cold syrup to a hot baklava OR a hot syrup to a cold baklava. The first saves you time.

Tip 4- BE PATIENT! Trust me when I say it’s totally worth waiting until the syrup has been absorbed…

Recipe: Spanakopita

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This sexy little beauty (pronounced spanner-koh-pee-ta) is not half as complicated nor as exotic as it sounds.

Inspired by my very vivid memories as a little girl waiting for my dad to bring me back a fresh wedge of the stuff from the local bakery….

My version of the classic Greek spinach & feta pie is silky, creamy and crunchy in ALL the right places. I add leeks for sweetness and lemon zest for freshness.

And yes, the phyllo pastry from scratch is totally worth the extra 15 minutes!

Check it out below 🙂

Prep Time: 60 minutes

Cooking Time: 35-40 minutes

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 3-4 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
  • 2 large white (or brown) onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large leeks, trimmed & chopped
  • 1kg fresh spinach leaves, washed
  • 500g Greek feta cheese, crumbled
  • 30g fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 30g fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper

For the phyllo pastry:

  • 500g plain flour + extra for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 200ml water
  • 100ml virgin olive oil, for the dough
  • 100ml virgin olive oil, for brushing

You will also need:

  • 30cm round & deep baking tin or flan dish.
  • A very large pot or frying pan with a lid.
  • Plenty of work surface area, ideally a clean table.

Method

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 190C.

Step 2 – To make the pastry, simply add all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, combine into a dough and knead for 5 minutes, sprinkling more flour if needed. The dough is ready when it comes away from the side of the bowl and becomes elastic. Transfer to another bowl and cover with cling film, leave to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Step 3 – To start the filling, add the olive oil to a pot or pan on a low-medium heat. Add the onions and leeks. Add the lid and sweat for 10-15 minutes until translucent. Stir every 4-5 minutes.

Step 4 – Add the spinach leaves in 2-3 batches, stir and put the lid on for the spinach to wilt. Repeat until all the spinach has wilted.

Step 5 – Remove pot or pan from the heat and add the feta, dill, parsley, lemon zest and black pepper. Combine well so that the mixture becomes silky and homogenous all over. Set aside.

Step 6 – To prepare for assembling the pie, brush your baking tin or dish with olive oil. Sprinkle work surface area liberally with flour.

Step 7 – Place the dough on your work surface area and divide into 6 equal dough balls. These will form 6 different layers of the pie, 3 on the bottom and 3 on the top.

Step 8 – Take 1 dough ball and roll with a rolling pin to make a sheet of pastry as thin as possible, sprinkling flour as needed. This will form layer 1 of your pie.

Step 9 – Gently cut layer 1 into 4 parts. Take each part (or quarter) and lift into your baking tin, overlapping the 4 pieces to make a single layer. Brush with olive oil liberally. Repeat the whole process with 2 more dough balls, creating 2 more layers on the bottom. Leave the edges untrimmed and hanging over.

Step 10 – Add the filling to the pie, gently push into the tin and smooth over with the back of a spoon. Taking 2 of your last 3 dough balls, create 2 top layers.

Step 11 – To make the 6th and final layer of your pie, roll out the last dough ball but leave it whole (don’t cut into 4). Gently lift over the top of your pie, layering it slightly and tuck in the rest of the edges by turning the pastry back onto itself. This will form the most delicious crunchy crust!

Step 12 – Brush the top of the pie with the rest of the olive oil. Using a sharp knife, score the surface of the pie into slices (not all the way to the bottom). Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden and there you have it. HEAVEN.

Tip: When rolling the dough out into sheets, it should be so thin that you can almost see through it when you lift it.

Perfect for: Breakfast. Whether it’s 11am (Greece time) or 8am (rest of the world time) it’s still the meal before lunch right? 😛

Recipe: Slow Cooked Beef Ragu & Pappardelle

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Rich, comforting and full of bold flavours, this dish is the ultimate winter warmer.

Surprisingly enough, this recipe is also not too heavy on the Calories, and coupled with the fact that it’s slow cooked for a minimum of 1.5 hours, the beef melts in the mouth even if it’s a really lean cut.

Although ragu is traditionally an Italian recipe, I can’t help but add a touch of my heritage with Greek basil, red onion and wild oregano – I find these bits add sweetness and a little more depth!

Check it out 🙂

Prep Time: 30 mins

Cooking Time: 1.5 hrs (yes it’s long but totally worth it)

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 350g lean stewing beef cut into chunks (or for a more luxurious cut, try rump steak)
  • 2-3 rashers of smoked bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 large glass of red wine
  • 500ml sieved passata
  • pinch of dried, wild oregano (preferably Greek)
  • 2 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 200g baby plum tomatoes, halved
  • 2 large handfuls of frozen petit pois
  • 3-4 large handfuls of Greek basil
  • Fresh parpadelle to serve with (approximately 60-80g per portion)
  • Parmesan

You will also need:

  • Casserole dish with a lid or pyrex dish with lots of foil.

Method

Step 1 – Preheat a non stick frying pan to a medium heat with a little olive oil and add the beef (seasoned) in 2-3 batches to seal. Only needs a couple minutes per batch, turn with tongs. Once sealed, remove from the pan and set aside.
Step 2 – Preheat a casserole or very large non stick pot with a little olive oil and add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then add the garlic (any earlier it tends to burn and taste bitter). Keep stirring to avoid sticking.
Step 3 – Add the wine to the casserole and allow to evaporate for a minute. Then add the passata, dried oregano and plenty of salt and pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a gentle simmer for 3-4 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C.
Step 4 – Stir in the ketchup, petit pois, baby tomatoes and lots of fresh chopped basil. Then add the chunks of sealed beef and all juices to the casserole and once again, bring to a gentle simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Step 5 – Add the lid to the casserole or large pan and place in the middle of the oven to cook for 1.5 hours (if your oven is very hot, turn down to 170C). Give it a stir a couple times throughout.
Step 6 – Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Then take a fork and pull/ squash the meat into strands, combining with the sauce and all the juicy bits to make a smooth-ish consistency. Add more basil leaves and salt and pepper to taste.
Step 7 – Serve with some fresh pappardelle pasta (only needs 2-3 minutes in salty boiling water) but remember to reserve some of the pasta cooking water to loosen up the sauce if needs! Grate some fresh parmesan and voila 😀

Tip: This recipe freezes really well! Double up on the ingredients and have a couple meals ready in the freezer for when you’re busy. Defrost overnight in the fridge.

Perfect with: Red wine. Obvs. I personally am a Malbec (Argentina) lover and will rarely be swayed but if I am, my second choice is a Pinot Noir (California or Australia).

Love Luce xo

“More Toned Thighs & A Better Booty”

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That ^^ was what our absolute superstar client, Flo, recently had to say about her experience with us.

I say ‘client’… But in reality I mean friend because this girl has truly captured my heart.

Not only is she an absolute badass who is 100% along my wavelength (there were many post workout chinwags over red wine & Thai curry haha) buuuttt…

She also stands for the very essence of what we do & how we do it 🙂

Check out the full story in her OWN words below…

Clue: it’s far from being just about the thighs 😉

Want to know exactly what to eat & how to work out for maximum fat loss? ==> CLICK HERE NOW to grab your FREE Motivation Kickstarter. Included: 2 home workouts, over 20 recipes, nutrition advice, motivation tips & much more.

“Picture this. A girl walks into the gym, gets straight on the treadmill. Runs for 20 minutes. Does 20 crunches. Does 20 body weight squats. And leaves. Sound familiar? This was pretty much my gym routine for the past 5 years. Sure, it worked in some ways, if ‘work’ means keeping ‘thin’, but in so many ways it really wasn’t working FOR me.

Going to the gym and weight loss have become synonymous for most women, including myself, and I have always been of the opinion that cardio is what made that happen.

Queue Lucy Panou…

When I saw Lucy’s advert I was hooked by being able to have a full hour’s fitness advice that might be able to mix up what was then a very well-worn routine. I’d never had any PT experience before and had always been put off by the price but more by what seemed to be a bit of a waste if you couldn’t commit to more than one session. I wanted routine, and to see proper results”.

Continued…

“3 months later I have just that. I have a workout structure. I’m more aware of my diet- although at no point have given anything up or felt like I’m ‘dieting’ just balanced and aware! I’ve gotten SO much stronger! I feel great in shorts with noticeably more toned thighs and a better booty (this was my personal goal) and, most importantly, I have had the pleasure of training, laughing, drinking wine and bossing life with the most wonderful and inspiring group of women.

This is NOT just fitness. It is a community and I am so thankful to have been a part of it. Lucy isn’t just an amazingly knowledgeable PT, she’s a great friend who pushes you to be your best and feel fabulous.

I can’t thank Lucy enough for her support and amazing teaching. I’m now the girl that walks up to the rack and decides whether it’s a deadlift or a back row day and I can’t see that changing any time soon!”.

Fancy being part of an inspiring community of women all on track to achieve their goals? ==> CLICK HERE NOW to request to join our FREE exclusive Facebook group.

What a girl!

Anyway, I hope that’s given you an idea of what really can be achieved with just a little support & direction…

Cos as you can see, not a boring workout or lettuce leaf diet in sight 😉

Love Luce xo

P.s. Now let’s put all those tips to use!

Grab Your FREE Motivation Kickstarter ==> CLICK HERE NOW for 2 home workouts, over 20 recipes, nutrition advice, training tips & much more.

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2 Tips To Look & Feel Amazing WITHOUT A Gym

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I get it. We’ve ALL been there with the frustrations of plucking the courage to go to the gym or dragging our ass to yet another class.

Throw into the mix the cost, the travel, the kids, the husband, the parrot… And before you know it, you’ve already given up on your dream body!

But it doesn’t have to be like that because I want to show you that there’s A LOT you can do to get toned, feel fit & super confident without having to go to extremes.

So without further ado here we go…

Want to know exactly what to eat & how to work out for maximum fat loss? ==> CLICK HERE NOW to grab your FREE Motivation Kickstarter. Included: 2 home workouts, over 20 recipes, nutrition advice, motivation tips & much more.

Tip #1 – Be more active doing things you ENJOY.

For example…

✔ Sack off the train or the bus and walk to work in the sunshine with a coffee in hand & your fave tunes on.

✔ Support local businesses and stroll around the butchers, the greengrocers & the fishmongers before carrying your shopping back to your house.

✔ Go for a hike before Saturday brunch with the girls or hire a bike for an afternoon cycle date with bae.

Can you see the re-occurring theme here? FUN! Who’d thought hey? 😉

Tip #2 – Do home workouts.

Now I know what you’re thinking. That you’d rather just sit on the sofa eating ice cream. But here’s the thing. You’re probably approaching/doing them wrong in the first place.

So here is my go to strategy for you…

🔹 Shoot for 3x home workouts per week @ 35 mins each.

🔹 Aim for intensity over duration.

🔹 Invest in some cheap & versatile equipment (bands, kettlebell etc).

🔹 Get outside.

Fancy being part of an inspiring community of women all on track to achieve their goals? ==> CLICK HERE NOW to request to join our FREE exclusive Facebook group.

I hope that’s helped and shown you how being realistic with fitness is KEY.

I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again…

More is not better.

Better = better.

Besides, how much more likely are you to stick to it when you actually ENJOY the process? #perspective 😉

Love Luce xo

P.s. Now let’s put all those tips to use!

Grab Your FREE Motivation Kickstarter ==> CLICK HERE NOW for 2 home workouts, over 20 recipes, nutrition advice, training tips & much more.

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I Bet You Think You Eat ‘Healthy’

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Avocados, hummus, carrot sticks, almonds and runny eggs worthy of that Instagram #double-tap…

Organic this, grass fed that, no sugar this, gluten free that…

Right?

And to top it all off, you pride yourself for it too!

If you’re the more casual type, you may tell people that you’ve ‘been good today’.

Or if you’re anything like I was (i.e. the more neurotic type) you’ll take it as far as thinking you’re better than anyone else for your food choices and eating habits.

Want to know exactly what to eat to lose fat, get toned and keep it off for good? ==> CLICK HERE NOW to grab your FREE Motivation Kickstarter. Included: over 20 recipes, nutrition advice, motivation tips & much more.

Now tell me if this sounds familiar…

There you are, in your local whole foods store, searching for that magical baking flour that will poof all your eating woes away…

> Expecting it to cost £845.

> Dreading that it will taste like Ghandi’s flip-flop.

> Anticipating that it will just fuel a binge 3 days later anyway.

But maybe (just mayyybeeeee) there’s a little monster lurking in your thoughts going…

‘Is this faff all that necessary?’

‘Is this what healthy eating really looks like?’

In short… No and no. But keep reading to find out why 🙂

What saddens me deeply is the amount of women I see that are endlessly searching for that magic pill or potion to solve all their problems.

They program hop from one ‘thing’ to the next, they invest all their time, effort and energy into a single miraculous cure and expect it to just ‘work’…

Only to quickly find themselves back on the hamster wheel of dietary doom.

If that ^^ sounds like you… Then I would like you to stop for just 3 seconds and ask yourself the following questions:

“If it really existed, wouldn’t have I already found it? And if I perceive to have found it why am I still looking?”

And so in response to those exact questions, here are 2 reasons why you have landed on this very blog, reading this very line whilst looking for yet another ‘thing’.

Reason #1 – You’re searching for ‘perfect’.

If I were to ask you to imagine a diet or a way of eating that you had to stick to forever, what would it look like?

A 70% whole food to ‘junk food’ majority? That Friday night takeaway with your partner? A glass of wine after a stressful day at work?

Cool, awesome and damn straight.

My point is this: Imperfect consistency, over and over, far outweighs momentary bursts of black and white, all or nothing, the saint or the devil.

Fancy joining our private Facebook group for weekly workouts, recipes & motivation tips? ==> CLICK HERE NOW to request to join a community of likeminded women.

Reason #2 – You’re dismissing context.

That extra cupcake you had on Tuesday – does it really matter by Friday when you’ve been to the gym, taken the dogs out and hit your protein and fibre requirements most days?

Similarly, that training session you missed on that god-forsaken day of January 1st – does it really matter on the 15th March when you’ve worked out 3 times a week since?

The culprit here lies in our perception of what constitutes ‘failure’ – chances are you haven’t actually failed at anything.

Your willingness to see that, accept it and carry on as normal is what prevents things from spiralling out of control thereafter.

Love Luce xo

P.s. Don’t miss out on these goodies!

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Why #Fitspo Is Making You A Fitsnob

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Nut butter.

Gummy protein concoctions.

‘Pushing the carbs to the bootay’.

With cable kickbacks.

And post weekend binge fuel (sorry, I meant acts of ‘balance’).

#WCW and #MondayMotivation errrrweeeekkkkk

*enter picture of chemically assisted fitness model here*

Sound familiar?

Good, keep reading cos this article has been written especially for you…

By someone just like you 🙂

For a period of 18 months, I was engaged in all things FITNESS. 6-week workout plans, 12-week diet plans, post workout carbs this, protein windows that.

I hired a coach, I trolled social media daily and even changed my Facebook cover photo to ‘eat clean, train dirty’ (I’m cringing as I type btw).

My whole day would revolve around my workout time. My whole week would be consumed by food prep, shopping and ‘planning’.

I took it far as getting pissy with my family for visiting me (they live 8 hours away and see me 3 times a year) cos well… it ruined my schedule.

The worst bit?

I prided myself on my new found calling.

Internally, I thought it made me a better person. Externally, I judged those who couldn’t relate (and then felt judged for being in the minority ha).

So much so that anyone who didn’t ‘get it’… I viewed as beneath me.

In other words…

I became a #FitSnob of the highest order.

If you’ve gotten as far as reading this line, you know exactly what I’m talking about and are (maybe) starting to itch in your seat a little.

So let me ask you…

How would you like to know what the magazines won’t show you and what the fitness models won’t tell you…

But should you have nailed will take you from guilt ridden #InstaDreamer to finally feeling enough?

Good.

Now let’s get started with the 3 reasons why ‘fitness’ is ruining you.

#Fitspo is just another fad.

We perceive that because fitness is ‘good’ for us… That more = better.

Kinda like when you read one of those BS articles that quote ‘a glass of red wine is good for the heart’ so you drink the whole bottle in a bid to multiply its effect (and justify a binge while you’re at it too).

Of course, it doesn’t work like that.

And it’s exactly the same in fitness.

You see, trying to ‘go hard or go home’ is no less of a fad than a soup diet or juice cleanse.

And telling yourself (plus shouting to the rest of the world) that your extremist fitness pursuits are in the name of ‘health’…

Makes them no less of a quick fix approach than throwing shit at the wall and hoping that it will stick.

Which brings me nicely to my second point…

#Fitspo is just another cover up.

Whilst my 18-month fitness craze provided me with a stepping stone following 15 years of self-abuse…

At best, it was merely a physical one.

In other words, it provided me with the tools to re-sculpt my physique and to gain some much needed strength and muscle tissue.

But in reality…

It got me in to cheat meals and all or nothing eating.

It caused me anxiety during coaching check ins.

It encouraged me to compare myself to unrealistic standards.

In other words…

#Fitspo re-enforced the same ugly, unhealthy (and frankly destructive) psychological habits but dressed up in a different way.

The bottom line?

Whether it’s a blue plaster or a red band-aid…

It’s still covering up a problem!

And now on to our final point…

#Fitspo disregards the groundwork.

The self-scrutiny when you look in the mirror even if you’ve worked out.

The food punishment and pre qualification despite hitting your macros.

All the things that technically shouldn’t be there…

Are not only very much present, but frankly, at an all time high.

In other words…

Your psychology sucks.

The solution?

Something that is at the core of my whole lifestyle philosophy and even takes pride and place on my website home page…

“Get your mind right FIRST and the rest will follow”.

Re-align your intentions.

Re-shape your self perceptions.

#Fitspo can wait (and in my very biased opinion, go f itself).

You’ll thank me 😉

Love Luce xo

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Wanna Love Yourself & Your Body?

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“Love you for you”.

“Embrace aaaaall your lady lumps and bumps”.

“Your body is perfect the way god made it”.

Sound dreamy?

Yeah…

That’s because it is.

What if you were never in love with yourself in the first place?!

What if you can barely look in the mirror… Let alone ‘love’ what you see staring back at you?

What if you want to change yourself and your body? Do you just pretend to like what you see in the meantime?

They ^^ are all very natural questions.

And anyone that tells you otherwise is lying to you (and themselves).
Is loving yourself and your body an impossible dream?

Absolutely not.

But it’s a darn short sighted way of thinking and isn’t doing you any favours in the long term.

Nor right this second to be entirely honest… So keep reading 😛

Now sit back, relax and let me explain the 3 reasons why ‘self love’ as we know it is entirely flawed so that you can be on your way to achieving the real deal asap…

1. Realise it’s ok NOT to love yourself and your body entirely.

Half of the battle stems from thinking that we ‘should’ love ourselves, our body and all that we stand for.

Listen up.

Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day and Drake didn’t go from 0-100 real quick…

How on earth can you expect to go from a place of self-hate to a place of instantaneous, fantastical and all encompassing self-love?!

What you need to pay attention to here is CONTEXT – campaigns of self-love (social media, magazines etc) are aimed at those who well… Are further from any realm of self-love than a desert camel is from spring water.

2. Start with self-appreciation.

How about we take those first little (boring, unsexy but oh so effective and steady) steps into appreciating, respecting and honouring ourselves and our body?

We’re not asking to love ourselves yesterday.

We’re simply saying…

“I accept myself, respect my body for what it can do, admire that it can bring new life into this world and refuse to beat it down by comparing it to society’s ideals.”

A little golden nugget for you: ‘Body appreciation’ is actually a fully recognised positive psychology concept and is closely interlinked with intuitive eating and exercise that isn’t driven by appearance.

3. Think of it as ‘continued self-development.’

Now this is where the plot thickens and may sound like I’m contradicting myself but stay with me…

Yes, self-acceptance and body appreciation come first.

But once that ^^ is solidly in place…

There is absolutely no reason to refrain from bettering ourselves or becoming happy-er by making appearance related changes.

The key here is INTENT – ask yourself the reason why you want to make these changes.

If your reason is out of hate over respect and beating down over improved health…

Then it’s the wrong reason and you need to go back to my previous point 🙂

Love Luce xo

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