SHOP – Hedgehog of the North a.k.a Baby Whale UK

“You’re only as old as your spine!”

Traditional Chinese teachings put a lot of emphasis on spine health.   A spine should be strong & stable and there is an acknowledgement that the spine is a whole series of joints and, like all our joints,  should regularly move  – a well used hinge will never rust! 

text neck
text neck

We should gently roll, wave, flex and extend the spine regularly.  The spine is the central highway for not only our blood vessels and nervous system and also the lymphatic system – the bodies waste disposal system so it’s health is so vitally important to us and our wellbeing.

It’s not a coincidence, back illness is highly prevalent in the West, and according to the UK’s Health & Safety executive, there were 3,417,000 working days lost to work related back disorders in 2015/16.   So how can we counter balance all the demands of sitting, driving, texting etc?

With this guy… that’s how!!


Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 21.23.11
The Hedgehog of the North – a revolution in back health

Me and my spine

Despite years of dedicated exercise, yoga and stretching my body was unable to get into any classic backbending postures – positions like wheel and camel.  I found it impossible, not to mention darn frustrating, to watch others get into delicious back-bends and for me not to even get into the starting blocks of this highly therapeutic pose!

But then Stretch Therapy changed all that last year!   The work Kit and Olivia have done exploring ‘passive backbends’ was revolutionary for me!  The idea is simple enough, use a prop to support the body so there’s no physical effort to hold the pose and you can get on with the important job of relaxing and getting comfortable in this new range.   If you’ve ever lent back over something, or some-one, you’ll know how great it feels just to lie and relax as your ribs open and your back softens over the object.  As with everything Kit and Olivia do, it’s the impeccable implementation of the idea and the attention to detail that’s key!

The only trouble is I couldn’t get one in the UK!

At around the time, I was weighing up the environmental impact, not to mention the costs, of shipping one all the way from Australia (where they are made), I had a chance encounter with Stephen – a local craftsman and former professional dancer.


Dancers are the athletes of God - Albert Einstein


I couldn’t have handpicked a better person for the challenge;  someone who not only understood how the body moved, but who also understood how to shape wood.  If you’ve ever read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance you’ll understand how exciting and rare it is to find someone who has balanced the Romantic notion of nature, freedom, spontaneity and personal expression with the Classical ideas of logic, reason and analytical thinking.  Check out more about Stephen here. 

I got the green light from Kit and Olivia to produce my own UK cousin to their Australian Baby Whale.   Kit is committed to the open source model – his whole stretch therapy system is based on it (Contrast it to the US system of copyright and protection).  Just pause for a moment and think about the level of fearless living it takes to say “Go for it!’ when someone asks to take your idea and run (off) with it!  It’s why I love the ST family and it’s why i love them in particular for creating it.

Anyway that’s my long and very personal story of how this thing came to be…but you’re probably wondering how to use it!

To see more on how to use the baby whale and it’s benefits of the from it’s original founder Kit Laughlin, go here.  I’m currently working on content about the way I use mine too.  (*)

Where can I get one?

I am absolutely delighted to be able to bring to you my version of the Stretch Therapy created ‘Baby Whale’ – ‘The Hedgehog of the North’.  I knew i needed quality – something very strong and stable.  Strong because i needed my back to mould around the piece of and not just squash out of shape as i put my full weight through it.  It needed to be stable because a muscle that is trying to balance is not a muscle that’s about to relax and lengthen anytime soon!

Finally, the angle of the curve is integral to the design – and it’s no coincidence that this curve ratio we used is frequently found in nature – known as the Golden Spiral

Working with our local carpenter Stephen and your specific requests and dimensions of your back, we can create your very own personalised spine stretching device.

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 23.52.26.png

If you’re based in the UK or Europe and would like a stretch needs analysis and to order your very own beautiful ‘hedgehog of the north’ please email me.

Turn around time including consultation which can be via skype is less than 30 days.

(*) As a trained Stretch Therapy teacher, I have permission from Kit and Olivia to share my work with you.


Everyday is a Jelly and Juice Party!

(c) Food, the forgotten medicine

Ready for the party of your life?  Let’s get our Jelly and Juice on! 

And unlike our five year old selves, we’re not adding ice cream this time!  You’ll see us adults in the health community reaching for our juice and jelly every day.  (*)

We want our to enjoy our nutrients and supplements efficiently and ideally for them to taste great! 

I like to keep things simple so I wanted to share how we enjoy these wonderful supplements in our home everyday so you can too. 

If you’re juicing, try and stick to a green juice as there’s a tonne of sugar in the fruit packed variety and it really is THE best way to get your greens!  I’ve had clients who have never eaten greens instantly love one of my Green smoothies!  

Also, take a look at how much fruit goes into those ‘saintly‘ shop bought varieties of juice/ smoothie – you just couldn’t physically consume that much fruit in one sitting – there’s a reason for that, neither can your body!  #sugaroverload 

Be a mean green juicing machine!

I use my Nutri-bullet but a hand blender will also work well…

Gorgeous Green Juice Formula 

  • X2 cups of washed greens (spinach or kale are great choices)
  • X1 cup of washed & peeled fruit (mixed or single type depending what you fancy) 
  • X 1 cup of filtered water
  • I either throw in a couple of ice cubes or some of my pre prepped frozen fruit straight from the freezer 
  • Sprinkle of maca powder, flax seeds or chia seeds depending what you feel your body needs today!

Blend, enjoy straight away if you can as the nutrients start to disappear even if left even in the fridge. 

Enjoy Anytime Jelly Shots

We LOVE making jelly.  There are so many brilliant health benefits to using gelatin as a supplement.  

How to do it;

  • 1.5 tbsp Great Lakes gelatin per pint of liquid
  • Boil seasonal fruit like pears, oranges, mangos, apples in filtered water – sieve and retain the water for your jelly (we’re using rhubarb grown in the garden at the moment).
  • Quickly whisk the gelatin into the hot fruity water (you can add some of the fruit back in if you like)
  • Pour into bowls, moulds or ice cube trays
  • Pop in the fridge for a couple of hours until set and enjoy!
Nature's candy!!
Nature’s candy!!

If you needed any more convincing to hunt out those fun jelly moulds and rekindle your relationship with the wobbly goodness…here are some health benefits of’s all about the collagen which;

  • Supports skin, hair and nail growth
  • Is excellent for joints and can help joint recovery after exercise
  • Tightens loose skin and improves appearance including cellulite
  • Improves digestion (it naturally binds to liquid and helps move food more easily though the digestive tract).
  • Is a great source of dietary collagen – this is what’s in your face creams ladies!!
  • Contains specific amino acids which can help build muscle.
Phewf, after all that work there’s just time to collect our goody bag and play sleeping lions! 😉

I’d love you to share your recipes too!  Thanks for reading and have fun!


(*) As I’ve mentioned fruit is VERY high in sugar so be sure to build it into your macro allowance.

Barefoot Bootcamp – “it’s not about that”

Do you remember your first yoga class?  

I went into mine with all my preconceptions…yoga was ‘bendy’…yoga was feminine…yoga was ‘light’ exercise…yoga was slow and boring…yoga was a little bit weird!  “i’m not that flexible” was my nervous ‘hello’ as i walked into the mat filled room!  Apparently my Yoga instructor had heard that one before – about a million times!- and he smiled a big wide reassuring smile and said…“it’s not about that”.

He knew then, what I would come to know in time – yoga wasn’t about whether I could lift my legs behind my ears, it was about fascinating in where my body was currently at.  It was an invitation to stay connected to my breath in difficult and vulnerable situations.  it was exploring my body as a vessel for movement and blurring the lines between what was mind, and what was body.

This sounds like i’m bestowing yoga with magical powers, but any surgeon will tell you how freely the limbs move under anesthetic – as the central nervous system has been removed from the equation.  Thus, ‘stiff’ muscles seem to be only a small part of the equation.

Yoga is just a little bit 'out there!'

Needless-to-say, I left the yoga class with very different feelings from the ones I’d taken in!  This was in no small part due to the Yoga teacher I’d had the good fortune to select.  The role and value of the Teacher was brought to the forefront of my mind just recently when a good friend asked me to run some strength and conditioning sessions out of his shiny new Yoga studio.

I had some ‘kick-back’ when a photo of me ‘weightlifting’ was used to advertise these new classes.  it caught me a little off-guard – having worked with clients in their 80’s who’s strength was literally a matter of life and death if they were were to fall alone at home.  Having used weights to successfully improve the quality of life for Parkinson’s sufferers who were at a loss as how they would carry their groceries home, weighlifting just makes sense to me.  It suprised me there’s such a huge stigma attached to lifting weights…and like my yoga teacher before me I found myself in but “it’s not about that”  

So why weight lift?  Why build muscle mass?  Why come to Barefoot Bootcamp? 

Barefoot Bootcamp can happen anywhere your body takes you!

Having read the cutting-edge research which showed muscle in and off itself had a protective effect against alzheimer’s – not how active someone was, but actually how much muscle tone they had!  Knowing every Osteopathic governing body recommends weight lifting activities to thicken and strengthen bones, knowing building muscle builds a bigger, stronger more bullet proof engine for the body –  I’ll be continuing to lift weights and encouraging my clients to do the same as part of a healthy lifestyle and the ultimate quest to connect body, mind and spirit and to have fun of course!

Come and join me at my Barefoot Bootcamp and listen to your body afterwards – it will thankyou I can promise that.

Yours in strength



“Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham say that high-intensity strength training produced significant improvements in quality of life, mood and motor function in older patients with Parkinson’s disease.”

“Some evidence suggests that exercise may do even more than boost strength and balance; it may protect brain cells from degeneration and make Parkinson’s medications work better.”

“High intensity strength training is recommended as part of a management strategy for osteoporosis.” —

“These recommendations are based on strong scientific evidence suggesting that weight-bearing physical activity plays a key role during the normal growth and development of a healthy skeleton. High-intensity exercise of short duration appears to elicit the greatest bone density increase in the growing skeleton. This information is especially important to parents, teachers and health authorities that are responsible for school curricula. A sedentary lifestyle, rather than an excessively active one, is more likely to be the risk faced by most children today” — Gortmaker SL, Must A, Sobol AM et al. Television viewing as a cause of increasing obesity among children in the United States 1986-1990. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1996;150:356-362.

This study indicates that over a 2-year period, a combined regimen of aerobics and weight training has beneficial effects on BMD and fitness parameters in young women. However, the addition of daily calcium supplementation does not add significant benefit to the intervention. — Friedlander, A. L., Genant, H. K., Sadowsky, S., Byl, N. N. and Glüer, C.-C. (1995), A two-year program of aerobics and weight training enhances bone mineral density of young women. J Bone Miner Res, 10: 574–585. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.5650100410

“Resistance training had a positive effect on bone mineral density at the lumbar spine of all women and at the femur and radius sites for postmenopausal women. It was concluded that resistance training has a positive effect on bone mineral density in women…regular weight-bearing exercise can result in 1% to 8% improvements in bone strength at the loaded skeletal sites.” Kelley GA, Kelley KS, Tran ZV. Resistance training and bone mineral density in women: a meta-analysis of controlled trials. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2001;80:65-77

First Foods… We did it our way…

“Food, the forgotten medicine (c)”

REAL FOOD Baby Weaning

I wanted to share our weaning journey with you as I know there is so much conflicting and confusing information out there and I really feel like with an adult diet, it’s much more simple than our society would have you believe.  It won’t come as a suprise that I HUGELY advocate weaning with REAL FOODS!

My principles for a happy feeding environment are three fold;

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Eat real food
  3. Don’t believe the hype

1. Keep it simple. Although it’s tempting to try lots of different foods from the get go or to try and fill little tummys with ‘organic baby rice or cereal’ (*), your baby has developed the tools over the last 6 months to process  just 1 food (Breastmilk) – even by adding one food you’ve doubled his or her challenges!  Adding 2, 3, or even 4 brand new foods will be a huge shift and in my opinion too much too soon!

My personal advice would be to start with just one or perhaps two supplements… Egg Yolk and Banana.  (egg yolk from free range hens and organic banana where possible)

I say ‘supplements’ because at the moment that’s all they are…mum is still providing the vast bulk of calories and nutrients.

Human Breastmilk is roughly 55% fat, 38% carbohydrate, and 7% protein. Whilst you’re never going to find a food which matches this profile completely, it seems reasonable to introduce foods which reflect this balance – high fat, moderate carb and low protein.

You’ve had 6 months of just milk feeds and as well as the nutritional benefits of starting simple there’ll be benefits to you as parents as you find your way with it all not to mention a happy baby who isn’t struggling with a sore tummy or excess wind!

2. Eat Real Food

It won’t suprise you there are no RUSKS in our cupboards!  Breast milk is made up of mainly fat which is precisely why Leander’s first food was cooked egg yolk (also mainly fat).  Meat has been studied as a first complimentary food to milk and been found to improve zinc levels and potential benefits.  Bananas are a carbohydrate but have an enzyme which helps with breakdown in the digestive tract making for easy digestion and absorption of nutrients.   Baby’s digestive systems are simply NOT READY for the array of foods some parents throw at them early on and this can cause gastorintal problems later on in life.

3. Don’t believe the Hype

Pures, pouches, the baby bullet, strips of steamed veg, frozen dots of food from cute jars, different textures, tastes and smells all spell one thing for your baby – OVERWHELM.  He has the rest of his life to experience all of these things and more.

Our society is driven by advertising, by pressure, encouraging you to live in fear that you’ll do something wrong just by trying to do right – do yourself a favour and opt out.

Stay with me over the coming weeks as we introduce more REAL foods to Leander and tell you how it fits in with our lifestyle too.

Yours in health and happy parenting


PS – I offer nutrition plans for pregnant or nursing mothers and for those bravely starting their journey into weaning with REAL Foods!   Contact me directly for details…

(*) organic baby rice is essentially just rice with added iron!  Those marketeers know what they’re doing!

Exclusive Breast Feeding – We did it our way…

“Food, the forgotten medicine” (c) 

REAL FOOD for baby

This is a post about the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding.

That said, it’s important to point out that everybodies path is different, we couldn’t quite believe how much pressure you face after you leave the hospital with your bundle of joy.  Mums have it particularly tough of course with the realisation that you’re solely responsible for providing the energy and sustenance to grow an actual human being!   Functioning on very little sleep and bombarded with 24/7 access-all-areas internet and media coverage of how to do the right thing for your child it’s easy to reach overwhelm!

This ridiculous NHS advert is just one example – i can only assume it was conceived by a group of clueless advertising executives – the underlying message is that, not only do we expect you to single-handely breastfeed your child, but we expect you to look glamourous in the process!  (*)

An ill-conceived NHS Advert!
An ill-conceived NHS Advert circa 2010

The book ‘Breast is Best’ was written way back in 1978 and yet the World Health Organisation (WHO), together with UNICEF are still (report February 2015) raising awareness of the benefits of breastmilk as the cornerstone of child nutrition, health and development.

Breastmilk is nature’s perfect food. It is universally available. Its benefits last a lifetime, for mother as well as child…Exclusive breastfeeding – defined as the practice of only giving an infant breast-milk for the first 6 months of life (no other food or water) – has the single largest potential impact on child mortality of any preventive intervention. — WHO (2015)

It’s my personal belief and inline with current Health guidelines in the UK, US and Australia (to name a few) that babies where possible (there are certain clinical reasons where breastfeeding is not an option – HIV or taking certain medications that may be harmful to baby) should be given breast-milk and breast-milk only for the first 6months of life.

“Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby. Exclusive breastfeeding (giving your baby breast milk only) is recommended for around the first six months of your baby’s life” NHS, UK

Introduction of complementary feedings before 6 months of age generally does not increase total caloric intake or rate of growth and only substitutes foods that lack the protective components of human milk. — Roberta J. Cohen et al. 

Our son was exclusively breast fed for the first 6 months of his life, and whilst I would never judge anyone who chooses another route, I am surprised that only 38% of infants aged 0 to 6 months being exclusively breastfed globally.

There is also an incredible amount of pressure to start weaning early for a multitude of bonkers reasons and we faced our fair share! Click here to read results of a survey that demonstrates this.

I am incredibly proud our my partner in her journey through EBF and of our baby who has been just bouncingly happy throughout the process!  Some days she really felt she was in prep to run a marathon and we ensured she had plenty of good fats, protein and fresh vegetables.

We have just started weaning working with real foods and tuning into our sense of what is right for our son Leander, after all ‘every baby is different’.  In my next post I’ll share the start of that journey with you…

You are a brilliant parent and all your baby needs that’s all you need to know!

With love for a BRILLIANT parental journey,


PS – I offer personalised nutrition plans for nursing mothers and weaning babies.  Please contact me for more information.

(*) It is not my intention to add to the already oppressive message that you MUST breastfeed…but simply advise, best where possible, but if this places mum in an unsustainable and dangerous position then she should certainly not hesitate to examine other options.

Further Reading

Introducing Solid Foods Too Soon

Is baby ready for solids?

Bone Broth-ing with chicken in 5 simple steps

Food, the forgotten medicine (c)

You may have seen more and more articles recently about the benefits of Bone Broth!?  There’s even a cafe serving Bone Broth opened up in New York that’s going down a storm!

Bone Broth plays a huge part in healing our gut thanks to its collagen content.  Another high-value food used by many traditional cultures that’s been somewhat lost in the West, bone broth will improve digestion, allergies, immune & brain health and may even help reduce cellulite AND increase hair growth!

Miraculous!  It’s even been suggested bone broth should be one of the first foods used to wean your baby.

We drink Bone Broth EVERYDAY!

Bone broth helps you grow BIG and strong!!
Bone broth helps you grow BIG and strong!!

Here’s what you need;

  • A slow cooker (ideally, but you could also use a pan and boil on a hob)
  • 2 organic, free range chicken carcasses
  • 1/2 bulb of garlic
  • Vegetables of your choice (I usually throw in an onion & a few root veggies)
  • Salt & Pepper, herbs to taste
  • 2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar (helps break the bones down to release the good stuff!)


LOVE your bone broth FATS.  This is a beef stock, you can skim off the fat to use for roasting root veg!
LOVE your bone broth FATS. This is a beef stock, you can skim off the fat to use for roasting root veg!









Here’s what to do;

  1. Put all of your ingredients into your slow cooker
  2. Add filtered water; enough to cover the ingredients
  3. Turn to high to get going
  4. Turn to low for 18+ hours (it’s ready when the bones have become soft)
  5. Strain and serve, cool pack and freeze for up to three months or keep in the fridge for up to 1 week and use a base for soups
No waste in our kitchen
No waste in our kitchen

Soaking Almonds in 5 Easy Steps

What you need to know

Almonds contain an enzyme inhibitor in their outer skin that protects the nut until it’s ready to germinate.

Like most nuts this makes them difficult to digest and prevents access to all of the nuts nutrients and vitamins.

Clever early humans learned that they could make nuts more digestible and nutritious by soaking or sprouting.

What you need to do

1. Purchase Raw Organic Almonds (budget permitting)
2. Place Almonds in a large bowl or similar
3. For every 1/2 cup of Almonds add 2 cups of filtered water
4. Soak overnight
5. Rinse, drain, and eat within a few days for best results

Top-tipTry a sip of the acrid brown water after soaking if you really want to know why should soak your nuts – just make sure you have somewhere to spit!


Homemade RAW milk Kefir in 5 easy steps!

Food, the forgotten medicine (c)

We LOVE Kefir in our house!  In terms of fermented and pro-biotic wonder foods it’s an absolute WINNER with trillions, that’s right trillions of tiny GOOD bacteria to help keep your gut healthy.

Read more on the science and benefits here

Since our son was born, my partner drinks it every day and we’re confident it is strengthening his digestive system through her nursing him.

Little Milk Man
Little Milk Man










We’re planning to offer him some too once he’s old enough!

It’s one of the easiest fermented foods to make (promise) … so much so you can do it in 5 steps…

Here’s what you need…

  • Kefir grains
  • Organic whole or Raw Milk if you can get it from a trusted source.
  • A plastic sieve
  • A glass mason jar
One of my milk Kefir Grains
One of my Kefir Grains










Here’s what to do…

Depending on how strong you like the taste of your kefir you can choose how much milk to add to your grains.  I’m currently working with a x5 grains (*) to 1 pint of milk ratio.

  1. Rinse the grains in a little of the milk through your sieve if you’ve been ‘hibernating’ (**) them or they’ve just arrived.
  2. Add your milk to the kefir grains in a mason jar
  3. Take to your nearest warm spot (we use the airing cupboard)
  4. Leave for between 12-18 hours popping the top and shaking once
  5. Open, sieve, chill and serve!


If you give it a go I’d love to know how you get on… you can contact me via my facebook page. 

(*) Kefir grains will multiply the more you feed them… you can read more here

(**) You can hibernate your kefir grains in the fridge in a little milk if you need a little holiday from them.



5 Ways to Beat Christmas Weight-gain

Food, the Forgotten Medicine©

Christmas Cat

Cold weather, shorter days and festive cheer is the perfect excuse to overeat at this time of year, but if we understand our bodies a little better we can enjoy ourselves without over the top weight-gain.

Leptin Deficient Mousey & A very Normal Mousey

Your appetite – like most things – is controlled by hormones…principally ‘Ghrelin’ and ‘Leptin’.

They work on a feedback loop – when your stomach is empty, Ghrelin is produced and this signals the brain that it’s time to eat.  Leptin, on the other hand tells the brain to stop eating if we start gaining too much fat.  In other words, Leptin is a hormone that suppresses appetite, whilst Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite – if you want to lose weight, you want LESS Ghrelin in your system.


Here’s my top FIVE ways to look after your hormones this Christmas…


ONE – Sleep more!

Sleep deprivation is a great way to increase the production of ghrelin and decrease leptin production   If you’re going to a few parties these next few weeks then you’d better find time to throw some afternoon naps in the mix – buffets and increased ghrelin aren’t a great idea!

TWO – Avoid *Hyperpalatable Foods

If you really want your brain chemistry messed with, eat highly processed foods.

Food manufacturers know that fat, sugar, and salt send our reward centers crazy, meaning we always want more.  Essentially, we can’t ‘hear’ the signals from our gut through all the dopamine ‘noise’.

Stay away from highly processed foods altogether –  better still make your own treats and you’ll know exactly whats gone in them!  Check out this blog post for Festive Treats.

THREE – Eat Slower

If you choose to eat like an industrial hoover then it’s inevitable you’ll get a LOT of calories down your neck before your brains even received the signal that your stomach is full – best advice here is to chew your food and appreciate the textures and flavours.

FOUR – Eat Mindfully 

It’s a good idea to stop eating (not always) before you’re completely full, and that requires a focused dialogue from gut to brain.  Watching TV, messaging on FB, or driving whilst eating, are a sure-fire way to break that connection!

FIVE – Keep Your Balance – Energy Balance that is!

Bear in mind that you can’t out-train a sloppy diet – not even the magic of Christmas allows this! 

However, that doesn’t mean exercise isn’t powerful stuff, and i wouldn’t wait until the New Year to start…even if its just 5 minutes, do something today, and by the time January roles around, your body will not be thrown to the bootcamp HIIT wolves!

Talking about intensity (HIIT), shorter exercise durations at medium-to-high intensities has been shown to illicit less cravings – particularly in women.  So, if your idea of fat-loss is hours of treadmill or cycling, you might want to consider how that impacts your appetite later that day and wether you increase your meals and snacks to compensate!  Your best bet is to keep the duration relatively short and ramp up the intensity.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 21.49.30
image & data courtesy of



Finally, what if there was an activity that not only got us moving, but aided our digestive health too!

To many, Yoga is about being bendy – or perhaps graceful & bendy – but for me it’s more an internal practice – check out these 14 yoga postures that aid digestion.

Of course there are Yoga teachers who are focused on the bendy-aesthetic, and Yoga Teachers who are focused on the intelligent side of yoga, so choose your class accordingly!  If you’re located in the North East of England, then Jambo Yoga certainly fits the latter!


Whatever your journey, have an AMAZING time!!!


Happy Christmas!


Magic ‘The Grinch’ Manos



*Hyperpalatable foods is a term coined by Harvard-trained pediatrician, and former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, MD