Friday, 9 February 2018

The Four Pillars

Blogging really feels like it is taking a back seat the moment, which is frustrating because there is much I would like to write about but as always is the way when there is lots happening there is no time to write. Of course when there is plenty of time to write I've nothing much to say!

Despite being busy I'm still trying to follow the advice in Dr Chatterjee's book The 4 Pillar Plan, trying to improve how I relax, eat, move and sleep. For each of the four 'pillars' there is a five point check list and until I started writing this I thought I was doing really well... oh how we can fool ourselves!


For relaxation he suggests carving out some 'me time' each day. It can be almost anything that is solely for me that doesn't involve a screen plus I mustn't feel guilty about it. If nothing else I read a real book for at least 15 guilt free minutes a day so I think I can consider that ticked. I also eat at least one meal around a table... in fact we generally eat all our meals at the table. so that is two points ticked... however keeping a screen free Sabbath (or any day I guess) is not something I've done, nor a daily period of stillness... although when I'm laying awake unable to sleep I try to meditate on my breathing. Does that count? The fifth suggestion is to keep a gratitude journal which I sort of do mentally but just forget to write it down. He suggests doing it last thing at night but it's just about the last thing I think about... too busy thinking about that elusive sleep!


I'm not scoring so well on the moving either. I mostly manage 10,000 steps a day but strength training, high intensity intervals training, exercise snacking, daily glute exercises? I don't think so... I really must reread that chapter! Sleep is not scoring so well either. I can appreciate an environment of darkness for going off to sleep but I actually like the arrival of daylight to wake me up. Plus I'm not about to get new curtains. I did a few days with no screen time in the evenings (until I discovered the ancestry research) and even a few days with no caffine in the evening but even though I have tried really hard  I find most herbal teas revolting and as there was no discernable difference in my sleeping pattern I've reverted back to old habits. At least I get twenty minutes of daylight outside every morning.


But for the eating I'm scoring four out of five (if you have the book you will know that he suggests it is far better to score two in each pillar than a high score in one and nothing in others... but we'll gloss over that for now!) Retrain taste buds to de-normailise sugar... tick, Eat five different veg a day... tick, eat all my food within a twelve hour window... tick, unprocess my diet... tick! The only thing I struggle with at this time of year is drinking eight glasses of water a day. I do try but mostly forget. And when I do remember, I spend half the night up and down needing a wee, so it doesn't do much for me getting a better night's sleep


But I'm really enjoying the food... breakfast is always a favourite meal especially every conceivable porridge variation - the current favourite is made with blueberries and topped with yoghurt and slices of kiwi. Or maybe fruit and yoghurt topped with homemade granola... so much nicer than any supermarket brands. 

Homemade Granola
I warm up 25g butter with 60g nut butter (usually almond) and 60 g honey. Stir that into 300g oats along with 75g chopped nuts (almonds, hazelnuts and pecans all work well). Spread this onto a baking tray and bake at 180 deg C (160 fan) for 15 mins, turning half way through the cooking time. Do set a timer as there is a fine line between toasted nuts and burnt! Allow to cool and stir in a handful of dried cranberries (or raisins) before storing in an airtight container.


Soup is always an easy way to eat several portions of vegetables for lunch and I've been making soda bread each week to go along with it.

Seeded Soda Bread
Mix together 450g wholemeal bread flour, 75g mixed seeds, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda. In a jug combine 1 tablespoon black treacle with a carton of buttermilk and top it up to 450 ml with some cold water. Mix well into the flour mixture and allow to stand for five minutes while the oven heats up to 200 deg C. (180 fan) Shape into a loaf, place on a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.


And just in case you think I'm being too virtuous to be true... there were some date and walnut muffins this week (and some chocolate, but that's a secret!) 

So that's where I am with the four pillars... not doing as well as I thought but I generally keep good health and have plenty of energy, plus I have shed a few pounds since the new year so it can't all be bad. I shall definitely stick with it.

I hope you have a good weekend!

21 comments:

  1. It sounds as if you are doing very well. Sorry you don't sleep well. Luckily I have always been able to get to sleep. I used to make my own granola and think I should start doing so again. I have a little with sliced banana and topped off with oat flakes every morning. Keep up the good work, but make it fit in with your lifestyle!

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  2. We start the day with porridge but we eat it cold, which sounds revolting but made with full fat milk it is a bit like eating creamy cold rice pudding, nice if you like it :D We vary what we eat it with, either home made apple sauce or berries of some description. Which reminds me I must dig some out of the freezer. We also add kefir, which is another type of fermented milk product you find over this way (Latvia).

    As for vegetables, kind of getting a bit limited at this time of the year, but we still have plenty of squash, beans, tomatoes and onions. Moving around? Ho hummm! I think I had better go skiing tomorrow then :D as the home-made chocolate is getting too addictive

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  3. Sounds as if you are doing pretty well to me Gina. i think you deserve a blooming halo! Have a lovely weekend and indulge in whatever makes you happy but un-guilty if that's possible! x

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  4. This book sounds like hard work and ticking boxes sounds just stressful. Put it back on the shelf, you are doing blooming marvellous and don't need it. I am of course a grumpy middle aged woman... and I am recovering from a few vegan days, which made me double grumpy. I don't like it when someone makes generic statements about what will make us feel good and makes money from it. Anyway, I have good news for your night time toilet run: There is no scientific evidence that supports the eight glasses of water a day claim. I found a review article that looks at the origins of this claim and which looks at evidence in support of it (you can read it here: http://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpregu.00365.2002. Let me know if you can access it, often scientific articles are behind a paywall but I can't tell because my computer knows my work library has a subscription.)

    Your food looks delicious, particularly the blue berry porridge. x

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  5. I'm still waiting for my copy of 4 pillars from the library - but I have to say, you're not selling it to me.
    And what is that hideous lumpy green stuff - have you blocked your drains!?! Xx

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  6. Well done you, you're doing brilliantly. I've mostly quit sugar and I feel heaps better for it. And I eat within 8 hours most days, which seems to suit me. Like you, I like to see the light when it arrives, although at the moment it's usually dark when I wake up. Not so good in the summer when it's light at 4am though! CJ xx

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  7. Your eating plan looks great. Walking and running for me certainly helps me sleep at night. Plus reading from a book just before I go to sleep and ignoring my screen at bedtime. As for drinking vast quantities of water, never have. Mind you I do drink copious amounts of tea. Good luck with it all. B x

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    1. I used to sleep better when I ran but it hurts my knees too much now. I do miss it!

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  8. I really enjoyed reading this. I suspect that each of us might have our own four pillars and that there is some overlap between them to a greater or lesser extent. I'm always out of sorts if I don't spend plenty of time outside, or fit in a walk or cycle ride. When I was without wifi recently, I realised how I could pare down a lot of screen time, ruthlessly unsubscribed from certain sites and became much more picky about what I read. Visiting you here definitely fits into my relax. pillar!

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    1. That is very kind of you to say!

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  9. I think that is all very virtuous!!
    Thank goodness though...I thought it was just me that didn't like herbal teas!!
    And that fine line between toasted and burnt....!!
    Your granola does look lovely though and so does that soda bread.

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  10. You are going well. Don't beat yourself up about any of it as you will probably find someone does an about face about how beneficial something is or something bad has suddenly become good.
    Lovely to see you using Kiwifruit!

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  11. It sounds like you are doing amazing! What fabulous advice to follow too. If you want to squeeze in an easy mini workout go on youtube to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3pvUvxfmQo These are 10 minute workouts most of them are there and she gives really clear advice, you would get your breathing in there too! x

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    1. Might check those out if I get a spare minute!

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  12. You are doing so well! I think it is all very sensible advice and probably common sense but you are trying and succeeding in many ways so well done xx

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    1. Everything in moderation and a little of what you fancy seems to work most of the time!

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  13. Sounds like your self improvement plan is going really well. Did you watch the recent BBC programme about keeping fit? Apparently the 10,000 magic steps thingy isn't evidence based at all but came from a marketing strategy in the 60's by a Japanese company selling an early pedometer. Now it seems 10 minute bursts of activity are being promoted as an effective way to improve health and fitness. Think I'll just keep trying to do what my parents did (they both lived into their mid 90s) which was everything in moderation. And I'll also be trying date and walnut muffins.

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  14. I agree with Christina! See me eating that much food? Nah.

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  15. It seems like you are doing really well! I have tried Redbush tea which for a long time I really didn't like but now I have it with lemon and love it!

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    1. I have tried redbush but I found it a bit indifferent. My sister in law swears by it!

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    2. I blend half good Ceylon tea, with a quarter rooibos, and a quarter honeybush (harder to find). With milk.

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