This week’s guest blog is from the incredibly productive Sam Harrington-Lowe, magazine editor (Title Sussex), media lecturer, events company MD, author, mother, foodie, intermittent faster and all round inspiration. We wanted to know how she kept her energy and focus going to hold all of that together. We’re particularly struck by her honest relationship to food and her body, her awareness of what helps and what doesn’t, and what’s feasible and helpful right now (as opposed to that golden idea of perfection that none of us truly live up to!). Sam, we salute your commitment, and celebrate your love for poached eggs and other egg-based breakfasts!
“I start my days early. I used to think that was purely because I had no choice, driven by the school prep rat-race, but actually I wake up early anyway, and my most productive times of the day are the hours between 7am and about midday. I’m not saying I’m useless after that, but in the mornings I just fly. My brain is on fire, juggling emails, calls, writing articles and planning the magazine content or event structures. By midday I’m thinking about coffee to keep it up, I start to slow down. If you want me to do something clever, ask me first thing in the morning.
In terms of routine, I couldn’t start the day without a cup of tea but I don’t eat breakfast until a bit later. I find it slows me down, soon as the blood sugars rise. So I kinda put that off as long as I can; but when I do eat, it’s almost always eggs. Poached eggs on toasted seedy bread with real butter. It’s the food of the gods, as far as I’m concerned. I fast twice a week, and I choose those days to be Mondays – although that’s always the harder day of the two, after a weekend – and Thursdays, when I am teaching; I am a part time lecturer at BIMM. Mondays I really have to plan out, and I tend to make a big bucket of 400 calorie veg, bean and Quorn stew that I can just eat bowls of through the day, so I don’t have to think about it. Thursdays is much easier. I get through the day on coffee and the buzz of my lovely students’ enquiring minds and it’s a lot easier – I come home and eat something nice. Actually fasting keeps me feeling quite buzzy, once you get used to it. I have to keep reminding myself to drink more water though.
Intermittent fasting is the only thing that gives me some sort of food routine to anchor myself to. I have two businesses, apart from my days teaching at BIMM, and my days are really irregular. As a magazine editor I have a lot of meetings and I eat out a lot, and the same for my events business too actually. It is really tough trying to keep an eye on my diet when I’m often in places that are just full of heavenly food, but having those two days ‘off’ eating really helps. I’d be the size of a house otherwise.
I have a little pug called Ruby who sits at my feet whilst I work and is pretty needy, so I try and plan meetings in the afternoon so I know she can be at home with my daughter after school. Partly for that reason, but also because I’m not so mentally agile past 3pm. So having meetings and making plans and deals over a coffee is where I’m most useful at that point.
My day almost always winds up with a glass (or two) of wine at the end of it. I work at home a fair bit and there’s something about that drink at the end of the day that signifies the time to stop. Otherwise I can easily end up just working til I drop. I’m a mum, so I do my best to cook proper meals, and my daughter is a vegetarian, so there’s a bit of a mash up for dinner often. I’m a bit of a carnivore so I can end up making two meals sometimes, although I don’t mind veggie food really. It depends how knackered I am. If it’s press week at the magazine though it’s every man for himself in my house, and my daughter will often feed herself. I’m proud that she can actually cook a good range of meals for herself at the age of (nearly) 15. I think it’s important for her to connect with food, and not rely on junk or fast food as she grows up. She does have a terrible weakness for Supernoodles though. Mind you, so do I.
I’m normally shattered by 9pm. If I’m not out – and I do have to go out to events and networking stuff quite a lot – I might try and watch some TV or something but realistically I just fall asleep on the sofa snoring, so I prefer just to go to bed, where I like to listen to a play or Radio 4 or something equally middle aged and middle class. Overall I’m pretty healthy, but I would like to make more time for myself to do nice fitness stuff, like yoga or swimming. I keep promising myself to make regular times each week… still working on that bit!”
You can explore how to keep your energy and focus strong, and manage both stress and blood sugar levels, on our Bloom Summer Retreat in South West France this June. Book now for your earlybird discount.