Hard Wood

For your body & mind

Cook Your Own Meals

Posted by on Mar 1, 2016

I don’t have time to cook

With our ever increasingly busy world many people are turning to take out food, fast foods and prepared foods as they say they don’t have time to cook. This is an expensive and not often a healthy way to eat. In the time it takes to order and get a takeout delivered you could cook the meal yourself for probably 1/3 of the cost. If you have to drive, it probably takes longer to drive than it does to cook a meal.

Buy yourself a simple, quick recipe book. Tag a few recipes that you like the look of, get the ingredients, pick a day and cook. If you like it, great, add it to your repertoire, if not find something else. We have a range of quick recipes we use at home for busy days and then cook longer items on quieter days. I also like meals that take 5 mins prep and the you can put in the over to cook, unsupervised, while you get on with other tasks.

So how can we manage to cook and live busy lives?

There are many quick and easy recipes available which require low cooking skill levels, simple ingredients and not much time or washing up either.

Not eating enough vegetables? Keep lots of different frozen veggies in the freezer to add to any meals. They are simple, no preparation, ready to go and quick. They store easily for months until you are ready to eat them.

Fishy options – there are many varieties of salmon and tuna which come in tins, ready to eat and add to salads. No preparation, no extra washing up.

Chicken – there are lots of preseasoned cuts of many meats available at the supermarkets. These often freeze well. Just grab them out the night before and leave them in the fridge for the next evening.

Vegetarian? There are still lots of simple choices. Many lentils and beans come in tins so there is minimal preparation required.

Stir fry – there are no real rules with recipes for stir fries. Add some meat, grab some veggies, add some sauce and done. You can buy premade sauces but grab a recipe book and try a few till you find one you like. I like to just add soy sauce and honey – nothing fancy, tastes great.

Spices – keep a range of spices on the rack to ad to meals. This is a simple way to smarten up the simplest meals. We always keep cracked chilli, mixed herbs, garlic flakes and curry powder to add to meals to sharpen them up.

Check out my current favourite cook books:



Take a few minutes to plan your meals for the week. Draw up a shopping list to match your plans. Easy. It doesn’t have to take long to cook healthy, cheap meals.

Add picture of weekly plan – link to our page about meal planning?

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Looking after your body after a workout

Posted by on Feb 26, 2016

Looking after your body after a workout

We all know it is important to keep our bodies fit and active but the way you look after your body following a work out is really important to the overall impact on your wellbeing.

Cool down

We all know the importance of warming up at the beginning of exercising but do we take the same care to cool down at the end of our workout or do we just grab our gear and head home with a quick swig of water. It is just as important to take time to cool down after exercise as it will prevent soreness later.

Straight after your workout is a perfect time to stretch out your muscles while they are warm. Maintaining flexibility is important for healthy aging so add some good stretches into your cool down. Make sure you take time to stretch each core muscle group. Start at the top and work down, stretch the neck, arms, back, glutes and leg muscles. There are lots of different stretches so learn a few that work for you and mix them up from time to time.

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Ice or heat?

After exercise the muscles respond best to a cool shower or ice. You may have heard of professional sports people who take an ice bath after a match. This is good for the recovery of your muscles, While stepping into the sauna after a workout may feel good it puts extra strain on your muscles when they are recovering.

Stopping abruptly

Many people make the mistake of stopping their exercise abruptly rather than working with their body to slow their heart rate and blood pressure more gradually. By gradually reducing your exercise intensity you will reduce the chances of feeling sick or dizzy. If you have been running fast, don’t just stop, slow the run to a jog and then a walk and slowly come to a stop over a few minutes. This is much better for your body and you will feel much better for doing so both immediately and the longer term recovery.


Exercising burns calories and this uses lots of water. Make sure you hydrate well during and after exercise. An electrolyte drink may help recovery from more strenuous work outs. Drink little and often as it doesn’t feel good running on a liquid stomach. We need to drink 2-3 litres of water per day and more if we exercise hard. Keep your water bottle handy, especially during exercise.


Gyms are full of hot, sweaty people who leave their germs around. Make sure you wash your hands and face before and after your work out to minimise your chances of catching something. If you have small children at home, or other vulnerable people, it may be good to shower and change at the gym, keeping those germs out of the house and car.


In order to build muscles, you need to provide your body with protein in the 30-minute window post exercise. This will allow your body to replace the proteins used and build your muscles stronger.

Taking these few simple steps will allow you to maximise your work outs.

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Get A Flat Stomach

Posted by on Feb 5, 2016

Get A Flat Stomach

Do you dream of getting a flat stomach? I’m not necessarily talking about a six-pack here (which is

the ultimate dream of course), but simply a toned flat tummy.

If so, then these tips will help you achieve a flatter stomach.

For many people, the thought of achieving that perfectly flat, “surf board” stomach is a dream. For

many, a six-pack is simply out of reach and would be happy with a flat stomach that would look good

in your favourite clothes.

Along with having a good diet, the key to developing a flat stomach is to have a strong core. Having a

strong core is fundamental to good health and well-being. Many ailments such as back issues stem

from a weak core.

Don’t fear though, this doesn’t mean you have to do 100 sit-ups every other day. Instead, just doing

these simple things will get you started towards that perfectly flat stomach.

Flat Stomach Tip 1 – Suck In That Gut

This may sound incredibly simple… and that is because it is, but don’t underestimate its


By simply standing tall and sucking that belly button in activates your core and develops good

posture. Repeat this exercise a number of times each day, for example 3 times a day for 20 seconds

at a time (more as you progress). Importantly, remember to breath… don’t hold your breath!

Flat Stomach Tip 2 – Drink More

No No, not alcohol 

One of the most crucial factors in achieving a flat stomach is to stay hydrated. If your body detects

that is isn’t getting enough hydration, it will hold onto excess fluid giving your stomach that bloated


Aim for the equivalent of 8 – 10 glasses of water a day.

Flat Stomach Tip 3 – The Plank

One of the best exercise for achieving a flat stomach is the old favourite… the plank. The plank is a

great exercise for increasing core strength and works multiple muscle groups at once.

There are a couple of different versions including the push up plank and the elbow plank. The push

up plank is great for beginners as it’s slightly easier to hold. As you gain more core strength, you can

move onto the elbow plank.

You can see the differences between the 2 planks and how to make sure if adopt the correct position


To Wrap it Up

Getting a flat stomach need not be as hard as it may seem. If you commit to these three simple

strategies on a consistent basis, they will help you develop a flat stomach that you can be proud of.

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