Most women, especially busy mothers who do a mammoth full-time job at home and zealous hard-working career persons, need to switch off occasionally and indulge in the luxury of complete rest and relaxation.

Of course, this can be found in a first-class health hydro at a considerable expense; however, the necessary peace and quiet and contentment can be organized at home. It needs forward planning, a certain amount of self-discipline, and the co-operation of devoted husbands and children (or boyfriends or flat-mates) who need to be sent away!

Assuming you agree with me so far, you’ll probably also agree that a weekend is the least inconvenient time for you to plan this rejuvenating and pampering therapeutic breathing-space.

The principle idea is to combine rest, a certain amount of exercise, a beauty round-up, and a light diet of delicious but non-fattening meals.

The stresses and strains of our daily lives build up tensions that not only affect health but also looks, so the greatest emphasis should be on “rest.”

Make it a self-indulgent weekend and remind yourself you deserve it!

Starting Friday evening

It’s a good idea to pre-shop for extras you may not always have in the store-cupboard such as yogurt, herb teas, any favorite health foods, and perhaps some of the ingredients for meals suggested on this feature.

Your body needs a certain amount of high-quality protein to keep it in good condition; however, excess protein does you no good, so for this period go light on meat. Alcohol uses up a great many of the body’s vitamins, especially the B vitamins, so try cutting it out altogether or just drinking a glass of wine with food, but take plenty of spa water, barley water, or even plain water between meals.

Prepare a very light supper for Friday and enjoy eating it slowly. Grill a piece of fish brushed with oil and lemon juice and herbs or parsley. With it eat a cooked fresh green vegetable or a crisp lettuce salad with a dressing made with a little dry mustard, salt and pepper mixed together, and a tablespoon of pure lemon juice and two tablespoons of pure olive oil.

Go to bed early! Stay there for as long as you want each day. On awakening, sip a glass of hot water with a slice of lemon in it.

As you are resting there’s no need for a high-vitality breakfast, so settle for a bowl of muesli with milk or cream, and cups of tea or coffee, and the morning papers all to yourself.

Take your time

As the aim is to refresh your system from too much work, food or alcohol, and from too little fresh air and exercise, nothing should be an effort, everything a pleasure. So tailor your beauty-and-exercise routine to your pace … lazy walks or just deep-breathing and relaxing in the open air or, for producing the greatest amount of fitness in the shortest amount of time, jumping with a skipping rope.

Catch up on any neglected personal grooming: manicure, pedicure, de-fuzz your legs, give yourself a home-facial. Take your time luxuriating in a super-fragrant bath while the bathroom is all yours!

The whole point in planning this pampering weekend is to enable you to rest for long periods and eliminate time and effort in the kitchen, but food should taste good and look tempting.

Light meals

Should you feel you need a starter, I suggest a glass of tomato juice fortified with lemon juice and some herbs, or fresh grapefruit and orange juice mixed in even quantities, or a nibble of raw carrot, mushrooms, and cauliflower buds dipped in yogurt and mayonnaise.

Here are four easily prepared light meals that will also help with weight reduction.

1. Grilled chicken with cabbage-apple-celery salad

Grill a portion of chicken, basting it with a mixture of oil and soy sauce or lemon juice. (Remember protein is coagulated by heat and the chicken will be more tender if cooked at a low temperature).

Sprinkle with seasoned salt and pepper and serve with a salad of slices of apple and shredded white cabbage, chopped celery, and fresh mint. Mix them in a small bowl with a dressing of sunflower oil, wine vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar, and salt and pepper.

2. Bacon rashers with Moroccan orange salad

Cut a thick bacon rasher or a slice of ham into pieces about 5cm (2in) square and saute them gently in butter in a frying pan until cooked (they take 6 to 8 minutes). For the salad, peel, and slice both an orange and a small onion. Arrange them together on a bed of lettuce and garnish with black olives and a dressing made with olive oil and herb vinegar.

3. Hard-boiled eggs with spinach and sour cream

Boil two fresh eggs for six minutes. Dip in cold water and remove the shells. Wash sufficient spinach in several changes of water, shake well, and cook in the water that remains on the leaves, in a thick saucepan. This will only take five minutes. Drain and press out excess liquid, then chop up the spinach. Return to the pan and add sour cream, salt and pepper and a drop of vinegar. Serve hot with the hard-boiled eggs cut into halves.

4. Sliced cold tongue with cucumber and yogurt

When buying the tongue ask for it to be cut in slices 5mm, or ¼in, thick. For the salad, peel a small cucumber and chop it fairly coarsely. Sprinkle liberally with salt and leave in a colander for an hour to allow any liquid to drain off. Mix the chopped cucumber with a cup of yogurt, some freshly ground black pepper, plenty of chopped chives and parsley.

If you have no weight problem finish your meal with a piece of fresh fruit.

Drink a glass of red or white wine with your food, but follow with herb tea in place of coffee. Herb teas, such as mint, chamomile, or vervain, can now be bought in packets from many chemists and health food stores. They are centuries-old remedies for tension, insomnia, and also extremely beneficial for digestive upsets.

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