My Health Rules: Lou Buttler
My Health Rules: Lou Buttler

My Health Rules: Lou Buttler

As the founder of online Pilates studio Live Brave, Lou Buttler is passionate about proving that the benefits of Pilates go beyond core strength and flexibility. She’s also a firm believer in taking a holistic approach to wellbeing, which is why asked her how she keeps her body and mind in the best shape – from her morning routine to self-care rituals.
By Tor West
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Image: LIVE BRAVE

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Staying offline until after the school run makes my mornings more mindful. With two small children, mornings can be chaotic, but I’ve managed to establish small habits that give me a sense of routine. Making my bed is the first thing I do – it’s correlated with better productivity and a greater sense of wellbeing – followed by some simple stretches. I do ten roll downs to mobilise my spine and always finish my shower with a few minutes of cold water to boost my energy. I always leave my phone at home while I walk my daughters to school – this keeps me present when I’m with them, then when I’m home, ‘work mode’ turns on and I’m fully present at work.

I eat breakfast around 10am. I start the day with a large glass of water and an electrolyte supplement to rehydrate and reset my body. I also find it helps me sustain my energy levels throughout the day. Breakfast happens after the school run. With the house empty, I’m able to sit down for 30 minutes, alone with my food and thoughts, and prepare myself for the day. Breakfast varies throughout the week. I am constantly inspired by Pippa Groves – our nutritionist at Live Brave – who says to make every meal as colourful and diverse as possible. I’ll have eggs and avocado, or yoghurt with seeds, herbs and fresh fruit. On the weekend, we always have breakfast as a family – we love making fresh orange juice.

Pilates clears the mind in a similar way to meditation. If I’m feeling stressed, it’s the perfect antidote to calm and ground me. It’s incredible how just 20 minutes on the mat can completely change how you’re feeling. I have a studio at home with both a reformer and a cadillac – it’s like my playground – and I mix it up daily with props that target different muscle groups. Pilates is my passion, and I can easily lose an hour exploring equipment, and planning classes and programmes for my platform. I’m a big believer in finding a form of movement you love and not being a slave to a workout schedule. Instead of committing to an hour’s workout, think about how you can fit movement into your life.

LIFE IS FAST PACED enough as it is, and HIIT will only INCREASE YOUR CORTISOL LEVELS further.

I prioritise gentle movement. At school and university, I played a lot of hockey and thought that you had to spend gruelling hours in the gym to build strength and perform at your best. When I started my Pilates training, I realised you don’t have to put the body under stress to see results. When we do a workout like HIIT, we pump stress hormones into the body. Life is fast paced enough as it is, and HIIT will only increase your cortisol levels further. A gentle form of movement can reduce stress levels and help you enter a more relaxed state. Plus, workouts like Pilates promise results for life. I know it’ll support me for years to come, not only with fitness but also in terms of joint, bone and spinal health.

Stretching is key for recovery. All my Pilates classes incorporate mobility and flexibility, so it’s rare that my muscles feel stiff or sore, but if I’ve been travelling or am feeling particularly tense, I’ll hop on my reformer and do a fascia release class. 

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I love being out in the fresh air. I find walking incredibly effective for clearing my mind. I’ll often go for a quick walk to stretch my legs after meetings and will choose to walk over driving or taking public transport whenever I can. I walk five to ten kilometres every day.

My new love is padel. It’s fun learning something new, and I love the social element. One evening a week, I play mixed doubles with friends. I regularly play tennis with my husband, too – it’s time together as just the two of us that we really value. As I get older, sport has become a fantastic social activity rather than just a form of exercise.

A protein-rich salad is the perfect post-workout meal. I don’t have a go-to post-workout snack – I might grab a piece of fruit if I need one – and tend to wait until my next meal. If it’s the morning, I love avocado and eggs on brown bread, or at lunch I love a filling salad with quinoa, feta, vegetables and chicken.

A healthy approach to food comes down to removing guilt. I feel I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and it’s because I’m enjoying my food and not restricting myself. When you’re restrictive with our food choices, you not only deprive your body of the nutrients it needs, but you also create a negative relationship with food that’s focused on good versus bad. It’s important to me that I set a good example to my daughters, too. At home, mealtimes aren’t just about eating. I try to make the kitchen the most social place in our house, where we’re trying new things together, chatting and having fun.

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I count colours not calories. My fridge is full of different fruit and vegetables. I love cooking and, since having children, I do a lot of batch cooking, so there are always lots of Tupperwares and leftovers in my fridge – and in the door, a bottle of Chablis. Autumn is my favourite time of the year – I love getting inventive with soups and stews, which are a great way to eat lots of different vegetables. I always look forward to a Sunday roast, too. I’m not a huge sweet treat person, but I do love chocolate and if I want some, I have it. I particularly love chocolate after dinner or on a Sunday afternoon with a cup of tea. A chocolate digestive with a cup of tea is absolute heaven.

I have reflexology once a week. When I was first trying to get pregnant, someone recommended it and I found it so effective at calming my mind and releasing tension within my body. Ever since, I’ve been having regular sessions at home with Denise Wheeler.

I developed postnatal insomnia after having my daughter. Before children, I was an amazing sleeper, but since having children I’ve become anxious before bedtime and my relationship with sleep has changed. I can feel panicky about sleep, fear the insomnia is going to come back and get anxious about not getting enough sleep. I’ve had to do a lot of work to overcome these feelings – breathwork has been a game-changer – and work hard to eat well and stay hydrated during the day, as these impact the night. I’ve learnt to say no to have quieter evenings and ensure I can go to bed early. If I’m going through a bad sleeping phase, I’ll do a meditation session using yoga nidra while in bed – I’ve never got to the end of an episode.

I have REFLEXOLOGY ONCE A WEEK. It's so effective at CALMING MY MIND.

Nothing beats a spa day at Aire in Covent Garden. It’s such a tranquil, relaxing oasis. Set within the vaults of an unassuming townhouse, it houses a collection of baths inspired by the ancient Roman thermae tradition. It’s the perfect spot to escape the city.

Rest is the best medicine. When I’m feeling run down, I drink lots of herbal tea. Passionflower, chamomile and magnolia tea have neuroprotective benefits, while hot water, ginger and honey is a comfort blanket. To me, being healthy means looking after your body and mind. It’s important to move, eat well, get enough sleep and surround yourself with people that give you confidence. It’s about finding that balance and realising your health is in your control.

For more healthy living inspiration & fitness advice from Lou, visit LiveBrave.life

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DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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