From supplements to community basketball and a budget gym, here’s what Cucumber Clothing’s Nancy Zeffman spends to keep her bad back strong and her energy levels up
I’m 52 and the co-founder of Cucumber Clothing and live in London with my husband and cockerpoo. I’m also mother to three children between the ages of 23 and 26.
Having spent many years at home raising my three children after a career in advertising at Saatchi & Saatchi, I set up Cucumber with my good friend Eileen Willett (ex-Nicole Fahri). We met at the school gate almost 20 years ago. We wanted to make stylish, sustainable sleepwear and loungewear using quick-dry moisture-wicking fabrics for any woman who gets hot, whether that’s due to her monthly hormone cycles, being a new mum and breastfeeding, living or holidaying in a hot climate, taking medication or going through the perimenopause or menopause.
Wellness has always been important to me and I would always prioritise this over buying new clothes or beauty products. It accounts for at least 75 per cent of what I spend on myself. Launching a business in 2017 has brought many challenges and I have realised that it is important to balance the long working hours with time out for both my mental and physical wellbeing.
I am not naturally someone drawn to exercise, which is why such a large part of my budget goes on keeping me motivated. I don’t tend to spend much money on the kit itself. I wear our Cucumber Harem Pants, £89 or track bottoms for Pilates. I’d rather spend the money on the activity.
I do exercise about four times a week, so I need enough kit not to have to wash it all daily. My basic exercise routine (or clothing) hasn’t changed in the last few years or so. It seems to work for me. I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to makeup – mascara and a slick of lipstick and I’m good to go.
When my kids were younger, I would prioritise spending any spare income on them. I didn’t think too much about my own needs, but I was a lot younger and I could get away it. Long gone are the days where I can look and feel good after a succession of late nights, too much alcohol and no exercise. I am aware that being the face of a new brand does mean that I have become more conscious of how I look, which is another reason to keep exercising. I know I look better for it.
Gym membership and personal training, £50
I belong to PureGym in Kentish Town, where I train weekly and see a personal trainer about once a month. She helps me keep the motivation going and to make sure I am using the equipment properly. Last week I was doing 50kg rack pulls – I didn’t even know what they were a few years ago and I would never do it without a trainer giving me the confidence. Sometimes, I even manage to fit in a LBT (Legs, bums and tums) class or a cardio session class which is part of the membership. Without the discipline of a PT or a class to go to, I just don’t think I would keep this up. I definitely feel better for it, both physically and mentally.
Personal trainer: £40 per session
Dog walking, free!
Hurray – this is free and I have to go in all weathers. However busy Cucumber is, I find at least an hour every morning to walk the dog. It is definitely more challenging when it is cold and raining but it means I am experiencing the seasons in all their glory and this does ground me. There is something humbling about wellies and a windswept face. I love this hour of my day, even if I’m saying this through gritted teeth in a freezing hailstorm. If I have the time, walking with a friend and stopping for an Earl Grey tea, make it the perfect start to the day.
I suffer from a minor lower back problem and this usually keeps it in check. There are loads of studios near me, and I go to Intouch Pilates where I take a class that mixes reformer with mat work. I have found that as I get older, stretching is as important as weights and my weekly session helps my posture and wellbeing.
Intouch Pilates, £23.50 per weekly session
Despite being a mere 5’4”, I play for an over-30s team called the Badabings every Wednesday in Little Venice Sports Centre. It’s my weekly cardio workout and lovely to be part of an ever-changing team, depending on who can make it that week. The game is fast-paced and very competitive, although beginners and newcomers are always welcome. I leave physically exhausted and bright red in the face, but I do feel amazing. It’s a co-operative so the fees vary depending on how many play, but it averages out at between £5 to £8 an hour, which is amazing value.
Badabings basketball £7 per session.
Magnesium baths £9.95
After basketball, I usually have a soak in these to help with muscle fatigue. I sleep like a baby afterwards.
BetterYou Magnesium Oil Original Flakes £9.95 for a month's supply
Up until recently, I had only dabbled in supplements, sometimes taking a vitamin D supplement or a fish oil , when I read an article that said I should. For the past three months, I have been taking Lumity, an anti-ageing supplement which is a combination of vitamins, minerals and omegas, on the recommendation of a friend. I do feel that my skin is looking good. Also, if I have a ‘bad diet’ day, I hope the supplements will provide a balance. I subscribe to these monthly.
Alexandra Soveral facial, £120 every other month
This is my luxury, pure indulgence, especially as I age. I can honestly say that all of Alexandra’s fabulous organic products, made by her at her bespoke salon in Maida Vale, are amazing. I try to fit in a facial every other month with Olivia. I couldn’t tell you everything that she does, as I usually fall asleep pretty quickly. All I know is that my skin looks better – she manages to erase all those frown lines that appear from too long staring at a computer, although sadly only temporarily. I emerge from the tiny salon totally serene. I am also a fan of their delicious Good Digestion tea. Good digestion really does equal good skin. The facials are my luxury, and they definitely impact positively on my mental health.
When I’m strapped for cash...
Thank goodness for Netflix and a good book – cheap ways to relax and unwind. I am also a member of various galleries, and friends are members of others, so I take them as my guest and they reciprocate, so I include this as free downtime.
The bottom line
I prioritise Pilates as essential to my wellbeing - I have to strengthen my back if I am to function. The dog makes me walk come rain or shine, meeting up with friends, bumping into acquaintances and I would miss that otherwise. Walking without the dog always seems a bit silly once you’ve had one.