How To Build a Swimming Pool in Your Back Garden

With summer almost upon us, and the recent spell of hot weather, you might be considering building your own swimming pool in your garden. To many, it might seem like a waste of space and money in a country that doesn’t often reach warm temperatures! However, there are quite a few benefits to having your own pool, and don’t forget it can be heated so once you are in it is fine; I remember having an outdoor pool at my Primary School and it was such a huge asset.

It is relaxing and good for your wellbeing. And of course it is a wonderful luxury to enjoy the peace and privacy of your own pool. But also, there’s nothing more sociable than having a swimming pool in your back garden that you can then invite friends and family to enjoy too.

At this time of year you’re probably already thinking about getting your garden into shape and the thought of having such major excavation work done in your back garden might feel prohibitive; indeed, the process of building a swimming pool does necessitate the need to bring in diggers to excavate a huge hole in the middle of your lawn. In many ways, that’s the trade-off, as the pool is likely to take a huge chunk of your garden lawn out of the equation. That said, if you’ve always dreamed of having a pool in your back garden, here are a few simple steps to help turn your dream into reality…

How To Build a Swimming Pool in Your Back Garden with swimming pool background image

Design

The first factor to consider is size, which will obviously be constrained by how large your garden is, and the next factor to consider is depth. If you are having children use the pool or you’re not a particularly strong swimmer, then it is recommended to keep it under 1.2 metres, which is what most fancy gyms set their pool depth to. You also need to consider what colour you would like the tiles to be – blue is the classic colour, whilst there are many startling designs that embrace deep reds and purples to create more of a design statement.
The next consideration is lighting and shape. Generally speaking, the more complex the design, the higher the cost to create the swimming pool.

Get Permission

In order to build a swimming pool in your back garden, it’s likely that you’ll need to gain planning permission from the council.

Excavate The Area

The first step in terms of building the pool, once you’ve designed it and been granted permission, is to start excavating the area! You could employ a contractor to take care of everything, or if you’re on a budget, you could hire construction equipment yourself, as at this stage all you’re really doing is digging a big hole in the back garden. It is, however, vitally important to have been granted permission before starting to dig, as there may be hidden wires or pipes that you could unearth.

Consider Material To Use

The three main options to choose from are concrete, fibreglass, and vinyl.

Grade the Ground and Frame Walls

The next step is to even out the ground. This will make building the walls and laying the floor much easier. With the hole dug out, and the land flat, the walls can now be built with wood and metal rebar.

Put in Plumbing and Electricity

You’ll want to get an experienced plumber to take care of this specialist task, as you don’t want to have to undertake emergency plumbing should there be an issue down the road. Indeed, it’s important to hire a plumber that is experienced in swimming pools, as an inexperienced plumber could ruin your pool.

You’ll then want to hire an electrician to install the lights. Understandably, bad wiring plus water is not a good combination; so it’s advisable that you read up on how to prevent electrocution before going any further, or attempting to do it yourself.

Pour the Floor, Build Walls and Tile

The next step is to pour the floor and build the walls, then tile them, but remember to add a moisture barrier to stop the water from seeping out.

Fill The Pool

The final step, of course, is to fill the pool with fresh water that is subsequently treated with a cleaning agent such as chlorine.

Lady swimming in a pool

Have you ever considered a pool in your garden? For most it is just a pipe dream… but if it ever becomes your reality, now you know what to do!

*This is a collaborative post.

Body Positivity: How To Love Yourself A Little More

In today’s world, it is too easy to become body conscious and overly focused on weight, or other aspects of our bodies. Yet maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including keeping our bodies healthy, is important to wellbeing. And a desire to improve and be the best version of ourselves is ok too; in fact I would say it is a good thing! So how can we strike that balance of striving to make changes, which may or may not include weight loss, yet remain body positive at the same time? And how do we empower those around us, such as our children, to love their body too? Here are some tips to becoming more body positive…

Title Body Positivity: How To Love Yourself A Little More with image of 3 people jumping for joy on a beach

Attitude Makes All The Difference

First of all, as with anything, your outlook on the subject makes all the difference. So you need to shift your focus! For every negative thought, you need to think of at least five positive things about your body. It is about reframing how you think, and therefore feel, about yourself. Look in the mirror and really pay attention to all the good things about your body. If those critical thoughts creep in, accept them and move on. Switch back to what aspects of your appearance you do like. If you can’t find anything, you aren’t looking hard enough!

To empower yourself and those around you, especially if you have children around listening to you, stop telling yourself, or anyone else, that you need to lose weight, are too fat, don’t look good in those clothes, hate this part of your body, or that part… the list goes on… you get the idea. It is ok to want to improve ourselves but the attitude and approach we have to that makes a difference. The messages we tell ourselves, and each other, on a daily basis matters!

A photo of two women supporting each other while working out together. Women empowering each other.

Embrace Your Flaws

The way we think about our flaws and are least favourite parts is important too. Remember nobody is perfect. As they say, even those stunning supermodels don’t actually look like that in real life! We all have wobbly bits and that is ok, we don’t need to strive for perfection. Try to adopt realistic thoughts about your own body and accept your imperfections, embrace it for what it is.

Body Confidence: Be Comfortable

Wear clothes that help you to feel comfortable. Whether you prefer to dress up, be casual, stand out, or blend in; just be yourself and wear what feels good for you. Body confidence is not about dressing a certain way; it is about dressing the way you choose.

For those who menstruate, remember to love your body during your periods too! Again, wear whatever feels comfortable for you personally, such as Knixteen products for example. Also make sure periods are not a taboo subject in your household! Too many previous generations were given the impression that it is something to be embarrassed of; teach your children that it is a normal part of life and entirely natural. Body positivity needs to apply to all stages of our menstrual cycles!

Silhouette of two women doing yoga outdoors

What About Self- Improvement Then?

It is not contradictory to want to lose weight, or improve our appearance in some way. We can be positive and accepting of our bodies exactly the way they are, yet still want to improve ourselves too. It just comes down to how we think about it. Approaching it from a place of loving your body and therefore wanting to be healthy and feel even better is very different to wanting to lose weight, for example, because we hate our body and feel ‘fat’. Again, attitude makes all the difference!

What do YOU love about YOUR body? What are your top tips for becoming more body confident? Share some love in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

4 Ways to Eat Healthy While Traveling: Guest Post by Noor Najam – Pateeri

Traveling for most of the people is fun and relaxation which is why they tend to keep no boundaries. They would eat whatever comes their way and even skip meals in all the hassle. The thing we do not realize is that the unhealthy eating habits that we develop during the trip go a long way with us. Not only that, unhealthy and unrestricted eating also leaves us falling sick or too weak by the end of the trip. And then we wonder why it happened. If you truly want to stay active and healthy throughout your travel, eat healthy and make healthy choices only. The question probably is how?! Fret not! Here is your answer…

4 Ways to Eat Healthy While Traveling title on faded background image of a table full of a healthy breakfast buffet

Satiate Cravings with Healthy Snacks
When you are in motion constantly with tons of luggage to carry, it is normal to have unnecessary cravings throughout the day. Before you quickly reach out for a chocolate bar, a pack of chips or a sugary drink, stop and think! Do you have a healthier alternative that you can go for? Yes, you always do and yet you ignore it thinking that you are on a vacation and you can eat as you please. Remember that you have to pay a higher cost for it now and later both.
There are tons of healthy snacks out there which are not only healthy but delicious as well. Popcorns, sweet corns, dry fruits and fruits like oranges, bananas and apples are a few great examples. Similarly, you can drink a glass of fresh juice instead of getting a sugary soda.

Do Not Skip Breakfast
You may skip a meal or two but never skip breakfast. It does not only help in kick-starting your day but that is when you need the most energy to stay filled and active throughout the day. If you want to prevent unnecessary cravings and weakness, eat a very healthy breakfast full of protein and fiber. Take oats, eggs, yogurt and brown bread. Also, you must take an apple every morning as it is rich in fiber and iron and it will keep you satiated throughout the day.

More Sweat, More Water
All the hassle we face while travelling leaves us feeling dehydrated. The interesting part is that we do not even realize what is wrong when we feel low and out of energy. It is dehydration that gets most of us sick by the middle or end of our trip. If you want to stay hydrated and remember drinking enough water, just keep a water bottle with you wherever you go. Also, add a few slices of lemon, mint or chia seeds to add more flavor and healthy features to your plain water.

Empty Hotel Fridge for Controlling Temptation
We all know how hotel rooms have fridge full of chocolate bars and sodas that are too tempting to keep your hands off. If you truly want to avoid them and stay on track with your healthy diet, ask the management to empty it. You can then use it for stocking your own healthy snacks and items that you really need to stick to.

About the author

A photo of guest blogger Noor Najam standing outdoorsNoor Najam is a 22-year old student who loves to explore food delights and ever-growing new tastes of different regions. She likes to stay fit and make healthier food choices. She thinks she should have studied a culinary related bachelor’s degree instead of her current bachelors in Social Sciences. She regularly posts on pateeri.com

How To Set Yourself Achievable Goals

Whether you’re looking to implement big change in your life, or just looking to make small steps towards being a better version of yourself, setting goals is paramount. However, there’s a difference between setting achievable goals and giving yourself unattainable targets. Ambition is an enviable trait – and ensuring your hard work leads to accomplishments is the reason behind goal setting. So, how do you create achievable goals for yourself, and ensure you see them through to their conclusion?

How To Set Yourself Achievable Goals title with faded tape measures image

Set targets to reach your goal
It doesn’t make a difference whether you’re chasing one or numerous goals – getting started will always be the most difficult part. It can be a daunting proposition, looking at the goals you’ve written down and wondering how you’re going to achieve them. For this reason, it’s recommended that you split your goals into further micro-goals, or targets. This way, you can start small and build on those early successes. Once you get started, you’ll soon find that the psychological benefit of completing each of these smaller targets toward your goals drives further determination.

Create detailed and specific targets to meet your goals
It’s important to clearly understand what you need to do. The more information you can include, the easier it will be to follow. A specific target gives you more focus. One commonly used example of this is if you’re planning to save money. Rather than ‘save £2,000’, incorporate more detail to keep your eyes on the goal: ‘save £2,000 for home renovations’. Then set the specific targets: ‘save £600 for new hardwood flooring, £1000 for new kitchen units, and £400 for re-painting the whole house’. The added detail and smaller target totals make it more achievable, whilst keeping you focused on why you’re saving.

A desk with planners, notebooks and organisers

Give yourself a timeframe
Further adding to the emphasis on detail, giving your goals a specific timeframe is an important factor in motivation and accomplishing targets. They also encourage action. Take, for example, a ‘flash sale’ email from your favourite brand, telling you that you can get an unmissable offer if you buy within the next 24 hours. The likelihood is that most of us have been persuaded by this before, and this is because the time-bound offer triggers a psychological reaction. Setting yourself timeframes for your goals works in a similar way. If you know you’ve only got a certain amount of days to achieve, you’ll be spurred on to put in the work. If your target is open-ended, it can easily fall to the bottom of the pile.

Put them down on paper
Having your targets written down provides you with something to refer back to. If you’re lacking in motivation, look back at your goals and remember why you set them in the first place. Seeing them in black and white makes the goals feel real, and helps to keep you focused one step at a time. Keeping them at the front of your mind allows you to focus on the bigger picture.

Lost sight of your goal and missed your targets? Don’t beat yourself up, or let it slip back further. Remind yourself of your next targets and review/ amend them if they feel too unrealistic. Focus on achieving the targets one at a time with your eye on the end goal you’ve set yourself and get back on track. Without these constant reminders it’s easy to let goals slip, which is a definite no-no. Start with a simple list, then edit and grow as required.

Make your goals realistic
Arguably the most important aspect of setting yourself goals: make them realistic. If your goal isn’t attainable, why set it in the first place? It’s a slippery slope when you become over-ambitious. Confidence is crucial, there’s no doubting that, but if you aim too high you risk knocking this confidence and subsequently giving up. Simply put, it can do more harm than good. Start off small and, once you have more experience, you can aim bigger and better. Many people set end-goals and put too much focus on getting there. It’s easy to forget that the journey is where you learn and develop. Whether it’s professionally or as a person, never take your journey for granted. Celebrate each target reached!

Weight lifting

Measure Your Progress
This is an obvious one, but it’s easy to forget if you’ve got multiple goals to track at once. Measuring your progress is important for many reasons. It helps keep you motivated – if you’ve lost weight for example, you’re more likely to feel confident on your progress and continue to work hard. If you’ve not hit targets, you know you need to put in more work in order to achieve your goal within the set timeframe. There are hundreds of tracking templates for almost anything, all you have to do is a quick Google search. Keep track of how you’re performing, and adjust your plan to make sure you accomplish what you need to.

Take accountability
There’s nobody else you can blame for your failures (or your successes) other than yourself. You’re responsible for whether your goals are accomplished or not. Others may be responsible for minor setbacks, but your overall success is down to you. Hold yourself accountable and work hard to achieve your goals!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

7 Simple Ways to Make Your Meals Healthier: Guest Post by Petra – Be Healthy Now

Spring is just around the corner and while everybody is thinking about spring cleaning, I’ve been thinking about what I can do to ‘spring clean’ my diet. I’ve already started reducing a number of sweet treats I have weekly and this has already helped me drop a few pounds.

If you are looking to ‘spring clean’ your diet, reducing your sugar intake is just one thing you can do. There is much more of course and here I share with you seven simple ways you can make your meals healthier to have a healthier start of the spring…

7 Simple Ways to Make Your Meals Healthier title on background image of table with healthy food in wooden bowls

Eat More Raw Fruit and Vegetables

By eating more raw fruits and vegetables you’ll be filling your diet with anti-ageing antioxidants, various minerals and enzymes that your body will love, boosting digestion and fighting chronic disease. Try and add fruit or vegetables to every meal you have. I add blueberries to my porridge or muesli every day and I always have a fresh salad with my meals.

An image of a selection of healthy nutrious food

Cut Back on Junk Food

Eating fast food on a regular basis can lead to obesity due to the number of calories and amount of fat in fast-food meals. Not to mention the additional problems that this type of food can cause like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Replacing junk food with healthier options may not be easy to start with but it is possible, all you need is some determination and willpower. I would recommend you start by exploring healthier alternatives to the junk food you currently eat.

For example, could you replace French fries with roast potatoes? Or could you find a healthier ready-made meal in a supermarket? Most of the supermarkets these days have quite a good selection of (almost) healthy ready meals which I believe some people may want to turn to when they are busy.

The more healthy food you eat, the less appetite you will have for junk food.

An image of take out pizzas and cans of coke

Cut Out the Dairy

Did you know that countries where people drink a lot of milk also have the highest rates of osteoporosis? Milk is not as good for you as you may have thought and it’s definitely not the best source of calcium.

And did you know that milk is full of hormones, puss and antibiotics? If you drink it, it’s time to cut back and go for healthier options such as almond milk, rice or oat milk.

If you are worried about your calcium intake you can easily add some calcium-rich kale to your salads. You can also find calcium in other foods such as sardines, pulses, dried figs, almonds, sesame seeds (tahini) and even baobab powder.

Reduce Meat Consumption

There is a number of reasons why you may want to reduce consumption of meat but the main one is definitely your health – that’s because eating less meat is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer (although it will also help you save money!).

Try and replace minced beef with lentils for example, or instead of having a beef burger, swap it out for a bean burger – this will provide you with way more nourishment, fibre and vitamins.

Use Whole Grains

Whole grains are grains in their unprocessed form. That means that they still contain all of the parts of the original kernel including the outer layer (the bran).

Eating more whole grains helps you consume more fibre and improve your digestion but it also helps to lower cholesterol. In addition to that, whole grains make you feel fuller than refined grains and this could help you keep your portions under control and maintain a healthy weight.

Switching from refined grains to whole grains is really easy – just ditch white rice and white pasta and replace them with brown rice and whole wheat pasta. Try other whole grains as well such as quinoa and buckwheat.

An image of a spoonful of grains

Use a Steamer Instead of Frying, Boiling or Roasting

Steamers are great to soften up your vegetables while still keeping the crunchy texture and preserving their valuable nutrients. Steaming your food is one of the healthiest ways of cooking and doing that will make your meals super healthy.

Use Healthier Cooking Oils

Do you still use sunflower oil as your main oil for cooking? If the answer is yes, it’s time to consider something else! Rapeseed oil, for example, contains half less saturated fat than sunflower oil and this is the oil I personally use for shallow frying and roasting.

When buying rapeseed oil make sure you go for the one which is cold-pressed as opposed to the refined rapeseed oil which is not much better than sunflower oil.

Another oil which you may want to consider for cooking is avocado oil. This has a high smoke point and you can also use it in salad dressings.

An image of oil being poured into a bowl

Author Bio:
Petra Kravos is a healthy lifestyle blogger who runs one of the top UK’s health blogs, Be Healthy Now. Petra is very passionate about health and loves helping people on their healthy living journey. On her health blog you will find a variety of topics, from natural health and healthy eating to fitness, Petra covers it all. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

3 Benefits of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet: Guest Post by Micaela – Life in Lilac

My story starts at the end of last year when I basically decided I had had enough of being tired all the time, being overweight and generally unhappy with myself. After some research I came across a weight loss program called Bright Line Eating which has a strict program of cutting out all unhealthy foods including all sugar and all flour.

As part of my journey and research into nutrition I discovered that my long term vegetarian diet which included dairy, eggs and processed foods was not the best option for someone looking for long term health. Nutrition has always been something I have been interested in but this year I my research spurred me onto study for a Diploma in Nutrition and Weight Loss.

So, on January 1st this year I switched to a Whole Foods Plant Based diet which focuses on unprocessed, animal product free, natural foods. Since starting Bright Line Eating in October I have lost 13kg (28 lbs) in weight and feel more vibrant and happy than ever.

Today I want to share with you 3 benefits of switching to a Whole Foods Plant Based diet in the hopes that you will be inspired to try it for yourself, or at least incorporate more whole plant foods into your diet…

3 Benefits of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet
title on faded image of salad in a bowl

Reduced Blood Sugar Levels

Right now in the UK there are roughly 3.5 million people suffering from Diabetes, a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high and in turn can damage other organs and processes in the body.

Eating modern sugary snacks, cereals and puddings can put your body under a lot of stress as it is constantly trying to keep your blood sugar at a steady level by releasing insulin. This onslaught of processed foods and snacks which are ridiculously high in sugar ultimately ends up messing with our health. Eventually your body becomes used to having high levels of insulin all the time and you become resistant to it which ultimately leads to diabetes.

Focussing on more whole (unprocessed) plant foods such as vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains doesn’t only lower your consumption of sugar to begin with, it has been shown to slow down the absorption of sugars due to their high fibre content. It’s worth remembering that processed fruits and vegetables act on the body faster than whole foods because the fibre has been broken down, so try and avoid blending or juicing to maintain steady blood sugar.
If like me, you have diabetes in your family it’s worth considering putting down the sugary snacks and reaching for some fresh veggies instead.

Weight Loss

If you have a few pounds to shift then shifting to a diet which excludes all animal products and processed foods will give you a huge boost towards your goal. Fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains are low calorie and high in the nutrients you need so they have a great energy to benefit ratio when compared to processed food.

Processed foods are full of sugar and fat which ultimately makes them high in calories and let’s face it, low in real nutrients that your body needs. Foods made in a factory are never going to be as wholesome and beneficial as the food provided by mother nature.

Try switching out your high sugar cereal in the morning for some porridge or oatmeal made with plant milk (not from a packet!) topped with peanut or almond butter and instead of grabbing a high calorie sandwich for lunch prepare a hearty salad at home with a mix of vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, lettuce, peppers, avocado and tomato alongside a whole grain such as quinoa, buckwheat or brown rice.

Removing unhealthy foods packed with calories you don’t need and replacing them with delicious nutrient packed whole plant foods will ensure a lower consumption of calories which you don’t need and therefore will help boost your weight loss.

Vitamin Boost

I already mentioned that processed foods have high levels of calories and low levels of nutrients but did you know that people eating a standard modern diet will probably be deficient in vitamins because of this?

Vitamins, which are found mostly in plant foods, are essential for health. They are naturally occurring chemicals that sustain normal repair, growth and development as well as acting as a regulator to help release energy from foods. Some vitamins (A, C & E) have antioxidant properties which protect against diseases and damage.

We can store some vitamins in the body in our fat, such as vitamins A, D, E & K, but the vitamins which are water soluble, vitamins B & C we can not store and therefore we need to consume them in order to stay healthy. The absence of vitamins can cause some functions of the body to fail and ultimately can be fatal. There is no evidence that supplements actually benefit the body.

The good news is that eating more whole plant based foods will give you a huge boost of vitamins to keep you healthy and feeling vibrant. Food such as green beans, cabbage, leeks, okra, peppers, summer squash and sweet potato contain vitamins A, B and C along with beneficial minerals such as iron, potassium and magnesium.

At the end of the day you don’t have to radically change your diet to see the benefits of eating more whole plant based foods. Start small by switching out some of the most processed foods in your regular diet for healthier options and continue to slowly swap high calorie, low nutrition foods from your life. At least I hope I have given you some food for thought.

A bowl of healthy salad on a table

Author Bio

Micaela is a lady based in Kent, she is a digital marketer by day and lifestyle blogger by night. Micaela is passionate about learning and sharing knowledge about nutrition and helping people improve their health.

Why Dancing is Good for Your Body, Health, and Soul

Whether you’re in Canada, Thailand, or South Africa, there’s bound to be a dance floor somewhere. You see, dancing goes past borders; it is an integral part of being human: it’s a way for us to express our individualism, honor our ancestors, showcase art, and just have a good time.

But it’s more than that. There’s a number of physical and emotional benefits associated with dancing, from alleviating anxiety to increasing muscle mass. Even if you aren’t a professional dancer, you can still take advantage of dance’s healing and positive powers, and burn some calories in the process. That being said, read on to learn why dancing is good for your mind, body, and soul…

Why Dancing is Good for Your Body, Health, and Soultitle with image of woman dancing outdoors

It’s a Stress Reliever

According to a study, hip hop not only improves energy and increases mood but is a major stress reliever much the same way aerobic exercise is.

And, when you think about it, it makes sense. When you dance – hip hop, Latin, and other faster-paced styles, in particular – your body is in constant motion. You’re leaping, break dancing, and twirling; movements that increase blood flow and up your heart rate, which are the same benefits you get when doing your morning jog on the treadmill.

Boosting Those Endorphins

As you may know, exercise increases endorphins, hormones that are known for decreasing cortisol (stress hormone) and making you feel better. It’s no wonder then that dance, being a form of both exercise and art, decreases stress.

Man in street jumping with joy/ dancing

It’s a Mood Booster

We alluded to this earlier, but let’s just say it for what it is; dance is great for your mood. And, there’s research to back this up. The study involved 112 teenage girls who suffered from several physical and mental health problems, ranging from back and neck pain to anxiety and depression. Half of the girls participated in a weekly dance class while the other half didn’t. The results showed that the girls who danced weekly felt better.

And, what’s even more exciting, is that these results lasted up to 8 months. Long story short, don’t quit that weekly salsa class – it’s helping you in more ways than just breaking a sweat. (And, to feel even more like the dancer that you are, you may want to get costumes for dancers.)

Room full of people dancing taken from above

Your Social Health Improves

One of the wonderful benefits of dance is that not only can you can dance by yourself but with other people. It’s a great way to break the ice and meet new friends. You automatically have something in common with the person dancing next to you – even before you say hello.

Billy Idol Says It Best

Yes, Billy Idol got it right with one of his hits, “Dancing with Myself.” You don’t have to dance in a club or onstage at a competition representing your team’s colors. Simply dancing in your room by yourself is a great way to get all of dance’s positive benefits, not to mention pretend you’re Cheryl Burke or Whitney Carson.

Woman dancing in a field

It Helps You Lose Weight

Like running, jogging, and soccer, while dance is an art form, it’s also a sport. Which means when you are on the dance floor showing off your moves, you are also getting your heart rate up, blood pumping and, in combination with a healthy diet, losing weight.

Dancing Off the Weight

In fact, a New Zealand school teach did just that. After feeling unhappy with her life, Roni Tarver started to eat healthier and exercise. Eventually, she attended a Zumba class. And, soon after, became addicted to it, taking more and more classes. Not only did Tarver dance off 100 pounds but now is a Zumba instructor herself. So, case in point, don’t miss that weekly Zumba class.

It Deepens Your Self-Awareness

Dance doesn’t just help you physically and emotionally, but can settle your soul. Meditative dance helps to deepen your self-awareness and awaken your consciousness.

According to Elephant Journal, Native Americans used dance as a way to develop a deeper connection with the plants and animals. We also see this today in churches, where worshippers dance to celebrate and connect with God.

It Connects Us With our Heritage

Dance not only is a spiritual but cultural. We can use dance to bring us closer to our ancestors. We see this when Tongan and Samoan rugby teams begin the game with famous traditional war dance, Siva Tau, which used to be danced before going into battle.

Samoa and Tonga aren’t the only countries that use dance to mark special occasions. All around the world, dance celebrates big milestones like weddings and rites of passages. We can see this in the US where traditionally there’s a wedding reception after the wedding ceremony; the now-married couple takes the stage and dances the first dance, with family and friends following after. And, in Mexico and other Latin American countries, family and friends dance at Quincieañeras (celebration of a 15-year-old girl’s birthday and transition to adulthood).

Wedding guests dancing

Final Thoughts: Dance is Powerful

Dance shapes our bodies, minds, and spirits. It connects us with each other, our ancestors, and ourselves. It makes us feel better and increases our moods, which, in fact is the top reason why people dance recreationally.

Long story short, if you were looking for a reason to start or continue dance, this article is for you: go out and enjoy the powers of this beautiful and physical demanding art form.

How is dance good for you? What benefits have you enjoyed from it? Be sure to leave a comment below.

*This is a collaborative guest post.

Living Greener In Your House

Living a little greener throughout our lives is something we think is hard to achieve. Companies like to croon all the time about how energy efficient they are, and yet when you have all that money behind you it seems so easy to keep that up! However, a huge lifestyle change doesn’t have to be in swing here, and some simple changes are just as effective as taking to a cabin in the woods. We already know a child friendly home with a bit of flair is possible, but what about living as green as possible whilst still being comfortable?

A vase of flowers on a wooden table in a large bright room.

Check Your Appliances

Checking your appliances means going around your house in the last five minutes at the end of the day and making sure everything is turned off and unplugged. It’s something simple and yet so effective, and you’re not going to be donating valuable hours to it. You see, even when something is plugged in and switched off, there’s a very good chance it’s still using power, considering how popular the standby function is these days.

At the same time, make sure everything you use has a good energy rating. When something is in the A band for electrical use, you’re not going to be wasting any energy simply as a byproduct of chilling your food in the fridge for example. And that also ends up saving you some pennies, which all add up at the end of the month.

Start Recycling Everything

Of course, not every material out there is yet capable of being recycled. But recycling as much of your waste than ever before means you’re going to be doing a great bit for the planet.

Sort through your clutter! If something is using the space you need to live harmoniously, it’s definitely going to need passing on. Make some effort on reducing your carbon footprint; don’t throw away anything that could be avoided. Make sure any electronic waste you have laying around, either on the side tables or in the attic, are being disposed of or sold off. Those old laptops are never going to see the working world again anyway! Sometimes you can make some cash, sometimes you just have to part with an object responsibly.

Open Up Your Curtains

If you have curtains, make sure they’re open for as long as they can be during the day, and then close them at night. Keeping a room warm is a lot easier when you’re using the insulating material over the windows to full effect after all. You won’t have to turn on the heating so much when you’ve got your curtains on a tight schedule, and it just takes a bit of arm work to pull them open and closed when the time comes to it.

There’s a lot of little changes you can make to your daily routine to make sure your house is as green as possible. Try to incorporate these moves as soon as you can to save you time and money.

*This is a collaborative post.

Five Fabulous Reasons To Go Skiing

I have a confession. I am 38 and have never been skiing. It was never high on my list of my priorities to be honest. (Although I suspect this might be because my parents tried to convince me I wouldn’t like it when I was growing up, due to the expense!) However, Squiggle has asked me several times to go skiing and it has got me thinking… am I missing out? More to the point, I don’t want her to miss out; surely I should provide her with the opportunity to try it out if she desires? So I asked some friends and fellow bloggers why they love skiing and what the benefits are. And it would appear there are several great reasons to go skiing…

5 fabulous reasons to go skiing title with beautiful scenic picture of skiing underneath.

THE VIEWS!!!!

This has to be at the top of the list. It was an almost unanimous response from everyone who was asked what they love most about skiing. And I can understand why. You only have to google the word skiing to see a whole mass of phenomenal scenic photos. Who could resist those glorious picturesque views?

“The views are incredible, the air is so incredibly fresh, the sound of skis on fresh powdery snow is one of a kind and I love how skiing makes you feel so free and exhilarated!” ~ Hello Baby Blog

It’s An All- Inclusive Sport

I am sure we all know why doing any sport is good for us and carries a range of benefits; certainly I have written before about why sports are so important. Skiing however, as a sport has its own unique benefits. As Blissful Domestication points out, it is a sport you can take part in just once a year and still improve on!

It is also good for SEND children (and adults), as Tickets, Passports, Kids explains: “I believe it’s rather sensory… I believe the snow takes the edge off the sounds he hears, plus the helmet makes everything quieter. I believe he hears the world so loudly, that the snow makes it easier for him to hear. Plus, it’s not a team sport.” Indeed, I can see exactly why it might be so beneficial for some autistic people for these reasons.

As I read and speak to people about it more, I do notice that whilst skiing and other snow sports might not seem like obviously the most SEND-friendly sport to take part in by nature, in reality it is quite advanced in its level of awareness and is therefore very accomodating; alot of effort has been made to make adjustments and adapt the sport to meet a wide range of needs and disabilities. (This is a generalisation of course, as with anything, individual’s experiences will vary greatly).

In summary, skiing is an inclusive sport that is suitable for all ages and abilities. Awesome!

Skiier skiing down mountain slope with beautiful scenic snow mountains in background.

The Recreational Side of Skiing

Another popular reason to go skiing is actually not about the activity itself; people often value the recreational aspect of it just as much. Cosy evenings in together, sharing a bottle of wine whilst surrounded by breathtaking views or enjoying a hot chocolate in the open air – there is far more to skiing than just… skiing! It is even a good opportunity to make new friends too!

Travel Opportunities

Having a passion for skiing also then sparks the desire to travel to ski resorts in beautiful new locations that you might otherwise not have a chance to visit. Travelling for a specific purpose, such as skiing, offers a great incentive to get saving for the next trip!

Life is an Adventure

Last but not least, skiing is an adventure! Discovering new places, trying new activities, exploring new locations… it is all part of the wonder and excitement of living life to the full! And there is no better reason to give it a try than that!

A close up picture of a skiier skiing on snow

Things To Consider

Skiing can be expensive but even if you can’t afford to go to a fancy ski resort, there are lots of indoor snow centres around where you can still take part in the activity on real snow. Some people like to try it out or have a few lessons before their first ski trip, so it might be worth checking if there is one near you. Of course, there are still dry ski slopes around too as another alternative. I hear some people say this doesn’t quite compare to skiing on real snow, which I can imagine is very true. But it is another option nonetheless.

In most places there is equipment available to hire. But even if it doesn’t become a serious hobby, you will still need some essentials in order to be dressed for the weather, so of course you will need to invest in the right gear! If you are looking to buy ski clothes and accessories, Simply Hike have a lovely range of ski wear and accessories, including some gorgeous womens ski jackets. Don’t forget those googles too!

A lady (blogger Kiki Blah Blah) standing outside in the snow in her ski outfit.
Kiki Blah Blah

Happy skiing!

Thanks to The Money Whisperer, All About A Mummy, Pink Pear Bear, Kiki Blah Blah and Truly Madly Kids for your helpful insights and contributions to this post.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Children Are Our Future: Setting Them Up For Success

As parents, our number one goal in life is to raise happy and healthy children with a bright future. We want to know that we’re doing everything we can to do what’s best for them, and once you have a child this little person is suddenly the most important thing in your life, you value it above your own. But knowing what we need to do to make sure we’re setting our children up for success can be a struggle, after all, no one knows what the future holds. However with that being said, there are a few things we can do that will always benefit our kids in later years, regardless of the direction they go in. Here are some ideas…

Children Are Our Future: Setting Them Up For Success title with black and white image of child sat on adult's knee in a living room reading a book.

Teach Them The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle

We’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic. The leading cause of death in the third world is heart disease, which for the most part is preventable with a healthy lifestyle. Therefore teaching our children about the importance of health and setting a good example for healthy habits is crucial. Keep processed food, sweets and junk out of the house as much as possible, and try to avoid using them as treats or rewards, as this teaches children a bad mindset towards these things.

Cook healthy and delicious meals at home- include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and other fresh raw nutricious ingredients. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for family friendly meals, and if you’re pushed for time you could try batch cooking at weekends. That way you have access to lots of frozen, healthy meals you cooked yourself and are far less likely to buy something convenient yet unhealthy and expensive. Also, numerous studies have shown that families that eat together raise happier and more balanced children, who tend to be slimmer and healthier. So if you currently feed the children and adults in your house separately it’s worth making a change.

Exercise is also very important, kids are naturally energetic so it shouldn’t be difficult for them to get in the hour of moderate to vigorous activity they need a day. The trick is to make it fun, avoid it feeling like a chore. You could go on family hikes or bike rides together at the weekend. Or take them swimming, trampolining or to a class they enjoy, such as dance or martial arts. Even hire a bouncy castle or buy a large trampoline for your back garden and they’re sure to have hours of fun activity with very little input needed from you. Getting into these healthy habits and seeing exercise as something that’s fun and enjoyable is something that will most definitely set them up for future success.

Think About Finances

Starting out as a young adult can be difficult. It’s more of a struggle to get onto the property market now than it ever was- and it’s set to get worse. By planning for your child’s future, you can give them an advantage once they’re older. Some money towards a mortgage deposit could help them onto the property ladder which might have otherwise been impossible for them. You could either put money into a savings account, or make a smart investment such as buying some property. A studio apartment or small flat wouldn’t be too expensive, you could then put away the money you earn from it each month into savings for your child. When they’re older, they could even live in it while they get established with their career or attend a local college or university. This would save on fees for halls or renting a student house, but still give them the independence they will be craving at that age.

Keep Them Curious

Children are naturally curious about the world, and keeping this magic alive is what will give them a great capacity to learn and do well in their education. Take them to galleries and museums, go on woodland walks with fun worksheets from Pinterest where you tick off the things you see. Take them rock pool fishing and teach them about the creatures they catch, go to the farm or zoo and tell them all about the animals. Learning doesn’t have to happen in a classroom or with books, keeping kids curious and giving them a thirst for knowledge is a fantastic way to set them up later in life. With a passion to learn they’re more likely to do well in future, and a good education paves the way for gaining the skills they need to later on enjoy satisfying career that they love.

Read to your kids often, sing songs, make up stories together. Do puzzles, teach them how to bake or sew. It’s all new, fun and exciting for kids and you help them to develop passions and hobbies that can help them meet new friends and develop their skills.

Photo of a happy laughing family having a water fight with buckets of water

Encourage Them To Be Empathetic

Empathy, being able to see things from another person’s perspective and feel genuine emotions towards them seems like the most human thing in the world. However this is not a trait we are born with, those who grow up without learning how to empathise don’t show it later on, their brains do not develop in the same way. Being empathetic, sensitive and able to understand the emotions of others helps people to develop meaningful friendships and later on relationships- it helps them to become a good person.

Encourage empathy by praising empathetic behaviour, avoiding anger and encouraging kids to talk about their feelings. Being able to label your own feelings as a child is very useful, as when others speak about how they feel the child is able to understand what it means and feels like.

One option for teaching kids empathy is to take them volunteering. Feeding the homeless, helping out at a children’s hospital, volunteering at an animal shelter or at a care home can all allow them to experience different emotions of others, and learn how it feels good to help. Growing up in touch with their emotions as well as being able to perceive others will allow them to create meaningful and lasting bonds with others.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.