Progress For The Planet: What We Can All Do To Help Mother Earth

The evidence is overwhelming, and, let’s face it, you can’t get away from it now. The fact is we’re not doing enough to benefit the planet. Climate change is very real, and even if you don’t necessarily agree with the information that’s out there, we can all help to improve the planet we live on. Luckily, there’s been one hell of a drive in the last few years in small methods to cut back on energy expenditure, which, in turn, lessens our carbon footprint. Every single one of us has the potential to change the planet for the better, and it all begins with small habits. So, what are these habits?

Progress For The Planet: What We Can All Do To Help Mother Earth

Look At Your Waste

In the United States, approximately 40% of the food consumed is thrown out. Now, that’s a very huge amount, especially when you think the amount of food wasted could feed 1 billion people! In addition to this, the health epidemic that is in the western world, especially with regards to obesity and lack of exercise, means that overall, we humans are providing waste on so many fronts. So, what is the answer?

Firstly, to benefit each and every one of us, as well as the planet, we can look at reducing our portion sizes. Not only does this improve our waistline, but waste is greatly reduced. Not only this, by going into our weekly supermarket shop with a preconceived plan, we don’t buy excessive amounts of food that we’ll end up wasting anyway. On top of this, start to be more clever with your food in general, such as using leftovers, so every morsel of food you purchase doesn’t go to waste.

How Much Do You Really Need To Use That Car?

It’s great now that so many of us are actively looking for other ways to travel rather than use our car. As well as thinking about getting a bicycle or using public transport in our everyday lives, such as to and from work for example, there are also other things you can try to do so that you aren’t required to use the car so much.

For example, if you tend to go on roadtrips often and use the car to travel on vacation a few times a year, when you think about how much you use your car for that reason, perhaps you could even consider cutting back on the number of roadtrip vacations you have of this nature? Or, if you are more than adamant that your downtime goes unspoiled, maybe it’s time to think about other parts of your everyday life that you can cut back on.

Working from home is one of those great options, because you don’t need to take the car to the office. Whilst many experts believe you could be using more energy at home, because you potentially turn on lights, the television, etc… there are some summer energy saving tips you can follow to ensure that you are cutting back as much as possible.

Look At Your Energy Expenditure

Once we begin to think about how much our carbon footprint affects the planet, then we can make a concerted effort to cut back on overall energy expenditure. There are many carbon footprint calculators online to give you a head start. A lot of us don’t think about our own personal impact, and when you realize how much energy you are using, from getting in the car, to the food you consume, to the electricity you use, then you can start to help the planet by curbing certain lifestyle habits.

Even something like consuming meat can help mother earth, even by just cutting down on meat by one portion a week. You can have meat-free days at home, and if you are concerned that you won’t get enough protein, remember, there is more than a sufficient amount of protein in pulses and quinoa, and are all vegan-friendly. Ultimately, the best way to have an impact on the planet with regards to our diet is to eat as locally as possible.

When you think about the food you purchase in the supermarkets, even though you mean well by consuming fruits and vegetables, by looking at the place of origin, and then consider the carbon footprint it took to transport these fruits and vegetables to your supermarket, going local is one of the main common sense approaches to benefiting the planet. Not to mention the fact that eating local produce that hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides is better for you. Yes, the price tag appears to be more expensive, but by consuming whole foods that fill you up and aren’t injected with preservatives or water to bulk them out, you will naturally crave less food. And you don’t need to see a doctor to understand how whole foods can impact every aspect of your life, from improved brain function to overall health; you can eat these foods, or grow them yourself, and feel the benefits.

Thinking About Everyone Apart From Ourselves

A true way to get an appreciation of what you can do to help the planet is to witness some of the positive outcomes. For example, by donating your leftover food, rather than letting it go to waste, to food kitchens or homeless shelters, you are going to serve the community. There are many supermarkets that encourage you to donate a few cans of foods whenever you can, to minimize wastage. And actually helping out in a local sense is the perfect starting point, because then you can see the impacts all around you, not just in an environmental sense, but in the fact that you are also helping the homeless or others in need. Or you’re even just seeing that you are saving money! It contributes to an overall feeling of wellness. This, in turn, contributes to our overall feeling of compassion and fuels our desire to do something to benefit the planet.

We can feel like we’ve heard enough lectures on how to benefit the planet, which is why it’s far better for you to take the initiative and to do things yourself. Once you start this, either by actively looking for ways to minimize your carbon footprint, or getting a better understanding of how we are damaging the planet, only then can we progress.

*This is a collaborative post.

Braun iCheck 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor Review

Did you know that roughly a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure? The good news is that it can often be addressed by making simple lifestyle changes. Through regular monitoring, triggers can be identified and simple measures taken to improve heart health and overall wellbeing.

Yet people are far more likely to track daily steps and weight, rather than blood pressure. Only 15% use health tracking devices to keep a regular check on their blood pressure, according to recent research by Braun, compared to almost 50% of UK adults who weigh themselves and count their daily steps. In fact, two thirds of adults surveyed only get their blood pressure checked occasionally during routine GP appointments, while 7% never get it checked at all.

This simply doesn’t add up; heart health is the number one measure of overall wellbeing, and people fear that high blood pressure increases the risk of stroke or heart attack – yet most people do not think to monitor it. As medical expert Dr. Achim Max Brenske points out:

“There are many health measures that we are already consistently tracking, yet blood pressure is a metric that is often not thought about but could be one of the most important. Making blood pressure monitoring part of your at-home health checks, with an easy to use wrist or arm monitor, can help to identify triggers and allow you to immediately make simple adjustments to significantly improve your health and wellbeing. It’s such a small change that really can make a big difference, and ultimately save your life.”

Both Squiggle and Andy need to be particularly aware of their blood pressure; Squiggle due to her anxiety and the meds she is on, and Andy because he has thyroid issues. Both of them therefore need close monitoring for existing health reasons. My own blood pressure and health is fine, but it is also equally important to ensure it stays that way!

Since as a family we already understand the importance of keeping tabs, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review the brand new iCheck 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor by Braun..

Braun iCheck 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor Review

Using the Monitor

The Braun iCheck 7 wrist blood pressure monitor comes with a quick start guide and more detailed manual. However, as the device is so intuitive, apart from double-checking which app I needed to download on my iPhone (Healthy Heart), within two minutes I had the batteries in, was connected to my phone, had the device on my wrist and had taken my first measurement.

With its one button operation and clever positioning tool – a ‘ball in the hole’ system that helps guide you to the correct position for taking an accurate reading – the device is simply fool proof and incredibly comfortable.

Healthy Heart App

The iCheck 7 syncs with the free Healthy Heart app on your phone or tablet, which then displays data using charts and graphs. The Healthy Heart app follows the simplicity of the device and, in addition to showing your recording history in various formats, it includes information on blood pressure, tips for recording the most accurate measurements and lifestyle recommendations for a healthier blood pressure.

Screenshot of Healthy Heart app

To get the most of the app you can add detail on diet, exercise, mood, medications and sleep. This helps you to analyse how your lifestyle impacts your blood pressure. Blood pressure readings can also be shared with your doctor to discuss your health further.

Reading the Results

Results are colour coded both on the device and in the app; green (normal), yellow (mild hypotension), orange (moderate hypotension) and red (severe hypotension). This makes it really clear at a glance. In addition to blood pressure, the device records heart rate and alerts you to any irregularity.

Braun blood pressure chart

Andy’s Analysis

Andy used the monitor to record his blood pressure regularly over the course of several days at various intervals. He discovered that most of the time his blood pressure was normal but he did have mild hypotension a few times and moderate hypotension once.

He will use this information to think about any positive lifestyle changes he can make to impact his blood pressure. One idea is using relaxation techniques before and after meetings. He will also discuss the results with his GP too. He will continue to monitor results closely as well of course.

Braun iCheck 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor on arm

Our Verdict

We are impressed with the monitor and its ease of use. The only thing that could improve it, is maybe if it came with a carry case. Aside from that, it is absolutely brilliant! If you’re looking for a quick and simple compact blood pressure monitor, this device is for you. If you’re not looking for one, why not?

Braun iCheck 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor box

Cost: RRP £99.99. The monitor is available to purchase from Boots.

Experts Tips for a Healthy Heart

Understand the factors that affect blood pressure…

Dr. Max Brenske, German GP and medical expert, explains that factors can vary: “your genetic disposition, age, sex, obesity, physical fitness, lifestyle factors, the time of day and medication can all play a role in your blood pressure and heart health. Explore the effect of these factors on your blood pressure by taking readings regularly.”

Mood Matters

Meik Wiking, CEO of the Research Institute of Happiness, has plenty of tips for improving mood and blood pressure. He points out that our daily lives can be made healthier by making simple choices such as cycling or walking to work. Studies show that people who have active commutes not only enjoy their journey more but also have lower mortality and obesity rates. He also has these words of advice: “Learn to say no – We often try and pack too much into our daily or weekly schedule. Be realistic when you are making your to do lists.”

Lastly, he suggests investing in relationships: “One of the best predictors of whether people are happy or not is whether they are satisfied with their social relationships. We all need to be heard, seen and understood and have someone we can share worries and dreams with.”

Sleep

With almost half of Brits revealing that they don’t regularly get a good night’s sleep, what are the reasons we are tossing and turning throughout the night? According to the research, financial worries (49%), relationships (47%) and health concerns (35%) top the list as the main contributors. Stressing about these factors impacts on sleep patterns, which in turn can raise blood pressure.

Nick Littlehales, Elite Sport Sleep Coach offers the following strategies to help improve sleep:

•Educate yourself on circadian rhythms so you’ll know when your body naturally has higher blood pressure, releases hormones and is optimised for either activity or sleep.

• Resting at multiple times during the day, rather than just at night, encourages your body to be in harmony with the circadian rhythms of the day.

• Manage your intake of stimulants, such as caffeine, to allow your body to recover and sleep more efficiently.

• Adopt good bedtime routines. Strenuous activity before bed will mean cortisol is heightened, keeping you awake. Take time to relax before bed; deep breathing, stretching or yoga for exanple. Also, reducing your exposure to blue light and encouraging the release of melatonin, your body becomes suppressed and ready for sleep.

• Your body has a natural drop in temperature before sleep, so moving from warm to cool will help you get quality, uninterrupted sleep. Having a warm shower and then moving into a cooler bedroom environment will help this process.

Health and Fitness

Simple activities, such as power walking can really make a difference Faya Nilsson (@FitnessOnToast) explains. However, she also suggests you need to put in the effort to train regularly to ensure optimal blood pressure levels.“Workout for 30 mins a day, four times a week; that’s the regularity you’ll need to help keep blood pressure at normal levels. If you have high blood pressure you should gradually and slowly increase training. I would advise training for shorter periods of time but more often. If you are struggling to find the time to train try body weight exercises to do at home like push-ups, pull-ups and lunges. You can do them anywhere.”

Food and Water

Faya also emphasises how crucial it is to drink plenty of water. “Dehydration absolutely impacts the blood pressure, leaving behind more sodium in the blood, so drinking two litres a day, throughout the day, will keep your blood pressure better regulated.”

Last but not least, she reminds us to eat well. Leafy greens, oily fish and berries are good choices, especially if you have high blood pressure. She recommends a healthy Low-GI diet with complex carbohydrates, reducing the amount of sodium in the diet.

Remember; small changes really can make a big difference. Knowing what triggers blood pressure spikes, through regular monitoring, is the first step to making long-lasting changes that will improve your heart and overall health.

Braun iCheck 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor boxed

*Disclosure: I was sent a Braun iCheck 7 wrist blood pressure monitor for the purpose of review and was compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

How To Keep Your Skin Looking Healthy

Are you prone to dry skin? Or maybe you are trying to defy the signs of ageing, such as fine lines and wrinkles? (Although I do like to remember that getting older is a normal process and there is nothing wrong with looking our age! However much we might wish, we can’t stay youthful forever!) If you want to keep your skin looking healthy, here are some top tips…

How to keep your skin looking healthy

Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for healthy looking for skin. When we are sleep deprived, not only do we get bags under our eyes, but we become more likely to suffer from spots or other skin ailments. Even just generally speaking, the difference between the appearance of a well rested person compared to when they lack sleep is noticeable!

Skin, healthy skin, look younger

Nutrition

Your skin needs essential vitamins and nutrition to stay healthy. So eat your fruit and veg! Dark skin berries are especially good for your skin. Anthocyanidins are the blue and red plant pigments found in fruit, seeds and berries and are known to protect and preserve the body’s natural collagen.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. Remember, this is not taken care of by moisturing; dehydrated skin and dry skin are not the same thing! Moisturing your skin stops it from becoming dry, but hydrating your skin by drinking water ensures the skin cells are full and therefore improves your complexion.

Drink Green Tea

Green tea is becoming well known for it’s antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are known to neutralise the damaging effect of free radicals generated by sun damage to skin. So pour yourself a cuppa and relax!

Let Your Skin Breathe

Leave your face make-up free sometimes to allow your skin to breathe, and generally try not to clog up your pores with too many products. Wash your face regularly – but not too often – with plain warm water.

Healthy skin, face, protect skin

Protect Your Skin

Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays using suncream and also try to cover up. And avoid staying out in the sun too long! It is recommended that when the sun is strongest (11am – 3pm UK) that you stick to the shade. Remember that this includes cloudy weather too! Vitamin D is essential, just be sure to balance it with protecting your skin.

Colladeen

Colladeen by Nature’s Best is a natural supplement that works to promote natural collagen production. This increases elasticity in the skin, and also protects it from sun damage. It contains essential vitamins, such as vitamin C, lutein, biotin and niacin, and also green tea. Studies suggest these may play a protective role against the damaging effects of sunlight on skin.

Colladeen studies suggest that after 24 weeks, there will be less lines and wrinkles, firmer skin and visibly 50% reduction in spider veins. It also states that a natural SPF of 15 will build up internally too. I have been trying out Colladeen for a few weeks and will let you know how I get on!

Colladeen, collagen, skin care, healthy skin

Colladeen Visage costs £18.95 for 60 tablets (one month supply).

*Disclosure: I was sent Colladeen for the purpose of review and was compensated for my time.

Looking After Your Health

We only have one body (and one brain), so it is vital to take good care of it! As obvious as some of the basic ways to help stay healthy are, they can easily get forgotten about within busy everyday lives. Sometimes a quick reminder prompts us to re-evaluate our current habits and make positive changes. So let’s start with simple daily practices that support good health…

Looking After Your Health text, image of lady running

Daily Habits

Get enough sleep – a good night sleep has numerous benefits; it improves memory, attention and concentration, helps regulate mood, helps you to maintain a healthy weight, fights off inflammation, lowers stress and inspires creativity too!

Be active – move around as much as possible throughout the day, try to avoid sitting for long periods, and exercise regularly. Some practical ways to do this in daily life might include simply taking the stairs instead of the lift, ditching the car and walking or cycling to work, taking a lunchtime walk, joining a gym, taking a fitness class or jogging/ park run. You could also consider a standing desk if you work in an office. These are just a few examples.

Eat healthily – make sure you eat a balanced diet with plenty of nutritional value. Ensure foods rich in protein, fibre and essential vitamins. Remember your 5 a day! Avoid excess salt, sugar and saturated fats. Drink plenty of water too. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

Take time to relax – taking time to enjoy a hobby, reading a book, taking a bath or watching TV; whatever helps you to unwind. Other relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga are also beneficial, or indulge in some art therapy.

Stay connected – whether it is a quick chat with a colleague, catching up with a friend, a phone call to family or sharing your feelings, it is important to talk and stay connected.

Track Your Health At Home

Whilst monitoring your own health at home should not replace consulting with professionals, it is very useful to track your own health at home. The information can be used to motivate yourself to improve your health and pick up any danger signs early. Often the reports from apps and devices can be sent straight to your GP too so that they can monitor results too; which means you can work together more closely with your healthcare provider.

Medical image - stethoscope, pen and notes

Health Concerns – Visiting Your GP

If you are concerned about your health, in the first instance go see your GP. Of course, common illness and ailments can be treated at home, and you can also pop into a pharmacy for advice. But if you have any doubts or niggles about symptoms then do make an appointment asap. There is no need to feel embarrassed or fear you are wasting their time; it is far better to air on the side of caution if you are worried.

Complaints

If you feel you have been fobbed off, be assertive and ensure you are satisfied with the care you receive. You can ask for a second opinion if necessary, or even request to be referred to a specialist. You should also be able to find formal complaints procedures online if needed.

Of course, most of the time professionals do their job extremely well and offer excellent care. Cases of medical negligence are thankfully relatively rare in comparison to the number of people cared for effectively. However, if your care falls below acceptable standards and this directly causes an injury to your health, then you may consider pursuing action.

However, most of the time significant errors do not happen. For the vast majority of people, such mistakes are hopefully not something you will need to think about!

Health Conditions and Treatment

It can be daunting to find out you have a health condition. Remember though that getting a correct diagnosis means that the condition can be treated, or at least managed, in the best way possible, and as soon as possible. Ask questions of professionals and seek support from local groups and networks. Talk to friends and family too. Also try to focus on any positive changes that can be made to potentially improve outcomes, if possible.

Remember: if you have a health condition, good daily habits are just as important (if not more so) to promote staying healthy!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Beginners Guide To Mountain Biking with Halfords

When it comes to mountain biking, are you more likely to go shredding, or end up OTB? (Hint: if you don’t know what these terms are, check out the guide below!) If you are a novice, or are yet to try it out but are keen to have a go, then this is the post for you!

Mountain biking is an excellent way to get outside and enjoy spending time outdoors. It is an excellent way to keep fit; fantastic for health and wellbeing. Not only that, with so many tracks to choose from throughout the UK, it can also inspire and motivate people to see more of the country too. Plus it is a lovely clean, eco- friendly hobby (or is it a sport?!) as well. So basically, it is pretty much perfect!

Whilst I am somewhat of a beginner myself, I do have some excellent expert tips to get you started, thanks to this very handy Halfords Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking, and also with the help of some very experienced fellow bloggers too…

Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking

Choose The Correct Bike

There are several factors to consider when choosing a mountain bike; style of frame, wheel size, type of tyre and what type of mountain bike itself. The Beginner’s guide talks you through these considerations, so check that out for further details. Halfords stock a great range of mountain bikes, so you’re bound to find the ideal one for you!

With regard to the type of bike; there is front suspension, full suspension and electric. I have noticed that electric mountain bikes can sometimes get negative press, as they are seen as ‘cheating’ or somehow missing the point. However, there are also benefits to them, as this article explains. I particularly wanted to give them a quick mention though, because I believe they might potentially make mountain biking more accessible for some SEND people, so that is certainly worth noting.

Get the Gear

Any experienced mountain biker will tell you, having the right equipment is absolute key! Safety gear – helmet, elbow and knee pads, and gloves – are essential. Welsh Mum also suggests mudguards so your legs don’t get covered, waterproof gear, a comfortable backpack, and the right shoes and socks all make a big difference. Check out the gear list in the Halfords guide.

Chronicles of Theo mountain biking

Image: Chronicles of Theo mountain biking.

Bike Trails

There are trails all over the UK and they are helpfully colour coded to a standard grading system, so you can pick the right level of difficulty. Green is the beginners route, if you are just starting out. You can find out more about locations in the Halfords guide. (Told you, it’s super useful!)

Expert Advice

Miss LJ Beauty spends a huge part of her life mountain biking, and has been lucky enough to travel the world. Here is her advice:

Why not join a local mountain biking group? To find like minded people of all ability’s The key to learning is have fun! Mountain biking is progressive sport there are always new things to learn. No matter what level you are. Also don’t be afraid to ask someone on a trail! We are a friendly bunch And are more than happy to help!

Get on your bike and come shredding!

Miss LJ Beauty Fort William down hill

Image: Miss LJ Beauty on Fort William down hill.

Have you been mountain biking? Why do you love it? Where is your favourite trail? Tell me in comments!

*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Halfords.

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.