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Easy Steps to Prettier Skin

Easy Steps to Prettier Skin

As winter approaches, skin becomes cracked and dry from the warm summer days. Our bodies change with weather, and skin care regimens should be changed to boost complexion. Try these top 5 healthy approaches to transform your skin from dull to glowing in the winter…
Wear sunscreen, even if you work indoors. The most prevalent cause of skin cancer is sun exposure, causing premature skin aging. UV rays attack the skin and cause sunspots in over 85% of people. Utilizing SPF Sun Care is not an option anymore; it is a lifestyle. Most people don’t wear enough sunscreen daily and select the wrong SPF. Try Coola’s Organic Sunscreen in SPF 30 Cucumber to soothe and protect daily.
Skip the exfoliation and try a mask. Scrubbing too much may cause redness in the face from over-exfoliation. Try a facial mask, like tea tree, in the winter to soothe and kill bacteria from daily environmental aggressors. A purifying mask will help to restore and calm skin rather than irritate it. Try ingredients such as witch hazel, Kaolin and grapefruit to diminish pores and reduce breakouts. If skin is feeling dry, opt for a mask containing carrot seed oils, vitamin E and macadamia nut to plump and nourish depleted skin.  Skincare powerhouse, hyaluronic acid, helps refine skin and helps it to retain moisture.
Take your vitamins! Add evening primrose oil capsules to your daily vitamin regimen as well as skincare products that contain vitamins. Doubling up on vitamins heals from the outside in and from the inside out. Vitamin E, C and primrose oils have the powerful hydrating and nourishing effects needed in cold winter months. Enjoy vitamin-C rich fruits like oranges, grapefruits and kiwi to help fight wrinkles and increase collagen production. Select vitamin C serums to boost, brighten and lighten dark spots.
Get 7.5 hours of beauty sleep daily. The longer you rest, cortisol levels (the stress hormone) decrease and enable collagen to reproduce. Sleep allows the body to heal. Those suffering from skin conditions will especially notice the difference after a good night’s sleep. Skimping out on sleep may start a chain reaction leading to less exercise, bad food choices and dull skin. The best time to use antioxidant-rich face creams happens to be at night, when our skin regenerates and produces cell turnover.
Exercise four times a week to keep the oxygen flowing. Not only does your body produce endorphins with a sweat session, but your complexion benefits with a healthy glow. Those suffering from acne and dryness will notice a difference due to the oxygen which is sent to the skin after a workout. Cardio is a great way to boost confidence–and a clear complexion.
Staying healthy involves healthy nutrition, an active lifestyle, proper skincare regiment, sun protection, rest and relaxation. These five easy steps can make an impact on a first impression…your face! It’s never too early or too late to begin healthy lifestyle choices.
Karina Chung is Spa Director at the Hyatt Grand Champion’s Agua Serena Spa and can be reached at 760.674.4100.

New Year, New You Strategy That Will Work For You

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Losing weight and getting fitter are two excellent choices for resolutions; the big challenge is to keep those resolutions going further than the first week in January so that you achieve your desired goals.

To help you focus on starting, continuing and remaining fit in the New Year, we have the ultimate New Year, new you strategy, including:

  • A simple, effective 5-step fitness plan
  • Fitness focus tips that really work!
  • Target ideas to help you reach your goals

5-steps to fitness

With your motivation at maximum levels, the temptation to enroll at your local gym, throw yourself headlong into exercise classes and slash your diet to the bone is extremely high. However, before you embark on your personal journey to improved health and fitness, take a little time out to plan and prepare. Time spent in this phase will pay dividends again and again in terms of safety, continuity and long term improvements. Simply follow the 5-step plan below which will set you on your way safely and effectively.

1

Safety first

To start with, it is vitally important to ensure that it is safe for you to begin an exercise programme. Complete the safety checklist below and if you answer yes to one or more questions, or alternatively, if you are at all concerned about starting training, then make an appointment with your doctor for a checkup before you start.

Health-status safety checklist

  • Are you aged over 30 and/or have not exercised for some time?
  • Do you suffer from any medical conditions?
  • Are you a smoker or have recently given up smoking?
  • Have you undergone any surgery in the past two years?
  • Are you suffering from any injuries?
  • Are you currently on any prescribed medication?
  • Are you unsure about beginning an exercise programme?

Once you have the all-clear from your doctor then you’re ready to step out on the road to ‘new you’ fitness.

2

Seek professional help

Before you launch headlong into exercise, seek out an exercise professional who can provide expert input into your plans. A good exercise professional should be qualified to assess your current fitness levels, including cardiovascular (CV), strength, your nutrition and most importantly, with respect to your posture – flexibility. All are fundamental to a proper health and fitness programme. Time at this point will reap continual benefits during subsequent stages because your training will be relevant to and correct for you and your progression will be faster.

3

Set targets

Target setting is extremely important as it will give you goals to aim for. Your goals can be anything you like, for example a desired weight, a particular dress size, a sporting event that you would like to try or complete, absolutely anything that you like. Discussing your targets with an exercise professional is also extremely useful as they should be able to advise on progression and offer relevant advice on how to reach your desired goals safely and effectively.

4

Start steadily

In the first few days of your new exercise regime, when your enthusiasm is likely to be high, it can be very easy to do too much too soon. The dangers here are overload, in the form of overworked muscles, fatigue, soreness, or worse still; injury. Any of these problems will be extremely de-motivating so it is important to balance your enthusiasm against your current fitness levels. Start sensibly and slowly so that you make the desired gains without struggling to walk or move for several days after your first session!

5

Adapt and modify

One of the keys to maintaining improvement during an exercise programme is to ensure that the body is sufficiently challenged so that adaptation (or fitness improvements) occurs. For real, long-lasting results, it is essential that your training is continually modified, adapted and updated at the correct pace for you, so that your health and fitness progresses and equally importantly, your motivation is maintained.

Keep that focus

However motivated you are at the beginning of your new fitness regime, there are certain to be times when your enthusiasm wavers. Other commitments, tiredness, bad weather and work are just a few of the challenges to your commitment that you will face as you try and maintain your ‘new you’ focus. When those ‘wobbly moments’ appear, keep your eye on the ball by trying one of the following strategies to counteract those negative thoughts.

Write it down

Write down your personal reasons for making your lifestyle changes, why it is important to you, what you aim to achieve and how good you’ll feel when you achieve your goals. Use this record as a touchstone to reaffirm your enthusiasm when the going gets tough.

Phone a friend

Linking up with a like-minded training partner can do wonders for maintaining your motivation. You can support each other when any negatives appear and sometimes, the simple act of making an exercise date with a friend can be enough to get you out of the door when your motivation is flagging.

Stepping stones

At the beginning of your exercise plan you will have set yourself a target – which may take many months to achieve. The danger here is that although you progress towards your target, because it is a long way off, you sometimes feel that you’ll never get there. The solution is to set some interim goals – or stepping stones which are mini targets to aim for as you get fitter.

For example: If weight loss is your goal, break it down into monthly targets – and importantly, celebrate each monthly achievement.

If your goal is competition based, perhaps to complete a 10k race, target a 5k race as part of your build-up. The smaller event is an ideal short term focus point and will also serve as an effective measure of how your fitness is progressing.

New you – all year!

Start as you mean to continue and continue just as you’ve started is an appropriate mantra for your New Year focus. By planning ahead and beginning slowly, your health and fitness gains will be sustainable and you will achieve long lasting results. Additionally, employing a few simple tools for target setting and adaptation will ensure that you enjoy continual progression towards your goals. Fad diets and quick fitness fixes don’t work and will leave you unmotivated before January is through, so instead, focus on smart strategies – the new you is just around the corner!

5 Small Resolutions That Make A Big Difference

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Although losing a fifth of your body weight might sound great, is it really achievable? The chances are that come February your New Year’s resolutions will have been ditched until next year. But it doesn’t have to be the case! Small resolutions can lead to bigger things.

1

Drink herbal tea

After consuming a month’s worth of food and two months’ worth of drink within just one week, it’s no wonder that after the Christmas period we all vow to be healthier and lose weight over the coming year. Yet, how many of us manage it and how many of us come up with excuses about why we can’t stick to our resolutions?

Research shows that the weight we gain at Christmas is not usually lost over the ensuing 12 months and that every year we get heavier. To change this predictable pattern, get into drinking herbal tea. Some herbal teas, such as green tea, are thought to aid weight loss, and the antioxidants within herbal teas can help improve your skin and protect your heart and blood vessels.

2

Book a course

The long, festive break can make going back to work harder and many people want a career change or a new job come January. Although this might be a good thing, finding a new job is not an easy task. To make this New Year’s resolution achievable you should book onto a course at your local college.

Take a look at the jobs you would like to have; what qualifications or experience are employers looking for? If you see a gap on your CV that could hold you back from getting the career you crave, then book onto a course. Before you do so make sure that the course is recognised within your industry and that it suits your style of learning.

3

Count the cash

Most people’s bank accounts are not looking too healthy after the dozens of presents you have just forked out on. Therefore most people make a New Year’s resolution to improve their finances over the coming year. Although this sounds like a simple resolution, it’s one that most people fail to stick to after February.

To make sure this year is different, buy a piggy bank and when you get home from work stick in some coins you have loose in your wallet, purse or pocket. It is surprising how quickly and how much money this saves. After two or three months you will need a new piggy bank. Do not open the money boxes until December next year. Chances are, if you’ve stuck to the daily money-giving routine, you’ll have enough saved to cover the costs of Christmas.

4

Start a new chapter

Now that you’re no longer at school, it can be difficult to find the time and energy to read. Once you’ve settled into bed with a good book it can only be a few minutes before you’ve nodded off. Yet, reading can improve your memory and help prevent mental decline, so not only is it relaxing and enjoyable it’s also great for our mental health.

To make sure you get to read more this year why not buy a collection of short stories? You could also join a book club to make sure you stay focused every month. Another way to make sure you read more this year is to download a book list that has been voted for by others, so that you have a stock of well-written and gripping books to read. Finally, you can always start a book review blog and write your opinions on the books you’ve read.

5

Get the travel bug

After slipping back into your normal routine after the excitement of Christmas most people are desperate to break out of the rut they feel their life has fallen into. Most people yearn to travel in order to break free of their normal restraints, but quitting your job, leaving your home and tying up other responsibilities like rehoming your cat means that traveling around Thailand for six months is not a realistic New Year’s resolution. 

Yet, other forms of travel are achievable and can make a big difference to your attitude towards your current lifestyle. For example, rather than going on your usual vacation this year why not volunteer on an overseas project for two or three weeks? You can also travel within your local area. Pack a bag and head out exploring for the weekend. Don’t book any accommodation, just head to the train station and catch a train somewhere new. Although not the most glamorous of trips, you will still get a thrill from the unexpected and will not feel like your life is so predictable or planned out.

Top 10 Healthy Ways To Survive The Office Christmas Party

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Many people see it as a test of endurance and strong will. Fail it and you may end up in work the next day red-faced and ashamed, having consumed far too many calories as well! Here are our top 10 tips to help you get through the office Christmas party fun in a healthy way.

1

Eat a big lunch during the day

That way you won’t have an empty stomach when you hit the big bash and you won’t get too hungry during the night. This will help you to avoid snacking on unhealthy food after you’ve had a couple of drinks.

2

Stay hydrated

Keep a bottle of water with you and drink from it all day, so you don’t start the proceedings already dehydrated. Aim to drink at least 1.5 litres during the day.

3

Get your liver in shape

Take regular doses of the herb Milk Thistle a few days beforehand – it has been shown to assist the organ in processing alcohol.

4

Pass on the punch

Punch bowls are notorious for containing a concoction of booze that surprisingly tastes great – but is impossible to gauge how much you have actually drunk and this will come back to haunt you the next day. Punch is also highly calorific, especially if a number of juices and mixers are added in.

5

Eat mindfully

Eat a plate of food then put it down. Rather than standing near the buffet and tucking into it all night long – a sure way of over-indulging.

6

Collect canapé sticks

If it’s finger food, keep your canapé sticks to remind you how many you’ve put away – canapes are often quite rich, and have lots of calories for such a small mouthful.

7

Eat what you like

Only eat what you actually like – not just what’s put under your nose. Remember eating is not compulsory at these events! Although having a small meal is advised to mitigate any effects of the alcohol.

8

Pace yourself

A few festive cocktails to get merry is okay – but if you start to feel drunk and disorderly – JUST STOP! That way you’ll avoid any embarrassment and limit the number of unhealthy alcoholic drinks you consume.

9

Hit the dance floor

Even if you’re not a natural mover it will keep you distracted from food or alcohol. It’s also a great way to burn calories.

10

Pick healthy mixers

Stick to spirits with healthy mixers like slimline tonic or diet lemonade. Cocktails might seem tempting, but they are often a very high-calorie option, especially any made with creamy liqueurs, fresh cream, coconut milk or cream.

And, most importantly, enjoy yourself! Think of the party as a bit of a treat – if you follow these rules, you’ll be able to have fun and avoid adding inches to your waistline.

What To Get A Runner For Christmas

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1

Foam roller

Injury is unfortunately an occupational hazard when you’re a runner so it’s important to look after your body and to try and keep injuries at bay to enable you to bank consistent blocks of training. 

In an ideal world every runner would have a sports massage once a week, however in reality this is both expensive and time consuming. You can however give your body some much needed TLC with a foam roller. This simple bit of kit is perfect for releasing soft tissue and myofascial tightness.

2

High-vis gear

With the dark nights sadly not disappearing anywhere soon, high-vis, reflective gear is a must if you want to be safe and be seen. From jackets to tights to arm bands there is now a vast array of reflective apparel to choose from. However for those runners who aren’t keen on bright colours you don’t necessarily have to dress as if you are going to a neon rave! A lot of technical winter kit now includes reflective panels and prints.

3

Training diary

Whether you’re an elite athlete or a casual competitor, a training diary is a fantastic tool for many reasons. Not only does it serve as a great source of motivation when looking back at all the workouts that you’ve logged, it also enables you to objectively analyse why you are running well or maybe not so well.

4

Epsom salts

Many runners have low magnesium levels so one of the easiest ways to help top up your stores naturally is to add some Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) to your bath. A nice soak is great for muscle relaxation, particularly after harder sessions or long runs.

5

Energy gels

Although it doesn’t sound exciting, most runners, particularly those targeting the longer distances in the spring will be surprisingly chuffed with a selection of their favourite energy gels!

Some sports nutrition brands even produce seasonal selection packs that include gels, energy drink powders and sports bottles. All good running and bike shops will stock energy products and of course you’ll be able to find them on-line too.

6

Head torch

If you live in an area with limited street lighting or you fancy venturing off-road once daylight has diminished then a lightweight head torch should be added to your wish list. There are a wide range of head torches currently on the market but opt for one that can be worn comfortably, has ample battery life and provides good peripheral light too.

7

Physio vouchers

Whether you’re injured or not, a trip to see a physio for an all-over MOT is always a worthwhile pursuit for any runner. A physio screening can help to identify any weak or tight areas of your body that could potentially lead to injury if they aren’t addressed. Prevention is definitely better than cure!

Your Christmas Stress Survival Guide

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1

Financial difficulties

Solution: There’s no denying it; Christmas can certainly wreak havoc on our finances, with gifts to buy, nights out to attend, and food and drink to stock up on. However, it is important not to let financial pressures ruin your Christmas. Before you start making your festive purchases, try to write a list of everything you need to buy and set a realistic budget for each item.

If you find that your list is going to blow your Christmas budget, try to find some ways to cut back on gifts, such as by making homemade presents, looking for bargains online, or organising a Secret Santa for friends or siblings, rather than buying for each individual.

2

Family tensions

Solution: If the time spent with your extended family over Christmas always results in arguments, tears or tension-fuelled frosty silences, this can lead you to approach Christmas with a sense of apprehension or dread. To help cut out stress this Christmas, try to prepare yourself and have realistic expectations of your family. Accept that they are not perfect and that they will probably say things that you don’t like, but make a decision to try not to let it spoil your day.

To help keep the peace, try your best to steer clear of risky conversation topics – and alcohol – which may provoke rows, and keep everyone occupied with fun sports or games after your meal. If you feel your stress levels rising, try to take a few moments to yourself and take some deep breaths to help you relax.

3

Social obligations

Solution: A lot of us find that the festive period is met with an overwhelming amount of demands on our time from friends and family. There are work parties to attend, friends to meet up with, and the question of who to see on Christmas day. To minimise your risk of double booking yourself over this busy period, try to keep a diary or calendar displaying all your planned events so far. You could also try combining events and mixing groups of friends, if you think they will get along.

Also, remember that not all your events need to be squeezed into the lead-up to Christmas. Make full use of the 12 days of Christmas by scheduling some events for after the big day.

4

Culinary pressures

Solution: Does the thought of preparing a roast dinner with all the trimmings leave you in a cold sweat? You are certainly not alone. The pressure of entertaining over the festive season can be a stressful thing for many; however don’t let meal preparations take the shine off Christmas day. If you have guests coming over for Christmas dinner, you could suggest everyone pitches in by preparing and bringing a different part of the meal.

Alternatively, try delegating tasks in the kitchen and getting your family to help out. Also, don’t be afraid to cheat a little and get your stuffing or Yorkshire puddings ready made or your vegetables ready chopped. So what if you’re not the world’s best chef? No one will ever know (or care).

5

Not enough time

Solution: Not only do most of us have many social obligations over the festive period, the Christmas season is also awash with time-consuming tasks such as buying Christmas presents, wrapping gifts, decorating our homes and cooking Christmas treats. To free up some time over this busy period, try to make the best use of hours you would normally spend procrastinating, using your lunch hours effectively and multi-tasking while watching TV.

Buying food and gifts online will also cut down on time, while short bursts of present wrapping – rather than a full-on gift-wrapping session – will help to make the task seem more manageable over this busy period.

6

Choosing the perfect gift

Solution: According to a British survey by the Post Office, trying to find the perfect presents for our loved ones is the biggest source of Christmas stress. To help choose the perfect gift, start early by listening out for hints as to things your family and friends are interested in, which may inspire present ideas. Thinking about gifts related to the five senses (sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell) is also a good way to get inspiration for presents, as is considering the different aspects of your recipient’s lifestyle.

The most important thing is not to leave it until the last minute and to spend enough time thinking about what your recipient may like. As they say, it’s the thought that counts, so make sure enough thought goes into your gifts this year.

Healthier Christmas Dinners

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Turkey, fish and other meat

  • If you’re having poultry as your main course, then stick to the white breast meat, which contains less fat than the browner meat. Flavour it with herbs and lemon juice and cut down on salt when you season it.
  • Choose turkey over more fatty birds such as goose or duck.
  • Tempting as it might be, avoid eating bits of crispy turkey skin, as the skin is the fattiest part of any bird.
  • Try having a fish-based starter. The protein in the fish will help fill you up so that you are less likely to overindulge on other courses. White fish is low in fat, while oily fish is packed with omega-3 oils – which are anti-inflammatory and will help to keep your heart healthy.
  • Avoid chipolatas wrapped in bacon. As well as saturated fat, these contain a lot of salt.

Vegetables

  • Load up half your plate with veg, so that this makes up a good proportion of your meal.
  • Try honeyed carrots, braised red cabbage and traditional brussels sprouts to increase fibre. Remember: the more colourful your plate, the more varied your range of health-giving nutrients will be.
  • Opt for boiled instead of roast potatoes.

Pudding and cheeses

  • Use skimmed milk to make custard as an accompaniment to your pudding, rather than using cream, ice cream or brandy butter. This will provide you with calcium while avoiding the extra fat found in the heavier options.
  • Try a fruit platter for dessert in place of a pudding in order to cleanse your palate and provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • A boozy fruit compote with half-fat crème fraiche would make a healthy yet decadent sweet. Try plums, berries, apples and sultanas stewed in red wine, vanilla and a little bit of sugar.
  • Pile up your cheese-board with strong-tasting cheese, as you will be satisfied with smaller amounts. Eat the cheese with crumbly oatcakes, celery and grapes for a dose of soluble fibre (which helps to reduce cholesterol), B vitamins and antioxidant flavonoid compounds (which help to keep the heart healthy).

Snacks

  • If you’re tempted to nibble while waiting for dinner to cook, try crunchy vegetable crudités such as cucumber, pepper and carrot, along with a yogurt, garlic and mint dip; hummus; or fresh tomato salsa with onion, garlic, a pinch of salt and some coriander.
  • Make the most of the festive season’s satsumas (for vitamin C) and nuts (for healthy oils), and steer clear of the cheap milk chocolates that abound!
  • If you simply have to have chocolate, opt for the dark variety, which has a higher proportion of flavonoids than milk.

Drinks

  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquid throughout the day. This will stop you mistaking thirst for hunger, as well as dilute your alcohol intake.
  • Avoid alcohol before eating. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach will speed up its entry into your bloodstream, and also act as appetite stimulant which may encourage you to overeat.
  • Feel free to enjoy a guilt-free glass of red wine with your meal, as alcohol increases iron absorption.

And a final tip…

  • Go for a brisk walk when you get a chance. This will boost your metabolism in preparation for the next feast!

How To Have A Great Christmas And Not Gain Weight

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1

Don't ditch your gym habits entirely

First of all, try to keep in mind that Christmas itself lasts only a couple of days – there’s no need to ditch your gym regime for a whole week in the lead-up (or fall-out).

2

Try and stick to your usual eating habits in the run up

Just because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t mean you have to gorge yourself on mince pies, nibbles and booze every night. In fact, the more you stick to your usual eating habits in the lead-up, the more special it will be to eat Christmassy foods on the day. Try not to snack mindlessly in the Christmas rush – make time for your meals and stay hydrated, so that you don’t mistake thirst for hunger.

3

Expend energy in festive preparations

As far as calorie burning is concerned, our ‘spend and save’ strategy begins a few days before Christmas, when you have the opportunity to expend more energy than usual on preparation chores like shopping, cooking and cleaning. Put as much effort as possible into these activities, such as parking the car at the far end of the car park at the superstore rather than opting for home delivery, kneading pastry by hand rather than shoving it in the blender, and polishing your own windows instead of getting the cleaner in.

4

Don't skip breakfast

And as for the big day itself? Don’t forgo breakfast, no matter how hectic your morning is. Starting the day with a meal boosts metabolic rate by 10 per cent, and reduces the risk of you overeating later on. But skip the fry up – have something light, such as a boiled egg and a slice of wholemeal toast, or fresh fruit and yogurt.

5

Exercise in the morning

If you’ve got time, exercising in the morning will gear up your metabolism for the rest of the day. In this scenario, intensity is more important than duration as the harder you work, the greater the ‘afterburn’ effect of continued higher calorie burning. A 20-minute brisk run or bike ride would be perfect. The frostier the better – research shows that we burn up to 12 per cent more calories working out in cold weather, as the body has to work harder to maintain its core temperature.

6

Time to put on your Christmas day outfit

Wear something that doesn’t have an elasticated or loose waistband; this will give you a benchmark of tightness. If it fits in the morning, you want it still to fit by the evening. It’s a harsh wake-up call when you need to undo that top button to fit in another helping of roast potatoes!

7

Dinner dilemmas

Choose carefully and Christmas dinner needn’t be a disaster area. For example, choosing the white turkey meat instead of the darker stuff can save you calories and fat grams. Remove the skin, too, or just restrict yourself to one tasty mouthful of crispy skin (well, it is Christmas, after all!).

8

Don’t feel obliged to eat more than you normally would

Turning down seconds doesn’t mean you didn’t enjoy your meal – it’s just that you have had enough. Similarly, there is nothing wrong with politely putting your hand over your glass when it still has wine left in it, so that you can keep track of how much you’ve had. If you get the choice, opt for filo pastry mince pies – less fattening than puff or shortcrust pastry and just as delicious. Also choose custard instead of brandy butter and cream.

9

Time for an aperitif?

A pub-sized serving of Baileys will set you back 100 calories (and let’s face it, who pours pub-sized servings at home?). Why not go for brandy, with 65 calories and no fat per measure?

10

Getting back on track

Once the big meal is over, busy yourself with clearing the table, washing up or entertaining the kids. Anything active is better than parking yourself on the sofa with a box of chocolates that you really haven’t got room to eat. The same goes for Boxing Day, which otherwise has the potential to be a repeat performance of the previous day’s excesses. Avoid the Boxing Day blowout by organising to do something active with the family – such as a walk or a game of rounders in the park. The you can enjoy your turkey sandwiches guilt free.

10 Ways To Have A Healthier Christmas

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1

Don’t sit down all day

We know every Christmas special under the sun will be showing on the TV, but you don’t need to plonk yourself on the sofa all day! Encourage the whole family to get out for a walk at some point – ideally, after dinner to aid digestion. The more activity, the better, so take along any new outdoor gifts, like bikes, scooters, footballs or Frisbees, or play old-fashioned games.

2

Go easy on the booze

If you are firmly ensconced at home over the festive period, those alcohol units can really mount up. Mulled wine on Christmas eve, Bucks Fizz with breakfast, wine with dinner, Baileys, brandy… the list goes on! So, do try to keep tabs on how much you are drinking, and intersperse alcoholic drinks with soft ones.

3

Don’t give yourself a Christmas stuffing!

Recent research suggests that we consume around 3,000 calories in our Christmas dinner – more than the entire recommended daily intake for a grown man!

This huge feast not only contributes to weight gain but also to indigestion and heartburn – not to mention lethargy for the rest of the day, reducing the chances of you burning much of it off. Instead of gorging yourself on Christmas dinner, eat a normal-sized meal and then take a 20-minute break to see if you are still hungry (it takes this long for the brain to register that the stomach is full). The chances are, you’ll realise you’ve had enough.

4

Keep colds at bay

Colds are rife at Christmas, partly because many of us travel around the country, exposing ourselves – and others – to different cold viruses. Minimise your risks by maintaining a healthy immune system (eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and not smoking will help), so you are more able to fight off any viruses.

5

Don’t stress

‘Tis the season to be jolly’ but jolly is the last thing many of us feel with overspending, cooking, cleaning, endless ‘to do’ lists and visitors we could do without. Try to keep a sense of humor and proportion. Is it really the end of the world if the carrots are overcooked or if the mantelpiece is a bit dusty? Do you really care about Auntie Mary’s disapproval of the fact that you and your partner are living together and aren’t married? Remember, Christmas is just one day out of 365 and it isn’t worth stressing over.

6

Eat fruit

Let’s be honest, most of us get through the entire Christmas period eating no more fruit than the satsuma in the Christmas stocking. It just doesn’t really feature on the Christmas menu. But at this time of late nights, overindulging and partying, it’s more important than ever to get your vitamins and minerals, to help you stay in good health. Ensure that your Christmas shopping list enables you to fill up the fruit bowl and get your recommended daily portions of fruit and veg. (And no, mulled wine doesn’t count as one portion!)

7

Do something for others

It’s hard to avoid the consumerism that has overtaken Christmas in the western world, but it doesn’t all have to be about giving or receiving gifts. Try to do something for others this festive season, whether it’s baking some extra mince pies for an elderly neighbor, inviting an acquaintance who doesn’t have family around them to your home or helping out with a local Christmas fete or carol service.

8

Think before you eat

Christmas is a time of plenty, and with nuts, chocolates, mince pies and cheese straws wherever you look, it would be rather Scrooge-like to suggest that you don’t eat any treats over the festive period! But rather than mindlessly popping whatever is in front of you in your mouth, spend a moment thinking about whether you really want it, or are just eating it because it’s there.

9

Engage your brain

Instead of switching off in front of the TV, keep your mind active by playing games like Trivial Pursuit or Charades. This is also a great way of getting everyone together. If you aren’t a ‘game’ person, engage your mind by setting up any new gadgets, such as Playstations, iPads, mobile phones or laptops.

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Be a careful cook

If your Christmas duties include cooking the dinner, you won’t be delighted to hear that according to the Food Standards Agency, December is one of the most common months for people to get food poisoning. To minimise the risks, don’t leave food out all day. Put out small amounts at a time, so that what is on the table has just been cooked or just come out of the fridge. Ideally, try to use any leftovers within 48 hours or freeze them. As for the turkey, always defrost it in the fridge, allowing 10 to 12 hours per kilo and do not wash the bird, as this can spread bacteria around, which will be destroyed by cooking anyway.

And most importantly, have a happy, healthy festive season!

How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

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The holiday blues are starting to set in, and you can’t get away with finishing the 12 pack of mince pies without getting disapproving looks. It’s time to get your lifestyle and fitness organised for the year ahead, but this is the easiest part.

The tricky part of the bargain comes when you actually have to live up to your aspiring New Year’s resolutions. Enhancing your body’s fitness may sound simple enough but the temptations of junk food, computer games and your favourite TV show are all things that could have you loping back to the couch by mid-February, munching pizza from a greasy box whilst mid-marathoning a new series.

So, how can you stay true to your best intentions? These top tips will help you keep your healthy New Year’s resolutions:

  • Don’t be over-ambitious – Your New Year’s resolutions may aspire to improve the condition of your body but that doesn’t mean things are going to change overnight. If you’re an absolute fitness beginner looking to lose a few excess pounds, then trying to run a marathon from scratch is likely to prove a bridge too far. Instead, keep things in perspective by aiming for small steps forward rather than big, stuttering strides. Building a better body requires time and hard work so take things fairly easy when starting out, otherwise you might be tempted to cancel that new gym membership and return to the bad old days when the closest thing you ever got to exercise was watching sports on TV.
  • Set yourself fitness goals – If you’re serious about conquering your New Year’s resolutions, it’s essential you give yourself goals to measure your steady progress. Setting goals and deadlines will give your fitness plan a proper structure and keep you on the right track towards further advancement.
  • Get support from friends and family – Sticking to your fitness goals is hard enough at the best of times but doing it all on your own is going to prove an uphill struggle. In light of this, try and get your friends and family onboard to support your training, by offering you encouragement and positive criticism throughout your exercise. With strong emotional backing to support you, the effort of training will soon become much less of a chore.
  • Create a manifesto – We’re not talking Karl Marx here, but drawing up a manifesto that outlines your training plans and goals could really help you stay focused on those healthy New Year’s resolutions. By writing down your promises and pinning them to the wall, you’ll have no excuses not to live up to your original pledges. Time to get scribbling.
  • Reward yourself for completing goals – Just because you’re trying to live up to some healthy New Year’s resolutions doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid enjoying the odd tasty treat. When you’ve completed a fitness goal, why not reward yourself with that slice of chocolate cake you’ve been putting off for weeks? By promising yourself regular (but not too regular!) rewards, you’ll soon feel more motivated to stay on course for better fitness. Moderation is key to maintaining a good physique.

Trying to keep your health-conscious New Year’s resolutions doesn’t have to be so difficult. In fact, by taking a few easy steps, motivating yourself to stay on track can actually be a positive and worthwhile experience in itself, bringing you closer to your family and friends whilst instilling a newfound sense of self-worth. It may be a struggle in the early days, but persevere and you’ll get the healthy body you crave eventually!