Summer – Try New Things and Work On Your Fitness

summer_sportsSummer is a fantastic season to break out of your comfort zone and to try something new – how about some new sports?

With the sunshine boosting your energy, it is therefore the perfect time to work on your health and fitness, and try some sports or leisure activities that you’ve always wanted to, but haven’t had the motivation to work on.

As such, we thought that we would share with you our top 3 favourite summer sports that we are just itching to try!

Water Polo – Water polo is a brilliant water sport that builds up endurance, body strength and flexibility.

It is also great for toning your arms and your legs (which lets be honest – is something that we all want!) and is one of the best sports that you can play that will help maintain your cardiovascular health.

What is more, water polo is the perfect game to play on that sun-drenched holiday you’ve got coming up. What more could you ask for?

Horse Riding – Summer is the perfect time to get outdoors and experience nature, and how much closer to nature can you get than riding a horse?

One of the best things about horse riding is that anyone can take part, regardless of age or ability, making it the perfect family activity.

If you’re more into the health side of horse riding then you’ll be pleased to know that it’s also a great activity to do to build up fitness, muscle tone and muscle strength and has been proven to boost the serotonin levels in the brain, helping you to feel less stressed out and a lot more happier!

Surfing – There is certainly an air of romanticism to surfing, and with the sandy beaches and beautiful scenery it’s not hard to see why.

Remarkably, the health benefits of surfing are fantastic too.

Not only does it improve your balance (which helps you as you age!), it increases your core strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness.

Pretty great for a summer sport!

All three of these sports are fantastic to do with your friends and family alike, and are a great way to get outside and get active this summer.

If you have never thought about trying these sports before, why not give them a go?

Challenging yourself will not only push you physically, but it also helps you feel more fulfilled and boosts your confidence – so why not give them a go!

Why We Need To Take A Step Back From Technology

technologyTechnology is an amazing thing.

It enables us to communicate with people over the other side of the world, and we have uncapped and uncensored information at our fingertips.

Now more than ever we can learn anything, we can do anything, and we can teach ourselves anything. However, it is possible that we can have too much of a good thing.

Over the past 20 years of information technology being popularised and brought into homes and workplaces, of it shrinking and being able to be popped into our pockets, our concentration levels have dropped, our eyesight has worsened and our self-worth has become clouded in a sea of ‘likes’ and ‘favourites’.

None of these things are good for our physical or mental wellbeing.

Of course it’s easy to say that you need to step away from technology, but with texts and phone calls being on the same device as your Facebook messages and Twitter feed it’s hard to do.

Most of us don’t even put our phones into the same class as our laptops despite them being able to do most of the things that our laptops can.

Moreover, when we take a break from our laptops, we can often be found on our phones, a habit which does nothing for our eyesight, or our memories.

When we use our phones whilst watching the television and feeding the dog, our mind isn’t focused therefore whatever we watch or read never makes it to our long-term memories, making it difficult for us to learn new things.

This constant stimulation also causes us to be more anxious as we are subconsciously frightened of missing something, despite the fact that whatever that something is may not actually be applicable to our lives, or cause us any enjoyment.

It even affects our social lives. When you go out, take a look around. How many people are at lunch with their friends with their phones on the table?

Sometimes we can get so carried away with our virtual lives that we are actually missing that face-to-face communication desperately needed by humans. But what can we do about it?

Get out (without your phone… or at least put it in your pocket!), set specified hours for laptop and smart tablet use and don’t go over them!

Unplug and get out of the house, and most importantly, make time for your family and friends without using your phone every 5 minutes… they’ll thank you for it!

The Real Benefits of Natural Products

naturalLot’s of people are quick to say that natural products are better for your health than the non-natural alternatives, and whilst this is true, it’s often just taken as fact without going into why these products are better for you, or even without asking what these natural products give you in contrast to the non-natural alternatives.

We believe that it is important that people understand exactly what is going into their food and health supplements, as well as why but without the jargon.

As such, this is an important topic for us, and one that we aim to help you get a grasp of without needing a background in food or science!

“ Natural Products”

The term “Natural Products” scientifically means that what you are getting comes directly from the earth.

However, lots of our food goes through other processes such as pulping, or something has been extracted from it and added to another product to improve the taste or nutritional value.

Even though it has been pulped or something has been extracted from it, the pulp and extraction material is still natural, therefore can still be labelled as a natural product.

Despite this, there is legally no specific definition for what a natural product is and what it is not, however, there are also no legally binding laws stopping manufacturers from using the term “natural product” as long as the product is completely free from colouring, artificial flavouring and synthetic substances.

This means that any product can be labelled natural as long as it’s free from colouring, flavouring or synthetic substances, and because natural products are free from these things we believe that the product is good for us.

But why are colourings, flavourings and synthetic substances so bad for us and where do they come from?

Colourings, flavourings and synthetic substances are usually derivatives of a natural product- however, they have been processed so much, often with other substances being added to them that they are no longer classed as a derivative of that product.

Banana pulp is still a banana, but a carbohydrate compound isn’t.

As such, because it has deviated so much from the original product, and been added to other things, secondary chemical reactions have happened along the way.

These chemical reactions produce the colourings, flavourings and synthetic substances present in most processed foods.

Some of these elements have been known in some case studies to cause heart palpitations, stimulation (hyperactivity) and at the other end of the scale depression.

And this is why most people believe that natural is better… and we definitely agree!

Exercising Online?

sleektechniqueNow more than ever we are relying on our wi-fi connection to enable us to carry out the simplest of tasks, and now, we can even attend exercise classes online.

Thanks to the wonderful ladies at Sleek Technique exercise classes are no longer scheduled once a week with huge sign up lists, they are on demand and you can fit them into your routine as and when you want to start exercising.

By making exercise classes into something that we can do via our webcams, download, and do without leaving our houses, they have made the whole concept completely accessible to a whole new market of women.

It’s also a huge benefit that if you bring your laptop with you on holiday you could even take part 50, 000 miles away!

It’s exciting to see how technology is seeping into more and more into different parts of our lives, particularly those parts that are unexpected like exercise.

Through classes that are centred upon dance based conditioning exercises put together by Victoria Marr and Flick Swan, two professional dancers who have incredible training qualifications, everyone now has the chance to give exercise a go.

Whilst it might not be conventional, nor is it tangible how it actually works until you’ve tried it, it’s definitely a fun way to get moving.

Personally, having tried the “Ballet boot camp workout” recently at an event in London I was unsurprised to find that as per usual, I went in at the deep end and made my way through an “intermediate” work out without realising.

It was definitely challenging, but I found that it actually boosted my mood for the rest of the day, and now I can’t wait to go back to the beginning and tackle some of the “beginner” courses such as “Classical Cardio Intro”, this time in the privacy of my own home.

If you want to check it out yourself please head over to Sleektechnique and tell them we sent you!

Body Image

body imageWhat do you see when you look in the mirror of a morning?

Do you see a happy and healthy individual with a bright smile and wayward hair that, on second thoughts, you’re definitely going to have to brush today? Or do you see your flaws?

Your  nose that’s too pointy, your lips that aren’t full enough, your flat chest and eyes that are never going to be as bright as those of celebrities in magazines?

If you answered yes to the second option rather than the first, then you are not alone.

Negative thoughts with regards to how you see yourself and your body image are, unfortunately, pretty normal.

However, it’s when these negative thoughts won’t leave you alone, when they consume you and your every action that societies preoccupation with body image leads to individuals developing health disorders such as body dismorphia, anorexia and bulimia, and it’s easier than you think to find yourself battling these illnesses.

So, how do we stop ourselves from developing these disorders in the first place, and what can we do to stop future generations buckling under the pressure of airbrushed models in magazines and the impossibly small mannequins that they see in shops?

Well, it’s important not to blame the media for everything.

Family and friends are often the most influential people in a young persons life and not the media, therefore it is important that if you are in charge of young people that you are aware of how you speak about your body and your relationship with food in front of them as your thoughts will influence how they see their own bodies.

By keeping talk about body image and food positive, it re-affirms a healthy outlook towards nutrition and what it means to eat healthily.

Also, if you are having distressing thoughts about your body image, it’s vital that you talk to a health professional about it.

You may not think anything of skipping a meal or two to lose a couple of pounds, but when this becomes obsessive, you need to be able to realise that that isn’t healthy.

Asking for help when you’ve developed an eating disorder is hard, particularly when you feel like there is nothing wrong with how you are eating, but sometimes asking for help is the only way to get you back on track and believing that you are beautiful and worthy and absolutely brilliant the way you are.

Creating Happiness

happinessHappiness is something that we all want to strive for, regardless of if we realise it on a conscious level or not.

It is something that we work towards, and when we are unable to attain our version of ‘happy’ it leaves us feeling empty and lethargic.

It can even affect our levels of health and if we are under a lot of stress and pressure. This, added to the strain of personal circumstances not only results in the absence of happiness, (unhappiness), but can also lead to depression and other mental health issues.

Yet happiness is such a personal and abstract thing that that it means that there is no one size fits all solution to creating happiness or having happiness in our lives.

However, science has proven that there are some ways that we can help boost our levels of certain natural elements in our bodies (namely endorphins), and this can help us to lift our moods naturally and push us in the right direction to attaining happiness.

1. Exercise more: It might seem silly, everyone says it, however, exercising is a great way to boost endorphins in the brain, as well as keeping fit and healthy. Not only does it make you happier and boost your mood, it can also help you to feel more energetic, thus boosting your mood so that you can get more done, challenge yourself and push forward!

2. Get outside: Nature has an amazing affect on our brains and sometimes we are unable to appreciate exactly how much. Simply being around nature can be calming, promotes inner peace and wellbeing and can even help clear your mind.

3. Fit in five chuckles a day: Laughter is the best type of medicine and the more that you laugh, the happier you become. It’s an odd one, as generally if you’re laughing there is something stimulating that laughter and happiness, but it’s important to do the things that you enjoy and take pleasure in them.

4. Re-discover an old passion: Sometimes we forget to do the things that we love, we get too busy and push the things that we love to the sidelines. However, we need to put ourselves first sometimes and stop letting our passions go unfuelled.

What boosts your mood? We’d love to know!

Brain Food

brain foodThere is always lots of focus in the health industry on how to be fit and look after yourself properly, concentrating on your bodily physic and fitness levels.

Recently this has expanded to an increased awareness regarding the fact that what you put in your body affects how your skin looks, and what you put on it has an effect too.

However, lots of people are so concentrated on their outside muscles that the most important muscle in the body gets overlooked. That muscle? The brain.

Believe it or not, the brain needs feeding too. Like any other muscle the brain needs nutrients to function at its optimum level, to retain memories, and to develop and learn.

But what foods should you eat if you want to increase your brain power?

[1] We’ve all probably heard that fish is great for you, but did you know that the more oily the fish, the better it is for the brain?

This is because it contains lots of omega-3 fats (the good type of fat that lowers your cholesterol), namely EPA and DHA.

These omega 3 fats have been linked to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and memory loss, keeping your brain in perfect working order.

[2] Blackcurrant’s are a fantastic source of vitamin C, and vitamin C is thought to be linked to mental agility. Have a chess match coming up? Make sure that you stock up!

[3] Need a quick snack to boost your thinking power and enhance your memory? Why not try pumpkin seeds? They’re full of zinc which is a great nutrient for your brain and can help combative function. Definitely something to add to your diet!

There are lots of other foods that are great for your brain muscle too, and can help your memory and brain function.

Without our brains everything else becomes irrelevant, so it’s super important to keep it in top condition and feed it with the proper nutrients needed!

Healthy Habits

healthy habitsI think it’s safe to say that we can all point out at least 5 bad habits we have, regardless of if those bad habits are akin to biting nails, or leaving the dishes out at night!

But, what about healthy habits, and are we able to point out any of those?

It has been proven that we are more likely to do things that we make into habits.

This is why it’s so much easier to stick to exercising once we have established a routine that we have stuck to it for three works or more.

This is why we are able to get into habits a lot easier than we are able to get out of them and this is why it’s important to establish healthy habits rather than unhealthy ones.

 As such we thought it was important to establish some handy healthy habits that everyone can incorporate into their lives, no matter how rushed off of your feet you are, or how crazy your shift pattern is!

[1] Carry around a bottle of water! 

No matter how busy you are, it’s important to keep yourself hydrated.

Carrying around a bottle of water means that you are more likely to reach for it and get the recommended daily intake of water to keep your body functioning at an optimal level.

Drinking water is also great for your skin and can even stop you from snacking.

 2. Swap the chocolate and biscuits for fruit!

If someone in the office is always bringing in chocolate and biscuits make sure you have some fruit on your desk to munch on.

This means that you’re more likely to get your 5 a day and it will leave you feeling much more energised and a lot less groggy after the sugar has worn off!

 3. Eat breakfast!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it helps kick-start your metabolism, stops you from snacking mid-morning and gives you the required energy to start the day.

 Have you got any other healthy habits to add ?