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Why ‘Dieting’ Has Become A Dirty Word

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Over 80% of us might have attempted a diet at some point or another, but three quarters of us were too embarrassed to admit that we’re dieting to our friends. While there was a time when following the latest fad diet and surviving on nothing but cabbage soup for weeks on end was deemed entirely logical if you want to shift the extra pounds you put on in December, these days we’re cutting out food groups under the guise of ‘mindful eating’ or ‘clean eating’. The ‘D’ word has become a dirty term that no one wants to use.

Despite the change in terminology, most of us fall off the healthy eating bandwagon within a few weeks and blame the allure of junk food, hunger pangs and comfort eating. ‘Regardless of how it is dressed up, the UK is currently filled with diets, and they can be effective in helping us achieve our weight goals,’ says Rob Rona, director of new markets, products and services at LighterLife Fast. ‘However, fad diets which cut out full food groups or significantly deplete key nutrients are unsustainable and can be unsafe.’

The idea of clean eating might seem appealing in the first few days of January, following a gluttonous festive season, but radical changes tend to lose steam as February nears – in fact, some research says it’s as quick as just 12 days. So, how can you improve your diet and stick to it? We’ve outlined the latest research and some straightforward advice to help you make an informed plan for 2019:

Start off small

Making dramatic changes can often leave you craving what you cut out within a couple of weeks. Instead, be practical and make small, achievable tweaks that are easy to implement. Take sugar for example. Recent headlines have highlighted that most of us are consuming far too much sugar, but going cold turkey straight away will leave you craving chocolate when the mid-afternoon slump hits. Look for low-sugar or no added sugar on food labels, swap white bread for wholemeal or granary, try eating two biscuits rather than three, and opt for fresh fruit rather than dried varieties.

When it comes to cutting back on sugar, it’s also worth considering taking a chromium supplement such as Optimized Chromium with Crominex 3+ from Life Extension, as this helps to maintain low blood sugar levels. Essentially, eating sugar causes a spike in your blood sugar levels, which eventually crashes and leaves you craving more sugar. Chromium helps to maintain a healthy glucose metabolism.

Do your research

Not every dietary decision is based the health benefits. It’s been reported that more of us are exploring veganism than ever before this January and the leafy diet is as beneficial for the environment as it is our health. That said, it is essential that you do your research. Cutting out animal by-products can leave you deficient in essential vitamins and minerals if you don’t ensure that you’re eating a balanced diet or incorporate supplements into your regimen.

Vitamin B12 isn’t available from plant-based foods, but it is essential for healthy digestion, circulation and energy levels. You’ll need to look for fortified foods, embrace Marmite, or opt for a supplement such as Methyl B-12 by Jarrow Formulas.

It’s about your mindset

MyFitnessPal has been championing this approach to food for years, but a recent study has called into question whether seeing the calorie content on food is beneficial. Measuring the brain response of both dieters and non-dieters when they looked at a range of food images, researchers found that both groups found food less appetising when they could see the calorie content. However, the study, which was published in Plos One, also revealed that seasoned dieters were more likely to engage the orbitofrontal cortex (decision-making section of their brain) when looking at food labels, regardless of whether the calorie content was shown, and tend to make healthier eating choices overall.

‘In order to motivate people to make healthier food choices, policy changes are needed that incorporate not only nutritional information, including calorie content, but also a public education component, which reinforces the long-term benefits of a healthy diet,’ says senior author of the study Kristina Rapuano.

 And if you really want to follow a particular diet…

Make sure it’s the Mediterranean diet. Yet again it was ranked the best diet of the year by U.S News’ panel of judges. With foods rich in omega 3 oils, healthy fats and anti-inflammatory ingredients, the Mediterranean diet offers a multitude of health benefits and you can even enjoy a glass of red wine with it. The judging panel stressed that it’s not a diet per-say, but rather an eating pattern and it’s up to you to determine how big your portions are.

The DASH diet was a close second in the ranking, but again the diet that was originally developed to help lower blood pressure, is more of a pattern rather than a diet. It’s focused on the healthy foods that we all know we should be eating more of. including fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean protein. It also encourages exercise.

How To Reboot Your Motivation And Stick To Your Goals

Goals

Last year, the social media network for athletes Strava pinpointed Friday 12th January as the day most people are likely to give up on their New Year’s resolution. Strava analysed over 31.5 million global January activities to pinpoint this specific date as ‘Quitters’ Day’. If the same can be said of this year, then we’ll all be pressing snooze and rolling over for an extra hour of sleep rather than hitting the treadmill.

But why is it so common to quit within less than two weeks? Well, it’s January and it’s likely that while you started the month with a fresh bout of positivity and determination, life’s day-to-day tasks and toils have ground you down. Here are the expert tips to reboot your motivation and willpower:

Be realistic

It can be tempting to be overly ambitious and set yourself life-changing goals. While they look good on paper, you run the risk of being part of the quitters gang on 12th January. ‘Set goals that are achievable and can be easily tracked,’ says Dr Zain Sikafi, CEO and Founder, Mynurva. ‘This will give you the satisfaction of being able to track your progress and can be a fantastic source of motivation as you monitor.’ Whether you use a fitness tracking app on your phone or write down your achievements in a daily or weekly journal, you’ll be surprised by how motivating it can be to see how much you’ve accomplished over time.

Focus on one goal at a time

While cutting out sugar and running home for work at least three times a week might seem perfectly plausible from the comfort of your sofa after a Netflix marathon, it will feel less so at 6.30pm on a Tuesday evening when it’s pitch black outside and the heavens have opened. Instead, embrace just one change. Try running home once a week or cut out your four o’clock Galaxy bar (we recommend replacing it with one teaspoon of Organic Maca Powder mixed with almond milk).

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that we are more effective at focusing on one goal at a time and were less successful when we were juggling several.

Do your research

Going cold turkey on something during one of the coldest, darkest months of the year is hard, especially if it’s something you truly enjoy, such as a glass of red wine. It’s worth doing some research to see if there is anything to help ease the withdrawal. For example, if you usually go out on a Friday night, swap the pub for the cinema. If you’ve decided to give up sugar, stock up on Chromium Complex by Lamberts to help reduce the cravings. If you want to get fit and stick to your twice-weekly gym sessions, invest in a fitness band to monitor your improvement and to help set realistic goals. And, if your goal is to reduce your screen time for the foreseeable future, put the Screen Time app into action and shut down your social media at 9pm every night.

Enlist the help of friends

We’re less likely to give up if we’ve got the support of our friends. When it comes to fitness goals research has shown that not only are you more likely to workout, but you’ll put more effort in and exercise for longer. Scientists at the MIT Sloan School of Management went as far as to say exercise is ‘socially contagious’. If you can’t find a friend to workout with, try signing up to a class rather than hitting the gym solo.

Visualise your goal

Rhonda Byrne has made a fortune from The Secret for no reason. Visualising your goals is one of the best ways to keep you mentally motivated. When it’s losing weight giving up alcohol or finding a new job, creating a physical visualisation board of the end goal will help you achieve it.

The idea of visualising yourself in your goal was validated by psychologists at the University of Liege in Belgium. Experts found that creating ‘self-defining’ future memories really can have a positive impact on achieving your goals. So, if you take just one thing from this, make sure it’s the importance of maintaining a positive mental attitude.

What Is All The Fuss About Adaptogens?

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You might have noticed adaptogens have been popping up in health and wellbeing articles and posts recently. But, you’re not alone if you’re not entirely sure what an adaptogenic herb is and why people are hailing them as energy boosters and stress relievers. Here’s a straightforward guide to adaptogens and their health benefits.

What are adaptogens?

They are natural herbs that help to support and balance our hormonal equilibrium or our hypothalamic pituitary endocrine axis as it’s technically known. This equilibrium is split into three sections or axis, your brain adrenal, brain thyroid and brain gonadal. All three have to be balanced to ensure your mood, metabolism, immune system, libido and energy levels are all functioning optimally.

Who can take them?

Adaptogenic herbs have been used to help rebalance hormones and improve overall wellbeing for centuries. They’re generally deemed as safe for everyone to take. However, we recommend consulting your health practitioner if you’re taking medication or are pregnant.

What are the key adaptogenic herbs?

Maca

Wellbeing gurus and hipsters have helped boost the profile of this adaptogen with maca lattes. But, don’t be fooled into thinking that you’ll get the same energetic boost from the sprinkling you get on a coffee as you would from mixing a couple of teaspoons of good quality powder into your morning juice. Maca is renowned for helping to supercharge energy levels and the root is also thought to help with fertility and libido concerns.  

The supplement: Organic Maca Root Extract by Viridian

Moringa  

Another great option for those who want an energy boosting pick-me-up, moringa is the healthy alternative to your mid-afternoon caffeine fix. It also helps your body deal with stress, and impressively contains more than 90 nutrients and over 40 different antioxidants. It’s no surprise that it’s also known as the miracle tree. Moringa powder has an earthy, peppery flavour, which makes it perfect for mixing in with soups and juices.     

The supplement: Moringa Green Superleaf Powder by Aduna

Astragalus

If you find that you’re always feeling under-the-weather with depleted energy levels, it is worth looking into astragalus. It’s renowned for its immune-boosting powers and helps to increase your interferon and white blood cell counts. Shabir recommends taking an astragalus supplement from autumn through spring to fight off any colds and infections.

The supplement: Astragalus Extract by Swanson

Ashwagandha 

This wonder herb helps support your HPA (brain-adrenal axis) and regulate your cortisol (stress hormone) levels. It’s also thought to help conditions such as arthritis thanks to its anti-inflammatory benefits. Ashwagandha should be your go-to if you’re battling with stress and anxiety. While ashwagandha won’t give you the instant high that prescription drugs do, you will notice a difference in a week or so if you take it consistently.  

The supplement: KSM-66 Ashwagandha Plus by Wild Nutrition

Rhodiola 

Another good adaptogen for those who suffer from stress regularly is rhodiola as the herb helps your body deal with physiological and psychological stress. Small studies have shown that rhodiola can support your brain when you’re stressed and reduce mental fatigue. 

The supplement: Magnolia Rhodiola Complex by VH

Holy Basil

Also known as tulsi, holy basil has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and helps to boost brain power. If you struggle to concentrate or regularly get a foggy brain, holy basil could help improve your cognitive function.

The supplement: Wholistic Holy Basil by Pukka

How To Maximise Your Fitness Routine

Exercise Routine

‘Getting fit’ is one of the most popular new year resolutions and it’s also one of the quickest to be broken. While there’s always an onslaught of new and inventive ways to encourage us to workout in January, few of us make it past February before we give up the early morning run or lunchtime gym sessions.

Yet, research continues to highlight the health benefits of working out. Recent research suggests that working out three times or for a total of 100 minutes per week could help reduce your brain age by a whopping 10 years when you pair it with a balanced diet. A study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine also suggested that exercise, including walking, jogging, swimming and cycling, could be just as effective as drugs at lowering blood pressure.

The biggest fitness trends for 2019 are more attuned to our hectic lifestyles and easier to slot in, so whether you’ve got a full hour or just 15 minutes to spare there’s some form of movement that will work for you.

The top fitness trends for 2019

On demand

If you struggle to slot a 45-minute spin class into your schedule twice a week, then it’s worth exploring the world of fitness streaming. Plenty of gyms and instructors offer live streaming sessions or short videos that you can do at-home or from a hotel room if you’re a frequent traveller. ClassPass has recently launched its version of live streaming called ClassPass Live.

Slide and glide

For A-list fitness trainer Dalton Wong, 2019 is all about the glider. Not only does it give you a full body workout, but it’s also low intensity, so you don’t have to worry about putting extra strain on your knees, hips and back. Following the success of his Mini Band Workout last year, Wong has just launched his Glider Workout. ‘It’s designed to improve posture, tone and shape the body, and the workout actively targets the main problem areas – core, hips, thighs, bum, triceps and back – for total body conditioning,’ says Wong. The kit comes complete with two gliders and a 60-page manual that’s packed full of exercise routines. 

Versatile yoga

With self-care, or total wellbeing as it’s being dubbed for 2019, still resonating with most of us, the practice of yoga has become more prominent. Expect to see yoga and meditation hybrid classes rolling out across the country. From restorative yin practices to more vigorous power and flow yoga, the classes are designed to work on a physical and mental level to ensure you switch off and feel fully zen before you step off the mat. 

Functional fitness

It’s a trend that has been around for the past few years, but functional fitness is going to be just as big in 2019 and will be readily available everywhere. Generally speaking, functional fitness is anything that helps improve your balance, coordination and strength to support the movements and motions we do on daily basis without even thinking about them. For example, a squat would fall under the functional category because it strengthens your core and back, which makes bending down in day-to-day life easier.

Team work

Sociable workouts are on the rise. It’s less about solitary sessions on the treadmill and more about coming together as part of a class. Whether it’s a running club or signing up for a group spin class where you’re heart rate is on show and you cycle as a pack to hit a specific target, this year is definitely about working together to reach our fitness goals. 

How can you maximise your exercise routine?

Whether you’re a regular runner, keen cyclist or just about to dip your toe into the world of fitness, here are some tips to get the most out of your workout:

AM or PM

It’s often assumed that exercising in the morning is better for your body as it sets you up for the day ahead. However, if you’re more of a night owl and would rather spend an extra hour in bed, you’ll be pleased to hear that a recent study suggests that it doesn’t matter when you workout. Exercising in the evening won’t affect your ability to fall asleep – especially if it’s a relaxing yoga session.

Stretch it out

Sometimes it’s tempting to skip the last five minutes of your cardio class or not bother to stretch out your muscles after a long run, but pretty much every fitness expert strongly advocates some form of stretching following a workout. Not only does it improve your posture by loosening tight muscles and reduce the risk of injury and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), but stretching will also help calm your mind.

Relax your muscles

If you’re someone that always suffers with DOMS a couple of days after working out, it’s worth booking into a yoga class the following day to help stretch out your muscles and flush out any lactic acid or enlist the help of Magnesium Oil Original Flakes by Better You. A 20 minute soak in the bath with these can help soothe sore, tight muscles and leave you feeling fully relaxed. If you don’t have a bath, it’s worth considering the Magnesium Body Butter, which has the extra benefit of leaving your skin feeling soft and smooth too.

Treat yourself

It’s easy to go into any new exercise routine with the ‘good hard or go home’ mindset, but don’t forget to give yourself some leeway every now and again. ‘Still enjoy the odd beer, wine or your food of choice- it’s not meant to be a miserable process!’ says fitness trainer Matt Roberts.

7 Health And Beauty Lessons We Learnt This Year

7 health and beauty lessons

As the year draws to a close, it feels like the perfect time to look back over the biggest health and beauty stories and developments of 2018. While we don’t advocate the many fads that crop up throughout the year, there are definitely some health and beauty lessons to take into 2019. Read More…