Monday, 21 May 2018

Simple (and Healthy) Ways to Speed Up Your Weight Loss*

We all know that carrying excess weight is bad for us in so many ways; from increasing your risk diabetes and heart disease to making it more difficult for you to exercise, there are few good things about being more than few pounds over your optimum weight, and that’s why it’s not surprising that so many people put themselves on a range of strange and unusual, not to mention often unhealthy, crash diets. They reason that the sooner they lose the weight, the healthier they’ll be, and they’re willing to go to extreme lengths to achieve those aims ( the cabbage soup diet anyone?).

However, crash diets can not only be dangerous, and very miserable, but they don’t work, Sure, you may lose some weight initially, but when you stop (and you will stop because those diets are not sustainable) there is a very high chance that you will put it all on and then some.

It’s madness when you consider that there are plenty of simple, and healthy things you can do to speed up your weight loss without resorting to extremes…

Understand the Process of Weight Loss

The reason why so many people fail to lose weight, or why they take longer than necessary to do so, is because they simply do not understand how weight loss works, They do not realise that you tend to lose a lot of weight in the first week or two because your body is shedding excess water and that once that has gone, weight loss will slow down to one or two pounds a week (people who are very overweight may lose a bit more). This leads to disappointment, which leads to binges, which lead to crash diets and it’s a neverending cycle. If you know that eating less, moving more and getting more high-quality nutrition into you does work if you do it consistently, and you know that the scales won’t always show you a huge loss, you will be in a far better frame of mind to do what needs to be done and see the weight drop off.

Sort Out Your  Sleep Schedule

If you're doing everything right - eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, maintaining a calorie deficit, doing a little exercise - and your weight loss has slowed down beyond what is normal, it might be worth examining the quality and quantity of your sleep. If you don’t get a full night’s sleep on a regular basis, the hormones that control your metabolism are likely to be affected and cortisol will be released, encouraging you to eat to excess and store those calories on your belly. So, make sure that you go to bed and get up at the same time, and if you need to, take some sleep supplements to ensure that you drift off with ease. Sleep is much more important to successful weight loss than most of us realise.

Switch to Green Tea

Green tea, or green tea supplements, are thought to give the body a boost when it comes to burning fat, So, if you swap your usual cup(s) of tea for the green variety, it may well give you a little boost that will see your losses speed up a little. Not only that but green tea is packed with anti-ageing antioxidants that will work wonders for your skin too. What’s not to love?

Shorten Your Workouts

Have you been spending hours at the gym working out like your life depends on it, only to find that the scales aren’t moving as swiftly as you would like? It could be that you are building muscle, and although you haven’t lost any weight you have lost inches, or it could be that despite spending so much time on them, your workouts aren’t exactly optimum for fat loss. A study by the University of Copenhagen discovered that people who worked out for just half an hour every day lost the same amount as people who worked out for an hour and they believe this is because the people who worked out for a shorter period had more energy left to be a bit more active during the rest of the day. Not only that, but high-intensity interval training, which takes far less time (a few minutes in some cases) is known to burn more fat too. Try it and see if you notice an improvement.

Eat Almonds Before Activity

There is some evidence to suggest that, because almonds contain the amino acid L-arginine, they can help you to burn more calories when you exercise. So, instead of eating a banana or rice cakes before you hit the gym or pound the pavements, eat a few delicious almonds instead ( they’re great in smoothies).

Drink More Water

How much water do you drink? If you aren’t sipping water throughout the day, chances are that you might succumb to cravings because it’s so easy to get dehydrated and when that happens, you can mistake the signals your body is sending you for hunger. Not only that but drinking more water can help you to feel a little fuller between meals too.

Stop Drinking Your Calories

While we’re on the subject of water, it’s worth considering how much of it you drink compared to tea, soda, alcohol and other beverage that contain often empty, calories. If you’re drinking lots of beverages throughout the day, you could be mindlessly adding lots of calories to your diet too, and by replacing most of this drinks with water, or if you must diet versions, you should be able to speed up your weight loss further.

Calculate Your BMR

It’s all well and good cutting your calorie limit, but if you don’t actually know how many calories you burn in the first place, you might not be getting it right and your weight loss results might not be as good as they could be. So, use a good BMR calculator to work out how many calories you need to lose 1-2 pounds each week and try your best to stick to that number.

Good luck with your weight loss efforts!

*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.

3 Special Ways To Say Thank You*

In today’s increasingly impersonal world, it’s not surprising that we may feel a little isolated from time to time. Our reliance on technology sees us walking through life with our heads bowed or our capped with a pair of soundproof headphones. It seems like we’re putting ourselves in a  bubble that we’re increasingly reluctant to come out of. There was a time when we used things and loved people. Now it seems we’ve got it the other way around, we love things and use people. We use social media apps to communicate with our friends and swipe through dating apps to find our perfect mates. More and more, it seems that our attitude towards choosing a life partner and buying groceries online is becoming and increasingly blurred line. Yet, every once in a while we’re reminded that not only do we rely on other people more than we’d like to admit, other people are actually… pretty awesome!

If a friend, a relative, a work colleague or your significant other has done something lovely for you recently, it can seem like the words “thank you” simply aren’t enough. If you want to say thank you in a more special, lasting or significant way, there are lots of ways to say it…

Say it with a letter

In an era where we communicate increasingly in GIFs and emojis, the lost art of letter writing is a beautiful and personal way to say thank you. Go all out and use posh paper and a calligraphy pen if you want to go all out. Let’s face it, rarely these days do we get anything other than bills and junk mail in the post these days and a letter is not only a pleasant surprise, it’s a unique and personal gift that is inexpensive and readily available but extremely thoughtful.

Say it with chocolate

Sure, we all remember those old adverts, “say thank you with Cadbury’s Roses”, but while these may be fine for casual occasions, you might want to go all out if you want to say an extra special thank you. For a high spec riff on the familiar chocolate box, say it with a gift box from Hotel Chocloat, or better yet how about a personalised chocolate gift from Thorntons with your own message iced on the chocolate itself or printed on the box?

Say it with a hamper

There was a time when hampers consisted of a tin of spam, a battered looking plastic wrapped cake, a few pork pies and a bottle of third rate bubbly. Thankfully, when you send a hamper today, you can do it with much more elegance and class. There are a wide range of different hampers out there to suit all tastes.

From boozy hampers to hampers filled with tasteful accoutrements for the home. From hampers packed with beautiful baby clothes to hampers brimming with lavish bathroom products. Whether your intended recipient unwinds at home with long hot bath, a hot flat white or a tall gin and tonic, there’s a hamper out there for them.

So the next time someone does something wonderful for you, don’t just say thank you, make a gift of your thanks!

*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Parents As Role Models: How To Be The Best*

The act of having a child is pretty scary. Well, the first bit isn’t, but it becomes a lot less fun afterwards! It isn’t simply the fact that mums and dads have to be responsible. As far as the majority of parents go, there seems to be a gene which makes them cut out for the role. Unless they are terrible human beings, hardly anyone mistreats their flesh and blood. No, it’s the second part which is terrifying: setting a good example.

No matter your intentions, it’s possible to get this part dead wrong. And, there is no one else to blame because their behaviour has come straight from the source. If that doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, nothing will! The only things mothers and fathers can do is take charge and try and be the best possible role model.

Of course, in a complicated society like the one we live in today, the job is getting harder and harder. Imagine if there was a cheat sheet, something to refer to in a time of need. How amazing that would be! Psst – take a glance underneath.

Attach Your Mask First

Jordan Peterson recently made headlines by debating Channel 4’s Cathy Newman. One of the things to come out of the interview was his rule for life: take care of your room. The metaphor simply means that you should get your house in order before trying to fix the rest of the neighbourhood. As basic as it sounds, it has relevance in the role model stakes. Attaching your oxygen mask before helping others has a variety of effects. Obviously, you’ll lead a healthier and happier life as a result. But, as importantly, you’ll naturally transform into an example for the kids to follow. By watching you eating well, exercising and socialising with friends, they will copy these vital cornerstones of life. Always help yourself before helping others.

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Ask For Help

Mums particularly can feel as if they are the ones who have to shoulder the immense burden. Obviously, parents are the ones that must deal with problems and set positive and constructive examples. Still, there are others who can pitch in and take the weight off when life gets hard. Simply reaching out to a husband or partner is an excellent start. People will say they should be involved anyway, but parents tend to split roles depending on gender. Mums, for example, are better at offering advice to young girls because they have been through the process. Sometimes, even if it doesn’t work, the dad can try and improve the situation. A different perspective often works wonders. And, if not, at least the kids will be mad at someone else!

But Don’t Rely On Others

No self-respecting parent lets strangers guide their kids, right? You would imagine this to be the case yet millions of mums and dads are guilty of this very act. Think about the times when a celebrity has done something wrong and is vilified in the media. The excuse for the hate is that they are a role model. Believing this to be true is an admission that someone else is having a greater impact on your child’s life. Considering they can’t ask for advice or guidance, this should be worrying. Also, think about the best way to address the situation. Simply saying they are trash isn’t healthy because it inhibits rational thinking. During difficult, topical discussions, play devil’s advocate to boost critical thinking skills.

Spot The Signs

Everything seems to be going smoothly until a train hits and smashes the family into pieces. Parents say “I never saw it coming,” but the truth is that the signs were there all along. The reality is that you weren’t looking hard enough or ignored them. Teenagers sneak alcohol to their rooms and go to parties, but that’s no reason to research rehab information and stage an intervention, right? Honestly, it depends on the context and the seriousness of the situation. Regardless, the attitude to take is not to lament the fact that teenagers will be teenagers. Whether it feels like a big deal or not, you have to react to teach them about the dangers of alcohol abuse. The same goes for cigarettes, drugs and sex. Being firm but fair teaches them valuable life lessons.

Show Them You’re Not Perfect

Some kids love to brag about how their parents never fight. Although it makes for peaceful home life, it doesn’t do their upbringing any favours. In fact, experts believe it leads to a condition which is called conflict-free relationships. As the name suggests, it’s the process of avoiding problems head-on and sweeping them under the carpet. Regarding a relationship, this can be potentially unhealthy as one person may rule the other. As regards to school and work later down the line, it’s a sure-fire way to stunt progression. Anyone who isn’t going to put themselves out there won’t get noticed and will stagnate. Parents should show their kids that they address issues proactively and maturely. For example, if there is an argument, don’t wait until the kids are in bed. Speak about it passionately without shouting and screaming and show them the value of disagreements.

Put Aside The Guilt

Teaching kids valuable lessons is hard because they have leverage. Ignoring a parent and holding a grudge will hit you and your partner where it hurts. There’s nothing like being jilted by your son/daughter and it makes you feel guilty. Giving into this emotion solves the stand-off yet teaches them nothing. In fact, it shows that being irrational is advantageous, whereas people in the real world won’t stand for it. Mums and dads have to put the guilt to one side and realise good role models piss off their children. Sadly, it’s an occupational hazard of leading by example. Of course, if the cold shoulder persists you should find a solution such as talking and explaining the decision.

Do you think you can be a better role model for your children? If you answer yes, how so?

*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.

Dressing Light For The Summer Sun*

Dressing for summer is something a lot of people tend to do wrong. Either you’re wearing materials that are far too heavy, or you insist on the dark skinny jeans when you’d rather break out the shorts you’ve been saving since January. Seeing as the summer sun is quickly approaching us this year, it’s time to finally live your beach body dreams!

Whether you’re a big traveller, or you’re just anticipating a good summer out and about this year, here’s some tips on making sure you’re not sweating through your outfit, and your legs are going to get the tan you’ve always wanted for them.

Stick to One Layer

Because it’s hot outside, you’re not going to want to wrap up in coats and scarves, or putting on a flannel shirt to cover your vest top, or wrapping your jumper around your waist. So plan your outfits to only have one layer, and don’t look back when you step outside the door.

And even when you’ve only got one layer of clothing on, you can still make your outfit look as stylish or interesting as possible when you consider the patterns you’re putting on. You’ve got ruffles, you’ve got check, you’ve got faux animal print, you’ve got bright colours you can pair together, and you’ve got the darker colours that remind you of autumn whenever you put them on. As long as you know what complements what, you’re going to look your best whenever you’re getting dressed.

Try Out Some White

When you’ve got white clothing on, you’re going to be reflecting all the rays the sun sends down right back at it. And that makes you both noteworthy and prepared for anything the summer day is going to send at you. Even when you’re headed to the beach, if you’ve got a light shade or white bikini on, you’re still going to look the part whilst having some more maneuverability to you.

Don’t Forget to Accessorise!

If you’ve got a simple chain around your neck, or some earrings in that hang away from your neck, you’re not going to be feeling any hotter than usual when it comes to frolicking under the summer sun. Not to mention it’s another way you can layer at no cost to your personal health or hygiene, and you can feel like the festival fairy you’ve always wanted to look like when you’ve got that wide brimmed hat and hanging necklace dipping down your dress.

If you’re not usually the kind of person who likes to put bracelets on because how clunky they can be, you can always look into personalised jewellery. You’re guaranteed to like what you’re wearing this way, plus you can finally get that customised piece no chain store out there ever seems to stock!

Dressing light for the summer sun is going to take a bit of preparation, but do try to give outfits out of your personal style a chance. You’re going to look great and also have fun!

*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Part-Time Job Ideas For Busy Mum's!*

Having a baby is a massive adventure, but it can make you lose a tiny piece of your identity – even when you don’t want it to. Before you have children, you are ‘Polly who works in marketing’ or ‘Rosie who bakes AMAZING cakes’. Then you have children, and you become ‘Jack’s Mum’ or ‘the one who wears pyjamas on the school run’. Well, ideally not, but you get the concept. You don’t just have your name to define who you are, you have the fact that you have children to do it for you. It is, therefore, of high importance to make sure that even when you have children and venture into the world of parenthood, that you do SOMETHING to help you to remember that you were always a person first.

Woman in White Shirt Kissing Baby With Black and White Stripe Knit Cap

One of the best ways to ensure that you keep a hold on what you want to be is to get yourself a job. It’s not the easiest thing to do, because there are rarely jobs that are flexible enough to work around your children, school hours and those minor illnesses and emergencies that make you stay at home to look after them. Most companies are not yet on board with remote working – despite what they say – which means you have to get a little creative when it comes to finding something to get you out of the house and breathe some different air, while earning a little cash on the side. It’s for that reason that I’ve put together some brilliant job ideas that are flexible enough to do around the children but don’t interrupt a few hours just for you.

ballpen, blur, close-up

Deliveries. If you have a car and someone to be with the kids in the evening, why not take up a role as a delivery driver for local takeaways? Most Chinese and Indian restaurants look for extra drivers – especially on the weekends – to pick up a shift and lighten the load. You get an hourly rate, so there’s a chance that you’d have to register as self-employed, but you also may get the perk of a free dinner, so there’s that.

Sitting. It’s one thing to open up a business as a childminder during the day, but it’s another to offer a babysitting or pet sitting service yourself. When your friends and neighbours want to go on holiday, you could be the affordable option for a few days compared to a kennel. You could also walk the dogs for them while they’re at work. You’ll have to bundle the baby into the pram, but it does give you a reason to get out of the house and go for a walk.

Blogging. Believe it or not, you could run your own blog and earn some money for it, too. Blogging gives you a platform to air your concerns and opinions and if you have a topic that you want to stick to, you could write in the evenings and when the children are at school. It’s a wonderfully creative outlet for you and you can choose any angle that you want.

Tutor. You have a brain and you likely had an education, so you can put that to good use by offering your services as a tutor. The good thing? You could do it remotely. Remote maths and English tutors are often needed as extra support for children, and you can check out this link to find out how you can get into that and how you can have local schools advertise your service. You would need a DBS check, as anyone who works with children would.

Typist. Audio typists typically work from home for themselves. Audio files are sent electronically, and you can type them up. Brush up your skills with a touch-typing course if you’ve been away from the office or using a laptop for a while. You’ll definitely have to register as self-employed for this one, but don’t be put off. The process itself is very simple and you could be working quickly and be paid weekly.
The flexibility of working for yourself can change the way that you do things at home. Not only that, it will give you something outside of taking care of the kids or cleaning the house. Children are a blessing, no one is denying it. But they don’t have to define you. You were and are a person with her own interests and likes and dislikes – you don’t have to lose any of those things by being a Mother.

*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Top Tips for Millennial Renting

In the UK, there seems to be a real lifestyle shift with young people, or millennials if you are aged between 22 and 37, being a part of Generation Rent. Whether you choose to rent so that you can travel more and life with flexibility, or whether it's because you just cannot get on the property ladder, no matter how many avocado-on-toasts you turn down - it's a serious change from the lives generations before us have lived. My parents worked hard and owned their first house together by their mid-twenties, for me it feels like a very distant dream - if it happens at all. Not to be one for doom and gloom, I'm sharing some of my top tips if you happen to also be a millennial renter. 

Find out the finer details before you sign your contract

This might seem like an obvious one, but you don't want to get halfway through the signing agreement (and have already paid those non-refundable estate agent fees) to find out that they won't accept you based on xyz. We have a dog so we made this clear from the very beginning and asked to only see properties that allowed pets. To get to the final stages and then casually mention you have a Great Dane is definitely a no-no!

Make sure you have contents insurance

We had to provide proof of having contents insurance within one month of signing our contract but even if it's not a set requirement, it's a really good thing to have. Your landlord will already have the building insured, but if something horrible happened and you lost all your belongings, you'd be pretty gutted! Most insurers allow you to get separate contents insurance, but HomeLet offer a pretty great one which includes tenants liability insurance too. These are definitely a must have from me. 

No wall fixtures allowed? No problem!

I'm not DIY savvy at all, so if I can avoid using a drill then that's great for me. We use command strips to add photo frames to the walls and they are a renter's best friend. They're super adhesive so you don't have to worry about a mirror falling off the wall, and they leave zero marks on the wall too!   I also use washi tape to put up my kid's artwork in the office, or even posters in their bedrooms, and they also leave no marks on the wall when it comes to removing them! This is great for us, because the boys often have one huge love for a certain character (currently Iron Man) which quickly fizzles out within a few months so being able to chop and change their posters with no traces is perfect!

Want to add some personality to your room?

I hear ya - nobody wants to live in a completely magnolia fortress! We did stick with the move-in standard walls when we first moved in, but with two small kids it always seems in need of freshening up! We bought some fairly inexpensive giant tubs of emulsion paint from our local B&M and this is great for a little spruce. Most landlords ask you to return the house in a neutral colour (if not the original) so we went with mostly white, and then a very light grey to make a feature wall. If the landlord decides he's not happy with the grey, we have plenty of white left over! When I first moved into a rented property, I didn't realise you had to pretty much return a blank canvas when you moved out, so I spent a small fortune on some jazzy pink patterned wallpaper for my bedroom and was gutted when I had to strip it all off myself and then repaint it all for somebody else to enjoy. Of course, you don't need to repaint if you already have a nice neutral space - we have pops of colour in our cushions and also use throws on the sofas to make it look more personal to us. 

So that's my top tops for renting as a millennial! What are your top tips?

*Disclaimer: Collaborative content. Content written by myself.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

A Bad Back: The Twenty First Century Ailment*

It could be the weather, genetics or purely coincidence but sometimes when we are looking to arrange a social gathering of some sort, and we are sending out the invites, we may get a multitude of RSVPs politely declining our request for their attendance. One common reason tends to be the ‘bad back’ excuse. You know that your parties, soirees and event organisational skills are legendary, so you’re certain they aren’t faking it. However, why is it that backache is such a common affliction in the twenty-first century. To make sure that your guest list is at its optimum next time you are planning another exceptional dinner party, take a look at how you can help your friends who require some much-needed relief from their ailment.

Getting Active

Having searing pain in your lower back can mean that you feel like doing very little. Resting up on the couch and watching your favourite movie with a tub of consoling Ben and Jerry’s never sounded so good as when your back is throbbing and causing you so much discomfort. However, lying down could end up being the worst thing to do for your health. Instead, you need to try and remain active. That doesn’t mean heading out for a thirty-minute jog or venturing to the gym. Take it easy and perform some stretches. If you head to the doctor, the chances are they will have given you some exercises to do to try and lessen your pain. Also, venture outdoors and go for a gentle stroll every day. Keeping loose and supple can aid your recovery time and shouldn’t cause you any more pain.

Self Medicate

Anti-inflammatories are effective in the short term but for chronic pain that lasts longer than a few weeks an over-reliance and ever greater need for higher dosages can be dangerous. Instead, you can find other supplements and therapeutic remedies to safely buy online. Curcumin found in turmeric is full of natural anti-inflammatory qualities so you can eat your favourite spicy pakoras and bhajis safe in the knowledge that you are self-medicating. There’s never been a better excuse to order take out.


There’s no point suffering in silence and simply trying to pop the pills to find some relief. Painkillers can mask the soreness for a short while, but they don’t solve the problem. If you have a slipped disc, a trapped nerve or a torn muscle, you may require physical therapy to speed up your recovery and ensure that the pain you are experiencing doesn’t turn chronic. Acute pain, although debilitating is curable and manageable.

If you are beginning to feel low because of the pain you’re enduring, talking therapies can help you work through the psychological impact of being unable to do what you once took for granted. It may seem like a chore to mow the lawn, but since you haven’t been able to coif your grass, you ache for the chance to do it again. Don’t let depression sink in and head to the doctor for help.

Most people have a bad back at some point in their lives. Hopefully, after a few weeks or a couple of months, the pain eases, and the ache never returns. However, if you do find that you or a pal is suffering from a tender back, follow this advice to speed up your recovery and claim back the quality of life you are so used to.

*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.
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