How to Get Fit at Home

Now January has rolled round again and the gluttony of Christmas is once again taking its toll upon us all, it’s time to start thinking seriously about a new, healthier lifestyle. It may be tempting to sign up to a gym, but with the figures stacked against you (30-40% of January gym memberships are cancelled after just 3 months) it may be a safer bet to invest in a method to exercise and get fit in the comfort of your own home.

When it comes to getting fit at home, there’s a huge variety of different activities that you can choose to do to aid you in your healthier, sportier lifestyle, each with their own merits and downsides. This guide offers just a few examples of what you can do depending on your ability, but it’s by no means a comprehensive list, so take it with a pinch of salt and make sure you find a regime that inspires you to stick with it, for the benefit of your long term health and wellbeing.

 

Exercise Bike (easy)

 

Although expensive, an exercise bike can be one of the easiest ways of getting fit within your own home and should definitely be viewed as a long term investment in your health. It offers the ideal solution for people with a range of different abilities and health conditions, as the pace of exercise is set by you the user. Exercise bikes are also a brilliant choice for those with health conditions such as bad knees as unlike a treadmill it offers gentle exercise that works to strengthen muscles aiding to your leg’s ability to bear weight.

 

Personal Trainer (as hard as you make it)

 

Personal trainers are often available to come and work with you within the comfort of your own home, offering you motivation and guidance as you work to improve your fitness levels. This personal trainer in Clapham for instance specialises in working with you in the place of your choosing, allowing you access to the expert guidance that you find in a gym in any location that’s convenient to you. The added benefit of choosing a personal trainer is that you can discuss your fitness goals and work with the trainer to ensure that you are meeting them.

 

Fitness DVDs (ranging in difficulty)

 

The classic fitness tape of the eighties and nineties has seen a modern revival in recent years, and now fitness DVDs are ten a penny in most households. Despite the cheesy (often cringe worthy) instruction and initial embarrassment of fitness DVD workouts, a fitness DVD can be a fantastic way to get the work out of your choosing (and appropriate instruction) in the comfort of your own home. With just a one off payment, you can do yoga, kick boxing, and even more obscure workouts such as Capoeira with very little fuss making this option brilliant for those of you who have a small budget or little desire to waste time searching for a local class to attend.

 

Whichever option you choose, it’s a good idea to tell all your friends about your new routine – that way, if you feel tempted to give up within a few weeks you’ll have the added incentive of their disapproving looks to keep you on the right path!

Rid Yourself of Those Nagging pains and Strains

Looking to get in shape for the New Year but troubled by recurring injuries? Well don’t let those old nagging pains stop you from getting into the best shape of your life and enjoying those sports and activities that you may have lost touch with due to injury. Far too many people are plagued with injuries that range from a simple ache to a debilitating pain that entirely stops them participating in and enjoying their favourite sports and physical activities. For many the solution to this continued lack of mobility is simple and a simple trip to a reputable physiotherapist such as Technique Physio can not only establish the root cause of injuries but also begin the process of getting you back to full mobility.

The benefits of physiotherapy really cannot be underestimated and continued therapy can not only see a lessening in the pain suffered but in time can lead to a full recovery of your former mobility leaving you to enjoy an active lifestyle without the worry of injuries. The health benefits of this increased mobility are well proven and in no time you will find that you will inevitably begin to lose those extra pounds that have accumulated whilst activities weren’t possible. By summer you will be able to hit the beach in confidence and the gym with newfound resolve knowing that you are on the path to the healthy lifestyle that you have longed for. Getting more active is just one step though and improved nutrition can do wonders for your health and wellbeing, there are several specialists such as Herbalife that offer dietary plans that can ensure your recovery is given all the right help.

Continue with increased exercise and physiotherapy for the whole year and next Christmas may well be the merriest of all with a new body and a new healthy outlook that will truly change your life. The cold December of 2014 approaching you will find that those mince pies don’t sit on moving hips so long and the cold crisp mornings will provide you with the perfect weather for a bracing winter walk, make sure you get the right gear to wrap up in from a supplier such as the Climbers Shop . Whatever you choose to do with your increased mobility the best time to start out on the path towards it is now and making sure that you seek the correct help is pivotal in changing tomorrow’s you, today.

3 Steps To Healthy Living….With a Difference

We are all aware of the fundamentals of healthy living; early to bed, early to rise, eat your five a day, exercise thirty minutes a day, an apple a day…. They are ingrained into the deep recesses of our brain. And should we forget, we merely need to pick up a magazine or turn on the television for a reminder.

But who says that these tasks have to be bland. Healthy living doesn’t have to include avoiding foods and hours of exhausting ourselves on a treadmill. Indeed, it can be quite relaxing and spicy….

Food

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be about forcing down the same lettuce leaves day after day while you secretly dream of éclairs at night. Healthy eating is merely about ensuring that each meal has a small amount of the essentials to keep your body functioning. We all know the basics; carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables and, yes, even the sugar.

There are literally thousands of shops and websites out there who offer ingredients, spices and alternatives to the traditional supermarket fair to add flavour to your mealtimes. Shop Spicy, for instance, can supply you with a range of spices as well as desserts, canned goods, baking products and even baby food, along with free home delivery on all times to help you make the most of those three meals each day.

Exercise

Exercise is something we all know that we need, but running on cold winter mornings is not something that we all dream about. Even if the traditional gym scene is not for you, something more calming can be just as beneficial to your body. Pilates is a great form of exercise that doesn’t just keep you fit and in shape, but it improves your posture and balance, which can have surprisingly positive effects on everyday living. Core Essence offers excellent Pilates classes for a range of people including specifically for pregnant women, and they can be very enjoyable when combined with a deep tissue massage.

For the less energetic amongst you, a great way of exercising is…fishing. Surprising as it sounds, fishing combines all the elements of strength from pulling in those big fish, co-ordination, stamina from spending a lot of time stand in a river, and flexibility in your arms from casting your line.  . Stephen J Fawcett’s Online Country Store offer a wide range of information and products to help yet you out and about in the country air.

Relaxation

Occasionally overlooked in many healthy living plans, relaxation and rest are probably the most beneficial things that you can do for your health as it gives your body the chance to repair from all the days stresses and strains. This does not mean you have to spend hours in bed, but merely means that you can spend some time enjoying the simpler things in life such as walking, playing chess, or knitting. Most internet searches will bring up a wide variety of hobbies and interests for you peruse. For those of you who enjoy more social relaxing, simply head down to you local bar or juice cafe, like Juicafe in Lancaster, to while away the hours in healthy contentment.

As you can see there are a wide range of alternative options to help you get the most out of your healthy living. All you have to do is enjoy yourself.

A Healthy, Happy Birthday

iStock_000007623006XSmallMy little girl is turning one in a few weeks, and I am very excited about giving her the perfect 1st birthday. I realise that a 1st birthday is more for the parents than the child, but when she’s a bit older, I want her to know that I made the day special. I am a bit worried though about what to provide for snacks and treats for all the kids. I don’t think their parents would appreciate me providing snacks that are chock a block with sugar, as that will cause an sugar rush and then an epic sugar crash. I have always been resistant to things with too much sugar and the harm it can do to your body. According to an article in Time magazine about the truths of sugar, fructose (the molecule that makes sugar sweet) when taken in excess can cause fatty liver disease and eventually causes obesity, heart disease and diabetes.So I have decided to have a sugar free party, that looks good and has food that I won’t be worried about giving to my daughter and her friends.

The Cake: Obviously every birthday party has to have a cake that is both fun and delicious, and luckily I have found a company that can make a chocolate birthday cake (my daughter’s favourite) while making sure that it is sugar free. The Heavenly Cake Company makes handmade cakes for a huge range of dietary requirements. So I can trust them to make the perfect cake for the big day.

The Food: All I can say is thank goodness for the internet, I have seen loads of helpful articles and tips on how to make delicious food that is not full of sugar. The best website that I came across that gave me tons of ideas was actually Pininterest, all the lovely pictures really got my creative juices flowing, and helped to show me that birthday food can be healthy and tasty at the same time.

The Decorations: Leaving the snacks aside for a moment, a birthday wouldn’t be complete without a whole host of beautiful decorations and birthday supplies that will compliment all of the the wonderful food. My friend recommended Partycare, as not only do they have a great range of products but have a section dedicated to 1st birthdays, which is perfect.

Remember that birthday food should be colourful and full of fun and doesn’t need to be full of sugar in order to achieve this.

 

Spend More, Get More

In my student days I was happy to have pizza everyday, (cold pizza for breakfast is amazing). For my nights out it would be a cheap rose wine from the local supermarket, that didn’t leave a great taste, but got the job done. At the time it was all I could afford and I didn’t mind that some of the stuff I bought was sub-par by other people’s standards, but it was food and I was hungry. Now that I have left University and have a job, I can actually afford to buy good food, food that is good for me and doesn’t have questionable ingredients. I couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on, I had an epiphany and decided that I would become more particular about what I consumed.

For starters I made sure to avoid ready meals and try and cook all my meals from scratch. Obviously after the horse meat scandal I have become wary of ready meals, and after an article I read on Mail Online, I have sworn them off completely, as even the ‘high end’ ready meals are dodgy. Apparently some luxury meals contain ’77 per cent of the guideline daily amount (GDA) of fat’. So from now on if I want something I will get all the ingredients together and make it myself.

In terms of what I am going to be drinking before a night out, I will be changing my tastes drastically. According to The Independent, when you buy a cheap bottle of wine for £4.59. £2.50 of that is for tax and the price of the bottle, label and closure will add more, ‘leaving less than a £1.00 for the value of the liquid inside the bottle’. I didn’t realise how little quality there was in what I was drinking. Now if I want a bottle, I buy rose wine online, and I can be certain of the standard and quality of the wine.

So if you have a little bit more to spend, then get the good stuff, as they say you only live once.

 

A Simple and Safe Garden

I bought a house with my partner about 3 years ago, and since then we have had a baby. Soon he will be old enough to want to start playing in the garden, which is, in my opinion, about as safe as the fire swamp in The Princess Bride. It is mostly concrete with unruly grass and hidden rocks all around, it sort of makes me wonder what the old owners were going to do with it. After reading an article on Making the Link, that states that ‘traumatic brain injury accounts for 30% of childhood deaths’, I just started seeing the garden as one massive death trap, one trip and he’d smash his head. The chances of this actually happening are very slim, but I would be constantly worrying and over thinking, so I have decided to get the garden sorted.

My idea for the garden is very simple, lots of grass, a nice flower bed and some space at the back for a garden shed and barbecue. Sure it would be nice to have some decking or a fancy fountain, but this isn’t going to be the house that we live in forever, and getting excessive with the accessories could be harmful when we want to sell. According to The Independent, a good ‘outside space is a selling point’ but think twice before ‘adding decking, paving and water features’ as you will spend more then you will get back. So I don’t mind foregoing my perfect garden in the short term, in the name of safety and making the house more appealing to potential buyers.

I have found a brilliant company, who help with garden design in Surrey and have been very thorough in showing me the designs and plans for my simple and safe garden. It should be finished soon and then finally I can stop worrying and start enjoying it with my son.

 

Secure Your Front Door

I live on a narrowboat, and most narrowboats are made of steel so they last for decades. The doors on the boat though are not made of steel but of wood, and have panes of coloured glass in the middle. I was very happy with this door until recently, when my boat was broken into. The burglar kicked at the door and then smashed the glass panes in order to open up the bolts on the inside. I was there at the time and when they realised, they quickly scarpered. I knew that if I hadn’t been there all of my valuables would have been stolen, and so I started researching ways to make my boat more secure.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department doors are the the primary route that a burglar will take when trying to break into your home,  and ‘doors with glazed panels are inherently less secure than solid doors’. I started my research into what kind of door I should invest in. I have been put off getting a wooden door for obvious reasons and according to Thermatru Doors wooden doors can ‘bow, warp or twist’ depending on the temperature or humidity. Fibreglass doors do not appeal to me and would look so out of place on my boat. So I decided to go for a steel door. They are much less expensive then a solid wooden door, are more secure and are will last for a very long time. Seeing as I am from the North West I did a search for steel doors Manchester and found an excellent company that could make me a a door made to measure, which is quite handy as mine needed to be much smaller then the average door.

I would highly recommend investing in a new door, I feel much more secure knowing that a burglar won’t be able to smash my door down either when I am home or not.

Fair trade Function Food

Seeing as we are currently in the midst of the horse meat scandal it is more important then ever that people know where their food is coming from and that the buyer can trust that what they are buying is what they are getting. This is not just important for consumers but for companies as well. After ‘Horse Gate’ many of the large supermarket chains were ousted for having questionable meat in their products, but Sainsburys  has come out unscathed, as an article in The Independent states their profits over the last month ‘have gone up 3.6%’.  Even if your company is not a supermarket chain, you may have provided food to customers, shareholders and your staff at some point or another during a launch party,  shareholder’s meeting or Christmas event. After said event, can you say that you knew exactly where that food had come from and what was in it? If not then it might be a time to get more involved in finding out whether the caterers you are getting your food from source organically and are clued up on fair trade.

Though fair trade may not be one of your companies priorities, it is becoming more and more important to the average consumer. Figures from the Fair trade Foundation show that there was a a 19% increase on fair trade sales in 2012 and according to Soil Asscoiation in the wake of the ‘Horse Gate’ scandal, total supermarket organic food sales increased ‘to their highest level in 9 months’, showing that consumers are choosing the integrity of a product over cheapness.

So if your company has a launch party for a product coming up and want to make sure they are in tune with the food consumers of the UK, then they should look for a  caterer who provides delicious food that is fair trade and organically sourced. I can recommend Organic Spirit, they are an organic and fair trade catering company and I was lucky enough to  sample some of their food at a work fundraiser. Their food was delicious and I wasn’t worried about what was in it and happily went up for seconds and thirds.

So give your company and guests piece of mind and give fair trade function food a go, that’s advice right from the horse’s mouth, and then at least you know your food won’t be.

 

Growing your own Veg: Which, When and Where

Growing your own veg is not only super efficient to the environment, its efficient in reducing your food bill. We live in an age where a pack of frozen chicken nuggets costs less than a broccoli and slowly our nation is becoming more at risk with childhood obesity. Eating fresh veg not only gives you the nutrients you need to stay healthy, it gives kids and adults alike more energy and get up and go. It makes for exciting meals, such as a vegetable bake or vegetable stir fry.

Growing vegetables is also a fun and worthwhile past time. Caring for and nurturing your vegetables as they grow only takes up a short amount of your time and the results happen before you know it. Here is a quick guide on some of the basic veg to grown, its benefits and care instructions.

Carrots

Carrots are root vegetables and as with all root veg, you need good quality soil to begin the germination process. Digging thoroughly through your soil and removing any weeds or stones will help the root to spread lower, giving your root veg more anchorage and helping them to grow to their potential full size. Growing in a greenhouse will be more beneficial to carrots as you can help to keep away carrot fly easier and give warmth to your veg.

It’s best to sow carrot seeds in the early spring of March or April, any earlier as you will need fleecing to protect the seedlings any earlier than this. Sow your seeds lightly, only 1inch deep and make sure your sowing is thinly spread and equal.

Carrots don’t actually need much attention apart from regular watering so the root doesn’t turn woody. And come June-July, you should start pulling up your carrots as they will have reached their potential size.

Potatoes

Chitting is a term used to describe the sprouting of potato seeds before planting. You should start chitting ideally by February and start planting your sprouting potatoes in Mid March to early April.

Potatoes are again a vegetable that don’t take much care once they are planted but ensuring that you planted each tuber 5-7inches deep, with 9-12inches separation from each one will help your potatoes to grow without being crowded. Every week you should unearth your potatoes and make sure just the base of the stem of your seedling is showing.

Onions

Growing onions is quite a tricky task if you don’t have the right soil. They don’t particularly like growing in nitrogen rich soils so stay away from fertiliser and other nitrogen based soils. Onions also don’t like wet soil, they like to be a bit dry enabling them to expand but sucking the moisture available.

Seeds should be sowed from January-February onwards until mid Spring, and should be dispersed randomly as the onions will grow and push away from each other as they expand. They should be sowed at 10-15 degrees Celsius and pushed 5inches into the ground in clumps of no more than 5 or 6 seeds.

Unearth your onions in late September, early October to maximise their growth time, as onions take quite a while to reach their full potential size.

Squash

Growing squash takes careful consideration and a process of elimination. Sow seeds on their sides, about 2 inches deep into well fertilised soil and as the seeds begin to germinate and grow stems, eliminate the weaker seedling. Keeping it will only create crowding for the stronger seedling and could result in both plantings failing.

It is important to keep squash well watered and looked after, as the fruit needs plenty of moisture in order to swell and grow. Like Squash, Courgettes and Marrow are heavily water based, and in order to make their flesh nutritious and moist, they need to be sheltered from too much sunlight.

Unearthing your squash depends on size and type of seed. Squash, such as the butternut variety can grow to up to 20cm in size, but this will take steady watering and many months to reach full maturity.

These types of vegetables can also be kept for a long time after harvesting, as long as they are kept at a temperature between 7.5 and 10 degrees Celsius.

Broccoli

Broccoli is one the best vegetables you can grow at home in your garden or greenhouse. Not only is it ridiculously expensive at the supermarkets, it’s sometimes hard to get hold of. Broccoli is a sought after and popular vegetable because of all the iron and antioxidants it contains. Not only do these help the body to fight off disease, it helps to strengthen our immune systems, which is great news for growing children.

Now, to plant broccoli you can either seed in pots and transfer to soil or seed straight into soil.

If you are seeding straight into soil, then firstly, make sure your soil is rich in moisture and fertiliser. Place your seeds 1/4 of an inch into the soil and about 3 inches apart. As the plant flowers, you will have to dramatically reduce the number of wasteful plants to help your successful germinations break through.

Broccoli is a very thirsty plant and require due care and attention. Be careful not to over water your seeds and drown the plant. As it starts to flower, you will see the heads (broccoli we recognise in a supermarket) start to bloom. Once they have reached full size, about 10cm across in diameter, you are ready to slice away your broccoli from the stalk with a sharp blade.

So there you have it, a quick introduction to growing some basic veg, the BBC website is a fantastic resource for further vegetable growing and seasonal vegetables to take you right through the year. Happy planting.

 

Home Composting

Household waste is at an all time all across the UK, each home now has numerous bins and areas for recycling and everywhere we go we are constantly being reminded to reuse, reduce, recycle!

Recycling can become a daunting task for many with so many bins each demanding different areas and types of our waste. Sorting and investigating which goes in which bin can often feel like a thankless task which many end up abandoning and just putting all of their waste into the regular household waste bin.

However, there is one easy and simple way to recycle your household waste and that is through composting. Composting is an inexpensive, natural process. Composting is a method which will transform your kitchen and garden waste into a valuable and nutrient rich food for your garden, so you, your garden and the environment all benefit from your effort. Composting is both easy to make and use.

Composting has amazing benefits for your garden and plants. The compost which you create from your waste, which would otherwise just go into landfill, is a nutrient-rich food product for your garden and will help improve soil structure, maintain moisture levels, and keep your soil’s PH balance in check. Composting does all this whilst also helping to suppress plant disease.

You can put all sorts of kitchen and household waste into your composter and can even get small compost collectors to have in your kitchen so that you can conveniently collect all of your waste as it is created. Certain items such as teabags, grass cuttings, vegetable peelings, fruit scraps, old flowers and coffee grounds are quick to tor and provide important nitrogen and moisture to your soil and compost. Other waster such as cardboard, egg boxes, sawdust and fallen leaves, take longer to rot, but provide carbon and fibre which allows air pockets to form in your compost.

Composting is a simple and straightforward way to improve your gardens soil and reuse and recycle your household and kitchen waste, which would ordinarily just go into landfill.