I am always up for a challenge, but I have to say allocating 10 minutes a day to peace and quiet (in order to use a mindfulness app) does make me feel quite stressed! Not the result we want! However, with so many minutes wasted each day on mindlessly scrolling through FaceBook news feed, the daily news, articles on goodness knows what that I have googled, I figured that if I set my mind to it then it would be easily doable!
It is recommended that you do this either just before you get up or just before you go to sleep - as these are the times one would hope you are more likely to get some time to yourself. In theory!
I have decided to practice my mindfulness on waking each day - and if I have a busy day head, I will just set my alarm 10 minutes earlier in order to focus.
Day one started today - and I have chosen the app HeadSpace. There is a calm male voice talking you through what is required - and he is very definite that you should not put any pressure on yourself to 'clear your mind', instead you just need to let your mind take over.
Regardless of this I did struggle when he instructed me to focus on my breathing - blocking out all external noise. However, he assures you with practice it gets easier - we will see....!
Well, my body must be absorbing and using the water that I am drinking much more effectively now as I do not need to keep going to the loo quite so much! This would also tie in with the fact that I feel better day upon day at the moment. My wee colour is pale which indicates great hydration – which is not surprising I guess!
I am just back from quite an intense running session – and I do not feel like I need to drink gallons of water – which is a great indication that my body is already adequately hydrated – this makes me very happy.
What doesn’t make me happy though is that I have had a few facial spots this week, which is unusual for me. I can only put it down to the water flushing out any toxins – I am hoping this is one side effect that disappears very soon as I do not feel very comfortable about it, especially at my age!!
On a plus note - my headaches have almost disappeared – I still get them a little upon waking, but they do not last too long. I am however looking forward to the morning I wake up clear headed! I still fancy a cup of tea – especially first thing in the morning – but I am sticking to my hot water and lemon which I have to admit, although not the most exciting beverage, certainly hydrates me in the morning J and puts me on the right track.
Here’s to the second half of the month…..
So it continues!!
I am feeling much better in myself, but still having the odd headache - so I definitely think that it is caffeine withdrawal. I have been researching this and discovered that you should not be affected by headaches unless you are a heavy user of caffeine. I would not have classed myself as a heavy user but upon further reading a heavy user is someone who has about 5 cups a day! Therefore that's me!! If you drink 5 or more cups of tea or coffee a day (or even energy drinks) the recommendation is to not just stop drinking it cold turkey, but to reduce gradually. Too late for me, but definitely something to consider.
Any headaches I have had in the past I have put down to dehydration - but that is not the case now. I hope to report next time that the headaches have gone altogether. I can't deny that I have been tempted to have just one cup! But I have refrained.
Where's that loo???!!!
My colleagues, and family, will confirm that I am constantly in need of the toilet at the moment - it does appear to be easing off a little though! Due to this obvious side effect, I would recommend that you have access to a toilet at all times!!!!
BEWARE: it can look like you have some serious problem when you are dashing in and out of the toilet!! I suggest being as open as possible about your experiment to prevent tongues wagging !!
Ok, on the positive side of things I am managing to keep up with the 2.5 to 3 litres of water a day - always starting with hot lemon water in the morning before eating anything. I haven't felt particularly well this week so far so I haven't been exercising - but when I do I plan to drink more than that.
The negative I have noticed is headaches. Now, as mentioned I am feeling run down - but I think that is due to my body trying to fight off lots of germs that are around me at the moment. I don't believe it has anything to do with me just drinking water. I also think the headaches are due to my lack of caffeine as on a normal day I can get through 5- cups of tea!! - but it is difficult to tell.
The positive I have noticed is that I am definitely sleeping better. Due to not feeling great I have been making sure I hit the sack before 10pm most nights, in the hope that I am asleep by 10pm. Some nights this has worked, but not all. I have been sleeping right to the alarm!! This is unheard of.
Whether this will continue only time will tell, once I am beginning to feel better in myself the reality will hopefully be easy to determine.
On the major plus though, I am still smiling :)
My usual morning cup of tea was replaced by hot water with a slice of lemon. Having the need for a hot drink in the morning - this is definitely a good alternative in my opinion. Great to re-hydrate on waking, but best to have on an empty stomach. I followed this up with another glass of cold water :)
The day unfolds fairly uneventfully, apart from a few extra toilet trips!
I carried around a litre bottle and worked my way through this during the course of the day, leaving me with about one litre to get through in the late afternoon/evening. I realised that I should have had more during the course of the day as I found it a struggle - especially with dinner to fit in too. It is easy to fill yourself up on water and not want to eat much of your dinner.
A lesson learnt already! ensure you spread the drinking out evenly.
Always up for a challenge - I have now been talked into just drinking water for a whole month - this will be alongside my normal diet and exercise routine.
I know that I do not drink enough water - and know on the occasions I make the effort to do so I feel tons better - but I have never lasted for a whole month, silly really when it is such a simple action.
Now, however, I have been challenged!
The benefits are numerous, all over health (mental and physical) are improved tenfold when your body is properly hydrated.
Below is where I am starting from:
Usual drinking diet: I do try to drink water, but cups of tea definitely outweigh the water I drink on a typical day! I no longer, after much perseverance, take sugar in my tea. I do not drink much in the way of fizzy drinks or alcohol unless I am going out.
Diet: I do not have any specific dietary requirements, I love my food and always eat breakfast. A typical lunch will be a salad sandwich, and my varied dinners are cooked from scratch as much as possible, although I do use pre-made sauces such as for a spaghetti bolognese.
I eat carbs throughout the day and do not limit myself from anything. I do also like the odd naughty treat - some days more than others!
Exercise: I do exercise regularly, on average about 4-5 times a week. I swim, run (although very slowly at the moment!), walk and cycle.
Sleep: I struggle some nights to switch off even though I am tired - my mind whirls! I do not help myself though and regularly check social media when I can't sleep! Not recommended!! I wake quite early, normally an hour or so before I am due to get up. I would love to sleep right through and actually wake up feeling refreshed! I have in the past used SleepSmart (our natural sleeping aid) which helped me, but I am very interested what difference more water consumption makes.
Mental Clarity: Since becoming a mum, many moons ago, I continue to have baby brain! I put this down to the amount of information I have to work through on a daily basis. More clarity would be welcomed!
Skin condition: I am lucky to have fairly good skin, however I do have dark circles under my eyes. I am hoping to see an improvement there.
Immunity levels: I do not tend to get many coughs and colds, but when I do I really suffer! I am surrounded at the moment with germs so it will be interesting to see if I can hold these off.
Come on October, bring it on!!
We all know that drinking more water is hugely beneficial – for skin, health, weight management, brain function, digestion etc etc – see our tips on the Hydration page of this website. Also an interesting blog can be found here for the weight loss benefits.
In 2015, bottled water consumption reached an all-time high of 11.7 billion gallons, compared to 4.7 billion gallons in 2000. However, although Americans are drinking more water than ever before, tempting sugary and carbonated drinks are still consumed on a higher level.
Just drinking one extra glass a day will have its benefits – and here are some ways to encourage you to reach for the extra glass of water!
Plan your drinking for the week ahead: This may sound over the top, but planning ahead works wonders for diet, exercise and water intake. Work out how much you would like to drink each day for the next week. Get a large 2 litre water bottle and mark on times: for example: you want to be down by 2 inches at 10am, half way by lunchtime (1pm) and three quarters of the way through by 6pm….finishing the bottle by bedtime. You could use the bottle as a marker system and pour the water into your fruit infused water bottle to flavour the water to your taste. Perhaps by week 2-3 you will start on a second bottle!
Use rubber bands to count the glasses of water you are drinking each day. Say you want to drink 6 glasses – have 6 bands on your wrist. As you drink a glass, move one band to the other wrist until all 6 are across. This might sound obvious, but just make sure that the bands are not tight!
Download a free app on your smart phone which can help you track your water intake.
Apps such as Water Alert, My Water Balance or Water Log are all free apps. In my experience logging intake can help you loads. Or, if you are not a fan of smart phone apps you can log it using an old fashion pen and paper! Make it fun, use a calendar so you can see your intake improving, and correlate feeling better alongside it!
Finally, treat yourself if you have hit your weekly target – figure out your treat and work towards it. When you hit your goal – feel proud and know you have earned your treat.
As we approach the summer months, many will be thinking about the way their body looks. In order to achieve the look we desire though, is it really necessary to go on the Cabbage Leaf Diet? Or start drastically cutting out all the things we love eating? Well, these may well work short term but the chances of them working long term are very slim. Everyone needs a certain amount of calories per day just to survive; and I am a massive believer that food is to be enjoyed.
Here are some tips on how you can tweak things over the next couple of months, to not only look better but to feel more confident and healthy.
If you want to stop drinking so many sodas, try replacing your morning soda with a glass of water on day one; day 2 replace two with water (or another healthy alternative, be aware of natural fruit juices as they are extremely high in natural sugar) and so on and so forth. By gradually weaning yourself off the soda the chances of succeeding are statistically much higher.
If smoking is the vice you want to crack (and this is a big one) you might find our section on Essential Oils useful.
Make an effort to sit down at the table each day so that you are actually aware of what you are putting into your mouth. The result of which will give you more enjoyment out of your food and with your brain being aware of what is going in, the signal of feeling full will kick in much sooner, avoiding overeating. This is true for cravings too – don’t deny yourself that chocolate bar, but make a promise to yourself that the next time you reach for one, sit down and look at every mouthful you are eating. This is a very simple change but very powerful. Although you may want to catch up on your favorite television programme, remember this is about your health and can anything be more important than that?
Record what you eat, and then at the end of the week be brutally honest with yourself. A good tip is to simply take a photo of your food before eating it, it saves time in writing it down and therefore is more likely to be a true representation.
Let me know how you get on!
Master the basics first – in all walks of life.
I was recently given some really good advice.
A chap asked the question - ‘What is the best way to cook spinach to get the best health benefits from it – should you steam it or boil it?’
He was asked -- ‘Do you actually eat spinach?’ the answer was ‘No’.
To which he was told -- ‘Just eat spinach’.
The lesson – sort out the basics before you start to get into the technicalities.
Basic lesson 1 – rest and recovery:
Remember you need sufficient quality sleep every night to enable you to perform to the best of your ability. Plan your sleep routine, ensure that you are getting enough sleep and are able to get to bed without being stressed out or exhausted. See our tips on sleep here
If you are exercising, remember to stretch out afterwards – help your muscles recover to stop so many aches and pains and also to prevent any injury. When you are starting out in particular the last thing you want is to have an injury which prevents you from getting out. Click here for some good advice on basic stretches
Basic lesson 2 – Train effectively
Firstly, if you are new to exercise then we would always recommend you seeking medical advice before starting a fitness routine.
Once started, if you feel a bit unwell – have a day off. A day off will benefit you more than if you exercise when you are feeling poorly. That could result in much more time off or injury. Not good mentally for anyone, but especially if you are just starting out.
Incorporate a little cardio (exercise that gets your heart pumping – and this initially could just be walking) and core exercise (planks – see previous blog) to give yourself a balanced routine.
Basic lesson 3 – nutrition is key.
Food is fuel – you don’t want to take the fun out of food, but remember if you eat lots and lots of sugary foods then you will lack energy and motivation. Try and eat well balanced meals, and never miss out on breakfast. You cannot function properly if you do not fuel your body in the morning, bearing in mind that it could be up to 12 hours since you had your dinner the night before.
Try to incorporate as much fresh fruit and veg every day – your 5 a day should just be a starting point. See future blogs where I will write about developing good eating habits (no diets!).
A recent study of 136,000 White Americans today announced its findings – which showed that cases of cancer would drop by 20%-40% and deaths by 50% if simple changes were made and a healthier lifestyle adopted.
This concretes SmartChoice Fitness’ message as to how simple tweaks in diet, exercise and outlook on life will have awesome results, and you cannot get more awesome than that!
The report states that of the entire American population took on board the following then lung cancer would drop by 80%, bowel cancer by up to 30%, prostate by 21% and breast by 12%:
Scarily the report goes on to say that only 18% of women and 25% of men ticked all of the above boxes.
So, if you are one of the 82% of women or 75% of men seriously what are you waiting for?
If it is exercise that you struggle with, take a look at this walking plan by the American Heart Foundation – a six week plan to get you up and out every day. Once you have established this routine over six weeks, the health benefits you will be rewarded with will make it an essential part of your day.
Diet is such a huge topic, and what happens when you feel even hungrier because you’ve been active? Disaster? No, it does not have to be. Forget the word diet – and try to think of your new eating regime as a lifestyle choice – you are consciously choosing to be healthier with your food choices. If you have ‘dieted’ before the chances are that when you finished the ‘diet’ some if not all of the weight came back on – this is because more traditional ‘diets’ are not sustainable. Your body requires a certain amount of calories per day – the important point is not to avoid the calories but instead ensure they are healthy calories. In order to be successful, you need to make healthy eating your new lifestyle.
Never skip breakfast, the most important meal of the day – it is breaking the overnight ‘fast’. Eat a healthy breakfast and you are starting your day the best way possible. For example, porridge with no sugar, whole grain toast, granola and yoghurt (make sure it is Greek yoghurt as this will have the less sugar in it, also choose a low sugar granola – you can otherwise easily eat your daily sugar intake in your first meal of the day!).
Another really easy way to help weight loss is to ensure you are properly hydrated – click here for advice and tips.
Quitting smoking and cutting down on your alcohol intake may not even apply to you – but if it does click here for some great tips and advice on quitting smoking, and here if you need advice on cutting down your daily alcohol intake.
So, in words on paper these guidelines look obvious and simple but we all know that real life is not like that. You will need support, guidance and most importantly self belief. Believe that you CAN DO IT and you will be surprised at what you will be able to achieve.
I am a busy mum of two teenage boys, and between them and work I am forever running around. I have always been interested in fitness, and I make sure that exercise features regularly in my life. However many of my friends are not into fitness like me, yet want to be healthy. I want to help people make healthy lifestyle choices which will impact on their fitness, without necessarily feeling the need to throw themselves full force into exercise.