Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Play the game!

There's only a few days left of 'normality' before the school holidays start and Christmas and New Year celebrations kick in big time - and you may be wondering how to keep on track with your workouts. Well, you have several options - including joining an online gym (for free at the moment!) and getting your family involved in fitness. And...you can play Bingo. Yes, that's right Christmas Bingo - with added oomph. Only you won't be needing a pen...

Friday, 2 December 2016

Create a Christmas decathlon!

decathlon, family fun, sport, health, fitness
How quickly can you get your wetsuit on?
Yay! It's December and we're officially allowed to be excited about Christmas! But as a parent, there's a lot to be done - from choosing and wrapping presents and writing and sending cards to being all ready for the school plays, carol services and parties.

This might mean you're skipping workouts at the same time as hitting the mince pies.

But rather than let everything take a seasonal slide, why not seek inspiration from the recent 'Decathlon Decathlon' event at Surrey Quays, and set yourself up a few little physical challenges at home? Best of all you can get the kids to join in (and tire them out...) when the school holidays hit.

One of the perks of being in the Julia Buckley #Fitnessrockstars Collective, is that I get to work with some great brands like Decathlon. In fact lots of the gym equipment Julia uses in her workouts can be bought at the sports store, so it's a natural fit if you've decided you prefer - or need - to work out at home on your own timescale (essential for busy parents, because, well, kids!).

So how about some ideas then?

Monday, 28 November 2016

Summer bodies are made in winter!

workout, fitness, Brazil, beach body
Bring a little bit of Brazil into your life
The heatwave of summer 2016 sure seems a long time ago - and at this time of year it's hard not to retreat under a layer of winter woolies and hit the Christmas cheer that bit too hard. But summer bodies are made in winter and you can rekindle a bit of the carnival that was the 2016 Rio Olympics by signing up to the new Brazilian fitness classes brought to you by Corpão Fitness.

A sassy fusion of barre, burn and flow classes designed to tone and create curves (in all the right places), Corpão roughly translates to 'amazing body' in Brazilian Portuguese, and shuns extreme dieting, running or excessive lifting. Instead the focus is on fun - working out to  infectious Brazilian music using a combo of HIIT, strength and conditioning moves. 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

This could float your boat

float therapy, flotation therapy, wellness, health
Step right in...
this is what bliss actually looks like!
Ever feel like things are weighing you down? Stress, insomnia, injury or pain due to everything from recurring headaches to fibromyalgia? Well the answer could be surprisingly simple - flotation therapy. What's that I hear you ask? Well, just as it sounds, floatation therapy uses a session spent floating in warm salt water in a specially-designed tank to put you in a relaxed state.

This rather luxurious treatment typically lasts about an hour, during which time the body is able to enter into a deeply relaxed state. The beneficial effects are attributed to the temperature of the water, the floating posture, the difference in water pressure and blood pressure, maximised blood flow, the release of endorphins and the removal of toxins such as lactic acid and draining of the lymphatic system. Think of it as a very much upgraded deep, deep bath...bliss.

But what's it actually like to float?


Friday, 18 November 2016

Advent calendars that won't ruin your healthy habits!

Smiggle, Xmas, Christmas gifts
Xmassy treats don't have to
put you in Santa's bad books
We all love Xmas - the decorations, the presents and the parties! But it's easy to see a year's worth of healthy living vanish in a haze of seasonal cheer. While a little bit of what you fancy does you good - kicking the day off with the 'traditional' advent calendar sugar fix might not be the best way to countdown to Christmas - for you or your family. Instead why not opt for one of these alternatives...

Friday, 4 November 2016

I'm a rockstar!

online gym, home workout
Work out in the comfort of your own home
A little while back, people following my Instagram account will have noticed I spoke about the #JuliaBFit online gym, a virtual health club that offers workouts, classes, programs and coaching. I was testing out the 5-day bootcamp program to see how easy it is to follow and use, I even roped in my other half to one session to see how someone else fared.

Well it turns out the concept really works! The workouts are easy-to-follow but hard enough to make you sweat - and the usual excuses that might keep you from a gym class or a run just don't apply (can't fit it in around work/kids/other responsibilities, don't like other people to see me, waiting in for a delivery etc etc). My trialling of the gym - set up and presented by Personal Trainer Julia Buckley - was the starting point of a little project I've been invited to join - namely Julia's  Fitness Rockstars (or #Fitnessrockstars if you're a hashtag kinda person). 

What on earth is that I hear you ask?


Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Why you need to know about rose-hips!


joint health, rose-hips, natural, supplements
Rich in compounds that could offer relief from aches and pains
Last year a 92-year-old became the oldest woman to complete a marathon, not bad for someone you'd typically expect to be sat in a chair knitting bootees! And while there's no doubt that as we get older exercise can feel harder, increasingly evidence shows it's important to long-term health and happiness that you continue to workout as you age. 

But what about all those aches and pains that we might experience - is that a sign we should sit out our next run or cut class? Absolutely not - because if you want to keep moving, you have to keep moving! Which is why you need to know about GOPO...

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

This one thing could make you look, feel and be healthier!

Stop smoking, quit smoking, e-cigs, e-cigarettes
Quit smoking - today!
Christmas is coming - and right after that a brand new year - full of hope and expectation. Maybe this January you are determined to start afresh with your health and fitness. Maybe you'll drink less and workout more. Maybe you'll REALLY stop smoking this time too. But why wait for another two months, when you could kickstart a healthier lifestyle immediately?

By quitting smoking you'll reduce your risk of cancer, heart attacks, heart disease and having a stroke. You'll also be less likely to catch colds and will be able to recover better if you do, breathing will be easier, your blood pressure will go down - and your skin, teeth and fingernails will all look better. And your lifestyle will improve - you'll have more money but no more worrying about when and where your next ciggy break will be. You'll find food tastes better and those around you will love the fact that you, your clothes, your car and your home have lost that smokey smell. You'll also be protecting those you love from secondhand smoke and give everyone that loves you a reason to be proud of you - not least your children. But exactly how can you do it? 

Here are 5 great ways to quit for good:

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

October's new product roundup

yoga, flexibility, pilates, stretching
The White Studio's flexibility wheel - put to good use by
brand ambassador Kiley M Letch.
It's about this time of year that my ears prick up a bit when I hear the word 'new'. New season, new range, new for Autumn. Obviously I'm thinking about what tempting treats and treasures I could buy for all my lovely family and friends for Xmas. Scratch that, it's my birthday this month - and I'm thinking about myself.



But seriously though (hey, I WAS being serious), this month brings with it a slew of new products in the health and fitness arena, so I thought I'd share the ones that caught my eye with you!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Do you need help with home care?

home care, care, carer, elderly, health
What's the best solution to caring for a relative?
Last week the Office for National Statistics announced that a record number of people in the UK are surviving to the age of 100. While it's great news that we are living longer - and potentially - healthier lives - this leaves us with one major problem. How will we care for our older generations?

Typically just as your children begin to grow up and need less physical care, your parents become more reliant on you - be that because they have mobility issues, chronic illnesses or are just lonely with less of a social network around them than when they were younger, particularly if they have lost a life-long partner. However, you might live too far away to make regular visits, or feel overwhelmed with their care needs alongside your other responsibilities as a parent, partner and/or employee. If you have siblings and other relatives you might struggle to find a way for you all to contribute to the emotional and practical demands caring, and that alone can cause added frustrations. You might have already chosen to opt for your relative to live with - or close to you - but now find you cannot cope with their needs. So, what's the best solution when caring for a sick or elderly family member in a home environment?

Monday, 26 September 2016

MyShowcase: Your very own beauty edit

beauty, skincare, health
A range of products selected because they do 'what it says on the tin'.
I admit it. I increasingly find myself tuning out when I see new skincare and beauty products mentioned in print or on social media. I'm tired of seeing items promoted by people famous only for having a big bum or 'on fleet' eyebrows (funny my careers officer never mentioned these options...). And I don't for one minute believe that the reality star Instagramming a filtered pic of detox tea/teeth whitening/countouring kits has even opened the box, let alone seriously tried and tested the item they are co-incidently getting a fee to mention.

Partly, it's because my time in publishing has opened to my eyes to how brands 'encourage' editors to include them in their roundups too (big basket of freebies, cough, splutter), and it's also because I don't buy products tested on animals, and it's easier to stick to brands like Neal's Yard and good old Superdrug, which have always made a point of being cruelty-free, than to waste hours shopping for newer lines checking out their ethos and real provenance.

But perhaps I'm missing out? Are there lots of new ethical products out there I would like to try, and companies I'd like to show my support for? And how do I make time to find them?

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Looking for a new family dentist? Consider this...

dentist, family, smile
Always be ready with that show-stopping smile!
Finding a really great family dentist is something that should be simple. After all, you just look for a dentist office that offers services for the entire family - right? While the process seems straightforward, in reality there are some sticking points to consider. When you do decide on a family dentist, you build a relationship that should be long lasting. Ideally, you want to visit just that dentist and build that same strong relationship for the entire family.

So it's really important to take the following factors into account....

Monday, 1 August 2016

Holiday stress? There's an app for that...

relaxation, therapy, health
Ever wished you could just drift away from it all?
While the summer holidays bring a welcome chance for parents to spend more time with their kids, it can also be stressful as you try to combine childcare with your other commitments. As well as the opportunity to be outside in better weather, take a family trip and have fun - it's likely you'll also be dealing with bickering and boredom, re-jiging work schedules and other responsibilities and generally trying to please everyone, all of the time.

So it's no surprise then, that people will also find the long, school holidays difficult to manage. In fact you'd be forgiven for just wishing you could drift off alone to a desert island to relax and unwind. Which is exactly what you can do if you download the Feel Stress Free app from Thrive!

Yep, you can get your own little slice of paradise on your smartphone that offers quick activities and exercises developed by psychiatrists/psychologists that are ‘clinically proven’ to help you keep calm and carry on throughout the summer! So, plug in your headphones and head off to 'Calm Isle'...

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Sick of travelling this summer?

There's nothing worse than hearing the words 'I feel sick' from the back of the car as you head off on your holidays, and since motion sickness is more common in children aged three to 12, it's something parents often face during summer travels. 

travel, healthy, motion sickness
Don't 'drive' yourself crazy over motion sickness...
In fact travel - or motion sickness - can strike when travelling by car, ship, plane or train, which makes any sort of long journey pretty difficult. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea and - of course - vomiting. It's thought it is caused by the mismatch of what the eyes are seeing (the things outside your car window moving for example) and what your inner ears, which help with balance, sense (the fact you are actually sitting still). 

Either way it's awful to experience it - and it's awful to try and comfort a poorly child, clean up after a poorly child - and still continue to your destination. It can make trips to relatives tiresome, exciting holiday plans seem a whole lot less fun and put the kibosh on certain types of trips altogether (a Disney cruise say).

But there are several ways to ease symptoms and make your trip far happier. Here's my Top Ten of Travel Sickness tips...

Monday, 18 July 2016

Family biking - what are your options?

There are some things that you have to give up when you have kids (sleep comes to mind for starters!). But how about when it comes to your favourite active pursuits like biking? Thankfully your kids can come right along with you, provided you invest in the proper gear for every age.

When your kids are very small, there are different ways to tote them around on a bike. A front carrier is a good option, as are both rear-mounted seats and attachable trailers. Once your kids have graduated to nearly preschool age, they may be ready for a bike tag-a-long - a one-wheeled structure that attaches to the back of your bike - or even another option that connects their bike to yours.

Need some advice?


Any and all of these options come with their own weight and age restrictions and recommendations. And as your kids move from one piece of equipment to the next, it’s important they understand not only rules of the road, but exactly what is the right safety gear - especially when it comes to helmets.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Flower power!

flower therapy, emotional health, send flowers
As we head towards the school holidays, it's easy to feel frazzled by end of term chaos and upcoming changes in routine. For some children and parents it will herald the end of an era, as children move on to different stages in their lives - be that starting school, switching schools - or even leaving school for good. But there's an easy way to lift your mood, inspire creativity - and help you recover from dips in your health. A simple bunch of flowers! 

In fact, florist Flowers For Everyone have hit the nail on the head - a bouquet of blooms really can boost your health.

And here are just four of the ways foliage can make you feel good...

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

These boots are made for walking

health, healthy, workout, fitness
Put your best foot forward for fitness
If I told you there was a safe, easy and cheap way to lose weight and stay healthy that suits just about everyone you’d be interested right? Well, there is – and you can start this great workout right now by getting up from your desk, sofa or chair and going for a walk.

Yep, walking could just be the new cardio – with recent research suggesting walking might be just as good as gentle jogging – and potentially better for you than long-term strenuous endurance exercise. With national guidelines recommending 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week, walking is easy to start and even easier to incorporate it into daily life. 

But why is walking so good for you?

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

5 ways to get your kids to eat veggies & fruit

healthy eating, feeding kids
Let Connie Carrot capture your child's heart
Without doubt, if your kids develop a taste for fruit and veg while they are young, they will find it easier to eat healthily as they grow up. But it can be hard to convince a child to try new foods - and to ignore the many outside influences that push other less nutritious menu items. Here are five tried and tested ways to encourage a love of plant-based meals and snacks...

1. Lead by example


It's human nature to want what other people have - and this rule applies ten-fold to kids! If you visibly enjoy a plate of veggies they are bound to be curious and want to try your meal. The upside of seeing you enjoy fresh fruit and veg with your meals and as snacks, means you are consciously being healthy too! You can even try some reverse psychology and tell them it's probably a bit 'grown up' and too special for them...

Monday, 18 April 2016

Say no to nasties: Synthetic fragrance and 'parfum'

health, green, healthy living, ethics, additives
Exactly what's in your products?
Photo credit: Maya Picture at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

This is the third in my series that looks into common ingredients in everyday toiletries and cosmetics. I want to learn more about the risks I might be taking by regularly putting these additives on my face and body. I'll also showcase alternative brands that have moved away from using these synthetics - to provide a more natural and potentially healthier choice. This time I'm looking at synthetic fragrances and parfum.



You can read more about the other common additives Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS) and parabens.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Test your health & fitness knowledge!

Who's been paying attention - and who fancies some fun? Why not test out your well-being wisdom with this quick quiz? The test, created by online protein uk, will help you check if you know what's good and what's bad for you. Get ready to learn some surprising facts along the way...

This post was created in collaboration with Discount Supplements.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

My week in photos

This week has been a bit of a whirl! The Bank Holiday with a clock change and the fact the kids are off school has made it hard to keep to any kid of schedule - much less remember what day of the week it actually is!

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

How to have a Happy, Healthy pregnancy

For many women, health and fitness seems to unravel once kids arrive on the scene. Sleepless nights, lack of time, fussy eaters and the juggling act that is parenting can really see the strongest of resolves crumble. So it’s a snatched bite to eat here and an extra biscuit at playgroup instead of breakfast there – followed by an early evening collapse onto the sofa with a glass of wine once your little cherubs are finally tucked up in bed. But the reality of the situation is that in the UK nearly 50 per cent of pregnant women attending their first maternity appointment are already overweight or obese.

And a recent poll undertaken by The Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF) found that there is a lot of unhelpful and conflicting information out there, with almost half of mums-to-be thinking that it’s OK to ‘eat for two'. The research also revealed that one-third of respondents felt they did not receive enough information to help them make good decisions about their diet when expecting. In fact 46 per cent said their midwife/GP didn’t weigh them in pregnancy and 68 per cent did not receive any advice on weight gain from their midwife or GP. Not surprisingly, the poll also found that 39 per cent of pregnant women aren’t taking any supplements and just under half made no changes to their diet after finding out they were pregnant
Which is why the ITF have produced a simple guide with the right advice – rather than just all the ‘don’ts’ so often bandied about. The resource is available online, and outlines the ten steps all women can incorporate into their day-to-day life, before and during pregnancy. 

After all... becoming a parent is the perfect time to reassess and improve your eating habits and your level of exercise – and so set up a healthy lifestyle for both you and your growing child.

Follow the ITF’s Ten Steps For a Healthy Pregnancy...


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Treat yourself - but choose wisely!!

A little bit of what you fancy does you good...but if you're indulging in some Easter eggs this holiday you might be interested to see this handy guide provided by Discount Supplements. It neatly sums up all the fat, sugar and calorie info of many of the popular eggs you'll find on supermarket shelves so you can decide which one to plump for.


Sunday, 20 March 2016

Brush up on your home security

healthy living
It's time to set things in order!
Brace yourself - Bank Holidays are coming! With spring officially in the air and a few spare days at home, it's natural to want to improve your surroundings to give yourself a well-being boost. 

And there's no doubt that a spring clean can be good for your health - particularly if you have asthma or allergies. Everything from airborne bacteria to mud, pet dander and mould spores can accumulate while we shut out the cold winter air, so make an effort to throw open your windows and clean carpets, furnishings, bedding and curtains! But decluttering and organising can be great for your mental health too. first up it solves that frustrating problem of  looking for misplaced items! It also helps you focus on important tasks, by getting those smaller chores out of the way and thus relieving stress. And you might be surprised at how else a serious seasonal sort out can put your mind at ease...

Monday, 14 March 2016

Speaking up for others

Today I'm taking a break from writing about health and fitness, because I really can't be happy when the situation below exists. Please read this blog post, do what you can to help and share on the info. 

Man's best friend but is the opposite true?
Puppies - cute right? And looking at - or cuddling one - simply makes your heart sing. The soft fur, the over-excited waggy tail and the wriggly body. Who could resist? In fact, healthy puppies embody all the traits that generally make our life worth living; joy, trust and hope - all wrapped up in a cuddly, unquestioning bundle of love. So it's not surprising that dogs have been mankind's most faithful of companions for thousands of years (in fact some fossils suggests that 'domestic' dogs existed as much as 32,000 years ago).

But somewhere along the line, we've let these four-legged friends down. We've started to take them for granted, and stopped seeing them as living creatures that deserve our respect and love - instead often regarding them as possessions and accessories. Maybe it's about what they can give us - maybe it's about how we'll look as we parade them around with us. Which is why we have rescue shelters full of dogs that have failed to fulfil our - at times - unrealistic expectations - perhaps proving to be too demanding, not as expected, or just not quite what we wanted after all. Other times our life moves on and we simply leave them behind. Well shame on us.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Easter-inspired workouts!

Pop-up Easter cards by Yellow Moon
If you've spent a lot of this year, sticking firmly to the health and fitness goals you set in January, the last thing you want is to be scuppered by the choc-fest that is Easter! But if you use your imagination, the upcoming holidays can get you fit rather than fat. Eschew over-eating for these active ideas and you'll skip into the next season with a Spring in your step...

Friday, 4 March 2016

The top 3 ways to improve your bone health

Healthy lifestyle healthy bones
Reduce your chance of osteoporosis by ensuring bone strength
Photo courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Bone health is something that all women should be aware of – and something worth considering when you are bringing up children. Like most health issues, our genes play a key role in deciding the potential strength of our skeleton, but how healthily you live at all ages can affect how strong bones become – and stay. As we age it’s inevitable that we will lose some bone strength – but if you ‘bank’ enough and develop positive lifestyle habits you’ll decrease your risk of osteoporosis - a condition that causes bones to weaken.

The bad news is that after the age of 35 our bones begin to lose their density, and this is what can lead to osteoporosis – which affects around three million people in the UK. Women tend to suffer from the condition more because bone loss happens more rapidly in the years following menopause.

So how exactly can you reduce your risk of osteoporosis – and keep your bones as strong as possible?

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Love is all around us...

Crafted with love for all those important occasions 
It's the time of the year when red roses and soft toys sadly clutching hearts pop up everywhere. But for many, upcoming events like Valentine's Day and Mother's Day are little more than card shop celebrations - designed to give us a reason to part with cash in a conspicuous display of affection. We might feel we're co-erced into buying cards, presents and extravagant food and drink - just to 'keep up' with everyone else and so that we don't look like we don't care. Some of us might even feel we'd rather opt out of recognised calendar dates and hope for smaller but more authentic signs we're loved on a day-to-day basis.

Yet even the most cynical among us would be pretty disappointed if our loved ones forgot to mark certain occasions from anniversaries and birthdays to the manufactured days those retailers are keen to encourage us to celebrate. Which is the crux of the problem. Why is feeling that we are loved  - right from birth - so important?

Monday, 8 February 2016

Fitspiration - Julia Buckley can transform you!

healthy living, weight loss, working out, fat burn
Hands up if you want to join Julia's revolution!
You know that mug that reads something along the lines of 'You have the same amount of hours in your day as Beyonce'? Well, you don't have to look to the States to find someone achieving as much - and owning a tight booty too! Meet Julia Buckley, online fitness trainer, author, journalist - and all round inspiration to those of us that want to 'run the world'.

But Julia's not one to keep her secrets to herself, having felt first-hand the frustration of putting in miles of running and restricting calories but still being unhappy with the soft, stubborn fat on her thighs, belly and arms (yes, hard to believe if you look at the photos here!!). So she changed how she was working out - going for fat burning and explosive strength exercises and simplified her diet. And then she passed on her wealth of knowledge! Her first book, The Fat Burn Revolution, was launched in the UK in January 2014, published by Bloomsbury and was released in the USA in March 2014. She also runs an online gym - with some pretty amazing body transformation testimonials from people of all shapes, sizes and ages.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Say no to nasties: Parabens

healthy, organics, ethical
How do you feel about the chemicals in your products?
Image courtesy of Sira Aeamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is the second in my series that looks into common ingredients in everyday toiletries and cosmetics.  I want to learn more about the risks I might be taking by regularly putting these additives on my face and body. I'll also showcase alternative brands that have moved away from using these synthetics - to provide a more natural and potentially healthier choice. This time I'm looking at parabens. 

To learn more about Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS), another common additive, click here.


What are parabens?

Parabens are basically chemicals that have preservative qualities. They have been a common additive in cosmetics and pharmaceutical products since the 1950s to help prevent bacteria growth. Using parabens dramatically extends the shelf life of many beauty and health items because it stops them going mouldy. Products can last longer on shop shelves - and in your home - particularly the moist, warm environment of a bathroom, where many such items are kept. Parabens are ubiquitous - find them in toothpaste, sunscreens, cleansers, hair products, moisturisers and cosmetics like mascara and foundations. If you look at an ingredients list you might see them listed as butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben or isobutylparaben. 

Monday, 25 January 2016

Say no to nasties: Sodium Laurel Sulphate

Concerned about the chemicals in the products you use?
Image courtesy of  Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Is it just me, or are ingredients lists on toiletries and cosmetics getting longer and more complicated? In an attempt to learn more about exactly what I'm regularly putting on my face and body, I'm looking into the additives you'll find in everyday products. I'll also provide info on some products that have moved away from these ingredients - to provide a more natural and potentially healthier choice. First up SLS...

Dry skin? Itchy scalp? Mouth ulcers? Sometimes the very things we use to maintain our health and hygiene can be causing more problems. And so it could be with Sodium Laurel Sulfate/Sodium Laureate Sulfate, often referred to as SLS, a cheap and effective foaming agent often added to cleansing products.

Monday, 18 January 2016

5 healthy things to do today!

Has 'Blue Monday' got you down? Perhaps you're thinking that those healthy resolutions aren't quite as important as they seemed after two weeks of festive eating and drinking? He's five things you can do today to keep on track...

1. Dance yourself slim

healthy living, dancing, New Year resolutions
Hands up who fancies a dance?

If you can't face cardio you'll be pleased to hear that new research from the University of Brighton has found that certain styles of dance can burn more calories per hour than cycling, running, or swimming. The boffins worked with classes at City Academy and discovered that those taking part in contemporary, street and swing dance classes burnt more calories than they would if they'd spent their time running, swimming or cycling. The results even showed that ballet, often thought of as a light- to mild- intensity style of dance, involved moments of severe intensity exercises throughout the session. Better still, the dancers also experienced the same mood-lifting and energising effects that others forms of exercise produce. Making dance a fun and sustainable way to keep fit!