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Healthy sweets, healthy jelly sweet recipe, free jelly sweet reciepe, sweets to help with post training fatigue

Jelly babies to sustain training, try these Jelly Love Hearts

These Jelly Love Hearts, are lactose free, suitable for celiacs and with a little twist Vegans as well.

I was inspired by an article I read in Woman's Health Magazine some months ago and have been experimenting ever since.  As usual there have been many interesting outcomes.  My husband has tried these on a long bike ride to keep him going and the response was - 'not bad'!!!!

You may want to put them in a sandwich bag if you are taking them out on a run or to the gym, as your body heat makes them a little sticky.  I have used love heart ice trays as I thought they looked quite cute, but you can let them set in little cups or container.

Coconut water has had a lot of media coverage over the last couple years with various claims, one being that it is better than plain water or energy drinks post workout to re-hydrate you, due to the natural source of electrolytes.

Green tea is packed with antioxidants, so will help prevent the free radical damage caused by your workout and the caffeine content will also give your energy levels a boost.

Cherry juice can help alleviate pain caused by swelling and can aid the reduction of inflammation, therefore encouraging the body to recover more quickly.

Honey is a natural energy source that is easily absorbed by the body.  Try using raw honey if you can as it hasn't been treated and will contain more natural health benefits.  It also contains polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants which will encourage your immune system to work more efficiently.


the immune system post workout.

Ingredients

  • 150ml  Coconut Water
  • 2 Green Tea Bags
  • 215ml Cherry Juice
  • 3 tsp Honey (maple syrup)
  • 20g Gelatin (vegan gelatin)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method

  • Bring to the boil the coconut water then add the green tea bags and simmer for 5 mins.
  • Add the Cherry Juice, Honey and Salt and simmer until all has dissolved, remove from the heat.
  • Gradually sprinkle and whisk in the gelatin until dissolved.
  • Pour into molds and allow to cool before placing in the fridge for 10 mins.
Why Do I feel Dizzy During or After a Workout, feeling dizzy whilst exercising, why does exercise make me feel dizzy, womens fitness, fitness for over forties, online gym, exercise for women

Feeling Dizzy During Or After Exercise?

Feeling dizzy during or after exercise is something that should not be ignored.  There can be several reasons why this can occur, so it's important not to assume that exercise itself is the culprit.

The Culprits:

Low blood Sugar

Skipping breakfast and exercising in the morning can deprive the body of sufficient fuel to carry it through a workout. Eating a small snack an hour before the gym, will help keep blood sugar stabilised.  Good options are:
A banana, apple or other fresh fruit.
Yogurt.
Fruit smoothie.
A whole-grain bagel or crackers.
A healthy snack is especially important if you plan a workout several hours after a meal.

Dehydration

Taking on fluids before, during and after exercise will ensure the body is sufficiently hydrated.  Adequate hydration is especially important if exercising in the morning as the body will be low on fluids after a nights sleep.

If we are not hydrated and then lose more fluid via sweating, it can effect both physical and mental performance in the following ways:
An Increased heart rate.
Impaired body heat regulation.
Reduced energy levels.
Increased perceived exertion, we will mentally believe exercise to be harder than when our bodies have enough fluid.

Guidelines suggets that 6-8 glasses of fluid per day are needed to keep the body hydrated.  This will differ from person to person, depending on climate, activity, gender and size.

Breathing

It's common for people to use different breathing patterns when exercising.  This can lead to the body taking in less oxygen and not letting carbon dioxide out, resulting in light headiness.

During rest periods instead of puffing and panting to get the oxygen your body needs, try breathing deeply through the belly, using the diagram to fill and empty the abdomen with each breath.

With practice it's possible to synchronise breathing with the activity being performed.  For example during cardio try breathing in for 3 seconds and exhaling for 2.  Breathing in a continuous manner will increase nitric oxide, a gas that helps relax arteries aiding the blood flow around the body.

If you are struggling to control your breathing and it becomes too rapid, take a break until it is under control.

Over Exertion

Are you exercising within your current fitness levels, if the intensity is too high the heart will struggle to meet the demands placed upon it, which amongst other things can lead to a feeling of...  you guessed it... dizziness.

The target heart rate for moderate exercise is 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.  To reach an estimate of this subtract your age from 220.
For example a 50 year old would use the following calculation:
220-50 = 170 beats per minute( bpm) maximum heart rate and 50-70% level would be:
170x0.50= 85 bpm target heart rate
170x0.70=119 bpm target heart rate
So the target heart rate for a 50 year old women performing moderate exercise should be 85-119bpm.

Another way to assess physical exertion is with RPE (rated perceived exertion) on a 0-10 scale, 0 being motionless, 6 being moderate and 10 is maxed out.

A quick way to tell immediately if you are exercising within a range that is suitable for your fitness level, is if you can still manage to carry out a conversation.

High blood pressure

When the heart beats it pumps blood around the body to deliver energy and oxygen.  As the blood moves it pushes against the side of the vessels.  The force of this pushing is blood pressure.  There are various factors that can contribute to high blood pressure, such as diet, weight, activity levels and stress.  When it becomes high it may cause damage and stretch the arteries, leading to strokes, aneurysms and heart attacks.  Some people are not aware that they have high blood pressure, so if you do experience dizziness whilst exercising and it is not due to any obvious reason, it is vitally important for long term health to seek an opinion from a Doctor.  Regular exercise can help reduce blood pressure by encouraging the heart to become stronger, helping it to pump blood with less effort, decreasing the force on the arteries, therefore lowering blood pressure.  Those suffering with blood pressure issues should only perform exercise with medical permission and guidance.

Blood Pooling

When we exercise our heart pumps faster and harder increasing cardiac output, this action increases blood flow of oxygenated blood to the working muscles.  Once the oxygen and nutrients have been used up by the active tissue, the blood must be returned to the heart for re-oxygenation, this is known as venous return.

When there is an abrupt cessation of exercise, the force from the muscle contractions which was helping to push blood back around the body to the heart also stops.  This sudden drop in blood pressure creates blood pooling in the extremities and a disrupted flow of oxygenated blood to the brain leading to a feeling of .... dizziness.

It's vital to include a cool down to ensure you slowly return the heart to its resting rate.  For instance if you are running, slow to a walk this allows the muscles in the legs to carry on contracting.   This will aid the blood flow around the body and avoid it pooling in lower extremities.

Seeking Medical Advice

If you experience dizziness and it's due to over exertion take a break.  If it's caused by dehydration or low blood sugar, take on board fluid and eat a small snack.  If the dizziness continues and is accompanied by pains in the chest, jaw or arms - stop exercising, keep your head above the heart to ensure adequate blood flow around the body and call for medical help.

Benefits of rooibos tea, rooibos tea fact or myth, health benefits of rooibos tea, caffeine free tea

Redbush Tea (Rooibos Tea) myth or fact?

Rooibos tea is made from the Aspalathus Linearis plant, native to the western cape of  South Africa.  The British name for Rooibos tea comes from the Afrikaans pronunciation meaning Red Bush.  It's more like a herbal tea as opposed to your normal cuppa, however unlike other teas, it has the benefit of being naturally caffeine free.  If you are trying to kick a caffeine habit, this may be the way forward for you.

It is made in just the same way as your normal brew, with a dash of milk, sugar or even honey.  For a virtually calorie free option - drink it on it's own.   On a hot day use it to make an iced tea with a slice of lemon as a great alternative to a fizzy drink.  My personal favourite option is with a slice of lemon and ½ teaspoon of honey.  Click here for hints and tips on how to make the perfect Rooibos Tea.

Caffeine

- So what is the big deal about this tea being Caffeine free and why should I read on?  Do you have issues concentrating during the day and find yourself reaching for a coffee to keep yourself going? then have trouble sleeping at night.  Caffeine addiction is one of the most common throughout the world, most people are not aware of the impact it can have.  Have a look at our caffeineometer below to see how much caffeine is in each item -

As with most things Caffeine in small doses can have health benefits, such as protection against  Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease.  However large intense doses can have a negative effect on the body, leading to insomnia, headaches, nausea, nervousness, restlessness, stomach irritation, vomiting and increased heart rate.  Don't forget that caffeine can also prevent iron absorption into the body, so if you are anemic or suffer from any kind of iron deficiency and drink large amounts of caffeine - this could be the culprit.  If you feel you would benefit from drinking less caffeine try replacing some drinks with water or a naturally caffeine free drink like Rooibos Tea.

Antioxidants

- There are so many other benefits to be gained by drinking this tea, firstly it has 50 times more antioxidants than green tea.  We need these antioxidants to help reduce the free radical damage that happens naturally in the body everyday.  Smoking, alcohol, fatty fried foods, pesticides and air pollution all contribute to free radical damage within us.  Think that free radical damage isn't relevant to you - think again, it has been linked to various diseases and has an impact on how we visually age.  The body naturally produces antioxidants, however due to lifestyle choices and the environment, having food and drink high in these has a big impact on reducing cell damage.

Stress

- Studies have  been conducted that prove the aspalathin in the tea can help to reduce the hormone cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal gland and controls the stress hormone.  Aspalathion is believed to reduce stress and nervous tension, which can help prevent heart disease.  It also helps regulate your blood sugar, improves glucose tolerance, increases glucose absorption into the muscles and reduces excessive fat production.

Allergies

- Also known for its anti-inflammatory properties it can also help reduce the effects of asthma, eczema and hay-fever.

Sounds to good to be true, well for some it may be.  If you are receiving any medication or treatment it is worth discussing with your doctor first as this little tea may interfere with some treatments.  For others, try switching a couple of your cups of high caffeinated drinks and see if you notice any changes in sleep patterns, concentration or energy levels.

 

Are you sitting comfortably and is it ruining your health, is sitting the new smoking, can sitting effect my health, how does siting for long periods effect my health, what happens to my body when I am sat down for a long time

Are You Sitting Comfortably and Is It Ruining Your Health?

Chances are, whilst reading this you're sat down and may have been sitting for some time.  I’m not judging, after all I'm sat with the dog on my lap, writing about the pitfalls of sitting!

The advancements in transport and technology which aid us in work and every day life are not always helpful to our health.  Modern conveniences have resulted in more leisure time but less need to be physically active. As hunter gatherers our ancestors needed to move on constant basis in order to survive, making better use of their bodies than we do today.  According to studies, we move a shocking  90% less than our forefathers 100 years ago!

YOU MUST BE JOKING – I DON’T HAVE TIME TO SIT DOWN!

It feels like you spend the whole day literally running from one task to the next.  Although you might actually have been seated more than you are concisously aware of.  You sit down at meal times, travel to work in the car or the bus, drive the kids to school, more time is spent sitting on the weekend or on a day off,  you could be desk bound for several hours at a time and once the end of a tiring day arrives you make yourself comfy on the sofa – after all you've earned a good sit down.  A study by The British Heart Foundation showed that Brits sit on their derrière for 2 1/2 months a year! And worryingly 46% of women are inactive.

BUT WHAT IF SITTING IS NOT REWARDING YOUR BODY FOR ALL IT’S HARD WORK – IN FACT SITTING COULD BE THE NEW SMOKING.

“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, it kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting, we are sitting ourselves to death”.  I’m not trying to frighten you, this is a statement by Dr.James Levine (director of the Mayo Clinic) given in an interview regarding the adverse effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

It’s not just Dr.Levine that believes this, researchers are continuing to find evidence to suggest that prolonged sitting can increase the risk of: type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancers.

BUT I'M ON MY FEET ALL DAY.

Maybe you have a job which involves standing behind a til, counter or reception for large parts of the day. In that case you probably think that this does not apply to you.  Yes standing is better but only if you are moving around.  If you're stood in the same position with little or no movement this can still have a negative impact on the body.

The damage is caused when the body is chronically in the same position  with very little movement for more than 60-90 minutes.

SO WHAT'S ACTUALLY HAPPENING TO MY BODY WHEN I'M HAVING A SIT DOWN?

We are not suggesting that you shouldn't sit down at all, we all need to take a break from time to time. However it's important to realise what's happening on a physiological level when we are sat for extended periods.  The human body is designed to move and long bouts of sitting encourages it to shut down metabolically.  Leading to a sluggish circulation, decreased use of blood sugar, poor posture and issues with spine health.  A slower metabolism also means a reduced energy uptake, storing calories in different ways to when we are in motion.  Scientists have reported that sitting for 8-9 hours a day causes the enzymes that breakdown fat to drop by 90 percent.

I’M O.K I GO TO THE GYM.

Well done you have managed to squeeze in an hour at the gym. Unfortunately this is not enough to offset the negative effects of being sedentary for a large part of the day.  Although a workout is an excellent way to improve health and fitness, experts now believe it can’t counterbalance the negative effects of prolonged periods of inactivity.  Katy Bowman a Biomechanist and author of Move Your DNA has suggested their is an increased risk of cardiac health issues from being sedentary most of the day and then opting for an extreme session in the gym.  Sitting all day restricts blood flow and circulation through your blood vessels and pumping blood rapidly through these vessels is similar to trying to run water through a hose with a kink in it

To offset being motionless for a period of 6-7 hours a day, research has indicated that you would need to compensate with at least an hour of INTENSE exercise.  So if you're working maybe a 12 hour seated shift you would need to find time to sweat it out in the gym for two hours.

2 HOURS OF EXERCISE – I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT – WHAT'S THE ALTERNATIVE?

You're too tired to spend 2 hours in the gym and even if you could find the energy you don’t have the time, so how do you rid yourself of the negative impact of sitting.

According to a study in Journal.plos.org it's simple - move more, increasing the time standing and walking is a more effective way to help reduce certain health risks than an 1 hour of planned physical exercise. The trick is to move our bodies regularly throughout the day, even the smallest and simplest changes in activity levels will improve health. Research suggests we need to create frequent opportunities (i.e 4-5  mins every half an  hour) to move our butts out of our seats.

Try some of the following to get you moving:

Stand up whilst on the phone.

Walk to work.

Take the staris

Walk instead of driving on the school run

Take a break every hour from your desk just to stand up and move a little.

GIVE YOURSELF A MINI EXERCISE BREAK.

We still believe that organised physical activity (exercise classes etc) play a vital role in keeping our bodies working efficiently, it's also a way to work on specific goals such as strength and endurance.  If time is an issue, short bursts of exercise will suit you.  The frequency and intensity of a mini workout can bring you the same and possibly more benefits than slogging it out in the gym for hours on end.  By using a combination of bodyweight exercises i.e: press ups, squats, lunges, planks, one legged deadlifts, jumping jacks, Burpees etc. it's possible to devise routines that can be done anytime, anywhere, with no equipment.
This is an example of the type of workout that will elevate the heart rate, activate muscles and help to revitalise the mind and body.  You can of course design a version to suit your lifestyle.

MON/WEDS/FRIDAY

10am: 15 squats/10 push ups/10 burpees x 2 sets

12am: 12 squats/8 push ups/8 burpees x 3 sets

2pm: 10 squats/5 push ups/5 Burpees x 4 sets

4pm: squats/press ups/Burpees - as many as you can until fatigue or form failure x 1 set

 

TUES/THURS

10am: 10 fwd lunges each leg/10 reverse lunges each leg/10 jumping jacks x 2 sets

11am: one legged bodyweight Romanian deadlift 10 each leg/10 squat thrusts x 2 sets

12am: 8 fwd lunges each leg/8 reverse lunges each leg/8 jumping jacks x 3 sets

2pm: one legged bodyweight Romanian deadlift 8 each leg/8 squat thrusts x 3 sets

4pm: fwd/reverse leg lifts then Romanian deadlifts/jumping jacks/squat thrusts  - as many as you can until fatigue or form failure x 1 set.

To keep progressing you can add weights or up the repetitions.

Remember if your joints are creaking when you lift your bum off the sofa, you have probably been sitting for longer than is good for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mood and food healthy eating plate, are food and mood connected

Food and Mood -Is there a link between our Nutrition and how we feel?

Food and Mood

Is there a link?

There are a number of different angles in which we can analyze this, but lets keep it simple.  I have been very lucky to be part of a National Research project looking at the impact of Adult Learning on Mental Health and how nutrition can play its part.

We have all been through some emotional roller coaster that can effect how we feel and this may also impact on our behaviour with food.  For some this can mean a loss of appetite, for others it is an increase in comfort eating.  I am sure we can all think back to a time in our lives when food, whether consciously or not, is either our heaven or hell.

However, science has proven that by eating certain types of food, this will have a positive impact on our mental health and the symptoms associated with this.  Remember your brain is another organ and like all other parts of the body needs certain nutrients to keep it functioning correctly.

For example the dry weight of the brain is 60% fat, and 20% of that fat is made from the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6.  Essential fatty acids cannot be made by the body so they have to come from food.  We need to ensure we have enough omega-3 and 6 within our diet to maintain a healthy balance.  Omega-6 is the slightly easier one as it's found in poultry, eggs, avocado and nuts.  Whereas omega-3 is found in oily fish like salmon, herring and mackerel. You can also get a good source from flax seed and walnuts for the non meat eaters out there.

The brain also needs glucose to fuel it, a great way to include a natural source of glucose is with complex carbohydrates like wholegrain breads pasta and rice.  These release the energy slowly to help maintain concentration and avoid peaks and troughs of energy.  There are many fad diets out there that drastically reduce or totally cut out carbs, this can have a dramatic effect on your mood, focus and cravings.

Neurotransmitters

Dopamine is the Neurotransmitter in the brain that keeps you alert and active, it's also responsible for your emotions, motivation and concentration.  Amino Acids are the protein nutrient for this job, they can be found in beans, chicken, liver, fish, bacon, ham, dairy products, aubergine, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes.
Serotonin, which I have touched on in the past is known as the 'happy' chemical, there has been research which shows that low levels of this can have a real impact on moods and can be associated with depression.  Serotonin is made from  amino acids called tryptophan, this is a type of protein that is found in foods such as turkey, milk, peanuts, sunflower seeds, bananas and eggs.

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland in the brain and controls your body clock.  Naturally this will rise after the sun sets to try and persuade your body to go into sleep mode, as the sun rises your levels will dramatically be reduced.  So if you are having problems sleeping, make sure you turn that night light off as this will effect the amount of Melatonin that's produced at bedtime.  A good nights sleep has also been proven to help with mental health, stress and problem solving.  Foods that contain small amounts of this hormone are Goji Berries, sunflower seeds, almonds, coriander, oats, rice, ginger, tomatoes and cherries.

And the last Neurotransmitter that I am going to touch on is Noradrenaline.  This is produced in the brain and adrenal glands it is responsible for the fight or flight reaction in stressful situations, aggression, moodiness and the responses to stress and anger, it also keeps your brain alert and active.  Vitamin C is required to turn this chemical into Adrenalin. Try combinations of dairy, beans, chicken, chocolate, ham, spinach and tomatoes, with foods rich in vitamin C like blackcurrants, spring greens, strawberries, kale, papaya, kiwi, and oranges.  Don't forget that vitamin C also helps the absorption of Iron in the body.

Everyone knows how important it is to drink plenty of water, but did you know that the brain is made up of 80% water.  So if you are having problems concentrating and can't focus on the job, try a glass of water or green tea.  The best way to keep hydrated is to sip water constantly throughout the day, rather than a massive glass every now and again.

Top tips for good food and mood:

  1. Try to maintain a balanced diet by eating a variety of foods, including plenty of fruit and vegetables.  Unless your doctor has advised you to take supplements, this should be enough to provide you with all the vitamins and minerals you need.
  2. Ensure you eat regularly, starting with breakfast.  This is really important as it does what it says in the title - break the fast!  Ensure you have 3 meals a day, plus healthy snacks in between, this will ensure you don't have peaks and troughs of energy due to blood sugar spikes.
  3. Drink 6-8 glasses of fluid every day!  Water and milk are all healthy ways to keep hydrated.  Tea and coffee are OK as long as you don’t get all your fluid from caffeinated drinks.  Avoid sugary drinks as much as possible.
  4. For a good night’s sleep, choose food and drink rich in tryptophan – such as a milky drink before bed and switch those lights off.
  5. Try foods high in potassium, like tomatoes, mushrooms, dried fruits, nuts and bananas  which are essential for your brain and nervous system and helps to regulate body fluids.

Thinking back to times when you were not feeling yourself, can you relate to any of these food issues, good or bad?         I have only touched the surface on the research which is ongoing regarding the connection between nutrition and mental health, but hopefully this will help you realise that their is more to food than just how we look in our clothes.

Stylish Gym Wear, gym kit, exercise gear for women

Can wearing nicer workout gear make you ‘gym’ better?

We have been fortunate to have recently collaborated with Rio, a health and lifestyle blogger with a passion for fitness and beauty. Here is her take on how wearing the right gym clothes can make you feel about hitting the gym.

Can wearing nicer workout gear make you 'gym' better?

Well I personally think, YES!!  Gym clothes/workout wear nowadays is amazing! Its full of amazing technologies and fabrics that not only make you look good but help you workout better! Now I'm not saying to go and drop £100's on gym gear if you cant afford it as gym membership themselves can be pretty expensive, but places like primark do some aesthetically pleasing gym items that look great and will boost your mood and your workout!

If you feel good about how you look you walk taller and smile a bit bigger right? So why not take that ethos into the gym? If you feel good about how you look in your nice gym gear you will feel more motivated and push yourself that little bit more! We all know that gyms can be a scary place so why not buy a nice 2 piece set and smash it and sweat in style.

I know if I go to the gym in a baggy t-shirt and horrible baggy bottoms then I don't feel motivated and I just want to leave, but if I go in my decent work wear then I lift bigger and better. Gym clothes/active wear come in all sizes and for all body types. You take pride in your appearance everywhere else in your life so why take pride here and you will find yourself doing a few more squats, wanting to go often and losing those pounds or growing those muscles!

By Guest Blogger Rio.

 

Check out more of Rio's beauty and fashion hints and tips via her blog.

Wondering why you are trying but failing to reach that dress size, stick to an exercise plan or healthier dietMotivation, creating habits

Wondering if it’s lack of motivation that’s stopping you dropping a dress size, stick to an exercise plan or eat a healthier diet?

Trying but failing to reach the goals you have set for yourself.

Wondering why you can't seem to stick to a balanced diet, or even be bothered to find your trainers, let alone get to the gym.  You have started to think that you just don't have the motivation to get to where you want to be in relation to your health and fitness.  You are not lacking motivation, if you're reading this you are already motivated to make the changes you need to create a healthier lifestyle.

Motivation is what gets you going, but it's actually habit that keeps you going and it might be your habits good and bad that are stopping you from reaching your goal.

And you're off.

So you have set yourself some goals: exercise every day, cut out all junk food, drop a stone or two in weight.

You may have initially got off to a flying start, annoying your friends with constant fbook updates about how much weight you have lost, how many miles you have run or poses of you working out in the gym.  Then gradually as the weeks roll by, you might drop a gym session or two, have more bad food days than good and the scales are now going in the wrong direction.  You're starting to wonder why this keeps happening to you, for all of your good intentions, you just can't seem to reach your goal.

In fact this cycle of trying to reach those goals and not achieving them has happened time and time again.

No You Are Not A Failure.

No wonder you are finding it hard, you have put yourself under a tremendous amount of pressure, it's not surprising that at some point your new healthy routine becomes impossible to maintain.  Not only do you now feel a failure but you suspect that some of your friends are secretly pleased you've not managed to make any significant changes to your body.

Meanwhile one of your mates has quietly been going about reaching their goals and sickenenly they seem to be sticking to their plan.  No they are not more motivated or better than you, they have just managed to create better habits.

We all know what we are supposed to do in order to gain a healthier lifestyle - drink more water, move more, eat less rubbish, so why then are we so bad at doing it?

Setting your goals too high.

First of all the goals you have set yourself could be far too high and therefore doomed to failure before you start.

For instance if your goals are along the lines of:  workout five times every week, eat clean every day and ditch alcohol completely, you may find this hard, especially if you lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle, never cook from scratch and have an active social life.  Trying to reach these goals all at once will be nigh on impossible and feel really overwhelming because you have set yourself such high expectations.

Your motivation will push you so far, but if the goals you have set are overly ambitious, they could ultimately lead to your downfall.  However motivated you are, life has a habit of getting in the way, you might be too busy to cook every night, or feel too tired for five gym sessions and you definitely deserve a glass of wine after a hectic day.  You are starting to realise that the goals you have set are not manageable within your life, so you skip a gym session and then maybe another, cooking from scratch every night proved too much and life without wine  well let's be honest, it's a bit miserable.  After a few weeks of trying to maintain your routine you start to feel deflated, you have slipped so much that you feel as though you are failing to get anywhere.  It doesn't seem worthwhile carrying on and you may as well give up, you can't seem to stick to any of the goals you have set for yourself, all of your hard work has been for nothing and you are now back to square one.

CREATING A HABIT IS THE KEY TO A LONG TERM HEALTHY LIFESTYLE.

So once your motivation has disappeared, how can you carry on, the key is to create good habits which are performed without too much effort on your part.  A habit is a ritual that is performed on autopilot, you fit it into your daily schedule without even thinking about it.   Hitting your goals will be easier if you can make that gym session, or commitment to eat less of the bad stuff habitual, meaning you do it without consciously thinking.  You will find that if you have turned the process of reaching your target dress size or fitness level into habits, you won't constantly waste your time thinking of excuses not to go for that run or eat a piece of fruit instead of a chocolate bar.

Start Small

Focus on the habit first then the results, so instead of saying I'm going to be a certain size or weight, say I'm going to: exercise for ten minutes each day, cut out some processed food or only drink alcohol at weekends.  Make the habit ridiculously small so that when you are struggling for willpower, you really have no excuse not to do it.  Creating small habits that are good for you, is a much more effective route to gaining and maintaining a healthy lifestyle than setting yourself a goal that can be difficult to reach with bad habits holding you back.

How bad habits creep up on us

Ever reached for the biscuit tin when you are fed up or bored?  A bad habit is created because our brains have received a positive response from something that's not too great for us, so delving into the biscuits has made your brain associate biscuits as a pick me up.  We have learnt to associate bad food with a good feeling, this in turn makes it difficult when faced with temptation not to give in.

The habits you have formed over your lifetime have lead you to where you are today, you just need to adjust the habits to lead you to where you want to be.

Habit formation.

A habit is formed by three things, a cue, a routine and a reward, this is what leads us to eating six biscuits with our afternoon cuppa, having a dessert or checking that the lights are off when we leave a room.  Lots of things we do, day to day are a string of habits.

By way of explanation I will use one of my bad habits

Cue: kids come home from school, I feel drained

Routine: grab a handful of haribos

Reward: sugar rush

My brain has been trained to act on a cue, a routine and reward pattern, performed so many times that eating a handful of haribos or two is now one of my bad habits.

To change a bad habit into a good one, you need to amend the cue/routine/reward sequence.

New habit

Cue: kids come home from school, I feel drained

New routine: eat a rice cake with peanut butter

Reward: I feel healthier, have more energy, my brain has received a positive response from performing a new habit, helping it to became an automatic action.

Don't give up too quickly.

In today's world we have become increasingly used to instant gratification, so if you are hoping for dramatic changes in shape or fitness too soon, this can lead to disappointment when you don't see results quickly enough.  Try and concentrate on the smaller changes that are occurring because of your new lifestyle, being able to complete five more minutes of exercise instead of concentrating on the number on the scales, is a much better measure of how well you are doing in your pursuit of a healthier body.  You can also treat yourself when you reach certain milestones, this type of reward can act as a motivational push, giving you more of an incentive to get to where you want to be, just try and make sure it's something healthy and not an excuse to have a blow out.

Don't view a missed workout or a bad food choice as a failure, you don't have to create a new habit by next week, just start again the next day.

Remember persistence is vital you must repeat, repeat and repeat any new habit, it can take at least 66 days for it to become habitual.

Make your health a priority, if you view it as non negotiable, you are more likely to stick to good habits, making them an essential part of your life - after all you wouldn't skip cleaning your teeth.