Keep moving; regardless

Many of us have now started working from home, as a result of the crazy time we are currently living in.  Does that mean we have to stop our exercise-routine?  Or our good habits?  Definitely not!  Sticking to our routines, where we have a time-slot for exercising, for example, doesn’t have to fall by the wayside.  Luckily, in many countries, gyms have re-opened.  However, if there are some of my readers who don’t want to go to gym yet, or decided it is cheaper to exercise outside of gym, then you have come to the right blog-post.  I am going to share some easy-to-do exercises that you can do in the comfort of your home; or outdoors, if the weather allows it.

Sitting on the edge of a chair, place your hands on your shoulders and breathe in.  As you exhale, pull your tummy in and bend forward (imagining that your elbows are pushing your tummy in).  Come up on your next inhale, then, as you exhale, bend over to one leg (elbow to leg; opposite arm / opposite leg).  You can lift your legs when you do the latter.  Do remember not to shrug your shoulders.

Using cans (if you don’t have hand weights), are another easy way to add some weight when you are doing tummy and/or arm-exercises.  A small ball and even a cushion, can also come in handy!  For example, you can use the cans to do your bicep- and triceps-curls and you can add it when you do tummy-exercises. 

A cushion can be used as above, but you can also place it in-between your legs when you do leg- and/or glute-exercises.  A cushion is a lovely apparatus, if I can call it that, to use, as it won’t hurt your knees and it is easy to manage.  Pilates balls and small balls (the soft ones) are also lovely to work with.

Then, of course, there is a “cheap” option and that is to walk or run.  Whether it is in the street or in the estate where you live, walking or running is fantastic to get the blood and oxygen flowing, as well as clearing the mind.  If you have a back and/or knee problems, rather walk.  Less strain on the joints and a lovely way to enjoy nature and get some fresh air!

It doesn’t matter what you do, but it is important to move, to get the blood and oxygen flowing, and the heart pumping.  We are not made to sit the whole day; not only is it bad for posture, but it also puts a lot of unnecessary strain and stress on the skeletal-system, not to mention on the heart and lungs (due to not enough oxygen flowing into the body).  Most people (not just those who smoke), don’t breathe properly and don’t use their whole lung capacity when breathing.  When you sit for long periods, you tend to slouch.  Your back starts to curve, your deltoid muscles (the muscles around your shoulder blade-area, which are supposed to keep you upright), starts to pull / develop forward, in a curved-position, and this then compresses the lungs and you struggle to breathe.

Many, many years ago, the Alexander-technique was developed to reteach people how to sit, stand and walk.  It is a wonderful technique to follow and easy-to-learn. Try the following:  When you stand or sit, take a deep breath in and roll your shoulders back.  Automatically, this will open up your chest area, your lungs and the shoulder blades will move into their “natural” position, due to the deltoid muscles pulling them gently back.  Become aware of your head.  Is your chin pulled in too far or is your chin poking forward?  Next, become aware of the bottom half of your body.  Is your tummy sticking out?  Are your buttocks pushed back and your pelvis tilted down?  If so, gently pull your tummy and buttocks in, feel your pelvis tilting up (in line with the hips) and think of your coccyx (tailbone) being tilted down.  Careful not to overdo this, as this can cause your upper back-area to curve.  Your hips must face forward (almost like a car’s headlights).  What you want, is your body weight to be balanced in-between your toes and heels.  When you look at yourself in a mirror, draw an imaginary line from the side of your head, over your ear, shoulder, and all the way down to your foot.  If you are able to draw a straight line, then you know you are standing correctly.  This, by the way, also implies when you are sitting.

Lastly, if you do have to sit for long hours, sit on a Pilates ball (you do get chairs with a ball in instead of the normal cushion).  This is an easy way to work on your core stabilizers as well as abdominal muscles.  You will also find that your back doesn’t get so tired.   Some people have a stand, that they put on their desks, when they work on their computers by standing.  However, make sure, if you are one of them, that you don’t put your weight on one leg / foot and again, don’t stand with your buttocks sticking out or your tummy pushed forward.

For those who enjoy exercising at home, pop over to my YouTube-channel https://youtube.com/channel/UCRmlb8ZrUkFXhZgeqSOr1QQ, where I do Pilates- and Yoga sequences twice per week; you will also find many videos of exercising in a chair. Some things are out of your control, but when it comes to your health and wellbeing, you are still in control.  So, dust off the weights, the Pilates ball, your sneakers (tekkies) and keep moving!

PS: Please like, share and subscribe to my YouTube channel! I do different levels of exercise-routines 🙂

Renew and re-energize with a bath, a shower and pampering afterwards

In one of my previous blog posts, I looked at what to eat and drink to give you a boost.  I am sure we all enjoy a warm bath or shower at the end of a long day, or a session at the gym.  Adding scented bath salts or oils to your bath, is magical and, luckily for those who love to shower, there are many different shower gels with added herbs or oils infused in.

When you bath or shower using herbs, your pores open and your whole skin can absorb the healing essences of the herbs.  Lavender, for example, is wonderful to use when you need to unwind, relax and sleep better.  Peppermint and mint help to re-energize the body and refreshes the senses.  Eucalyptus oil can help to relieve a cold, is anti-inflammatory and relieves pain.  Epson salts are wonderful for sore, stiff muscles.  The list is endless when it comes to which salts and shower gels there are on the market, today.  Here is an easy recipe that you can use, if you want to re-energize and give yourself a boost, when taking a bath or shower:

Mix 3 parts peppermint, 2 parts calendula, 1 part rosemary, 1 part bay leaf or eucalyptus and 1 part sage.  Put a handful or more into a muslin bag or facecloth and tie it to the tap.  Turn on the tap and let the water pour through the bag to let the mixture run into your bath.

Another lovely mix is mixing 2 parts peppermint, 2 parts rosemary and 6 – 8 drops of pine essential oil.  Put it in a muslin bag or facecloth and let the warm water run over it.  If the muslin bag or facecloth is not working, make a strong tea with all the ingredients and pour that into your bath (if you are taking a shower, rinse your body with it).

Some people don’t like the idea to use some or all of the ingredients in a bath or shower.  Luckily, there are many varieties of body lotions to choose from today!  Soothing, mood-elevating body lotions (body butters) with added lavender, rosemary or rose water, will help relieve stress.  Massaging lavender oil into the temples does wonders for relieving stress and/or headaches.  Inhaling peppermint or mint, as well as eucalyptus, does wonders for a cold, sinus or blocked nose. 

“If music be the food of love play on…”  Music can do wonders to uplift one’s mood, help you to relax and can even give you a boost of energy!  Classical and light music are wonderful to listen to when you are in traffic, when you need to relax and unwind, and when you struggle to “tune out” the chatter in your mind.  Baroque-music like Mozart, for example, is wonderful for brain-activity and studying for exams.  Some people like to listen to music where nature is prominent, for example ocean waves, dolphin- and whale sounds, birds chirping, and so on.  Whatever your taste, know that the music you listen to plays a much bigger role on you mentally, emotionally and psychologically, than you think, so be careful what you choose to listen to!

Lastly, making sure that you eat healthy, laugh and get out into nature, are just as important as taking a nice long, hot bath or shower to unwind or re-energize.  Taking time out for yourself is vital if you want to keep up with today’s fast pace.  Doctor Phil once said that, if you don’t take care of yourself first, then who will?

So go on, light a candle, turn off your phone and take the plunge! 

Out with the old, in with the new

Whether you are spring-cleaning, downsizing or want to go minimalistic, clearing out cupboards are good for the psyche!  When you give away, or throw away, the old, used things in your cupboards, you feel lighter and happier.  When you let go of things not used anymore, you create a new space for either something new, or just space.

The same goes for your relationships with other people.  I am not implying that you should get rid of people who, at times, work on your nerves 😉  But having a real, hard look at people is sometimes not such a bad idea.  In fact, it is normal that, as you grow older, you change.  Some people change with you; others don’t – and that is just fine!

Clearing out your cupboards, your home, office and friendship-circle can, at first, seems dauting and almost scary.  However, once you start to clear the clutter and cobwebs, you notice that you feel lighter; as if you have more energy and this, on a deeper level, helps you with the new changes, the new people, places, entering your life.

Keeping your cupboards clear of clutter is a good thing – trust me!  Getting to a point when you only keep what you want, what you need and what you use, is liberating!  You can always sell it and make extra money (no harm in that), or you can give it to charity, or simply throw it away.  Of course, selling it for extra cash is a bonus, but another liberating feeling (that is good for the psyche just as clearing out is), is giving it to a charity or person in need.

All in all, where I live, we are gearing up for spring and summer; thus, the start of my yearly spring-cleaning has begun!  Not a small job, but luckily, during the lockdown or whatever else you want to call it, it gave me time to rummage through my things and get rid of what I don’t use anymore. It doesn’t matter whether you are gearing up for summer, or winter. 

Going through your wardrobe, for example, before you pack away the clothes you will not use in the next couple of months, is a good thing.  It is a good time to decide what stays and what goes. Good luck to everyone who is starting to tackle clearing out cupboards!  Doing one room at a time, makes it so much easier, and before you know it, you are done!  Out with the old, in with the new!

To buy…or not to buy…

A while ago I was watching a lady on YouTube, explaining why you should / shouldn’t buy something – in her case it was clothes.  I am sure we can adapt this train of thought to anything that we want to buy.  Here is what she said:  the 3 reason why you shouldn’t buy something, is if it is poor quality, if the fabric is itchy, and if you can only use the garment with a few things in) in your wardrobe.

Another tip was to not do impulse-shopping; especially when it comes to sales and Black Fridays.  Better to make a wish list of things you would like to have and wait and see if it goes on sale.  However, it is no good to buy something / things that you already have.  Rather look at gaps that you have in your wardrobe, but be careful not to buy “one hit wonders” or things that are only in fashion for 1 season.  Always ask yourself if you will wear it at least 10 times and can you match it with at least 5 items in your wardrobe.

Now, some of you might wonder what has this got to do with blog?  Well, quite a lot actually!  There is a huge difference in buying things because you want it or because you need it.  Today’s society has been built on consumerism.  Now, there is nothing wrong with the latter.  However, ask yourself this question:  am I buying things to fill an emotional gap; or am I buying it because I am going to use it and make sure I get a lot of “price per wear” (usage) out of it.

Many people think that, having a lot of stuff (whether it is clothes, shoes, homeware, and so on), will make them feel better on an emotional level.  It is as if the goods must fill a gap, emotionally, for the person buying so much.  If that is the case, why not step back, admit the problem and seek help?  Hoarders often, not always, have deep-seated emotional issues and, until they get help and rethink their buying-methods, will keep on buying and buying – and 90% of the time, not use half (or more) of the things they buy!

Another angle I want to look at, is to use the 3 above-mentioned reasons and use it to look at people in your life.  I am sure we have all come to a stage, where we realized who is reliable, who can we trust, and who “think” the same way as us.  There is nothing wrong to “spring-clean” your friendship circle.  In fact, when you do, you will actually feel lighter and be uplifted.  There is nothing worse to be friends with a person that is not reliable, not trustworthy and/or who criticizes you all the time.  Socializing is important and when we can be with “our tribe,” then why not?  Some people come into your life for a season and others stay for life.  We all change as we go through life, and there is nothing wrong with it!

For all my readers out there, who have gone out and bought things on an impulse or on a sale, and ended up rarely ever / never using it or wearing it, don’t sweat it!  We all have done that.  Luckily, we can learn from our experiences and think about it this way; there is always a charity that will be able to use it!  So, whether you did some impulse shopping that you now regret, or you realize that you already have things that you don’t use anymore, either give it to a charity, sell it or upcycle it!  

Boosting your vitality

Whether you are living somewhere where it is still winter, or nice and sunny, we all need a “pick-me-up” sometimes.  When was the last time that you had a chance to sit down, put off your phone, make yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee, and just relax?

No time to do that?  Well then, you have come to the right place, because I am going to share some recipes to boost your vitality, give you more energy and lift your mood.  Just make sure that you are not sensitive or allergic to any of the following ingredients and, if you are pregnant, check with your medical practitioner first before drinking the mixes.

Herbal tinctures like Gotu Kola Organix, Liquorice Root and Ginseng, not only give you a real boost, but it also helps the body to build up energy reserves.  Just a note here:  pregnant ladies should not use Liquorice Root!  Now, before you wonder if you must mix all 3 into hot water or juice, the answer is no – you can use only 1.  Many health shops sell the drops, so just pop about 20 drops into warm water or juice, and enjoy!

Another drink is warm water with lemon first thing in the morning.  It will cleanse your digestive tract and at the same time, kick start the digestive track as well.  Green tea is another wonderful tea.  Full of anti-oxidants and other health benefits, green tea can also help you to lose weight.  Do take care not to drink too much though. 

Feel like something sweet?  Simply juice a small mango, 5 strawberries and add 5 satsumas; to re-energize you if you hit a dip. 

If the above ingredients are not what you fancy, then try a Nettle- and Lemon, Mint- and Lemon, or Dandelion- and Ginger-tea.  Nettles are packed with iron; it gives you energy and detoxifies the body.  Simply use a spoonful of fresh or dried nettles and stir it into 225 ml of boiling water.  Add a few lemon slices to bring out the flavour.

Are your energy-levels low or did it take a dip in the afternoon?  Then why not try a Mint- and Lemon tea for an instant pick-me-up.  Using fresh mint, pop a few sprigs into a mug and cover with boiling water.  Add a slice of lemon and voilà!

Dandelion salad is something that is eaten in France before a meal to act as a bitter tonic for the system.  If you don’t fancy it, try it as an energising tonic tea instead.  Simply add a teaspoon of dandelion to boiling water and let it seep for a few minutes.  Add a slice or 2 of fresh ginger to bring out the taste and enjoy!

Today there are many dried herbs and mixes of teas; however, if you can use fresh ingredients, it will not only be tastier but also more potent.  Again, do chat to your health practitioner or health expert, before you use any ingredients that you have never used before.

Another quick and easy way to give yourself an energy-boost, is to make sure to eat protein and/or fruit in the afternoon; especially if you suffer from low blood levels.  Bananas will give you an instant boost, but it can also cause your blood sugar to drop quickly.  An apple, on the other hand, will let your blood sugar levels rise slower, but it will stay there for a longer period.  A piece of cheese, some meat or any other form of protein is also good. 

If you are one of those people who don’t eat breakfast, stop and rethink.  Not eating breakfast will not only deprive your body of all the necessary nutrients and energy-blocks it needs to get you through the day, but it can also cause you to struggle if you want to lose weight.  Instead of skipping breakfast, try a smoothie, a healthy breakfast bar, some fruit, yoghurt or a slice of toast with Marmite, peanut butter or cheese. 

Whatever you eat or drink, try to always add ingredients to your plate and/or glass that is packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients.  The more vitamins, minerals and nutrients there are in what you eat and/or drink, the better for your overall health, vitality and energy-levels.

Next week I will give you more tips to help you boost your energy; things like different bath salts to use, what to eat / drink to add some glow to your skin, and so on.

Small, simple ways to cut big health risks, that anyone can do

Ever got to a point where you realize that there are ways to not go to the doctor so often, to have more energy and/or be healthy without having to sweat it?  In today’s blogpost I’m going to share a few ways with you that will help you; not just in the short term, but also long term, to become and stay healthy.

Healing your heart:  at the Queen’s University in Belfast, researchers asked sedentary women to walk up- and down a flight of stairs for 2 minutes at a time, 15 minutes in total.  In only 8 weeks’ time, the women boosted their cardiovascular health by 17% and lowered their bad cholesterol-levels by almost 8%.  Working it up to 30 minutes in total and/or doing it at least 3 – 4 times per week, will make even a bigger difference.  Bonus is that your body will start to excrete the “happy” hormones, serotonin, whilst you are on the move (so to speak), so it will also help to lift your mood.

Cholesterol-levels:  in South Africa it is said that 1 in 4 women suffer from heart disease.  This is never a good sign, so make sure to check your cholesterol- and blood pressure levels regularly.  When your cholesterol-levels are too high, it can either mean that your diet is too rich in fatty, processed foods and sugars (this includes sodas and alcoholic-drinks), and have a detrimental effect on both your heart and liver.  If you do have elevated cholesterol-levels but your diet is balanced and healthy, it could be hereditary.  Best to always have it checked and get any further advice from your health practitioner and/or a nutritionist.

A healthy, happy brain:  Sarah Day, an Alzheimer’s specialist, believes that “what is good for your heart is good for your brain.”  Alzheimer’s is caused by problems relating to the blood supply to the brain.  It can either be caused by a build-up of mini-strokes of one big stroke; thus, it is also referred to as vascular dementia.  Lifestyle and healthy blood vessels are key, therefore commit to a healthy diet, do exercise, do not smoke or quit, and, as above, make sure to know what your cholesterol- and blood pressure-levels are.

Stay connected:  doing crosswords, Sudoku, playing chess or building a puzzle, are all great ways to exercise your brain.  However, socializing with friends and family is also important.  A study done of 1 200 people over a 3-year period, indicated that those who had a limited social network, had a 60% higher chance of developing dementia. 

Eyesight:  regular eye tests are vital; especially when we get older, work on a computer and/or have a family history of glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  Nutrition and a good vitamin can also help to provide your eyes with the necessary “food.”  However, do remember that taking a break every 30 minutes is vital when it comes to resting your eyes.  Your eyes can strain when you sit too long in front of a computer, a television, when you read, do bookkeeping, or anything where your eyes focus on one spot for a long time.  The eyes’ muscles get tired, just like the body, so make sure to take regular breaks and rest your eyes in-between (not just when you sleep).  A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, proved that eating just 1 portion of oily fish (for example herring, salmon, sardines or mackerel), can cut your chance of developing AMD in half!  Other food that are excellent in eye health are spinach, oranges and dried apricots.

Strong bones:  osteoporosis can be hereditary, but the risk can also be lowered just by changing your lifestyle.  After the age of 30 your body does not build bones anymore.  It is important to take a good supplement of calcium, magnesium and zinc (all in 1 tablet), as well as manganese.  Your risk to develop osteoporosis or to break / fracture a bone, after menopause.  No matter what your age is, leading a sedentary lifestyle, smoking being on corticosteroid medication for a long time, and/or having a family history of anorexia, can all elevate the risk to develop osteoporosis. 

Balance and stretch:  exercises like brisk walking, joking, dancing or light weight training, are all good to maintain strong bones and a healthy body.  However, it is important to make sure to incorporate stretching in your daily routine as well.  Before you jump out of bed, stretch first.  Before you start to exercise, warm up and when you are finished (even if you just went for a brisk walk), stretch!  As a rehabilitation specialist and master trainer, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to stretch regularly.  Why?  When you don’t stretch (regardless of your age), your muscles stay contracted.  Not only will the contractions cause your muscles to shorten, but not allowing muscles to move back into what is called their natural position, can cause injuries and even, in the long term, arthritis and other problems.

Doing yoga, t’ai chi or Pilates, are all wonderful ways to work on your balance, flexibility and strength. 

Preventing cancer:  become a flexitarian!  A what, you might ask?  A flexitarian is someone who doesn’t eat meat for a few days per week.  Instead of eating red meat every day, swop it for chicken and/or fish.  Eating beans and pulses have been shown to dramatically decrease your risk of bowel, stomach and oesophageal cancers; unlike a diet high in red, charred or processed meats.  The latter increases your risk of bowel and/or stomach cancer. 

Avoiding diabetes:  diabetes usually affects persons over the age of 40, however it can also affect people of a younger age, depending on family history and lifestyle.  Type 2 diabetes is not easy to detect, but it is something that millions of people have, without even knowing it.  Diabetes occurs when your body stops to produce insulin or when the insulin the body produces, is ineffective.  Symptoms include slow-healing wounds, fatigue, blurred vision and an unusual thirst.  In today’s world over 90% of the population have diabetes – directly linked to lifestyle choices.  The biggest lifestyle change you can make is to start eating healthy, to limit / cut out completely, your intake of sugar and fat, cutting down on alcohol, start to exercise and eating less / no processed, fast foods at all.  Did you know that people consume around 8 400 kilojoules per month from alcohol?  This is the same number of kilojoules you will get when you eat around 48 bacon sandwiches over a year!  It might not sound like a lot, but trust me, when it comes to developing diabetes, liver and/or kidney troubles, and other health issues, there is not a better time to start making changes than now!

All in all, whatever change (s) you make, you are never ever too old or too young to start.  We have 1 body; let us take care of it, respect it, nourish it in a healthy way, and in return our body and organs, will give us a life full of health…something money cannot buy!

Small changes can make a big difference down the line

How many people do you know, who wanted to change a bad habit or start a new page?  And I am not just talking about making new year’s resolutions.  However, it is not an easy thing to do – especially if you have never done it before, or even tried!  After all, habits are hard to break, not so?

Wrong!  Making a small change, taking a small step towards the new you, or the better you, doesn’t have to overwhelm you or put you off.  When you put your mind to anything, you can achieve anything.  Our thoughts are more powerful than we realize and, with the right thoughts, the right attitude starts to develop and you get the willpower to make the change (s).

I am sure most people would love to be healthy and live a long life; staving off things like heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and so forth.  Interesting; more than half of the cases / illnesses (including all cancers and cardiovascular diseases) are preventable.  Making small lifestyle changes to prevent, for example cancer, can also prevent heart disease and Alzheimer’s (according to Dr Michelle Harvie, research dietician for cancer prevention).

Here are a few changes that will make the world of difference in years to come.

Walking:  going for a brisk walk for at least 30 minutes not only elevates your heart rate, but it will also lower your risk of dementia and osteoporosis.  Did you know that walking either for 30 minutes a day, or 10 000 steps per day, as well as exercising 5 times a week, lowers your chances of getting a heart disease by 46%?!

Floss your teeth 2x per day:  not only does it help to prevent tooth decay, but it also gets rid of inflammation-causing bacteria, which has been linked to heart disease (according to a top anti-ageing specialist Dr Mehmet Oz).  Numerous studies have also linked flossing to a reduced risk of diabetes and Alzheimer’s, as well as prevention of pancreatic cancer.

Squeeze, squeeze and hold:  no time to do a full range of pelvic floor-exercises?  Why not try the following:  every time you go to the loo, stop, hold for a few second, then repeat.  Or tighten the pelvic floor muscles whilst sitting at your desk, in front of the television, when you are in your car, or standing in the kitchen.  Basically, this is an easy-to-do exercise that must be done regularly by both men and women.  Strong pelvic floor-muscles are important for bladder control (it can prevent 70% incontinence) and, the stronger these muscles, the better for the other internal organs that it must “hold in,” so to speak.

Replacing your coffee with green tea:  one cup of coffee is not a bad thing, says Dr Downey.  However, more than one cup can put strain on your bladder, as coffee has diuretic properties in.  When you drink too many cups of coffee (and too much alcohol), the brain tricks the bladder into thinking that it is full.  According to Dr Downey one should go to the loo when your bladder is 250 ml full…yes, I know right?  How do we know when that is?  Well, when you are in a position where you have to go – or else!  When the brain tricks the bladder (as explained earlier), it can lead to incontinence, over time.  Green tea is also a good anti-oxidant and will help to boost your immune system and, if you want to lose a bit of weight, green tea will help by boosting your metabolism as well.

Sprinkling cinnamon on your cereal:  research indicates that, even as little as a ¼ of a teaspoon of cinnamon, can help to control blood sugar levels in people with Type-2 diabetes, as well as stabilize your cholesterol levels.  Throughout the ages herbs and spices were used not only to make the food taste better, but also as medicine.  There are many herbs and spices that have proven to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and protective properties in.  One teaspoon of ground cinnamon, for example, contains the same anti-oxidant levels as 80 grams of blueberries; one teaspoon of dried oregano, contains the same anti-oxidant content as a cup of red grapes / a serving of broccoli!

Get out into the sunlight:  try to be exposed to the sun for at least 10 minutes a day; 1 – 2 times a day.  Vitamin D is a vital component in helping the body to absorb calcium (which we need, together with magnesium, to build and maintain strong bones).  If you live in a country where there is not much sunlight, then make sure to drink a good Vitamin D-supplement (Solal is a good brand).  Another important role of vitamin D is that it keeps depression and moodiness at bay. 

Plate geometry:  when it comes to your eating habits, try to eat more vegetables and/or salads, and less starch.  When you dish up, think of eating a quarter of lean protein, a quarter starch, and the rest vegetables and/or salad.  When your plate has a variety of food, in various colours, on, not only does it look more appealing (and we all know that when we like what we see, we tend to want to have it), but it will also stimulate your senses. 

Studies have shown that gaining weight between the ages of 20 and 60, is the biggest health threat.  Most cancers are oestrogen dependent.  After menopause, the more fat in your body, the more oestrogen you produce.  If, for example, you gain 6 kg, your breast-cancer risk rises to 60% (according to Dr Harvie).  If you put on 20 + kg, not only does your risk for breast-cancer doubles, but also your risk of diabetes, bowel and womb cancer, and heart disease.  If you are one of those women (or men), that has gained more weight than you wanted, do not panic and don’t lose hope!

Start by taking a small step, for example, change your eating habits, stop smoking, cut down your alcohol-intake, eat less / no processed, junk foods and start moving.  And I don’t mean from the bed, to the couch, to the chair, and back!  Doing some form of exercise, like taking the stairs instead of the lift, parking your car farther away from the mall-entrance, putting on your favourite music and dancing; just get moving! 

Another important thing to stop is to not eat out of boredom or when you have cravings.  If you are not sure whether / not you are really hungry, drink a glass of water first and wait 10 – 15 minutes.  Swopping your snacks for healthier options is another great change to make.  Eating less is also a good way to retrain your brain and body.  We are not made to eat huge amounts of food; your stomach, after all, is as big as your fist!  Dishing up smaller portions, or using a smaller plate, will train your mind and, in turn, your stomach, that the amount you eat is more than enough.

All in all, it is the small steps that gets us to our goals and, nothing is too difficult to achieve; you only have to put your mind to it…and do it! Remember; you don’t change old habits – you drop them and make new ones!

TIPS AND TRICKS TO KEEP YOUR HAIR HEALTHY AND SHINY

Gone are the days when over-styled, over-dying hair is in fashion.  Today the trend is to have more healthier, shinier hair, worn in a style that not only suits your face, but also your skin tone and your personality.  Let us look at a few tips and tricks that will liven up your face, while keeping it in tip-top condition.

Lengthening your hair:  many women go for short hair as they get older.  Nothing wrong with that; however, some short cuts can look too manly.  Instead, rather opt for a soft fringe and layer, suggests international stylist Oribi. If you don’t like a fringe, opt for a sweeping fringe that will soften your face.

Add some curls / waves to longer hair:  when your hair has a bit of a curl, a kink, or a wave in, it not only looks beautiful, but can also take years off your face.  Using a hot brush or rollers to your whole head or just the tips of your hair, can make a huge difference – especially when you are wearing it loose.

Stress less:  yes, just like stress can literally add years to your face, so too can it lead to premature greying and hair loss.  Stressing too much and/or too often affects the blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles.  Although genes do play a role, making sure to destress can go a long way, as well as taking a good vitamin B-complex, with biotin.  If your hair is dry and/or brittle, add more vitamin E to your diet.  Remember to massage your scalp when you wash your hair.  This will stimulate the hair follicles that produce the natural oil that feeds your hair.

Choose a classic style, but be clever:  Opt for a classic cut if you don’t spend hours in front of the mirror:  a classic bob, for example, can look beautiful and chic on almost every face shape.  However, wearing your hair (long or short), with a mid-path, “drags” your face down and does nothing for you.  Award-winning hairdresser, Steven Goldsworthy, calls this “a curtain.”  He says that wearing your hair in a side-path and/or tucking it behind your ear (one side or both or some of your hair), will not only complement your facial features, but it frames your face far better.  If you are worried about showing off your neck, grow your hair a bit longer.  A soft fringe can also add a new vibe to your bob.

Pamper your hair:  your hair, like your skin, needs some TLC; especially during the cold winter season or when you spend your days in the sun.  deep-conditioning hair masks once a week will help to boost your hair’s sheen and quality.  Using a shampoo and conditioner with Argan oil, Coconut oil or something similar, is another great way to feed your hair.

Know your needs:  as we age, our hair can lose its lustre and/or volume.  Speak to your hairstylist about changing your style and which products to use.  Many hairstylists agree that, changing your shampoo- and conditioner brand, can make a big difference.

Fringes:  a blunt, blocky fringe can make anybody look older and dated.  Instead opt for either a textured one or a side-swept fringe instead.  This will soften your look and make you look much, much younger.  Need inspiration?  Just look at Julia Roberts, Reese Whitherspoon and Kyra Sedgwick, for inspiration.

Shiny, glossy hair:  no matter how old you are; shine hair is always beautiful.  Try to let your hair dry in the sun, naturally, as often as possible.  however, if you do need to use a hairdryer regularly, use a blow-dry product on your hair that will protect it from drying out from the hairdryer’s heat.  If you find your hair is all over the place after you dried it, use a pea-size serum or spray, to tame your hair.

What you put it, is what you get out: “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper,” advises hairstylist Kingsley.  Protein plays a huge role in great-looking hair, because hair is protein (keratin).  Therefore, make sure to eat healthy, balanced meals.  When you are on a constant diet (ladies, please note), then your hair will become more brittle, lack lustre, lack shine and be dull, regardless of your age and the products you use.  Bonus of eating protein, is that it will also build and maintain strong nails, as nails are also made up of keratin.

Softer colour:  as you age your hair starts losing its radiance.  If you want to dye your hair, update it but make sure to stay a shade or two within your natural colour (especially if you are doing it yourself).  Going from dark to blonde (as we often see), can make you look older and/or tired, especially if the lighter / blonde doesn’t match your skin tone.  If you don’t like to colour your hair, then let it dry naturally in the sun.  The sunlight will help to bring out your natural colour and make it more shine; regardless of your age.

Highlights:  if you have a head full of white or grey hair, why not opt for a few highlights, that will bring out the colour of your natural hair.  This will take years off your face, whilst brightening your complexion.

Fake it:  many A-listers wear hair pieces to add volume to their hair, or if they are growing their hair.  If you don’t fancy that, use hair volumizing products to your shopping bag.

Boost your colour:  if a full-on change of hair colour is not your thing, opt for a colour-boosting treatment.  There is many shampoo- and conditioner brands on the market that will boost your colour.  These brands will add more shine to your natural colour every time you wash your hair.

Smooth hair:  taming frizzy hair is not always easy, especially if you live somewhere where it is humid and/or windy.  Look out for products that will tame your frizz, and make sure to go for a trim regularly, as split ends and uneven layers, also play a part in frizzy hair.

Weather-proof your hair:  whether you are getting ready for summer or winter, make sure to adapt the products you use accordingly.  Your hair can become dry, brittle and frizzy, regardless what time of year it is.  If you colour your hair or use a hairdryer regularly, opt for products that will protect your hair from the colour and/or heat.

There is a saying that your hair is your crown.  So, ladies and gentlemen, love your hair, take care of your hair and stay true to you!

The 3 D’s that nobody likes

Fine lines and wrinkles start to appear as we approach our 30s.  As if that is not enough, the 3 D’s also start to appear:  dehydration, dullness and discolouration.  There are many products on the market today, promising to not only soften the look of wrinkles, but also feed your skin.  In today’s blog post I am going to touch on why this happens and what to do.

Dehydration

Fine lines and wrinkles are unavoidable.  Yes, you can go for Botox, but at some point in time wrinkles and fine lines will stick!  The best thing to do is to keep your skin hydrated as much as possible.  Make sure to drink plenty of water (fluids) as there is no miracle cream that will erase wrinkles all-together.  The more hydrated you are on the inside, the more it will show on the outside; and help your skin to cope with dry air, aircon, cold weather, being in the sun a lot, and so on.  When your skin is dry and dehydrated, wrinkles and fine lines are more visible.  When your skin and body are hydrated, skin cells appear plumper and more youthful. 

If you do suffer from a dry skin in general, make sure to use a moisturizer that is specifically made for dry skins.  Oily skins can also be dehydrated; remember, the skin lacks water, not oil!  Best to be on the lookout for products that contain water-rich ingredients, for example hyaluronic acid.  Products that contain marine plant algae is another good option for dehydrated skins.  Other good products to look, are those with added avocado oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, honey, almond oil, and so on, added.  These are not just good for your face, but also your body.

Dullness

A youthful skin has a seemingly glow from the inside.  Unfortunately, as we age, a slow-down of cell turnover means the skin loses its radiance.  The only way to regain this is to speed up the cell turnover and to remove dead skin cells by exfoliation regularly.  A granular facial and body scrub is a good product to use.  When you are using a buff, do take care not to use the part that is very coarse on your face.  The skin on your face is not as thick as the rest of the body; be gently even when you exfoliate using a buff.  When looking for products that can help with dullness, look out for products containing enzymes like Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) or fruit acids.  This will help to dissolve the stubborn protein bonds deep down inside the skin, that hold the dead skin cells together.

Discolouration

An uneven skin tone and/or blotchiness, is a common problem among all women of all ages.  This happens because of an overload of melanin (the pigment in the skin that gets aggravated by sun exposure, stress, hormonal changes, pregnancy, menopause and the contraceptive pill).  Treating pigmentation and reducing uneven skin tone is not easy; best to try to prevent it as much as you can.  So, what can you do?  Start by using a day cream with an SPF of at least 15 in every morning.  When you are outdoors, wear a hat.  Don’t lie in the sun between 11:00 and 14:00, stay clear of sunbeds (not only do this damage your body cells deep underneath your skin, but it is also one of the big causes of skin cancers).  Try to either use a product that contains zinc, or make sure to add a multi-vitamin to your diet that contains zinc.  Zinc protects the skin from everyday pollutants like smoke, smog and the sun.

Another good product to look out for, is one that contains antioxidants.  This will help to treat already discoloured skin, as the vitamins A, C and E, plus fruit acids, are wonderful in fending off environmental nasties like pollution and the harmful UVA and UVB rays.  Just a note – being outdoors in the sun is not all bad – we need vitamin D – it is the time of day that you must watch out for; and of course, the hours you do spend lying in the sun!

Whichever products you choose to use, do make sure that it contains the right ingredients for your skin type.  Sensitive skins must take of products containing parabens and dyes, as well as perfumes and/or other chemicals.

Just remember ladies…and gents…you can put on as much cream as you want, but your skin can only absorb so much!  Drinking water and making sure you get enough fluids in (especially water or black tea without sugar and milk), are very important.  If you are thirsty, it means you are already dehydrating.  Those people living and/or working in aircon, central heating or working outside in the sun, heat and dust, do make sure to drink enough!

Easy-to-do tips and tricks for hair, skin and nails

A while ago I wrote about things you can do at home to make your own lipstick, extend your make-up’s lifespan, and so on.  In this week’s blog post, I am delving into some more “do-it-yourself” tips, which I found in an old magazine (links to blogs will be added).

Hair hacks

Want to intensify your dark hair’s colour?  Simply mix some ground coffee into your conditioner and apply it to your hair like a mask.  Leave it in for as long as you like; the longer you let it soak in, the darker and richer your brunette colour would be

(www.Bestoftips.com);

Would you like some curls?  Braid small sections of damp / wet hair, run a straightener over it, let it set for a while, then simply remove and voilà!  (@kouturekiss);

Is your hair limping and/or fine?  Try using beer as a hair mask.  The yeast in the beer will plump each individual strand, therefore thickening it and boosting volume.  Let a ½ cup of beer sit for a few hours until it has de-carbonated.  Mix it with 1 cup of water and use it as a shampoo.  Leave it on your hair for at least 5 minutes before rinsing it off.  Heads-up!  Use a non-alcoholic beer (Tohairwithlove.com).

Skin secrets

Struggling with blocked pores?  Why not use a soft cloth that has been warmed up by placing it over a clothing steamer?  Or you can brew some green tea, pour it into a bowl, then hold your face over it for a few minutes?  Green tea is high in anti-oxidants, which is wonderful for both external and internal use (Harpersbazaar.com.au);

When you apply blusher and bronzer, always keep the letters E and C in mind.  Using a brush, draw the letter E on each side of your face.  Start at the forehead, curving around towards your cheekbones, then back out towards your jawline.  Now apply the bronzer (illuminator) by drawing the letter C on each side of your face.  Stay close to your temples and, once this is done, blend everything in (Shesintheglow.com).

Tips for your eyes

Want to freshen up your mascara but are worried that it may clump if you put another layer on top?  No fear:  simply apply a small amount of Vaseline to your lashes, using your finger or a cotton bud.  The Vaseline will break up any clumps, soften your lashes, and make it easier for you to reapply the mascara (YouTube Elle Fowler);

The jury is still out on this one, but it is said that, applying white eyeliner as a base coat over your entire eyelids, will brighten your eyeshadow and bring out the colour (Politicsofpretty.com);

Wish you had thicker eyelashes?  Using a curler is one of the easiest ways.  However, you can also use baby powder!  Put a layer of mascara on (you can first curl your lashes or you don’t have to).  Then, by using a cotton bud, coat your lashes with a small amount of powder, then again mascara.  This will add length and volume to your lashes (according to Dogstagsdiapersanddiy.blogspot.com).

Lip-talk

Using an exfoliator sponge like Bug-Puffs, cut it into a small piece and put Vaseline on.  Gently rub over your lips.  Your lips will be exfoliated and moisturized at the same time (Cultofpretty.com).  You can also use a toothbrush that you won’t use to brush your teeth with; just make sure to be gentle as the lips are very sensitive (bitesofwellness.blog.com);

Ran out of lipstick?  Mix blusher with any lip balm / lip ice and apply (Harpersbazaar.com.au).

Nails

Have a cracked nail that is ruining your manicure?  Try using a tea bag!  Tear off a section of the tea bag and place it over the crack in your nail.  File down excess material from the bag, apply a strong base coat over the nail and there you go!  The crack won’t turn into a break (Instagram @xovain).

An added tip

We all love a white, bright smile, but to have it professionally done not only cost a lot of money, but can damage your teeth permanently (as it interferes with the enamel on your teeth).  Instead, why not use a banana peel?  Simply rub the inside of the banana peel across your teeth, let the paste, which forms, sit for about 10 minutes, then brush your teeth.  A banana peel contains magnesium, potassium and manganese.  This will brighten and whiten your teeth in an easy way, without damaging your teeth’s enamel.

There are many ready-made products on the markets that promises instant beauty.  Before you use any of it, do research and check reviews of the products.  If in doubt, then rather leave it or try one of the abovementioned tips.  It might take a bit longer to get results, but as the saying goes; rather be safe than sorry!