Exercise and Weight Loss

Losing weight is a common health and fitness goal for many people for a variety of reasons. There are many ways to go about achieving this fitness goal, but there is also a lot of misleading information that can actually sabotage weight loss efforts!

If you are trying to lose weight then it is likely that you have adjusted your diet and that you are also regularly engaging in some kind of exercise. The following points are things that you should bear in mind when you are exercising and try to incorporate into your existing efforts!

Cardio

Cardio is known to be a great way to lose weight, but it has to be approached in a sensible way. If you overdo it with your cardio workouts then you are going to be causing harm to your body, and this can have an impact on your weight loss. This is because excessive amounts of cardio can cause inflammation.

Overdoing it when it comes to cardio can also mean that you end up eating more as you have used up a great deal of your energy stores! When you do too much cardio you will also be allowing your body to release excess levels of stress hormones into your body. These hormones can not only disrupt your sleep pattern, but can also cause your body to store more fat.

Mixing up the types of cardio that you engage in, and the amount that you do, is key to success here. Team sports and dancing are exciting alternatives to a 5km on the treadmill!

Ab Exercises

Exercising your abs is a great way to tone these muscles for definition. Also, the strength of your core is an important component of your overall optimum health. However, when you over-do it with the ab exercises when you are trying to lose weight, you could hinder your efforts. This is because exercises that develop the abs will help to build a layer of muscle in this area, and this can go against the slimming down of your waistline!

During the first few months of your weight loss attempt, I would advise that you mostly utilise short periods of cardio – around 20 minutes max – and then engage in weight training exercises that work the larger muscle groups. As you move towards your desired weight, you can then begin to include exercises that target the smaller muscles in order to improve overall muscle tone.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

Life Hacks for Optimum Health

If you are someone who finds it hard to keep their own health at the top of their priority list then you are certainly not alone. With busy schedules and limited time to get everything done, there is often simply not enough hours in the day to adequately meet our own needs when it comes to exercise, nutrition and self-care.

Finding simple and efficient ways to stay healthy can go a long way to making your days more manageable. Read on for my favourite three ways to do so! Embracing these concepts as a standard part of your life and your routine won’t take much effort or adjusting to, and could really help to boost your health! Which, in turn, can boost your happiness!

Get an App!

Using apps to track your health and fitness is an easy way to stay on top of your progress as well as your general health. This is a particularly good way to keep a food diary, or to record your activity in the gym. It is also simple and advisable to track your steps with a digital pedometer. This will help you to make sure that you get a decent amount of exercise during the day. 10,000 steps a day is a great goal!

Ditch the BPA!

Buying plastic disposable bottles for your water is not only bad for the environment, but can also be damaging to your health! BPA is found in hard plastics, such as those used for bottled water, and is also in some food packaging. When you are exposed to it regularly it can interact with the hormones in your body, causing disruption to their natural production and function. Get yourself a BPA-free bottle and keep refilling it during the day!

Walk, Run, Cycle!

Always driving from A to B is a surefire way to sabotage your own health. If it’s possible for you to walk everywhere during your day then do so! If the distance between the places you need to go are too great then get yourself a bike! There is such a wide variety of cycle gear available these days that you can keep yourself dry and comfortable regardless of the weather! You may think that you are not fit enough to cycle and to you I would say that this is not something to worry about! Start at your own pace and build up to cycling longer distances. You will more than likely be surprised at how quickly your fitness improves. 

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

Top Perfect Sportswear Picks

As a yoga teacher, author, nutritionist and a parent I am constantly on the go! Cycling is one of my great loves and I always prefer to go by bike from A to B, whether I’m off to teach a class or go to a meeting!

Dressing appropriately is a must when you cycle a lot and you should always choose comfort and practically over style. However, I’ve found some great choices from Matalan that mean you don’t have to choose between these things and they are all super affordable, super comfortable and super cool!

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The Souluxe Sports Leggings are GREAT for cycling and also for teaching yoga in, meaning that I don’t have to get changed between cycling to a lesson and teaching one. This variety of Souluxe Sports Leggings with breathable mesh panels are also just as great and help your skin to breathe as you exercise.

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The Souluxe Double Layer Jacket is another favourite of mine from Matalan and has a super useful money pocket at the back. This jacket is a good choice for the colder seasons if you are into running. It will keep you warm but is lightweight enough that you won’t overheat. Also, it is designed to limit moisture! If you are into running then you should always choose a supportive and comfortable running shoe to help avoid injury.

When I’m teaching yoga outside then the Souluxe Zip Through Hoodie is always my first pick. It is super comfortable and not at all restricting, meaning I can keep it on for the entire lesson. This hoodie also has zip pockets at the front which is perfect for me as a lot of sportswear doesn’t have pockets!

How to Embrace Body Positivity

A massive amount of people struggle with eating disorders and a driving factor behind this issue is a perceived negative body image. Struggling with the way you see your body is completely natural but you can overcome it! Being body positive all the time might seem like a challenge but when you take the time to re-evalute your relationship with your body then you can work towards this way of living!

Looking at yourself with more love is the key to improving your body image. You have to realise and accept that you are perfect the way you are. You must also understand that the body you may envision will not make you a happier person or improve other areas of your life. Take the time to notice things about yourself that you love, things about yourself that do make you happy. This in turn will encourage a healthier state of mind when it comes to thinking about your body. Spend time affirming these thoughts in your mind or even saying them out loud. Be sure not to allow negative thoughts to seep into this process and if they do then take a deep breath and get back on track!

We talk frequently about nourishing our bodies but it is absolutely true that our minds need nourishment too. Our minds are constantly taking in information from the things we see, the people we talk to and the sounds we hear. If this information is persistently positive than it is much easier to remain happy and confident. When we exist like this it is much easier to love ourselves and our bodies because positivity is being encouraged. When negative interactions appear during the day then the potential to extend this negativity to all of our thoughts becomes very real. Nourishing your mind in a constructive way and being sure to avoid destructive situations and people is essential in the journey to happiness. This in turn will help with your body image because this self-love will continue to grow.

If you regularly turn to exercise in an attempt to align your body with the way you think it should be then try substituting a workout session for a yoga lesson. Yoga teaches us relaxation and focus. It also teaches us that it is the journey which is important, not the end goal. Applying this thought process to your exercise regime will help you to apply it to every other part of your life. When you stop thinking of life in terms of milestones to reach and specific achievements that you have to accomplish then you can truly just enjoy the path you are taking.

How Affirmations Aid Yoga Practice

Using affirmations during your yoga practice is a great way to encourage yourself to reach new levels, both physically and mentally. If you’re not familiar with affirmations then let me introduce you! They are simply short but powerful statements which help you to gain control of your conscious thoughts. You can either say these statements out loud or repeat them to yourself in your mind – either way the aim is to create a thought process then then becomes your reality!

On average, we each have between 45,000 and 51,000 thoughts every day (which is between 150 to 300 thoughts every minute). Studies into our thought processes have shown that around 80% of these thoughts tend to be negative!

When you’re engaging in exercise, such as yoga, it is particularly useful if you have a stream of positive thoughts flowing through your mind. This is because positive thoughts help us to perform better and also help us to believe that we can achieve the things we are striving for in that moment. Whereas exercise accompanied by negative thoughts will leave us feeling unmotivated and reluctant to push through the pain to reach our goals.

Taking action in this instance is easily done by taking control of your thoughts, and that is something that is within everyone’s reach. Choosing the affirmations that you are going to say to yourself does not have to be complicated and you can even have a short list of affirmations that you can take inspiration from each day for a yoga session. They don’t necessarily even have to be specific to yoga or exercise related at all.

With your affirmations, it is important to occasionally focus on how every small step that you are taking is a stride towards your goals. Opting for affirmations that encourage this idea, such as, “every day, in every way, I am becoming fitter and healthier”, or “with every twist and every pose my body is becoming stronger”.  However, repeating affirmations that are more general to life and continued progress are also beneficial for an improved state of mind and better yoga practice.

The next time you approach the yoga mat, be sure to have one or two positive affirmations in mind. Use these affirmations throughout your session, not just when a particular pose starts to feel difficult. Constant encouragement will keep your mind focused and help to prevent feelings of negativity – making it much more likely that you’ll enjoy and benefit from your session!

Ask Questions About Your Health to Stay Healthy!

For some people getting ill can be a common occurrence. However, some people get ill so infrequently that symptoms of illness can really catch them off-guard. A lot of people will tell you that they know their bodies so well that they are aware as soon as something starts to feel off; but that’s not the case with everyone!

For those people who aren’t incredibly in-tune with their bodies, asking questions about their health becomes all the more important. When other people ask us questions about our general well-being, such as doctors or family members, then we might not always feel comfortable going into great detail. This can be because of embarrassment about a certain ailment or just the basic desire for privacy. However, when we are asking ourselves these questions there’s absolutely no reason not to be 100% honest. Having said that, you should always be sure to give your doctor all of the information they request!

Asking yourself questions about your health and general well-being can help you to stay on top of any problems that might be developing – regardless of how insignificant they turn out to be!

If, for instance, you feel like your body is reluctant to function the way it usually does, then it’s important to take the time to consider why that might be. Ask yourself what it is your body is saying no to and how you can resolve that issue. Are you eating differently? Are you not getting enough rest? Compile a checklist of usual behaviours and see if any variations have emerged. Your body wants to talk to you and will often communicate in very subtle ways when something isn’t quite as it should be. The longer a problem remains undetected, the louder your body will try to talk to you.

Asking questions about your mental well-being is also important for maintaining optimum physical fitness. Feeling lonely or unhappy can lead to negative behaviours which can then become detrimental to your health on the whole. So, check in with your mind frequently and take positive steps to overcome any issues that you discover.

Your sex life also has a role to play in your overall health. Studies have shown that a healthy sex life can actually lower your risk of certain conditions, such as strokes and heart disease, whilst also helping to alleviate chronic pain and depression. A healthy sex life can also help to lower stress which makes it incredibly useful in our busy modern age of anxiety. Check in on your sex life occassionally to ask yourself if you are satisfied and if not, why not?If there are certain things that you are unhappy with that are within your power to change then make it a priority for your health and for your happiness.

Why is Vitamin D Essential for Optimal Health?

As many of my clients are already aware, vitamin D is one of the only vitamin supplements that I often recommend people include. Getting an adequate amount of this vitamin is incredibly important and unfortunately many of us fail to do so! Experts have predicted that at least one billion people around the globe are deficient in this vitamin. A quick blood test will determine your vitamin D levels and an optimum range is between 50-80 ng/ml. On the other hand, it is also important not to overdose on vitamin D as excess amounts will remain in your system, often leading to high blood calcium levels, nausea and sometimes even kidney stones.

The main roles that vitamin D has in the body are to maintain bone mass, help the body to properly absorb calcium and also to protect against injury whilst also alleviating any musculoskelatal pain.

Your immune system is one of several aspects of your body that will benefit from optimum vitamin D levels. This is especially true if you are an athlete or if you are someone who engages in regular exercise. Strenuous workouts can have quite an impact on the body and keeping healthy is key to efficient recovery. Vitamin D helps to defend the body in this way and combats viruses.

Your brain will also benefit from this vitamin, with studies showing that cognitive function is improved as the damage caused by free radicals is reduced. Not only does this mean that your general brain activity in the present is optimised, but also that your risk of degenerative diseases becomes less. Alzheimer’s is one disease that is thought to have strong links to decreased levels of vitamin D.

Testosterone levels, in men and women, are directly influenced by the amount of vitamin D present in the body. In fact, those who are taking testosterone for hormone replacement therapy are generally advised to take a weekly dose of vitamin D in order to keep their levels of testosterone up. Testosterone plays a huge role in building and maintaining muscles and making sure vitamin D levels are adequate will aid this process.

As we can see, this is an extremely useful and essential aspect of our basic nutrition. The best ways to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D are to enjoy sufficient time outdoors in the sunlight, consume foods that are high in this vitamin and then also of course you can take supplements if you find the first two option aren’t hitting the quota.

If you feel like you might be lacking in any areas of your nutrition, then click to get a nutrition consultation!

How Yoga Can Alleviate Anxiety

Anxiety is a problem that we all experience at some point in our lives for one reason or another. Whether it’s your financial stresses causing you concern or you experience a degree of social anxiety in certain situations, it can cause much bigger problems for you to deal with. When anxiety sets in, it can disrupt no end of things – your sleeping pattern, your diet, even the way you communicate with others as you are put on edge.

Overcoming anxiety can be complex and of course varies depending on the reasons for it and the severity of it. There are some fantastic herbal remedies that can help to alleviate the symptoms but, as with most things, prevention is always better than the cure. Yoga can be such an effective weapon against anxiety that it’s surprising that it is not prescribed long before the doctor reaches for the pills.

First of all, yoga is an amazing form of exercise and it releases those all important endorphins. It’s a fact, doing exercise makes us feel good about ourselves – if not during than at least afterwards. This sense of accomplishment after a session is as great for our self esteem as it is for our bodies. The key is to start slow. Learn the basic poses and move from a beginner class to a more advanced session at your own pace. You’ll more than likely surprise yourself at how well you’re progressing and this of course is great for your self esteem also.

There are certain yoga positions that are more beneficial for defeating anxiety than others. The most important poses to focus on are restorative poses. These are positions of rest in which you have time to focus on your breathing and clear your thoughts. Done for an extended period of time, restorative yoga poses can feel similar to meditation. The Child’s pose for example, which involves kneeling down with your head bent forward and your arms stretched to reach ahead of yourself on the floor, helps to release tension in the shoulders and neck. When people experience anxiety, a lot of tension tends to build up in these areas so it is important to regularly release it.

The Legs up the Wall pose is another restorative pose that will induce feelings of relaxation. It is also useful for alleviating lower back pain and of course, releasing anxiety from the body. As the name suggests, you simply lie flat on your back with your legs up the wall – you can insert a pillow under your hips for comfort if you prefer. You can hold this pose for as long as you like; it shouldn’t become uncomfortable and you will find it a great way to relax as feelings of anxiety leave your body. This is a good one to do right before bed if you find that your anxiety is preventing you from sleeping restfully.

Remember, these are great poses to begin with but there’s a world of yoga out there in which you can learn many more helpful poses. Don’t limit yourself and you’ll soon be amazed at how much lighter life feels.

Eating for Healing!

Any type of surgery can take a serious toll on the body and getting back to 100% health should always be the first priority. Similarly, if you are recovering from an illness, then focusing all of your energy on recovery can help to avoid potential complications and further illness. In both of these instances, your diet plays a huge role in how your body heals and opting for proper nutrition is one of the best things you can do. Continue reading Eating for Healing!

Artichoke and Lentil Salad with Raspberry Dressing

This dish is amazing for all round nutrition as it combines fruits, vegetables and legumes in one delicious creation. The inclusion of maple syrup in the dressing gives it an extra nourishing kick and because this meal doesn’t take long to make, it is the perfect choice after a tiring day at work! When I’ve had a long day teaching yoga and then running the kids around after school, this is one of my first choices as it means less time between getting in the door and filling everyone up! The raspberry dressing is a great fit for most salad dishes and if maple syrup isn’t to your tastes then it can be swapped out in equal measure with any other natural sweetener!

To feed two people you will need the following ingredients and just double up for a family of four!

One cup of puy lentils

Pink Himalayan salt

Two cups of kale

50 grams of raspberries

One lemon

Apple cider vinegar

Maple syrup

Olive oil

One cup of pre-cooked artichoke

One red onion

Half a cup of sun-dried tomatoes

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It’s always best to soak puy lentils before you use them. Upwards of four hours will do the trick but if you want to leave them soaking in the fridge overnight then that’s great too. Once your lentils have been soaked, boil them in a pan with two cups of water and a dash of salt.

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As soon as this pan is heating up, chuck your kale into a separate pan with three cups of water and boil. Next, in a jug or mixing bowl take your raspberries and blend them with one teaspoon of lemon juice, two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, two tablespoons of maple syrup, one tablespoon of olive oil and two tablespoons of water. Sieve this mixture and place in the fridge for now.

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After approximately 10 – 15 minutes your kale and lentils should be cooked. So the next step is to transfer the kale into cold water to cool down and then drain the lentils before returning to the pan (with the heat turned off). Finely dice your red onion and mix with half a cup of sun-dried tomatoes into the pan of lentils. Once the kale is cooled it can also be added into the pan with the lentils, onion and sun-dried tomatoes. Your meal is now ready to serve so spoon onto two plates, drain the artichokes before you add them and finally take your raspberry dressing from the fridge to drip on as required.