Popular diets to follow: Dukan, blood group, paleo and more

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Want to eat healthy? Well, there is no dearth of diets to choose from. However, much of it can be quite confusing too. Here’s a list that will settle the doubts in your quest to find a diet that suits your needs or goals and seems feasible.

The alkaline diet: Banish acidity

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The alkaline diet seeks to reduce the effects of foods that increase acidity levels in the blood when digested. The programme claims to rebalance the body through a diet comprising two-thirds alkalizing foods (like green vegetables) and one-third acidifying foods (meat, cheese). Alkaline dieters can eat carbohydrate, protein and fat, but the focus is firmly on raw, seasonal produce, green vegetables and fruit.

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Chrono nutrition: Four meals a day

Chrono nutrition is based on the idea of respecting the body’s natural rhythms. Followers can eat what they like, but only at fixed times of day. So rather than cutting out certain foods, this diet — developed by French nutritionist Dr Delabos — puts different food groups in different meals. The day starts with a hearty breakfast including animal fats, followed by a dense, protein- and carb-based lunch, a sweet snack in the afternoon and a light meal in the evening to prevent excess calories being stored overnight. Dark chocolate is allowed every day, but not after 5pm.

Read: Don’t make these dieting blunders if you’re serious about weight loss

Detox diets: Cleanse and purify

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A detox is more of a short-term programme than a long-term diet. Detoxing aims to flush toxins out of the body. This generally takes around a week, and often starts with a phase of around three days where detoxers eat just one kind of food, usually with unlimited fruit, and lots of water and herbal teas. Cooked vegetables are progressively reintroduced, followed by protein (meat, fish, eggs) over the last two days.

The Dukan diet: Go for protein

This diet is very strict in the foods it allows followers to eat, but these can be consumed in unlimited quantities. This controversial diet is a high-protein and low-calorie programme that cuts fat and carbohydrate intake. This encourages the body to use up its fat stores (adipocytes) to get the energy it needs to keep muscles functioning. As fat stores are used, fatty acids are released into the bloodstream, making the liver and kidneys work harder. Weight loss can be very quick in the first phase of the diet — the attack phase — which lasts around seven days (approximately 5kg).

Low FODMAP diet: Beat the bloat

Developed by an Australian nutritionist in 2005 for sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome, this eating program involves avoiding a family of carbohydrates called FODMAPs. FODMAPS are types of sugars that are poorly absorbed by the body. These are naturally present in certain vegetables, cereals, pulses, fruit, mushrooms, dairy products and certain “low sugar” products. Eating FODMAPs can lead to bloating and stomach ache after meals, as the sugars ferment in the intestine. Fruits allowed as part of the diet include bananas, grapes, grapefruit, kiwis, mandarins, oranges, passion fruit, pineapple and tomatoes.

Blood type diet: Each to their own

For the American nutritionist James d’Adamo, people with blood types A, B, O and AB shouldn’t eat the same things to lose weight and stay healthy. This is due to the different antibodies developed in relation to the chemical composition of each specific blood group. Four different profiles exist. The ‘O group’ should eat meat and vegetables but avoid dairy products and carbs. The ‘B group’ should fill up on dairy products, green vegetables, meat and eggs, while avoiding chicken, corn, peanuts and lentils. The ‘A group’ should follow a vegetarian diet, with lots of fruit, vegetables and cereals but no meat, beer, dairy products or beans.

The Mediterranean diet or the Okinawa diet: Eating for longevity

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Following the same diet as inhabitants of the Greek island of Crete or the Japanese island of Okinawa (home to the world’s highest number centenarians) is thought to increase life expectancy. The Mediterranean diet is based on the regular but moderate consumption of red wine, as well as tea, olive oil, plus fruit and vegetables rich in flavonoids and antioxidants which keep the heart healthy. The Okinawa diet is a pescetarian regime that includes vegetables, algae, whole grains and legumes, fruit, high-calcium foods (broccoli, fish, yogurt, cheese, etc.), fish, seafood, and nuts and seeds rich in omega 3.

Paleo: Eat like a caveman

This diet, based on what humans ate in the Paleolithic era, can help dieters shed up to 1kg of fat per week. Eating paleo involves excluding all cereals and dairy products, as well as beans and legumes, starchy vegetables like potatoes, fatty meats, salt, sugar, and all forms of processed food and fizzy drinks. Inspired by our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the diet is based on lean meats, poultry, fish, seafood, fruit and non-starchy vegetables, as well as all kinds of nuts and seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds, etc.).

5 Tips For Gaining Lean Muscle Mass Without Getting Fat

‘Bulking’—every gym-head loves this stage. Why? Well, because you get to eat ‘whatever you like’. Yup, that’s what over 90 percent of the guys think—‘eat whatever comes your way’. Here’s exactly where they go wrong and end up ballooning instead of bulking, or in short, get fat in the name of bulking up. Here are 5 pro-tips that will help you keep that unnecessary fat at bay while bulking.

1. Increase Your Calorie Intake But Eat Clean

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Bulking does not give you a license to binge-eat junk food. Eating clean is just as much important in the bulking stage as it’s during the cutting stage. Here’s the key: make it a point that your meal contains proteins, low-glycemic carbs and healthy dietary fats.

2. Plan Your Day’s Major Carbohydrate Intake Around Your Workout

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An overdose of carbs leads to hyper insulin spikes which ultimately leads to fat gain. On the other hand, it’s also wrong to completely eliminate carbs from your meals. If you have a pre-dominantly sitting job, the best thing is to center your carb consumption around your workout. Pre and post workout is exactly the time when your body needs insulin spikes and glycogen replenishments. Also, make sure that your carbs are coming from the likes of sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice, and whole grains.

3. Dietary Fats Don’t Make You Fat And Are A Great Source Of Calories

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Please be very clear that healthy fats don’t make you fat! Moreover, fats have 9 calories per gram whereas carbs and proteins have 4-5 calories per gram. It’s the quality of calorie you ingest that determines the quantity of muscle you’ll gain. Fats from sources like nuts, avocado, whipped butter and eggs are a must if you want to put on size. Say no to saturated fats from chips, cheese dips and other junk foods.

4. Don’t Overdo Cardio

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While High Intensity Cardio is a silver bullet for fat loss, going overboard with it will only kill your lean muscle. Bulking up is primarily about preserving calories and using them for the right workout. Limit your HIIT to 2-3 days a week and focus more on strength training.

5. Lift Only As Heavy As You Can And Focus on Form

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Thumb rule for gaining size—proper form over max weight. There’s no point bench pressing 100kgs when your forms sucks even at 50. Lift only as heavy as you can and gradually scale up the weights.

10 Super Simple All Natural Beauty Tips

The world would have us believe that there are no simple and inexpensive natural beauty tips and tricks. What makes me say that? Well, did you know that the beauty industry is a nearly $300 BILLION dollar empire? And that the average woman spends about $15,00 on just makeup in her lifetime! And according to a UK survey, women will spend well over a year of their life applying that makeup. Ouch. That, of course, says nothing of the toxic chemicals so commonly found (with almost zero regulation) in beauty products. Yep. Seems like the world is telling us that we need to spend lots of time, lots of money, and risk our health to be beautiful. Don’t believe it. For starters, let’s get real about the idea of beauty. To me it’s about unmasking the real person, not covering it up. And there are lots of simple ways to thank your body, feel more beautiful, and not have to pay an arm and a leg for it. Here are just 10. They are easy. They are all natural. And yet, still luxurious. Enjoy.

1. Banana and Egg Hair Treatment

Looking for a little more shine in your hair? Simply mix one egg and a mashed up banana. Apply it as a thick paste to your hair and leave it on for 10 – 30 minutes. Wash it our doing your usual hair washing ritual (if you usually use a store-bought conditioner you’ll probably only need to condition the ends). And voila! Super simple, and all natural, beauty tip.

2. Moisturizing Nail Treatment

Soak your nails in olive oil for five minutes. And then sit back and admire your pretty hands.

3. Simple Honey Face Mask

Raw honey is naturally anti-bacterial and a super quick way to get soft, beautiful skin. Once a week use a tablespoon or so of raw honey (not the processed stuff parading as honey) and gently warm it by rubbing your fingertips together. Spread on your face. Leave on for 5 – 10 minutes and then use warm water to gently rinse it off and pat dry. Then bask in the glow of your honey-awesomeness.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Shampoo

For those who are using commercial shampoos: To help eliminate any build up in your hair, mix ¼ cup organic apple cider vinegar with 1 cup water. Follow with your usual conditioner.

5. Elbow and Knee Exfoliate and Skin Brightener

Cut an orange in half and rub it on your elbows and knees. Helps soften those rough patches. And it smells good. (Rinse off the sticky mess when you are done.)

6. Gentle Body Scrub

Mix a 2 to 1 ratio of olive oil and sea salt to make a quick and effective body scrub. This helps get rid of dead skin cells creating softer, more glowing skin. And this natural beauty tip is much cheaper that expensive store bought body scrubs.

7. Easy Deep Conditioning Hair Treatment

Want super soft, hydrated hair? This is one of my favorite all natural beauty tips. Use melted coconut oil as a deep conditioning hair and scalp treatment. Massage coconut oil into your scalp and then work it through your hair. Leave it on for a couple of hours and then wash it out using shampoo (no need to condition unless you have really long hair and then maybe just the ends.) Note: For you no ‘poo-ers keep in mind that coconut oil will saturate your hair with awesome goodness… that can be really hard to get out with just baking soda and *some* natural shampoos. You may want to try just a little coconut oil on a little section of hair and see if you can get it out before you do this. Otherwise you might have really greasy (but soft!) hair for a few washes. NOT that I’m speaking from personal experience of anything (*cough*).

8. Simple Toxic-Free Shaving Cream

Use coconut oil on your legs as a natural replacement for your shaving cream. Talk about a simple, natural beauty tip.

9. All Natural Black Head Removal

Place 4 or 5 drops of raw honey on an open lemon wedge. Then rub the lemon on your face for a minute, emphasizing any trouble areas. Leave the mixture on for 5 minutes and rinse with cold water. (Keep in mind that citrus can make your skin photosensitive so it’s best to do this before bed rather than before going outside).

10. Dry Brushing for Better Skin

Dry brushing is a simple detoxification process for your body. It stimulates a number of organs through a gently massage. It also helps the lymphatic system, eliminates dead skin coatings, strengthens the immune system, can eliminate cellulite, stimulates the hormones, and can help tighten skin through better circulation. Best of all, it’s cheap and easy.

Take Care

Remember, the best all natural beauty tips and secrets are not quick fixes. They require good sleep, stress management, proper nutrition, and physical exercise. While all these little “gems” above can provide some oomph to your beauty routine, remember that real beauty is a result of taking care (or “thanking”) your body on a daily basis. And by being you. Because you are beautiful.

While we’re talking about improving our health, let’s talk about something reallyimportant.

While the majority of my posts here on Thank Your Body deal with food, non-toxic living, and exercise there is one super duper important element that far too many people forget when they work on a healthier lifestyle: CLUTTER.

We live in a world with so. much. stuff. While that stuff can seem pretty benign, the truth is our clutter affects our health in a really major way. (Not to mention how much money it’s costing us!)

If you’re looking at improving your life may I suggest you take a nice long look at your clutter situation. If you feel overwhelmed (which so many do!) I highly recommend learning more about my book, The Clutter Trap. It has helped a lot of people get to the root cause of clutter.

The freedom you’ll find will serve to help all your healthy habits you’re seeking to live by.

Tell me, what are your “go to” all natural beauty tips?

Beauty Bloggers Share 19 Skincare Secrets You May Not Know

Skincare emergency? Feeling a bit … blah and less than luminous lately? Sometimes a little tweak in your skincare routine is all you need to get glowy skin.

Beauty bloggers have picked up the best skincare tips of makeup artists, models, beauty editors, and other skincare experts. Chances are that we’ve tried that new cream you’re so excited about and can tell you if that handheld device really did help heal a blemish.

19 Skincare Tips You Didn’t Know

From why you do need an eye cream to blemish fighting tips you didn’t think of, here are 19 skincare tips to make you glow!

Control Oily Skin with a Universal Soap

“Black African Soap can be purchased at Farmer’s Markets and even off of eBay. This cheap soap is all natural and while it looks like clumps of dirt, it is easy to use and is gentle enough to be used every day. Used in replacement of your daily face cleanser, Black African Soap will give you a face that is squeaky clean and cut down on both oil and acne. You can even use it on your whole body.”

Sun-Kissed Legs Made Simple

“If you don’t have time to book a self-tanning session, spike lotion with bronzer. Mix a few pumps of liquid bronzer with regular body lotion. Rub it over legs for a gradual dose of sexy, beachy color.”

Easy and Gentle Lip Exfoliation

“Chapped lips need gentle exfoliation to effectively treat and remove dried skin. Take a little Vaseline or petroleum jelly on a soft child’s toothbrush and gently scrub in circular motions to remove old skin and moisturize at the same time. If a toothbrush isn’t handy try a little raw sugar for the scrubbing action.”

How to Make Creme de la Mer a Great Value

“Creme de la Mer is fabulous, but it is also expensive. Use it sparingly in ways you haven’t thought of though and it can actually be a good value! Creme de la Mer tips include using it as an eye cream or brow conditioner.”

The Single Best Way To Prevent Crow’s Feet

“Creams and serums are terrific, but the best way to prevent Crow’s Feet is to wear large, fashionable sunglasses as often as possible! The frames not only look glamorous, but actually block the sun from toasting you delicate undereye area. Be sure they offer UV protection!”

Face Flakey? Try Dandruff Shampoo

“There are a lot of reason to have the dry flakies near your nose, and the least likely is actually the dry skin that most of us blame. It could be anything from facial dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis) to rosacea to a fungal infection! Instead of scrubbing the area (which usually only irritates the situation) or piling on moisturizer, try your dandruff shampoo. A pea sized amount while you’re in the shower is often long enough to help the situation. You’ll be surprised how often this takes care of the problem!”

Could Your Skin Use A Boost?

“Is your skin looking dull and lackluster? An at-home peel can remove dull surface cells and help to even and brighten skin tone. I love using peels because the results are fast and it is gentle enough to use once a week!”

Pore Strip Your Entire Face with Stuff From Your Kitchen

“I used to cover my face with expensive pore strips, but then I found a recipe for a DIY Pore Stripping Mask which uses only plain gelatin and a little milk. Mix them up, heat it for about 10 seconds in the microwave and apply. Once it has dried you peel it off, and everythingcomes out of your pores as well. Genius!”

The First Step to Banish Acne

“From full blown acne to just a blemish now and again, you have the first step in getting rid of it right in your linen closet! Change your pillowcase EVERY night. Hair products, oil, leftover makeup and more soil your pillow, why would you want to lay your face on that? If you keep a fresh stack near your bed (so you don’t have an excuse not to do it) you’ll be one step closer to clear skin.”

Is Eye Cream Necessary?

“Do you really need an eye cream? Yes, you really do. In a pinch it is fine to use your face cream, but the skin in this area is thinner and absorbs active ingredients more readily (so that retinoid is more likely to irritate your under eye area), and the skin here has different needs as well. Do yourself a favor and use a separate cream here!”

Consider LED Light Therapy For Your Skin

“Home LED Light Devices are a powerful, high tech way to treat skin conditions and tackle aging with good success rates. Try blue light for acne and red for anti aging.”

Shorten the Lifespan of a Pimple

“To save time when trying to cover a large pimple and shave some time off of the lifespan of it, take a few minutes to apply ice. Wrap a cube in a washcloth and hold it against the pimple for 1 minute. The ice will reduce the inflammation and redness, making it much easier to hide. Want to get really fancy? Make ice cubes out of green tea for extra healing benefits!”

Skip the Expensive Body Scrubs

“It’s easy to make your own with ingredients found right in your kitchen. Mix one cup of brown sugar with enough olive oil to make a thick paste. Take the mixture to the tub and scrub it in circular motions all over. The simple-to make scrub helps rid skin of dead cells while the oil leaves skin extra soft.”

Exfoliate Daily Without Buying A Pricey Spinning Gadget

“Try picking up a microfiber washcloth at your local drugstore or beauty website. These cloths can grip the skin in ways a normal washcloth can not and really remove dead skin cells, leaving your face looking fresh!”

Run Out of Shaving Cream?

“Do double duty by coating legs with hair conditioner. It not only softens the hair making it easier to shave, it leaves legs super soft and silky.”

Reapply Your Sunscreen

“Your sunscreen doesn’t last all day, it needs to be reapplied every 2 hours while you’re in the sun or after swimming. Reapplying sunscreen over your makeup can be tricky, resulting in a muddy mess. On days that I’ll be reapplying, I like to use waterproof makeup and as little as possible. Use a chemical sunscreen rather than a physical sunscreen and pat the sunscreen on to small areas of your face, don’t rub!”

Chose the Best Home Laser Hair Removal Device

“The Tria and the Flash and Go are the two top home laser hair removal devices. A Tria and Flash ‘n Go Comparison shows them to be almost equal in effectiveness, but the Flash and go can also be used on facial hair. Removing your hair at home can be a huge time saver!”

Great Lip Balm

“Say goodbye to chapped lips forever with Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream. This balm for nursing mothers is the best lip balm ever. All other lip balms pale in comparison to this boob cream that will have even the most chapped and cracked lips looking soft and supple in no time and keep them that way.”

This Diet May Lower Women’s Hip Fracture Risk

The regimen seemed to provide a slight benefit, researchers say

WebMD News from HealthDay
By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 28, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Eating a Mediterranean diet may at least slightly lower an older woman’s risk for hip fracture, a new study suggests.

Women who most closely followed a Mediterranean diet — one high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains — had a 20 percent lower risk for hip fractures compared to women who didn’t follow this regimen, the researchers found.
The study couldn’t prove cause-and-effect, however. And the researchers stressed that the absolute reduction in risk of a hip fracture for any one woman was still pretty slight — only about a third of one percent.

Nevertheless, “these results support the notion that following a healthy dietary pattern may play a role in the maintenance of bone health in postmenopausal women,” concluded a research team led by Dr. Bernhard Haring of the University of Wurzburg in Germany.

The study was published online March 28 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

One expert in the United States believes that diet can be very important to bone health as people age. However, which diet might be best remains unclear, according to Dr. Michael Hepinstall.

Research “generally supports the idea that adequate nutrition has health benefits that may extend to a lower risk of hip fractures,” said Hepinstall, an orthopedic surgeon at the Lenox Hill Hospital Center for Joint Preservation & Reconstruction, in New York City.

“Nevertheless, the results of this study are not convincing enough to confirm that the Mediterranean diet is best, nor do they suggest that an individual adopting a Mediterranean diet can be confident that they have taken adequate measures to reduce fracture risk,” he said.

In the study, the German team examined the link between diet and bone health in more than 90,000 healthy American women, whose average age was 64. They were tracked for nearly 16 years.

While the team found a slight trend in favor of the Mediterranean diet and a lower risk of hip fracture in particular, the diet did not seem to lower the odds for fractures overall.

14 Simple Ways to Stick to a Healthy Diet

Eating healthy can help you lose weight and have more energy. It can also improve your mood and reduce your risk of disease. Yet despite all these benefits, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can be difficult.

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Here are 14 ways to stick to a healthy diet.

1. Start with Realistic Expectations

Eating a nutritious diet has many benefits, including potential weight loss.

However, it’s important to set realistic expectations.

For example, if you pressure yourself to lose weight too quickly, your plan to achieve better health may backfire.

Researchers found that obese people who expected to lose a lot of weight were more likely to drop out of a weight loss program within 6–12 months (1).

On the other hand, setting a more realistic and achievable goal can keep you from getting discouraged and may even lead to greater weight loss.

Bottom Line: Having realistic expectations increases your chances of maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviors.

2. Think About What Really Motivates You

Remembering why you’re making healthy choices can help you stay on course.

It can be helpful to make a list of the specific reasons why you want to get healthier.

Keep this list handy and refer to it when you feel you need a reminder.

Bottom Line: When you’re tempted to indulge in unhealthy behaviors, remembering what motivates you can help you stay on track.

3. Keep Unhealthy Foods out of the House

It’s really tough to eat healthy if you’re always surrounded by junk foods.

If other family members want to keep these foods around, at least keep them hidden, rather than on counter tops.

The saying “out of sight, out of mind” definitely applies here.

Having food on display in various areas of the house has been linked to obesity and an increased consumption of unhealthy foods (2, 3).

Bottom Line: Keeping unhealthy foods out of the house or at least out of sight, can increase your chances of staying on track.

4. Don’t Have an “All or Nothing” Approach

A major roadblock to achieving a healthy diet and lifestyle is “black and white” thinking.

One common scenario is that you have a few unhealthy appetizers at a party and decide that your diet is ruined for the day and proceed to overindulge in unhealthy foods.

Instead of considering the day “ruined,” try putting the past behind you and choosing healthy, unprocessed foods that contain protein for the remainder of the party.

This will help you feel full and satisfied, rather than stuffed and frustrated.

A few off-plan choices make very little difference in the long run, as long as you balance them with healthy foods.

Bottom Line: Rejecting the urge to judge your day as “good” or “bad” can prevent you from overeating and making poor choices.

5. Carry Healthy Snacks

Sticking to a healthy diet can be tough when you’re away from home for extended periods of time.

Unfortunately, when you get too hungry, you may end up grabbing whatever is available.

This is is often processed food, which doesn’t really satisfy hunger and isn’t good for you in the long run.

Having healthy high-protein snacks on hand can help keep your appetite in check until you’re able to have a full meal (4).

Some examples of good, portable snacks are almonds, peanuts and jerky. Also consider filling a small cooler with hard-boiled eggs, cheese or Greek yogurt.

Bottom Line: Take healthy high-protein snacks when you’re on the road or travelling in case you’re unable to eat a meal for several hours.

6. Change Diet and Exercise at the Same Time

You may have heard you shouldn’t change too many things at once when trying to improve your health. In general, this is good advice.

However, research has shown that when you make both dietary and physical activity changes at the same time, the results tend to reinforce each other.

In a study of 200 people, the group that began eating a healthy diet and exercising at the same time found it easier to maintain these behaviors than those who started with either diet or exercise alone and then added the other later (5).

Bottom Line: Simultaneously changing the way you eat and exercise increases your chances of healthy lifestyle success.

7. Have a Game Plan Before Eating Out

Trying to maintain a healthy diet while eating out can be very challenging.

Fortunately, there are ways to make it easier.

It’s best to have a strategy in place before you get to the restaurant, rather than being overwhelmed once you get there.

 

10 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Lifestyle

Now that warmer weather is on the horizon, so to may be the quest to get bathing suit-ready before summer. Instead of focusing on one, or two, specific areas for physical improvement, we suggest simply looking for a happier, healthier lifestyle in general. Consider implementing these tips into your daily life to promote a wider sense of well-being in all areas of your life.

1. Focus on your “haves” versus your “have-nots”
This is one of the simplest, yet completely free, changes you can implement in your life that can achieve profound results in your attitude and daily outlook. In a consumer-driven society that promotes comparison, it’s easy to see what looks so appealing about that grass on the other side of the fence. By stopping to focus on all the good things already present in your life, you’ll be more likely to feel content and appreciative instead of jealous or unsatisfied, making it easier to…

2. Exercise inner peace
One of the easiest ways to find greater contentment as well as giving your mind a chance for a mentaldeep breath is to connect to whatever gives you peace and harmony. Whether you pray, meditate, listen to music, or practice yoga, it is essential in today’s hectic pace of living to take a few moments to center yourself, to give thanks for your blessings, and to clear the negative thoughts from your mind.

3. Seize the day
“Carpe Diem” has been quoted for centuries to remind people that they should make the most of the present. Many of us are so quick to focus on the past or future that it’s easy to miss out on all the joy and experience of the present moment. Watching your child pick flowers, experiencing a sunset, savoring a delicious meal, listening to a beautiful piece of music, or laughing at the silly antics of your pet can’t be fully appreciated if your mind is elsewhere. Concentrate on the present and seize the day!

4. Move your body
If a formal hour long gym class truly motivates you, then by all means… sign yourself up! If, like many people, you simply drag yourself to the gym because it seems like the only way to get some exercise in, you’re wrong! Exercise can have profound mental and physical benefits, but those are minimized if you’re forcing yourself to do something you hate. Go for a hike or swim, do pilates, jog with your dog, stroll through a park, or take part in any other activity you find enjoyable that engages your body while freeing your mind.

5. Treat your body kindly
So many of us are incredibly hard on ourselves and so quick to criticize our bodies. Yet again, focus on the good and the areas that you love about yourself. Whether it’s your strong legs that carry you for miles each year or your bodacious bottom that so many of us would kill for, embrace yourself and be thankful for your health.

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6. Feed your body well
While we are all aware of the need for more vegetables in our diet, many of us still fall victim to a busy lifestyle and the need for convenience. Look for easy ways to substitute healthy, natural foods for the packaged, processed items in your life. The less processed your food, the more likely you are to enjoy better overall health, clearer skin, and a healthy weight.

7. Be kind to your skin
Many women abuse their skin for years and then are frustrated with how it appears later in life when wrinkles, spots, and dryness begin to “show their age.” Do what you can to minimize those issues by implementing good skincare practices. Check in with a dermatologist from time to time and remember to properly wash, cleanse, and moisturize.

8. Wear sunscreen without fail
Speaking of skin care, one of the biggest health-related mistakes people make is not being consistent with wearing sunscreen, all day, every day, not just when you’re going to the beach. If you’re using a daily moisturizer (like you should be) make sure it has SPF or apply an additional sunscreen. Without realizing it, your skin can be easily damaged by sunlight filtering through car or office windows, while you’re walking down the street, or sitting on the sidelines of your child’s soccer game.

9. Up your dental ante
It’s so easy to go to bed without brushing, and those of us who floss and rinse on the recommended daily basis are probably pretty far and few between. With good dental health linked to everything from the obvious decrease in tooth decay to the prevention of heart disease, this is a 5 minute health routine that will reap beautiful benefits.

10. Indulge
It goes without saying that you can’t subsist on fries, wine, and chocolate alone, but if you’re in celebration mode or nursing a broken heart, it won’t kill you to indulge from time to time. Similarly, you shouldn’t blow your entire budget on new purses every month, but if you just got that hard-earned raise, treating yourself to something is totally justifiable. Remember that some of the best indulgences in life are free, though–some long overdue girl talk or spending some extra play time with your kids?

Priceless.

Ten Ways to Lose Weight in Taipei

Since I moved to Taipei last year, everyone has been telling me how easy it is to gain weight here. My life here consists of ten course banquets (with red wine or kaoliang liquor for toasting), four or five course lunches, snacking at night markets, sweet treats from bakeries for breakfast (or anytime), and the occasional Western-style feast.

When I first arrived here, I was inundated with banquets. Like monsoonal rain, the banquets followed one after another in a never-ending deluge. My boss pointedly told me that I was eating for my country — eating was just part of the culture here and something I would get used to it. (I did adapt, probably too readily because deep down I really love to eat.) But I am determined to prove that I can in fact be a gourmet — and enjoy it — while still losing weight.

Last year, I briefly resorted to an acupuncture based diet. This was very effective, but not something I recommend as a long-term strategy as it makes the Atkin’s diet look easy. I had some moderate success with weight loss this year, but became reacquainted with chocolate during a winter trip back to Australia during the northern summer. But have now refocused, have a goal of reducing a further 5 kg by October.

So, here are my top ten reasons why you can still have your Taiwanese cake, eat it and still lose weight:

  1. The fruit here is fabulous. Once upon a time I had to force myself to eat a piece of fruit a day, while now I would easily eat three or even four serves. Taiwan is tropical fruit heaven, with famous fruits including bananas, Tainan mangos, guavas, paw paws (papayas), wax apples, pomelos, dragon fruit, pineapples, persimmons, passion fruit and giant Fuji apples to name a few. Many formal meals finish with fruit rather than sugary desserts.
  2. Serving sizes are usually small. Restaurants serve rice in small bowls, and the average stir-fry dish is about half the size of that back home in Australia. Thankfully, Taiwan has not yet widely adopted the trend of over-sized serving plates. And in formal banquets, you will usually have a small amount plated up for each course with an option to top up with more. So long as you pace yourself and avoid filling up on the entree dishes, you can generally avoid over eating.
  3. Taiwan is a great place for walking. Or hiking, as for the more energetic of us there are plenty of hiking trails in the hills — especially around Taipei. But you do not have to go far to enjoy walking, and it is easy to incorporate a few extra brisk paces into your daily life. In recent years, public transport has improved and urban renewal projects have upgraded the pavements in some areas (notably Xinyi), making it easy to get around on two feet. And it is generally safe to walk around at night, with lots of people out and about in the evening.
  4. There are heaps of fabulous vegetarian restaurants. I have not yet reviewed many vegetarian restaurants, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them. Actually, I always head to my local vegetarian restaurant on those rare days when I forget to bring a lunch box (in Taiwan they are called ‘bian dang’, 便當, derived from the Japanese ‘bento box’). Not all vegetarian dishes are healthy, but there are usually a wider range of options to choose from. Buddhism is the most popular religion in Taiwan, and while not all Buddhists are vegetarian, many people try to eat vegetarian food on the first and the fifteenth of each lunar month.
  5. Instead of white rice, opt for a serve of brown rice (糙 米飯), or even better a recently trendy grain mix such as five grain rice (五穀飯) or ten grain rice (十穀飯). Whole grain combinations are becoming increasingly popular with those seeking to reduce their refined carbohydrates, in part because of a growing diabetes problem.
  6. When eating out there is no need to finish everything you order, and it is quite okay to ask restaurants to pack up leftovers to take home. Some of the more upmarket restaurants even have custom-made containers for this purpose. Most Taiwanese hate waste — especially food waste — and will understand if you do not rush to eat everything.
  7. Most Taiwanese food is on the whole not as oily — or salty — as other Asian cuisines. And the use of MSG is not as ubiquitous, either. (This reminds me of a recent New York Times article about mainland Chinese visitors to Taiwan. On arrival, the tour guide advised the Chinese visitors that …”our Taiwanese brothers do not like salt, oil and MSG the way we do”.)
  8. Desserts are not as sweet as in Western countries, usually feature fruit and are served in small portions. This does not make desserts healthy, but at least it minimizes their bad effects.
  9. Not all fast food in Taiwan is necessarily bad. Of course, you can find major Western fast food chains like McDonalds and KFC, but there are plenty of healthier options as well. Taiwan’s ‘snack’ (小吃) culture means that something to eat is never far away, but the servings are usually small and there is enough variety to ensure healthy choices. Most food courts have several Taiwanese style dishes such as stir-fries and noodle soups, and even night markets will have healthier choices such as fruit juices and lean(ish) grilled foods.
  10. The Japanese influence means that the Taiwanese diet has adopted many healthy qualities. The traditional Taiwanese diet consists largely of seafood, vegetables, tofu, fruit and rice, with not very much meat in the diet. Taiwanese have also adopted the Japanese (Okinawan) concept of eating until you are only eighty percent full (in Japanese Hara Hachi Bu). Which means that even thought there is a lot of food, people do not habitually stuff themselves full.

So, now I have no excuses for not following my weight loss plan. What are your favorite tips for eating healthy and reducing weight?

Apply This Skin Care Recipe Daily And Watch…

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With thousands of people suffering daily from acne, eczema, redness, and dryness, it may seem almost impossible to bring back that youthful glow. But having gorgeous radiant skin isn’t impossible! With a few simple tweaks to your diet and skin care routine, you can have amazing skin.

Your skin is like the gatekeeper of beauty. It’s really the first thing that comes in contact with the outside world, environmental pollution, toxins and well, just about anything. In fact, the outermost layers of your skin are vital to your immune system.

Your skin has a hydro lipid barrier, which acts as a waterproof seal and also contains an acid mantle, which is a very thin film of acidic fluid that sits on top of the skin. This acidity is important and helps to neutralize bacteria and other contaminants you come in contact with.

Unfortunately, all chemical and synthetic skin care products disrupt this delicate hydro lipid barrier and acid mantle, leaving us and our skin vulnerable to disease, infection, and toxins, and increasing the risks of imbalanced skin (either oily or dry), wrinkles, acne, and other skin conditions.

Store shelves are filled with skin care products that promise flawless and radiant skin, reduced wrinkles and barely-there pores. Oh how marketing can lure us in! With photoshopped women who have not a single pore or blemish, its no wonder we spend hundreds of dollars to achieve the impossible.

Pore-less skin does not exist and many of these store bought brands contain the very ingredients that ruin and destroy our skin in the first place.

It really becomes a catch-22. We want radiant skin so we reach for chemical filled products, and in turn cause more damage which has us purchasing more chemical filled product. For years, I personally repeated this cycle over and over and finally stopped after doing my research.

It’s important to be able to decipher those chemical cosmetic ingredients. Here are 12 undesirable ingredients to watch out for:

  • Sulfates
  • Parabens
  • Sodium Benzoate
  • Urea
  • Alcohol
  • Fragrance or Parfum
  • Polyethylene Glycol
  • FD&C Colors and Pigments
  • Water or Distillates
  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Phthalates
  • Triclosan

So what should we be using on our skin?

Using pure plant oils is an ancient method of cleansing and exfoliating the skin that leaves the precious outer layer of the skin intact. This means more glow, radiance and youthfulness.

The anti-microbial properties of essential oils combined with the gentle dirt dissolving fatty oils and citrus oils lift away the daily accumulation of dirt, toxins and makeup while healing, not harming, the skin’s surface.

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Essential Oils for Your Skin

There are many oils that can help to repair and tonify the skin. Some essential oils can be used “neat,” meaning they do not need to be mixed with a fatty, carrier oil, but I generally like to infuse jojoba oil, coconut oil, olive oil or sweet almond oil with a few drops of essential oils to cleanse and moisturize my skin. Here is a list of my favorite essential oils to use and have on hand:

  • Tea Tree – antibacterial and great for acne
  • Frankincense – antibacterial and incredible for regenerating skin, healing scars and fighting acne.
  • Lavender – great for itchy skin, scars and red inflamed skin.
  • Geranium – balances sebum and brightens skin
  • Cypress – reduces swelling and tightens skin
  • Immortelle – anti-aging, great for regenerating skin and adding suppleness

Try mixing the above Essential oils with these rich and nourishing carrier oils, which act as super heroes for your skin! The highly concentrated fatty acids in these oils help to heal the root causes of skin imbalances by regenerating the skin from the inside out. You can combine them with your choice of essential oils to create a unique blend for you and your skin:

  • Jojoba oil
  • Rosehip oil
  • Seabuckthorn oil
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Almond oil

Try the Oil Cleansing Method:

This method is an incredibly easy and effective way to clean the skin, remove makeup and heal imbalances. It may seem counter intuitive to cleanse the skin with oil, but “like dissolves like.”

We build up oil on our skin over the course of our day just from everyday simple tasks, such as eating, drinking, and exposing ourselves to air, wind, dirt, sun and the environment.

We want to wash away these impurities that have built up, but in doing so, we do NOT want to strip away the acid mantle layer and destroy our face of the good, natural oils which are protective.

The Oil Cleaning Method (OCM) does not leave your skin greasy and oily. In fact, after you finish washing, your skin will feel soft, supple and clean. It is one of the best ways to open the pores, gently exfoliate the skin and get the cleansing oils right into the skin to release any buildup.

It is important to note that in the beginning of using the OCM method, you may find your skin to be slightly oilier then usual. This will last only temporarily. I encourage you to continue with this method for at least 1 month to truly reap the benefits. Within the first week of using the OCM you will notice a significance difference in your skin, however, it is important to spot test as some people may react to certain oils.

Here’s how you do it:

What you’ll need:

  • 2 teaspoons virgin coconut oil, OR
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, OR
  • 1 teaspoon jojoba oil
  • Clean washcloth (100% cotton is ideal or hemp cloth)
  • Warm-to-hot running water

*You can mix the oils together or choose just 1

Directions:

  • Heat water until hot, but not scalding. You want in between warm and hot.
  • Wet your washcloth in the water and gently wring out
  • Apply oils to your washcloth and gently massage onto face and neck
  • Rinse cloth. Rinsing your face is optional
  • Apply additional moisturizer by choosing from one of the 5 oils above mixed with your favorite essential oils.

*Note: if you’re wearing waterproof eye makeup, gently apply some of the oil over your eyes to remove your makeup

The OCM is a cost effective way to cleanse your skin, prevent breakouts and restore suppleness.

Happy Cleansing!

3 Best Ways to Lose the Baby Weight

Easy ways to lose the baby weight and get back in shape.

OK, Heidi Klum gets her runway body back about five seconds after giving birth, and you’re feeling the pressure to squeeze into your size 10s before returning to work. Listen to us: Most moms don’t reach their pre-pregnancy weight until their babies are 1 year old. Dropping those extra pounds takes time, especially when you’re caring for a new baby and getting adjusted to a new schedule. So don’t be hard on yourself. “Just focus on a healthy lifestyle now,” advises Pamela Berens M.D., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. “Take it one day at a time and become a healthy role model for your child.” Our three-step guide will help you find your waistline again without sacrificing time with your baby—or losing your mind

Step 1: Move It, Mama

Start exercising now. Decades ago, doctors liked to keep women physically restricted after delivery—no more. Short 10- to 20-minute relaxed strolls once you’re home from the hospital—even for Cesarean-section moms who aren’t on painkillers—are good for you, says Dr. Berens. For more formal workouts, Dr. Berens recommends waiting six weeks. “You’re not going to feel well before then,” she says. “Six weeks gives your body enough time to heal after labor and delivery.”All those diaper changes and midnight feedings aresure to have you frazzled, and stress can actually prevent you from losing weight. Exercise is a tried-and-true stress-buster. “Getting some type of exercise will help you feel alive again,” says Dr. Berens. “You’ll lower your risk for both postpartum depression and obesity.”

How Hard Are You Working?

Use this guide to gauge how much effort to put into your stroller workout. Aim to work out between a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of 3 to 7. Remember: When doing the stroller walk, you shouuld be able to speak to your baby without gasping for air.

  1. No effort
  2. Light effort
  3. Very easy/comfortable
  4. Light to moderate effort
  5. Moderate to strong effort (you become aware of your breathing)
  6. Strong effort (you can’t comfortably carry on a conversation
  7. Very strong effort (you can only talk in short sentences)
  8. Challenging (you can’t utter more than a phrase at a time)
  9. Unable to talk (You can only keep up this intensity for very short spurts)
  10. Maxed out (lightheaded even)

Stroller Coaster: An Easy 26-Minute Workout (No Babysitter Needed!)

We asked Kristen Horler, the founder of Baby Boot Camp, to design a quick, easy stroller workout for new moms of any shape or size. “With this workout, you can go at your own pace because it doesn’t matter what fitness level you’re starting at,” says Horler, whose popular Baby Boot Camp classes are offered nationwide. “Plus, there’s no guilt about leaving your baby.” In the beginning, do this 26-minute stroller workout three times each week. If you’re breastfeeding, nurse your baby before the workout so you won’t have to stop along the way.

Beginner: Crawling

Warm-Up: 5 minutes

Walk at a moderate pace, keeping your shoulders back, your spine long (not rounded) and your stroller 6 to 10 inches from your hips.

The interval walk: 18 minutes

Step One: Walk at a challenging pace for 30 seconds.Your rate of perceived exertion should be a 5 or 6 .

Step Two: Walk for 60 seconds at a slower pace. Your RPE should be a 4 or 5 . Alternate steps one and two 12 times (18 minutes total).

Cool down: 3 minutes

Slow down and walk at an easy pace. Your RPE should be a 2 .

Moderate: Cruising

When you feel like your breathing isn’t challenged anymore (this could take five days or five weeks or longer, depending on your fitness level), increase steps one and two to 45 and 90 seconds each. This will make your workout nine minutes longer. Don’t forget to cool down.

Advanced: Full-On Toddling

After you’re accustomed to your new interval times of 45 and 90 seconds (usually after about four to six weeks for a woman of average-level fitness), boost your intensity to a 6 or 7 on the RPE scale. When you feel like you can handle it, increase the duration and frequency of your stroller workouts: Add minutes to your present workout and then add a fourth, then a fifth day. But never increase the duration, frequency and intensity at the same time, suggests Horler. Choose one, get comfortable with your new level, then boost it with additional minutes, extra days or more RPE intensity when you feel ready.

Stroll Call When using a stroller to work out, just any old ride won’t do. What you use depends on your baby’s age and physical development. Always check that she’s strapped in properly before hitting the pavement.

0 to 6 months

“Infants don’t develop good head and neck control until they’re about 6 months old,” says Alison S. Tothy M.D., medical director of the pediatric emergency department at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. “Before that, use a stroller that reclines fully so your baby can lie flat on her back. You can use a bassinet stroller for a walking workout or a leisurely saunter.

6 months plus

Medical experts say your infant should be at least 6 months old, able to sit up and have good head/neck control to withstand the potentially bumpy ride of a workout in a jogging stroller.”For a more stable ride, opt for a jogging stroller with three 12- to 16-inch inflatable wheels,” Horler recommends. Keep in mind that just because a stroller has three wheels doesn’t mean it’s safe for running. Check the user’s manual before doing more than walking.

Step 2: Eat Smart

Believe it or not, you’re still eating for two. Even if you’re not nursing, you need energy to care for your baby and yourself. Plus, you probably already know that what a breastfeeding mom eats can affect her baby’s food preferences (eat broccoli and baby is more likely to enjoy it too), but a new study in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that when mom ate healthful fare she became a better role model for her children, who were less fussy and picky at mealtime and showed more interest in eating. Food can energize you—or make you feel sluggish. (Remember how you felt after that last big bowl of buttery pasta?) Even though a late afternoon candy bar, cookie or caramel frappuccino may revive you at first, steer clear! Refined carbs and sugary foods will make your blood sugar spike, then crash, says Dawn Jackson Blatner R.D., L.D.N., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. That makes you feel hungrier sooner and more likely to reach for another candy bar to quash the pangs. Eat smart by choosing foods packed with nutrients like filling produce, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats.

5 Energizing Meals

  1. A turkey sandwich on a toasted whole-wheat bagel with tomato and onion slices, romaine lettuce and low-fat mayonnaise and mustard, an orange and a glass of low-fat milk.
  2. A grilled lean hamburger patty on a whole-wheat sesame roll with grilled onions, pickles and lettuce with grilled zucchini wedge stopped with parmesan cheese.
  3. A whole-grain pita pocket filled with canned white beans (drained and rinsed), arugula, tomatoes and drizzled with prepared pesto sauce and a peach for dessert.
  4. A bowl of oatmeal (or any whole-grain cereal) topped with berries and low-fat milk.
  5. A cup of lentil soup, a vegetable salad sprinkled with olive oil and vinegar and topped with a grilled chicken breast and a whole-wheat roll on the side.

10 Super Snacks to Energize You

  1. 12 to 18 baby carrots and four tablespoons of hummus.
  2. Two tablespoons each of slivered almonds and raisins mixed with½ cup of Wheaties.
  3. Five whole-grain crackers topped with natural peanut butter (which has no sugar or trans fats) and banana slices.
  4. A 16-ounce skim, low-fat or soy latte.
  5. String cheese and a pear or apple.
  6. A hard-boiled egg on a slice of whole-grain toast and ½ cup of grapes.
  7. A corn or whole-wheat tortilla and a slice of low-fat cheese with salsa.
  8. An orange and two or three slices of low-sodium turkey.
  9. 6 ounces low-fat plain Greek yogurt topped with ½ cup of berries and one tablespoon of sunflower seeds.
  10. 10 Four celery stalks topped with one teaspoon of natural peanut butter.

Step 3: Free Your Mind

Simply put, you’re probably stressed, and it sucks. Here’s why: When you’re worried or feel like you have no control over what’s happening in your life, your body reacts by releasing the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline into your bloodstream. When you’re in physical danger, these hormones give you the strength to run from enemies. But if the stress is in response to frequent emotional demands, as is the case with new moms, these hormones build up and cause fatigue, listlessness, irritability and weight retention or gain (sigh). High levels of cortisol make you crave fatty, sweet, salty, crunchy foods. We know your free time is fleeting, but try a few of these stress-busters and you just might find you have more energy to care for your baby and feel better emotionally. You might even shed some pounds.

Sleep When Baby Sleeps

That means letting your mom do the laundry (or let it pile up) and your husband do the dishes. The extra sleep will help your body wash out stress hormones. Any missed sleep can induce insulin resistance, a condition that negatively affects your metabolism and ability to burn calories, according to a new study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The Lowdown on the Rubdown

If you don’t have time or money for a spa visit, ask your partner or a friend to give you a massage. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine recently published a study showing that adults who received a deep-tissue massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases in the feel-good hormone called oxytocin.

Go Outside

If weather permits, shift your baby’s playtime to the great outdoors. Here’s why: Spending time active in a green space increase happiness and decreases your level of stress hormones. Just five minutes spent anywhere outdoors led to improved mood, self-esteem and well-being, according to a new study published in Environmental Science & Technology.

Six Minutes of “Me Time”

New research shows that just six minutes of reading can soothe frazzled nerves and reduce stress levels by 68 percent. If books aren’t your thing, turn on your iPod. Music listeners in the same study decreased stress levels by 61 percent. Or simply make a cup of tea, sit by yourself and drink it. That alone will cut your stress in half. The key is getting lost in a distraction (whether it be Dostoevsky, Lady Gaga,Earl Grey or this magazine), which will slow your heart rate and breathing—the physiological changes that promote relaxation.

Your Favorite Stress-Busters:

  • Exercise (walking, yoga, running,dancing, jumping rope,stretching, squatting, taking a cardio class).
  • Hot shower or bath.
  • Computer time (e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, blogs).
  • Reading.
  • A cup of coffee or tea in a quiet place.