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10 Amazing Benefits Of Yoga

I have been doing yoga on and off for a number of years now and I still think it is one of the best forms of exercise out there. It’s got tons of amazing health benefits for both the body and the mind. This month I have been enjoying the YouTube yoga videos on the Yoga With Adriene channel rolling out my mat each day to do the True 30 Days Of Yoga series. I am definitely feeling the benefits of a regular practice after only two weeks so I thought I would share with you all the awesome things that come from taking up yoga.

Boosts Energy

Yoga is an awesome natural energy booster. Many mornings I have woken up feeling a little meh, but as soon as I’m flowing through the yoga poses I feel wide awake and alert. Yoga gets the blood circulating around the body so a fresh supply of oxygen to the brain is going to make you feel totally energized and ready for the day ahead.

Improves Flexibility

A common misconception is that you need to be super flexible to practice yoga. As Adriene will tell you in the videos, yoga is suitable for any ages and any level of fitness. The more you practice however, the more supple your muscles will become and flexibility will gradually increase over time. It’s all about progression not perfection.

Strengthens Muscles

There are so many poses in yoga which improve strength and help to tone your body. The ones which spring to mind right now are downward dog, plank pose, side plank, boat pose and chair pose. In yoga, you use your own body weight as resistance and this is great for building muscle and improving strength. It is so satisfying to return to the mat each day feeling a little stronger than the day before.

Immune System

Yoga is amazing for your lymphatic system which plays a vital role in immunity. Lymph vessels transport white blood cells around the body which attack bacteria and fight off infections. A well functioning lymphatic system means you are less likely to catch colds and viruses as your body’s defense mechanisms are working well.

Clarity & Focus

Yoga is so good for quietening the mind and letting distracting thoughts fade into the background. As you focus on the poses and breathing, patience and concentration improves – a skill which you can take with you off the mat with you into your everyday life. After yoga, I always feel calm and focused and ready to  have a productive day.

Weight Loss

Yoga is a fantastic type of exercise to consider if you are trying to lose weight as it works with both the body and the mind. The physical postures in yoga strengthen and tone which helps to transform the shape of your body. Also, if you are feeling calm, balanced and in control, you are more likely to make good healthy food choices instead of eating out of stress or bordem.

Detoxification

A yoga routine can detox both your body and your mind. Physically, yoga is great for stimulating the digestive system and cleansing the liver which removes toxins from the body. Mentally, yoga helps to dispel negative thought patterns and retrains your mind to think positively and optimistically. Yoga can give you an amazing detox better than any sort of restrictive diet.

Reduces Stress & Anxiety

Yoga reduces stress and anxiety by lowering blood pressure and regulating important hormones. An interesting study conducted in 2010 published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that those who regularly practiced yoga had increased levels of the amino acid GABA. This neurotransmitter is associated with improved mood and decreased anxiety. Gotta love a bit of science.

Improves Sleep

Among the many benefits of yoga, a restful sleep is one of them. There are tons of yoga poses and sequences which calm the mind and reduce anxiety leaving you feeling calm and relaxed. Sleep is so important as it is the time when our body removes toxins and undergoes cellular repair – so adding some yoga into your life does wonders for your health overall.

Encourages A Healthy Lifestyle

If practiced regularly, yoga can help enable you to live a healthy lifestyle. It sets the tone for a positive and productive day. It reduces stress and allows you to make good decisions, especially when it comes to eating a nutritious balanced diet. You feel fitter, stronger, happier, healthier and ready to take on whatever life throws at you. So yeah, I think yoga is pretty awesome.

Do you practice yoga? Do you do YouTube Yoga or go to a fitness class? If you are feeling inspired to give it a try, I recommend checking out Yoga With Adriene to find a video which suits you.

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6 Ways To Stay Motivated With Your Fitness Goals

On the 1st January, I wanted to make it my mission to make January colourful. What I mean by that is I wanted to do a variety of different workouts and colour the squares in my new planner. Ever since I lost 4 stone back in 2010, I have been keen to keep fitness a regular part of my life. Although sometimes, it can be difficult to find the motivation to workout, especially on dark January mornings. So here are 6 Ways To Stay Motivated With Your Fitness Goals.

Heidi Swapp Memory Planner and mini inspirational card from Treatbox

Keep A Record

I am a bit of a planner geek and love keeping records of everything and anything. I find there is nothing more satisfying than writing down your completed workout in your planner and colouring it in all pretty. Sometimes the thought of colouring a new square in is enough to get you motivated. On Sunday, it was a dark and cold morning but I knew I wanted to go swimming just so I could colour my square in blue. Silly but hey, it worked!

Make A Date

At my gym, you can book classes up to two weeks in advance – so the other day I sat down and organised my fitness schedule. I am now booked onto Body Conditioning, Legs Bums Tums & Body Balance this week. I find that if you make a date in your dairy, you are less likely to cancel and more likely to plan your life around your workouts. I don’t need to think too much about what I am doing if it’s planned in advance, I just put my trainers on and go!

Mix It Up

I know from experience that if you do the same workout over and over again, it gets boring and bordem leads to demotivation. To keep things interesting, I try to add a variety of workouts into my week. Choose a handful of activities you find enjoyable and make time for them all. I go to the gym twice a week but on those days I feel energized and keen to have a good workout as I feel refreshed and looking forward to do something a little different.

Set Yourself Challenges

At the moment I am doing a 30 Day Yoga series called True on the Yoga With Adriene YouTube Channel. I really enjoy yoga workouts at home but sometimes motivation to roll out the mat can be difficult. This month I want to get back into a regular yoga routine starting with a 30 Day Challenge. Setting yourself a goal or challenge is a great way to stay motivated. Step out of your comfort zone, make new healthy habits and surprise yourself.

Be Kind To Yourself

Although a fitness challenge is all good fun, it isn’t healthy to obsess over it and beat yourself up if things don’t go according to plan. On Friday, life got in the way and I didn’t have a chance to do Day 4 of Yoga. Instead of feeling like I failed, I thought okay never mind just carry on and do Day 4 tomorrow. One off day doesn’t have to result in a complete disaster. Just get back on track when you can and do your best.

Have Fun

The most important thing about fitness is having fun! Maybe fun isn’t the first thing you think of when you hear the word fitness, but I think it definitely can be. Shaun and I have started playing badminton at the weekends and it is such an enjoyable way to stay fit and active. Also, having a good workout playlist at the gym can make all the difference. Music is a fantastic motivator – today it didn’t feel like exercise, it felt like I was having a dance party all by myself on the stationary bike. Brilliant!

What motivates you towards your fitness goals? I’ve love to hear your ideas and suggestions. Are you keeping a colourful fitness planner? Join in with me and share your photos on social media using the tag #makejanuarycolourful

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New Years Eve 2017 in Bath

Shaun and I have been a couple for over 18 months but have not yet had a proper New Years Eve together. Last year, I was working in the Travelodge up until late, so this year, we thought we would do something special. We booked ourselves into the Abbey Hotel in Bath and had a lovely time exploring the city and indulging in 2 and a half hours of spa bliss in The Thermae Bath Spa. Here are some snapshots from our visit. If you are looking for a short break in the UK, Bath could be the place for you!

We arrived in Bath three hours before our hotel was ready for us – so took the opportunity to wander around the city.

Bath is such a beautiful place. Everywhere you look is a new photo opportunity.

We decided to go for lunch at The Roman Bath Kitchens which is located in the Abbey Square right in the centre of Bath.

This is the RBK Club on a sourdough bap with grilled chicken, streaky bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, cranberry mayo and skinny fries. Delicious!

Pretty happy that the food has arrived.

Feeling well fed and ready for more exploring.

The Pulteney Bridge has actual shops built into it all the way along.

This is the Parade Gardens in Bath which overlook the River Avon. Stunning and only a short walk from the hotel.

Abbey Hotel, North Parade, Bath, Somerset, BA1 1LF

The hotel and all its festivities.

Our room was huuuge! It had a bed, sofa, walk in wardrobe area and a bathroom with some posh looking freebies.

Tea, coffee and biscuits. What more could you possibly need.

The highlight of the trip was our visit to Thermae Bath Spa. You cannot book in advance so you just queue for as long as it takes. On New Years Eve at 3pm-ish we waited for about an hour which I didn’t think was too bad. It was worth the wait though. Once inside, we had access to a minerva bath, the wellness suite (infrared sauna, ice chamber, aroma stream rooms and a relaxation room) and an open-air rooftop pool. It was incredible chilling out in a heated swimming pool under the stars looking across at the city lit up by night. We paid £38 each for two hours and it was definitely an experience to remember.

Feeling relaxed and very clean, we got ready for our evening meal.

We then set off to Turtle Bay for some Caribbean foods!

COCONUT & PINEAPPLE PUNCH – Coconut, pineapple, condensed milk & fresh cream

SPINACH, AUBERGINE & SWEET POTATO CURRY – Spinach, aubergine & sweet potato in a fragrant light curry sauce. Green beans & kidney beans cooked with Jamaican spice. Served with steamed rice & roti flatbread.

A walk around Bath at night.

Bath Abbey and Christmas Tree on NYE.

Our hotel looking very festive.

After our busy day of walking, eating and relaxing we both fell asleep at 11:30pm and missed midnight. Oops!

Our hotel breakfast the next day: Full English #foodporn

After breakfast, we took a walk along the River Avon before catching our train home.

It was such a brilliant trip! Bath is a beautiful place with so much to offer. If you are looking for a short getaway, a spa break or just a walk around a historic city, Bath is for you. Grab your camera, jump on a train and go make some special memories!

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How To Set Realistic And Achievable Goals

After the final pig in blanket has been eaten and the last of the Quality Streets have been finished off, we may turn our attention to the exciting prospect of goal setting for the new year. A brand new year offers 365 days worth of opportunity and the chance to live life to the fullest. Magazines promote a healthier version of you and new gym memberships are at an all time high. We feel positive and inspired and promise that 2018 will be our year.

However, despite the best of intentions, the reality is (according to one commonly cited statistic) that only 8% of people actually keep there New Years Resolutions. So, why not be part of the minority and actually set some long term healthy habits. Here are my six tips on how to set realistic and achievable goals for the New Year. (All images are from my Heidi Swapp Memory planner)

Be Reflective

Before you set yourself impulsive goals, take a look back at the year gone by. Identify your strengths and what achievements you are most proud of. We should work with what we already have and build on that instead of picking on our weaknesses and flaws. Making goals which involve drastic and dramatic changes will only be setting yourself up to fail. Focus on your interests, passions and things you enjoy doing to stand a good chance of making your goal a habit.

For example, I know I already enjoy walking so I am going to make this a daily activity. I love reading, so am going to write a list of books I would like to read in 2018.

Be Specific

A goal needs to be specific so you know exactly what you need to do in order to achieve it. Specific resolutions can be measured so we can see how we are getting on as the months go by. Avoid vague goals such as I want to be healthier and replace it with something like I am going to exercise three times a week and eat balanced nutritious meals. This way you can assess how you are doing at the end of each week and feel motivated that you are on track with your resolution.

Be Realistic

Your goals should challenge you but they shouldn’t be a daily struggle. Know your limitations and what would be practically impossible to achieve. A realistic goal should be something you know you are capable of, however you just need to stay focused and motivated in order to succeed. For example, don’t say you are going to run a marathon if you have never ran a mile. Instead, push yourself gently, one step at a time and see where it takes you.

Be Kind

Once we are ready to rock with our new goals, we need to remember that we are only human too. There will be days where we are not at our best for whatever reason and this is totally normal and expected. The trick is not to let one bad day knock you off track completely to the point you give up on your goal. Appreciate how far we have come and look at the bigger picture. Why did you set yourself this goal in the first place? A little progress each day adds up, so just do what you can and start each day a fresh.

Be Flexible

Life is ever changing and your goal is no different. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – change can open up brand new opportunities and exciting experiences. We may need to slightly adjust our goals or perhaps make them bigger as time goes on. For example, you may resolve to go the gym three times a week, however, for some variety, you decide to try out a new fitness class and find you absolutely love it. Your new goal may now be go to the gym twice a week and go to say yoga on Fridays. Who knows where your goal may take you. Be open to the possibilities.

Be Positive

Keeping a positive attitude is so important when it comes to staying on track with your goal. By rewarding your milestones and achievements, no matter how small, we stay motivated and focused. We can look back at how far we have come and appreciate our hard work and effort. Whether your goal is fitness, blogging related or personal development every small step in the right direction takes us closer to our goal. Keep moving forward and celebrating your successes.

Have you set any goals for 2018? I would love to hear them! Whatever your New Years Resolutions are just remember – be reflective, specific, realistic, kind, flexible and positive. You can do this!

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