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Women's Health

How to Make a New Year’s Resolution You Can (Finally) Keep

Many people make a New Year’s resolution to shake off the previous year’s struggles and start fresh with a clean, blank slate. As confident and well-intentioned as they feel about making positive changes and reaching some goals, 80% of people don’t stick to their New Year’s plan.

This might seem discouraging, but don’t despair. Instead, follow these tips to make a New Year’s resolution that you can finally stick to and achieve.

Take a Deep Breath, Relax, and Pick One Measurable Goal

Setting a new goal is fantastic. However, switching up your routine or following a new path can be very stressful. According to the University of Michigan Health System, “deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body.” So, the first thing you need to do is just take a deep breath and relax.

Next, choose only one measurable goal or New Year’s resolution. Making too many changes at once can be overwhelming, and chances are you won’t succeed if you juggle too many new commitments at once. For the best chance at hitting the mark, avoid making ambiguous goals—always make them specific and measurable instead.

For example, if you want to lose weight and start saving more money, only focus on one of these challenges for now. Then, set a specific, realistic target like:

  • “I’m going to walk 10 minutes a day twice a week.”
  • “I’m going to save $500 by transferring $20 a week from my paycheck into a savings account.”
  • “I’m going to lose 20 pounds in six months.”

These resolutions set reasonable, measurable goals—which makes them more achievable as opposed to plotting an unrealistic course to an unattainable end.

Once you’ve succeeded with one goal, then commit to reaching the next one.

Pace Yourself—Change Doesn’t Happen Overnight

The current, fast-paced technological world thrives on instant gratification. You send text messages and receive replies in seconds. You download and instantly listen to a new album instead of going to the store, grabbing a CD off the shelf, walking it to the car, and loading it up.

Unfortunately, constantly feeding this craving for on-demand results can sabotage an effort to stick with a New Year’s resolution. Most goals take time to achieve.

For instance, some diets claim you can shed 20 pounds in a month. This isn’t realistic. According to Livestrong, “Depending on your weight, gender, and activity level, a 20-pound weight loss could take between 10-20 weeks, or even longer.”

The same goes for breaking old habits; change doesn’t happen overnight. A study in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that it can take 18-254 days to change habits.

The bottom line: Pace yourself. If you aim for instant results in whatever goal you make, you’re going to set yourself up for disappointment if you fall short. What’s worse? You may even abandon your plan altogether if you don’t see an immediate transformation.

Set Mini-Goals and Celebrate Each Win

Many writers have a love/hate relationship with the blank page. When inspiration strikes, they fill pages long into the night. During a bout of writer’s block, it might be hard to string seven words together to form a single sentence.

If your dream or resolution is to finally write the next great American novel, chances are you’re not going to write 20 chapters and 400 pages in a week. Realistically, you might be able to write five pages a day. If you push yourself to write too much, too fast, you might feel overwhelmed and frustrated when you don’t succeed.

This rule applies to many different resolutions. If you make and achieve mini-goals (like writing five pages a day or exercising 15 minutes twice a week), you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, boosting your confidence in your ability to reach the finish line.

After reaching these mini-goals for a while, consider increasing your commitment. For example, write two more pages a day, for seven total. Or work out three days a week instead of two. Plus, celebrating a series of small “wins” will help nudge you along until you reach your desired result.

Photo: JohnnyGreig via gettyimages.com

Track Your Progress

This step coincides with setting and achieving mini-goals. There’s something satisfying about keeping a record of your progress. In fact, American Psychological Association studies found that “prompting participants to monitor their progress toward a goal increased the likelihood that the participants would achieve that goal. Furthermore, the more frequent the monitoring, the greater the chance of success.”

Whether you keep a log of workout times, record weekly weight loss, or keep a budget journal, tracking your progress—either with pen and paper or punching pertinent information into an Excel spreadsheet or fitness app—ensures you see your accomplishments add up over time. Also, always remember that your journey is a marathon and not a sprint.

Expect Plateaus and Even Some Lows

It’s easy to compare the quest to reaching your goal to playing a game of Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders. You happily advance your token along the board with the finish line in clear sight. However, you’ll inevitably hit some chutes or go back a few spaces that hinder your journey along the way. In life, any number of challenges or difficulties can impede your progress—and you could simply have a rough day or week.

Hitting a weight loss plateau or dipping into your savings for an unexpected car repair might set you back for a bit on your resolution path, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to “fail.” 

Seek Support and Encouragement

Finally, telling others about your New Year’s Resolution keeps you accountable and can help you stick to your plan. If you’re feeling down or discouraged, seek support and welcome encouragement from family and friends. Letting others cheer you on will boost your confidence and help you keep your eyes on the prize until you enjoy success.

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Women's Health

Festive Pudding to Satisfy Your Hunger and Your Health

There are a lot of temptations during the holidays. Between desserts, drinks and special occasion foods, you may consume more sugar than usual. To help keep your health in check, here are a handy tip and a delicious festive dessert idea:

Don’t go to a dinner party or potluck unprepared. Normally loaded with refined sugar and carbs, desserts can get tricky — especially if you have a health condition such as diabetes.

Bringing a lower-sugar dessert is a great way to keep you on track at a potluck, and still enjoy a delicious treat with the rest of the party.

Try this fragrant and sweet pudding, which has 5.2 grams of fibre and 9 grams of protein per serving to keep you nourished and full. It’s drizzled in a fresh, fruity homemade syrup that will satisfy your sweet tooth and keep your glucose balanced.

Festive Bread Pudding
Prep time: 45 minutes + 5 min
Cook time: 1 hour + 5 min
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

• 3 bottles (237 mL each) vanilla Glucerna, a nutritional drink with a low glycemic index
• 5 slices whole-wheat bread, cut into 2-cm cubes
• 375 mL (1 ½ cups) bran flake cereal
• 3 eggs
• 500 mL (2 cups) fresh or frozen soft fruit
• 30 mL (2 tbsp) lemon juice
• 2.5 mL (½ tsp) cinnamon
• 2.5 mL (½ tsp) vanilla extract
• 30 mL (2 tbsp) water

Directions:

1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 175°C (350°F).
2. Butter an 8 x 11-inch (20 x 28 centimetre) mould.
3. Spread bread cubes in mould and cover with bran flakes.
4. Mix Glucerna and eggs in a bowl and pour over bread.
5. Let sit for 30 minutes until liquid is absorbed, pressing bread from time to time.
6. Bake for 1 hour or until the centre is firm.
7. For the topping, put fruit, lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla extract and water in a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside or refrigerate.

If you struggle to consistently monitor your glucose levels, a flash glucose monitoring system may be right for you. The Abbott FreeStyle Libre 2 system is a digital health tool that makes it easier to keep on top of your glucose levels.

This technology allows you to check your glucose levels discreetly and consistently without the need to finger prick8. Results are available in real-time on your smartphone, allowing you to make informed food choices.

Find more information at myfreestyle.ca.

www.newscanada.com

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Women's Health

4 Tips for Staying Healthy this Winter

Most of us are venturing out of our homes more often this winter, with schools and offices reopening. This means it’s important to do everything we can to stay healthy for an enjoyable season. Here are some tips to remember:

1. Eat a balanced diet.
What we put in our body fuels us and helps protect us. Even though the holidays and hibernating on the couch during weekends can tempt us to reach for processed snacks, balance out indulgences with more nutritious foods. Fresh fruits and veggies are available throughout the season, so be sure to take advantage of them, and remember to include whole grains and lean proteins.

2. Get enough exercise.
Moving our bodies is great for boosting immunity and mood. Whether you prefer the gym or walking around the block, the key is to have regular physical activity. If you’re just starting out or don’t know what to do in the cold, try something new like snowshoeing or ice skating. Try partnering up with a friend or family member to get some quality time together and maintain motivation.

3. Visit your doctor.
Many of us have neglected regular checkups and doctor’s visits during the pandemic. But staying on top of these can make sure you’re healthy and able to fight off colds and viruses. Check that your vaccines are up to date, that any bloodwork required is being done and that you have a time booked for your physical. Don’t forget to make appointments with specialists, like your therapist or dermatologist.

4. Drink fresher water.
Canadian private and public drinking water supplies are generally of excellent quality. Whether it’s supplied by a municipal system or a private water well, water can carry contaminants that are harmful or cause the water to taste off. Use a DIY at-home test kit from My Water Quality to make sure your water is pure. Simply follow the instructions and use the courier service that is included with the testing kit to ship your sample to an accredited laboratory. An easy-to-read report card will arrive within five to 20 days and provide you with all the results.

Find more information at mywaterquality.ca.

www.newscanada.com

Categories
Women's Health

How to Make Self-Care a Priority This Holiday Season

The holiday season should be about spending time with family, traditions, and giving. 

Often it becomes financially, emotionally, and physically stressful instead. There are many demands on our wallets. We can feel overwhelmed by all the tasks on our to-do lists and pressure to create the “perfect” holiday. Our healthy eating and exercising habits often go out the window and are replaced by overindulging on large meals and baked goodies. At the time when we need self-care the most, we often neglect it.

But this holiday season can be different! Remember that you can’t run on an empty cup and that taking time to destress is the best gift you can give to yourself and your family. Make a plan for incorporating small (but important!) breaks into each day. 

Take Care of Your Health

This year, commit to being mindful of your health during the holidays. It may take extra effort to stick to your healthy habits and not slip 100% into poor ones, but with a bit of focus, you will feel better and more able to enjoy the occasional indulgence. Here are some ideas:

  • Maintain a fitness routine. Even if you need to make adjustments like working out at home instead of a gym or doing shorter workouts, your body will thank you!
  • Eat healthy most of the time. You don’t need to say no to every indulgence offered during the holiday season or yes to everyone either. Maintain primarily healthy eating habits full of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Then make thoughtful decisions about larger meals and sweet treats. Skip the fast food at the mall while shopping, but enjoy a small slice of Aunt Sally’s famous pumpkin pie.
  • Schedule an appointment. One way to keep our health top of mind is to schedule health care appointments during the holiday season. It may be the perfect opportunity with time off of work. Plus, it helps you stay focused on taking care of yourself! 

Photo: wundervisuals via gettyimages.com

 Incorporate Meditation and Mindfulness

If you are not already practicing meditation regularly, the busy holiday season may seem like a strange time to start. However, a few minutes a day can do wonders to relieve the stresses and feelings of overwhelm during this hectic time. Here are some small and quick ways to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into each day:

  • Remember to breathe. At the core of any meditation practice is a focus on your breath. While we naturally breathe in and out without thinking about it, there are many benefits to slowing our breath down and doing it intentionally. It teaches us to be in the present moment and to block out distractions. It connects our brain and body, putting them in sync with each other. Deep breaths in and slow breaths out can relax our body and cleanse it of stale air. 
  • Be present during mindless tasks. If you are too busy to take a break to meditate, simply take opportunities while doing routine tasks. Practice deep breathing or being present while washing dishes, folding laundry, or wrapping presents. Another great time is when you transition from one task to another. Taking these opportunities throughout the day for some deep breaths will help you focus better on the next task, whether it is a work meeting or welcoming your kids home from school. 
  • Unplug. One of the best ways to be present in the joyful holiday moments is to unplug from your work and social media. Make a conscious effort to stay off your screens and connect with the people you love instead. That work email can wait; you deserve a break! 

Pamper Yourself

The holiday season can easily become about doing things for everyone else. If we don’t take time to also care for ourselves, we can feel resentful instead of joyful. Spending small moments of time pampering can make us feel refreshed, keeping our spirits bright all season long. Some simple ideas include:

  • Take a nap. Late nights or early mornings trying to get it all done can catch up on us. Indulging in a midday or weekend nap can be just the right thing to catch up on some zzzs and rejuvenate yourself. 
  • Reading. Taking time to snuggle up with a good book and travel to another world is the perfect retreat for many people. 
  • Bath. A hot bath with candles and music or a soothing podcast can be a wonderful way to unwind, relax, and slow down.
  • Nails, hair, massage. Schedule an appointment for your favourite pampering activity, such as a pedicure, haircut, or massage right when you know the holiday activities will be ramping up. 

So how about it? Will you commit to incorporating self-care into your daily routines this holiday season? Imagine how much better you will feel and how you can be a positive role model for all your stressed-out friends and family members!

Categories
Women's Health

12 Gifts to Wow the Fitness Lover in Your Life

With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about choosing the perfect gifts for family and friends. 

If you have a loved one in your life who’s always at the gym or have heard a friend talking about how she plans to get fit come the new year, a fitness-themed gift might be just the thing to make her smile. But, it can be hard to know where to begin with so many options on the market.

We rounded up 12 items that are sure to be the highlight of the holidays for any fitness guru or beginner—suitable for all sorts of budgets, lifestyles, and activities.

Smartwatch

Smartwatches have always been a hot consumer product—and for good reason. There are tons of features to help track your daily steps, calories burned, calorie intake, and even time spent on specific exercises, all with a swipe of a finger. You can also send a quick text or queue up your music when you’re on the go. There are many styles available, so you’re sure to find one that will best fit her needs.

Roller

At the end of any good workout, joints in her back and calves may need relief from stiffness and soreness. A roller helps soothe and restore burned-out muscles. Rollers are typically inexpensive and easy to store, making them the perfect she-didn’t-know-she-needed-it gift!

Fitness Log or Workout Planner

We can do nearly everything digitally these days, but sometimes it can be nice to physically write down a list to help stay on track. Fitness goals are no exception. Most varieties of this type of journal have the same things she would find in a digital fitness tracker, with space to write planned workouts for specific days and food and nutrition records.

Slides

There’s something simply unsatisfying about leaving running shoes or trainers on after a workout. Treat her feet to a nice pair of cushiony slides or foam sandles for some much-needed relief.

Blender

Allow your fitness fiend to whip up a delicious pre- or post-workout smoothie with a durable blender. Try an individually sized blender that comes with a built-in personal cup for added convenience and ease of use. 

Epsom Salt

Though a package of Epsom salt may sound like a strange choice for a gift, the relief for hard-working muscles your recipient will experience from taking a warm Epsom salt bath will speak for itself. She can also use it as a holistic remedy for headaches.

Photo: Leonardo Patrizi via gettyimages.com

Gym Bag

Gym bags are notorious for getting smelly and worn out in little time, so chances are she’s due for a new one. The many styles and colours mean there’s one out there that is sure to meet her needs for ease of use and include just the right amount of space for gear.

Protein Powder

Nutritionary supplements can play an important role in building and restoring muscle. Gift one of the many tasty flavours on the market to add a (healthy) taste of joy to the holiday season.

Bars, Snacks, Supplements

For a super affordable (though no less desirable) option, grab a handful of protein bars, drink mixes, or vitamins from the grocery store for the perfect stocking stuffer. You might just help her find a new favourite.

Yoga Mat

Useful for yoga and more, mats can turn any floor into a clean surface to stretch or perform basic exercises like push-ups or sit-ups. Choose her favourite colour for a personal touch.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are the perfect gift for the woman in your life who does lots of strength training in her workouts, regardless of how new she may be to it. They typically come in packs of multiple bands, so you can even gift yourself one.

Accessories

If you’re in a pinch or even if you see something that catches your eye, gifts like socks, shoelaces, headbands, and hair ties are things you can never have too many of and come in fun patterns to personalize her workout look.

Whether she’s a beginner or fitness fanatic, our list of gifts is an excellent place to start if you’re unsure what to get her. Happy present hunting!

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Women's Health

Practical Skincare Gifts She’s Sure to Love

When it comes to gifting, we often think along the lines of gift cards, flowers, candies, and chocolates. While those items are classic crowd-pleasers, skincare can also make a great gift. 

Here are practical gifts for every skincare fanatic on your list, from mask lovers to eye cream connoisseurs. 

Facial Cleanser

One of the most essential needs for a woman’s skincare routine is a quality facial cleanser. Gift her with something she’ll appreciate long-term. Look for options that have minimal chemicals and are affordable (so she can rebuy when she’s sure to love it). 

Gifts of cleansing sets that include moisturizers, masks, and pore extractors are also an excellent way to take your gift to the next level.

Face Rollers

Are you looking for a chic stocking stuffer to complete your gift list? Consider a face roller! Face rollers help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles and alleviate puffy, tired-looking skin. 

For the best results, experts recommend pairing rollers with skin oils and active serums. 

Cleansing Pads

At the end of a long day, women love a quick way to wipe away the day’s makeup ahead of cleansing and hopping into bed. Cleansing pads exfoliate the skin and regulate oil production, making them just the thing to help them keep their complexion clear with ease. A 2-pack or more makes for a great skincare-themed gift.

Revitalizing Serum

Designed to help a woman’s skin glow, revitalizing serum is packed with vitamins and other essential oils that infuse skin cells with immediate hydration. The effect? An anti-ageing look that will have her skin feeling immediately softer and smoother.

Clay Masks

Clay masks are great for pulling oil out of her skin and possibly preventing pimples that form when pores are clogged with excessive oil and dirt. Something to tell her when gifting: Experts recommend women wear clay masks for 15 minutes or less and use them no more than three times a week. When shopping, look for a mask that has hyaluronic acid or alpha hydroxy acid for best results.

Photo: PeopleImages via gettyimages.com

Brush Set

Beautiful makeup and face design start with quality brushes. A quality set will help her apply foundation, powder, eyeshadow, bronzer, and blush sans mess. Plus, brushes make blending and application more seamless and will give her a smoother, cleaner look. 

Eye Cream

If you’ve ever had to pull an all-nighter, then you’re probably well aware of the mystical powers of eye cream—it’s a lifesaver if you buy the right brand. 

Eye cream is made with vitamins and other ingredients proven to target puffiness, fine lines, dark circles, and dryness. A solid product will rejuvenate skin and give it a glow that will have her feeling (and looking!) her most energetic! 

Exfoliating Treatment

During the day, our body is simply protecting itself—at night, it switches into repair mode. (They don’t call it “beauty sleep” for nothing!) Why not help your giftee put their skin repair into overdrive with an overnight exfoliating treatment?

Exfoliating treatments remove dead skin cells from the outer skin layer. One thing to note: Exfoliating treatment should be done correctly to ensure she doesn’t damage her skin. The American Academy of Dermatology Association offers a guide here.

Sleep Mask

Speaking of sleep, a sleep mask makes for an excellent stocking stuffer. Many options are breathable, lightweight, and affordable. Plus, some can be refrigerated for an “extra cooling effect”​​—which could be a game-changer for hot sleepers. It’s also super chic in an Audrey Hepburn kind of way. 

This holiday season, gift her with a skincare product (or two!) that will help boost her confidence and keep her face looking fresh and fair.

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Women's Health

Make Lower Calorie Holiday Sweets With This Recipe Roundup

As the holiday season approaches, so do the homey, delicious secret family recipes we look forward to every year. Although these treats are packed with memories and tradition, they are also packed with sugar and carbs. 

You may find yourself stuck—you look forward to your festively flavoured desserts all year but don’t want to stray away from healthier choices. Luckily, you can find plenty of ways to enjoy your favourite treats, all while maintaining your nutritious habits. 

Healthy Pumpkin Pie Bars

Specifically for your fall festivities, these delicious, paleo, gluten-free, and dairy-free bars are guaranteed to fulfill your pumpkin cravings. One serving is only 253 calories, compared to the classic pumpkin pie’s 350 calories. Not only is the calorie deficit a plus, but all of its ingredients are also healthier alternatives to classic baking ingredients. For example, the recipe substitutes regular flour with almond flour, providing more protein than typical white flour.

Low-Fat Pumpkin Cheesecake

Everyone loves a good cheesecake, especially if it trails after a famously delicious, hearty turkey dinner. These gluten-free, low-calorie mini cheesecake bites are the perfect size for sharing, and they have significantly less fat and sugar than any classic cheesecake. A regular cheesecake contains 30-40 grams of fat and 30 grams of sugar. But this simple, fun-to-make recipe boasts 15 grams of fat and 14 grams of sugar. Each serving is approximately 168 calories. Something to note: You need to make the recipe at least 24 hours in advance of serving it. These bite-sized morsels are also perfect to deliver to your gift recipient of the season. 

Gluten-Free, Crustless Apple Pie

Apple pies are an American staple, particularly as we begin the holiday season. Luckily, this version of that classic treat consists of significantly fewer carbs than usual. This dessert is gluten-free and compatible with several popular diets. The recipe yields six servings but you can easily multiply it if needed. With an overall 5-star rating from Delish, you’re sure to impress your family and friends with a fun, nutritious twist on an American celebration favourite. These are easily wrapped and have a fun, fall presentation that will please any hungry gift recipient. 

Photo: ianmcdonnell via gettyimages.com

Apple-Toffee Tartlets

If you’re a fan of the caramel apple flavour, try Better Homes and Garden’s Apple-Toffee Tartlet! This recipe yields 24 tartlets, making them perfect for gifts, appetizers or hors d’oeuvres, or an after-dinner indulgence. More than 50 bakers gave this recipe a 4.5-star rating. This guilt-free treat contains only 127 calories and has 7 grams of fat per tartlet. These are fitting for both fall and winter holiday gatherings and are versatile in their serving potential. 

Flourless Fudge Cookies

If you’re crazy for cocoa-flavoured desserts but can’t spare the carbs, no need to worry! Not only are these cookies quick and easy to make, but they also remain gluten-free (and, as a consequence, have significantly fewer carbs than your classic cookie recipe). Whether you’re in a rush to bring a dessert to a family gathering or you need a pseudo cheat treat after a long day, these cookies are the perfect 10-minute pick-me-up.

Healthy White Chocolate Cranberry Pound Cake

Pound cake is a winter holiday staple during hundreds of families’ annual celebrations. This recipe is perfect for keeping up your tradition but saving on refined flour and added sugars. This recipe is a mock of a popular festive treat featured at one of America’s most popular coffee chains. This tasty treat has only 172 calories and is enough to share with all of your friends and family during the holiday season. Instead of the universally dreaded fruit cake, try gifting a homemade, sweetly healthy cranberry pound cake. 

Whether you’re looking for a bit healthier options to wow at your next get-together, sweet treats to gift your loved ones, or just want a little guilt-free holiday indulgence on hand, you’re sure to find it with one of these fun holiday-themed recipes!

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Women's Health

Feng Shui: Create Peace & Balance for a Stress-Free Home

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese practice that uses energy, balance, and natural elements to bring harmony to a space or environment. Many of these elements have become a popular basis for home decorating and organizing. We spend a lot of time in our homes and ask a lot of our spaces. We want them to welcome guests—and be a restful space where we sleep and relax and a place to inspire us when we need to be productive. 

Below, we explain basic Feng Shui concepts and some easy ways to create a balanced, stress-free home that meets the goals for each space.

Qi 

At the heart of Feng Shui is Qi, the energy that connects all things. In Feng Shui, the goal is to allow Qi to flow through your home. This is done by:

  • Designing a free path from your front door into your home. 
  • Keeping your home free from clutter.
  • Having a minimal amount of furniture.
  • Letting natural air in whenever possible.

The Five Elements

Another key component of Feng Shui is the five elements: earth, metal, water, wood, and fire. Incorporating each of these elements in your home may bring a sense of balance and harmony. 

Photo: GSPictures via gettyimages.com

Here is a brief description of what each element adds to your home and life along with examples of how to bring each element to your house:

  • Earth is said to bring stability and help you and your home feel grounded. Decorate with items in earth tones (browns, greens, rusted red, grey, beige), photos of landscapes, pottery, or containers with sand, crystals, rocks or stone. 
  • Metal is associated with beauty, joy, and efficiency, as well as focus and clarity. You can incorporate metal with furniture, planters, sculpture, frames, and even throws and pillows with silver, brass, or bronze-coloured materials. 
  • Water assists with intuition, abundance, movement, and cleansing. Bring in these elements with black and dark blue colours, calming photos or artwork of water, aquariums or fish bowls, mirrors, objects with wavy textures, or water features like fountains. 
  • Wood represents flexibility, growth, new life, and health. This is best incorporated with live plants, bamboo, and wood furniture, as well as green, blue, and teal colours. 
  • Fire ignites our inspiration, passions, emotions, and action. The colour red brings in this element, as do fireplaces, candles, and lighting. Red, in particular, should be used sparingly and not in rooms where you want to create a sense of calm. 

Negative Symbolism

Just like we want to fill our home with items and colours that bring a sense of peace and calm, we want to remove items that provide negative energy.

  • Emotionally charged objects in your home cause negative energy that can lead to stress or overwhelm. This includes clutter or that gift someone gave you that you don’t like but feel bad throwing or giving away. Unfinished projects, reminders of the past, and other people’s belongings can also be emotionally charged.
  • Mirrors in the wrong places can have negative symbolism and wreak havoc on the energy in your home. According to Designer Katrina Lee, the 5 Places Not to Hang a Mirror include across from the front door where the chi will be sent right back out and in the bedroom, which can invite a third party into your room! 

Are you ready to create peace and balance throughout your home with these Feng Shui ideas? Minor adjustments using these ideas and perspectives can make a huge difference in how you feel about and in your home.

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Women's Health

Keep Working Out In the Winter With These 6 Tips

Fitness is a year-round journey, but one that can be made more challenging by colder weather. While it may be tempting to put off your exercise habits until it starts to warm up outside, abandoning your fitness routine (even temporarily) can make it nearly impossible to get back to where you want to be physically when you do decide to resume. 

Below are some tips to safely keep up your exercise habits in winter weather so you can stay on track.

Bundle Up

If you’re used to running or jogging outdoors, don’t let the colder weather stop you from this cardio exercise that’s great for your whole body. Wear leggings or loose jogging pants (your body will gradually heat up as you run despite the cold) and thicker socks than you’d typically use while out on a run. A light jacket is also a must, as it will keep you warm without restricting your body from moving. A warm hat or earmuffs are a good idea, too. On an especially chilly morning, a pair of gloves will keep your hands warm so you can run or jog in the most comfortable way possible.

Brighten Your Wardrobe

In the winter months, not only is it colder outside, but darker too. Wear brightly coloured clothing and reflective gear to both stay warm and so drivers and pedestrians can spot you. When out at night, wearing a flashlight on your hat or at your waist is also an excellent idea for your visibility to prevent any potential slips and falls.

Take Care of Your Skin

Winter air can lead to dry and irritated skin. Make sure to apply lotion or moisturizer to your skin in addition to drinking plenty of water. Use petroleum jelly on sensitive areas of the skin such as your nostrils, the tip of your nose, and your ears for added protection. Additionally, it’s essential to remember that, even in the winter, harmful rays can reach and damage your skin. Applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher before you go outside will ensure your skin stays healthy during the dry winter months.

Photo: svetikd via gettyimages.com

Check the Forecast

If you live in an area with a lot of snow or other wintery weather, it may be best to postpone your exercise until later in the day when the sun is out and the snow or ice has had a chance to melt. This will allow for better road conditions and ensure that you’re not exercising on wet or icy sidewalks or pavement. Use your best judgment, and stay indoors during winter weather advisories or when road conditions make exercising outdoors (or driving to the gym) unsafe.

Don’t Skip the Warmup

Warming up before your workout is always a good idea, regardless of the weather. However, it’s even more important to get a good warmup before exercising in colder weather to increase your muscles’ blood flow and temperature. Modify your warmup to benefit what you plan on doing that day, whether that’s lunges and squats before running or simply stretching.

Watch Your Breathing

Breathing can feel particularly difficult while out exercising in the cold. That’s because the human body reacts to warmer, dry air much differently than the cold. In lower temperatures, airway passages tend to narrow, which makes inhalation more challenging for your lungs. While working out outdoors, try to consciously breathe in through your nose. Wrap a scarf or a light neck wrap to keep the air your breathing in moister.

Though working out in the cold is no easy feat and provides added challenges, it’s also no reason to postpone or give up on your fitness journey. Take the proper precautions and pop on the right gear, and you’ll be set for whatever the winter months may throw at you.

Categories
Women's Health

How to Boost Your Mood and Combat Seasonal Depression

The beginning of fall often brings exciting traditions, beautiful landscapes, and comforting treats. But for many people, the shift from summer to fall also brings a change in energy levels and mood that may feel like depression. 

According to Women’s Health Expert Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones, “Of those people who are affected with seasonal depression, four out of five are women.” If you think you may be one of those women, here’s an essential guide to understanding seasonal depression, its symptoms, and most importantly, how to cope with its effects so that you can take charge of your health.

Changing Seasons, Changing Mood

Many people experience some form of mood change as seasons shift from summer to fall. When there are fewer daylight hours and it’s cold, it’s harder to get outside and help our bodies naturally regulate our circadian clock using signals from nature. In addition, a lack of sunlight may deplete our Vitamin D stores, leading to lower energy levels and a decrease in our serotonin levels (a brain chemical that helps us regulate our mood). Dr. Jones estimates that “about one in 20 people experience seasonal variation in depression, with fall and winter showing a rise in depression.” If you’ve noticed that you feel sadder, have more trouble sleeping, have low energy, or experience a lack of motivation, you may be experiencing seasonal mood changes.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Whether your seasonal mood changes are dubbed “winter blues” or the more serious Seasonal Affective Disorder is a matter of degree and duration. Your doctor can help you figure out what your specific symptoms mean. In general, winter blues last a shorter period of time and do not interfere with your ability to complete regular daily functions. Kristen Fuller, MD, explains in Very Well Mind that SAD, on the other hand, “is more than the ‘winter blues’ because symptoms of SAD can be severe and even debilitating.” The Mayo Clinic notes that SAD during fall and winter can include weight gain and a craving for carbohydrates specifically, along with other typical seasonal depression symptoms.

Fortunately, those suffering from seasonal depression have many treatment options available, both in consultation with a doctor and on your own at home.

Light Therapy (Natural and Artificial)

One of the most important tools for combating seasonal depression is light; increase your exposure to light, and many of your symptoms may dramatically improve. Dr. Jones shares that “bright light therapy in the mornings…has been shown to be effective in decreasing symptoms in up to 85% of women with [SAD].” If you can, take advantage of the morning hours outside and soak up as much natural light as possible. To supplement, buy a lightbox that’s designed to mimic outdoor light while minimizing UV rays. Using the lightbox for 20-30 minutes in the morning can help restore your body’s natural rhythms and increase serotonin levels.

Photo: MarsBars via gettyimages.com

Aromatherapy and Meditation

Some women find that essential oils help combat depression. The exact mechanism is not known, but the Mayo Clinic suggests that “aromatherapy is thought to work by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which then send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system — the part of the brain that controls emotions.” Popular oils that can help target depression include lavender, bergamot, jasmine, and sandalwood. Combine aromatherapy with a meditation routine that’s designed to focus on light, hope, and gratitude.

Regular Exercise

Add to your list one more reason to exercise: combating seasonal depression. Both Drs. Jones and Fuller share that regular physical activity can help regulate your body’s rhythms and boost your mood by flooding your brain with endorphins. If you’re having trouble committing to a routine, reach out to a friend for an exercise date or join an online class. Even better? Exercise outside so that you’re combining added sunlight with physical activity.

Nutrition

Although eating a balanced diet is important year-round, focusing on your nutrition during bouts of seasonal depression is essential. Although you may crave more carbohydrates, make sure that you’re incorporating enough whole grains and vegetables to keep you feeling full and give you plenty of energy. To help combat lower levels of Vitamin D during these times, choose foods that are high in this nutrient, including fish and fortified grains. If your doctor finds that you still aren’t getting enough Vitamin D from food alone, add a supplement to your routine.

These wellness routines are a great way for women to stay holistically fit during the shift from summer to fall, so whether or not you’ve experienced seasonal depression in the past, try to incorporate these practices into your life today! And, of course, if you’re experiencing symptoms of seasonal depression, make sure to talk with your doctor about the best treatment options available.