Thursday, 25 February 2021

9 of the Best Free Weight Loss and Wellness Websites


9 of the Best

I am always on the hunt for new ideas on health, fitness and well-being. There are some great websites out there full of's almost too much. This year more than ever, we really need to focus on our overall health and well-being, whether its fitness, eating habits or our mental health. One way or another, over these last 12 months, lockdowns have affected at least one part, if not all of our overall health. 

Living a healthy life and being the best version of ourselves is our ultimate goal. We all want to feel our best both physically and mentally but where do we start looking? I have compiled a list of my personal favourites, a few I have been following for years. With just 6 weeks to go before we can start living a semi 'normal''s a good time to start investing some extra time in to our fitness, health and well-being.

  1. This is my absolute favourite website. HASfit stands for 'Heart and Soul Fitness' and the website has been up and running for over 7 years. The site has a huge library of workout videos for all types of workouts, from HIIT's to seated workouts ..... it is that diverse. "Coach" and Claudia Kozak instruct all the videos together, with modified moves, if you do not feel ready to attempt the full exercise. The website also contains a wealth of dietary and nutritional food advice and recipes as well as their own app you can download. There are many workout videos and recipes that are free however there are some workout programmes you can purchase starting from as little as $4.99 or various books on food and nutrition.                                                                                                          
  2. Yoga with Christina - Chriska Yoga This is not actually a website....but a lifestyle Youtube channel. Christina is a registered '500 hours' yoga instructor and has a 'Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts' in dance. Her channel has over 300 yoga videos to choose from. The range is from a beginner's 15 minute Hatha Yoga class to a 30 day yoga challenge. There are specialised yoga classes such as 'Yoga for sleep' to 'Yoga to energise'. Yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance not to mention the mental health benefits gained from yoga positions.                                                                                                                                    
  3. NHS Fitness Studio The NHS website is full of healthy tips on nutrition. But it may surprise you to know they also have a fitness studio with free classes on a whole range of workouts. There are classes for aerobics, strength and resistance, yoga and pilates and 12 week plans to help you start a fitness regime.There are 24 instructor led videos ranging from 10 to 45 minutes.                                                                                                                           
  4. Lighthearts Uk Ltd This is a website to help reduce stress and anxiety, cope with depression and regain balance, peace and calm. The goal is to promote mindfulness and a holistic approach to mental health. There are a couple of free mental health and well-being courses ranging from 10 days to 10 weeks. You will also find an informative blog with many articles on well-being practices such as 'colour therapy' and 'binge eating disorder therapy'.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
  5. This website has an array of information on all health matters. This is my go to site if I ever need up to date information. Livestrong strive to help people make informed decisions about their own health. There is a lot of information about getting fit, eating healthier, managing weight and living well. Livestrong has an award winning 'MyPlate' app that can be downloaded from their site. It is the fastest and easiest way to lose weight. Livestrong is a site that houses all aspects of health and well-being.                                                                                                                                                         
  6.  Gymra - You Tube There are over 50 workout programmes, 1000's of on-the-go exercises and a custom tool to design your own workouts and this is for all fitness levels. They also have a website with hundreds of workouts to choose from. You can also browse through a ton of information on 'The Good Life'  - your daily dose of health and fitness section to keep you inspired and motivated.                                                                                                                                                   
  7.  Love Sweat and Fitness Blog LSF blog was created back in 2014 by the founder Katie Dunlop. Having lost 45lbs herself, she developed her own fitness and nutrition programme and became a certified trainer through her passion of  'all things healthy'. This is a community blog of inspired, empowered and motivated women dedicated to changing women's attitudes and beliefs towards the meaning of a healthy lifestyle. You can subscribe to this blog and receive a free e-book and daily workouts, healthy recipes and lifestyle tips as well as joining into the motivational womens community. The blog has lots of information and articles on a healthy lifestyle, nutrition and fitness ideas.                                                                                                                                                     
  8. Verywell - Fit Verywell fit is dedicated to educate readers on all aspects of fitness, nutrition and wellbeing. Their library has more than 6000+ pieces of content, created and refined for 20+ years. There are articles that have been written by dietitians, healthcare professionals, nutritionists and personal trainers. They have some great tools for helping you to determine your weight, fitness and well-being levels such as BMI calculators, recipe nutrition calculators, calories burned during activities calculators and many more. The workouts are very interesting using gifs rather than videos, followed by instructions, duration and variations. There are literally 100's of diet plans for you to look at with all the pro's and con's of any given plan.                                                                      
  9. Self Magazine Self reaches over 20 million people a month on various platforms such as their website, videos and social media. Their mission is to teach everyone to take good care of themselves. They recognise that wellness is about self-compassion and self expression as much as it is about workouts and healthy eating. They have a website packed with articles written by their columnists, who are all specialised in their chosen field of well-being. There is a workout section with various types of workouts using exercise gif's and instructions explaining each routine. Plenty of information can be found on diet and weight loss tips and lots of ideas and advice on beauty products and best buys.    
In summary, these are my favourite websites, packed full of information, helpful guides and plenty of advice to get your motivation up and running to a healthier lifestyle. 

I hope you enjoy looking at the information and articles on some or all of these sites. Tell me which ones you like, which ones you would like to follow and if you have found this article helpful? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.   


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Tuesday, 23 February 2021

How to Achieve Weight Loss Goals in 3 Easy Steps


What is a Goal

Sometimes too many words are thrown at us when we are trying to lose weight. Goals, planning, schedule, journal, BMI, hip to waist....what does it all really mean? Does it work? In what order do you list all this stuff. You just want to lose the weight right? It's all a bit overwhelming especially when you have just kick-started your 'Mojo'. Any more researching on diets, exercise and ideal weight scenarios will just leave your motivation, well ...... demotivated.

The first step

What is the first thing you should do? Set a goal......I know...its one of those words again!! Let me break it all down into steps. The goal, or in simple terms, the destination, the dream or it's the place you want to be!! Whether its a certain weight, a dress size, a fat percentage range or just for health reason.....this is the Goal. It's the ultimate place you want to be, your final destination. You really do need this..the goal, the thing you are aiming for. It's something that will keep your motivation in 'tip-top' at just the thought of being in that one place. If you are unsure and need a guideline then have a go at this tool. It will give you a good starting point. NHS BMI calculator healthy weight calculator

Just enter the correct information into this handy link (above) and you will have your goal weight. There is a healthy weight there is a weight that you can chose for your own personal goal. Try it's a very simple tool to use and will help you to gain some clarity of your end target.

Step Two

Now what to do? Make the plan! This is a really important step. If your goal is to lose 12 kilos (26 pounds) then this is a long way to go. Planning means you will break down your ultimate goal into smaller steps to make it more manageable and less daunting. If your goal is too far in the distance then this may lead to 'giving up' before you have reached that final destination. Planning will also give you insight into your own personal journey. One size does not fit all in the weight loss game. Everyone's body type, metabolism, and activity levels are different. A good plan will be sustainable, not too easy but definitely not too difficult. Make it too easy, there is no challenge, make it too difficult, there is scope for failure at an early stage. So with this in mind an example could be:

Jo wants to lose 12 kgs. She wants to lose this before her holiday date arrives in 15 weeks.

Her Goal is to lose 12 kgs. She has a 15 week challenge to do so. It is sustainable, she just needs to make a plan.

Her 12 week Plan is to lose 1 kg per week. To do this she will need to change a few things in her day to day life, so that it is not an overwhelming project. Jo is not too active and wants to improve her fitness but not so much that it massively impacts on her social life. For this to happen she will need to be in an approximate 1000 calorie deficit per day by cutting back on her calorific intake and adding exercise or activity to her day (there are 7700 calories worth of energy in 1kg of fat). This will implement a small change in her previous day to day life to achieve this 1kg loss per week. This sounds harder than it is. Jo wants to lose this weight before her holiday so she is prepared to make changes, but does not want to trade her social life for a heavy exercise load and a complete overhaul of her diet.
  • Jo will limit her daily intake from her previous intake of 2500 calories a day down to 1700 per day
  1. She will replace her usual breakfast of 2 waffles with syrup and a latte with a bowl of special K and a coffee with a tbsp of cream (saving 290 calories)
  2. She will replace 2 cans of coke with 2 cans of zero coke or sparkling water (saving 300 calories)
  3. She will swap her lunchtime packet of crinkly crisps with a packet of sweet chilli rice crisps (saving 75 calories)
  4. She will replace her 4pm tea break snack of an orange and cranberry muffin with a homemade honey oats and banana muffin (saving 223 calories)
  5. A total saving of 6220 calories a week                 
  • She will walk for 50 minutes, 5 times a week (at around 4km per hour which burns approx 240 calories) by walking to and from work instead of catching the bus (25 minutes each way) = A 1200 deficit in calories per week
  • She will join an online strength training fitness class twice a week for 45 mins each session (which will burn approx 220 - 240) = A 480 deficit in calories per week.
  • This is is a weekly total deficit of 6220 + 1200 + 480 = 7900. Jo should hit her goal in 12 weeks if she keeps to her plan. She will journal her eating and exercise in case she needs to make adjustments as she is heading towards her goal.

So Jo's plan has allowed her to have a three week gap between her goal destination and her holiday arrival date. This will help her immensely if she is not loosing the desired weight each week. It has allowed her to increase her fitness levels by walking to and from work and joining an online fitness programme twice a week. Jo has chosen online fitness so that she can fit in her workouts at home and do them at the time she pleases. Jo's life has not altered too much. Her food intake has changed by swapping high calorie foods for lower calorie versions of the same type of food. She has not overhauled her diet completely. Jo knows that she needs to add cardio into her life to increase her cardio health and walking to and from work will mean that she has to leave her home 30 minutes earlier than usual. 

Jo has a Goal to lose 12 kilos and a 12 week plan to reach her goal. That is the difference between a Goal and a Plan

Step Three

Journal your progress......write it down. Why? If your plan is not working at some point in your weight loss journey, then you can monitor what you are doing each day. If we go back to Jo.....she is losing 1 kilo a week for 9 weeks. On week 10 she loses 0.5 kilos. This is not a failure. This is not the time to give up. This will be the time to refer to your journal. There maybe a calorie issue? Jo may not have added up her calories correctly within week 9? She may have missed her walk/workout......maybe had an extra drink socially, that was not a normal is easily done, the odd glass of wine, sugar loaded can of drink? Or maybe she just needs to 'tweek' her diet/exercise programme to ramp up her metabolism. There are two options here:

Option One: Jo could continue as she is? She will need to continue to monitor her progress. She will still reach her goal on week long as she continues with a 0.5 kilo weight loss. Her plan and goal have stayed the same. She has just changed the time limit from 12 to 15 weeks.

Option Two: Jo could change her plan. She could add an extra walk at the weekend to burn more calories? If she is enjoying her online class she can add an extra workout to her week. Jo could cut back on her calories per day by swapping another food for a lower calorie version. Her goal is the same, but by monitoring her food intake and exercise programme she can see areas that can change her plan slightly to bring her to her goal at the time limited she originally set herself.

Jo has the same Goal......she is changing her Plan to reach her goal. In your weight loss journey there is no failures just a re-adjustment to get you back on track......the big advantage to any plan is writing a Journal. There is an array of journals on the market to help all sorts of planning schedules in whatever goals you hope to achieve. For me personally I love to write in a journal. I do have apps too, but I find writing things on paper, especially if I need to review a long term plan, a lot easier to see in a written journal. Have a browse through the links to get an idea on journals and how they work. They are inexpensive and good tools to help with your progress and maintenance. 

(This post contains affiliate marketing links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn commission, but this will not increase the cost of the item or cost you extra to purchase. Many thanks. (see my 'about' page for details))

In conclusion - To achieve your goal you must have a plan. Find your goal first, make a sustainable plan, not too easy and not too difficult. You want your plan to be a little bit challenging so you don't get bored, but not too difficult so you feel you are failing before you even start. Make sure that you write down your goal and your plan in a journal or on an app and keep an eye on your progress by monitoring your food intake and exercise programme. Remember....."Your Goal stays the same......its your Plan that can change" and most importantly....."There is no Failures in Goal setting......your plan is changeable. It's your plan and your journey"


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Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Weight Loss - Choose your Path - Control your Journey


The Mindset

Eat more fruit and veg, drink more water, exercise for half an hour a day. We know this, we hear this, we have done this? So why is it so difficult to stick to? Visualisation...... yep, we have the photo of our successful weight loss and happy face pinned to our fridge door......but it still happens? It's the task to take control and conquer the mental game of fighting between food, cravings and self doubt in exchange for the new healthier version of ourselves that's the annihilator. This is the reason that destroys our efforts. The start of the journey is exciting, the remarks and compliments are motivating and the continued journey of our decreasing dress size is exhilarating. We hit our target, we feel great, we are where we want to be ...... and then it all stops. We reached our goal weight, we feel better about our health, the way we look, the way our clothes feel....but it's our mindset that has long gone. Why? Because it's the battle with our minds and emotions. The compliments and comments stop and self doubt returns. Many weight issues are connected to unhappy memories and self-hate. When the compliments stop and the admiring looks diminish then the positive mindset returns to self-sabotage.

Learning to Stop this Cycle

The first step forward is to prioritise this constructive thought as your number one 'reason' for weight loss on your 'positive mindset' list.

" The only judgement or opinion about you, that really matters in your weight-loss journey, is yours and nobody else's". 

This is your first priority and the one that will keep you on the road to a lifetime success story. As humans we tend not to spare a thought for our own feelings and beliefs. They come and go, pass us by or we push them to one side. We do however, let the opinions and judgement of others grind us down, or we dwell on and harbour upon unkind words and then turn to self doubt for an answer. To unchain your thoughts from this self destruction you must start repeating 'self-affirmations' and practice them daily to free yourself of the emotional turmoil that destroys your self esteem and leads you to this unhealthy lifestyle. Feel strong, proud and confident in yourself....tell yourself you are brave to take this step forward, you are capable to complete and maintain your life's journey and you deserve to be who you want to be. It is too easy to blame others, to let others destroy your hard work, but you have the power, in your mindset to continue past these negative and unwanted hurdles to find peace with yourself and continue towards your own goals.

Repeating affirmations will boost your motivation and confidence, but it doesn't stop here. You do have to take action too. So see this as a step forward and not the change in itself. If someone has upset you enough to reach for the biscuit tin...STOP....repeat your mantra "I am better than this" or "Only my opinions matter." This may not be enough for you? When you feel self doubt or anger you may find that turning to deep breathing ( Relax and Breathe ) or grounding exercises (counting to 10) will calm you to reasonable thinking and positive thoughts. This type of tactic along with affirmations will guide you through difficult situations and haunting memories. Affirmations are the tools to change not the change itself. Positive Affirmations

Weight Loss and Maintenance

Once your mindset is focused and ready, you will need to plan and start your journey. You will have to be realistic when you set your goals and monitor your progress at all times ( Goal Setting ). This process will become second nature as the weight starts to drop and you see results. The whole picture will start to form as you continue your journey, but you must keep your 'positive' mindset in check and repeat your affirmations daily. In addition to the goals you have set yourself, you may wish to add new habits to your healthier lifestyle to help you progress further:

  • Exercise portion controlPortion Control ) or count calories and always journal everything you eat and drink. This will keep you on track throughout your weight loss journey. Taking photos of your meals and logging them into your journal becomes a visual aid to keeping your portions under control. We easily 'kid' ourselves that we are eating normal portions, if we are not weighing our food. The photos will just keep us in check and help us avoid overeating. A journal is just a food diary that helps to keep us accountable each day and another tool for weight loss. Anything that will increase our awareness of what we are eating is bound to be beneficial
  • Keep healthy foods in your cupboards and fridge. This is a must when you are on a weight loss programme. Keeping temptation out of harms way will keep us grounded and help us to loose the pounds. Keep healthy snacks available such as fruit, nuts, yoghurts, sliced and ready vegetables with healthy dips and hard boiled eggs. Try to prepare snacks in readiness for when the cravings attack 100 Calories Snacks
  • Exercise to burn calories. Burning calories is a great way to drop the pounds whilst pursuing a healthier lifestyle. I am no advocate of exercising to 'eat more'. You cannot 'out-exercise' a bad diet. Exercise and healthy eating go hand-in-hand to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Government guidelines advise that we take half an hour to perform moderate cardio exercise per day and strength training twice a week. Exercise and Burning Calories
  • Don't diet - eat healthy. To loose and maintain your weight, you need to find a way of eating that suits your lifestyle. It is not a good idea to restrict yourself of too many food groups or embark on an unsustainable regime that encroaches on your social habits. You need to think about how you live your life and how your new eating plan will impact on your day to day living. Think of your food as your new healthy living in the long term not just as a short fix to reach your goal.
  • Watch what you drink. We can get into the habit of logging food and taking photos of our portion sizes, but adding all we drink appears to go by the wayside. Sugary drinks and squashes are one of the biggest causes of obesity, because we do not see fluids as additional calories. Be more aware of your drinking habits, including the odd shot, short or glass of wine. This adds to the calorific intake over the weeks and could be one of the main reasons that the pounds have accumulated over time. Hidden Calories in your Drinks
In conclusion: To loose and maintain our weight, we must first and foremost, set our minds to succeed. We must not let others judge or comment in a negative way to destroy our efforts. We must remember to practice affirmations daily and appreciate our own worth. The past can recreate cruel memories to push us into a void of self hatred, yet we should learn to see these memories as lessons we have learnt from, enabling us to move on and better ourselves. We must understand that we want to improve ourselves for us and for nobody else. We can of course, seek our goals through events, such as a celebration party we want to look nice for, or a holiday we want to finally wear nice summer clothes with ease.......but the ultimate goal is for us as a person and to maintain for ourselves. Try to change your unhealthy life style for a healthier way of living. This is not just a quick fix. Find new habits to replace those that have brought us to this problem in the first place. Look forward to the new healthier you......choose your own path, it's yours to control.


Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Relieve Stress and Anxiety with Personal Financial Budgeting


Why can budgeting relieve stress?

As if three lockdowns in themselves aren't enough to bring us stress and anxiety, we are now finding ourselves with added extra financial stress as our incomes are either reduced to 80% of our wage or pay at all. From March 2020 to February 2021 we are hanging in there ..... or maybe just about. But how much more can our purses and spending tolerate? How can we set a budget on so little? Having a plan or a budget can positively affect our emotional state and relieve us from symptoms of stress. Planning helps us to feel in control and assists us to look seriously at our spending habits and drive them in the right direction. There is also a certain amount of pleasure in knowing that we can make ends meet financially if we put our minds to it. 

This is a personal subject close to my heart at present, along with many working people. I have found myself some months, with just a few pennies left in my account and having to choose between what is a necessity and what can be 'left' til next pay day. The last year has taught me to think about my spending, what I can live without and what is really worth a few extra pennies.

Budgeting Tools

For the last 7 months I have been using a budgeting tool to help me with my spending. It is such a simple idea but has had quite an impact on the way I spend my income. Probably in the days prior to lockdown, I would waste money on things I didn't really need and many times I wasted cash on impulse buys. When you have a limited income it is very interesting to look at your spend and find ways to cut back on purchases whilst still enjoying little treats. I have attached a link for this 'Budget Tool' (above) so that you can download and have a go at budgeting yourself. It is a google sheet so you may need to convert it to the software you have on your device already or download google docs. I have even managed to put aside some savings on the odd month, just by keeping an eye on my outgoings using this budgeting tool.

Example Budget

The budgeting tool automatically calculates your potential spend as well as your savings for the month from your monthly income. All you need to do is input your actually spend and the rest is calculated for you. As the month progresses you will see a pattern occurring and can start to make appropriate adjustments to save in certain areas of your expenses. 

So....How can budgeting ease financial stress:

  • A budget can actually help you save - Without any idea of your spending, how can you even think about saving? Once you physically see how you spend your money with a budget, you will find a 'benchmark' figure. Without a budget we tend to only see the amount that's left in our bank account at the end of the month. Or perhaps our surplus funds are seen as spare cash rather than money that can be saved for something we 'really' want, say a holiday or home improvements. So instead we use this 'surplus' to impulse buy, when remembering that handy gadget we saw in a magazine or just feel we need to treat ourselves at the end of a hard month. Don't get me wrong here, we should treat ourselves and I often do.......but nowadays I do this with a little more thought. With careful consideration and allocating the amounts we need for both living and social expenses, the month end surplus cash can help build savings, which in turn brings us less stress and some financial peace.
  • A Budget plan opens your eyes in ways to save money - Once you start your budget plan and see your expenses, it can be an incentive to look at the areas that you can cut your spend and release more cash. This gives you more opportunities to save. This exercise is not to remove or eradicate any expenses that you may have, but just to reduce the spend. For example, you may wish to look at your food shopping? Are there ways that you can take advantage of discount cards, coupons or cheaper brands (shops own brand) . Can you be more savvy and purchase special offers and use these ingredients rather than going for the usual purchases. My favourite past time at the moment is popping into the local super market and buying the fresh mince meat in the 'reduced price' section.  This is normally close to it's sell by date and the price is reduced by almost half. This can be frozen and cooked at a later date making several substantial meals. There maybe areas of your spend that you can rearrange some better deals and interest rates with your credit card company and bank, or switching your energy companies and wifi packages.
  • Budgeting and goals - Do you have financial goals? I for one love to travel and have a few goals yet to achieve. For me, the world is here to discover but I also have to be realistic, so I take one step at a time. Financial goals are like any other, they do take time. Think of your financial goal as you set your budget. It is a good idea to open a separate savings account for any long term goals that you have. Add into your budget plans the amount you feel you can put to one side each month (no matter how small) and watch your savings grow. This can also lead to a positive mindset as you see an achievement in the making at some point in the future. Fulfilling long term financial goals help you build financial security.
  • Budgeting and self-discipline - Budgeting can feel quite a challenge at first, however once you get into the 'swing' of living within financial boundaries, you will actually build good habits, acquire reflective financial decisions and will spend less. This will lead into more savings, cash in your pocket and peace of mind with your finances.

In summary creating a budget can ease away financial stress and anxiety. Rather than ignoring financial worries, a budget will help you to take control of your spending and help you to build positive habits and reflective financial decisions. You will feel better if you face your financial challenges head on and take small but significant steps in the right direction. Setting yourself a personal budget will help you save, as well as boosting your emotional health. 
There are some good sources that will help you with your budgeting and enable you to see all your financial spends from weekly to annually. This will assist you in setting up your own personal budget plan depending on your individual weekly or monthly income.  Free Budget Planner   Which - 50 Ways to Save Money      Money Saving Expert


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