6 Apps to Help Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

2016 is only a few weeks away. As with every New Year, we tend to get carried away with ambitious resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, learn a new hobby, eat healthy, save money, and get organized.

Here are 6 apps to help keep those life-changing declarations throughout the year.

  1. Lose Weight.

By far, the most widely made resolution is to lose weight. If you’re looking for solid workouts that you can do from home, try Workout Trainer. This free app offers users thousands of free workouts complete with audio and video instructions. If you seek an app to help you stick to your fitness goals, try the Pact app. Pact allows you to wager money on whether you hit the gym or finish a workout. It verifies that you’ve met your goals by verifying that you’re going to the gym through your check-ins. If you reach or exceed your goal, you earn cash. If you don’t you have to pay. Having cash at stake is a great way to keep you invested in following through on your NYE vow.

  1. Quit Smoking.

An unfortunate battle that many of us face is the desire to quit smoking. Fortunately, there are apps available to help. One of those apps is called Smoke Free. The app tracks and notifies the user how long they have been smoke free, how much money has been saved, how many cigarettes have been avoided, and how health is improving. Visualizing success helps keep its users on track and encourages their new smoke-free lifestyle.

  1. Learn a New Hobby.

There’s an app for nearly every hobby. Whether your hobby is golf, bird watching or photography, there’s an app to help you get the most out of your off-duty time. Whatever hobby you choose, use a goal app to incorporate your new hobby into your life successfully. Apps like GoalsOnTrack, allow you to set goals with clear action plans.

  1. Eat Healthy.

Losing weight is not always the ultimate goal for living a healthy lifestyle. After all the pumpkin pies, gingerbread cookies, and cider, your body would benefit from a junk food break. One of the best apps for a eating healthy is called Substitutions. Whether you’re in your kitchen or roaming the aisle of you favorite supermarket, this app suggests alternatives for foods you wish to avoid. Another great tool to replace your meals with healthier options is Locavore. This app allows you to find local, in-season food at farmers markets, farm stands, and groceries in your area.

  1. Save Money.

Saving money is an ideal goal for many of us who have a tight budget after the holidays. We can even be afraid to check our bank accounts for fear of seeing the little amount that awaits us. Level Money is a streamlined app that automatically updates you on how much spendable cash you have for the day. Another great app is Unsplurge, that helps users focus on saving by providing visuals on long-term savings goals. This might include a trip to Paris or the camera you’ve always wanted. For some of us, visions and dreams is all the motivation we need to save.

  1. Get Organized.

The New Year symbolizes a new beginning and opportunity to get our life together. Organizational apps are perfect tools to help this effort. 30/30 is a task manager that uniquely allows users to divide their days into increments of 30-minute blocks of work. These periods can be adjusted accordingly but it encourages its users to stay on task and finish projects efficiently without feeling overwhelmed. If a cluttered and fragmented calendar system is the root of your problem, try UpTo. This app syncs together your existing calendars to one, concise platform.

How To Eat Your Way Through The Holidays, The Healthy Way

If the holidays are about one thing and one thing only, then surely it’s food. As soon as December leaps into action, we are inundated with invites for festive drinks, winter feasts and after-work snacks. Eating has become such a huge part of the winter season that it’s very easy to enter into the new year a whole lot bigger than you ended the previous one.

When it comes to festive food, it seems that we’re either all in or all out and very rarely do we manage to find a healthy middle ground. While one year we might binge eat our way through Christmas and the holidays, another year we might restrict ourself entirely, forbidding ourselves for indulging in fear of not being able to stop. There is another way, however. Enjoying food during the holiday season is one of the greatest ways in which to truly appreciate everything the winter has to offer and even if we eat a little more than normal, there’s no reason why we should beat ourselves up about it. The holidays are all about relaxing and celebrating life. The trick is knowing how to go about it without losing control.

Start Cooking Yourself

The more that you’re able to cook yourself, the healthier that your relationship with food will become. While you don’t have to become a gourmet chef over the month of December, understanding the types of foods that you like to eat can really make you relax about how much you’re eating, and what you’re cooking. View your meals as a celebration and a way to relax; food should make you feel better about yourself, not worse. The more active a role you have in the cooking process, the more consistent your eating habits will become. It shouldn’t be about all or nothing.

Make A Christmas Menu

When it comes to the festive season, we all have our own preferences when it comes down to the menu. If you’re in charge of the festive cooking this year, it’s your opportunity to load up your plate with your favorite kind of dishes and while you might want to whip up an indulgent feast, it can also be worth investigating a few healthier options, too. Having control over what you are eating over the Christmas season is a much better way to not let your eating habits spiral out of control and if you can feature a healthy dish or two, it’s all the better. The difference between how you feel after a healthy and a stodgy meal can be incredible and might just change your perspective on Christmas eating altogether.

Don’t Restrict Yourself

While indulging in a food free-for-all is not exactly advisable over the Christmas period, neither is making a list of foods that you’re not allowed to eat. As soon as you restrict yourself from certain types of meals, your cravings for these dishes is going to skyrocket and if you do cave in and eat them, you could just feel worse about yourself in the long run. Faddy and restrictive diets will leave you feeling grumpy, isolated and seriously unfestive. Be freer with your eating; you might be surprised at how much self control you actually have!

Plan Your Shopping List

In the same way that planning a Christmas menu is a great way to keep your eating habits within the realms of normality over the holiday season, so too is writing about a shopping list and sticking to it. At this time of the year, supermarkets are awash with tempting treats and holiday offers and even if you enter them with one thing in mind, it’s easy to come away with arms full of naughty treats. Planning out your cooking and meals beforehand is a simple way to make sure your shopping habits remain under check and you don’t buy all of those indulgent extras that you will probably regret in January. There’s nothing more satisfying than checking off a list.

Try To Relax

Let’s face it, we all eat a little more than we should over the Christmas period. There’s no reason to panic if you enter the new year a little more full than you would like to be and worrying about it is will not achieve anything at all. The more stressed that you feel, the harder it might be to get back on track with your eating habits when the new year rolls around, so allow yourself a little breathing room.

The holiday season is all about kicking back and relaxing and allowing yourself a little bit extra on your plate is nothing to beat yourself up about. While you can take control of what you eat, you should ultimately do whatever feels right to you this holiday. Eat, drink and be merry!

How To Sleep More Soundly, The Natural Way

The difference between a good night’s sleep and a bad night’s sleep can make or break your day. Whether you suffer from late night stress, insomnia, restlessness or a combination of the three, bad sleep can really have a detrimental effect on your general attitude to life. If you fall into the category of a “bad sleeper”, then you could find yourself suffering from irritability, an inability to concentrate throughout the day, mood swings or anxiety. Sleeping soundly, then, is incredibly important.

While, the next time that you struggle to fall asleep, you might find yourself reaching for your medicine cabinet, taking a leaf out of mother nature’s book might just serve you better in the long run. Arguably gentler and with more effective results, natural sleep remedies can do just as good a job as their pharmaceutical cousins, and won’t leave you feeling awful the next morning. Sometimes, the key to a good night’s sleep is taking your time and winding down gently. And when things get really hard? Mother nature is always on your side.

Passion Flower

While it’s not something that many people will have in their (natural) medicine cabinet, Passion Flower can actually have hugely positive effects on your sleeping patterns. Taking the extract in tablet form at the same time each day can dramatically reduce feelings of anxiety and in turn, help you to fall asleep more readily at the end of the night. While you might not see immediate effects, keep taking them regularly; natural sleep aids take a few days to take effect but when they do, they can work incredibly well.

Regular Exercise

While not a natural “cure” per se, exercise is actually one of the most effective, non-medicinal ways to combat sleep problems. There is a huge difference between feeling physically and mentally tired and often, the latter kind can leave us feeling wired and unable to switch off at the end of the day. Tiring out your body during the day is a great way of falling into a deeper, more refreshing sleep during the night and getting there could be just as easy as taking brisk walk before eating, or going on an early morning run to set your body in motion for a better night’s sleep later on. Physically tiring your body is also a great way of getting your brain to switch off and stop focusing on all of those internal anxieties. When night-time comes around, you might fall asleep before your head hits the pillow.

Fish Oil

If you’re looking for a way in which to curb your midday caffeine fix, then fish oil could be the very thing. Fatty acids found in the natural supplement have been proven to help to reduce a stress hormone that commonly causes feelings of anxiety. If you feel more stressed than usual, you might find falling asleep an extra challenge, as your hormones will be out of balance. Regularly taking a fish oil can help to restore this balance and in turn, will prevent you from feeling tired throughout the day.

Mindful Meditation

Deep breathing techniques can be one of the best ways in which to shut off from the world around you and re-energize after a stressful day. Focusing on things which you can directly affect is a great way to channel your thoughts and reduce any feelings of stress or anxiety that you might have carried forward from your day’s work. Lying in a quiet room and breathing deeply can quickly help to relax your nervous system and enter into a state of rest. If you’re new to mindful meditations, you can try using a spoken guide which will talk you through the breathing techniques. Take 10 minutes for yourself; you might be surprised at just how effective it really can be.

Magnesium

Perhaps the answer to all of your stress-related problems, Magnesium is a supplement worth taking seriously. Used to help to restore cells and soothe muscles when you sleep, Magnesium is a very common cure for people with high levels of stress searching for a natural way in which to relax. While you can take Magnesium supplements, you can just as easily find the mineral in foods. Eating nuts, dark leafy greens and even seaweed regularly can dramatically increase your Magnesium stores and help you to lead a much more relaxed way of life.

Worrying about getting a sleep need not keep you up during the night; simply take time for yourself, listen to your body and, when things get really tough, take a tip from mother nature.

How To De-Stress During The Holidays

The holidays are a time to get together with family, be thankful for everything you have and celebrate. With so much seasonal goodwill and joy being pumped through every media outlet out there, though, it can feel like being happy is the only acceptable way in which to pass December and while the holiday season is certainly one to celebrate, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel a little blue. As you’re hit by party after party and feast after feast, you might feel like you’re struggling to balance your regular responsibilities, job, family life and social calendar alongside it all and if that’s the case, then you’re probably not alone.  

This time of year is one of the most joyous and celebratory but also, it can be one of the most stressful. When you’re thinking about everything and everyone apart from yourself, it can be easy to neglect your basic needs and end up wallowing in a whole lot of holiday stress. Take a breath. De-stressing this holiday season is one of the best ways that you can ensure you give all of your loved ones your all; sometimes you have to be a little bit selfish in order to really give back.

But what are the best ways in which to destress and come out of the holiday season shining? After doing these things, you might just be the most relaxed person in the world.

Let It All Out

While screaming at your nearest and dearest might be the very thing that you’re trying to avoid, venting your frustrations can actually be one of the healthiest ways in which you can destress. If you’re feeling the pressures from all sides, letting someone know about it might make you feel a whole lot better. While you don’t have to erupt in a volcanic-like rage, you can grab a cup of coffee with a close friend and have a non-seasonal “discussion”. Simply putting all of your holiday-related anguish on the table will make you feel much better and able to keep going through the season. Sometimes, you need to be a bit of a Scrooge in order to carry on the festivities.

Smell The Roses

Our favorite scents can often be the most calming and comforting and simply being surrounded by them can dramatically reduce our stress levels. Taking time out to light a candle, or make yourself a mug of seasonal glogg can be like getting a warm, fuzzy hug, without actually having to talk to anyone at all. Spritz a pashmina or squashy scarf with your signature scent and drape it around yourself when you feel your blood pressure rising. One whiff of your favorite perfume will set the world right again.

Take It Slowly

The holiday season is all about multitasking and balancing chores but when you’re trying to juggle 50 things at once and you’ve run out of limbs with which to do it, the whole thing can be a little overwhelming. Focusing on one task at a time is the best way to not only reduce stress levels but also, ensure that the job gets done right, the first time. The holiday season is not about being a worker bee; take your time, linger in the moment and enjoy the time while it lasts.

Focus On Yourself

While you’re busy looking after everyone else’s needs and cooking daily feasts, who’s caring for you? Taking a little “me” time during the festive season is essential should you want to get anything done; sometimes, being selfish benefits everyone. Try doing one thing for yourself everyday, no matter how small it might be. Buy yourself a festive coffee, or linger in the bath a little longer during the evening. Allowing yourself small indulgences will remind you just how delightful the holiday season can really be. If everyone else is indulging, why can’t you too?

Find The Light

As the nights creep in and the days peter out, it can be easy to get really depressed about the holiday season. The sheer lack of natural light is enough to make even the most positive person feel a little less than their best selves and as a result, it is easy to let the little things build up. Your body clock can be negatively affected by the sheer lack of natural light during the winter months, so finding an alternative source is a great way of keeping your head above the water. Luckily, there are many light therapy solutions out there to keep your brain flooded with a sort of natural light, and your mood buoyant.

The holiday season is a time to be thankful for everything that you have and to celebrate with loved ones. Rather than letting the little things take over, try focusing a little more on your own needs and spreading a little festive joy where you need it the most. After all, what are the holidays for?

7 Tips For Stress-free Holiday Shopping

Holiday shopping time is here but the thought of traffic, crowds, and chaos is enough to keep us homebound. There are several ways you can make holiday shopping less stressful and more meaningful this season.

  1. Make a list, no need to check it twice. Make a list of people in your life you would like to express gratitude to this holiday season. Although it can be difficult to narrow down, try to keep the list modest to those people who truly mean something to you. Now for the hard part. Stick to that list and don’t stray away. It will feel uncomfortable when you receive an unexpected gift from an acquaintance. Naturally, you want to reciprocate but a last minute present hunt for the individual is not only exasperating, it’s disingenuous. If you would truly like to exchange the good gesture, offer to take them out to lunch or for coffee at their favorite local cafe. Sometimes, an authentic conversation is the best gift of all.
  1. Love at first site. Online shopping is your saving grace this season. While the concept of online shopping is nothing new, there are millions of sites and online vendors to choose from. Opt for online retailers with optimized holiday shopping sites to make the experience a pain-free process. Sites like UncommonGoods offer an array of gifts for everyone on your shopping list. The website allows you to shop by recipient, price, interest, or collection to find a thoughtful gift that matches the unique personality of your loved one. Another site that offers whimsical gifts at a wide range of price points is Pink Olive. From home goods to accessories, you’ll find something for the chic people in your life. Procrastinators beware: Double-check those delivery dates. If you wait last minute to order, your Christmas treasures will become an after New Year’s present.
  1. Concierge Shopping. If you are completely overwhelmed by holiday shopping, you can try a personal concierge service. These services are designed to fight the crowds on your behalf, saving you time and headaches. To find assistance near you, Google “concierge service” or “personal shopper” and your city. If you have room to splurge, try a personalized event service like TRULY Experiences. TRULY creates bespoke experiences for their clients from extraordinary dinning dates to luxurious spa days.
  1. Pinterest Please. Avoid the madness of the mall altogether and make the perfect gift. With sites like Pinterest, a world of DIY ideas awaits you. Design one-of-a-kind accessories or paint an original piece of art. Nervous about your crafting skills? Sites like Amazon offer complete kits with everything you need for your project along with directions. Newspapers, magazines, brown shipping paper, and even scraps of old wrapping paper can be utilized for an unconventional and creative way to wrap your crafty gifts.
  1. That’s a Wrap. One of the biggest nightmares of the holidays is the challenge of wrapping all those items. When you make your purchase, ask the cashier if they offer gift-wrapping. Stores that offer complimentary gift-wrapping don’t typically advertise it, so it’s worth investigating. Research charity gift-wrapping drives in your area. Local schools and non-profits will usually host these drives around town wrapping all your gifts in exchange for a charitable donation. If all else fails, you can’t go wrong with a festive gift bag and tissue paper.
  1. You Time. The person you neglect the most during the holidays is yourself. Between the shopping, the crowds, and the parties, make time for yourself these holidays. Schedule a massage or incorporate hot yoga into your day. Create a relaxing environment in your home with spiced scented candles and light your rooms with Christmas lights. The ambiance will make you feel warm and calm, just the way you should feel around this time of year.
  1. It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s easy to lose yourself in the hustle and bustle of the season. Don’t lose sight of what the spirit of the holidays is all about. Invite friends and family to cozy up around the television and watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Released in 1946, the film focuses on the life of George Bailey (James Stewart) who was given the opportunity to see how life would look like without him. George discovered what an amazing life he truly had and found a new appreciation for his loved ones just in time for Christmas. The heart-warming movie will lift your spirits and put you in a wonderful mood.
How to Maintain Your Youth and Beauty

As we age we can find it difficult to maintain our inner young and spirited self along with our ideal “perfect body”. Not to mention, we see and hear all the pressure of botox, facelifts, and cosmetic surgeries every time we look in a magazine or turn on the television. Fear not, There are ways we can go around the costly and harmful botched cosmetic procedures and get results the good ol’ natural way. A lot of these practices come from within, we just need to make them a routine which will in turn make the outcome more rewarding in the long run. So, here’s a list of 5 alternatives to maintaing your young and beautiful self.

Keep your skin hydrated: Apply moisturizing lotions every day or better yet a couple times a day! It’s best to apply after taking a warm shower when your pores are open and will absorb every drop. In no time you can get your skin back to feeling nourished and balanced. (note: When purchasing a new moisturizer, find one to go well with your skin type.)

Always use sunscreen in the sun: Using sunscreen is vital to protect your lovely skin. It helps to prevent facial brown spots, skin discolorations, and not to mention SKIN CANCER. Yikes!using sunscreen can also slow down the process of aging skin. Do not forget put it on before you go out into the sun or bring it with you as a reminder.

Exercise: That’s an obvious one! Exercise allows you to sweat out all the toxins in your body leaving you with a healthier and brighter complexion. Doing even just a short workout in the morning or when you have extra free time can significantly increase your energy levels. Those factors alone could make you look and feel young again.

Vitamin and mineral intake: Keep your skin happy by indulging in as many Vitamin A,B, and C rich foods. A balanced daily diet are some of the key ingredients to maintaining a beautiful and youthful body who will thank you every day you choose to practice good eating habits.

De-stress: Stress is apart of life, we all face stress one way or another whether it’s emotional or physical. Unfortunately, dealing with a lot of stress can cause us to feel older and age more quickly. Learning how to combat your stress levels and find relaxing techniques or helpful tools such as taking deep breaths or stretching can be a huge help. Fight those everyday stress urges ladies, our youth and beauty is counting on it!

 

The Benefits of Planning Meals

We are all naturally good at planning. Whether it’s planning our work week, scheduling to pick up the kids from school, or getting together with friends for mid-week dinner parties, we all have to plan.  

Although It could feel great to keep up our productivity level and rush to get onto the next task, sometimes we forget to think about what and where our next meal will be. By not planning our meals, we can easily slip into a pattern of indulging in unhealthy foods. Fortunately, with these easy tips, you can turn a hectic week into something stress-free while improving your own personal health and the health of your family.

Saving time: There are numerous advantages to planning your meals. By taking one day out of the week to prepare meals for the week with appropriate portions, you can better manage your time. The rushes you were previously in to fit in time to eat will reduce and will help you have a stress-free day.

Eliminating last minute stress: Believe it or not, you waste a lot of time each day contemplating what to make for dinner, and it’s stressful. You go back and forth between recipies trying to figure out if you have the right ingredients or if it would take too long to cook. If you have a meal plan, you can take care of things in advance and all that is left at the end of a long day is just getting it on the table.

Helping you avoid unhealthy choices: Instead of picking up last minute unhealthy foods for dinner, you can plan to include healthy choices such as complex carbohydrates: whole grains, fresh or frozen veggies, fresh fruit or frozen berries, whole wheat bread, low fat or fat free dairy, lean meats, olive oil, salads with balsamic vinegar, etc.

Short grocery trips: Meal planning helps you stay organized when shopping for groceries. Write a list and pick up all the ingredients you need for the week or month during a single trip to your local market.

 

3 Easy Ways to Balance Your Diet

When we think of healthy foods to eat, we immediately think about fruits and vegetables as the foundation of a healthy diet. We can’t rely on only produce to give us all our essential nutrients and protein. There are many other factors towards our diet that we need to keep in mind such as lean protein and whole grains.

Learn how you can balance out your diet in 3 easy steps:

Step 1. Foods are categorized in 5 main food groups based on their nutrient content. It’s necessary to your balanced health to eat from these five groups every day.

  1. vegetables and legumes/beans
  2. fruit
  3. grain
  4. dairy and alternatives
  5. meats and alternatives

Step 2. Eat in moderation. This could be difficult and a huge test on your self control but it is extremely beneficial. You can easily decrease overeating habits by limiting the amount of food on your plate and opting for more veggies and grains instead of loading on extra unhealthy calories. (Tip: If you need additional motivation and/or guidance, writing a meal plan at the beginning of each week could be your savior. Planning your portions and which types of foods you will eat can significantly reduce the need to overeat and mindless munch.)

Step 3. Limit your liquid calories. Drinking alcohol and other liquids that have sugar and calories such as: beer, mixed drinks, wine, sodas, sweetened tea or juice could throw off your balanced diet.  

  1. Juices that say they’re 100 % fruit juice still contain a high amount of sugar in them. If you’re going to drink juice, think about only consuming it occasionally and in moderation (for to six ounces).
  2. Eliminate sodas. If you’re drinking them for the caffeine try to stick with coffee and tea with slim milk and little to no sweetener.
  3. Limit the amount of alcoholic bevarages you have each week. The relatively high calorie count in alcohol can easily lead to weight gain and can produce nutritional deficiencies if consumed excessively. women should drink no more than 14 drinks per week, no more than three drinks in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days a week.
  4. A glass of wine or the occasional glass of sweetened tea is OK. Again, it’s important to enjoy these items when consumed in moderation.