Holistic Lifestyle

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Marc Dressen is a sports scientist, NLP coach, lifestyle coach and personal trainer – he shares his 7-exercise sequence perfect for getting fit quick this summer.

HIIT is a style of exercise that involves intensive interval training, you can take a rest in-between your exercises or go straight to the next. These exercises use only your body weight… so ensure you wear suitable footwear and clothing. You can do these exercises after each other, or start by doing one each day before you feel ready to put them all together in one workout.

Make sure you do a warm up to begin, and then do some stretches after the sequence, drink plenty of water and adjust your diet to wholesome and healthy eating to be sure to get fit and healthy ready for summer time.

1: Jumping Air Jacks – Exercise Library (HIIT) | Marc Dressen

2: Triple 3x Jump Squats – Exercise Library (HIIT) | Marc Dressen

3: Ski Jumps – Exercise Library (HIIT) | Marc Dressen

4: Alternating Jumping Lunges for Beginners – Exercise Library (HIIT) | Marc Dressen

5: Inchworms – Exercise Library (HIIT) | Marc Dressen

6: Burpees – Exercise Library (HIIT) | Marc Dressen

7:  High Knees – Exercise Library (HIIT) | Marc Dressen

Why not share your results on social media: Twitter @MarcDressenPT and @HolisticTMag

To get more videos from Marc head to his YouTube and click subscribe and visit his website: https://www.marcdressen.com


Feature image taken by Darren Brade

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Most special occasions are about the outfit – but your make-up is important too. Here are some tips from industry make-up artist, Kelli Waldock

  1. It’s a tired old saying but ‘get lots of beauty sleep’. The fresher your skin is without makeup, the fresher it will be with make-up on.
  2. Ensure you keep your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water, using a light natural moisturiser and by keeping your bedroom ventilated at nighttime. Some people like coconut oil to moisturise, but don’t use this as a base for the make-up, as the product will slide off.
  3. Get into the habit of exfoliating twice-weekly to remove all dead skin and dirt; and splashing your face with cold water, so that the pores of your skin close up. Obviously, use natural exfoliators and ones that do not contact plastic beads, you can even make your own.
  4. If you are having a facial or any other treatments ensure that you try them out in good time before the event, just in case you have a reaction such as redness or puffiness.
  5. Ensure you test your products a good few weeks prior to the special occasion, and test out the make-up to see how long it stays looking fresh. As an industry make-up artist and beautician, I use various products, but for holistic living, there are plenty of natural products on the market, that are vegan, with natural and ethically sourced ingredients.
  6. If it is a wedding or a graduation you are attending there may be perspiration from nerves and tears of joy, but if you’d rather not wear waterproof mascara, simply carry a soft tissue if you need to dab away any tears beneath your eyes. Avoid touching your face with your hands too much as the make-up can wipe away with the moisture of your fingers.
  7. Use a long-lasting lip colour, and lip-liner will stop the colour from bleeding out of the edges of your mouth, as well as provide a guide for re-application. You will be sipping drinks, and chatting at the event so ensure you have your lipstick or gloss and a mirror tucked into your purse.
  8. Use a natural primer for your lips, and eyes, so the make-up stays on better.
  9. If the event is going to be sunny or high temperatures, keep the make-up light in application, and use minerals or powders as opposed to creams, as the heat will melt thicker make-up. You may just opt for a good sun protecting cream, and some mascara and lipstick.
  10. The most important element of your look is the base, because your make-up can be built-up smoothly and super glam if you ensure you have good foundations, and there are natural choices available too.

Here are three places that see natural make-up:

  1. https://www.naturisimo.com/products_brief.cfm?type=foundation
  2. http://www.uorganic.co.uk/about-uorganic
  3.  https://www.mypure.co.uk/brand/inika-b89

Photo credits: 

Hair: V-Team

Make-up: Kelli Waldock #BringingOutBeauty

Photographer: Lorraine Lucas


Mental health first aid england

Q&A with Poppy Jaman, CEO of Mental Health First Aid England, non-executive director of Public Health England and Programme Director of the City Mental Health Alliance

Poppy Mental Health First Aid
Poppy Jaman

What is the main difference between physical first aid and mental first aid? And are there any crossovers?

“Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an educational course which teaches people how to identify, understand and help a person who is experiencing a mental health issue. A physical first aider is trained to stop an injury or a life-threatening condition from getting worse – a mental health first aider is the same but for a mental health issue or crisis. Mental Health First Aid also teaches people the importance of wellbeing and how to look after their own mental health or support others to do the same; and in this regard, it could be considered quite different to physical first aid. We know that 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health issue during our lives, so it stands to reason that we should have mental health first aiders, as well as physical first aiders.”

You offer various courses for those working with adults, youths and for the armed forces, do you think you will do a course specifically for young people, or is the aim to get the message out to the younger generations via Youth Mental Health First Aiders?

“We’re currently working hard to engage younger generations in three key ways. The first is through our Youth in Schools programme – in January the government committed to equipping every secondary school in the country with a Mental Health Champion. We’re now in the early stages of coordinating training on our one day Youth MHFA course which by 2020 will reach over 3,000 secondary schools in England. This will mean staff in these schools will be trained to provide mental health support on a first aid basis to pupils aged 11 to 18…

The second is via our brand new Higher Education Mental Health First Aid course. This is a course we have recently launched that is tailored to students, higher education support staff and academic staff. And finally, we are also working on developing a peer-to-peer course that will be specifically for young people – we expect to launch this at some point in 2018.”

Do you believe your courses to have a positive ripple effect across the country? And are there any statistics that support improvement due to mental health awareness?

“As a rapidly growing network organisation, we have over 1,200 instructors delivering courses to communities all over the country and training an estimated 10,000 people every month. By empowering so many people to understand mental health issues and in giving them the skills and the confidence to start conversations about mental health, I think it’s undeniable Mental Health First Aid has a positive ripple effect. My hope is that the work we, and many others, are doing is contributing to a culture change when it comes to our society’s approach to mental health and wellbeing…

A core component of Mental Health First Aid training courses is obviously increasing awareness of mental health issues and knowledge and confidence around how to support those who may be experiencing a mental health issue. From academic evaluations we know that up to 88% of course attendees report using Mental Health First Aid skills to support someone experiencing mental ill health after attending a course.

Mental health awareness also aims to support early intervention to help reduce the impact of mental health issues in the long term. In a way, we can think of taking steps to support our own mental wellbeing as the earliest form of intervention there is. Learning about this is an integral aspect our course and research shows that up to 74% of participants report a positive impact of the course on their personal mental health. The hidden impact this has on preventing mental health issues developing is difficult to quantify, but important to bear in mind when thinking about the impact of mental health awareness efforts.”

As an internationally recognised course, why do you think that MHFA is so popular compared with other mental health courses in the world? 

“There are a wide range of mental health training courses available and I think we need to understand that, in different ways, they all play an important role. We hope that Mental Health First Aid is now being seen as a core part of this and I’m proud that Mental Health First Aid now has a presence in 24 countries. I think the fantastic enthusiasm that our movement has been greeted with by established mental health campaigners all over the world has helped us to achieve this. For example, the 2016 World Mental Health Day theme was ‘psychological and mental health first aid for all’ – a fantastic indicator of its popularity and desire by the World Federation for Mental Health to see it become more widely available.

Personally, I’d like to think that it’s the balance between education around mental illness, learning skills to hold conversations around mental health and learning how to support your own wellbeing that makes our courses so impactful.”

For those professionals who are already in the caring industry, why is the MHFA a good choice for them to add to their existing skill-set and qualifications?

“As an example, we have trained frontline and back office staff at Public Health Dorset in Mental Health Frist Aid and this had a real impact in the way they felt they could support their client base with their housing and social needs. A six month follow up with this organisation found that 83% of those trained said it had helped them in the workplace, 90% said they felt confident to respond to a mental health issue and 73% said the training had helped in their personal lives.

These statistics indicate that we need to be careful in assuming that just because people may work in caring, or even more specifically mental health related roles, that they already feel confident in offering support to those experiencing a mental health issue. These figures are also testament to the impact Mental Health First Aid has from a personal perspective, not just in terms of supporting others. We know that the emotional labour that comes with working in caring industries can be a contributory factor to suffering work-related stress. For this reason, I believe the emphasis our courses place on how to look after your own wellbeing is invaluable to this demographic.”

Why is mental health awareness so important within modern businesses?

“For me, it’s the scale of mental health issues among our working age population and the impact this has both on employee wellbeing, and to a lesser extent the bottom line, that make mental health awareness important for modern businesses. Survey results published this month (April) by UK health and benefits business Aon Employee Benefits showed that 55% of UK employers have seen an increase in the number of mental health-related illnesses. This has a damaging impact on businesses – a report by FirstCare identified mental health issues as a major contributor to increased levels of absence, something that is estimated to costs £18bn in lost productivity every year. Our evidence shows that organisations who train line managers in mental health awareness reap the rewards in terms of reduced sickness absence, increased referrals to Employee Assistance Programmes or inhouse counselling and an improved culture around treating mental and physical health issues equally.

In this post-recession era, people are often working longer hours, with fewer resources, and are under greater personal financial pressures. It’s therefore important that HR professionals and employers recognise the impact this has on their workforce’s mental health and take steps to improve workplace wellbeing. Our Line Managers’ resource, available on our website, is a great starting point for businesses interested in doing this.”

Do people ever recognise symptoms themselves when on a course? And how is this dealt with?

“Our instructors are themselves experienced Mental Health First Aiders and so are well placed to support those who may recognise symptoms while on our courses and to direct them to the appropriate support as required. In my experience, stress is one of the most common symptoms that people report identifying through our training and I find it’s something we can all relate to. The group dynamic of our courses also provide a safe and confidential forum for people to voluntarily share their experiences and, in the case of stress, this in itself can be a useful way for people to learn from each other and explore different coping strategies.”

What tools can you provide for anyone reading this?

“As I mentioned, our Line Managers’ resource, hosted on our website, is ideal for HR professionals and employers who are interested in improving their workplace’s approach to mental health and wellbeing…

Our Take10Together toolkit is also available to download from our website – this includes a whole host of resources such as images, quotagraphics, videos and infographic posters that are designed to support mental wellbeing in workplaces, schools or community settings, while showing the importance of Mental Health First Aid training. These can be used on social media or blogs, shared with colleagues via office intranets, newsletters or public spaces in your workplace. This toolkit also includes content specifically for schools and those who work or live with young people.”

Thank you so much for your time Poppy, and for the wealth of information. 

For those interested in finding out more about Mental Health First Aid visit: mhfaengland.org 

And check back on Holistic Therapist Magazine website soon, in the featured and reviewed section for a review on the two-day Adult MHFA course

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Managing Director Jason Firmager was invited along to the Esimbi first year gala in London, to celebrate the work that founder of the social enterprise Tina Lobondi and her team have done during the past year.

It is scientifically proven that helping others makes us feel good about ourselves, and this is perhaps one of the reasons that holistic therapy is such a rewarding job, even when it has challenges that all businesses and industries face.

Tina is an award-winning fashion designer and gets to travel the world and share her creativity through her clothes designs for women… “ I know I am privileged, and I believe it is important for me to help those that are less fortunate than I have been… yes, I make women feel good about themselves through my designs, but helping young people is very important to me,” Tina says.

Tina has raised more funds and awareness for Esimbi, which was set-up primarily to provide vocational training with secured employment (via an Apprenticeship Project and an Apprenticeship Resource Hub) to young adults in the UK and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is achieved by collaborating with its alliance charities.

“ESIMBI meaning “it works” in Lingala, one of the languages spoken in the Democratic Republic of Congo… And the best thing about ESIMBI is that ‘it works’ -to help young people work for themselves, allowing them to hold their futures in their own hands. I was fortunate to have a good start and sound education, and this is my main reason for wanting to give the gift of inspiration, empowerment and achievement to as many young people in the Congo and UK as possible… and education is the key to freedom for them.”

HTM believes in supporting good causes, especially those involved with training and education, helping others do the career they wish to.

The Esimbi fundraising continues and to find out more go to Esimbi.org, and you can support the social enterprise by buying one of their Limited-Edition soy candles from Pick n Melt: https://www.picknmelt.com/product/kinshasa-dreams/


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Jason Firmager


GUEST BLOGGER, Claire Makarewicz.

Jason Firmager

I often reflect on my fifteen year service as a Paramedic and Emergency Care Practitioner in the Ambulance Service, as the springboard that quite literally catapulted me into Holistic Health Care. I am one of many individuals who have made the bold decision to step away from a career in the NHS, not because I did not enjoy and love it, quite the opposite in fact, I love and want to save it and felt in order to do so, a means of delivering some form of alternative healthcare in the community would be the best contribution I could make.

A wise person once explained to me “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those that cannot read or write, but those that cannot learn, unlearn and relearn” and those words have stuck with me ever since. Sadly this ethos is not inherently manifest within the heart of the NHS and yet within holistic care I have noticed significant pace of change in the 4.5 years I have been practicing in it.


Coming from an NHS based professional background that underpinned its healthcare strategies on so called “evidence based practice” my natural skepticism was initially awakened to any form of treatment not of this ilk. However when I became accustomed to the placebo effect on my patients to whom I treated, often out of context for their conditions, my curiosity became aroused. How was it possible that language, non-verbal gestures, minimal physical touch and an understanding of how a person perceived their environment, could actually influence their pain! Now had I gone to the powers that be at the time, with these thoughts, I would have been chastised as not actually doing my job properly. Yet here we are with our NHS in crisis, a staggering amount of people experiencing chronic mental and physical pain having been through a plethora of treatment and pharmaceutical protocols and pathways, with little to no change accomplished. That was what sealed the deal for me to learn both The Bowen Technique and Body Mind Work.


I fundamentally believe that to treat the body without first considering the persons state of mind is akin to ‘closing the door after the horse has bolted.’ Of course there are circumstances where purely physical cases have presented in clinic and that is where I apply the bodywork skills I have learnt over the years. However I am noticing more often than not, that client’s non-verbal cues are the gateway to reliably accessing their source of pain, rather than them simply telling me where there pain is. “The problem is not always the problem” is a phrase many people may be familiar with and is an analogy I keep in mind when treating.

When we pause to consider that the mind and body are intrinsically linked and always have been and only in recent years finally getting the recognition it deserves, it is no wonder the momentum in this direction has gathered pace.


Holistic healthcare acknowledges that a person, who withholds or suppresses their emotional state, will in time become systemically unwell and this sadly is the route cause to many diseases of the body and mind. So treatments tailored to the individual, are devised that are all encompassing and not merely selected based on a symptom tick box criteria, of which I have been guilty of performing in the NHS historically. I have learned that whilst the NHS does the best it can with the resources it has at its disposal, the systems used are at worst archaic and at best protocol driven and rigid. Little has changed in the many years I worked within pre-hospital healthcare, resulting in multiple admissions of the same folk more times than I care to mention to no avail. Yet I have experienced something remarkable in the alternative healthcare sector with clients. Lasting changes both mentally and physically for the individual, improved quality of life and wellbeing and more importantly a significantly reduced reliance on pharmaceutical interventions and diminished need for NHS intervention.


I am always amazed at how clients respond to the Body Mind Work and Bowen treatments they receive and it is quite astounding how many people are so impressed they then go on to learn the techniques for themselves. I can honestly say I have never been to a hospital or to see a GP and thought I’d like to learn what they do with as much gusto. Holistic therapy really is healthcare at it best and I am both proud to be a practitioner of it and a contributor to reducing the burden on the NHS J


What do I mean my emotional freedom? Getting rid of all that rubbish you have been carting around with you since the day you were born.

Some of us don’t even know we still have it attached to us, some of us realise but choose to ignore it, and some of us try to pick out bits of it and work on those, but what Is it?
It’s the patterns of negative behaviours that we find we continually repeat in our life:

  •   Attracting the wrong people into our lives
  •   Manipulative partners, the needy friends who suck all your energy,jealous friends who don’t have your         back.
  •   Bad eating habits
  •   The need to fix someone other than ourselves
  •   Over spending, and carelessness with money
  •   Generally, where you over or under compensating on different areas oflife.
  • What happens when your living your life in this way is that it manifests as a physical ailment in the body. I see this in my reflexology practice. People who are suffering with stress are complaining of back problems, headaches, tiredness. People who hold their emotions in have congestion in the chest reflex’s because they literally need to get something off their chest. Those who don’t say what they want have sore throats, those with depression again have congested chest reflex because it’s protecting the heart, and their heart isn’t happy, I find the head reflex to be inflamed and the adrenal glands are tight. This is the body’s way of protecting its self but in doing so is making you feel ill.If you peel away the layers when you start to trying to analyse these different areas you would probably end up going way back into your childhood, where feelings of abandonment, and not feeling nurtured and good enough arise. You may be able to pinpoint the times or just have a feeling that it’s there and from these feelings of not being good enough, not trying hard enough comes the negative personality traits of low self-esteem, not enough self-worth, and not enough self-love. When we are lacking in these areas that’s when the patterns of negative behaviours start and you end up going around in circles in your life waiting for something to change, some external force that will make the love of your life turn up, you’ll lose weight, and you’ll walk into the job you

have always wanted, and have all the money you need saved in your bank account.
But none of that will be given to you from someone else, that all comes from within you. You have the power to change your mind set, to create a new loving and fulfilled life for yourself and it comes down to one thing. Self- forgiveness.

To move on and make changes in your life you need to let go. You need to let go of the beliefs that have held you back, and have belief in yourself that the goals that you want to achieve are achievable and that you have the strength to do it. Forgiving yourself is the first step in doing this. Forgive yourself for any situation in your past that you found yourself in, that wasn’t positive to your life then. By going back and releasing it, you are releasing the energetic link it’s had on you. One of the ways to do this by using reiki. It’s a very gentle energy healing method. It releases energetic blockages and patterns of behaviour and replaces with positive, healing, loving energy. I find this can be incredibly powerful for my clients. They can physically feel the release happening, and it may be something small, or something that played a bigger part in your life, but either way it’s something that your body has held on to.

When you start to forgive your-self and release negative energetic blockages be prepared for some major shifts in your life to happen, it may be a subtle change or it could be something ground breaking, either way whatever happens trust that it’s for the greater and for you to move on. Life doesn’t throw anything at us that we can’t handle, it’s our mind set and how we go about dealing with it that defines the effect it has on us.

You’ll know when you are ready to make a change when you find yourself drawn to a therapist, or therapy, or start exploring ways to work on yourself. I started through meditation a number of years ago, and it’s taken me on a journey of self-discovery mainly through my reiki training and ultimately, it’s given me the tools to change my career and start my own complementary therapy company, and help to heal others using reflexology and reiki.

Lorraine Adams is the owner of Toe to soul therapy; reflexologist and reiki master based in Twickenham, London. She specialises in Pregnancy reflexology and Women’s health issues. She’s a member of the Association of Reflexologists and CNHC.


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New Year exercise

With the approach of each new year, we all become inspired by a sense of renewal and start to develop hopes for doing things better this time around. It’s all good. But New Year’s resolutions have a sneaky way of slipping out from under you before you actually scratch the surface of achieving your goals.

Whether your resolution is to lose weight faster or get more lean and chiseled, the scariest reflection remains whether or not you’ll be able to stick to your intentions throughout the coming year. You might even feel it’s long overdue to quit smoking, drink more water, and bring in other healthier lifestyle habits.

So while you usually get off to a rocking start with these positive aims, you may want to consider a plan that makes sure you don’t bounce off the path of your dreams come the end of January.


Start with pen in hand

Too many people fail to appreciate the immense power and hidden force of will contained in writing goals down on paper. When it comes to keeping fit we tend to deceive ourselves that we enjoy exercising regularly. The truth is that exercise is work – which deep down most of us don’t like to do anyway. Though we acknowledge we need it, it always requires motivation.

Defining and writing down the deeper needs you have for getting in shape allows you to work around the things holding you back from exercising. You realise it’s not just that you have to enjoy working out. But that your commitment to your goals is superior to any sense of enjoyment or lack thereof.

You do it because you are driven by what’s really important: actually reaching the other side and scaling the peaks of your ambition. Remember the old adage that goes something like – anything worth achieving is worth every drop of sweat required to get it.


Make it your time

The best time to exercise is the time that’s best for you. You don’t have to follow anyone else’s preference, but definitely need to establish what works for you. Certain times of the day may be suitable because of convenience. But you may want to consider how you generally feel at those times.

Perhaps you take a while to get revved up in the morning, then obviously you should choose a time when you know you’ll have enough energy to complete your workouts. Always allow time for digestion if you feel like exercising after eating, at least two hours are necessary. This approach is also excellent for speeding up your metabolism so your body can use up more rather than store calories you’ve consumed.

Once you’ve settled on a time you like, plant it firmly into your lifestyle. Let nothing and no one pull you away from the most precious part of your day.


Always have a Plan ‘B’

The secret to bringing good habits alive lies in making them as easy as possible to practice. The way to do this is by asking yourself what could possibly go wrong. Think of all the scenarios where something could prevent you from keeping to your schedule. Too often we blame the plan and say it’s not working when real life decides to rear its head. It’s simple. Be as realistic as possible when putting your plan together.

Most importantly make it flexible enough that at least your core activities do get done. So even if you have to modify an exercise session to make room for some pressing engagement, it’s fine. You don’t need perfect workouts, what you need is consistency.


Don’t toss the cart

Sometimes you’re too hard on yourself, especially if you fail to hit the mark or stick to a resolution you’ve made. Don’t be. Take reassurance from the fact that very few people are able to stick to an exercise plan like glue. You’re no robot. There’s no harm in re-planning and starting over, as many times as you need to before you settle into a nice workable rhythm.

If the first month of the year proved too much for you, you can simply shift down a gear and build up again with something smaller. The way to do this is to approach every 24 hours focusing on a single training session at a time. You’ll find the sweet spot of taking out bite-sized manageable chunks, while at the same time you’ll be gaining ground and making steady progress.

Article by Marc Dressen

Check out one of my workout videos below too: My 2 Favourite Exercises How To Burn Fat Faster! – DO THIS!


Pexels.com free licensed images

As the festive season draws near, you begin to dread the prospect of having to attend Christmas office parties, family get-togethers, and a host of generally over indulgent chow-downs. But you’re still committed to your schedule of carefully measured calories, exercising, and reasonably good and healthy eating habits. Or are you?

The problem with overeating, or not, is it’s so easy to give in to temptation. Especially when the environment you’re in expects you to dance to the same familiar tune. Everyone is enjoying themselves –  ‘it’s only right that I do too’. However, if you’re serious about maintaining your figure and physical wellbeing – the result of a whole year’s consistent effort, then you need to make firm intentions before the cookouts start rolling in.

The last thing you want coming over the festive hill is to have to battle away hard to burn pounds you put on rapidly while having a good time, and the depressed mindset that comes along with this. So it’s best to avoid this from happening by curbing your appetite.

Here are some intelligent ways you can bite the bullet and refrain from overindulging:

Let your daily calorie allowance be your guide.

Since you’re probably on an intelligent eating plan, it shouldn’t be difficult to monitor if you’re consuming either too much or too little calories on any given day. To stay on song, all you have to do is find ways of sticking to your personal optimum calorie target. You can do this easily by factoring in your own tasty snacks and treats. The beauty part of making these yourself is that you will no doubt do your best to keep away from ingredients which are fattening and unhealthy.

You knew about fibre already.

Foods which have ample stores of fibre in them are excellent deterrents from overindulging. They make you feel nice and full and if chosen cleverly will also mean you won’t be consuming extra unwanted calories. Fruit and vegetables are the obvious choices, and they also boost your body with essential vitamins and minerals. When you top up on fibre your body produces more insulin, which will help meltdown fats and sugars you happen to eat on those festive occasions. So even if you happen to be a bit naughty at Christmas you’ll still manage to keep added inches off your waistline.

Snack up smart before you…

While you’ve promised yourself not to get glued to a chair and go at it with ‘all you can eat’, you might still find it hard to resist those innocent looking Christmas nibbles. If you don’t watch it these can and do start piling on the calories. But if you go into a party well prepared beforehand, you’ll find it easy to turn down those salty and sugary hors d’oevres. Make a delicious snack you know you’ll enjoy heartily, something healthy and energy boosting. Chew on almonds and drop an apple or two before hitting the party.

Just mind the calorie culprits

It’s easy to assume what kind of foods will be served at a Christmas party. One thing you can be sure of is that the place will be packed with variety. So in addition to the salty and fat-filled snacks, you will probably find foods that will not have an adverse effect on your diet. Make the wise choices, be calorie conscious, and eat the healthiest options you can find. There’s nothing wrong with seafood, lean meats, and tasty salads. And go easy on the dressings and condiments.

But it’s Christmas

There’s no need to be extremely hard on yourself and no one wants to engage the sour face of the party. Within reason go ahead and enjoy. Sometimes cutting back on heavy workouts, taking a break, and easing off from your fixed diet can do wonders for the body to rejuvenate itself. Just don’t allow the break to extend beyond a week of relaxed eating and lazing about. You’re in control and get to set your personal eating limits. If you remember this, you’ll come back primed, stronger and more dedicated than ever before.

Article by Marc Dressen

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Pexels.com free licensed images

Fitness enthusiasts make exercising look so easy. But deep down they know the kind of commitment that is necessary to push themselves. You’ll be surprised how much of inner drive it takes just to stick to a training schedule. When the colder months come around this becomes even more challenging. It’s actually easier to walk away and retreat into hibernation. But it doesn’t have to be that way at all. Here are some tips to help you beat those winter workout blues.

Be brave and relentless

Winter is actually brilliant for getting in shape. Even while sedentary, your body is already producing more energy in order to keep you warm. And while it also takes a little longer to warm up for a workout, all this extra exertion combined, both passive and active, helps you burn more calories. So why not throw yourself into the deep end. Once you get going you’ll swim like a dolphin. The cold also naturally allows for extra intensity regardless of the physical activity, which automatically translates to more results gained from the exercises you do.

Calibrate your goals for the seasons

It’s never too frequent to revisit goals and keep on reaffirming your desire for a stronger and fitter body. How badly do you want this? – A silent question that is invaluable for keeping you locked onto your desired outcomes. Look back at your journal and the very personal reasons you have listed for wanting to get into superb shape. Haven’t started writing down your goals yet? You should set a goal for each season of the year taking into account the particular challenges they bring. You can effectively turn these challenges into advantages which can boost your progress. Take an exercise that always feels intimidating, and tell yourself you’re going to get tough enough to do it with style.

Get a timetable going

A fixed schedule brings structure to your daily life and makes it so much easier to get all the important things done. Allocate everything including your sleep. You know what happens when you don’t get enough sleep on a given night – the entire day thereafter feels lost and fragmented. So make sure you get sufficient rest as well as reasonable time for recreation each day. Set fixed times for exercise routines so you can clock them in conveniently. Then add in your times for eating healthily and the necessary hours you need for work and stuff. In winter you know you have fewer hours in the day to play with so be sure you make them count.

You don’t have to go it alone

Hook up with a personal trainer you like or get a partner to join in your training. When you train alone you have no one to answer to except yourself. Which sometimes equates to either shortened routines, or when you’re just not up to it, abandoning your programme for the day. This can be easily avoided if you have a friend depending on you. It also means you’ll strive to be on time, and be more focused and mentally prepared for your training sessions. It certainly helps a great deal bringing a measure of accountability to your fitness. Also, you’ll find you are able to put in increased effort during exercising, by the mere fact that you now have someone looking over your shoulder. And you get to return the favour by motivating your training partner in the same way. Winter is the perfect time to get yourself a training buddy, and it means you’ll be more productive at a time when you would usually hide under the covers.

Article by Marc Dressen

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1Sarah ­Jane Mayhew (British Wheel Yoga accredited), invites yoga practitioners of all levels to join her for a long weekend yoga retreat this October at a historic spa hotel in the glorious Tuscan hills. Bagno Vignoni, Val d’Orcia, Italy Friday to Monday, 10th October 2016

Accommodation has been reserved at Hotel Terme in the village of Bagno Vignoni not far from Sienna. Classes will be held daily in the hotel’s great reception room overlooking the thermal pool, with prices for accommodation and tuition starting at €370.

Sarah‐Jane, who has been teaching yoga for nine years, will lead the group each day with yoga asana and pranayama classes in the morning, then in the late afternoon and yoga asana and yoga nidra. There will be ample opportunity to explore the local area, relax in the thermal waters and enjoy local hospitality.

This yoga retreat provides an opportunity to explore and develop your yoga practice and to enjoy walking in the country. Providing the experience to enjoy the soft air of the region, the healing waters of the earth, and have some time to be.

The surrounding region of Val d’Orcia is a UNESCO world heritage site, in an area South of Siena where nature predominates. It is an open land of rolling hills, vineyards and olive groves.

Small towns perch on hilltops and quiet roads wind their way across the landscape. Most of the villages and towns nearby have Roman and Renaissance origins to explore such as Montepulciano and Pienza. For those who choose not to participate in the yoga program, Autumn is the perfect time of year to visit the region.

The view from the reception room at Hotel Terme, an ancient medieval house that Pope Pius II had built in order to enjoy the waters back in the 14th Century which directly overlooks the ancient hot pool. In the hotel are indoor pools to submerge in the thermal waters and there is also a beautiful room that looks out on this ancient rectangular water basin where the yoga practice will take place.

View of the hotel spa area and countryside beyond

There will be yoga practice in the morning with meditation, asana then pranayama followed by breakfast. After that there will be time to enjoy the water or explore the countryside. The hotel restaurant serves local cuisine and there are a few places to eat in the villages nearby. There will be time for walking during the middle of the day. Then in the late afternoon practice resumes at 17.00. This will be more restorative. Supper will be at 19.30 and afterwards, for those who want it there will be yoga nidra.

Accommodation & Tuition:

  •   Accommodation prices including breakfast for the three days start at €270 per person sharing.
  •   Various types of single occupancy rooms are also possible starting at €345 for three nights.
  •   Lunch and supper are available at the hotel. Lunch is approximately €20 and supper is €30
  •   Flat‐rate tuition fee of €100.00

    Arrival & Departure

     Arrivals from 3pm on Friday, departure from lunchtime on Monday

    Journey to Bagno Vignoni

     Fly to Rome or Florence airport
     Trains from both these cities go to the nearest station Chiusi  There is a local taxi service to arrange collection


Val D’Orcia

The hot waters of this source contain the healing properties from Sulphur, calcium carbonate, and magnesium and are helpful for overall physical, emotional and mental relaxation, and specific illnesses such as rheumatism, arthritis, and neuralgia. The hot springs in the hotel are open until 23.00 therefore there is plenty of time to enjoy them throughout the day. There is also another hot spring facility in the village to try out as well as some others in the region.

 Email Sarah‐Jane at: [email protected]  Phone +44 (0)7799766931
 Twitter: @Inyogalight


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