Young blonde woman checking skin in mirror

Dehydrated Skin? Try These Easy Tips

Dehydrated skin can lead to so many different skin problems, from premature aging to a dull and rough complexion, making this an issue worth dealing with as soon as possible.

Not sure where to begin?

Here are 12 tips to help you to treat your dehydrated skin.

What’s the Difference Between Dry Skin and Dehydrated Skin?

Many people often think of dry and dehydrated skin as being the same thing, but this is not at all the case.

Wondering what the difference is?

The main difference is that dehydrated skin lacks water, while dry skin lacks oil.

Since water and oil are so different, you need to know for sure whether your skin is dry or dehydrated before you begin treating the problem.

Here are a few more details about each condition:

  • Dry Skin – becomes more prevalent with age, due to the skin’s natural lipid barrier decreasing. Symptoms include redness, itchiness and ashy areas, especially for those with a darker skin tone
  • Dehydrated Skincan be caused by a number of factors, such as not drinking enough water, sun exposure, and indoor heating or cooling systems. Symptoms include tightness, a scaly, rough or flaky texture, and the appearance of smaller pores 

If you think your skin may be dry rather than dehydrated, then you will need to look for ways in which you can counter that.

Make Sure That You Are Drinking Enough Water

Do you drink around eight glasses of water a day?

If your answer is no, then this could be one of the reasons as to why your skin is dehydrated.

All of the organs in your body need water in order to properly function, and each time you drink some water, this gets distributed to the organs that need it the most. These usually tend to be the vital organs, and the skin is last on the list, meaning that it often misses out when it comes to this dose of hydration.

However, while many may recommend drinking more that the recommended amount of water a day, this will actually not benefit dehydrated skin, unless you do feel thirsty. Any excess water will only end up being flushed out of your system, and not much of this will actually reach the skin.

To keep your skin at its healthiest, try to drink around eight glasses of water a day, or more if you are overly active.

Eat More Moisture-Rich Foods

As mentioned above, water that you drink ends up being directed to your vital organs first, meaning that your skin can sometimes miss out.

So how do you ensure that your skin is hydrated from within?

By eating moisture-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables. 

These contain water, but in a more structured form, and rather than flushing out your system in the way that a glass of water would do, moisture-rich foods provide your body with long-lasting hydration. This water is released into your body slowly, making it more likely that your skin will receive some of this hydration. 

Wondering which fruits and vegetables contain the most moisture?

Here are some of the top moisture-rich foods out there:

  • Watermelon, Green Peppers and Strawberries – 92%  water
  • Cucumbers96% water, with most of this located in its skin
  • Iceberg Lettuce96% water
  • Celery95% water  
  • Cantaloupe90% water
  • Pineapples, Oranges and Raspberries87% water 

Make Use of Hydrating Skin Care Ingredients

There are so many different skin care ingredients out there, and each one will bring its own range of unique benefits to the skin.

When it comes to hydrating ingredients, there are plenty to choose from, but one of the most effective is definitely hyaluronic acid.

Never heard of this powerhouse before?

Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning that it draws moisture from the air towards the skin. It is able to hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, making it key when it comes to helping your skin to retain moisture.

Your skin naturally contains hyaluronic acid, but applying some more topically can make a huge difference. Look for this ingredient as part of a moisturizer or a serum for best results.

Other ingredients to look out for include:

  • Urea – has strong water-binding properties
  • Plant oilsimproves the skin’s water retention
  • Glycerine especially hydrating when used along with hyaluronic acid 
  • Ceramideshelps with the skin’s hydration balance
  • Niacinamidealso known as vitamin B3, this helps to heal and strengthen the skin’s barrier, preventing moisture loss

Stay Away From Dehydrating Skin Care Ingredients

While some ingredients are known for the way in which they hydrate the skin, others are infamous for being dehydrating.

If you already have dehydrated skin, then dehydrating skin care ingredients are the last things that you want to be applying to your skin.

These are a few of the ingredients that you should try to stay away from, at least until you have managed to treat your skin dehydration:

  • Alcohol
  • Fragrances
  • Harsh exfoliants  
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Salicylic acid

Make Use of Hydrating Face Masks

Face masks are designed to remain on the skin for an extended period of time, meaning that all of its active ingredients have enough time to properly penetrate your skin and work their magic.

Of course, there are so many different types of face masks out there, and not all of them are suitable for dehydrated skin. 

So, which ones do you go for?

Cream masks are great, because these are rich in oil and moisturizing ingredients, with many of them also containing hyaluronic acid.

Gel masks are also incredibly hydrating, especially since these tend to be infused with antioxidants, while sheet masks can also be beneficial, especially if you apply an extra layer of hyaluronic acid underneath the mask. 

Wondering which ingredients to look out for, as well as to avoid, when it comes to hydrating face masks?

The same ingredients mentioned above, as those apply to all skin care products.

Be Extremely Gentle With Your Skin

Dehydrated skin is usually a sign of some form of skin damage, meaning that you need to treat it just as gently as you would any of your other organs if they were to become damaged.

When touching your face, whether this may be to cleanse your skin or to apply a cream, allow your hands to smoothly glide over it, avoiding any scrubbing, rubbing or tugging motions.

Invest in a Humidifier

A humidifier and dehydrated skin go hand in hand, because this is something that can really help to add moisture back into your skin.

The optimum humidity level for your skin is around 55%. However, if you use central air in your home, this can bring the humidity level in your house down to 10%. As you can imagine, this is not good for dehydrated skin.

So, how does a humidifier help?

They work by adding water vapour into the air, therefore increasing the air’s moisture content, and therefore the humidity of a room. By increasing the air’s moisture levels, you then help to prevent it from pulling out moisture from your skin.

Wondering where to keep your new humidifier?

The best spot is usually in the bedroom.

Why?

Because the time during which you are asleep is when your skin cells are healing and regenerating, meaning that this is the time in which they require the right amount of moisture in order to properly function. The humidifier will help it with this, at the time when it needs it the most.

Can’t decide between a warm mist and a cool mist?

Experts recommended going for a warm mist, as this is much closer to the skin’s natural temperature. 

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Sun Protection

If you often neglect to wear sunscreen, then this could be one of the big causes of your dehydrated skin.

Exposing your unprotected skin to the sun for an extended period of time leads to water evaporating from your skin, leaving it dehydrated.

How do you prevent this from happening?

With the use of sunscreen.

When it comes to choosing a sunscreen for dehydrated skin…

Many find that the physical sunscreen formulas often exacerbate any flaky or scaly areas.

Why is this?

Because the mineral filters used in a physical sunscreen, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, also work as an astringent, meaning that they can have quite a drying effect. 

The best way around this is to either apply a layer of moisturizer on to your skin before applying a sunscreen, or opting for a chemical sunscreen formula instead.

Cleanse Your Skin Each Evening

Cleansing is actually extremely important for dehydrated skin.

Why?

Because if you do not remove the layer of dirt, dead skin cells, oil and more that settle on the surface of the skin throughout the day, any hydrating skin care products that you apply will not be able to properly penetrate into your skin.

Attractive woman washing face in mirror

Of course, with your skin being dehydrated, you do need to make sure that you opt for a gentle, moisturizing cleanser, staying away from foaming formulas.

Wondering why it is better to cleanse at night rather than in the morning?

Because this allows you to wash away all of the dirt from the day, while giving your skin the ingredients needed to help it with all of the work it does at night. If you cleanse immediately before going to bed, and sleep on a clean pillowcase, then your skin will still be clean in the morning.

Don’t be tempted to cleanse twice a day, as over-cleansing can cause even more problems for dehydrated skin.

Use Oil-Blotting Paper for Excess Oil

As mentioned above, over-cleansing your face can cause numerous problems, but what happens if your dehydrated skin is oily as well?

While it may be tempting to scrub at your face a few times a day, this will only lead to even more breakouts.

One easy way to clear your skin of excess oil throughout the day is to use blotting papers, as these gently remove the oil without damaging your skin in any way.

Give it a Month

You are likely tempted to try some of the new skin care ingredients or techniques mentioned above, but patience is key here…

It takes, on average, about 28 days for your skin regeneration cycle to go through one round, meaning that this is how long it takes for your old skin cells to be replaced by new ones. The older you are, the longer this takes.

This means that, when trying anything new on your skin, you need to give it at least a month before deciding whether or not it works.

Of course, if anything you are trying is clearly affecting your skin in a negative way, then you should cease this immediately.

Dehydrated skin can definitely be frustrating to deal with, but you need to make sure that you treat it with the care it requires, otherwise it will only get worse. From knowing which ingredients to avoid to providing moisture to your skin in different ways, these tips will help you to rehydrate your skin in no time at all.

Woman enjoying blueberries in a bowl

6 Ways to Spring Clean Your Diet

Other than sunny weather and longer days, spring also brings about all kinds of fresh produce that is either hard to find or simply non-existent during rest of the year.

With the abundance of body-boosting, delicious dietary options, there’s no more excuse to revert to old, damaging food habits.

And to give you some ideas on how to overhaul your diet, we have prepared this guide with essential tips on how to use the sunny season to your advantage and, over time, build healthy habits that you can adhere to during the rest of the year, as well.

Introduce High-fiber Meals

In the springtime, we tend to be more active and spend more time outdoors.

This, is turn, causes us to reach for food items that will please our palates and fuel our body.

And if you’re the type of person who isn’t exactly health-conscious, you may end up gravitating towards instantly filling foods laden with processed carbs and sugars.

Sure, these might feel gratifying short-term, but if you want to build a satisfying, health-oriented diet, then you might want to ditch these processed baddies and go for energizing, fiber-rich options.

What are fibers and why should you include more of them in your meals, you ask?

Fibers are the kind of carbohydrates your body doesn’t digest. Since fiber itself has zero calories and helps boost digestive system, it should be an essential component in every though-out diet plan.

Luckily, foods that are high in fiber are plentiful come spring, which is why this is the perfect moment to load up your plate with these energizing nutrients.

Among the foods that contain high level of fiber are oatmeal, barley, as well as various kinds of legumes.

Fresh green peas are one of most delicious spring foods which are not only super-easy to prepare, but also chock-full of body-fueling fibers.

You can mix your peas with other springtime veggies and cook over garlic and olive oil. Alternatively, you can add them to your favorite pasta or blend them into a delicious puree as a side.

Lentil is another legume rich in fiber, which is also incredibly satisfying and belly-filling. To make your lentils extra-tasty, turn them into a basil-infused soup or mash them with some lemon juice and a couple of garlic cloves for a delicious spread.

If you are looking for a more breakfast-friendly option, you can always equip your kitchen with a box of bran flakes, which are one of the most readily-available sources of fiber. And if the taste of this fiber-rich cereal doesn’t fill you up with excitement, you can always combine it with your favorite leafy greens or fruit and blend it into a mouthwatering smoothie.

Learn to Love Leafy Greens

If you’re looking for the easiest and quickest way to increase your daily dosage of various health-charging nutrients, then leafy greens should be at the very top of your list.

These dietary superheroes are packed with a plethora of vitamins, minerals and other goodies that will not only improve your immunity and overall wellbeing, but also contribute to a healthier appearance of skin, nails and hair. Win-win!

Plus, you’ll be pleased to hear that springtime is when leafy greens reign supreme. 

Leafy green rookies might want to ease their way into their new routine by going for a veggie with a more milder, versatile taste.

Baby spinach is the perfect starter-level leafy green. It can go into any food combo, from omelets to stir-fries to smoothies. Moreover, it has a subtle, refreshing taste, so you won’t have to worry about it overpowering the rest of your meal.

More advanced leafy greens aficionados can enrich their day-to-day meals with a bona fide celebrity among superfoods – kale. This leafy green has become wildly popular in the health and wellness sphere – for good reason, too: it contains high concentration of Vitamin K, which can shield your body from all kinds of illness.

Stir-fried kale in a pan

Even though kale is slightly more bitter in taste than baby spinach, you should have no problems including it into your daily meal prep – it can be blanched, sautéed, baked or blended!

Finally, seasoned leafy green lovers might want to go for something more challenging this spring. If you haven’t done so already, why not try stepping up your veggie game by introducing collard greens into your diet?

These nutritional powerhouses are often overlooked in favor of more accessible leafy greens, possibly because of their somewhat earthy tang and chewy texture.

However, if you know how to prepare them, collard greens can be just as delicious and health-boosting as any other leaf vegetable.

One of the easiest way to soften them up and bring out the flavor is to cook them in a broth with other veggies of your choice. Alternatively, you can drizzle a bit of olive oil over a hot pan and sauté your greens with a couple of crushed and chopped garlic cloves.

Try Out Energy-boosting Snacks

Once gloomy winter days come to an end, you will inevitably feel inspired to spend more time outdoors and on your feet.

And planning meals while you’re busy running errands and catching up with friends might prove to be a little bit challenging.

What’s more, if you don’t have a clear of idea what you’re going to eat and when, you might end up reaching for the least healthy options when you’re running low on fuel.

That’s why it’s very important to always keep body-energizing snacks at hand, which you can nibble on wherever you go.

And if you want to go down the healthy road, spring is the ideal time to start introducing healthy, straight-from-nature snacks that your body will be thanking you for.

One of the most convenient and energizing snacks are nuts and seeds.

They are easy to carry around and whip out whenever you’re feeling peckish.

What’s more, they are packed with a host of healthy nutrients that will replenish your body without adding extra pounds (when consumed in moderation).

One of the most readily available and healthy nuts are almonds, which have many body-boosting properties. A handful of almonds a day can help reduce bad cholesterol and help with high blood pressure.

On the other hand, if you’re more of a pistachio fan, you’ll be pleased to hear that these nuts contain high levels of antioxidants, especially potassium, which are incredibly beneficial for the nervous system.

Cashews can also be a great option for midday snacking, as they can help strengthen your bones and improve your overall immune system.

Fruit and Berries Over Processed Sugar

Most of us know that processed sugars are a definite no-go when it comes to building a healthy diet routine.

And while it’s pretty obvious that your standard candy and soda is loaded with added sugar, sometimes these high-calorie baddies are not that easy to spot.

For example, added sugars could be hiding in your favorite granola bar or that salad dressing you always use in your meals.

Luckily, thanks to the appropriate food labeling, it’s easier to identify those extra sugars found in our everyday groceries.

However, if you want to take the healthy route, spring is the right time to start satisfying your sugar cravings with deserts that have come straight from nature.

In the spring, nature becomes abundant with juicy, delicious fruit which can be a great replacement for your standard go-to treats.

One of the healthiest choices to satisfy your sweet tooth are berries. These bite-sized, vitamin-laden goodies are not only good for you body, they are also super-easy to get a hold of during sun-filled spring days.

Variety of berries in a measuring spoon

For example, strawberries – everyone’s favorite fruit of the season – are not only rich in various health-boosting nutrients, they also contain very few calories, making them a great choice for people looking to shed a few pounds.

Blueberries are also plentiful in spring, and make for a great addition to any smoothie or fruit salad. What’s more, blueberries are packed with phytochemicals, flavonoids and antioxidants which are essential for improving the immune system.

Put More Veggies on Your Plate

If your meals aren’t usually packed with vegetables, spring is the ideal time to change that for the better.

This season brings all kinds of tasty, health-boosting produce which will not only contribute to your overall well-being, it will also make you want to try out more creative, exciting meal options.

All you need to go to the green market and pack your grocery bags with all those delicious spring veggies.

And if you’re not really sure where to start, here are some of the most satisfying, palate-enticing spring superstars that you can incorporate into your spring meals with little to no effort.

One of the most popular springtime veggies is asparagus, a green stalk rich in iron, calcium, as well as vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6.

There are many different ways you can introduce asparagus into your daily recipes; for example, sautéed with eggs for breakfast, thrown into a salad with other veggies and a few slices of of fresh mozzarella for lunch or post-workout snack, or grilled with a slice of salmon for an evening meal.

Brussel sprouts are also great for filling up your belly and supplying you with energy during sunny spring days. These bite-sized veggies are packed with Vitamin C, K and plenty of antioxidants. Fry them for a couple of minutes with a chili or two to give the sprouts a kick; alternatively, roast them with the rest of your favorite veggies for a more rich and smoky flavor.

Don’t Be Afraid of (Healthy) Fats

If you are new to the world of wellness, then seeing the words “healthy” and “fat” in the same sentence might feel odd to you.

But fats don’t have to be necessarily bad for you.

On the contrary – healthy, nature-derived fats are essential for achieving balanced eating habits.

Since fats are higher in calories than proteins and carbohydrates, they will keep you feeling full and sated for long periods of time.

The only trick is to stick to unsaturated, straight-out-of-nature fats and stay away from the nasty, processed stuff.

Fortunately, spring offers plenty of healthy fat options you can incorporate into your everyday meals.

As mentioned before, nuts are a great source of unsaturated fats and proteins; moreover, they make for a great snack in-between bigger meals.

Healthy nuts in two bowls

Another food that is not only supremely delicious, but also high in natural fats is avocado. This nutritious, versatile fruit that originates from Central America can be prepared in countless way. For a quick and easy option, simply scoop out your avocado and spread it on a slice of toasted bread. Alternatively, you can chop it up in your salad or add it to your smoothie for a richer, creamier texture and extra nourishment.

And for something a little more substantial, go for fatty fish. Mackerel, salmon, trout, sardines and other creatures of the sea are loaded with unsaturated fats, as well as hearth-healthy Omega-3 acids, which can help with a host of health issues, including blood fat, arthritis, asthma, depression and ADHD. On a more skin-deep level, these acids can contribute to a plump, wrinkle-free complexion.

Spring is also the ideal time to switch to extra virgin olive oil, which is another ingredient that’s chock-full of healthy acids. This staple of Mediterranean diet contains high doses of Vitamin E and K, as well as a number of antioxidants. You can use olive oil in cooking or simply drizzle it over your favorite breads, salads and veggies.

And with this, we are wrapping up out list of essential tips and tricks on how to make your diet healthier and more spring-friendly. Now you can go out and stock up on all these delicious, sun-soaked foods that will ensure your belly is full and your health is in check.

Young woman laughing

Daily Habits for a Happier Life

Many people believe that happiness is something that happens by chance, but this is not necessarily true…

Instead, think of happiness as a life skill, something that you can work on and develop to ensure that you are feeling consistently happy each day.

Wondering how to do this?

It’s easy. All you need to do is adopt each of these habits into your daily life…

Meditate Daily 

For someone who has not bought into the idea of meditation, the thought of doing this on a daily basis can seem pointless.

However, meditation has been proven to have so many different health benefits, from increasing focus and concentration to improving memory. In addition to all of this, meditation on a regular basis can permanently rewire the brain to increase happiness levels. 

benefits of meditation infographic

Meditation is not something that has to take much time either…

When just starting out, all you need to commit to is a couple of minutes of meditation a day. Even if you are extremely eager to get started, it is always best to begin small, so that you can turn this into a habit that you will stick to.

Pick a time of the day to set aside for meditation, and find a quiet spot somewhere. Sit down comfortably, and then do the following:

  • Focus on your breath as you breathe in, following this through your nostrils, throat, lungs and stomach
  • Do the same as you breathe out, counting your breaths if this helps
  • If you find that your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your breath
  • Repeat this process for a couple of minutes

It does not matter if your eyes are open or closed, so long as you do this process each and every day. After a week, you can increase your two minutes of meditation to five minutes, and keep doing this in five minute intervals each week.

It will take about a month for this to become a habit, after which time you will likely also notice the benefits that this brief daily meditation is bringing to your mind and body. 

Keep Busy, But Don’t Rush Yourself

There is an incredibly fine line between staying busy and feeling rushed, but it is this balance that can really make a huge difference to how happy you feel.

Research has shown that feeling rushed will inevitably lead to stress, and therefore unhappiness, while having too much free time results in boredom and dissatisfaction

On the other hand, being productive can really boost your happiness, but you need to do this at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

Are you someone that often takes on more than you can handle?

The best way to handle this is to stop and think each time an opportunity or project comes your way. Unless you are really and truly excited and passionate about it, you need to learn how to say no.

Exercise

Do you do some form of physical activity each day?

If your answer is no, this is a habit that can really help with your happiness.

How?

Because exercise triggers the release of certain proteins and endorphins in the brain, all of which will make you feel happier. 

Exercise also helps to boost productivity, which will help with the point mentioned above about keeping busy.

Think you do not have the time to exercise each day?

Here are a few ways in which you can easily incorporate more exercise into your everyday life:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
  • Do some window shopping, but at a fast stroll
  • Stand more, whether this may be on public transport or while watching television
  • Do a ten minute long squat each day, or start with a shorter time and build this up each day
  • Install a pull-up bar onto a door frame in your house, and then do one or two reps each time you pass underneath it 

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

In order to really be happy, you need to be able to challenge yourself, and succeed at those challenges. Taking risks and embracing change is so important, even though it may seem frightening at the time.

Don’t like the idea of having to step out of your comfort zone each day?

This does not need to be anything crazy, like jumping out of a plane…

Instead, just try to do something small that you have never done before, whether this may be eating a new ingredient, styling your hair in a different way, or taking a new route to work.

Improve Your Diet

Your diet has a direct impact on your mood, and, even if you already eat quite healthily, the majority of people out there could likely easily make a few changes to improve their diet.

On a daily basis, you should be eating at regular intervals, as this helps to keep your mood stable, and make sure that you do not skip meals.

There are certain foods out there that have been proven to boost the mood, such as:

  • Protein – including eggs, seafood, poultry and tofu
  • Vitamin D obtained through sun exposure, but also comes from egg yolks and soy milk
  • Vitamin B-12 and Folate comes from broccoli, lentils, oatmeal, cottage cheese, lean beef and salmon
  • Fiber comes from fruits, vegetables and oats

On the other hand, there are certain foods that can really throw your mood off, making it much more of a challenge for you to feel happy. The main culprit here is sugar, as well as refined white starches. While sugar may give you a short burst of energy, this will soon drop back down, leaving you feeling even crankier than before. 

So, how do you implement all of this on a daily basis?

It’s easy…

Small changes are the key here, as you do not need to completely overhaul your entire diet overnight.

Instead, aim to improve a small part of your diet each day in a way that you would not have normally done. This could be anything from adding one less spoonful of sugar to your morning coffee to incorporating some extra leafy greens in your dinner to swapping your white bread for a wholegrain version. 

Be Appreciative

Whether showing appreciation for someone else, or for yourself or what you have, being appreciative has been proven to significantly increase happiness levels, with some studies even showing that it can boost this by up to 25%

The idea of being more appreciative may seem easy in theory, but how do you actually go about doing this on a daily basis?

Simply verbally expressing appreciation for someone, whether this may be for something that they have done or just an aspect of their personality, is a great way to start. Alternatively, try writing a handwritten thank you note to somebody each day, but make sure that you are only sending this with sincere appreciation in mind.

Wake Up Earlier

When you first start working on implementing this habit, the earlier starts to your day will likely not immediately make you feel happy, but this is something that will develop quite quickly.

Waking up earlier will help to keep you feeling invigorated and energized throughout the day. It also gives you extra time in your day, which can help with productivity, which also then results in happiness. 

To top it all off…

Early starts mean that you are likely to start going to bed earlier, and will be able to maintain a much healthier sleep routine.

Just like with changing your diet, this is not something that you need to get drastic about.

Instead, set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than you usually would, and give yourself a few days to a week to get used to this change. Once your body has adapted, set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier again, and keep repeating this process until you have begun to naturally rise at a time that suits you.

Learn Something New

Human beings have a core need for psychological well-being, and a natural desire to learn new things and progress in life.

There are numerous studies out there that suggest that education can directly increase happiness, thanks to the way in which the mind is being challenged. 

Don’t want to go back to school?

Fortunately, you do not need to, as there are so many other ways in which you can learn new things. Here are a few ideas:

  • Arrange a skills swap with friends
  • Ask a keen gardener to teach you how to develop your green thumb
  • Take up a new hobby
  • Sign up for a free online course
  • Think of a skill or activity you would like to do, and use the power of the internet to teach it to yourself

Of course, there is no denying that learning new skills can often cause stress…

However, research suggests that while the actual learning process can sometimes feel stressful, your overall levels of happiness and satisfaction will be higher when you look back on your day and all that you have learned.

Give Yourself a Treat

Research shows that in order to be truly happy overall, you need to have plenty of small positive experiences along the way. The frequency of these experiences is actually more important than the intensity, which is why treating yourself on a daily basis can really help to boost your happiness levels.

Wondering what to treat yourself with?

Everything from breakfast in bed to purchasing gourmet coffee beans rather than instant to setting aside some time each day where you can curl up with a good book. 

Spend Money on Experiences, Rather than Material Goods

There are quite a few studies out there that show that experiential purchases, meaning spending money on experiences, makes people far happier than buying material goods.

Why?

For a few different reasons:

  • Material goods get old quickly, while experiences can be shared throughout a lifetime
  • Experiences get recalled and revisited frequently, boosting happiness
  • Experiences are much more unique in nature
  • Experiences tend to be social, and humans are social animals

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Do you remember constantly comparing yourself to other people when you were in your teenage years?

Hopefully, this is not something that you do quite as much now, since comparing yourself to others can really minimize happiness.

If you catch yourself making comparisons to others…

Turn this around and instead compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself. Think about your qualities that have improved over the years, as these are much healthier comparisons to be making.

Keep a Journal

If you have never kept a journal before, the thought of starting one can seem a little daunting…

However, a journal is a great way to help your mind to process the events that are happening in your life, building up your awareness and increasing your clarity.

Even if you only manage to jot down a few lines a day, this can really help in the long run.

The easiest way to get started with this is by grabbing a pen and a piece of paper, but there are also journaling apps that you can download. These will send you notifications each day to remind you to write, which is always helpful when you are first trying to build a habit.

Not sure what to write about?

Just about anything will do! Start by writing down the events of the day, or even what you have eaten. You can also jot down your goals and dreams, as well as any worries or fears that you may have, as just the act of writing these down will help you to work your way through them.

Taking proactive steps to be happy means that you are much more likely to experience consistent happiness in your life, and it makes happiness more of a sure thing, rather than you just waiting and hoping for it to appear. Each of these daily habits are so easy to incorporate into your life, so have another read through the list and then pick a few that you can begin to implement right now.

Nuclear family enjoying dinner together

The Profile Of A Healthy TV Dinner

The original frozen dinners were literal recipes for disaster. Take the fact that they were first introduced  in the 1950’s when a nutritious dinner was defined by meatloaf and mashed potatoes with pie for desert. Add to that the fact that they catered to bachelors, whose main goals of eating were to fill their stomachs. Then, consider that the food had to be preserved, which adds a boatload of sodium to the equation. Put it all together, and you get a 1,040 calorie chicken pot pie, with 62 grams of fat, 26 grams of saturated fat, 1,480 mgs of sodium, and 14 grams of sugar.

As you may have guessed, there has been an appropriate amount of backlash. With the increased knowledge of nutrition, it comes as no surprise that sooner or later someone was likely to come up with a slightly more balanced way of preparing dinner instantly. Here are some of the kindler, more gentler versions of the original enemy of the artery.

Chicken and Harissa Chickpeas

The ingredient list in this meal is so healthy, you might start feeling stronger just thinking about it.  This North African option blends chicken, broccoli, butternut squash, chickpeas, brown jasmine rice and kale, topped with harissa, a spicy paste consisting of garlic, hot chili peppers, coriander, and caraway seeds, known to blast away fat. Capsaicin, the ingredient that gives the sauce its kick, is a proven appetite suppressant and metabolism booster, and the regular consumption of the caraway seed is associated with weight loss as well.

Quinoa Bowls

You may not know how to pronounce it, but you have probably seen quinoa popping up on restaurant menus and in health food stores quite a lot recently. Why are the bowls popular? They provide an easy way to combine flavors and spices with protein, healthy grains, and produce. The South American inspired quinoa bowl mixes meat free proteins, such as black beans, and red quinoa, for a meat free answer to high protein.

The Profile Of A Healthy TV Dinner

Thai Stir Fry

With all the new super foods on the market, tofu almost seems to get taken for granted. However, its still a very healthy option and can be the basis of a smart frozen dinner choice. Try an organic heat and eat, mixing tofu with a rainbow of veggies, including carrots, cabbage, broccoli, jalapeños, zucchini, and hot pepper for a low fat, high protein boost.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Ravioli in the microwave! How revolutionary! These protein and vitamin A filled ravs are stuffed with ricotta and butternut squash, and topped with kale, roasted tomatoes, and a sage garlic and lemon sauce. Wait til you tell your coworkers what was on the menu at your house last night!

Black Bean and Mango Bowl

This is an exotic combo for a frozen dinner. The entree is served on a bed of whole grain and sesame pilaf, comprised of brown rice oats rye, red wheat, barley, and sesame seeds. Top that with black beans, peppers, carrots and roasted onions, and you’ve got a bowl loaded with fiber and protein. Add some mango, ginger, and other seasonings, and you have preservatives that keeps the sodium content down for better heart health.

What is your best frozen dinner recipe? Let us know how you do health in front of the TV!

Trail mix in a bowl

Pump Up the Fiber In Your Diet

Fiber is necessary for a person’s well being. It increases the immune system in the gut, keeps the digestive lining healthy, supports the good probiotic bacteria, and absorbs excess cholesterol, fat, and toxins from our bodies. Here are some ways of increasing the fiber in your diet.

Cereal
Eating whole grain, unsweetened cereal with 4 grams of fiber is the ideal, but some studies show that just any old cereal might do the trick. According to research done by the University of California, cereal eaters eat less fat and more fiber than those who make other breakfast choices.

Two Apples A Day
Keep two doctors away? Apples are a source of pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber that digests slowly and helps to keep you full. One study showed that just 5 grams of the stuff left people feeling satisfied for four hours.

yogurt parfait

Yogurt Parfait
Here’s a great breakfast idea that’s packed with fiber. Mix one small container of yogurt with 1/3 cup all-bran cereal, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and 5 diced strawberries. Not only will you get a delicious breakfast, you’ll also get 12.2 grams of fiber, which is almost half your daily allowance.

Carrots and Broccoli in Low -Fat Ranch
Each cup of veggies will give you five grams of fiber. Snack on this three times a week.

Oatmeal
If a bowl of the stuff is not your style, you can use oatmeal instead of bread crumbs on your meatballs and meatloaf, sprinkle it on your ice cream, or bake it into cookies and muffins.

Trail mix
Mix raisins, peanuts, chocolate-covered soy nuts, and high fiber cereal for a great munchie mix. One handful makes for great high fiber between- meals snack.

whole grain crackers

Whole Grain Crackers
A little cracker can go a long way. One whole wheat cracker has 1/2 gram of fiber; do the math and that translates to 5 grams in ten crackers. Next time your looking for something to spread your peanut butter on, look for some whole grain crackers instead of bread.

Kidney Beans and Chickpeas
Lisa Andrews, RD, and nutritionist at the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati, says that you can get an additional 5 grams of fiber by adding a quarter cup of chickpeas and kidney beans to your next salad.

Switch From White to a Brown Foods
Rice is a great example. You can also switch regular pasta to whole wheat along with your corn burritos, white bread and cous cous. Working these into your diet gradually can increase your daily fiber intake by an easy ten grams without making a radical change to your diet.

What are you doing to pump up the fiber in your diet? Let us know!

Couple enjoying the green outdoors

Setting Personal Goals For Healthy Living

Being unhealthy is not just a part of your life; it’s a part of your identity. And now you’ve decided to make the change. But you’re uneasy. What are your buddies going to think when you beg off a trip to the bar in order to go to the gym? What are they going to say when you pass on the midnight donut run? When you get the spinach pizza instead of the meat lovers?

Setting personal health goals can be difficult, especially when you’re accustomed to a less than Jack Lalanne approved lifestyle, but it can be done. Here are some tips on doing just that.

To-Do List for Healthy Living
Go see your doctor. Even if you’re feeling great, it’s always a good idea to make sure everything is running smoothly. Get yourself screened and immunized and get the answers to all of the nagging questions that may be on your mind.

Keep tabs on your height and weight and make sure you are getting in enough physical activity. The CDC recommends that adults get a minimum of two and a half hour of moderate aerobic activity and 15 minutes of more intense aerobic activity each week, plus muscle training exercises at least two days a week.

Nutritionist Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD, LD tells you to, “Keep track of what your eating–all of it. The idea is to write it down without judgment. You can’t change what you’re not aware of or don’t acknowledge.”

Check your relationships and evaluate your mood and energy levels. Make sure you’re surrounded by people that enrich your life; get adequate sleep, and monitor yourself for signs of depression.

Food

Improve Your Diet
Its all about taking back the power over food. Says Williams, ” Instead of,’I should be eating more fruits and vegetables,’ it’s, ‘I choose to eat more fruits and vegetables,’ or, ‘ I choose not to, It shows your in control, you’re making the choice. Stock the kitchen with healthy foods, so you have a healthy strategy for when cravings hit. Slow down and enjoy your food. According to Williams, “You’re much more likely to feel psychologically satisfied,'” and shoot forgive to nine servings of varied vegetables and fruits per day.

Exercise More
Not the exercise type? No such thing! Dr. Williams says there’s no need to stick with the dreaded cardio: find something you enjoy and keep track of what you’re doing. Put big X’s on the calendar on days when you exercise. A visual record will Keep you motivated. Set weekly goals rather than daily ones, so you have greater day-to-day freedom. That way, you can forgive yourself if you miss a day, so long as you make it up before the weekend

Cut Down On Stress
When it comes to handling stress, Williams has two suggestions. Routine maintenance entails the development of coping skills, like meditation or yoga to keep your stress level down. You can also breakthrough stress, by finding ways to handle stressful situations when they pop up. For example, you might run up and down the stairs to quell aggravation after a stressful encounter.

Woman sleeping

Sleep More Soundly
If sound sleep is a problem for you, Lisa Shives, MD has a few tips. The doctor advises avoiding the stimulation of computer and tv two hours before bedtime and recommends a light reading lamp that doesn’t shine into your eyes directly. She warns against vigorous exercise near bedtime and taking a hot bath to relax yourself mentally. Shives also stresses the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule and making good sleep a priority saying sleep is, “just as important as diet and exercise.”

Sound doable to you? Of course it does! Let us know how you’re getting a handle on your health. We love to hear it!

Flat lay of healthy food

Popular Health Food Myths

Eating pop rocks with soda can make you explode. This is perhaps the most popular and most bizarre food myths of all time. Although some may argue that the two together may be a lethal combination, it is not because of its likelihood to cause human combustion. While the fate of Mikey of Life Cereal fame may be unknown, it is safe to say he did not suffer death by Poprock. With the rate at which information about food changes , it is often hard to determine which facts from fiction. Here are some of the most commonly believed food myths that may seem all too easy to believe.

Low Fat Food is Better for You
Look at food labels to determine what kinds of fats are in foods before reaching for the low fat version. Seattle based dietitian Andy Bellatti says, “A good intake of healthful fats is beneficial for cardiovascular health. Prioritize mono saturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Many low fat diets are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates which are increasingly becoming linked to increased heart disease.” Low fat food are often low in good fats, which are necessary to cholesterol management and absorption of nutrients and also contain high levels of sugar and sodium to compensate for the blandness of the taste quality.

Dairy Is Best For Healthy Bones
According to Bellatti, too many people confuse dairy with calcium. “Dairy contains calcium, but so do dark-leafy greens. Milk is fortified with vitamin D, just like all milk alternatives. Additionally, bone health goes beyond calcium and vitamin D.” Vitamin K is important for bone health and leafy green have it while dairy products do not. Magnesium, also absent from dairy, is important for bone health as well.

Assorted dairy

If you’re concerned about the health of your bones, you’re best bet is to make sure you get enough calcium in your diet and, as the Harvard School of Public Health points out, “milk isn’t the only, or even best source of calcium.” Collard greens, kale and bok choy may be considerably better sources of both calcium and vitamin D.

Drink 8 Glasses of Water per Day
Boston based nutritionist Alannah DiBona says there is no given rule for how much water a person needs in a day. “Water’s been touted as the cure for all sins, and in some ways, it’s true – proper hydration is necessary for just about anything body and mind-related. However sixty- four ounces per day isn’t always going to be the right number for you.” Instead, try to determine your water intake by dividing your body weight in half and trying to drink that number in ounces of water daily.

Dibona also urges us to “Remember that water is available to you through all liquids, fruits, vegetables, and that the mark of proper hydration is a very light yellow-colored urine.”

Eating Eggs Raises Cholesterol
According to DiBona, “More often than not, a person diagnosed with high cholesterol will go out of his or her way to avoid eggs, which is really unnecessary. The body’s cholesterol levels are influenced by certain saturated and trans fats; eggs contain very little saturated fat and absolutely no trans fat. Depriving yourself of an egg means foregoing 13 naturally occurring vitamins and minerals and a really delicious breakfast item.”

Poached egg

High Sodium Foods Taste Salty
While there is no doubt that management of salt and sodium intake are important, especially for those with diabetes and hypertension, you should know that salty taste is not necessarily characteristic of high sodium foods. Belatti explains, “While surface salt is noticeable, stealth sodium, added during processing, is harder to taste. This is why many people don’t realize that a Dunkin’ Donuts corn muffin contains as much sodium, as 9 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.” He stresses the importance of looking up nutrition information to check the sodium content of foods at your favorite restaurants and eateries.

What other food myths do you want to debunk? Let us know!

Woman holding organic foods

Make the Switch To Organic Foods

What does it mean to “go organic?” Is it the environmental equivalent of buying Christian Louboutins? Does it mean meeting friends for organic Suncrust Pizza at the LYFE cafe followed up by a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts? Making the switch to organic foods is not a trend, its a commitment. It means being diligent about shopping practices, and may even require some economical sacrifices. However, it also means taking steps toward a chemical free environment. If you’re considering making the switch, here are some things you need to be prepared to do.

Make Room In the Fridge
Since organic produce typically does not last as long as inorganic, you’ll have to inspect your refrigerator and food storage areas to make sure you have room to store it. Clean out rotten produce to make room for your newer, healthier items.. Consider stocking up on frozen organic versions if frequent trips to the market are inconvenient.

Make a List
Make a list of items that you are running low on and gradually replace them with organic versions. This will cut down on waste and stretch out your finances while you are making the transition.

Organic Produce Shopping
Thin skinned produce or produce without peels have the least protection against pesticides. When switching to organics, berries, celery, apples, bell peppers, peaches, greens, and potatoes should be your first priority. Thicker skinned produce, such as avocados, pineapples, melons, and mangoes pose less of a health risk, and can be held off on, if you need to make the transition slowly.

Shopping for organic food

Organic Dairy
Switching to organics will also mean converting to organic milk and dairy products to avoid antibiotics and pesticides. Although there may be a significant price difference, keep in mind that the switch will help to support and more natural agricultural system.

Meat and Eggs
If meat and eggs are dietary staples for you, you will want to purchase hormone free and organic forms of these proteins. Organic meat will probably be the most costly of all your switches. You may want to accompany this swap with the purchase of few organic flavorings, seasonings, and condiments, to keep your transition tasty.

Read Labels
Look for the “USDA organic” certification on the label of your food to make sure the Department of Agriculture has deemed it free of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and that no ionizing radiation was used in the processing of the food. “100% organic” indicates all ingredients are organic, whereas simply “organic” means 95 % organic, and “Made with Organic Ingredients” means that 70 % of the ingredients were not genetically modified.

Shop Around
Go to different grocery stores to find the best prices and selections of organic food. Your regular grocery store probably has an organic food aisle, and you may be able to find organic foods place next to the nonorganic. Health food stores, membership stores, and farmer’s markets can be good organic food sources and you can always consider starting your own garden, if you are so inclined.

Eating out

Eating Out
Do your research when it comes to restaurants. Some restaurants may claim a dish is organic, but key uses seasonings, oils, and other components that may not be. Specialty restaurants are generally most reliable.

What do you think? Are you prepared to take the steps for a healthy environment and a healthy you? Let us know!

Flat lay of heart-healthy foods

Foods That Boost Your Cardiovascular Health

When we use the term “hungry heart,” we are usually not speaking in the literal, scientific sense. The Hebrew bible associated all feelings with the heart, hunger and thirst included and quoted Abraham as saying we shall eat to “sustain our hearts.” However, today we tend to more often associate these signals with the mind and brain. However, is the whole body concept so far-fetched? After all, if our heart does fuel our body, and our stomach does fuel our heart, then maybe the heart can be hungry. And if the heart is hungry, what should we feed it?

The Food-Heart Connection
According to Julie Zumpano, RD, LD, and dietitian for the Preventive Cardiology and Nutrition Program at Cleveland Clinic says, “You can definitely reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by eating certain foods every day. Try to eat foods that are in their natural form, as they come from the ground.” Here are some suggestions for a heart-healthy diet.

Fish
Fish are packed with omega-3’s to support your heart. Eating fish with a high omega-3 content, such as salmon and mackerel can help prevent the formation of blood clots, and help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Salmon

Almonds
A handful of almonds contains a huge load of nutrients! Not only do these nuts have protein, magnesium, and fiber, but they are also high in vitamin E, biotin, monosaturated fats and antioxidants to protect against oxidative stress. They have also been shown to help reduce risk of heart disease and lower bad cholesterol levels.

Beans
Beans, beans, good for your heart! Beans are rich in soluble fiber and help decrease blood pressure and reduce inflammation. They are also full of phytochemicals that reduce oxidative stress, a known contributor to heart disease.

Pomegranates
These lovely seeded fruits have incredible anti-inflammatory properties to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and blood disease. They also contain punicic acid, a fatty acid proven to combat risk factors associated with heart disease.

Pomegranates

Whole Grains
If you want to improve heart health, swap out that white bread for whole wheat. Web MD cites research showing that the consumption of just 25 grams of whole grains per day can reduce heart disease by 15%.” A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer,” says the website.

Red Wine
Don’t get too excited. Moderation is the key. Scientist suggest that one glass of red per day can raise HDL, or good cholesterol, which prevents blood clots and inflammation that can contribute to a stroke or heart attack. However, they also warn against too much of the good stuff, which may have a detrimental effect on mental and physical health.

Dark Chocolate
Bring on the dark chocolate to help protect your cardiovascular system. This wonderful treat contains flavanols. an antioxidant which has been shown to lower blood pressure, increase blood flow to the heart, and decrease the likelihood of blood clot formation.

Dark chocolate

Tomatoes
Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants, folic acid. and beta carotene, but it’s lycopene that really gives these veggies their heart healthy kick. Lycopene reduces risk for heart disease and reduces blood pressure, inflammation, and stroke which make these veggies a great pick for a snack or salad topper.

What do you feed your heart to keep it healthy? Let us know! We love to hear it!

Woman weighing herself

The Relationship Between Age and Weight

“Boy, he (she) got fat!” Definitely not the nicest thing to think about another person, but most probably a thought that has occurred to us at one time or another. Whether it was the girlfriend you used to sip wine coolers and eat endless amounts of Funyuns with, or the formerly gaunt singer of the eighties heavy metal band that you used to rock out to, age and weight seem to have a funny way of catching up to us at the same time. As if one of the two isn’t bad enough.

However, one just needs to look at aging supermodels, like Heidi Klum and Christie Brinkley to know that age and weight do not have to come as a package deal. Let’s take a closer look at the age/weight relationship and see if the two can be mutually exclusive.

Studies
As you age, the composition of your body changes. Metabolism and hormonal levels alter, impacting the degree and speed of fat accumulation. Generally, the greatest body weight is found in males and females in the 50-59 age group, and declines gradually after you hit 60. In the mid-seventies weight tends to increase again, followed by a small drop off.

A study of runners, ages 18-50 found that in the below 30 age group, most runners were moderately overweight, nearly 30% of the 45 to 49 age group exceeded their recommended weight.

Men Vs. Women
It seems that in the battle of the sexes, weight gain in regard to age is not exempt. Although the male sex is more likely to be overweight, women are more prone to obesity. Problem spots also differ. Whereas women tend to add on pounds on the hips and thighs before menopause, whereas the midsection is the more commonly problematic for men.

Women exercising

Weight Charts
According to most weight charts, the recommended weight for a woman of 5’6″ is between 117 and 143 pounds. A male of 5’11 has a recommended weight of 155 to 189 pounds. However, weight charts are usually broken down by height and gender without consideration for age, a factor you might want to consider in the evaluation of your weight and your weight loss goals.

Weight Loss Strategies
Although there is a correlation between age and weight gain, the good news is, it is believed that regular workouts can prevent the added pounds that can result from aging. However, it may get a little tougher. As you age, your body loses muscle, which means that you tend to burn fewer calories, which means you may want to increase your activity level. For example, you may want to extend a 30-minute workout to 40 minutes over time. Also, keep in mind that weight training plays a key role in muscle development and is directly related to the number of calories burned, and should be a key consideration in designing your workout routine.

Your diet is another important thing to consider as you age. The junk food and sugar that you metabolized so easily in your younger years will become more problematic as your metabolism slows. Keep your intake of calories at a moderate level and try to include vegetables, fruits, yogurt, and fish in your diet.

How do you keep active as you age? You’re looking especially young!

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