Hello…sorry it’s been so long

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Hello,

I can’t remember the last time I blogged – deadlines (lots of ’em), keeping fit and regular longer runs have very much got in the way. However, I’ve been nudged into getting back on the horse (so to speak) by hearing that I’ve somehow made the VoucherCodesPro Top 50 Fitness Bloggers list.

Those lovely people rate my blog because they say: “every post is well researched and very clear so even novices will be able to gain useful information from them”. They then go on to explain why you should follow Happy Talking Health…”this blog is all about targeting every aspect of health, not just what you eat or how much you exercise, which is something we should all take notice off” – kind words indeed.

I’m very flattered (and also a little ashamed that I haven’t posted on here for so bloody long).

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Are you a ditherer or a doer?

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We’re all guilty of procrastinating from time to time – whether it’s due to can’t-be-botheredness or any number of silly distractions that win the battle for our attention when they REALLY could wait.

Other times, the reason for our procrastination can be an underlying problem such as fear of failure – or even fear of success. Procrastination can fill our bodies with anxiety hormones and lead to heightened stress and poor sleep long-term. So, is it better to be a doer?

New research has introduced the idea of pre-crastination. Pre-crastinators are amazing types that hate to delay deadlines and instead hurry to get them done and dusted as soon as possible. They like to chalk tricky tasks off their to-do list to offload the task from their minds. Even if it takes a lot more effort to do so.

“Most of us feel stressed about all the things we need to do, we have to-do lists, not just on slips of paper we carry with us or on our phones, but also in our heads,” said David Rosenbaum, a psychological scientist at Pennsylvania State University, who carried out the research. “Our findings suggest that the desire to relieve the stress of maintaining that information in the working memory can cause us to over-exert ourselves physically or take extra risks.”

Whether you’re a putting it off or a must do now kind of person, you can still be prone to stress-related symptoms.

Me? I’m going to start work on developing my pre-crastinator instincts pronto…

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Baby, give it up (for Lent) and benefit your waistline

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Today is the first day of Lent and over the next 40 days you can lose a few lbs just by going without a tasty treat or two.

It does take willpower and it’s best not to keep the treats you have a knee weakness for in sight, but you can do it.

Healthy Food Guide nutritional expert Juliette Kellow gives some great insight into the lbs you could lose just by ditching a daily treat for 40 days. Here’s just a few examples…

Ditch it: two chocolate digestive biscuits and lose: 2lb

Ditch it: small bar of chocolate (50g) and lose: 3lb

Ditch it: large packet of crisps (50g) and lose: 3lb

Ditch it: large glass of dry white wine (250ml) and lose: 2lb

Ditch it: can of cola (330ml) and lose: 1.5lb

I’m really going for it this Lent and cutting out all sweet things and crisps too. If a few lbs fall off too, even better. Who’s joining me?

It’s time to talk about mental health

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Today is the first ever Time to Talk Day. Organised by the brilliant Time to Change, the largest programme in England tackling the stigma and discrimination often associated with mental health, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. Time to Talk aims to start conversations around mental health, raise awareness and share the message that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, and neither is talking about it.

For inspiration on how you can get involved – have a look at the Time to Talk events page that lists everything going on in your area. There’s loads happening online too, keep up to date via Twitter and #TimetoTalk for all the latest information. If you head over to the Rethink Mental Illness Facebook page at 2.00pm-3.00pm today, you could also have a live web chat with the very inspiring Jonny Benjamin, who recently made the headlines with his #FindMike campaign, where Jonny got to say thanks to the man that saved his life.

Every small conversation helps…

Put away your pout and eat some sprouts…

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It’s a divisive topic in most households – some of us (like me) are firmly in the I love sprouts group, yet others are strangely repulsed by these little green nutritional powerhouses.

Here’s why you should load up on sprouts on Christmas Day…

They’re packed with disease-fighting phytonutrients glucosinolates and anti-cancer properties including sulforaphane. Even the occasional serving can have significant benefits.

Sprouts also contain more vitamin C than broccoli or strawberries to give you a great immune boost to wave away festive colds.

Come on, what’s not to love?

Merry Christmas!

Christmas gift ideas with a health twist

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If you’re stuck for gift ideas and growing ever panicky with each ‘it’s…days to Christmas’ notification – relax for a moment, grab a cuppa and take a look at my top three wellbeing-inspired present suggestions…

SS13 Pastel Patent1 Healthy Back Bag – if your mum, sister or friend regularly complains about having back pain, this one strap bag, which is very kind to the spine, could be just what they need. HBBs are designed to distribute weight asymmetrically and contour to the spine, thus reducing stress on the neck and shoulders. They come in stacks of different colours and designs, from sporty to snazzy, with prices starting at £29. I’ve had one for a while now and they really are as good as they sound.

img_46801 Fitbag – it can be tricky to find the get-up-and-go to keep fit in the winter, no matter what recent research suggests. It’s cold, it’s dark and those two factors alone can be a big deterrent for some of us. The Fitbag is a tone-up-at-home kit with a difference. The bag contains six items: skipping rope, dumbbells, ab roller, resistance band, resistance tube and a thigh master. It also includes a detailed workout plan and costs £37.99. Fitbag live classes are also being introduced – simply turn up with your Fitbag and get into your first class for free.

lux_fruit_basket1M&S Luxury Fruit Basket – put down the box of chocolates you’ve earmarked for a loved one and give the gift of fresh and seasonal fruit instead. On average, we consume an astonishing 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone. In addition, all our extra festive nibbles can add up to a weight gain of 5lb. You can choose from the luxury option (£39.50) or a traditional basket priced at £29.50. If your recipient has overdone it on the party food front (which most of us will), they could be very thankful for this healthy treat!

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Could Christmas make you ill?

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Tis the season to eat plenty, drink until we’re merry and ease off on our usual healthy habits. Sleep – pah! Yet, this breakdown in our usual routines – less sleep, more party foods, stacks of booze, plus the pressure to be the perfect host and gift giver – can create a very real risk of the festive season making us ill, according to new research.

“At Christmas, when we’re trying to do everything, or get everything finished at work before the break, there can be a dip in desirable events and a rise in negative mood, caused by the varying pressures we all find ourselves under, such as financial worries, time constraints and a lack of support from friends or family,” says Dr Anna Phillips, a reader in behavioural medicine at the University of Birmingham.

When these kind of worries build up, Dr Phillips warns they can quite literally make us ill, as the stress affects the balance of the body’s hormones. This is due to a link between stress and a deficiency in secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA), a type of antibody that protects against infections at the mucous membranes of the mouth, airwaves and digestive tract. If we become deficient in this vital antibody, we are at greater risk of infection and generally feeling ugh.

So, what can we do to lower our risk of getting ill over Christmas?

“People need to look after themselves,” says Dr Phillips. “Ensure you have plenty of good quality support from friends and family, and ensure you continue to maintain some healthy behaviours – get some exercise and plenty of sleep. Listen to your body’s slow down signals and obey them. Most of all, make a holiday exactly that; a relaxing break.”

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