Healthy Lifestyle

Aggie MacKenzie’s 5 Simple Movements For A Healthier Lifestyle

The TV star and former head of the Good Housekeeping Institute offers advice for maintaining a healthy mind and body.

Two years ago, after taking a tough 18-month yoga teacher training course, How Clean is Your House star and Celebrity Masterchef contestant Aggie MacKenzie swapped her life as a TV star for the rewarding role of a yoga teacher.

Now, the fabulous presenter and former head of the Good Housekeeping Institute is gettign ready to host two relaxing yoga retreats in Tuscany which are exclusive to GH readers.

Ahead of the healthy getaways in May, Aggie, who studied anatomy, physiology, meditation and Sanskrit during her training course, has given us her top tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle however busy life gets.

As she knows only too well, it’s easy to fall into the habits of bad posture, rushed breathing and tense shoulders when we’re occupied with the stressful goings on of everyday life.

To help you reset your mind and body, here are Aggie’s top five movements you can start practicing today.

“When we feel stressed, or in a rush, we tend to breathe only into our chests,” says Aggie. “This raises the heart rate and blood pressure. To keep calm, you should fill your diaphragm with a deep inhalation, and release the air with a long exhalation.

“It’s best to do this all through your nose, but breathing out through the mouth can also be relaxing.”

Aggie says many people tend to get a stiff neck: “You’ll feel it when you’re cycling and turning to check the roads, or checking your mirrors and reversing while driving. Try, a few times throughout the day, to shift your head from side to side, up and down, to keep your muscles pliable.”

Particularly for older people, balance is so important, she says. “When you’re standing at the stove stirring a pot or at the bus stop, waiting, stand on one leg. If you press one foot deeper into the ground and engage your tummy, you’ll find your balance really improves. Plus, this takes no extra time out of your day – all you need is to remember to do it!”

As an extra tip, Aggie advises making sure there’s a softness in your knees when standing. “Blokes tend to hyper extend through the backs of their knees, which puts strain on the lower back. Drop your tailbone to your heels to protect your lower back!”

“We hold a lot of tension in our shoulders, often from working at the computer or at a desk. Our default posture is to have rounded shoulders and a little pot belly. What you need to do is widen your collar bones, pull your shoulders back and down, releasing stiffness, lift your chest and lightly engage your lower tummy. This will help you to stand tall and will do wonders for your spine.”

There’ll be more tips from Aggie on how to relieve your mind and body from the stresses of daily life during her spring retreat.

On what she’s most looking forward to experiencing on the four-day escape, the celebrity yogi says she can’t wait to be outside: “I love doing early morning outdoor yoga, just as the sun comes out before it gets hot. There’s something about breathing fresh air that makes you feel alive.

“I’m also looking forward to feeling part of the group, having time together to connect through yoga, and chatting about each other’s lives. I’d love to hear people’s stories and I’m happy to share mine.”


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From the Porch Steps: Some Thoughts on Aging

If you are dealing with aging parents and grandparents, realize that you will never know certain aspects of their lives that they keep secret from the world.

Today many folks are active into their 90s and beyond. Aging is a very individual thing. The process depends on many factors, primarily inherited factors.

On the negative side, if you have a parent who is hard of hearing, your hearing may be impaired. If you have a parent with digestive or breathing problems, you may have inherited those problems. If your parents were both very healthy, you may also be that lucky or you may have inherited some health problems from other inline relatives like your grandparents or great-grandparents.

The kind of parenting you received as a child has a great effect on how you live your life, how you approach it and how daring or conservative you become. The effect it has on your life may be devastatingly negative or happily positive. (Or you may just ignore it all together.) It’s no secret that a happy childhood usually produces a cheerful person.

Vegan Bowl

Veganuary Success Set To Embark on the U.S

Trying to live a more sustainable and greener life is nothing new for climate change advocates. Individual sustainability includes considering alternative renewable fuel sources, more environmentally friendly modes of transport and reducing plastic consumption.

Among those, interest is rapidly growing in living a vegan lifestyle, namely no eating or using animal based foods or products. Many initially choose to transition into a plant-based diet before adopting the principles across further areas of their life including clothing, cosmetics and home items such as cleaning products.

Veganuary, is a campaign dedicated to encouraging people to go vegan for the month of January, in the hope they may continue after the month has ended. A site dedicated to the monthly campaign has been set up to help encourage participants and provide support to new and existing vegans. It also hopes to encourage others, who may not be vegan, to make the switch and rethink some of their purchases through recipes and eating guides.

Since its launch in 2014, Veganuary is proud to have supported more than half a million people worldwide, covering over 178 countries, and this year Veganuary will be moving into the United States to increase the uptake rates for 2020. In 2019 over 250,000 people in the UK alone pledged to ditch animal based products – something which they are looking to beat.

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Many fast-food and store brands are recognizing the demand in Vegan food offerings, with many altering their menus to accommodate vegan alternatives of already firm favorites or creating whole new specialist food ranges. To help aid its success, Veganuary has partnered with many food retailers, including Hellman’s who will feature special offers during the month. They will also be offering advice and tips on the ways in which participants can introduce a vegan lifestyle.

Veganuary is hoping to provide insight for people to make healthier and educated choices going forward with food. Not everyone is expected to take the leap into a completely Vegan lifestyle, but even introducing these principles gradually, by using ideas such as Meat-Free-Mondays, will all add up to make an impact on a global scale.

The campaign has got many big stars on board to increase participation, including the likes of Joaquin Phoenix who has eaten a vegan diet since childhood and has used his platforms throughout his career to share not only the health benefits but also helping to promote the sustainability of our planet through veganism. Other celebrities such as Simon Cowell, Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus have also been sharing their transition to vegan over the past years. Official ambassadors for Veganuary include Joaquin Phoenix, Alicia Silverstone and Mayim Bialik.

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Health Benefits to Veganism

Many of the health benefits have been documented in the recent Netflix documentary “The Gamechangers” which has gained a lot of attention within the past few months. Peta, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, argues that the health benefits of eating a non-animal based diet to include:

Nutrient rich – Eating a vegan diet can provide all the nutrients you need in your diet away from meat eating, through whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, lentils and beans, nits, grains and seeds.

Wellness – By focusing on eating whole and good foods many have reported they feel better in themselves for making the change. Whether it is from the new found goodness and energy levels you might be experiencing from you new diet, the positivity from knowing you are eating a diet which doesn’t harm animals or even weight loss as reported by many, the new found wellness in yourself is a positive step to changing the way people eat.

Health – studies have shown that eating a vegan lifestyle can also contribute and lead to a better state of health particularly relating to type 2 diabetes, cholesterol and some cancers. With plant based foods being a natural source of antioxidants which have shown a positive effect on health

Benefits to our environment

Of course one of the main reasons many choose to eat Vegan is to solely to stop cruelty to and the killing of animals in producing meat for humans to consume. When looking more closely at our environment the raising of animals for food has a large impact on our planet’s resources, including land, food, energy and water and also the emphasis of the byproducts of animal agriculture adding to the pollution of our air and waters. Farms rearing animals are covering a lot of our lands, with space required to raise animals and grow crops to feed them and these animals and the process create waste which requires attention.

Veganuary aims to give people a new insight, taking a pledge to learn more and experience eating and using products conforming to vegan choices. Not everyone will take this on board permanently but by educating and making small changes such as introducing initiatives such as ‘Meat Free Mondays’ hopefully more people will begin to learn how their choices can make a difference.


20 Ways To Be More Environmentally Friendly in 2020

Here are 20 ways to make more eco-friendly lifestyle changes this year:

Start recycling: Check with your city’s curbside collection to see if they offer curbside recycling service. Get a separate bin and bags specifically for recycling. If your residence offers valet trash service, make sure recycling is included and the people picking up your bags know the difference.

Buy in bulk: Items like beans, coffee, rice, nuts and even spices are often cheaper when purchased by the ounce or pound. Check with nearby grocers to see which exact items can be purchased this way and if there are rules about containers.

Reduce the amount of plastic bags you use: Carry reusable tote bags, and consider purchasing reusable produce bags to cut down your plastic use. Collect any extra plastic bags or soft plastic you might toss in the trash and recycle them at special dropoff spots (flexible plastics are not usually recyclable at home, but some stores like groceries offer collection bins).

Reduce your meat/dairy consumption: Both of these industries require a significant amount of natural and human resources (water, land, feed, labor, etc.). So whether you just take part in “Meatless Mondays,” switch to dairy-free products or adopt a more plant-based diet, every meal free of meat or dairy can help.

Don’t let good food go to waste: Food waste is an all-too-common issue affecting both our wallets and the environment. Regularly check on the groceries in your fridge or pantry and plan out the best ways to use them before they expire. This especially includes leftovers.

Research composting: Whether it’s a small counter-size jar or a large curbside bin, look into options for composting food scraps, leaves and other materials in your neighborhood to divert them from landfills.

Use less water at home: Install low-flow water fixtures like shower and faucet heads. If you need to, consult a professional for help swapping in a low-flow toilet. Don’t forget these tried-and-true tips: Turn off the water when you brush your teeth, opt for shorter showers instead of baths, and if you can avoid it, don’t run appliances with small loads of dishes or clothing.

Take advantage of rebate or discount programs for purchasing energy-efficient appliances: Many utility companies offer incentives for purchasing these high-ticket items.

Join the reusable/compostable straw movement: Reusable or compostable straws made of metal, silicone or paper are one of the most popular ways to cut your plastic consumption. If you don’t need one, or can bring your own, let servers know to not give you a plastic straw. Some straw sets come in a case or sack to make them easier to take on the go. If you can get multiple sets, consider having a set at home, work and in your car or bag.


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Vintage Pattern

Columbus Designers Create new Styles With Vintage Fabric

Splendor Revival and Forgotten Fabric make chic caftans at an affordable price point.

Slow fashion is flourishing in Columbus in the form of cool, comfortable caftans made from fabric sourced from local thrift stores.

“I’ve been collecting fabric for more than half my life, when my mother introduced me to the idea of thrift stores,” says Tony Elder, who calls himself the “mad scientist seamster” behind Forgotten Fabric.

“Women’s scarves felt silky and I loved the way they floated around. I had a giant duffle bag full of scarves and had no idea what I was going to do with them,” he adds.

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Working out with Battle Ropes

You Should Wait For At Least A Half-Hour Before Exercising

You’ve probably heard the old adage that warns against jumping into the pool right after eating. Though it’s probably alright to swim after a meal, you may want to wait at least 30 minutes to avoid muscle cramps.

According to Melissa Rifkin, a registered dietitian and owner of Melissa Rifkin Nutrition in New York City, eating before a workout is critical to perform your best. But what that looks like will depend on the type of workout and size of your meal.

There are a few common rules of thumb you should follow. Basically, the bigger the meal, the more time you should wait to work out, says Amie Rowe, a registered dietitian based in Raleigh.

“Eating a heavy meal immediately before a workout can cause GI discomfort – like bloating and cramping – and will not result in optimal performance due to competing demands between your muscles and digestive system,” Rowe says.

Instead, Rowe recommends eating a low-fiber snack about 30 to 45 minutes before engaging in short, vigorous exercises like high-intensity interval training or weight-lifting. These easily digestible carbohydrates will break down quickly to provide fuel: bananas, nut butter on toast, yogurt and granola, or energy bars.

For high-endurance activities like running or swimming, you’ll need to store up more energy longer before your workout. Rowe recommends a mix of carbohydrates and protein two to three hours before exercise, such as a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter or yogurt with fruit.

Distance runners will also want to eat high-carbohydrate meals well in advance of a marathon. Some dietitians recommend carbo-loading two to three days before a race with pasta, rice, and potatoes.

With physical activities sustained over long periods of time, the body uses stored carbohydrates and fats for energy consumption, and Rowe says you’ll need to load up ahead of time to stay fresh for the final miles.

“When there are no carbohydrates readily available in the bloodstream, the body relies on energy stores called glycogen, which can get depleted during an intense or long exercise session and hinder your performance,” Rowe says.

Just make sure you don’t show up to the race hungry – a granola bar or banana 30 minutes to one hour before you head to the starting line should do the trick. And you should probably stay away from any high-fat foods immediately before exercise.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to pay attention to how different foods affect your workout performance, and you should take note of how you feel with varying lengths of time in between eating and exercising.

“Everyone is different in what their body can tolerate,” Rifkin says. “It is best to try different meal or snack combinations to see what makes you feel your best so you can stay strong and have a great sweat session.”


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Online Shopping

Millennial Money: Don’t Shop This Way in 2020

Overspending can be a serious downer for your budget.

Kind of like that person in the movie theater who kicks the back of your seat: It’s annoying, distracting and ruins your experience.

But that doesn’t mean you should stop spending entirely, just like you don’t have to stop going to the movies altogether. You just need to pick your purchases (and maybe your seats) more carefully.

Now that 2020 is upon us, here are some things you can kick out of your budget and some other changes to consider.


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Organized Shelves

New Year, New Home? How To Declutter The Positive Way

A cluttered home can easily drain you of your energy so with a new year, as well as a new decade, beginning now is the perfect time to get rid of the clutter you no longer need. But where should you start?

To begin, make sure you have realistic ideas of what you want to do and why. There is no point setting a goal of decluttering the entire house if you only have a few short hours, however, if you dedicate that time to clearing the kitchen drawers you will feel satisfied that you have achieved at least one goal.

Take a look around your home and make a list of the areas that need the most work and start from there. By tackling one area at a time you will start to see the progress you are making. It is also important that you set a finished date for your work. If you have a spare room that needs a few days of dedicated cleaning, set an achievable date to work towards.

Another tip is to create three piles or bags for your clutter, one for items you no longer want, one for donating, and one for keeping. If you are decluttering it is important that you do not create a bigger mess than the one you started with.

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The items you no longer want can also be separated into sections. If you can recycle anything – whether it’s through a curbside pickup or at a recycling drop off location – make sure you do. You should also check any electrical items and see if they can also be recycled.

If there are items that you cannot recycle or want to send to a charity, why not hold a garage sale? Your neighborhood may have a specified date for garage sales so it is a good idea to check that first.

If you are decluttering a large area – a basement, attic or garage – it could be a good idea to rent a dumpster. By throwing your items directly into the dumpster there is a reduced chance of you changing your mind and keeping your unwanted items.

It is also important to remember that a lot of your clutter will have sentimental attachments to them, so make sure you are mentally prepared to part with items that you no longer need, even if Great Auntie Janet bought it for you several years ago.

Another tip to remember is the “80/20 rule” in regards to our wardrobe. As a rule we tend to only wear around 20% of our wardrobe for 80% of the time. This rule can also be applied to other areas of our belongings such as toys, books or video games, and with music and movies so easily available online do you really need to keep that cupboard full of DVDs and CDs?

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When looking at electrical items there are a few rules you need to remember. First of all does it still work? Secondly, do you still want it? If you answer yes to both then find somewhere to house it. However, if you answer no to the first question then you need to ask yourself if you are ever going to fix it. If not, throw it out or you’ll have a broken item in your house for longer than you need it.

If you have items that you have not used for at least six months ask yourself if you are actually going to use it again. This does not apply for seasonal items obviously.

A great tip we were told is that you should keep a note of what you are actually using. So if you wear an outfit, place it back in the wardrobe facing a different way to the rest of your clothes. In twelve months you will see what you have not worn and can therefore presume you will never wear it. This tip can be applied to other areas too.

If you have a large area to declutter that seems to big a challenge to take on start with a few smaller projects first. A cupboard or work surface that is full of items and looks disorganized can provide you with a sense of achievement once it is cleared out and looking organized again. After you have cleared a few smaller areas you should feel ready to tackle the bigger jobs.

Finally, sleep on it. There is no law that states you have to remove items from your home just because you feel you have to. If you have placed something in the ‘get rid’ or ‘charity’ boxes take them away the next day. That way if you do decide that actually, you do not want to lose them you can just remove them from the pile.

Girl Walking in Park

Make Better Lifestyle Choices For Healthier 2020

As we enter the new decade a focus on some basic tenets of a healthy lifestyle can assist us to obtain and maintain an improved quality of life.

Lifestyle choices you make today can lead to a healthier future. Learn how eating a healthy diet and exercising can help control or delay age-related health problems. By following some everyday fitness ideas we can improve our quality of life through promoting a more health-enhancing lifestyle.

Endurance, or aerobic, activities increase your breathing and heart rate. These activities help keep you healthy, improve your fitness, and help you do the tasks you need to do every day. Endurance exercises improve the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. They also delay or prevent many diseases that are common in older adults such as diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.

Try to build up to at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate endurance activity a week. Being active at least 3 days a week is best. Remember, these are goals. Some people will be able to do more. It’s important to set realistic goals based on your own health and abilities.

When you’re ready to do more, build up the amount of time you spend doing endurance activities first, then build up the difficulty of your activities. For example, gradually increase your time to 30 minutes over several days to weeks by walking longer distances. Then walk more briskly or up steeper hills.

Follow some safety tips which include:

• Do a little light activity to warm up and cool down before and after your endurance activities

• Be sure to drink plenty of liquids when doing any activity that makes you sweat

• Dress in layers when exercising outdoors so you can add or remove clothes if you get cold or hot

To strengthen your muscles, you need to lift or push weight. Stronger muscles can make it easier to do everyday things like get up from a chair, climb stairs, and carry groceries, open jars, and even play with your grandchildren. Lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance.

Try to do strength exercises for all of your major muscle groups on 2 or more days per week for 30-minute sessions each, but don’t exercise the same muscle group on any 2 days in a row.

Gradually increase the amount of weight you use to build strength. Start out with a weight you can lift only 8 times. Use that weight until you can lift it easily 10 to 15 times. When you can do 2 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions easily, add more weight so that, again, you can lift it only 8 times. Repeat until you reach your goal.

Some safety-related tips to consider include the following:

• Talk with your doctor if you are unsure about doing a particular exercise, especially if you’ve had hip or back surgery

• Don’t hold your breath during strength exercise as holding your breath while straining can cause changes in blood pressure

• Breathe in slowly through your nose and breathe out slowly through your mouth; breathe out as you lift or push, and breathe in as you relax

• To prevent injury, don’t jerk or thrust weights, but use smooth, steady movement

Every year, more than 2 million older Americans go to the emergency room because of fall-related injuries. Balance exercises can help prevent falls and avoid the disability that may result from falling.

You can do balance exercises almost anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like. Also try lower-body strength exercises because they can help improve your balance. Do the lower-body strength exercises 2 or more days a week but not on any 2 days in a row.

Challenge yourself as you progress. Start by holding on to a sturdy chair for support. When you are able, try holding on to the chair with only one hand. With time, hold on with only one finger, then with no hands at all. If you are really steady on your feet, try doing the exercise with your eyes closed.


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German Lifestyle Event Spotlights Filipino Craftsmanship Skills

The country’s creative edge in producing distinctly designed handcrafted products takes center stage, once again, as Philippine manufacturers join “Ambiente 2020” this coming February 7 to 11,  2020, at Messe Frankfurt, Germany.

Under the Lifestyle Philippines brand, 24 strong furniture and home décor manufacturers that represent some of the artisan regions in the country will highlight handcrafted, and consciously made, products that speak of story and purpose.

The participation’s key messaging for this year is “Hands That Work.” This direction presents a celebration of the innate capabilities of Filipinos to create the most design-driven yet functional pieces from natural and sustainable raw supplies, and even from old and considered as waste materials. The participation will highlight the artistic and capable hands of local manufacturers that harnessed different material manipulation techniques to create exquisite products globally used and appreciated today.

“We are a country of artisans. Our ancestors, up to our modern lineage, are weavers, sculptors and artists who produce objects that excite the global market. Therefore, we are strongly rallying behind our exporters and helping them promote in the international arena through trade shows, like Ambiente,” said Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions Executive Director (Citem) Pauline Suaco-Juan.

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