Banting For Beginners.

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I was on the train last month when I overheard someone say that they were a banter.  I must admit that I didn’t actually know what they were talking about. Was it a secret society? Did it involve wearing odd shoes and doing a special handshake? Was the first rule of banting that you can’t talk about banting? When I did some research, it turned out to be something completely different.  If, like me, you have been confused by the banting phenomenon, look no further. Here is Stick Insectz guide to Banting For Beginners.

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ZZZzzz Ten Dreamy Sleep Facts.

Sleep is incredibly important to our health and general feeling of wellbeing.  We’ve all had that feeling of missing a night’s sleep due to small children, work or stress and it’s a truly miserable place to be.  We get cranky and irritable when we are tired, we lose focus and our ability to concentrate is highly diminished. How many hours do you usually get a night? Eight? Ten? Four? The numbers matter, and here’s why….

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Sleeping your life away …. We spend roughly a third of our lives sleeping.  That’s around 25 years. Cats sleep for three quarters of their lives and snails can sleep for up to 3 years at a time. That’s one long nap!

Quality snoozing makes you live longer. People who regularly sleep for less than 7 hours a night have a shorter life expectancy.

I don’t want to go to bed! Man is the only mammal who will purposefully delay sleep. All other mammals are happy to curl up and take some shut-eye.

Record breaking insomnia. The record for the longest period of sleep deprivation is held by Randy Gardner and was set in 1965. He stayed awake for 11 days.

Baby blues. New parents lose an average of 44 days of slumber during their baby’s first year.

What’s in a number? Teenagers and babies need the most shuteye: around 10 hours a night. Adults over 65 need just 6 hours, while the average adult needs around 8.

Dreamtime. Dreaming is normal and 12% of people dream in black and white only. Blind people still see images in their dreams .

Position is everything.  The most popular sleeping position is the fetal position. The least popular is the starfish.

Wakey, wakey. The average person wakes up 6 times in the night.

It’s a woman thing. Generally, women need more downtime than men. According to a study carried out by Duke University in North Carolina, women wake up more grumpy if they do not get the recommended amount of sleep.  Men be warned!

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BOOBS: 6 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know

Some are large, some are small but whatever the size, you just gotta love them. Here are 6 amazing facts you possibly didn’t already know about your magnificent bouncing orbs.

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Not all boobs are created equal  

You may seek perfection but most people have one boob larger than the other.  It’s perfectly normal and scientific studies seem to point to the left boob being generally larger.  It gives a whole new meaning to, ‘take my best side’!

Rich men like small boobies 

According to a study carried out by Psychology Today, poorer men are significantly more attracted to women with large breasts.  The survey showed that the lower a man’s socio-economic status, the more he looked for larger breasted women who may be fatter and therefore have more plentiful resources to help him out.  By comparison, the richer a man was, the more he preferred smaller breasted women. In a second study leading on from this, hungry men were also found to prefer larger breasts.

What’s in a name? 

Hooters, jugs, sweater-stretchers, puppies, the Urban Dictionary has over 99 different words for boobs. It would seem that the world over we are fascinated by these beautiful lady lumps and we name them all kinds of crazy things.

Size does matter 

The largest bra size is an L and the smallest is a triple A. Size L only became available in 2011 so we’re not sure what those blessed with huge boobs did before then. The average cup size in the US has grown since 1983 from 34B to a whopping 34DD but according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest natural boobs ever recorded belong to Annie Hawkins.  She’s a size 48V, gulp!

To squeeze or not to squeeze? 

Regular breast squeezing can reduce the risk of breast cancer. According to a study carried out at Berkley, the physical pressure exerted by squeezing breasts can help to slow down and even stop cancer and prolong healthy cell life. As if men needed an excuse right?

You may be getting it wrong 

Approximately 80% of women are wearing the wrong sized bra.  Our breast size changes with age and hormonal fluctuations; so do your boobs a favor and get them measured now and then. If your back bra strap does not run parallel to your waist band, it’s probably time for a change.

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Five Super Breakfasts To Start Your Day

Help me! I’m a breakfast dodger!

It’s true ….

I’m not really a breakfast person at all. I’m not a fan of food I consider to be breakfast-y, (watery powdered eggs? Yuck!) but eating breakfast is part of a healthy  routine and you know I’m a good girl so I try my best.

All too often I run out of interesting ideas and I’m sure you do too. If you’ve fallen into a dull breakfast rut and just want to say ‘no’ to soggy toast and sugary cereal, I’m here to help. Kick start your day and get your energy levels up with these five tasty and healthy breakfast ideas.

FIVE SUPER BREAKFAST IDEAS TO KICK START YOUR DAY

ACAI BERRY BREAKFAST BOWL

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The acai berry is packed full of nutrients.  Grown in South America, they are low in sugar but full of iron, calcium, fibre and vitamin A. You can buy acai berry based smoothie mix at most stores.  Just make up the mix adding water or apple juice and top with pomegranate seeds, banana, anti-oxidising blueberries and some grated coconut.  Add a crumbled plain granola bar or oatmeal for texture and you have a nutritious breakfast bowl.

AVOCADO TOAST WITH EGG

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This one is super easy. Toast some wholegrain or wheat bread. Mash up a ripe avocado and spread it over the toast. Top with a poached egg and salt and pepper to taste. Avocado’s are a good source of protein and omega-3 fats while eggs supply a good dose of protein and are a nutrient dense superfood.

OATMEAL WITH ALMOND MILK

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Store bought, ready-made oatmeal sachets are full of additives and sugar and it really isn’t that difficult to make your own from scratch. If you buy easy cook rolled natural oats you can have a bowl of oatmeal in less than 10 minutes.  It’s perfect for microwave preparation but everyone likes a different consistency, so you’ll have to experiment a little with this.  Try adding almond or coconut milk to your oatmeal as an alternative to cow’s milk, cook for 3-7 minutes according to your taste and you’re ready to go.  Top your oatmeal with whatever you wish: a drizzle of honey, a spoon of natural greek yoghurt, fresh fruit or a combination of all three.  You can’t go wrong and you will be surprised by how full you feel.

A MEAN GREEN SMOOTHIE

The beauty of juices and smoothies is that they can often be prepared the night before and you can grab them from the fridge on your way out of the door.  That’s my kind of breakfast. For a healthy punch of energising nutrients juice/blend: 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 1 cup of spinach or kale, 1/2 cup of parsley, 1/3 cup of fresh mint, 1 apple, 1 cucumber, 1 stick of celery and 1/2 tsp of ginger powder. The result is a zingy delicious smoothie that will wake you up and get you ready for the day ahead. Check out How To Make The Perfect Smoothie HERE.

SPINACH AND EGG WHITE OMELETTE

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This is a low-calorie option and quick and easy to make. Whisk 2-3 egg whites together.  Tear up a handful of spinach and add it to the egg mixture. You could add a couple of tablespoons of low-fat soft cheese at this point or a generous grating of parmesan. Add the egg mixture to a medium-hot skillet with a little olive oil and cook until set.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with wheat/wholegrain toast. Who said breakfast had to be hard?


Sign up in the sidebar to get assess to my password protected page THE VAULT full of free downloadable healthy recipes, exercise cards and wellness resources. Subscribers also get a free copy of my E-book FIVE DAILY HABITS TO A HEALTHIER HAPPIER YOU.

3 Killer Exercises To Burn Stomach Fat

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Seek medical advice if you currently have or previously had, back problems and/or surgery.

ONE: THE BASIC STOMACH CURL

Lie on your back on an even surface, using a non-slip workout mat or towel. Bend your knees and press your back into the floor.  As you do this you will automatically tip your pelvis a little, until it feels level and comfortable. Hold in your stomach muscles and place your hands behind your head. Note: the hands are to support the head and should never pull on the neck. Gently raise your back off the floor towards your bent knees.  When you reach your full extension, hold the position for a count of three and then lower yourself back to the floor.  Note: you should remain in control throughout the exercise. Do not let you body ‘fall’ back to the floor.

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A modification to this exercise is to lift your legs from the floor. Keep your knees bent and once again curl up towards your elevated knees. For better abdominal definition, try crossing one knee over the other and twisting as you come up.

TWO: THE STOMACH CRUNCH

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This exercise is very similar to a basic stomach curl.  Assume the same position for the basic curl, but this time when you come up hold yourself in that position at a 45° angle and use your stomach muscles to rock back and forth five times. This should be a gentle motion, working your abdominals hard. Lower yourself back to the ground, controlling your descent, rest for a count of five and repeat 5-10 times.

THREE: THE ABDOMINAL LEG CURL

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Lie flat on your back on an even surface using a non-slip workout mat or towel. Raise both legs in the air and engage your abdominal muscles. In order to engage effectively you should pull your stomach muscles in towards your back and try to hold them tight. Starting with your right leg, keep your leg straight and lower it towards the ground. Once your heel is a few inches from the floor, hold it there for a count of five and then return it to the upright position. Repeat with your left leg doing 3-5 reps for each leg.

Want a little more? Sign up in the sidebar and join The Stick Insectz community for FREE exercise giveaways.

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How To Stop Eating Crap

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Here are 5 ways to trick or train your body into saying no to unhealthy food and yes to a healthier option.

Let’s Get Healthy: Stop Eating Crap!

EAT BREAKFAST EVERY DAY: Eating within 30 minutes of waking up helps to regulate your glucose levels.  A high protein meal or something oatmeal based is a great way to start, but whatever you choose, breakfasting like a Queen is a great way to boost brain power. Eating regularly also helps to cut your risk of Type II Diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

CHEAT: When you tell yourself you can’t have something, you just want it more.  Allow yourself one day a week when you can eat whatever you like and use it as both an incentive and a reward.  We all need a little carrot and stick and this works well as both.  If you cheat on any other days, the cheat day gets cut.

READ ‘EAT TO LIVE’ by Joel Fuhrman: If you don’t like to read, get your hands on the audiobook.  This book will teach you how to manage the quality of what you eat rather than the quantity. It will challenge your thinking about the term, ‘diet’ and is a great foundation for healthy eating.

TAKE UP A HEALTHY HOBBY: You don’t have to live in the gym or run marathons every month in order to be exercising effectively. Work an evening walk into your schedule, take a swim or join a class like pilates or yoga. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which make you feel good. When your body is in that healthy state, you’ll feel less inclined to eat junk, plus you know that if you over-indulge, you’re just going to have to work harder next time. If you find classes too organized and the gym too embarrassing, sign up to my email list.  You can download a FREE exercise booklet with 1 easy exercise you can do every day throughout the week. You won’t need any specialized equipment, each exercise will take around 5-10 minutes and you can complete them in the comfort of your home. Simple!

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START READING LABELS ON FOOD: Once you start taking notice of the crazy amount of additives and chemicals in processed foods you will be much more likely to choose healthy options. If you cook for your children this can be especially motivating. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a much cleaner option than the preservative ridden jar and can alternatives. Once you go down this path, you won’t go back, it’s a quick fix and it really works. Here’s to healthy eating!

Want more tips? Read my blog posts: Help! I’m Not Losing Weight. and Eight Practical Weight Loss Hacks.

 

10 Protein Packed Foods For Vegetarians

About a year ago my tween daughter announced that she wanted to try a vegetarian diet.  My first thought was panic.  I had visions of finding her emaciated body lying on the kitchen floor, hand outstretched towards a refrigerator populated by a wilted lettuce and one lonely carrot. I soon snapped out of this over-dramatic fantasy and instead hit the recipe books.  I not only discovered some great recipes but actually started challenging my own views and preconceptions towards vegetarian and vegan cookery.  

WHY DO WE NEED PROTEIN?

In order to function effectively, our cells  and organs need protein. Every single cell in our body needs protein from our bones to our hormones. The human body cannot make proteins by itself, we have to consume them from an outside source and this is what makes our food choices so important. Meat is a high source of protein but that doesn’t mean that there are no other options.

Want to eat more protein without tucking into a slab of red meat every other meal? Here are 10 foods packed with protein to help get you started.

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Ten Protein Packed Foods For Vegetarians

1. Asparagus

The Ancient Greeks and Romans prized it as a delicacy but here’s an interesting  and slightly revolting fact: asparagus makes urine smell disgusting. Chemicals contained within asparagus make everyone’s pee smell, but unless you are sensitive to the specific smell, you won’t be able to detect it.  On the plus side, it’s loaded with nutrients including chromium which helps insulin to transport glucose from the blood into cells.

2. Lentils

Lentils are part of the legume family and as such are edible pulses. Loved by the Ancient Egyptians, (believe it or not lentils have been found in ancient burial chambers), they are super protein providers and high in fiber. This soluble fiber helps to control cholesterol and blood sugar levels making lentils a high ranking superfood. They are great in stews and curries but our all-time fave has to be lentil soup.

3. Hemp Seeds

The hemp seed has something of a checkered past and because of it’s close resemblance to the marijuana plant, American farmers are not allowed to grow it. That aside, hemp seeds are an incredible source of protein, fiber and essential fats.

4. Broccoli

It’s hard to make broccoli sound sexy and alluring, especially as it’s related to cabbage,  but it does have some mystery up it’s sleeve. Broccoli is not only a terrific source of protein, it’s also unbelievably high in calcium. Parents of lactose intolerant children are recommended to serve broccoli in order to help bone development and one cup of raw broccoli will also provide you with your entire daily dose of Vitamin C. Great for vegetarians and vegans.

 5. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa)

Quinoa broke it’s way into the trendy superfood market about 18 months ago. It’s closely related to beetroot and spinach and is an incredibly rich source of amino acids. 100g has typically 120 calories and it’s packed with minerals and B vitamins. There are over a hundred types of quinoa but you’re most likely to see the white and red varieties in your local stores and restaurants. Great in salads and as a substitute for rice, we recommend you try it if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon already.

6. Chia Seeds

Move over acai berries and quinoa .. chia seeds are coming through. These tiny seeds are the new hot superfood and have been hailed as aiding weight loss and boosting brain power.  Calorie for calorie they do pack an amazing punch as they are an excellent source of protein, fiber, calcium and magnesium.  The majority of the fat they contain is omega-3 and they are stuffed full of anti-oxidants. Wow!

7. (and 8.) Peas and Beans

Peas and beans are classified as legumes and as such have a lot of the same benefits as lentils.  They are high in protein and fiber but they are also wonderful sources of iron and are particularly good combatants of anaemia. Peas and beans do carry a warning, however. They can cause flatulence, so maybe go easy on the portions – or at least open a window!

9. Sunflower Seeds

One tablespoon of sunflower seeds contains around 45 calories. Unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds are high in phosphorous, manganese and selenium so they are a great antioxidant and help bone health. Great on salads or as a lunch box snack, choose them instead of fatty chips for a healthy kick start.

10.Pumpkin Seeds

Forget the facial, try adding a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds to your salad and see the benefits to your skin. A good source of vitamin E, these wonder seeds can also aid a good night’s sleep as they contain tryptophan and have reportedly been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as packing a protein punch.