Your February Healthy Lifestyle Reboot

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions out there is making the commitment to living a healthier life, but when February rolls around and people realize that they have not made any changes, it can be all-too-easy to simply give up, accepting yet another failed resolution. However, it is never too late to begin making adjustments, so make February the month that you do so.

Whole grain food
Changes to Your Diet
Just about everybody knows that they could be eating healthier, but giving up indulgent treats in favor of healthier alternatives never sounds appealing. The key here is to begin by making really small changes and gradually adding to these, as this will mean that you are far more likely to stick to your goals. A variety of foods is important, as each food has its own unique nutrients, so aim to incorporate a new ingredient into your diet each week. Whole grains are also much better for you than refined, so slowly work on swapping your white rice and white bread for brown versions. Sugar is an ingredient that you should really try to cut out, and this is another area where you are likely to be much more successful if you do this slowly, beginning by setting a limit on how many sugar-filled treats you can eat per week.

Exercise Motivation
Physical activity is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle, but motivating yourself to do some exercise can often be quite difficult, especially in cold winter climates. There are a few ways in which you can motivate yourself, and you are likely to need to try them all before finding which works best for you. Picking rewards for yourself after you have reached certain exercise goals is always a good idea, with the reward depending on how difficult the goal was. You could also set a few goals with some friends, so that you have their support when you are feeling uninspired. Alternatively, try to come up with a few ways to make exercise fun and enjoyable, so that you look forward to it rather than dread it. Learning a new sport could be exactly what you need to engage your mind as well as your body, or signing up for group dance classes will allow you to workout in a fun and laid-back environment.

Woman exercising
Deal With One Bad Habit at a Time
Just about everybody has a bad lifestyle habit that they would want to change, but trying to tackle all of these at once is only setting yourself up for failure. Whether you want to quit smoking and exercise more, or cut back on drinking alcohol, as well as caffeine, prioritize each one and pick the most important to deal with first. This will enable you to focus all of your attention on improving that particular habit, and once you have fully mastered this, you can then move on to the next.

There are always ways in which you can make your lifestyle healthier, but if you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed with this, then chances are that you are simply trying to do too much too soon. When working on improving your lifestyle, a chain of gradual, small adjustments are always easier to deal with than quick, major changes, so try to set yourself mini goals that you know you will be able to achieve.

Putting Together the Perfect Date Night Ensemble

The way that you dress can really say so much about you and your personality, which is why it is important to choose your date night outfit carefully. While it may seem as though the younger generations have so many more options, these tips will help you to put together the perfect date night ensemble if you are “getting back out there” at a later stage in your life.

Woman looking at dresses
A True First Impression
First impressions can have a huge impact on the rest of the date, which is why it is important to ensure that the first impression that you give off is one that is true to you and your personality. This means that, if you have a more demure personality, then a skin-tight outfit with a plunging neckline will exude quite the opposite impression, and vice versa. Have a think about the sort of message you want your outfit to send to your date, and try to dress in a way that works with this.

Choosing a Dress
When it comes to picking a date night outfit, a dress is always a classic choice, but choosing the actual style of dress needs to be done carefully. A fitted dress always works well, but make sure that it is not skin-tight. In terms of hem length, at the knee, or slightly above the knee, will be most flattering, so avoid going too long or too short. If you are trying to minimize your mid-section, then a wrap dress is the style for you, whereas if you want to give off the impression of a narrower waist, opt for a sheath or tunic dress that is fitted around the waist.

Heels to wear for a date
Shoes and Accessories
Heels are perfect for date night, as they will show off your legs and make you feel sexy. The height of the heel you choose is completely up to you, as is the style of heel, although wedges are great if you want the extra height along with some stability. With the rest of your accessories, opt for statement pieces that tell a story about your personality, whether this may be a signature clutch bag or a chunky ring. However, once you have chosen your statement accessories, make sure the rest of the accessories that you wear are toned down, so that your outfit does not end up looking over the top.

Comfort is Key
Feeling comfortable in the outfit that you pick will really boost your confidence on your date, so always remember that comfort is key when putting together an ensemble. No matter what look you think may be perfect for the evening, you will not be able to pull this off properly unless you really feel comfortable in it.

Fashion is all about having fun with your clothing, and there really is no age limit to this. If the outfit that you choose is not only stylish and comfortable, but also reflects your true personality, then you know for sure that you are onto a winner.

What to Tuck in Your Weekend Travel Bag

Packing for a weekend trip can be tricky, because while you do want to travel as light as possible, there are also likely to be many items that you want to bring along. No matter where you may be headed to for your weekend getaway, here are a few tips on what to tuck into your weekend travel bag.

Weekend bag
A Selection of Accessories
While the clothing that you pack does depend on the destination that you are going to be visiting, it is probable that you will still need to stick to the basics, bringing along only outfits that you know for a fact that you will wear. However, in order to jazz up what may have otherwise been a slightly lackluster outfit, you need to have a selection of accessories to choose from. These do not take up much space in a travel bag, and can quickly add a pop of color, or some sparkle, to any outfit.

Dry Shampoo
Instead of having to squeeze in a shampoo, conditioner and other hair styling products, a small dry shampoo can easily replace these. This will also mean that you will not need to wash your hair during your weekend away, saving yourself some extra time to make the most of your destination.

Foldable Flats
You are likely to be able to manage with just one pair of shoes over the weekend, but if you feel the need for a spare pair, some foldable flats are perfect. These will not only take up a minimum amount of space, but can also be worn with just about any outfit, making them extremely versatile.

An All-In-One Charger
If you are someone that tends to bring along a number of electronics when travelling, from your cellphone to your tablet to your digital camera, then investing in an all-in-one charger can really help to save space, as well as plenty of hassle. These are easily available and enable you to charge all of your electronics with a single device, meaning that you do not have to worry about packing cables for each one.

Sunscreen
Sun Protection
Sun protection is absolutely essential throughout the year, and unless you intend on spending your weekend in a dark, underground location, you need to pack a few sun protection items in your weekend bag. Not only should you bring along a small, travel-sized sunscreen, but a pair of sunglasses, as well as a sun hat, may also come in handy.

Travel-Sized Toiletries
Rather than packing your standard toiletries in your weekend bag, swap these for travel-sized versions, as they will take up far less space. Whether this be your toothpaste, moisturizer, serum or shaving gel, travel-sized products are always useful for a weekend getaway.

It can be all-too-tempting to try to squeeze in as much as you can for a weekend trip away, but having to carry around a heavy and bulky bag is never enjoyable. Instead, try to downsize as much as possible, from your toiletries to your chargers, so that you only need to take the bare essentials with you.

Feminist Icons We Love

The concept of feminism has come a long way since it was first introduced to society, and while gender inequality may still be a significant issue, there has been a huge amount of progression in the last couple of centuries. From the women who were involved in the very first feminism movement, to the modern day women who are determined to continue fighting for the cause, here are some of the most influential feminist icons that the world has seen.

Cleopatra
Cleopatra
Cleopatra was around long before any official feminist movements, and is known for being a powerful Egyptian queen, as well as the last pharaoh of the nation. Not only was Cleopatra one of the first female state leaders in history, but she also spoke nine languages and defended her country against the Roman empire, making her quite the role model for women to come.

Emmeline Pankhurst
Emmeline Pankhurst was the tireless leader of the British suffragette movement, and fought tooth and nail for women to have the right to vote. Although Pankhurst sadly died just 18 days before women were officially granted the same voting rights as men, she played a huge role in this radical decision, and her beliefs and activism will be remembered for generations to come.

Gloria Steinem
When people think of feminism, Gloria Steinem is often the first woman that comes to mind, and this is because she dedicated her entire life to advocating for women’s rights. Steinem has been at the forefront of the American feminist movement since the early 60s, and also founded Ms. Magazine, a publication aimed at furthering the feminism cause.

Malala Yousafzai
Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai began writing a blog for the BBC when she was just 11 years old, exposing some of the many horrors that the Taliban were inflicting on her people. While the Taliban retaliated with an ambush shooting, Malala survived this, and went on to write a bestselling memoir. Since then, Malala has been focused on traveling the world, advocating for education rights for women and children.

Emma Watson

Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock, Inc.

Emma Watson
Emma Watson is another modern day feminist, bringing a massive amount of attention to the topic with a moving speech that she gave to the United Nations, bringing about a whole new initiative for gender equality. Unlike the many feminists that came before her, Watson placed a huge emphasis on the fact that feminism is not just a cause for women to become involved with, and that men also have an obligation to fight for this. Since then, Watson has launched a successful He for She feminist movement, while also forming a feminism book club and sparking several new conversations on this issue.

Feminism movements have come a long way in recent years, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. From the early foundations put into place by women such as Emmeline Pankhurst, to the modern day activism that continues to bring attention to the movement, these feminist icons are all fantastic role models for young women today.

Look Your Best for Valentine’s Day

Woman at Valentine's Day

There is not long to go until Valentine’s Day, meaning that now is the perfect time to begin planning your look. Whether you want to look sweet and flirtatious or sexy and mysterious, here are some hair, makeup and outfit tips to help you to look your very best.

Woman with beautiful updo.

Hair
If cute and feminine is the direction that you are wanting to go in, then an updo is absolutely perfect for Valentine’s Day. There are many that you could opt for, although this does depend on your skill level and the amount of time that you will have. A French twist is a timeless hairstyle, and this can be created in a slightly messier way than usual, to make it more relaxed for Valentine’s Day. A chignon is also elegant, and is actually one of the easiest updos to put together, while a braided bun will give your hair some extra texture. For those of you who are going for the sexy and mysterious look, cascading waves are perfect for this, and can be easily achieved with a curling iron, but be sure to also curl the roots of your hair in order to give your look the right amount of bounce.

Woman applying makeup

Makeup
For a sweet and flirty makeup look that perfectly sets off the updo that you have created, begin by applying a bronze cream eyeshadow to your lids, before adding a shimmery champagne powder to your inner eyes and just below the brow bone. Line your eyes with a brown eyeliner before swiping on a few layers of mascara, and then apply some bronzer to your forehead, cheekbones and jaw bone to give your face a warm glow. Finish the look off with a rosy pink blush and some pink lip liner and gloss, as this will sweeten up your look even more, but in a subtle way. For a more dramatic but vintage-inspired makeup look, winged cat eyes drawn along the top lash line are beautifully sultry, and should be followed up with quite a few coats of mascara to emphasize this. Use a matte bronzer to contour your cheekbones, and go for a vibrant, bold red for your lips.

Woman wearing a pastel dress

Outfit
When it comes to choosing an outfit the flirty, girly look, there are many options to pick from, but a printed dress featuring sugary pastels will work perfectly with your hair and makeup. Alternatively, opt for a ruffled skirt, but pair this with a toned-down top so that it does not distract from the ruffles. If you have decided to go for the sexy and mysterious look, then you need to be careful with your outfit choice, as your hair and makeup are already quite bold. A classic little black dress is a great garment to consider, as this is timeless and will allow your hair and makeup to really stand out. To give your outfit an extra pop of color, look for a bag or other accessories that make a statement.

Everybody wants to look their best for Valentine’s Day, which is why it is always a good idea to spend some time planning your look. From your hair to your makeup to your outfit, each element needs to be carefully thought out in advance so that it can all be perfectly brought together on the day itself.

Our Favorite Movies of 2016

2016 was a great year for the film industry, and saw many exceptional movies being released. From unnerving dramas to historic adaptations, here are some of our favorite movies from 2016.

Room
One of the most unnerving dramas released in 2016 was Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, featuring a young woman and her child who are being imprisoned against their will. Brie Larson was the star of the film, and her spot-on acting skills, coupled with the traumatic nature of the storyline, will definitely keep this one in your mind long after the credits roll up.

Couple watching a movie
Queen of Katwe
Queen of Katwe was released by Disney, and while this may instantly make you think that the movie features traditional values and a syrupy-sweet storyline, this film stands out from Disney’s more conventional offerings. The storyline focuses on a young girl in Uganda, whose world quickly changes when she becomes introduced to the game of chess. This is, without a doubt, a heart-warming movie, and the fact that it is a true story makes it even better.

The BFG
Anyone that read the iconic Roald Dahl book The BFG as a child will be captivated by this big-screen adaptation. While it may be slightly longer than many would prefer, this is quite a signature quality of Spielberg films, and is not noticeable once you start to get into the storyline. While Mark Rylance plays the BFG perfectly, the star of the show is Ruby Barnhill, who manages to portray little Sophie in a heart-tugging way.

Love and Friendship
Based on Jane Austen’s novel Lady Susan, Love and Friendship is a period piece that still manages to retain quite the timeless quality. While there is plenty of history within the film, this is an extremely witty movie, featuring drama, ornate costumes, and Kate Beckinsdale as the star.

Couple watching
Jackie
Jackie is a movie that focuses on the grief that Jackie Kennedy experienced after the tragic loss of JFK. Natalie Portman is the star of the show here, and while she may not be an obvious choice for the role of Jackie, she manages to portray this First Lady beautifully well, displaying a side of sincerity and humility that makes the movie even more likeable. The movie also touches on the topic of celebrity, and the way in which people are built up by the media and fame, which is a relevant subject in today’s world.

Victoria
While its storyline of a Spanish girl who meets four men in the street, and then helps them to pull off a robbery, may already be attention-grabbing, it is the way in which Victoria is made that really sets this movie apart from others. A single-take thriller, this is a movie that plays out in real time, with a continuous 138 minute camera shot, making it feel as though the audience is right in the heart of all the action.

If you have not yet seen any of these movies, they definitely deserve a spot on your queue list. From the heart-thumping thrills of Room to the feel-good qualities of Queen of Katwe, these were, without a doubt, some of the finest films produced in 2016.

Men Should Avoid These Skincare Mistakes

Men need to care for their skin just as much as women do, but there are often mistakes made that end up damaging, rather than supporting, the skin. From being unaware of skin type to neglecting the skin underneath a beard, these mistakes are, fortunately, easy to rectify.


Man shaving
Shaving at the Wrong Time
Shaving is a skin care practice that the majority of men partake in, but by shaving your face at the wrong time, you are only setting yourself up for everything from dehydration to irritation and rashes. The best time to shave is about five to ten minutes after having a warm shower, as this will have properly prepared your skin, meaning that you will be able to have a much finer shave.

Not Knowing Skin Type
A large number of men out there are completely unaware as to what their skin type is, and while this may seem complicated, it is, in fact, easy to figure out. If your skin is shiny, and prone to blackheads and acne, then you have oily skin, while those with dry skin would experience a rougher complexion with lines that are more visible, and perhaps red patches. Combination skin is a combination of both dry and oily, while normal skin tends to not have any of these issues. Until you have established your skin type, you will not be able to pinpoint the most beneficial products, meaning that your skin will not be receiving all that it needs.

Neglecting the Skin Underneath a Beard
When men grow a long beard, the focus tends to be placed on keeping the actual beard healthy and in shape, but the skin that lies underneath this is often forgotten about. Rather than neglecting this area and allowing skin issues to arise, invest in a quality beard oil, as this will penetrate through your beard and give your skin a boost of hydration.

Man applying sunscreen
Not Using Sunscreen
Neglecting to use sunscreen on a daily basis is a mistake that men and women are both equally guilty of, and with the sun being responsible for up to 90% of facial wrinkles, as well as plenty of other skin issues, this is something that needs to change immediately. A sunscreen should be used each and every day throughout the year, even if you plan on staying indoors, as the sun’s UVB rays are able to penetrate through clouds and glass, causing irreparable damage to your skin.

Using the Wrong Shaving Products
From razors to shaving cream, the products that you use to shave have a direct impact on the health of your skin. A high quality razor is essential, and this should always be replaced at the first sign of bluntness. When it comes to shaving cream and other similar products, natural ingredients, such as lavender and sandalwood, will always be beneficial, but you need to also match your shaving products to your skin type, which, after reading the above, you will have hopefully established by now.

While there are many common mistakes that men make when it comes to their skin, it is never too late to put a stop to these and begin caring for your skin in the correct way. From slathering on the sunscreen each day to investing in quality shaving products that are formulated for your skin type, these tips will help you to avoid these damaging skin care mistakes.

Cleaning and Organizing Tips to Help You Achieve Your New Year’s Goals

Resolving to be tidier and more organized is extremely common at the start of the year, but the trouble begins when it comes time to begin putting this resolution into action. For those who want to ensure that they stick to their New Year’s goals this year, here are some top tips to help you out.

Woman looking in closet
Know How to De-Clutter
The first step to staying organized is knowing how to de-clutter, especially at the start of the year after your house has been filled with a mountain of new items over the festive season. Regular purging is an absolute must, meaning that you should go from room to room and pick out items to donate to charity, as well as items to bin. To make this slightly easier, come up with a few small rewards for yourself for each bag of items that you donate or throw out, whether this be a tasty treat or a pamper session at the spa.

A Weekly Cleaning Schedule
While a weekly cleaning schedule may seem boring, this is the only way to really ensure that you stay on top of keeping your home in order. Designate the cleaning of particular rooms to specific nights, and also allocate fifteen minutes or so every evening to just tidy up in general around the house.

Woman organizing closet
Be Realistic
Unless you are naturally an extremely organized person, trying to encourage organization within your home can often seem quite daunting, which is why it is important to be realistic so that you set yourself up for success as much as possible. Rather than setting yourself one huge organization goal, split this up into smaller goals, such as de-cluttering one room of your house each month, or cleaning out one drawer or shelf a day.

One Job at a Time
Even if your goal is to de-clutter your bedroom, while organizing your kitchen, in the month of January, these two tasks should not be carried out at the same time. It is easy to find yourself pulled in many directions, but this will only leave you with half-finished tasks and even more disorganization than when you began. To avoid this, stick to one job at a time, and only move on to the next once the first one has been fully completed.

Accountability
One of the problems that many have with sticking to New Year’s resolutions is that there is no one enforcing them and making sure that they are carried out. Since resolutions that you make to yourself are easy to ignore as the year progresses, find a friend, or even a group of friends, that share your organization goals, and hold each other accountable to this. This means that you not only have someone to support, encourage and help you, but celebrating your rewards together will also feel like even more of an accomplishment.

It can sometimes be too easy to give up on New Year’s resolutions, but these tips will help make staying organized feel slightly more doable. From setting yourself mini, easily-achievable goals, to leaning on your friends for support and encouragement, after a couple of months of committing yourself to be more organized, you will find that this slowly becomes much easier, and will soon turn into a natural habit.

Understanding Healthy Sleep Patterns

While it was once believed that the body was in quite a passive state during sleep, studies have now shown that the brain actually experiences specific patterns of activity during different periods of sleep, and is often more active at this time than it is while the body is awake. This all shows exactly how important sleep is when it comes to maintaining good health, and if you want to improve this area of your life, then it is vital that you first understand the basics behind healthy sleep patterns.

5 Stages of Sleep
The Five Stages of Sleep
There are usually five specific stages to sleep, with the first being a light sleep from which you can drift in and out of easily. The second stage is when eye movements stop, with muscle contractions often occurring, before the slow brain waves of stage three start. Once stage four is reached, there is no more eye movement or muscle activity, and it is usually much more difficult to wake a person that is in this stage of sleep. The final sleep stage is the REM stage, which is when breathing becomes irregular, the eyes jerk around, and heart rate increases. It usually takes between 90-120 minutes for an entire sleep cycle to be completed, at which stage it all just begins again.

Factors that Suppress REM Sleep
The REM stage of sleep is extremely important to the body, but there are many lifestyle factors that can suppress this, therefore preventing the body from following normal sleep patterns the next night. Antidepressants usually do this, as does smoking, which causes the smoker to wake up every three to four hours due to nicotine withdrawal. Alcohol does the same, because while it may help you to initially fall asleep, it robs the body of all of the more restorative stages of sleep.

Woman sleeping
How Much Sleep is Healthy?
While there is plenty of debate surrounding the topic of exactly how much sleep is needed by the body, general consensus points to around seven to eight hours of sleep each night. However, sleep patterns can still vary greatly depending on everything from age to environmental conditions, so you need to take this into account too.

Healthy Sleep Habits
The best way to ensure that your body is receiving the amount and quality of sleep that it needs is to set yourself a few healthy sleep habits to follow. To begin with, you need to keep a consistent sleep schedule, meaning that you sleep at the same time on the weekends as you do on weekdays. Specific bedtime rituals will help with this, but, if you do not fall asleep within the first 20 minutes, you should get out of bed and not return until you are actually sleepy. Avoiding large meals, alcohol and caffeine before bedtime will help your body to adjust to healthy sleep patterns, as will regular exercise and a balanced diet throughout the day.

There are many ways in which you can encourage your body to settle back in to healthy sleep patterns, but it does take some dedication on your part in order to do this properly. Sleep plays such an important role in the way in which the body functions, so be sure to take this part of your life seriously, and do what needs to be done in order to give your body the sleep that it needs.

Advice From Exercise Icons

There is so much fitness advice floating around out there, but, if you want to make some real progress, you need to pick the right people to take this advice from. These exercise icons, from Jane Fonda to Richard Simmons, all have a great track record behind them when it comes to fitness, so take a look at some of their most useful words of wisdom.

Woman working out
Jane Fonda
With 22 different workout videos produced, all of which have sold over 17 million copies, Jane Fonda is, without a doubt, legendary when it comes to exercising. In terms of fitness advice, Fonda has plenty to offer, with one of her top tips being that one needs to work out at least three times a week, on alternative days, for at least 30 minutes at a time, at least if you want your exercise to be effective. Your workout should also contain three different types of exercises, including stretching, resistance and aerobic exercises, the latter of which is the only type of activity that is able to remove the marbled fat that lies deep within muscles.

Richard Simmons
Richard Simmons rose to fame in the 80’s, and while many expected him to fall into obscurity as the years progressed, Simmons is still making frequent appearances on television, and is an extremely successful fitness instructor. When it comes to his top piece of advice, Simmons stresses the huge importance that he places on setting rules for every part of his life, from eating to exercising. Simmons believes that not only is it important to workout every single day, but you must also always follow clean eating habits, and ensure that these rules are sacred to you.

Woman taking exercise class
Denise Austin
Dubbed as “America’s Favorite Fitness Expert”, Denise Austin is full of advice when it comes to exercising and keeping healthy. Austin believes that it is extremely important to keep your workouts fun and enjoyable, which is why you should frequently mix them up, seeking out new classes, techniques and routines whenever you can. Austin also places huge importance on strength and weight training, believing that the best way to keep your body looking and feeling youthful is to build muscle tone. Austin herself works out every day for at least 30 minutes, and usually does this first thing in the mornings. On the weekends, workouts take a more unstructured form, and can include everything from tennis with her husband to walking with friends.

Kathy Smith
Not only has Kathy Smith sold millions of fitness DVDs, but she has also written several successful books, and her top piece of advice when it comes to exercising is to view this as something that is non-negotiable in your life. Rather than giving in to excuses that you may make to yourself, from having no time to being too tired, find a way to work around these and make exercise a priority in your life.

Physical activity is such an important part of staying healthy, but many people simply do not get enough regular exercise. If you have been feeling unmotivated, follow the advice from these fitness icons and make 2017 the year in which you get back into shape.