Pushing Past Your Comfort Zone

Lent is all about taking the necessary steps to improve your life and become a better person, and one of the best ways in which to do this is by pushing past your comfort zone and taking a few new risks in life. Expanding your horizons and breaking through your self-imposed limits brings about so many different physical and mental benefits, while empowering your mind at the same time, helping you to achieve a much more fulfilled and happy life.

Man balancing on rope

What is a Comfort Zone?
Your comfort zone is basically a behavioral space in which your activities fit into a certain routine or pattern that minimizes stress and risk. Not only does this provide mental security, but it also leads to regular happiness and lower levels of anxiety. While this may be the case, pushing past your comfort zone on occasion can really bring about some incredible results, from boosting productivity to harnessing your creativity, making it worth putting some conscious effort into expanding your horizons.

Take Small Risks with Everyday Tasks
The best way to begin pushing your boundaries is by taking small risks with everyday tasks that you do. This could be anything from taking a new route to work in the mornings, to cutting out meat from your diet for a couple of weeks. While these may seem like extremely small changes, they are easy to implement will still have the effect of providing you with a new perspective on your everyday life.

Making Decisions
Each time you make a decision, no matter how many options you may have, there will always be one choice that is the riskiest and uncomfortable, as well as one that is the safest. While you may immediately be drawn to the safest choice, as this lies within your comfort zone, it is likely to be the most uncomfortable option that really helps you to grow as a person. The next time you are making a decision, slow down and really consider each of your options before choosing one, rather than just instinctively opting for the choice that you are most comfortable with.

Tomorrow is a New Day
There is no denying the fact that taking risks in life can often seem quite scary, especially if they do not go as planned. However, you need to be able to pick yourself up from this and remember that tomorrow is a brand new day in which you will be able to implement all that you have learned today, giving you a greater chance of success in the future.

There are so many different ways in which to push past your comfort zone, and even if all of the experiences that come from this are not positive, you will still be learning something new about yourself with each step that you take. Whether you make an effort to travel to new places more, volunteer with a worthy cause, or simply learn a new language or a musical instrument, pushing your own personal boundaries may seem like a challenge at first, but, the more that you do this, the easier it will be to do in the future.

Three Aspects of Healthy Living

While there are many different aspects to consider when it comes to healthy living, there are three that are absolutely key. From physical health to mental well-being to social relationships, make sure that you place a priority on each of these parts of your life.

Woman running

Physical Health
There are a number of factors that contribute to an individual’s physical health, but two that you can have full control over are diet and exercise. In today’s world, it is all-too-easy to get the diet part wrong, especially since supermarket shelves are lined with unhealthy, processed foods. Improving on a diet can often seem daunting, so take this one step at a time, making easy and gradual changes rather than dramatic, difficult ones. For example, incorporating a new vegetable into your meals each week could be a great first step, as could making your own healthy smoothies at home. Exercise also plays a huge role in physical health, with the majority of people out there not getting enough exercise at all. Again, this is something else that can seem challenging to initially get motivated about, so begin by picking a few forms of exercise that you genuinely enjoy, such as a certain sport or a dance. Once your fitness levels begin to improve, it will be much easier to branch out and see what else is out there.

Woman meditating

Mental Health
Mental health is an extremely broad topic, but one of the key causes of poor mental health in today’s world is stress. When you experience stress, this triggers an emergency response in your body, which sends the hormone cortisol coursing through you. Chronic stress, which means consistently elevated levels of cortisol, will increase your risk for so many mental health problems, from depression to other forms of mental illness. When it comes to keeping your stress levels under control, you may need to experiment with different tactics before finding one that works for you, whether this may be doing some form of exercise, spending an hour gardening, or spending time on a new hobby.

Friends having dinner

Social Bonds
Healthy relationships are a vital part of healthy living, and there is plenty of research out there that shows that strong social bonds are linked to a longer and happier life. Not only do healthy relationships mean that you are 50% less likely to die prematurely, but they can also boost your immune system and help you to deal with stress better, which, in turn, will be a boost to your mental health. If you are looking to expand your social circle but do not know where to begin, look into local groups or clubs where you can meet people that share similar interests to you, or ask your existing friends to introduce you to some new people.

When it comes to healthy living, there are always areas in which you can improve on. Whether this may be making improvements to your diet to support your physical health, or expanding your social circle to support both your physical and mental health, be sure to pay close attention to each of these three aspects of healthy living.

Simple Exercises to Tighten the Skin Above Your Shoulders

Loose skin can be caused by a number of different factors, from weight loss to aging, and, once your skin has taken on this looser appearance, tightening it back up can seem like quite the challenge. While there is nothing that you can do at home to transform your skin overnight, here are some simple exercises that, when carried out regularly and consistently, will help to tighten up the skin on your shoulders.

woman doing push-up

Push-Ups
While many people perform push-ups to work the major muscles in the chest, this exercise is fantastic for toning the upper arms and shoulders over time as well. It is a common misconception that this is an exercise that needs to be carried out every day, but this actually does not give the muscles enough time to rest in between sessions. Between eight to ten reps is ideal, with two days of rest in between. Place your focus on improving your form rather than increasing reps, and, if you need an added challenge after a while, look into weighted push-ups and decline push-ups. There are many other push-up varieties out there, and not only will these target a different range of muscles, but they will also add some diversity to your workout routine and make it much more interesting.

Woman using dumbbells

Reverse Curls
Reverse curls are known for being able to really help with sagging skin, and are able to help to tone this back up. Hold a five to eight pound dumbbell in each hand, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep the dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing in before curling both hands and bringing them close to your shoulders. It is important to do this without bending the wrists, before ending it by lowering your hands back down to complete the repetition. This should be done in two sets of 20 in order to experience maximum benefits.

woman doing back extensions

Prone Shoulder Extension
The prone shoulder extension is another exercise that requires the use of dumbbells, and this is because weight training is the best way to fill out loose skin and tone the muscles around the shoulders. Lie face down and keep your arms by your side, with a dumbbell in each hand and your palms facing upwards. Lift your arms towards the ceiling, before pausing at the top of your range of motion and then slowly lowering your arms back down, stopping right before they actually touch the floor.

The shoulder is quite a vulnerable joint, which means that it is at a higher risk of injury than other parts of the body. While these exercises will be able to help in toning the muscle and tightening the skin, it is important to ease into them slowly, giving your body enough time to adjust to the new routine, as this will help you to avoid injury or muscle pain. You should also try to do some back and chest exercises before working on your shoulders, as your shoulders will still be involved in these other exercises, and will prevent them from being fatigued too early on in your workout.

Lifestyle Changes for the “Skinny Fat”

Woman in mirror

The skinny-fat phenomena is one that affects up to a quarter of average-weighted people, and describes those who look fit and healthy from the outside, but actually have a number of health problems brewing beneath the surface. If you feel as though you may fall into this category, these are the lifestyle changes that you need to make in order to bring your health back up to scratch.

Healthy Oils
Many people who are skinny-fat try to stay away from oily foods, believing them to be unhealthy. While there is no denying that a greasy bag of fries will bring absolutely no benefits to your body, there are certain oils and fats that are necessary for good health. The most important of these are omega-3 fats, which can be found in highest concentrations in oily fish, such as salmons and sardines. Incorporating more of these into your diet will help to stabilize your cholesterol while reducing blood pressure.

Build Some Muscle
Building muscle mass is vital if you are skinny fat, and the best way to do this is through weight training. This encourages your body to store its lean muscle, rather than use it as fuel, and will help to add some more tone to your body. In order to support your increasing muscle mass, be sure to consume plenty of protein, whether in the form of eggs, meat, or seeds, as this will protect your newly acquired muscles.

Woman doing pushup

Support Your Natural Metabolism
While you may think that you have a naturally fast metabolism, there are many lifestyle habits that actually alter this, and it is likely that your true metabolism has been hidden for a while. Soft drinks, which contain artificial sweeteners, can interfere with the chemicals within your body, affecting your metabolism, as can sleep deprivation, which also increases sugar and carbohydrate cravings. In addition to watching your diet and ensuring you are getting sufficient sleep, you should also be incorporating regular cardio sessions into your routine, as this will boost your natural metabolism while helping with your fitness levels.

Keep Stress Levels to a Minimum
Stress is actually one of the main factors behind the skinny-fat phenomena, and while stress can often be unavoidable, there are still many ways in which you can take control over this and bring your stress levels back down. Different methods work for different people, so you will need to try out a few and see what helps when you are really stressed. Whether it may be ten minutes of meditation, taking some time to work out, or spending a couple of hours on a hobby that you are truly passionate about, keeping stress levels to a minimum will help your body to thrive.

Research has shown that being skinny-fat puts the body under incredible amounts of stress, and can actually be even worse for you than obesity. If you think that you are skinny-fat, then now is the time to implement these lifestyle changes, so that you can soon get back to your healthiest self.

Five Reasons to Try Vegetarian

While the popularity of vegetarianism is rapidly on the rise, there are some who still feel as though giving up meat would be too big of a sacrifice to make. However, there are so many benefits that come with a vegetarian diet, so here are five reasons to persuade you to give vegetarianism a try.

Vegetarian

Slow Down the Aging Process
A study recently published in the British Medical Journal discovered that vegetarians outlive meat eaters by up to six years, which is hardly surprising considering all of the nutrients that come with a plant-based diet. Not only are these rich in fiber, but they are alo high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, all of which play individual roles in slowing down the aging process. In addition to this, a plant-based diet can also prevent, as well as reverse, certain chronic diseases, giving vegetarians a longer, and healthier, life.

Prevent the Three Biggest Killers
Heart disease is the number one killer out there, with cancer and strokes being the second and third, but a healthy, well-balanced vegetarian diet is able to protect the body from all three of these. In fact, doctors have even had success in unclogging arteries and reversing heart disease purely by prescribing a vegan diet.

Woman with ferret

Support the Environment
Countless studies have shown, and the United Nations has also confirmed, that eating meat is the reason behind some of the most serious environmental problems that we face today. For example, the meat industry is responsible for 40% more greenhouse gases than all of the cars, trucks and planes in the world combined, and are also linked to everything from land degradation to water pollution to climate change to loss of biodiversity.

Animal Welfare
While you may like to think that your meat has been raised on lush green pastures and happy farmyard homes, the reality is far from this, and if the general public really knew what happened in factory farms today, there would be many more vegetarians in the world. Animals that are commonly eaten, such as chickens and pigs, are actually known to be smarter than animals that are usually kept as pets, such as dogs and cats, so rather than supporting the abhorrent conditions that these creatures are kept in, give vegetarianism a try. It is believed that an individual who gives up meat is able to save around 100 animal lives each year, which is a good enough reason in itself for any true animal lover.

Woman standing on weighing scale

Weight Loss
More than two thirds of the general public are obese, but vegetarians on average tend to have a lower BMI, which is the measure of body fat, than meat eaters. Vegetarians are much less likely to be obese, and are significantly lighter than meat eaters, making vegetarianism the healthiest of weight loss diets.

As you can see, a vegetarian diet brings with it so many incredible benefits. Not only would you be making huge improvements to your own health, but you would also be supporting the world around you, so make 2017 the year in which you give vegetarianism a try.

Get Ready for an Adventurous Girls Night Out

A girls night out is always plenty of fun, but if you are starting to tire of the usual cocktail bars and nightclubs, it may be time to start thinking of some exciting alternatives. From a winery tour and tasting to adrenaline-pumping activities, here are some ideas for an adventurous girls night out.

woman drinking wine

Winery or Brewery Tour and Tasting
While your location does play a huge part in this, you are still likely to be able to find a winery or brewery situated near you. These provide the ideal destination for a girls night out, with many offering tailored packages to suit your time frame and group size. Whether you spend the evening tasting classic fine wines or innovative craft beers, this is an activity that will not only prove to be fun, but also extremely educational.

Classes
While signing up for a class with your friends may not seem that adventurous at first, it is always fun to try new things with your friends. There are so many different classes out there, from cooking to pottery to pole dancing, all of which guarantee an unforgettable girls night out.

orogold-get-ready-for-an-adventurous-girls-night-out-casino
Casino Night
Casinos can provide hours of endless fun, and the different games available mean that everyone will be able to find one that they enjoy playing. Begin your evening with dinner and drinks at one of the casino bars or restaurants, before heading onto the casino floor to try your luck. If some of your friends are novice gamblers, pair them up with the more experienced amongst you, so that they will be able to pick up a few tips along the way.

Uncommon Activities
There are likely to be many different adrenaline-pumping activities out there that you have not yet tried, so the next time you are with your girls, come up with a list of activities that you are all interested in. This could be anything from indoor skydiving to a session on a giant trampoline, but, whichever you choose, make sure that it is something that all of the girls are comfortable with. If you find yourself stuck for ideas, click on over to Groupon, as there are a number of exciting local experiences to be found here.

Women at sports game
Sports Night
While gathering together for an evening of sports may be a common male bonding activity, this is something that females tend to often shy away from. Whether you hit the beach for a moonlit volleyball session, head off on a nature trail for an invigorating hike, don some skates for a visit to your local roller derby, or even just catch a local ball game, a sports night is a great way to involve everybody in your group.

Planning a unique girls night out can often be difficult, especially if the girls within your group have quite varying interests. However, these ideas will ensure that you are able to cater to everybody, whether this may be in an extravagant casino or at your local baseball stadium, guaranteeing an adventure-filled girls night out.

Five Surefire Ways to Put a Smile on Your Face

January can be a hard month for many, but this does not need to be the case. Rather than letting the January blues get you down, here are five surefire ways to put a smile on your face and lift your mood right back up.

Woman making a list
A Bucket List Adventure
One of the most exciting ways to lift your mood is by doing something slightly crazy, that you would not usually do. If you have a bucket list of activities that you have been meaning to try, pick one of these and give it a go. Whether it be skydiving, rally driving or taking a day trip to a destination that you have always wanted to visit, heading off on an adventure will take you out of your comfort zone and leave you with a huge, accomplished grin by the end of it.

Baby Animals
No matter how low you may be feeling, spending some time with some cute, baby animals is a guaranteed way to put a smile on your face. Whether this means visiting a local petting zoo, a nearby animal sanctuary, or even your neighborhood rescue shelter, there are so many studies that show the benefits that spending time with animals can have on your mood, so seek out some new furry friends and spend some quality time with them.

Pamper Yourself
If you have been feeling especially stressed lately, then it could be well worth taking some time out to spend the day completely pampering yourself. This could include everything from at-home beauty treatments to a day at a spa, and will leave you feeling totally refreshed and ready to tackle the world again.

woman dancing
Dance It Out
One of the best, and easiest, ways to quickly lift your mood and get you smiling is to have a mini dance session at home. Simply put together a playlist of tunes that are guaranteed to have your feet moving, and blast this loudly while you rock your way around your home. Whether it be seventies disco or classic rock, choose songs that you know that you will not be able to resist, and turn to this playlist whenever you need a smile.

Learn a New Creative Skill
Studies have shown that when people are completely focused on learning a new skill, especially one that involves creativity, satisfaction levels are hugely elevated. Not only will this help you to stay alert and in control, but it will also leave you feeling energized and invigorated, all of which are bound to put a smile on your face. The skill that you choose can be anything that intrigues you, whether it be a dance class, a cooking class or an art or photography class.

If you have been finding yourself quite down lately, these methods are guaranteed to get you smiling again. Whether you spend an afternoon cuddling baby animals, or head off for a day of excitement and adventure, keep this tips in mind for the next time you need a quick pick-me-up.

Fitness Trends for 2017

The fitness industry is currently thriving like never before, and, as more and more people strive to keep their bodies in shape, the industry is being pushed to really up its game. While 2016 saw many interesting trends make an appearance, 2017 is set to be more exciting than ever, with plenty of new trends to inspire the masses to take more of an interest in fitness.

Workout Apps
Fitness apps have been exploding in popularity recently, and you are likely to see many more workout apps created in 2017. These enable users to engage in an exercise routine wherever they may be, whenever they have a bit of time to spare, giving them a convenient and extremely cost-effective way to work out.

Live-Streaming Fitness Classes
For those who do not live in a big city, you have likely been frustrated at the lack of variation in fitness classes near you, but, thanks to technology, this is soon to change. Rather than having to opt for yet another DVD workout or YouTube tutorial, these live-streaming sessions will take place, in real time, on platforms such as Facebook and Periscope, and will be broadcast from some of the hottest fitness studios around.

Woman working out in adult playground
Adult Playgrounds
Adult playgrounds have been popping up quite a bit this past year, but you can expect to see them take quite the surge in 2017 as they become much more mainstream. These outdoor gyms are not just appearing in public parks as you would expect, but can be found in many more unusual locations, from office roof terraces to spacious sidewalk spots, ensuring that everybody is able to easily access one.

Functional Fitness for the Elderly
Fitness levels can really begin to decline with age, unless an active effort is made to prevent this. In 2017, there is likely to be quite the rise in fitness classes for the elderly, but rather than them being standard fitness classes, these will be focussed more on functional fitness. This means focussing on areas such as strength and balance, as well as joint mobility and general mood, all of which will significantly help to elevate daily living standards for this generation.

Outdoor Obstacle Courses
While intense outdoor bootcamps may be declining in popularity, outdoor obstacle courses, such as the Tough Mudder, are steadily on the rise. The majority of these that are currently available are more suited to those with advanced fitness levels, but the newer courses that you will see next year will make this activity available to all.

Woman boxing
Boxing
Boxing has always been loved by many, but it was often difficult for beginners to become involved with this sport. 2017 sees that beginning to change, not only with the introduction of boutique boxing studios, which practice a no-contact style of boxing, but also due to the increasing number of beginners classes that are now being hosted by traditional boxing gyms.

Fitness is key when it comes to healthy living, and an increasing number of people are beginning to become aware of this. Thanks to this mainstream attention, the fitness industry is now witnessing a surge in adrenaline-pumping trends, all of which promise to help keep your body, and mind, in perfect condition.

Rely on Your Instructor for These Yoga Poses

Woman doing yoga

Yoga has been linked with so many different health benefits, so it only makes sense that an increasing number of people are starting to give it a try. However, when it comes to the way in which yoga is promoted in the media, advanced poses are often highlighted, and these can be extremely dangerous for a yoga newbie to try to copy. Even if you already have some yoga experience behind you, make sure that you ask your instructor to assist you when trying these following poses for the first time.

Firefly Pose
The ninja-like appearance of the Firefly Pose makes it appeal to many, and while it may be an arm balance pose, it actually requires much more core strength than arm strength. The most difficult part of this pose is extending the legs fully, but being already accustomed to the Crow Pose can really help with this.

Dancer's Pose

Dancer’s Pose
The Dancer’s Pose is one that looks beautifully elegant, and not only stretches the chest, hips and shoulders, but also improves the balance. While this one may not look that technically difficult, the perfect amount of tension is needed between the arms and legs, in order to maintain your center of gravity, which is why success with this pose is much more likely when you have some assistance.

Handstand Scorpion Pose
There are a couple of variations to the Handstand Scorpion Pose, but all of them require you to balance on your hands rather than on your forearms, which is how the regular Scorpion Pose is carried out. Even if you have already accomplished the regular Scorpion Pose, rising up from your hands can really be quite challenging, but your instructor can help you to do this in a safe way.

Lotus Peacock Pose

Lotus Peacock Pose
The Lotus Peacock Pose is a combination of two other poses; the Basic Peacock Pose and the Seated Lotus. While the Lotus Pose requires a large amount of hip flexibility, the Peacock Pose depends on glute strength, and it is essential that you have fully mastered both of these poses individually before attempting the Lotus Peacock Pose.

Head to Foot Pose
Also known as Sirsa Padasana, the Head to Foot Pose is one of the most intense backbends that you will find in yoga, and unless you have the right amount of muscle strength in your back, as well as a flexible spine, you could end up causing your body quite a bit of damage. This pose requires a huge amount of mental focus and balance, making it wise to seek assistance when trying it out for the first time.

When it comes to practicing yoga, do not forget that yoga postures are only a small part of this. The foundations of yoga go much further, encompassing everything from ethical choices, such as non-violence, to breathing exercises and meditation, so if you want to make the most out of your yoga experience, be sure to spend some time on all of these other yoga aspects too.

What You Can Teach Your Children About Healthy Living

children eating healthy food
Helping your children to develop healthy living habits while they are still young will really set them up for success in the long run. From educating them about food to making exercise fun, these are a few ways in which you can easily teach your children about how to live a healthy, and happy, life.

Food Education
Many schools do not include modules on healthy food and nutrition in their syllabus, meaning that it is up to you as the parent to ensure that your child learns as much as possible on this subject. There are so many ways to do this, and it is best to use a variety of methods to ensure that they do not become bored. Taking your child grocery shopping with you, and then helping them to prepare a healthy meal by themselves, will teach them about making healthy food choices when shopping, while learning how to read food labels. For those aspiring young chefs out there, help them to create their very own cookbook that features healthy recipes, and introduce them to some television personalities that promote healthy eating, so that they have positive role models to look up to.

mom and kid exercising
Make Exercise Fun
The recommended amount of physical activity for children is one hour a day, but with children these days spending more and more time indoors, this can be quite difficult for some parents to implement. The key here is ensuring that physical activity is always fun for your kids, and perhaps starting off with a smaller amount before gradually building this up as their fitness levels improve. There are many activities out there that children can get involved in, from dancing to cycling to team sports. For younger children, fun games such as tag or hide and seek will keep them on the move, while older children may enjoy the challenge of a fitness app that tracks their steps.

Positive influence
Be a Positive Influence
Your children will look up to you as a role model, so you need to make sure that you are providing them with a positive influence to follow. This means that, not only should your children be making healthy food choices and staying active, but so should the rest of the family. By working on a healthy lifestyle together, you will increase your chances of success, as you will have so much extra support, and it will also help with family bonding. When it comes to picking out rewards for your children, do not veer towards the standard, unhealthy, choices, such as extra television time, and opt instead for a reward that is in line with your healthy living practices, such as a family outing to the local national park.

As a parent, there are many ways in which you can encourage your children to be making healthy choices from a young age. By doing so, you will be helping to set healthy habits that they will be able to carry with them for the rest of their lives.