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You still feeling the New Year buzz? I’m starting to settle in more now, I feel so much better for getting back to my usual healthy ways. That made me think about some of the things that I feel have made a difference for me when it comes to being healthy and happy. Here are my ultimate top 10 ways to make 2014 a truly healthy and happy year…

1. Stop letting the media dictate how you feel about your body

We all know its bollocks, but it doesn’t stop us from feeling bad when we see that picture of the model with the perfectly toned stomach. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that representations of women in mainstream media are utterly removed from reality. Healthy, attractive and desirable women come in all shapes and sizes – a curvy woman is no more a ‘real’ woman than a naturally slim one. Never ever let a magazine, newspaper or even someone on Facebook or Instagram let you feel like your body is not beautiful. Embrace your body’s natural shape and celebrate it! If you need reminding how messed up the media is watch this video.

2. Eat more veg

I know this is a no brainer, but (for most people) eating more veg is the best way to improve your nutrition. I wrote a post over at The High Tea Cast about how to include more vegetables in your diet so check that out for some ideas. Forget the latest pills or potions, vegetables are where it’s at when it comes to vitamins and minerals. One thing pretty much all nutrition folks agree on is eating more veg, so get on it! My personal favourite way to get veg is through green smoothies. Introducing green smoothies has had a massive impact on my health and wellbeing since I started making them 4 years ago. If you are a green smoothie virgin try a simple mix of 2 handfuls of spinach and one banana blended up with milk (almond milk is a my first choice but regular dairy milk is fine as well).

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3. Go natural with your beauty products

Not only better for your skin, body and hormones (chemical packed beauty products can have a scary impact on your hormones) using more natural products is better for your purse as well! I’ve been following my basic skin care routine for months now and my skin has never been better. There are some great natural and organic beauty brands out there now, my favourites are Dr Bronner, Yes to Carrots, Dr Organic and Green People

4. Get your sleep cycle sorted

I am quite fanatical when it comes to the importance of good sleep! You can find some tips for improving your sleep in my free e guide, but if I had to pick a key piece of advice when it comes to sleep it would be to get into a good routine and sleep cycle. Going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time can have such a positive impact on sleep quality leaving you feeling refreshed and replenished each morning. I know it’s not always practical if you are up partying every weekend, but do it as much as you can and I promise you will see the benefits.

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5. Eat fat

Yes you read that correctly, eat your fats! Don’t be scared of them, especially fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, organic meat and coconut products – if you aren’t cooking with coconut oil as well as rubbing it on your face hop to it! Fat is essential for a healthy functioning body, you don’t need loads of it but try and make sure that each meal has a small amount of good quality fat in it help you stay full and to assist with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins.

6. Try some natural sweeteners

As much as I love a slice of cake or piece bar of Dairy Milk occasionally, refined sugar makes me feel like utter crap. Apart from the fact that it tastes nice there is nothing good to say about refined sugar. Luckily there are loads of healthier alternatives which can give you a little sweetness when you need it. My personal faves are honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar and stevia – I order the NuNatural drops from iHerb. Don’t use the avoidance of refined sugar as an excuse to go for the chemical artificial sweeteners though, they aren’t much better. If you find that you often crave sugar and sweet foods you would almost certainly benefit from reducing them, depending on your body either by going cold turkey or replacing refined sugar foods with those natural alternatives.

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7. Get moving

Sorry ladies, no excuses! Getting moving with some form of exercise is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and wellbeing. Make 2014 the year to make it a priority. It doesn’t mean you have to slog it out at the gym 5 times a week, just start with doing something active for 30 minutes three times a week. Go for a walk, hula hoop, do an exercise DVD or a video from You Tube, whatever you like to do which makes you sweat (not that, dirty minds!). If you are already a seasoned exerciser then review what you do – is it balanced? I think a lot of women tend to forget about strength training and weight lifting. I love the Female Body Breakthrough by Rachel Cosgrove as a starter for strength training.

8. Meal plan

I know that meal planning isn’t for everyone, but in my experience of working with health coaching clients it is consistently one of the most helpful things you can do when it comes to eating well, being organised and saving money. You can download my free meal planning tool on my free downloads page to use if you wish. I also like to use Evernote for meal planning as well. If you get stuck for ideas start pinning meals to a board on Pinterest which you can look through when you come to make your plan. 

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9. Practice progress over perfection

A common problem I come across is when women focus on what they haven’t achieved and forget about what they have achieved. I’m guilty of doing this as well sometimes. How often have you felt guilty for eating that cookie but forgotten that you had actually ate really well the whole week and had went to the gym 4 times? Start focusing on the good things you have done instead of stressing about the slip ups or imperfections. 

10. Be kind to yourself

Before you do something ask yourself, ‘is this showing myself some kindness?’ Eating a whole packet of biscuits is not being kind to yourself, and neither is going on that restrictive diet. Focus on the things that add to your health, not take away from it.

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How are you going to make 2014 a healthy and happy year?

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