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How to improve your mood and beat the winter blues

How to Improve your mood and beat the winter blues

The dark winter months can be depressing. Sunlight is genuinely linked with our moods, and working a nine to five job means you might find that you go days at a time not seeing sunlight. This can hit us pretty hard.

So, here are five things to consider to help you keep your spirits up through the winter.

vitaminddisc

1. Boost your Vitamin D

“Most people don’t know vitamin D is in fact a hormone, which has a profound effect on how we feel and our mood.” Geeta Sidhu-Robb Nosh Detox Founder

Vitamin D has been associated with mood changes. Low levels of vitamin D leading to low moods and depression. Many individuals living in northern climates become vitamin D deficient in the dark winter months. Consider taking a supplement to boost your vitamin levels.

2. Don’t Give In To Sugar Cravings

Sugars from things like sweets quickly release serotonin which gives a momentary feeling of happiness. However, this is fleeting and the ensuing sugar crash makes everything worse. Avoid sugary snacks, Instead, nurture yourself with healthy foods packed with antioxidants found in dark leafy greens and colourful fruits and vegetables.

Sugar
ath;eisure 5

3. Stay Active

It can be hard to find the get up and go drive in the cold winter months. But exercise is really good, not just for your physical health but your mental well being. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins which genuinely make you happier. So, you will find yourself with a much more positive outlook on the world with regular exercise in your weekly routine. Exercising on a regular basis can also help ease stress and promote relaxation, which can be particularly helpful for those who struggle to fall asleep.

WINTER BANNER

4. Increase Serotonin

When sunlight enters our eyes, it activates the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, our feel-good hormones. If your mood is low, try taking a 5-HPT supplement – a chemical made from the amino acid tryptophan, which the body then coverts into serotonin. Some studies go as far as suggesting 5-HTP may also work as antidepressants, and has little to no side effects. You can’t get 5-HTP from food, so supplementation is necessary.

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Selection of food that is good for the health and skin, rustic wood background

5. Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are the healthy fats found in cold water fish, raw nuts and seeds, and superfoods such as flax and hemp (you’ll also find that a lot of these foods are high in vitamin D). Omega-3’s are the building blocks for the nerves and brain and are crucial for the proper growth, development and function of brain tissue. Taking an omega-3 supplement has been proven to significantly improve mood and lower the likelihood of depression.

6. Set Your Internal Clock

It’s crucial to create a sleep routine that has you seeing sunlight as much as possible. On top of this, getting too much sleep or too little can ruin your mood for the day as you will feel tired and fatigued. Try to go to sleep before 11pm, avoid caffeine for at least six hours before bed and avoid bright lights and screens late in the evening.

Alarm-3
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Is Your Sugar & Fat Intake Out Of Balance?

fat and sugar intake

IS YOUR SUGAR & FAT INTAKE OUT OF BALANCE?

Can you See the Signs?

There are a lot of confusing ideas out there. Don’t eat sugar. Eat some fats, but not others. Don’t eat fat if you’re trying to lose weight. Don’t eat sugar, but fruit is good… Amidst all this conflicting advice, it can be hard to determine what exactly is right when it comes to eating fats and sugars. It’s not surprising that a lot of us are getting the balance wrong.

So, we thought we would do some research and see if we can’t pick from the clutter of advice some of the rights and wrongs and maybe even clear up some of the confusion.

First of all, fats and sugars are a necessary part of our diets. Cutting either out entirely is a bad idea. However, like most things moderation is key.

Some of the Common mistakes people make

Low-fat products

If you normally make a beeline for the low-fat section in the supermarket you may want to just pause. Often when manufacturers remove the fat they also end up removing lots of the nutritional value. And to supplement the lost flavours they often add in sugars or sweeteners.

So check the nutritional values and ingredients. Especially when it comes to the sugar content in things like natural yoghurt, you may be surprised.

Low sugar products

When manufacturers remove the sugar, they replace it with artificial sweeteners. It has been suggested that the use of artificial sweeteners may have a stimulating effect on appetite and therefore may play a role in weight gain and obesity. But research is inconsistent on this front. We suggest erring on the side of caution. Instead of buying low sugar products try cutting down on the amount of sweet foods you eat.

A lover of fruit

Fruits are a great source of vitamins and natural sugars. However, things like dried fruit, smoothies, and fruit juices are highly concentrated in sugar. The NHS advise you limit the amount of fruit juice or smoothies you drink to only 150ml a day as ‘crushing fruit and vegetables into juice and smoothies releases the sugars…which can cause damage to teeth.’

You’re Nuts

On the flip side you may be a nutty enthusiast and find yourself grazing on nuts and seeds throughout the day. Nuts are high in unsaturated fats which are considered one of the good fats. However, they aren’t particularly filling meaning you can end up consuming far more fat than your body needs.

Both nuts and fruits are healthy food choices. But we recommend mixing it up a little. Eat fresh fruits with a tasty selection of nuts to compliment the nutritional values of the fruit. But be aware and try and keep a good balance of both.

Your breakfast choices

Eating a nutritional breakfast with plenty of energy is important to getting a good start to the day.

Unfortunately there are a lot of cereals out there that aren’t all they crack up to be. Be wary of sugar content in cereals. Whilst they may be low in fats, they are often high in sugar content.

You love your red meat

Steaks are delicious. Red meat is rich in iron, zinc and B vitamins, but it’s also rich in saturated fats, which should be eaten in moderation. Choose organic and for red meat opt for grass-fed, which has a better nutrient profile and is higher in omega-3 fats.

Try eating more white meat and fish. Fish is high in omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins A and D and other key nutrients. There is a reason you always see gym junkies eating chicken and rice or fish

Conclusion

Moderation is key. As long as you are aware that some of the habits and foods you are eating are throwing your sugar and fat balance out of whack you can balance it out again by adjusting your diet.

We recommend you do some research of your own along these lines before making any major changes.

Our key points though are be careful of low fat foods that sneak more sugar into your diet. Similarly, be wary of low sugar foods that substitute artificial sweeteners.

 

Sources

https://www.healthy-magazine.co.uk/too-much-sugar-or-too-much-fat-7-signs-your-diet-is-off-balance/

https://www.healthy-magazine.co.uk/superfoods-that-wont-break-the-bank/

https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/5ADAY/Pages/Whatcounts.aspx

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good

https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/the-truth-about-artificial-sweeteners.aspx

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11 Best Dog Walker Parks in London

11 Best Dog Walker Parks in London

Dog Walkers in London

Having a dog in the city often seems like it would be unfair. Dogs need exercise. They need to run around manically, throw themselves about, roll in puddles and otherwise behave mischievously.

However, London has a plethora of gorgeous and sizeable parks that are perfect for a doggy day trip.

And of course if you really want, there is a huge amount of space just outside of London, the Chiltern Hills for example, which certainly deserve a thorough explore.

For all you London based dog owners (or any Londoners who like a good walk), we have compiled a short list of some of our favourite parks in London, and they really aren’t that hard to get to.

Grab your HBB, pack your essentials and get going.

#1 Hyde Park – Central London

London’s most famous – and perhaps busiest – park, but dogs are welcomed here with open paws. Hyde Park is one of the Royal Parks and forms a huge rectangular green lung in the middle of central London. It is home to numerous famous landmarks which draw in millions of tourists each year, including the Serpentine Lake, Speakers’ Corner and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain.

Nearest station? Queensway, Lancaster Gate, Marble Arch (Central Line) and Knightsbridge, Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly Line)

Find out more and plan your visit here.

#2 Victoria Park – East

Vicky Park, as it’s known to eastenders, is a social hotspot for outgoing canines and their owners alike. It’s split into two parts: The western half is landscaped with a fantastic organic lakeside café, boating lake and picnic areas in the summer, while the eastern half is more suitable for dogs and has larger expanses to run on.

Be advised to carry a doggie bag though as there’s an open-ended children’s adventure playground (dogs are not allowed) and plenty of green area given over to sport. The Kenton is an excellent local dog-friendly Norwegian pub to pause in.

Nearest station? Hackney Wick or Cambridge Heath, (Overground)

More info on Victoria Park

#3 Richmond Park – West

As the biggest enclosed space in London, there’s no shortage of spots for your dog to explore here in this National Nature Reserve.

This is London’s largest Site of Special Scientific Interest, so dog owners will need to be aware of the precious wildlife here. There are some restrictions in certain areas, and owners are advised to avoid the park during the deer rutting (September to October) and birthing (May to July) seasons to help prevent any potential problems.

Nearest station? Richmond (National Rail and District Line)

Is there a car park? Yes, there are several.

Find out more and plan your visit here.

#4 Regents Park – Central

Designed by John Nash, Regent’s Park covers 395 acres and is perhaps the most picturesque of central London’s parks with glorious flower beds and the famous Queen Mary’s rose garden with over 1000 varieties. There are plenty of places to let your pooch run free (especially on Primrose Hill) but dogs should be kept on leads in the formal gardens and sports areas.

Nearest station: Regent’s Park (Bakerloo line), Great Portland Street (Hammersmith & City, Circle & Metropolitan lines), Baker Street (Hammersmith & City, Circle, Jubilee, Metropolitan & Bakerloo lines), St John’s Wood (Jubilee line)

Plan your dog walk at Regents Park here

#5 Peckam Rye Park – South

This Victorian Park has recently been restored to its former Victorian glory with lottery money. At 113 acres, it is south east London’s biggest green zone and it has loads to offer: woodlands, a lake, formal garden and the Café on the Rye.

The arboretum is a canine-free zone but the lovely Japanese garden isn’t, and there are plenty of other trails to take: Southwark council even provides a handy trail map.

Nearest station? Denmark Hill Station (Overground)

Plan your dog walk in Peckham Rye Park here.

#6 Hampstead Heath – North

As far as views of London go, they don’t get much better than when perched atop Parliament Hill, the summit of hilly Hampstead Heath. Sometimes known as ‘kite hill’ due to its popularity among kite flyers. Spanning a huge 320 hectares (790 acres), this wildlife-rich parkland is among the biggest in London and features woodlands, vast heaths and swimming ponds, including one dedicated to dogs that enjoy a dip in the water. As you’d expect from an ancient heathland, there’s plenty of history, too – there are at least 55 historical features, monuments and archaeological sites to explore.

Nearest station? Golders Green, Hampstead or Kentish Town (Northern Line) and Hampstead Heath or Gospel Oak (London Overground).

Is there a car park? Yes, several.

Find out more and plan your visit here

#7 Battersea Park – Central

This Thames-side gem spans 200 acres with lakes, woodland areas, designated nature spots and open space. The park, which opened in 1858 on reclaimed Thames marshland, has a colourful history – including that of The Brown Dog affair. A statue of the same name was placed in the park in memory of dogs used in research experiments at the turn of the last century and was the subject of huge political controversy. The terrier figurine sits on a plinth in the park’s woodland, beside the Old English Garden.

Nearest station? Battersea Park (National Rail)

Is there car park? Yes

Find out more and plan your visit here.

#8 Lee Valley Park – East

This enormous 10,000 acre, 46 mile long linear park along the leafy banks of the River Lee runs from the East India Dock Basin on the River Thames in east London and up through Essex and Hertfordshire to Ware.

The park’s towpath through London takes in Walthamstow Marsh Nature Reserve, one of the few remaining pieces of the capital’s once widespread river valley grasslands. There’s also Coppermill Fields, Leyton Marsh and Tottenham Marshes, as well as plenty of reservoirs, as the park makes its way out of London. Once the park hits Waltham Cross, it opens up to the vast expanse of open spaces and lakes of the River Lee Country Park, which even has a free 500 metre dog agility course located just north of Cheshunt Railway station.

Nearest Station? There are many, it depends on where in the park you want to go.

Find out more and plan your visit here.

#9 Wimbledon Common – South West

Who wouldn’t want to romp around on Wimbledon Common, the largest expanse of heathland in London? Encompassing Putney Lower Common and Putney Heath, the conversation area covers 1,140 acres and supports a variety of wildlife, areas of mature woodland, ponds and bogland. You’ll cross paths with horse riders here as well as school children on nature trails and foragers in the autumn. If you start out from Putney, there’s a lovely walk to Wimbledon windmill with dog-friendly tea rooms to reward the foot-sore.

Nearest station? Wimbledon Park or Southfield Station (District Line)

Plan your dog walk on Wimbledon Common here

#10 Thames Path – South West

A well-trodden path by well-heeled dog owners who live locally but little known about outside the postcode. The walk offers the most pleasant, leafy views of the river, and is lined with fabulous trees which have grown huge due to the abundance of water. If you’re feeling energetic you can walk all the way from Hammersmith to Twickenham, – there are plenty of riverside pubs to stop at, several of which allow dogs on the lead.

Nearest Station? It depends where you want to start.

More info on dog walking on the Thames Path from Barnes

#11 Highgate Wood – North

A short walk from Hampstead Heath will bring you to this 70 acre ancient woodland. It’s a haven for wildlife and accessible scenic walks and, come spring, you’ll find a beautiful carpet of bluebells there. Evidence of its history dates back to prehistoric times. There are good facilities here, including a cafe, on the edges of the woodland’s central field.

Nearest train station: Highgate (Northern Line).

Is there a car park? Yes.

Find out more and plan your visit here.

What’s your favourite walk in or around London? And your favourite HBB to take with you?

We’d love to know in the comments section below.

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5 Reasons to Relish your Fear this Halloween

5 Reasons to Relish your Fear this Halloween

Be afraid, be very afraid

It’s that time of year again when we surround ourselves with fearsomely carved pumpkins (and orange covered chocolate).

Being afraid isn’t all bad though. Here are 5 ways that being made to tremble could actually help you out.

1. Being scared alerts you to harm

We will start with the obvious. Fear is a natural instinct designed to help you avoid dangerous situations. Think of it as an alarm bell.

When we get scared, our bodies react physically so we can handle the danger, also known as our fight-or-flight response  – that sudden rush of adrenaline which allows you to move faster or become stronger than you thought you were.

It is a basic survival instinct.

2. A Little Can Help you Achieve your Goals

Two things can happen when we become afraid. We can face our fear, or we can run away from it.

Identifying our fears can help alert us to areas in our lives that we are limiting ourselves. For example, a fear of rejection may be poisoning our relationships. Being able to stand up to fear and overcome it is one of the best ways to grow as a person.

3. It can Help you in a tight Squeeze

When that adrenaline comes, a tight deadline is approaching, or you are just running out of time to complete a deadline.

The acute stress that accompanies fear can actually be good in these situations. It keeps you up, helps you focus and gives you more drive to complete the task before the time is up.

4. A lot of People Actually Enjoy it

Roller coaster rides, Halloween, haunted houses, skydiving, bungee jumping, scary movies or even skiing, all of these things inject us with huge amounts of fear and we as humans relish the vigour of the adrenaline rush that comes with it.

5. Fear can help us become closer to people

Remember when you and your partner flicked on a scary movie and huddled together? Fear is a powerful emotional and physical response and sharing the experience with someone can help you become closer. Not to forget the excuse to get close to them.

Harnessing the hidden powers of fear

We all have negative associations with the idea of fear, but as we’ve seen it is useful to help give us drive, avoid dangerous situations and fill us with the buzzing thrill of adrenaline.

However, it can be detrimental. Most people have an irrational phobia of some sort, whether it’s Acrophobia (heights), Arachnophobia (spiders), Agoraphobia (having a panic attack in public), or Mysophobia (germs). These can be debilitating and cause damage to quality of life.

So, when it comes to making the most of your fear this scary season, you need to face up to it (within reason), ride the wave of adrenaline that comes with it and overcome it. And then you can start harnessing the power of fear.

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Haunting Halloween Recipes

Our Haunting Halloween Recipes

Halloween is an opportunity to have a little fun, from ridiculous costumes to outrageous parties.

Of course if you’re having a party, you need some suitably spooky food. We have collected and tested a few of our favourites for you.

Starting with a couple of simple appetisers. Tasty finger foods that are sure to impress.

Pumpkin puffs

  • Plain flour, for dusting the baking parchment
  • 1 standard pack of puff pastry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 80g unsalted butter cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 190 grams finely grated Gruyere cheese
  • 130 grams of finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Generously flour two pieces of parchment paper; on each, roll out an unfolded pastry sheet to form a 15-by-13-inch rectangle, about 1/16 inch thick. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the paprika into the melted butter.

2. Remove pastry from the refrigerator, and brush off excess flour. Spread a rectangle of pastry with mustard; sprinkle with both cheeses. Season with pepper. Lay a second pastry rectangle on top.

3. Place a sheet of parchment on top of the stacked pastry; using a rolling pin, roll until smooth and pastry layers are sealed together. Remove parchment, and brush top of pastry with butter mixture. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

4. With a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter, cut into 18 to 24 shapes. Immediately place the shapes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a sharp paring knife, score each shape four or five times to make pumpkin ridges. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer puffs to a wire rack; let cool slightly before serving.

Fingers and Toes

  • Red or green food colouring, (optional, for finger nails)
  • 24 blanched almonds, halved lengthwise
  • 2 cups warm water, plus 3 litres, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • Vegetable oil
  • 640g – 750g plain flour, plus some for the work surface
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Fried rosemary (optional, for toes)

Directions

1. Place a small amount of food colouring, if using, in a shallow bowl, and, using a paintbrush, colour the rounded side of each split almond; set aside to dry.

2. Pour 2 cups water into a bowl. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle in the yeast, and let stand until yeast begins to bubble (about 5 minutes). Stir in 120 grams of flour. Add in the salt and then another 400g of flour. Continue beating until dough pulls away from bowl, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rest of the flour. Beat 1 minute more. If dough is sticky, add a little more flour until the texture is right. Transfer to a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth, 1 minute.

3. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap; let rest in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Bring 3 litres of water water to a boil in a large saucepan; reduce to a simmer. Add baking soda. Lightly coat two baking sheets with cooking spray. Divide dough into quarters. Work with one quarter at a time, and cover remaining dough with plastic wrap. Divide first quarter into 12 pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each piece back and forth with your palm forming a long finger shape, about 3 to 4 inches. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles. Or, to make toes, roll each piece so that it is slightly shorter and fatter, about 2 inches. Pinch in 1 place to form the knuckle. When 12 fingers or toes are formed, transfer to simmering water. Poach for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fingers to the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, blanching each set of 12 fingers or toes before making more.

5. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzel fingers and toes with the egg wash. Using a sharp knife, lightly score each knuckle about three times. Sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary, if using. Position almond nails, pushing them into dough to attach. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

For spooky coloured food you don’t have to get too creative. This gratin is delicious and there is always something a little ghoulish about black beans and sausages…

Kale and Butternut Squash Gratin

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled
  • 1/2 bunch kale (200g to 250g) stems and tough ribs removed, leaves torn into large pieces.
  • Unsalted butter, for baking dish
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 60g finely grated Parmesan
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • 90ml double cream
  • 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice squash just above bulb. Slice squash neck crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds. Cut squash bulb in half lengthwise. Remove seeds with a spoon; discard. Slice each half crosswise into 1/4-inch half-moons.

2. Set a steamer basket in a large pot filled with 1 inch water; bring to a boil. Add kale, cover, and steam until bright green and wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. Squeeze dry.

3. Butter a shallow baking dish (approx 13 by 9 in). Arrange half of sliced squash in dish, shingling pieces to overlap. Season with salt and pepper. Top with kale, season with more salt and pepper, and sprinkle with two thirds of the Parmesan and 2 tablespoons sage. Place remaining squash on top, overlapping pieces slightly; season with more salt and pepper. Pour cream over squash and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sage.

4. Cover tightly with parchment-lined foil and bake until squash is tender, about 40 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs and remaining Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, until golden, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool slightly before serving.

Black Bean and Sausage

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 450g of smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 medium carrots, diced small
  • 2 shallots, diced small
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 470ml chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for serving
  • 50g plain yogurt, for serving

Directions

1. In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium-high. Add sausage and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add carrots and shallots to skillet and cook until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add black beans and stock and bring mixture to a boil. Add sausage, reduce heat to a rapid simmer, and cook until carrots are tender, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Serve with more parsley and a dollop of yogurt.

Of course you will need something to drink. This one’s for the kids. But if you want a ghastly cocktail try one of these Spooky Halloween Cocktails

Blood Moon Punch

  • 1 litre of orange juice
  • 1 litre water
  • 2 litres grape juice
  • 1 ¼ litres ginger beer
  • 750ml sparkling water
  • 250ml fresh lime juice
  • Candy bats (optional)

Directions

1. For the ice moon, freeze a mixture of orange juice and water in a small bowl, around 8 in diameter. In a large punch bowl, gently stir together grape juice, ginger beer, sparkling water, and fresh lime juice. To release the moon, dip the bottom of the frozen bowl in hot water until the ice starts to melt at the edges. Remove the bowl from the water and turn it onto a plate. Place the moon in the punch, flat-side up, and if desired, arrange candy bats on top.

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Perfect your Morning Routine for a Perfectly Productive Day

Perfect your Morning Routine for a Perfectly Productive Day

SETTING YOURSELF A SOLID MORNING ROUTINE WILL HELP YOU HAVE A PRODUCTIVE DAY.

For example, a standard morning without routine normally involves me hitting the snooze button four or five times, rolling out bed at the last minute, showering, dressing and running out the door because I’m inevitably late again.

First of all this is stressful, secondly, I’m normally still half asleep by the time I get to where I’m going and it’s not until the second coffee at around 10 – 11, that I really start to get into the swing of things.

There will always be nights when sleep eludes us and we wake up late and bleary eyed, wishing for a stopwatch that could control time so we could go back to bed. But just imagine how much more productive your day could be if you added a bit of structure to it.

I know there is certainly room for improvement in my own morning routine.

So, we thought we would put together a blog post to help you create the perfect morning routine so you can get the most out of your day.

EXAMPLE MORNING ROUTINE

  • Wake up 6.30
  • Exercise for 10 minutes, yoga, press-ups, a light jog etc.
  • Shower & get dressed.
  • Sit down with a coffee and eat a light breakfast.
  • Define your tasks and goals for the day.
routine (1)

IDEAS FOR YOUR MORNING ROUTINE

We have outlined a few things you might want to consider in your morning routine which should help set you up to have a great day.

WATER

Our bodies need to stay hydrated and you’ve just gone 8 hours (hopefully) without drinking anything at all. So it makes sense to start your day off with some water.

BREAKFAST

Your breakfast should contain healthy proteins and slow energy releasing carbohydrates. This will help you get nutrients into your system and gain some energy. You want to avoid things with lots of sugar in though as that can lead to you having a sugar crash around the middle of the day.
There are obviously alternative approaches though, like intermittent fasting which suggests you skip breakfast completely.

EXERCISE

Exercise helps get the blood flowing, meaning your muscles become more oxygenated and gain more energy. It also makes your brain release endorphins so will hopefully put a big smile on your face. Just a few minutes in the morning should really help you wake up and become alert and ready to tackle the challenges the days going to throw your way.

READING

I normally get a chance to read on my way to work on the tube. I find a good book stimulates my mind and makes me more receptive to fresh ideas and thoughts that come my way. Another thing to consider is flicking through the news and catching up on current events or events related to your industry. Anything that gets your brain processing new information will help.

WRITING

This should help you organise your thoughts. We aren’t talking about drafting up lengthy blog articles, more of a mind splurge so that you can organise your thoughts and begin to identify and prioritise tasks properly.
For me, the first thing I always do in the morning is draft up a list of thoughts and tasks for the day. Even if they are largely the same as yesterday it helps me give my day a structure.

On top of this, occasionally writing down my strange dreams when I wake up can be quite an amusing process.

MEDITATE

Focus in silence. Meditation in the morning is a great way to start your day stress free and prepare to tackle challenges. There are a number of guides you can use to start a simple meditation practice each morning.

SET YOURSELF GOALS

Nothing sets you up for a productive day than setting yourself something to achieve. Whether it’s something small like remembering to post a letter, getting a haircut or something bigger like closing a trade deal. Knowing what you want to achieve will help you get it done and doing it will then fill you with a sense of accomplishment.

 

WHAT’S IN YOUR MORNING?

Share with fellow HBBers in the comments section below how you get ready for a busy day.

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Dark Chocolate May Actually be a Superfood

chocolate could be a superfood

Dark Chocolate the Superfood

Despite ourselves we love chocolate in the HBB office, especially dark chocolate, maybe paired with a dark fruity red wine. And that got us to thinking, we’ve all heard the rumours about dark chocolate having health benefits. But if you ask anyone with they will always attempt to justify their cheeky indulgence.

As a writer I like to tell people that beer makes me more creative for example. It’s not true, but I still like to tell people this.

So, we decided to explore the possibilities, whilst we nibbled upon our Green and Blacks, that maybe, just maybe, dark chocolate truly was is the health food that chocoholics having been claiming all along.

6 Ways Dark Chocolate is Healthy… in moderation.

1. It’s helps you have a healthy heart

That’s right. When you eat dark chocolate it gets eaten by good bacteria in the gut which  “grow and ferment it, producing compounds that are anti-inflammatory.” said John Finley Ph.D., who led a recent study. “When these compounds are absorbed by the body, they lessen the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue,” this lessens arterial stiffness and helps prevent white blood cell adhesion, both of which are common causes of arterial clogging which can lead to strokes. If this doesn’t make it a superfood, we don’t know what will.

2. It’s actually pretty nutritious

A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains for example, on average contains:
11 grams of fiber
67% of the RDI for iron
58% of the RDI for magnesium
89% of the RDI for copper
98% of the RDI for manganese
It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium

However, we should probably point out that you really shouldn’t be eating that much chocolate a day. This 100g bar of chocolate also comes with upwards of 600 calories and a pretty hefty sugar count, the negative effects more than negating those nutritional benefits.

Learn about The Dangers of Sugar here

3. It technically counts as a “super fruit”

The cocoa bean is in fact a berry. And in a recent study it was shown to have higher nutritive value than superfoods like blueberries and acai beans with a high antioxidant level. Which kind of means your dark chocolate bar is a superfruit…

4. It Keeps HDLs up and LDLs Down 

In a controlled study, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL for those with high cholesterol. Basically what this means is it helps good cholesterol, and helps get rid of bad cholesterol. All of which means a reduced risk of heart disease.

5. It’s good for your skin

There are a couple of bioactive compounds in chocolate that are good for your skin. One of these is flavonols which can help protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration. Eating dark chocolate isn’t a replacement for sun cream though.

6. It may even help with insulin production

Good news for people with type-2 diabetes.

“The antioxidants in chocolate help the body use its insulin more efficiently to help control blood sugar,” says Anna Simos, CDE. “This in turn helps lower blood sugar levels naturally and actually helps your body use your insulin. As a result, it helps decrease insulin resistance, which we see in type 2 diabetes.”

According to an animal study published in the November 2017 issue of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, it’s the compounds found in cocoa called cocoa flavanols that appear to enhance certain cells’ ability to secrete insulin, the hormone that manages blood glucose. Another point for the superfood case.

chocolate could be a superfood

Conclusion

I suppose we should finish this article with a word of warning. Chocolate is high in sugar, so all consumption, even of the rich dark superfood that is dark chocolate should be consumed only in moderation. If you eat dark chocolate regularly, make changes to your diet by cutting out other sugary foods and calories to make sure you maintain a healthy balanced diet.

Want to learn more about balancing sugar in your diet?

That being said we are more than happy to inform you that yes, dark chocolate is healthy so i guess we have to prove that red wine is as well next…

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Athleisure & Boutique Fitness Fashion

The Rise of Athleisure

Athleisure, simply put, is athletic apparel that people can wear in non-athletic settings.

The rise caught many by surprise with a lot of people wondering if it was just a fad. However, more and more people are leaning towards the comfort of athletic clothing.

Athleisure is the blend, the blur between performance wear and comfortable athletic inspired lifestyle clothing. It has over the last couple of years solidly dominated the runways. More and more brands are turning their designers to comfy practical clothing.

The athleisure interpretations on the runway divide into two themes. The first is a track, field or gym-ready look that takes athleisure quite literally. These are clothes-to-go with body defining cuts, utility details, sporty colourways and decoration that directly references sports – such as numbered tops or stripes on rugby shirts. But a little indulgence is still allowed – Moncler’s bomber and shorts in white luxe lace makes that clear.

Alternatively, there’s a sports influence that’s more about everyday (or after dark) wear with an edge. But it’s one that really makes you feel the force of the sports trend.

One potential reason this trend is going from strength to strength is the growing health conscious population. People are more aware than ever of how things effect their health. They are eating healthier, organic foods, living more active lifestyles and they want the clothes that fit with this lifestyle.

Another reason for the trends exponential rise is the support from big brands. Adidas, is one example of a sports brand benefiting massively from this trend. The athleisure movement is allowing them to reach new demographics.

HBBs and Athleisure

Where does HBB fit into all this?

Our bags make great companions for all walks of life, from the office to the beach. Whether you’re heading to the peak district or the gym.
They are designed to be practical, comfortable and stylish. They come in a huge range of colours, fabrics and design all with our unique shape.

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10 Things You Need When You Travel

10 things for travel

TEN Things you NEED TO GET BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

When you travel, whether it’s backpacking around Asia or jetting off to the Canary Islands for a couple of weeks, there are a few mainstays that should be on everyone’s checklist: Suncream, bug spray, an adaptor.

This though is not that list. We have put together a list of 10 things you may never realised you needed, but will definitely make your travel life a whole lot easier.

1. Solar Powered Portable Charger

At some point in time you aren’t going to be near a plug and you will need to charge your phone or your tablet. Getting a solar powered one means you’ll never be out of juice, at least for as long as the sun is shining.

2. The Bungee Clothesline

This is a pretty underrated item. Whilst out travelling in the world it’s rare you’ll have the luxury of a dryer but you’re still probably going to want to wash clothes. The bungee clothesline lets you dry clothes anywhere, anytime.

3. A Multi-port USB Charger

It means you don’t have to carry around a whole load of plug adaptors and wall chargers for every single item.

4. Speaker

A speaker is always a good idea (along with a pack of cards). Get yourself a small compact little speaker with great sound. You can find good ones from £15+.

5. Tupperware

You weren’t expecting this one… But a good tupperware is certainly worth the space it takes up in your bag. Going to the beach and want to take some pasta salad? Going on a hike and want to take lunch with you? Never underestimate the practicality of the humble tupperware.

6. Sewing Kit – Safety Pins – Gaffa Tape

Okay… so this is really three items. But they all serve the same sort of purpose.

In the likely instance that something big (or small) breaks on your trip, such as a zip, a seam or a strap, there are very few things you can’t fix with some gaffa tape, a needle and thread or a safety pin. The safety pins are also great for getting your sim card out if you’re putting a local sim card in your phone.

A useful tip is to pack it into old tic tac boxes. They are the perfect size to compartmentalise your sewing kit and safety pins!

7. Pen Knife

A good swiss pen knife is probably one of the most versatile tools on the planet. I have a Leatherman that I never travel anywhere without. If nothing else, it’s great for cutting food up at a picnic. But also the pliers, screwdrivers, scissors (and of course the bottle opener) all come in handy at unexpected times.

8. Wacaco Hand Espresso Machine

Espresso on on the go. We’re coffeeholics in the HBB office, so going without coffee is really not an option we would dare to consider. This is a handheld espresso device, compact and easy to use. All you need is hot water.

9. Kindle Paperwhite

A good book is an absolute travel essential. Though for those of you on long trips, a stack of novels may not be the most convenient thing to carry around. Kindles give you access to a whole library that fits right in your bag, allowing you to read whatever you please, as and when you like.

10 things for travel

10. Noise Cancelling Headphones

For the plane, or the hostel. Wherever loud people are, a pair of good noise cancelling headphones are a must.

Bonus: AN HBB

And of course we would be terribly remiss if we didn’t at least mention our bags.

Designed to make your load feel lighter so you can comfortably carry it around all day. The practical pocketing means you will never lose your things inside your bag and to top it off, they are designed with security in mind, with the zip always pressed against your body.

What can’t you travel without? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Cardio vs. Strength Training: What should you be doing?

Cardio vs. Strength Training

When it comes to losing weight there is a pretty broad mix of different things people tell you to do. Some swear that cardio is the only way to get thin. Others maintain that strength training (weights) is the way to go.

But who is right? And what should you be doing?

Unsurprisingly, the answer isn’t simple. The results you desire dictate the kind of exercise and how much of it you should undertake.

Before we begin, what do we mean by cardio, and what do we mean by strength training?

Cardio = cardiovascular exercise. This is any exercise that increases your heart rate dramatically. Examples of cardio are things like running, rowing or using an elliptical machine.

Strength Training = exercises designed to build strength and stimulate muscle development through the use of increasing resistance, for example, lifting freeweights or using resistance bands. An intense strength training session could count as a cardio workout if it raises your heart rate enough!

To Build Speed and Strength

Cardio: Exercises such as running should help strengthen leg muscles and increase speed and fitness levels, allowing you to exercise harder, burn more calories and build more strength.

However, your body is great at adapting to change. Just pacing out those 10 miles a week on a treadmill isn’t going to be enough. Your body will get used to the exercise and you’ll quickly find yourself plateauing.
In order to continuously see results, you need to push your body outside its comfort zone with speed training cardio workouts. These can jump-start your metabolism, help burn fat and increase endurance.

Strength Training: As the name suggests this is about building strength. If you want to be faster and stronger, you’re going to want stronger muscles.

More than that, strength training allows you to work muscle groups all over your body, most importantly your core and back muscles. This will help you better support your body weight and maintain good form, resulting in more powerful muscles.

To Burn Calories

Cardio: For burning calories and reducing body mass, cardio has the upper hand. However, it’s not quite as simple as burning off the pounds.

It has been found that people who ostensibly do just cardio burn large amounts of muscle mass along with the fat.

Strength Training: This doesn’t burn as many calories, but it does promote the development of muscle mass. This is important because muscle mass, even when idle requires more fuel for everyday functions than fat does. So, by building up muscle you will burn more calories over time.

It also takes energy to repair the muscles you break down during training. One thing to remember: muscle weighs more than fat. So, if you want to lose weight and only care about what the scales say, adding muscle will slow that process down.

If your goal then is to lose weight quickly, a cardio-heavy exercise regime is going to be best for you. However, if you want to keep the pounds off, you need to put on some muscle at the same time.

Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

Improving Lifestyle

The right exercise can help you improve your quality of life. Cardio is proven to help with a number of ailments, including, but not limited to, helping blood pressure, strengthening your heart and helping with osteoporosis.

That being said, it’s not all good news. Exercises like running, are incredibly hard on your joints and can lead to straining ligaments, wearing out cartilage and other permanent injuries that you might regret in later life. One suggestion we would make is to choose low impact cardio exercises like swimming.

For back health, resistance and muscle training are vital, particularly when focusing on your core. For those suffering from back problems, regular strength exercises can help minimise the effects of these problems on your daily life, while also stopping the build up of intra-abdominal fat.

Combating Stress

Exercising for just 15 – 20 minutes a day, no matter what it is, will help increase your serotonin levels and help your brain produce endorphins which will massively improve your mood.

On top of this, getting your heart rate up helps increase your energy levels by increasing blood flow to your muscles. A short cardio workout will stretch your muscles and break down any lactic acid in your system, reducing stiffness and aching.

Personally, if I am experiencing high levels of stress, I find a high-intensity strength workout consisting of lifting implausibly heavy things helps to vent my frustrations and clear my head.

Avoiding Injuries

Cardio: Regular cardiovascular exercises can help keep your body in shape and perform to its best ability.

However, the repetitive nature of doing cardio alone (that is, without combining it with any strength training) can put serious pressure on your joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons, and potentially result in injury.

Strength Training: Functional strength training teaches your brain how to handle muscle contractions that are quick enough to prevent or minimize injuries.

If you choose exercises that work your core, improve your balance and force you to bend at multiple joints, you are actually protecting your body. Think lunges, rows, squats and pull ups!

Conclusion

Simply put, if you want to lose weight, cardio burns more calories. Yet, as I hope I have made clear, this isn’t so cut and dry…

Cardio doesn’t do a whole lot for your muscles, in fact, a cardio-heavy exercise regime will reduce muscle.

Strength training on the other hand will help you build muscle, which, in the long term will help you burn more calories. ‘For every 3 pounds you gain (of muscle) you can expect to burn an extra 120 calories a day without moving.’

As you get older, resistance training becomes more important, as it improves muscle strength, suppleness and bone density. This will help keep you healthy and mobile and enjoy a better quality of life.

The best solution then is a clever combination of both cardio and strength training. This will help you slash calories, but build muscle at the same time leading to a leaner, stronger you.

References

Bernard Gutin, Paule Barbeau, Scott Owens, Christian R Lemmon, Mara Bauman, Jerry Allison, Hyun-Sik Kang, Mark S Litaker; Effects of exercise intensity on cardiovascular fitness, total body composition, and visceral adiposity of obese adolescents, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 75, Issue 5, 1 May 2002, Pages 818–826, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/75.5.818

http://www.health.com/weight-loss/best-exercise-to-lose-weigh

thttps://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/g19965862/your-body-on-cardio/ 

https://www.livestrong.com/article/421082-weights-vs-cardio-your-guide-to-the-perfect-body/

Keep updated on our blogs and everything else HBB

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