Maintaining healthy habits is crucial

Maintaining healthy habits is crucial | H is for Home

Healthy habits have a huge impact on our lives. We feel better both physically & mentally – and of course need less medical care. They contribute to a real sense of well being and stability. And even when we experience personal hardships or illness, healthy habits help us bounce right back and return to our usual selves much faster than someone who is less prepared. Here are some things to consider when assessing your day to day habits and how healthy they are.

Messy living room

Maintain your belongings

Keeping personal property in shape is one key to supporting healthy habits. It may sound a bit weird but when your furniture is attractive, your bed is comfy, and your electronics work well, you’ll feel much better about your home and surroundings. The home is a safe haven, a place to relax. We physically and mentally need it to be clean and comforting at the same time. Take a look at your surroundings and notice if something needs upkeep or replacing. Furniture lines like Bernhardt Furniture are a great resource for replacing old furniture and sprucing up your living spaces. If your kitchen is messy, it’s time to clean it and keep it neat – you’ll find it beneficial in terms of practicality, safety and hygiene. If you have a lot of clutter, or redundant broken electronics, it’s time to clear it all up and recycle it.

fork wrapped in a blue tape measure

Eat nourishing foods and maintain an ideal weight

You truly are what you eat and eating healthily is the top way to take care of yourself. Whether you just want to avoid illness or you’re working at losing weight, your food is a top priority to consider. Avoiding processed foods is a good starting point. That way you really know exactly what you’re consuming. Secondly, eat as cleanly and as organically as possible. Read the labels on foodstuffs in order to avoid unnecessary additives, excess salt and sugar. The amount of sugar and salt added to many common foodstuffs can be quite surprising. When you eat well, your body feels well, and you mentally feel well. Many people speak about making dietary changes and suddenly they are less tired, more energetic and way more productive than before. Your body is a temple, worship it!

weight training equipment

Exercise and enjoy it

Exercise is often overlooked because we tell ourselves we’re too busy. Really, we can fit in light exercise each day. Consider taking a short 10-15 minute walk in the morning, on your lunch break or after dinner. If you still struggle to find the time for a short walk, include them in your everyday errands. Perhaps park a little further away from your work entrance, supermarket or shopping centre than you could do – those extra steps will give you a bit of light exercise or head space to think. If walking isn’t exciting enough for you, find out what is. Try yoga, pilates, a running group or even a spin class. It doesn’t matter what it is so long as you’re taking time to work your body.

Friends spelt out in Scrabble letters

Don’t be the hermit

Everyone needs solitary time, we have to recharge from our work lives and home lives. Too much time alone isn’t taking care of our mental health though. We need social interaction to bring us a sense of peace, belonging and experience a bit of joy. Make sure that you’re not working too much or always at home. Once every couple of weeks, have friends over for a pot luck dinner. Go out to the cinema with a friend, meet someone for coffee or have a lunch date with someone with whom you don’t spend all day at work. If you’re struggling to make connections with people, check out a site like Meetup in order to find people who have similar interests as you.

Healthy bodies and minds can stave off so many of the illnesses that can plague us. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever get sick or feel down. However, with healthy habits and good friends you’ll find that you recover much quicker.


4 Ways to stay motivated while losing weight

4 Ways to stay motivated while losing weight | H is for Home

For many people, losing weight is a huge struggle. The sad truth is 80% of people who lose weight following different diets can gain it all back and more. This could lead to a lot of health problems as we grow older.

Knowing full well that you have to lose weight is not enough. You have to establish a schedule or routine and really commit to it. When you decide to break a bad habit, you’re essentially changing your behaviour. There’ll be times when you feel inconvenienced by preparing healthy meals or tired from exercising and you start to relapse. Motivation comes and goes and it’s easy to fall back into bad habits. Here are four ways to stay motivated whilst losing weight.

Food diary

  1. Create a healthy meal plan

One of the reasons for gaining weight is unhealthy eating habits; consuming fast food every day, drinking fizzy drinks and fruit juices that are high in sugar and eating crisps, cakes, chocolates and the like in the middle of the night. So, it should come as no surprise that eating healthily will help you lose weight. It does not, however, mean that you should give up all of them. If you think that you don’t know enough about nutrition, a great way to start is by using a meal subscription service like Nutrisystem. A great article by Debra Moorhead provides a detailed review of different Nutrisystem plans and how they can benefit your nutrition. The key is having a healthy and balanced diet. Start by writing down all the food that you consume currently. Identify those that are unhealthy and only makes you gain weight then, search for alternatives.

Bathroom scales and measuring tape

  1. Track your weight loss journey

You’ve probably heard this before, but losing weight doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t get 20 pounds lighter from working out for hours a day and neither should you do that. While experts have different recommendations when it comes to the amount of weight you should lose in a week, they all agree that slow and steady weight loss is the most sustainable for the long-term. You can track your weight loss journey by starting to step onto the dreaded scales so you know your starting point. Create milestones and celebrate your successes. The idea is to keep you focused on the goal and see exactly how you’ve progressed over time. Don’t forget that losing weight shouldn’t come at the expense of failing to meet your nutrient needs.

Friends fist pumping

  1. Have a support system

An environment full of pessimistic people is bad news when you want to start losing weight. Losing weight is a personal commitment, therefore, you need to surround yourself with people whom you can talk positively about the journey. One of the reasons for binging and weight gain is depression. To have a positive weight loss experience, you must resolve any underlying psychological stress that you might have. Cut ties with people who bring you down and spend more time with family and friends who’ll support you no matter what, encourage you and even join you in your quest.

Walking a dog in a park

  1. Keep yourself busy

When you’re sitting and fantasising about losing weight, guess what? You’re not actually losing weight. Do you sometimes feel hungry even when if you’re not doing anything and have already eaten? This is because, in a relaxed state, your mind wanders and you’re more in tune with what’s happening to your body. You actually feel more tired, sleepy and hungry when you’re not moving around. So, why not visit an art gallery, walk around the park, go window shopping, take a yoga class, walk a dog, do whatever? You’ll be surprised at how being active can help improve your health and overall well-being.


Cakes & Bakes: Fruit and nut flapjack

Slice of home-made fruit and nut flapjack | H is for Home

I made one of my regular batches of fruit and nut flapjack this week. Not only is it the perfect accompaniment to a mug of tea, it also has some distinct health benefits.

Justin and I were both born in the 1960s, which means we’re getting on a bit! It’s perhaps time to start considering our health and brain function into old age.

It seems like diet could be a very important factor. Oily fish is often cited as great ‘brain food’, but nuts are also a fantastic source of cerebral nourishment.

Here’s a selection of commonly found (and tasty!) nuts and some of their recognised health benefits.

Chopped mixed nuts | H is for Home

  • Almonds are very high in vitamin E (good for glowing skin). They’re also a good source of omega-6 and 9 (poly)unsaturated fatty acids
  • Un-roasted walnuts contain twice as many antioxidants as other nuts or seeds
  • Brazil nuts are perhaps the richest dietary source of selenium (a mineral important for cognitive function and a maintaining a healthy immune system). Eating just 2 give you 100% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Cashew nuts contain a high concentration of essential minerals including magnesium (thought to counter age-related memory loss), phosphorus and zinc
  • Macadamia nuts are an excellent source of manganese and thiamine (vitamin B1)
  • Flaxseeds have one of the highest concentrations of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (Useful in maintaining healthy brain and visual functions). Especially important if you’re vegetarian or vegan as it is most commonly found in oily fish
  • Whole sesame seeds are a very good source of iron (again, important for vegetarians and vegans)

Home-made fruit and nut flapjack before going into the oven | H is for Home

This flapjack is quick and easy to make – and is so delicious, that the health benefits are an additional bonus… and we didn’t even get started on the goodness of dried fruit!

Home-made fruit and nut flapjack cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

Click here to pin our recipe for future reference!

Fruit and nut flapjack
Yields 9
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 200g butter
  2. 125g honey
  3. 350g rolled oats
  4. 50g dried fruit (currants, raisins, sultanas, cranberries, blueberries, dates, figs, apricots or a mix of any/all of these)
  5. 50g seeds and/or nuts, roughly chopped (linseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, macadamias, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds or a mix of any/all of these)Earl Grey tea and lemon cake ingredients
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  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2
  2. Put the butter into a large saucepan on a low heat. When the butter has melted, add the honey and stir to combine
  3. Turn off the heat, add the oats, dried fruit and nuts/seeds and mix well
  4. Put the mixture into a 23cm/9-inch shallow square cake tin and flatten down firmly with the back of a serving spoon
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned
  6. Allow to cool in the tin before cutting into squares or finger-shaped portions
  1. You can store the flapjacks for up to 3 days in an airtight greaseproof paper-lined tin or plastic container
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Price Points: Smart bathroom scales

Selection of 3 smart bathroom scales | H is for Home

Just over a year ago, we were both getting an hour’s walk in the hills at least every other day. These days, because the dog is getting a bit old and infirm, we only manage about half that – and only on the flat.

Because of this, (and middle-age) my weight has been creeping up – almost imperceptibly. This is the first time in my life that I’ve had to keep an eye on my weight. Since the start of 2017, I’ve consciously been eating less often and smaller portions too. I’ve seen a bit of a difference but have absolutely no idea how much I weigh.

Bathroom scales have advanced so far recently that you (and other people in the household) can easily track your progress using apps via your smartphone or tablet.You can measure not only your weight but also other body composition stats.

Justin and I could even have a little friendly competition to make the new regime a little more interesting and easier to maintain! Here are three of the ever expanding range of smart bathroom scales currently on the market.

  1. Salter analyser bathroom scales: £20, George at ASDA
    Records and measures weight, body fat %, body water % and body mass index (BMI)
    8 user memory & athlete mode
    Maximum weight: 180kg / 396lb / 28st 8lb
    Available in 5 colours
  2. BlueAnatomy wireless body scale: £69.95, Amazon
    Records and measures weight, fat, water, muscle, bone and BMI
    Connects wirelessly to Apple and Android devices using the BlueAnatomyTM app to store your information
    Unlimited user memory
    Maximum weight: 180kg / 396lb / 28st 8lb
    Available in 2 colours
  3. Body Cardio: £149.95, Withings
    Records and measures weight, fat, water, muscle, bone and BMI
    Measures heart rate and pulse wave velocity
    Syncs automatically using the Withings Health Mate app via WiFi or Bluetooth
    Works in conjunction with over 100 apps including Weight Watchers, Lose It!, MyFitnessPal, Runkeeper, MapMyRun and Runtastic
    8 user memory
    Maximum weight: 180kg / 396lb / 28st 8lb
    Available in 2 colours

Price Points: Air purifiers

Home air purifiers | H is for Home

The quality of our air has been in the news quite a lot recently. Just a few days into the new year, some parts of London have already breached guideline nitrogen dioxide limits. It’s also been discovered that living on a busy road may increase your risk by 12% of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

We live on a fairly busy road, however, I’m more worried about the particles in the air from our multi-fuel stoves. An air purifier seems like a no-brainer for our home. Whether you suffer from allergies, asthma or simply want to improve the smell of your home (all you cooks, pet owners and/or smokers!) air purifiers are a good idea.

  1. Puripod air purifier: £25.99, Wayfair
    Removes contaminants, clears airborne fumes, releases clean and fresh air back into your room and eliminates unpleasant odours:

    • Removes cooking smells and cigarette smoke
    • Light weight and portable
    • Easy to move from room to room
    • Virtually silent
  2. Rabbit Air MinusA2 Peanuts Edition SPA-700A: $539.95, Amazon US
    • BioGS HEPA filtration with six stages of purification and deodorisation
    • Customised filter option of your choice: germ defence, odour remover, pet allergy, toxin absorber
    • Covers up to 700 sq. ft.
  3. Dyson Pure Cool Link™ Tower: £449.99
    • Automatically removes 99.95% of allergens and pollutants as small as 0.1 microns: 360° glass HEPA filter captures ultra-fine particles from the air including pollen, bacteria and pet dander.
    • Intelligent purification: Automatically monitors, reacts and purifies – then reports to your Dyson Link app. So you can remotely control your environment.
    • Automatic night-time mode: Monitors, reacts and purifies; but only using the quietest settings. LED display dims – no disturbance.

Sleep tight with the S+ by ResMed

Win an S+ by ResMed | H is for Home

Three of my all time favourite things are wrapped up into one with the S+ by ResMed – tech, stats… and sleeping!

Boxed S+ by ResMed | H is for Home

I was sent a sample to review and another to give away to one of our readers. As you may have seen in a previous post recently, I’m really interested in tracking my fitness levels and the quality of my sleep. I’m up for trying out any gadget that can help on either or both of those fronts.

Unboxed S+ by ResMed | H is for Home

As ResMed explains:

The S+ measures movements using ultra low power radio waves (less than 110 of Bluetooth®). The basic principle is similar to the echo location system used by bats to hunt insects. The S+ transmits a short pulse of radio waves at 10.5 GHz and then listens for the echo of the pulse. As you move, the phase of the echo changes and is converted into a signal that reflects your movement.

S+ by ResMed set up at my bedside | H is for Home

It may be ultra high tech, but was very easy to set up. Firstly, I plugged in the device, then downloaded the app to both my iPhone and iPad, I then linked them to the S+ by ResMed via Bluetooth. The app asked a few questions… height, weight, do I sleep on my back, front or side; do I sleep with a partner or pet; the size of the bed; type of mattress and pillows etc. I registered on the S+ website and then went through a dry run whilst lying on the bed in the dark. Just look at the difference between my breathing patterns on left and right!

S+ app monitor | H is for Home

The app works continuously throughout the night to record breathing and movement to analyse the night’s sleep.

S+ app showing my sleep history | H is for Home

Not only does it show all the different stages of sleep (and any disruptions) it reports – every 20 minutes – on the temperature, light level and any noise in the room. It also works out how much body & mind have been recharged overnight.

My nightly sleep details via the S+ app | H is for Home

It scores a night’s sleep out of 100 and shows where ‘points’ have been lost. On the night in question, it took me a long time to fall asleep, I had a coughing fit and I also had a mild case of restless legs which really didn’t help. I just didn’t get enough REM or deep sleep.

My sleep score | H is for Home

Each night before setting the app, it asks questions such as how many caffeinated or alcoholic drinks had been consumed during the day. As you can tell from the scores on the following night, my sleep improved by 7%. Was it due to the couple of glasses of wine I consumed? Perhaps it was because the dog didn’t wake up, circle around and reposition himself, crashing into the side of the bed as he does most nights.

My sleep history recorded by the S+ by ResMed device

I’ve been using the monitor for less than a week so far, but I’m already totally hooked. I knew that for years I’ve been waking up each morning feeling exhausted, but not recalling the disruptions in sleep that have clearly been happening. The S+ mentor gives pointers as to how to up your score and, in so doing, improve your sleep.

The S+ Mentor

ResMed is offering an S+ sleep monitoring system to one of our readers. Just leave a comment telling us what keeps you awake at night.

S+ sleep tracking system by ResMed

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