Top five motivation tips for hitting the gym after work

How many times did you say you will go to the gym after work, but end up trudging straight home for a night of Netflix? Everyone has days where they’re just not feeling it: time can be scarce, especially if you’ve got kids to look after. But, we’re here to tell you that it’s time to break those mental barriers and get motivated! We’ve rounded up five tips to help you stay on track.

Build anticipation

To get yourself pumped for the gym, build anticipation! But how to do that if you don’t feel motivated? The key is to set a date in the future and get excited about the date you’ve scheduled. Just seeing it marked on your calendar will give you a psychological boost of motivation. Make the date important so it’ll always be on the back of your mind. In the meantime, write out your long-term fitness goals. In doing so, you’re building anticipation, increasing your focus and motivation for the gym.

Bring your exercise gear to work

When you bring your gym essentials to work, you’re giving yourself a visual reminder that you’re committed to exercising. You’re giving yourself no excuse not go to the gym after work as planned. You also won’t have to stop off at home and have a ten-minute inner discussion about whether you should go to the gym or not. For even more motivation, change into your exercise clothes before you leave the office!

Create a rule

It’s important you set yourself rules to keep your motivation in check. For example, you could make a rule that you have to go to the gym 3 times a week without fail. That way, exercising after work will become a habit and second nature. Another option could be to commit to going to the gym for a month, then afterward, commit for two months and so forth. This will motivate you to reach your target, but make sure to reward yourself when goals are achieved.

Make your workouts fun

There are so many ways you can make working out fun. If you hate running, join a Zumba class. It’s cardio but with a fun twist and it doesn’t involve using a treadmill! Look for new exercises you can do with the gym equipment. Another option could be to get a friend to join you at the gym. Exercising with a friend is incredibly motivating because you’ll be doing an activity with someone you like spending time with. Also, you’ll know your friend is counting on you to be at the gym, so you’ll feel more accountable.

Focus on the benefits

Exercise should never be viewed as a chore and you shouldn’t ever let failure cross your mind. Once you start thinking negatively, you’re going to start making excuses. Always focus on the benefits that working out can do for you in the long-run. A few of these benefits include less stress, better sleep, and improved overall health.

There’s no excuse not to keep fit, so we hope these tips help you stay motivated!

The best city breaks for families in Europe

Ready for a city break? With summer on the horizon there’s no better time to plan a trip to visit some of the best monuments, skylines and adventure parks Europe has to offer! You’re spoiled for choice at the number of family-friendly cities, all which have their own unique sights and sounds. If you can’t resist the hustle and bustle of city life, then check out our top picks:

Berlin

Berlin is home to a wealth of culture and history. If you’re looking for a place where your kids won’t get bored, Berlin has you covered. From the Berlin Wall, the National History Museum, to parks and the Berlin Zoo, there’s plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained. If they start complaining about long-walks through the city, you can take a boat road through the city centre. There’s also an Indoor Legoland and an outdoor waterpark, if you’re travelling in the summer.

Lisbon

Look no further than Lisbon for a great city break. With an endless supply of things to see, it has something for everyone. It’s an ancient city with architecture dating back to the fifteenth century, so if design if your thing, you will adore Lisbon! There’s also a wide range of great sights for children, like the Lisbon Zoo and the Oceanarium. If you want to stay in a beech resort, there’s a great selection to choose from.

Amsterdam

There’s plenty to draw families in Amsterdam! Visit the Vondelpark and splash in the water. It’s a fun place to take the kids and play in the open areas. There are also lots of museums to visit, such as the Vincent van Goth Museum and the Anne Frank Museum. You can experience the great canals of Amsterdam by a family boat tour, where you’ll be able to admire the stunning canal houses.

Benidorm

Benidorm is one of the most popular Mediterranean holiday destinations. It might be known for its lively nightlife, but there are lots of family-friendly activities. Take your kids to Aqualandia, a giant water park where your thrill-seeking teens will enjoy hurtling down the huge slides, while the younger ones can enjoy the splash park and the Laguna. It has two wide beaches and the city is also home to Terra Mitica, a theme park split into five lands!

We hope that these tips give you a sense of wanderlust! City breaks are an option all year round so whether it’s hot, cold, raining or snowing you’ll be sure to have a wonderful time. Now, time to try and dig out those passports!

The 6 best ways to get your child to love school

Every parent wants their child to love school. For some kids, this come naturally. Others are less enthusiastic and do their fair share of complaining about it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re a parent, use these tips to get your kids on track for an enjoyable school year!

Set up a reward system

To motivate your children to do well and enjoy school, set up a reward system. You don’t have to only reward good grades, but for progress too. If you celebrate a solid effort, your kids will feel happier when they’re at school. They are far more likely to grow into and enjoy school more over time with effort-based encouragement (as opposed to results-based). Depending on the age of your child, you could reward them by going out somewhere they’ll enjoy and letting them choose what to have for dinner, or what to watch on TV!

Encourage friendships

Let your kids know they are welcome to bring their friends home anytime. Ask about their friends and encourage your children to make new ones. Having a good network of friends can help kids look forward to going to school. Socialising is an important part of a child’s development, so be sure to encourage it.

Get them involved in school activities

One of the best ways to make school more fun is by getting your child to join an extracurricular activity. After school clubs and teams will give your child something to look forward to at the end of the day. They’re also a great way to ease any stress your child might have built up during the school day.

Show an interest

Always show an interest in your child’s school work. Ask about their favourite subjects to get the conversation about school going. Make sure the conversation is positive, as children are incredibly receptive to the tone of a conversation, especially with adults. Also, try to take an active role in helping with homework – yes, that includes maths!

Reinforce lessons

Always encourage your child to pursue their interests. If you find they have taken an interest in a subject, you should reinforce what they’ve learned. For example, if your child likes History, why not take them to a museum? Or, if they love science, buy your kids some science books so they can learn more.

Set the tone

Set a positive tone first thing in the morning. We all get cranky in the morning, but help your kids get ready for an enjoyable day by being super positive. Talk to your kids and get them excited about school, so they won’t dread heading off to the classroom. If you are happy and energetic, it will send your kids off to school with a smile!

5 foods to avoid before working out

What you eat before exercise can make or break your workout. Putting the wrong foods in your body can wreck your training! A lean physique comes from good cardio, a little weight training and the right kind of food. We all know that mustering up the strength to exercise is half the battle, but the real challenge is eating the right food. So below, we’ve listed the five foods you should definitely avoid at least two hours before you start exercising:

Salad

Water-based and certain raw vegetables are not the ideal fuel for a workout. While they are vital in our daily diet, they’re a no-no before exercise. Your stomach will spend a long time digesting these fibrous foods. This means you’ll feel full and they can cause cramps in the stomach once you start warming up.

Nuts

Although nuts contain protein, they are high in fat. The whole point of pre-workout food is to ‘prime’ the body for training. The food you eat must digest quickly to fuel your body for exercise. Fatty foods, like nuts aren’t easily broken down and sit in your stomach. This will doom your workout before it’s even started. Cut out all our fatty meals before a workout, even if they contain protein.

Chocolate

How badly do you want to get in shape? If you’re serious about exercise, stamp out chocolate and other sugary snacks. Too much sugar before working out is a bad idea. Blood sugar levels surge when you eat chocolate, causing a quick burst in energy levels. The rise in blood sugar also causes a release of insulin to shuttle the sugar out of your bloodstream. This can cause a crash in energy levels. Imagine the disaster if you’re mid-way through a run on the treadmill!

Wholegrain breads

Whole-grains are part of a healthy diet, but they’re not a good move when you’re about to work out. While they give you energy, they hold a lot of water and won’t digest easily. You can’t exercise at your best if you feel uncomfortable. Have some dried fruit instead for your energy boost. They’re light and easy-to-consume, enabling you to get the most out of your training session.

Dairy

Milk, cheese and yogurt can make you feel sleepy and sluggish. It can also increase your stomach’s acid content, which can lead to unwanted burping during exercise. Sure, a few burps won’t kill you, but you might also get a nasty acid reflux in your chest and throat. If you love cheese strings, save them for after the workout! The same goes for any milkshakes. They work best as nice treats post-exercise and you’ll get the benefit of the protein.

Best things to do over Easter Weekend

Easter weekend is nearly here! So, that means a short break for the whole family. Four days off is a lot of time to fill, but you won’t want to be stuck indoors all day when there are so many fun activities and events going on. Here’s our round-up of the best things to do this Easter.

The Passion of Jesus at Trafalgar Square

Every year, a full-scale performance of the final days of Jesus takes place in Trafalgar Square on Good Friday. It’s an epic show and the whole production is completely free. Better yet, no tickets are required. Huge crowds normally gather – the performance is also broadcasted on large screens. It’s an open-air spectacle that your whole family will surely love.

Whipsnade Zoo

Visiting Whipsnade Zoo is a wonderful way to spend the Easter holiday. It’s the largest zoo in the UK and it features over 2,500 animals. There’s so much to see that you could easily spend the entire day there. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to see the UK’s largest herd of Asian elephants or the African lions!

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt

Join the Cadbury Easter Egg hunt for the perfect day out! The egg hunt took place in Hare Hill, Cheshire last year and is set come back this Easter. It’s a self-guided hunt to find clues, solve puzzles and find those chocolate surprises. So, round up your family for a day of fun and exploration.

(Image source below)

Blue Planet Aquarium

Cheshire is home to Blue Planet Aquarium, which holds the title for the largest collection of sharks in the UK. It’s not every day you get to walk through an aquatic world, so why not check it out this Easter weekend? Although it’s usually very busy on weekends, you’ll still be able to get magnificent views of the underwater inhabitants. It also offers a ‘diving with shark’s experience’ for both adults and children. It’s a wonderful day out for all the family!

 

 

Image source: https://thecitylane.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Cadbury-Easter-Egg-Hunt-1.jpg

4 Best Ways to Stay Focused at Work

We all have those moments at work where we are hell bent on finishing a task, but we just can’t stay focused. All of us, at some points during the day, feel uninspired and fatigued. There are plenty of ways you can keep your focus levels up, ensuring you get your work done. Here are our top four tips to help you stay focused and productive while at your desk.

Plan ahead

Instead of going to work telling yourself that you just need to get through the day, make an action plan for the week. Write out a list of clear goals you want to complete before the weekend. This will keep your mind focused on the objectives, helping you to avoid distractions.

Prioritise challenging work

You should always split up work into individual tasks, but it’s important to start off with the tasks that demand the most concentration. If you tackle challenging tasks first thing in the morning, you’ll be more focused. It might mean more time, but completing a challenging piece of work is a weight of your shoulders. Then, you can move onto the easier tasks and treat it like a small reward for finishing the challenging work.

Set deadlines

To avoid wasting time and procrastinating, give yourself a deadline for each task. Even if there isn’t a formal deadline for your work, set a specific time for when you think you should get the task completed by. A deadline will motivate you to work harder and faster.

Exercise Daily

Exercise is a great stress relief and vital for mental fitness. To ensure focus and to reduce stress levels, get out and exercise as much as you can. Go for a walk on your lunch break to clear your mind. When you get home, do some quick stretches or go for a run to help get you geared up for the next day. People who exercise regularly sleep better and more sleep means better focus at work.

So, next time you catch yourself watching the minutes pass by on the clock in the office, try and utilise these tips and watch your productivity rocket off the charts – you’ve got this!

Seize the day: Top 10 workplace snacks

Healthy snacks on the job can keep you fuelled and focused. While a sugary drink or a cup of coffee can give you a sudden burst of energy, the buzz is often short lived. Selecting healthy snacks will keep your energy up during the afternoon slump. Whether you’re outside or stuck at a desk, these picks will satisfy your hunger and lift your spirits.

Nuts

High in protein and good fats, nuts are a great mid-afternoon snack and an ideal way to fight off the sluggish feeling towards the end of your work day. Mixed nuts are always a good option, like a handful of almonds and cashews. They’ll give you some key nutrients also, as nuts are naturally high in vitamin E. For more flavour, you could roast your nuts before bringing them to work. However, definitely check that your co-workers don’t have allergies!

Taste Inc. chicken

Taste Inc. chicken is low in fat, but high in protein. It’s super convenient because it’s ready-made, so it’s an ideal snack for people who love big flavours but are short on time. Work outside? Open a pack anytime you’re feeling peckish – it’s dirty hands free snacking at it’s finest! They’re tasty, healthy and ready to eat. We promise we’re not trying to blow our own trumpet!

Fresh fruit

If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth without eating unhealthily, fresh fruit is the best option. Its natural sugars will give you an energy boost and you’ll be contributing to your 5-a-day. Also, fresh fruits such as oranges, grapes and berries can make you feel refreshed, due to their hydration effect.

Granola bars

Granola bars are the ideal grab-and-go snack in the morning if you don’t have time to make breakfast. But they’re also the perfect snack to eat at work. Brands like Nature Value are low in sugar and are made from natural whole grain oats. There are a lot of snack bars that are quite unhealthy, so it’s important to look at the ingredients. For your piece of mind, you could make your own homemade granola bars and there are dozens of recipes.

Cereal

Dieters can benefit from eating cereal at work because they are low in calories. However, they are an excellent afternoon snack in general as cereals like bran flakes are low glycaemic index foods. This means they release glucose (which is where the body gets its energy from) at a slower rate, so you’ll have more mental focus and sustained energy.

Yogurt

From weight management to keeping your digestive system in check, yogurt has a number of benefits for your health. It’s also a great snack to start the day with at work. It gives you a big dose of protein and of course, calcium. The best thing about yogurts is they’re inexpensive, light on the stomach and can be eaten anytime, anywhere.

Olives

A jar or can of olives in the workplace isn’t a typical snack, but it’s something you should consider due to their amazing health benefits. Olives have all the same minerals and vitamins that you get from fruit. Also, they contain natural sugars for that all-important energy boost.

Rice cakes

Rice cakes are a versatile option for a quality snack because they come in different flavours and are low in calories. They are light, crunchy and taste great. You can also mix and match them with other snacks for extra flavour.

Hard-boiled egg

You can’t go wrong with a hard-boiled egg. It’s an excellent protein source. Just ask the bodybuilders in the gym and they will tell you! It will also clench your hunger and keep your blood sugars stable. They’re a great choice for a balanced diet. As it takes as little as ten minutes to boil an egg, it makes an easy and quick snack. Remember, eat it in the office kitchen as it gives out quite a strong smell. Your co-workers won’t appreciate the whiff of an egg floating around, especially your boss!

Kale chips

Crunchy kale crisps are quick and easy to make. All you do is bake some chopped kale with a small amount of oil until crispy. They have some great health benefits too. They’re a reliable source of Vitamin K and are packed with antioxidants. But remember, when you take them to work, be nice and share with your colleagues!

Health eating is a breeze when you know which food to eat. When you’re hungry at work and don’t have much time, make sure you have one of these snacks to hand to maintain a healthy diet. Remember, balance is key so mix it up: think Taste Inc. Tuesdays meets fresh fruit Fridays!

10 Hacks for Switching Off and Unwinding

Sometimes it can be tricky to push the pause button and reboot after work. Today’s digitally-driven society has us moving at a crushing speed and it can lead to problems unwinding in the evening. So, below we’ve listed 10 simple ways to relax. It’s up to you to implement these as best you can.

Shut down all electronic devices

Make it a habit to turn off all electronic devices at a certain time every night, including the TV. The bright light of phones, tablets and television can make you feel revved up, so it can also impact the quality of your sleep. Spend time with your family instead of staring into screens in the evening. Unplug to unwind.

Light Exercise

Believe it or not, exercise is great for unwinding after a long day. Go for a jog and you’ll notice how much it relieves stress. This is because exercise triggers the brain to release feel-good hormones called endorphins. Just make sure you keep the exercise light as you won’t want to come home feeling drained.

Read

Delve into a good book or a magazine in the evening. Reading is a great way to relax your mind and it has been shown to aid sleep. Always pick an easy-going book, or a magazine you’re interested in. Even if you only read for half an hour, you’ll be soothing your mind with a light-hearted story.

Listen to music

Get lost in some music for a relaxing evening. Much like reading, it can elevate your mind and reduce the stress you feel. It can quiet down your thoughts and help you completely switch off.

Night-time Walk

Clear your head by going for a brisk walk. It doesn’t need to be a long trek, but simply exploring your local area and looking at things around you can help you unwind. When you arrive home, you’ll feel more at ease and be able to settle down. Combine with a chilled-out playlist of some of your favourite tunes for maximum effect.

Hang out with friends

Interacting with others boosts your overall sense of well-being. Having an active social life comes with a huge range of benefits, including releasing the tension you might be feeling. Arrange to meet your friends after work on a regular basis so you can enjoy some easy-going conversation and laughs.

Whip up a meal

Cooking can be a soothing therapy because it encourages creativity. You might be thinking, ‘what about the stress of meal planning?’, the key is to try and relax and enjoy the process of cooking and the food itself. You’ll be satisfied once you’ve cooked the meal.

Spend time with your pets

If you have pets, there’s no better time to shower them with attention than after work. Research has shown that interacting with animals can decrease stress in humans. Petting and stroking a four-legged friend can calm you down.

Write

Keep a diary or journal. It’s a brilliant way to free up your thoughts and spur your creativity levels. You can write about anything as long it relaxes you. The best thing about it is that it’s a productive activity that doesn’t involve any electronic screens. Why not combine with cooking and create a recipe/food journal with notes, recipes, meal plans, cut-outs.

Spend time with your partner

Whether it’s dinner for two or simply a night-in enjoying each other’s company, spending time with your partner is a great way to unwind. You can talk about each other’s day and share any problems, which allows you to check in and get you both on the same page.

How to stay fit when you’re super busy

Wouldn’t it be great if you always had spare time for fitness? When life throws at you work, family duties and social commitments, 24 hours a day doesn’t seem like nearly enough to fit in exercise. But you can’t afford to shrug it off! Stop stressing, keep calm and follow these four tips to keep fit during your hectic schedule.

Follow a save-time workout plan

Get fit fast with a save-time workout plan! If you have the discipline, you can make your workouts super-efficient. Your sweat sessions don’t have to take up several hours of the day, as there are many ways you can save time. For example, do a thirty-minute, high intensity workout at the gym. This will help you build fitness while spending less time exercising. You could also try HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts, which can be done anywhere. The best part: you don’t need any equipment. The training is fun, challenging and ideal for a busy schedule.

Morning exercise

Working out in the morning can get your body out of snooze mode. It also means you’ll be able to keep fit before the kids get out of bed. You don’t have to start the day with a vigorous workout – instead opt for calmer exercises, whether at home or at the gym. You can do leg lifts, squats, and any other gentle movements that yield effective results. By the end, you’ll feel energised and ready for the day!

Squeeze in a lunch break workout

If you don’t want to exercise after work, on the weekends or in the mornings, you’re left with lunch break workouts. You can squeeze in a good, effective workout on your break if you plan ahead! Whether you take a thirty-minute spin class or go for a short run, figure out how much you time you have and prepare accordingly. Make your healthy choices a life-long habit.

Drink lots of water

We’ve heard it all before, but many people forget to drink when they are busy. Always keep a bottle of water at hand and drink lots when you wake up in morning. Even when you’re not working out, just fuelling up on water can aid in your overall fitness and health. Water lubricates your muscles and gives you more energy, making you feel better and more alert.

Always make the effort to keep up a healthy lifestyle. Also, don’t forget to eat the right food. Grab a pack a Taste Inc. chicken to increase your protein intake. Combine Taste Inc. with other food to replenish energy and build muscle – a simple salad, a healthy pitta, the possibilities are endless. Find our snacks at your local Morrisons, Tesco, Asda and Ocado.

ZZZ: Superfoods for a good night’s sleep

Nothing is more annoying than not being able to sleep. There are so many ways that supposedly promise a good night’s sleep, such as turning off digital screens and keeping your room at the right temperature. But, you may be surprised to know, there several foods that naturally make you sleepy. Here are our top choices to help you get a quality night’s sleep.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes contain magnesium and potassium, which will help the body relax. The potassium calms the body by lowering the blood pressure while magnesium reduces stress hormones. So, they’re an ideal food to help you drift off and plus they taste great.

Almonds

Grab a small handful of almond before bed to help you fall asleep faster. They have key nutrients that can help improve your sleep. They contain niacin, an organic acid that can reduce anxiety and stress, leading to a better night’s sleep. Also, they’re full of magnesium, so almonds pack quite the punch for a good night’s rest.

Tuna

Tuna is a major source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help regulate the sleep cycle. So why not have a tuna dish before dinner? You could try tuna and rice salad or a tuna melt meal. Tuna never requires a huge amount of prep work and both fresh tuna and canned tuna will give your body the key vitamins for improved sleep.

Kale

Leafy vegetables like kale have plenty of benefits besides helping you sleep. They are loaded with essential minerals, fibre and protein. But, it’s the calcium that relaxes your body, as it helps the brain produce the sleep hormone, melatonin. The best thing about kale is that they can be blended into smoothies and juices. It’s a very versatile ingredient that can be mixed with various kinds of food. So, consider adding kale to your dinner to help you sleep.

Cheese and crackers

Anything containing calcium is an ideal bedtime snack. So, crackers topped with cheese may give you a longer snooze time. Also, cheese is a reliable source of protein, which also helps to create tryptophan that causes sleepiness. Don’t worry, you won’t have any bad dreams – the idea that cheese gives you nightmares is a myth!

Rice

Try having a bowl of rice before you go to sleep. The effect is that it brings on shut-eye faster. Rice has a high glycaemic index and research has shown that it can half the time to sleep onset. A large amount of insulin is released after a high glycaemic meal, which can make you feel tired. The best time to eat rice for better sleep would be around 4 hours before bed, ensuring you’re soothed and relaxed.

Kiwi

Serotonin is another important chemical for sleep regulation and there is a high amount of it in kiwi fruit. Research has shown its antioxidants can also help control sleep patterns. In addition to better sleep, kiwi will give you lots of Vitamin C! It’s also high in the hormone serotonin, which is critical in sleep, as it helps to maintain sleep during the night.