How to stay fit and stay fresh for the Summer

Some references from Health.com

authors note:

Hi Breathe Blog subscribers! Thank you for your patience on awaiting a new blog while I navigate my way through motherhood. I have a now two-month old son who has been taking up all of my attention. I am so grateful and happy to be experiencing this new season of life. It is the most rewarding and exhausting thing I have ever experienced. But now that we’ve gotten a little bit more of a routine down, I thought I would post a new blog and get back into it.

let’s celebrate the end of the pandemic, while staying fit & fresh

It’s easy to let go of your fitness regime during those Summer months while you’re enjoying the sun in your backyard & sipping your favourite Summer drink.

Especially with the pandemic coming to an end, it’s easy to give into the temptation of fine dining, indulging in food festivals, having more than your fair share of celebratory drinks.

So while you are basking in your rejuvenated social life, here are some tools to help you stay fit and fresh for the Summer.

workout outside!

Whether its a hike at your local trail or mountain, a workout at your favourite local beach, or a simple full body blast in your backyard or the park across the street. When you are out and about running errands, park your car at the back of the parking lot and get those steps in. Instead of 10,000 steps on your fitness app, set it to 15,000. Give yourself motivation…get outside to workout!

hydrate

Following the age-old advice to drink plenty of water does help you feel lighter, especially in warm weather. In the hot summer, your body tends to get dehydrated, so it holds on to fluids, which can make you feel bloated. Though it sounds counterintuitive, this means you need to sip throughout the day to maintain the right balance

Keep it small

Ordering your favourite drink from Starbucks? Or maybe even heading to the drive-through of your local fast food joint. Keep it small and avoid ordering the larger portion sizes. This way you get to eat your favourite foods without the guilt, regret, and over-full tummy. Everything in moderation is the healthy way to go. You don’t want to deprive yourself of the things that bring you joy in life.

Mindfulness

What is mindfulness? A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. Take some time out of your day to practice mindfulness. Check out this post about Breathing Exercises to help practice mindfulness

Did you realize you can also channel mindfulness during your workouts? Consciously tune in to your body position while you exercise, especially during strength training. Ask yourself, ‘Where am I feeling this? Am I really present doing this exercise right now?

Get your zzz’s

Getting a good amount of sleep helps with weight control. Research has shown that sleep deprivation can create an imbalance of hunger hormones and increase appetite. When we are shortchanging ourselves in terms of our sleep—school, travel, working multiple jobs, staying up watching Netflix— our brain enters into a sleep deficit. The brain has limited options for promoting wakefulness when it is truly sleep-deprived, and eating is one. To make sure you’re getting enough rest even when your summer schedule becomes erratic, set an alarm for as close to the same time as possible every day, detach from screens at least an hour before bedtime, and expose yourself to natural light right when you rise.

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Interested in more blog posts about mindfulness & reducing stress? Check out “10 affirmations to keep your momentum going” and “10 breathing exercises to help reduce stress”

How to stretch your tight hips!

Resources from healthline.com

Many people have tight hips, from people who spend several hours a day sitting to regular gym-goers and professional athletes. Some people are more prone to tightness in that area of their body, too. Tight hips may put you at increased risk for injury due to the increased demands on tissues that aren’t moving properly.

Read on to learn more about tight hips and what you can do to relax these muscles.

1. Foam roller stretch

You can use a foam roller to loosen up tight hips.

  1. Lie face down, with your foam roller beneath and slightly below your right hip.
  2. Place your left leg to the side with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Rest your forearms on the ground in front of you to take some of your body weight off of your hip. This will make the stretch less painful.
  4. Stretch your right leg straight out behind you, with your toes pointed backward and the front of your foot flat against the ground
  5. Slowly move backward and forward over the foam roller.
  6. For an extra stretch, add some side-to-side movement as you roll.
  7. Continue for up to 30 seconds. As you roll, identify any trigger points, or points that feel extra tight or painful. You can focus on those areas for about 10 seconds to relieve some of the tightness.
  8. Repeating with your left hip.

2. Kneeling hip flexor stretch

You can do this stretch daily to help loosen your hip flexor.

  1. Kneel on your right knee.
  2. Put your left foot on the floor with your left knee at a 90-degree angle
  3. Drive your hip forward. Maintaining a straight back, lean your torso forward.
  4. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat 2 to 5 times with each leg, trying to increase your stretch each time.

3. Pigeon stretch

This stretch is commonly seen in yoga practices. It can be used daily to improve mobility in your hip flexor.

  1. Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  2. Bring your right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist.
  3. Place your right ankle in front of your left hip.
  4. Straighten your left leg behind you, making sure your left knee is straight and your toes are pointed.
  5. Keep your hips square.
  6. Gently lower yourself to the ground.
  7. Stay in this position for up to 10 seconds.
  8. Release the position by pushing on your hands, lifting your hips, and moving the legs back into your starting position on all fours.
  9. Repeat on the other side.

4. Spiderman stretch

The spiderman stretch can help warm up your body before a workout, or it can be used on its own or alongside other hip flexor stretches.

  1. Begin in the push-up position.
  2. Step forward with the left foot, bringing it to the outside of your left hand.
  3. Stretch the hips forward.
  4. Hold this position for two seconds, then return to start.
  5. Repeat five times to complete one rep.
  6. Repeat with the right leg.
  7. Perform three reps with each leg.

5. Butterfly stretch

This is a great stretch to practice after a workout or if you need a break from sitting in a chair.

  1. Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Bring the soles of your feet together, and then move your heels as close to your body as you can.
  3. Lean forward with a straight back.
  4. Push on your thighs with your elbows for a deeper stretch.
  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

6. Horizontal squat stretch

This stretch can also help loosen your back muscles.

  1. Begin with your elbows and knees on the floor, and your knees bent at 90 degrees.
  2. Walk your knees as far apart as you can and lengthen the spine.
  3. Lower your upper body onto your forearms as you draw your hips back and down.
  4. Hold for up to 60 seconds.

7. Sitting stretch

This is a great stretch to try at your desk if you work in an office. You can also do this one while watching television or riding in a car or on an airplane.

  1. Sit on a chair with your back straight.
  2. Place your right ankle on your left knee.
  3. Fold your torso forward until you feel a gentle stretch.
  4. Hold for up to 60 seconds.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

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Interested in more blog posts about stretching? Check out “How to Improve your Posture” and “10 Stretches to Help Keep your Body Healthy”

Tips for working-out at home

Referenced from Chantel Nowak

Feeling stuck at home because of Covid-19? Or maybe you aren’t comfortable with going to a gym or a fitness class right now. Working out at home can be a great alternative to hitting the gym. It’s pretty ideal, in fact.

10 reasons working out at home is awesome

  1. Your bathroom and kitchen are nearby – no waiting and no need for shower shoes.
     
  2. You don’t have to lock up your valuables while you’re working out.
     
  3. There’s nobody around to make you feel self-conscious about how you look or how fit you are.
     
  4. You don’t have to worry about parking.
     
  5. You don’t have to take off your clothes in front of strangers.
     
  6. No need to rush to fill up your water bottle before your class starts.
     
  7. You don’t need to pack a gym bag and remember to pick it up on your way out the door for work.
     
  8. You can hide out from too-hot, too-cold or too-rainy weather.
     
  9. You get to pick the playlist.
     
  10. It’s free – or close to it.

There are a ton of simple ways to get moving at home. Here are some tips and tricks to help you find a home workout, stick to it and get the best results:

1. Choose your at-home workout space

Designate a corner in your home as your workout spot. You really only need a space the size of a yoga mat to have a bunch of options for an effective and efficient workout.

It’s best to not exercise in the same place you watch TV or eat. This will help you focus and stay committed to your workout.

2. Put on your gym clothes

Dress like you’re actually going to the gym. You’ll feel more like exercising when you’re wearing athletic clothes.

You might also find it helpful to put on your running shoes and do 15 minutes of house- or yard-work. It’s a great way to warm up and get a little extra energy before beginning your workout.

You may also want to invest in good, supportive running shoes. Taking care of your feet is extremely important. So do some research into what type of shoe you need to wear for your workout.

3. Don’t worry about gym equipment

You likely don’t need that much equipment, if any at all. But if you would really like to use weights, here are some options:

If you do have basic equipment such as hand weights and a mat, you have numerous options. If you’re going to use weights, it’s a good idea to have two different sets so you can customize your workout.

If you don’t have hand weights and you want to add extra resistance, try soup cans or water bottles. Some other equipment you might find beneficial include resistance bands or a foam roller. They can help you to stretch your muscles before a workout and pamper them afterwards.

4. Use your devices to get new workouts

Don’t think you can make up your own circuits? That’s okay. There are lots of routines out there, especially through apps, and many are free.

Try Fitplan: Gym & Home WorkoutsGetFit: Home Workout & Fitness, or the Tone It Up app. They feature programs that guide you through daily workouts that you can do any place, any time – including at home. Most are free. Others have a free trial so you can see if you like them before committing to paying for them.

If you have a smart speaker, you can also use it to guide you through a home workout. Alexa can pull up five-minute workouts for you if you want to get in a blast of exercise in a short amount of time.

You can also try creating an energizing and free playlist on Spotify. Choose songs that pump you up, and occasionally swap out your playlist to keep things interesting.

5. Set realistic fitness goals

Start slowly, trust your strength and treat your body well. You don’t have to jump into it full-speed. Instead, commit to what you think is reasonable for your body and schedule what you can manage each week. Maybe three days a week will work to start. As you become more comfortable, start doing more.

Have you been at home or working from home due to the recent COVID-19 situation? Then you might want to consider other ways to stay active when you’re at from home. Try recording your times and reps and challenge yourself to improve them.

Do your best not to make excuses. Make exercise part of your daily routine and schedule a workout time that works for you, whether you’re a morning or night-time person. Make it your own and do something you enjoy, and you should start to feel and see results.

Equipment-free workout you can do at home

Your home workout doesn’t need to be super-fancy or complicated. Here is an equipment free work-out example:

  • Warm up by walking up and down the stairs for five minutes.
  • Hold a plank for 20-60 seconds (modifications: lean on your knees, forearms or hands – whichever feels best for you).
  • Push-ups: 10-15 repetitions (modifications: from your knees)
  • Squats: 10-15 repetitions

Rest for 30-40 seconds between sets and repeat. The number of sets you do will depend on your current fitness level. Last, cool down by walking on the spot and slowly stretch out your muscles.

Exercise is a great stress-reducer. It’s so important to make time for exercise. Unplug and just do it!

Home workouts are entirely customizable, time-efficient and cheap. Commit to the time and trust the process, and you’ll be on your way to living a healthier life.

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How to improve your posture

Resources from girlslivingwell.com

You can improve your posture at any age, but the sooner the better. The longer you wait with aiding your posture, the more damage you can put on your body. The best way to improve it is to start taking measures in your daily life and be conscious of wanting to improve. The good news is that changing posture is very much possible.

Here are some tips & tricks to help improve your posture!

1. Get in the right mindset and recruit a friend
  • Being aware of wanting to make a change is a great first step in improving your posture. Make a plan of what steps you are going to take and give yourself a pep talk. Be kind to yourself and keep up the motivation. It takes up to 5 weeks to make new actions habits and so create a timeline and keep it. Can also recommend recruiting a friend for accountability and motivation.
2. Focus on not slouching
  • Just focusing on not slouching is another great way to improve your posture. Make reminders on your phone or post-its in your house and it will go a long way in helping you stand and sit straighter.
3. Look up more
  • Day after day of looking down is bad for your posture. The head is tilted, and stress is put on the muscles and joints of the neck. This stress alongside straining the eyes can cause headaches and prolonged poor posture will eventually lead to degeneration and poor posture. Holding your phone straight in front of your face (as if you were taking a photo) and lifting your PC screen will help your posture.
4. The right fit bra and comfortable clothing.
  • Having the wrong bra can impact your posture as it can inhibit a muscle called serratus anterior and this muscle needs to be strong to give you a good posture. When this muscle gets weak it will cause shoulders to roll forward and cause your shoulder blades to wing and your back to slouch. The best is to wear a bra that has no wires or the very least wear one that is the correct size and not too tight.
5. Stretch
  •  Make sure to incorporate a stretching routine for the neck and back. Stretching these muscles will help muscles get relief, decrease tension, and help your posture. As little as 5 minutes can do wonders and a good way to incorporate stretching is to do it while watching TV.

Keep reading for 4 quick stretches that will help you get there!

Child’s pose

This resting pose stretches and lengthens your spine, glutes, and hamstrings. The child’s pose helps to release tension in your lower back and neck.

To do this:

  1. Sit on your shinbones with your knees together, your big toes touching, and your heels splayed out to the side.
  2. Fold forward at your hips and walk your hands out in front of you.
  3. Sink your hips back down toward your feet. If your thighs won’t go all the way down, place a pillow or folded blanket under them for support.
  4. Gently place your forehead on the floor or turn your head to one side.
  5. Keep your arms extended or rest them along your body.
  6. Breathe deeply into the back of your rib cage and waist.
  7. Relax in this pose for up to 5 minutes while continuing to breathe deeply

Forward Fold

This standing stretch releases tension in your spine, hamstrings, and glutes. It also stretches your hips and legs. While doing this stretch, you should feel the entire back side of your body opening up and lengthening.

To do this:

  1. Stand with your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart.
  2. Bring your hands to your hips and fold forward at your hips.
  3. Release your hands toward the floor or place them on a block. Don’t worry if your hands don’t touch the ground — just go as far as you can.
  4. Bend your knees slightly, soften your hips joints, and allow your spine to lengthen.
  5. Tuck your chin into your chest and allow your head to fall heavy to the floor.
  6. Remain in this pose for up to 1 minute.

Downward Facing Dog

This is a forward bend that can be used as a resting pose to balance out your body. The downward-facing dog pose helps to relieve back pain, while also strengthening and aligning your back muscles. Practicing it regularly helps to improve posture.

To do this:

  1. Lying with your stomach on the floor, press into your hands as you tuck your toes under your feet and lift your heels.
  2. Lift your knees and hips to bring your sitting bones up toward the ceiling.
  3. Bend your knees slightly and lengthen your spine.
  4. Keep your ears in line with your upper arms or tuck your chin all the way into your chest.
  5. Press firmly into your hands and keep your heels slightly lifted.
  6. Remain in this pose for up to 1 minute.

Pigeon Pose

This is a hip opener that also loosens up your spine, hamstrings, and glutes. The pigeon pose can also help to stretch your sciatic nerve and quadriceps. Opening and stretching these places in your body makes it easier to correct imbalances in your posture.

To do this:

  1. Come down on all fours with your knees below your hips and your hands a little bit in front of your shoulders.
  2. Bend your right knee and place it behind your right wrist with your right foot angled out to the left.
  3. Rest the outside of your right shin on the floor.
  4. Slide your left leg back, straighten your knee, and rest your thigh on the floor.
  5. Make sure your left leg extends straight back (and not to the side).
  6. Slowly lower your torso down to rest on your inner right thigh with your arms extended in front of you.
  7. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  8. Slowly release the position by walking your hands back toward your hips and lifting your torso.
  9. Repeat on the left side.

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How to protect your skin in 2021

Resources from Byrdie.com

We have all had to adjust the last few months to a different way of life in many ways. Let’s take a self-care approach that can help us feel a little more comfortable in our own skin. Wearing a mask can be inconvenient in a number of ways and let’s be honest, our skin has suffered from this new-found way of life – so here are some tips and tricks to help prevent that dreaded “Maskne” in 2021.

6 natural remedies for skin-care that actually work


1. Baking Soda

“Technically baking soda and water soften blackheads and any clogged pores in the skin. It’s best for congested skin,” says Vargas. She recommends a DIY baking soda mask

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

“It’s the best astringent in nature because it helps to balance the skin’s pH, making you both less oily and less dry,” says Grigore. She warns that apple cider vinegar is very pungent and that you must always dilute it before using. “I recommend using a mixture of one part vinegar to four parts water. Apply to your face with cotton or a spritzer. No need to wash it off,” she says. 

3. Turmeric

According to Holecek, turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. She recommends it in gentle, exfoliating bases like chickpea flour, oat powders, or kaolin clay.

  • Turmeric powder is made from the root of Curcuma zedoaria, a form of ginger native to Southeast Asia. Its active ingredient, curcumin, is what gives it that yellow-orange tinge; it’s also what makes it such a potent anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is also found to lighten hyperpigmentation.

4. Honey

Holecek says honey is a soothing remedy for those pesky acne scars. For a DIY facial, she suggests mixing honey, aloe vera, one teaspoon of chickpea flour, and a pinch of turmeric to make a paste. Spread the paste on your face. Once you rinse off with cool water, use an ice cube on the skin for 30 seconds to treat a congested face.

5. Fine-Grain Salt

“Fine-grain salt cleans deeply, removes dead skin cells, balances moisture, and pulls toxins from pores, making it especially great for preventing acne or quick treatments during flare-ups on the face and body,” Grigore says. “The simplest way to use sea salt is to wet your face or body, put some salt on your wet hand so it sticks, then pat it gently onto your skin. You can leave it for a few minutes or rinse immediately. Just make sure not to scrub too hard—it is too abrasive by itself.”

6. Tea Tree Oil

According to Grigore, tea tree oil is known as a “miracle antiseptic.” 

“It’s renowned for its antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties, making it an easy and effective spot treatment,” she says. She suggests diluting tea tree oil in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil or organic jojoba oil and applying it directly on a zit. 

8 tips to protect your skin while wearing a face mask


  • Choose a mask made with two layers of breathable material, such as cotton.
  • Wash your mask regularly, ideally washing it after each time you wear the mask. Avoid wearing makeup. If you wish to wear makeup, use a mineral makeup.
  • Wash your skin with a gentle cleanser and apply a moisturizer twice a day.
  • If you are experiencing dry patches of skin, apply a thin amount of a barrier repair cream to the area affected.
  • Avoid products that will not clog your pores. Look for, non-comedogenic products, which means it will not clog your pores
  • If you are experiencing breakouts, spot treat the area with a benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid product.
  • Give yourself weekly at-home facials with the natural skin-care remedies above!

self-care is not selfish

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10 stretches to keep your body healthy

Resources from self.com By Amy Marturana

Why stretching is important

Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.

As a NASM certified Personal Trainer with specializations in Integrated and Neuromuscular flexibility, these are some of the most beneficial stretches to ensure your body is maintaining it’s mobility & flexibility throughout the day.

here are 10 stretches to help keep your body healthy

This image may contain Fitness Sport Sports Exercise Working Out Human Person and Yoga

Standing Hamstring Stretch

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, arms by your sides.
  • Exhale as you bend forward at the hips, lowering your head toward floor, while keeping your head, neck and shoulders relaxed.
  • Wrap your arms around backs of your legs and hold anywhere from 45 seconds to two minutes.

Image may contain Human Person Exercise Sport Sports Working Out Fitness and Female

Lunge with spinal twist

  • Start standing with your feet together.
  • Take a big step forward with your left foot, so that you are in a staggered stance.
  • Bend your left knee and drop into a lunge, keeping your right leg straight behind you with your toes on the ground, so you feel a stretch at the front of your right thigh.
  • Place your right hand on the floor and twist your upper body to the left as you extend your left arm toward the ceiling.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Lunging hip flexor stretch

  • Kneel on your left knee. Place your right foot flat on the floor in front of you, knee bent.
  • Lean forward, stretching your left hip toward the floor.
  • Squeeze your butt; this will allow you to stretch your hip flexor even more.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Side bend stretch

  • Kneel on the floor with your legs together, back straight, and core tight.
  • Extend your left leg out to the side. Keep it perpendicular to your body (not in front or behind you).
  • Extend your right arm overhead, rest your left arm on your left leg, and gently bend your torso and right arm to the left side.
  • Keep your hips facing forward.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Frog stretch

  • Start on all fours.
  • Slide your knees wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Turn your toes out and rest the inner edges of your feet flat on the floor.
  • Shift your hips back toward your heels.
  • Move from your hands to your forearms to get a deeper stretch, if possible.
  • Hold for for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Figure four stretch

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Cross your left foot over your right quad.
  • Lift your right leg off the floor. Grab onto the back of your right leg and gently pull it toward your chest.
  • When you feel a comfortable stretch, hold there.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Lying pectoral stretch

  • Lie on your stomach with both arms extended to the sides so your body is in a T shape.
  • Push off the ground with your left hand and bend your left knee for balance as you start to roll to your right side. You should feel this in your right-side pectoral muscles.
  • As your mobility increases, you’ll be able to stretch further and roll your body further.
  • Repeat on the other side.

seated neck release

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, or sit down with your back straight and chest lifted.
  • Drop your left ear to your left shoulder.
  • To deepen the stretch, gently press down on your head with your left hand.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

extended puppy pose

  • Start on all fours.
  • Walk your arms forward a few inches and curl your toes under.
  • Push your hips up and back halfway toward your heels.
  • Push through the palms of your hands to keep your arms straight and engaged.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

lying quad stretch

  • Lie on one side.
  • Keep your bottom leg straight and bend your top knee so your foot is by your butt.
  • Hold your top foot with your hand, pulling it toward your butt.
  • Keep your hips stable so you’re not rocking back as you pull.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

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Focus. Grind. Grow and Glow

Resources & Inspiration for Fitness & Personal Growth

What’s the Difference Between Coaching and Therapy?

This article is written by Stephan Wiedner, co-founder and “Head Coach” at www.Noomii.com

A common misconception is that coaching is the same as therapy, when in fact they are quite different. Therapy is intended to help people recover from emotional or other psychological disorders such as depression or anxiety. Coaching, on the other hand, is intended to help normal, healthy individuals achieve personal goals such as increased happiness, weight loss, improved work-life balance. etc.

The table below shows a quick side-by-side comparison of coaching vs. therapy:

Coaching
Therapy
Client is emotionally and psychologically healthyClient is emotionally unwell and needs healing
Focuses on the present and futureFocuses on dealing with the past
Driven by goals and taking actionDriven by unresolved issues and feelings
Works toward a higher level of functioningWorks to achieve understanding and emotional healing
Results-based and focuses on exploring solutionsExplores the root of problems and offers explanation
Asks, “Where would you like to be and how can you get there?”Asks, “How did that make you feel?”
Acts on informationAbsorbs information
Done over the phone, internet or in personDone in an office setting
Coach and client collaborate on solutionsTherapist is the ‘expert’
Contact between sessions expected (accountability and wins)Contact between sessions for crisis and difficulties only

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