New Year Shake-Up

As we usher in the new year, it is time to kick our bad habits, de­clut­ter and em­brace our true po­ten­tial

Women's Weekly (Malaysia) - - INSPIRE -

YOUR HEALTH En­cour­age Bac­te­ria

Strug­gling to lose those ex­tra pounds? Your gut bac­te­ria – or lack of it – could be to blame. Hav­ing a diver­sity of “good” bac­te­ria not only im­proves di­ges­tion, it can also help to re­duce food crav­ings – and weight – ac­cord­ing to The British Jour­nal Of Nutri­tion. Nu­tri­tion­ist Rob Hob­son ad­vises: “Eat foods such as pro­bi­otic yo­ghurt, onions, gar­lic, Jerusalem ar­ti­chokes and as­para­gus.”

Fo­cus On Why

“If you want to lose weight, fo­cus on why,” says psy­chol­o­gist Dr Aria. “Is it to be health­ier, more con­fi­dent or en­er­gised? Your goal must be mean­ing­ful to you – not just to please some­one else.”

Try Some­thing New

Re­assess your cur­rent fit­ness rou­tine. Does your work­out match your fit­ness goals and bring you joy? Do you look for­ward to the next work­out and still feel chal­lenged? If the an­swer is no, it may be time to add a new move, try a new class or start from scratch an ex­cit­ing reg­i­men that mo­ti­vates you to get mov­ing.

Sched­ule A Blood Test

We get re­minders for rou­tine tests such as mam­mo­grams, cer­vi­cal smears, eye and den­tal checks, but do not for­get about blood pres­sure, choles­terol and blood glu­cose tests as well.

“These check for heart dis­ease and di­a­betes risk fac­tors that in­crease with age and usu­ally do not cause symp­toms, so even if you feel well, have them at least ev­ery two to three years,” ad­vises GP Dr Sarah Brewer.

Re­fresh Your First-Aid Kit

Phar­ma­cist Sul­tan Da­jani ad­vises check­ing the dates on medicines: “Out-of-date eye drops can cause in­fec­tions, cough mix­tures can lead to stom­ach up­sets, and tablets may stop work­ing,” he says. “Keep them in a dry, air­tight place out of reach of chil­dren – never in the bath­room or kitchen as hu­mid­ity will dam­age them.”

Re­v­erse Age­ing

“In­cor­po­rate high-in­ten­sity ex­er­cise into your work­out,” rec­om­mends Dr Aria. “Do­ing so in 30-sec­ond bursts can boost the abil­ity of cells to pro­duce en­ergy by 50 to 70 per cent – a process that nat­u­rally de­clines with age.”

Check Your Skin

Keep­ing an eye on any skin changes like new moles or old moles that have changed is es­sen­tial – and eas­ily done with apps. Sk­inVi­sion (sk­invi­

lets you take a photo of the spot, get a risk as­sess­ment, then store pho­tos and re­minders so you can track any changes. If you are wor­ried about a mole and do not have the time to get to your GP, try the Firstcheck app ( The app lets you sub­mit pho­tos of your skin con­cern to a reg­is­tered skin spe­cial­ist and they will get back to you within 72 hours.

YOUR HOME Tackle Clut­ter

If the mess is get­ting out of con­trol, set aside a day or so and di­vide ev­ery­thing into cat­e­gories such as pa­per­work, clothes, books and sen­ti­men­tal items, sug­gests home or­gan­iser Kate Ib­bot­son.

“With each item, ask your­self: ‘Does this add value to my life? Is it use­ful or beau­ti­ful?’ Di­vide them into piles ac­cord­ing to whether you are go­ing to keep it, re­cy­cle it, give it to the char­ity shop, re­pair or re­pur­pose it.”

Em­brace Colour

Use colour to en­hance the look and feel of your home, sug­gests jour­nal­ist, blog­ger and colour en­thu­si­ast Martha Roberts (the­colour­

“Colour can make a huge dif­fer­ence in how we feel. Choose colours that you love. If you are ner­vous about com­mit­ting to lots of colour, start with neu­tral walls and group­ing of colour­ful ob­jects.”

Or­gan­ise Your Food

“Go through your re­frig­er­a­tor, freezer and kitchen cup­boards, throw­ing out any­thing off or out-of-date. Put the most nu­tri­tious foods at the front and the less healthy foods out of sight. In one study, peo­ple ate 80 per cent fewer choco­lates when they were stored in opaque bowls com­pared with clear ones,” says Dr Aria.

Be Smart About Stor­age

Colour can make a huge di er­ence in how we feel

“Choose fur­ni­ture that has a stor­age func­tion such as ot­tomans with com­part­ments or a cof­fee ta­ble with draw­ers,” sug­gests Kate. “Also, utilise the height of the room, with tall stor­age units at­tached to walls.”

Grow Herbs In Your Kitchen

“Hav­ing fresh herbs on hand when­ever you want is a fan­tas­tic way to in­spire healthy dishes, plus re­search shows that in­door plants re­duce stress and im­prove your mood,” says Dr Aria.

Fold Ver­ti­cally

Or­gan­is­ing con­sul­tant Marie Kondo (kon­ has nailed the art of fold­ing clothes. Take a top, lay it flat and fold it in­wards from both sides, mak­ing a rec­tan­gle.

Next, fold it in half length­ways, then again into thirds length­ways, mak­ing a com­pact bun­dle.

“If the item is folded cor­rectly, it will stand up,” says Marie. Stack to­gether in draw­ers to max­imise space.


Re­view Your Friend­ships

Pro­fes­sor Suzanne Degges-White, co-au­thor of Toxic Friend­ships, says when it comes to friends, it is qual­ity, not quan­tity, that mat­ters. Nega­tiv­ity in re­la­tion­ships can drain you and add un­nec­es­sary stress to your life.

“A re­ward­ing friend­ship in­volves mu­tual un­der­stand­ing, trust and no envy or jeal­ousy. If you al­ways feel low or drained af­ter meet­ing some­one, it is ab­so­lutely not healthy. For the sake of your own emo­tional health, you may want to con­sider let­ting go.”

Stop Multi-task­ing

When we try to multi-task, we make 50 per cent more er­rors – and take 50 per cent longer – than when we do tasks se­quen­tially, ac­cord­ing to Dr John Me­d­ina in his book, Brain Rules.

Au­dit Your Life

Life coach Jen­nifer Boon (boon­coach­ing. com) ad­vises draw­ing a cir­cle and di­vid­ing it into eight sec­tions to rep­re­sent these ar­eas of your life: Health, friends and fam­ily, sig­nif­i­cant other, ca­reer, money, per­sonal growth, fun and leisure, and home en­vi­ron­ment Score each area out of 10 for sat­is­fac­tion, then draw an­other cir­cle in­side it, with the line cross­ing each seg­ment at a level rep­re­sent­ing the rel­e­vant num­ber. A well bal­anced life re­sults in a per­fect cir­cle. The shape of the in­ner cir­cle will show you the ar­eas that still need at­ten­tion.

Learn To Mind Map

Our brains think in pic­tures, says Tony Buzan, au­thor of Mind Map Mas­tery. Re­place to-do lists with a di­a­gram drawn through pat­terns of as­so­ci­a­tion.

“It has been proven to boost mem­ory and cre­ativ­ity, and can help you fo­cus bet­ter,” he says.

De-stress In An In­stant

Hyp­nother­a­pist Ge­or­gia Fos­ter has de­vised the “S breath” for ten­sion re­lief:

“In­hale through your nose with your mouth closed and hold for a mo­ment. Then ex­hale with a hiss­ing sound, mak­ing sure your belly comes back in. The ex­haled breath is longer and re­lieves stress.”

Have Fun

A study at the Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh’s Mind-Body Cen­ter that in­volved nearly 1,400 women found that those who par­tic­i­pated in a min­i­mum of 10 leisure ac­tiv­i­ties in the pre­vi­ous month had a more pos­i­tive mind­set, lower lev­els of stress hor­mones and de­pres­sion, and even slim­mer waists com­pared to those who had not!

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