Following a Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest diets in the world – having been found to reduce heart disease, dementia, depression and even shows that those who follow a Mediterranean diet have a higher life expectancy. If you are trying to live a healthier life, the Mediterranean diet is easy to follow – and delicious.

The Mediterranean diet is popular in countries such as Greece, Croatia, Spain and Italy, and is very simple. One large part of the diet is consuming a lot of fruits and vegetables – which are of course very healthy components of this diet. Another staple to this diet is olive oil, with extra virgin olive oil being preferable for the most health benefits, as it is rich in antioxidants. Importantly, when it comes to meat, a Mediterranean diet consists of very little, if any, red meat (a contributor to heart disease and certain types of cancer),  moderate amounts of poultry, and high quantities of fish and seafood. Dairy products are also consumed in moderation. Any grain eaten is usually wholegrain, and refined, processed carbohydrates such as white bread are avoided. It is evident that the main premise of this diet is to eat nutritious, unprocessed whole foods, and avoiding foods that are processed, contain added sugars, and are refined. In terms of drink, water is most common, with one glass of red wine per day being considered the norm. To reap the benefits of this diet you don’t have to follow it strictly however. Simply reducing the amount of red meat in your diet, and  adding seafood/fish two times a week is enough to improve your health. Also, switching out fizzy drinks for water will have drastic positive effects on your health.

This diet is healthy, easy to adopt, and does not leave you feeling hungry. I love following a Mediterranean diet in the warmer months of the year, especially as the heat can suppress my appetite and I don’t want to eat hot meals. Alongside the diet is recommended that you of course engage in some physical activity, even if it is only light.

Advertisements

20 Different Ways to Use Coconut Oil

Extra virgin coconut oil is unbelievably versatile, and I for one use it on a daily basis for countless different things. Coconut oil comes in a solid form but once at room temperature or above becomes an oil.  A lot of people would only consider using coconut oil for cooking food with, but the uses and benefits of coconut oil are almost immeasurable. Here are 20 different ways you can start using coconut oil in your life.

  1. It can be used as a moisturiser. Coconut oil is incredibly hydrating to the skin, and can improve conditions such as Keratosis pilaris (small red bumps on the skin, usually on the tops of the arms), acne, and eczema. It also has anti-ageing effects and decreases the appearance of wrinkles.
  2. Makeup remover. Coconut oil is excellent at removing makeup, whilst nourishing the skin at the same time.
  3. As SPF. I would not recommend coconut oil if you are to be out all day in the summer sun, but if it is not the height of summer, or you are only going to be outside for less than an hour, coconut oil provides a low SPF sunscreen.
  4. Apply to sunburn to soothe and speed up recovery.
  5. As a natural deodorant. I have tried coconut oil when my deodorant ran out and was pleasantly surprised that it actually worked. Coconut oil is a perfect natural alternative to deodorants made with potentially harmful chemicals.
  6. As a deep hair conditioner. Apply the coconut oil to the hair overnight and wash it out the next day. Coconut oil is very water resistant, and so it may take a few washes to completely remove the oil residue, but it deeply conditions hair, and some believe it aids air growth.
  7. Reduce swelling and inflammatory issues such as arthritis.
  8. For dental health. Oil pulling is now a popular method, especially amongst celebrities such as Gwenyth Paltrow, and can be achieved by swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 20 minutes to remove toxins from the body and improve your oral health.
  9. Stop insect bites from itching, and cooling the skin.
  10. Not only can it provide relief from insect bites but it can also be used as a preventative, and keep insects at bay when applied topically.
  11. Nail care. Coconut oil can be rubbed into cuticles to soften them, and some claim that by strengthening the nail it also can make nails grow quicker.
  12. As a shaving cream. Using an oil allows for a close shave and leaves your skin super smooth – plus you won’t have to moisturise afterwards!
  13. Use in cooking – coconut oil tends to be a healthier alternative to other oils used in baking.
  14. To boost energy. Eating a tablespoon of coconut oil can give you a much needed energy boost with similar effects to coffee.
  15. Gargling coconut oil can soothe a sore throat.
  16. Shine and soften leather furniture, and polishing leather shoes.
  17. Aromatherapy. Coconut oil can be used to help you wind down because of its pleasant and relaxing scent.
  18. Boost your metabolism. Eating at least two tablespoons a day will give your metabolism a boost and help you burn off fat quicker.
  19. Remove gum. There is nothing more annoying than walking along the street to find one foot constantly sticking to the ground because you have stood in gum. Or getting gum stuck in your hair… Coconut oil can assist in removing the gum.
  20. To heal wounds and cuts quicker.

Sun Sign Astrology: Pisces

“There is another side to the Pisces nature and that is the brutal honesty that can catch others off guard.”
― Rosemary Breen

You are a Pisces if you were born between February 19th and March 20th, and as the fish symbol associated with the sign suggests, Pisces is a water sign. Water signs are known for being deeply emotional and sensitive, and Pisces is no exception. Pisces are mostly known for their compassion for others, and are able to put themselves in another’s shoes and be completely selfless when other’s are in need. They make loyal, devoted friends, and always choose to see the best in people when no one else will. People are often drawn to a Piscean when they need a shoulder to cry on, or a non-judgemental ear. Another positive trait associated with Piscean’s is their intuitiveness – making them incredibly spiritual and receptive to any intuitive feelings. As Pisceans are an emotional, romantic and mystical sign they often do well in the arts, and are likely to pursue a career in art, music and writing in which they can express their dreamlike mind.

However, being such an emotional sign does have its downsides. Pisceans are vulnerable, and others can easily take advantage of their good nature. They also have a tendency to want to escape their problems and take a lazy response,  rather than face their issues head on, and this can result in their downfall. They are also oversensitive, and take things to heart – things that other people would brush off can really affect a Pisces, and stay with them. This also means that they have a difficult time dealing with rejection, as well as rejecting others – they will not easily say no to a person for fear of hurting their feelings.

Not surprisingly, many famous Piscean’s are musicians, writers and artists. Some popular examples include: Kurt Cobain, Nat King Cole, George Harrison, Dr. Seuss, Elizabeth Taylor and Michelangelo. There are also inventive and creative figures in science, such as Albert Einstein and Alexander Graham Bell. Unfortunately Pisceans also have Osama Bin Laden – but you can’t win them all…

How to Lose Weight Fast – Safely

“Weight loss doesn’t begin in the gym with a dumb bell; it starts in your head with a decision.”
― Toni Sorenson

When it comes to weight loss, everyone wants a quick and easy fix. Fad diets may give amazing results in the short term, but these diets cannot be maintained in the long term, and so often people quickly gain the weight once they go back to a normal eating/work out plan. But there are some ways to aid weight loss quickly and safely – it may not be as quick as starving yourself for a week, but it is more sustainable. Here are some recommended ways you can start shedding the pounds.

  1. Drink a lot of water. And I mean a lot. Water flushes the toxins out of your system, as well as removing any excessive water weight you may be carrying. I like to kick start my morning with hot lemon water, and then ensure I drink at least 2 glasses of water per hour for the rest of the day (you may want to stop this a couple of hours before bed to avoid waking up in the night). Filling up on water also indicates when you are simply dehydrated rather than hungry, and can stop you overeating unnecessarily.
  2. Don’t be afraid to eat a big breakfast. It has proven that eating a bigger breakfast will curb your cravings during the day. Equally, eating a higher calorie meal early in the morning gives you more time to burn it off compared to eating a larger meal in the evening.
  3. Pick up some weights. Weights allow you to build up muscle, and the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn. Start with 5 lb weights and work your way up.
  4. Stop liquid calories. Fizzy, sugary drinks and alcohol add liquid calories that provide no nutritional benefit, and do not satisfy our hunger as much as food. This can go hand in hand with drinking more water.
  5. Engage in exercise. Even if you do not enjoy high intensity workouts, doing any activity that is greater than your usual activity level will make a difference. Walk more, take the stairs, and try to schedule some exercise into your week – at least 4 times.
  6. Control your portion size. Our bodies do not register that we are full until 15-20 minutes after eating, so if you usually feel uncomfortably full following a meal, it is time to start decreasing your portion size.

5 common Struggles of Being a Minimalist

“I am a minimalist. I like saying the most with the least.”
― Bob Newhart

  1. Feeling guilty when throwing away sentimental items and gifts. Perhaps you received a heartfelt present from a close friend, or inherited a lot of ‘stuff’ from a dead relative. But this stuff can accumulate, and if you never use it, it only serves to take up space in your home. Just because you donate it or throw it away does not mean that you lose the memories you have of that person, or cannot appreciate a friends generosity. The item may be gone but the sentiment and fond memories live on.
  2. Trying to break free from a consumerist world. In Western society, consumerism is everywhere. We are encouraged to replace our items rather than take better care or repair (one example of a company that capitalises on this is Apple – think of the way they seal their phones, which makes them difficult to repair). Marketing ploys are around every corner, promoting goods and making us believe that we will be worse off without them. When we are constantly bombarded with the pressure to consume, but by becoming more disconnected from this lifestyle, you will eventually be able to enter a shop without having the desire to purchase anything – but the journey is not easy.
  3. Knowing when it is time to declutter again. Everyone who begins a minimalist lifestyle starts off with a monumental declutter of all of their belongings. However, we are constantly accumulating stuff – regardless of how minimalist you choose to live your life, you are likely to receive unwanted gifts, make impulse buys, or keep things that you think you’ll find a use for, but never do. It is best to do a declutter every 3 months, or whenever you that things are getting out of hand.
  4. Defining your self-worth with ‘things’. A lot of us attribute having a lot of things as being better off, and the better off we are, the higher our social status and self value. This isn’t always the case – there are plenty of successful and wealthy people who live minimalist lives (Steve Jobs, and actor Robert Pattinson to name a few). Owning little does not automatically demonstrate that you are ‘poor’ or ‘struggling to get by’, it shows that you do not need material items to feel happy and fulfilled.
  5. Making do with less. This is a struggle for most people attempting minimalism, especially if they once lived a maximalist lifestyle. This can be especially tricky when it comes to a minimalist wardrobe, because there are less options to choose from and humans are quick to get bored of having the same experience over and over again. There is also a fear that if we throw something out we may regret it in the future, and then have to go out and replace it when our money could have been spent elsewhere.

Synchronicity

“We often dream about people from whom we receive a letter by the next post. I have ascertained on several occasions that at the moment when the dream occurred the letter was already lying in the post-office of the addressee.”
― C.G. Jung

Synchronicity is something that everyone has likely experienced at some point in their lives – to some it happens on a regular basis. Most people would refer to such experiences as coincidences, and they are not wrong, but the difference is that a synchronic events are meaningful – i.e.  a series of apparent coincidences that seem to all be interconnected despite not occurring in the same way. The term was coined by the psychologist Carl G. Jung in the early 1900’s, and is defined as  “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.”.

A popular example used by Jung in his book illustrates how synchronicity works. Jung describes how a female patient of his re-accounted a dream in which she had been given a golden scarab (a piece of expensive jewellery). During her account, Jung became aware of a slight tapping on the window of his office, and seeing a fairly unusual and large insect, went over to open it. In his hand he caught a scarabaeid beetle – much like a golden scarab, and handed it to the woman saying “here is your scarab”. In this case, the scarab beetle was symbolic of what the female patient was experiencing in that period of her life, and to ensure she received the message she experienced the scarab beetle in multiple ways. We can then apply this to our own lives – have you ever had a dream only for an aspect of it to manifest itself within the coming days? Personally, and I’m sure many other people have experienced this as well,  I will suddenly have a thought of someone that pops into my head out of nowhere, or see someone in my dream, and even if I have not seen them for years I am sure to bump into them when I am out and about in the coming days.  You thought or dreamt of this person for a reason, and you then ran into this person for a reason – the Universe/higher self, whatever you want to call it or whatever it is to you, is trying to show you that this person is significant.

Another example of synchronicity is when you are looking for answers. You may feel stuck at a crossroads in your life, with countless possibilities but an uncertainty of which path is best suited for you. You may be daydreaming about your current life situation and suddenly become aware of a song playing that you have had stuck in your head all day. Then, later on you begin to read something that sticks with you, and matches the very same message the song was conveying to you. This is one of the many ways synchronicity works – repetitive signs that although different, carry the same message to answer your question. When this happens, don’t ignore it, listen to your signs and tap into your intuition.

Overall, paying attention to life’s synchronisations can be hugely beneficial to us – they indicate whether we should continue on the path we are on, or take a new direction. Each sign guides us, and the more we take notice the more signs, and thus guidance, we receive. Keep an open mind, take in your surroundings, and look for a deeper meaning in everything you do – you never know when a series of small events can have a profound impact on your life!

Sun Sign Astrology: Aquarius

“The good news is that she is one of the nicest people in the universe. The bad news is, that’s because she always does exactly what she pleases”
― Hazel Dixon-Cooper

Hi everyone! I have recently expanded my blog to cover some other passions of mine, including my recent spirituality posts, and now astrology. So I decided to kick it all off with the 12 signs of the zodiac, covering each one with a brief overview, over the next month (so don’t worry if you don’t enjoy this type of post, there will be others!). A sun sign is simply defined as the zodiac sign that you identify with i.e. where your date of birth falls, and describes your personality, whereas your moon sign represents your emotional self. To start this new ‘series’ I’m going to first look at Aquarius, January 20th-February 18th.

Like all of the zodiac signs, Aquarius has a number of positive and negative traits. Aquarius is an air sign (alongside Gemini and Libra), representing intellectual curiosity, taking action, and communicating new and original ideas. This is most pronounced in Aquarius, who has characteristics of interdependence, good communication and assertiveness. Aquarian’s are also known for their uniqueness and originality, and are not one to follow the crowd – many would consider an Aquarian eccentric and in some cases rather wacky. This innovative personality means that those with the Aquarius sign really excel in the sciences and politics- ultimately they are humanitarians who are constantly looking out for the best interests of the world. This also means that they are very human orientated, and despite their oddities, attract people to them with their friendly and outgoing personality. People often note how an Aquarian will maintain their own individualism no matter who they meet, and this draws people to them as the Aquarian is very genuine.  Aquarius is in fact, one of the kindest sun signs, and can be counted on for loyalty, empathy and no judgement.

On the other hand, Aquarian’s are incredibly fixed in their opinions, and this can create friction with people who do not agree with them. They become impatient and quick to anger with those who cannot see how ‘amazing’ their ideas are, and view anyone expressing an alternative opinion as an encroachment on a personal level. Equally, being such a passionate humanitarian does have a negative affect on the Aquarian’s personal life – and whilst they may have a number of friends and acquaintances, they struggle in intimate relationships. This is largely because of their individualist attitudes, and a fear of that being taken away from them if they enter into a partnership. However, an Aquarian will always be faithful when they are in a relationship.

Famous Aquarian’s include: Oprah Winfrey, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Charles Darwin, Lewis Caroll, Charles Dickens, Thomas Edison, Mozart, and Yoko Ono.