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The good life
7:00am Saturday 3rd March 2012 in AdXtra
If you can't believe February's nearly over and it feels as though the year's rushing by, it could be time to take control. Experts reveal simple ways to dictate the pace and make yourself feel more organised.
By Gabrielle Fagan.
It's not uncommon for many of us to struggle with the pace of life and feel overwhelmed by all the demands placed upon us.
"We all have busy lives and while email and mobiles are useful in keeping us in contact at all times, they can be an added pressure, making it harder to switch off from responsibilities and keep work and leisure separate," says Steve Miller, Sky1's no-nonsense fat-loss expert.
"The result can be many people feeling so stressed that they actually subconsciously slow down to protect themselves from melt down.
"That can result in them taking even longer to deal with work or problems, which results in them feeling worse. It can be a hard cycle to break."
But Miller believes that we can regain control by taking small, simple steps to transform both our outlook and our routines.
"Every morning I ensure when I wake up that I'm not mentally telling myself it will be a difficult day. Instead, I make a point of telling myself it will be 'interesting, challenging and there'll be a good outcome'.
"It may sound silly to try to programme yourself, but if you mentally predict problems - and give off negativity - you're much more likely to encounter them."
Miller, who has a new motivational weight-loss iPhone App, Gastric Banned, says it's important to refresh routines and try to enjoy new experiences.
"Your mind can get 'fat' and sluggish as well as your body," he says.
"We need variation and change to keep us fresh and motivated and it will help put life into perspective."
Taking up a new interest, he says, can work wonders on morale, whether it's a sport, knitting or bingo, or whatever appeals.
"I'm learning how to ride a horse and although it's demanding and out of my comfort zone, it's energising because it stretches me mentally and physically," he says.
"Also, I'm meeting different people, get a chance to exercise and enjoy nature - all great plusses.
"Those three things also should be incorporated into life and will have the effect of making us feel more positive and more in control."
Finally, he advises, setting a goal and keeping a weekly or monthly check on steps you're taking to work towards it.
"At the end of the day put worries in proportion by assessing how much they'd bother you in five years time or at the end of your life.
"Many will seem trivial when put them in that light and it will help lighten your mood and allow you to walk taller."
Check out the experts' guidance on gaining control over your life and improving your wellbeing.
:: Bottle it: "A simple way to help take control of your life is to ensure you are hydrated," says celebrity trainer Ramona Braganza, whose clients include Halle Berry, Jessica Alba and Kate Beckinsale.
"When we are drinking enough (around one-and-a-half to two litres daily), we think more clearly, and have energy for all the demands that come our way.
"I make sure my clients have water wherever they are, I tell them to have bottles handy in their workplace, homes, even in their cars."
:: Stretch & breathe: "Regular yoga sessions help me to focus and unwind - it's important to do something which you enjoy to help you restore clarity and de-stress," says Sarah Chapman, a facialist and skincare expert (www.sarahchapman.net).
"I make a big tureen of traditional Japanese miso soup every weekend so throughout the week I can heat it up to set myself up for the day. It's no hassle and really great for a morning boost.
"Also, every day, I recommend stopping at some point and doing some deep breathing and clearing your mind for a few minutes."
:: See the dream: "My goal is to be a fitness presenter on TV, so every day I close my eyes and visualise it," says Hannah Cramer, a dance fitness teacher and personal trainer (www.hannahcramer.co.uk).
"It really helps me through my working day, keeping me motivated and focused. Also, I make lists - things I want to achieve that day, that week, that year - and tick them off as I achieve them which helps me feel organised and frees up my mind."
:: Closet cure: "Opening your wardrobe is generally one of your first daily actions but if it's a cluttered jumble it will be a constant reminder of a lack of organisation and will contribute to stress levels," says personal stylist Lisa Talbot, who is exhibiting at the Vitality Show, Earls Court, London, on March 22-25 .
"The secret is a capsule wardrobe of clothes where items work on their own or co-ordinate with each other."
She advises sorting clothes into three piles; those you want to keep, those which are seasonal and could be stored, and those which you don't want and could be sold or given to charity.
"Keep items which look fab and which you can build on, including basics from jeans and black trousers to jackets and skirts. Also hang up accessories, vital for ringing the changes on outfits, on hangers in your wardrobe so you don't overlook them."
:: Shop and trim: "One simple change to my routine helped me lose two-and-a-half stone (9.53kg) in two-and-a-half months," says Lisa Jackson, a clinical hypnotherapist and the author of Adore Yourself Slim (Simon & Schuster, £12.99).
"Doing food shopping on a Monday was a turning point. You don't need an elaborate menu plan, just a general idea of what you'll be eating during the week, making sure veggies and salad form the bulk of what you buy.
"I found that by doing this, I invariably ended up eating healthy meals all week, whereas if I didn't, I was far more tempted by takeaways and ready-prepared meal options.
"Diarise it, if need be, but just do it - and be amazed by what you see on the scales."
:: Revamp your mindset: "You might not be able to do anything about a situation or about the way another person behaves, but you can decide how much of an impact that has on you," says Caroline Carr, a hypnotherapist and the founder of MyPartnerisDepressed.com "In other words, you can decide how to think about it and manage your feelings around it. That way, you take control, rather than being a victim.
"So if, for example, you think, 'I can't do this anymore' put 'I choose to think' in front of the thought, so that you now say to yourself, 'I choose to think that I can't do this anymore'. And since you can choose - you can choose to think differently. I find it very empowering."
:: Information: Downlaod Steve Miller's Gastric Banned app from http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/steve-miller-ga stric-banned/id486586779?mt=8 The Vitality Show takes place at Earls Court, March 22-25, and experts present will include Ramona Braganza, Hannah Cramer, Lisa Jackson and Caroline Carr; and Vitality Boutique takes place at Bluewater, Kent, April 26-29. For more information, visit www.vitalitylive.co.uk Tried & tested If you can't afford a personal trainer or never have time to hit the gym, there's a hi-tech alternative which might help you just as much. Kate Whiting tests out your own personal on-the-go training monitor.
What is it?
Ki Fit is a 'lifestyle and calorie management system'. Simply put, it's an armband monitor with four sensors which measure every step you take, your physical activity, calorie burn, sleep duration and sleep efficiency.
You upload all the data it tracks to an online Activity Manager, which gives you an accurate picture of your metabolism and tracks your progress against your health, fitness and wellbeing goals.
You also have to input your calorie consumption, like keeping a food diary, so you can see the nutritional value of the calories you eat and your calorie 'deficit' (the difference between what you eat and burn).
What's it like?
At first, it felt strange strapping something to my arm that can measure so much information about me - it's all a bit Big Brother.
But after an hour, I'd forgotten it was there and got on with my life - aware only of the times I was marching around on my daily commute and how much that would impress my monitor!
The online Activity Manager was easy to set up and the first time I uploaded the data from my armband, it was intriguing to see the graphs displayed online, showing how well I'd slept the previous night and the spikes of activity during my day in the office.
I was not surprised to find that on days when I'd had more efficient sleep (how many hours I'd actually been asleep compared to how long I'd just been lying down), I got by without eating so many sugary treats. But I was surprised by how many calories I burned in a single day just walking around.
I wore it over the weekend and managed to do more than two hours of physical activity just spring-cleaning the house! That equated to a massive 7,589 steps - much more than my target of 5,000.
Ki Fit is a great alternative to the gym, as you can simply up your calorie burn by getting off the bus a few stops earlier - and it puts you in control as you can decide your targets of physical activity and calorie consumption. It's almost like being your own personal trainer.
And with information based just on your own unique performance, you'll gain some possibly life-changing insights about your lifestyle.
:: Information: The Ki standard package starts from £99.99, and the standard kit includes: Ki Fit Armband, medium-size Ki Fit Armband Strap; one-year online Activity Manager subscription; USB cable and guides. Ki Fit is available online at www.kiperformance.co.uk. For customer queries, call 01932 851 440.