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Health & Beauty

11 Top Tips To Help You Lose Weight, Get Fit Or Just Stay Healthy

By Patience Bradley Author of The HouseWork WorkOut

If your goal is to lose weight, the most important thing to get right is your diet. As the saying goes, “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym”, and a balanced and healthy diet is the single most important thing that you can get right, before your embark on an exercise regime.

Exercising will of course speed up and boost your weight loss, but only when accompanied by a healthy diet. If you are eating fast food, junk food, and calorie leaden treats, exercise will not save the day.

For many people reading this book they will be purely motivated by the need or want to lose weight. However, there are many other reasons for you to get in shape and get active. Incorporating exercise into your routine is a great idea if your goal is to live a healthier lifestyle, perhaps to rehabilitate following an illness, to prevent future ill health, or just to have more energy.

There’s also a third group of people who are exercising with the primary aim of getting fitter. Whilst becoming healthier and slimmer may be “side effects” of this, for these people the primary aim is to be stronger, faster or better at a particular activity.

Before you start any kind of regime, even a subtle one like the HouseWork WorkOut it’s important to be very clear on your ultimate goal. Getting this right will help you to focus your attention to the right parts of your lifestyle that you may feel need changing.

Photo by Elena Pegoretti / Excalibur Press

Here are some top tips that will help you achieve these goals:

1. Find Something You Love

Everyone has the ability to enjoy exercise, the trick is finding an exercise that you enjoy doing. Whether it’s swimming, running, cycling, circuit classes, yoga, weight training, a fitness DVD or the HouseWork WorkOut, you should try a range of exercises to find one that you enjoy doing, one that leaves you feeling positive and energetic. If you enjoy doing it, you are more likely to stick with it, therefore your weight loss will be easier to manage and much more sustainable over time.

If losing weight isn’t your goal, it can be difficult to find the motivation to start. If you can find physical activities that you enjoy doing – or in the case of the HouseWork WorkOut have to do, you are more likely to stick with it and make it a part of your lifestyle. Perhaps you enjoy walking out in the fresh air or in nature, or perhaps you enjoy exercising while listening to an audiobook. Find out what encourages you to get active.

2. Make It A Lifestyle Change

When you embark on a weight loss journey, don’t think of it as a quick fix, or an exercise routine that you will do until you lose that extra stone and then you can stop. Thinking like this means it is much more likely that you will gain the weight you lose back again once you stop your exercise routine. If you think of healthy eating and regular exercise as your new and permanent lifestyle, it will soon become a natural habit for you, and one that you are less likely to break.

When you decide that you want to live a healthier life, think of it as a long-term goal. Start small, by incorporating more walking into your week, taking the stairs or even drinking more water on a daily basis and slowly your new healthy habits will start to build up.

3. Get In That Cardio

When it comes to giving your metabolism a boost things like weight training can be great for building strength and stamina as well as helping you tone up and to give your metabolism a boost.

However, when you’re trying to shift the pounds it’s cardio exercises that you want to be concentrating on. Cardio activity includes walking briskly, jogging, running, cycling, the cross-trainer, rowing machine, swimming, dancing and anything else you can think of that increases your heart rate, makes you sweat, makes your breathing heavier and makes it difficult for you to talk and exercise at the same time – I’m thinking high speed cleaning!

4. Push It

When you’re working out, a little can go a long way. If you begin the HouseWork WorkOut for example after a few weeks why not think about speeding up or doing a little bit extra, always aim to push that little bit farther each time.

5. Find Motivation

To stay motivated, you should set yourself mini-goals, such as going for a specific walk or completing a series of specific tasks within a given timeframe. Working out with friends can also really help, why not help each other around the house or garden or just simply arrange to meet up for a nice brisk walk.

6. Fuel Your Body

Exercise isn’t the only element of a healthy lifestyle, diet is also very important, especially if you are working out. You need to fuel your body correctly by eating a balanced diet, and you should also consider what to eat to help your performance during exercise. Snacks such as bananas or a handful of nuts are a great idea of what to have before you work out.

7. Change It Up

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t enjoy routine, you might want to switch up your exercises periodically so that it stays interesting for you. This could include adding a short exercise DVD to your weekly routine, attending a dance class or getting the family involved in some exercising with you using things such as the Wii Fit.

8. Keep A Journal

After every workout, record how much you achieved, write lots of lists of mini goals and targets that you want to complete and add a deadline. In your journal it’s also worth recording things like your diet and mood, writing down how you’re feeling at specific times of the day can help you identify destructive behaviours and addictions.

9. Stretch It Out

Stretching before and after exercise is not only important to prevent injury, it’s also a great way to maintain and improve flexibility and range of motion, which can both help you achieve your fitness goals. If you’re stuck for ideas, look up some dynamic stretches on the Internet, and add them to your routine. Another great way to add stretches to your routine is to learn some yoga poses, these can be very good for keeping the body flexible and subtle.

10. Set A Goal

Whichever exercise or activity you do, find a way to set both short and long terms goals to help improve your fitness over time. Your long term goals should be directly related to your body, such as improved breathing, lose weight, feel healthier etc….and the short term goals should be in relation to your home, things such as organise the attic, clear out the garage, deep clean a particular room, decorate a particular room and so on.

11. Research Your Exercise

If you want to get the most of your exercising learn all you can about what you’re doing – what muscles you’re working on, what areas of the body you can improve and even what benefits you should start to feel. Once you’ve got yourself into a routine with the HouseWork WorkOut you could then look at purchasing small, inexpensive items that will help you push a little further. Things such as an exercise ball, skipping rope and mini weights are all great items to help increase your level of fitness. Research online how each of these items can help you.

The HouseWork WorkOut by Patience Bradley is out now and available from Amazon or

Health & Beauty

Better Gets Belfast Active with Free Fitness Tests and Memberships

A programme of free fitness assessments and gym memberships has launched at Better leisure centres across Belfast in a bid to get the city moving.

The initiative entitles members of the public to a fitness test and score, personalised workout plan and free month-long membership to be used across the 14 Better leisure centres in the city.

A state-of-the-art concept in fitness management, FitQuest provides an easy-to-understand measure of key metrics such as BMI (Body Mass Index), hydration levels and muscle percentage which will be mailed directly to the participant’s private inbox.

Individuals are encouraged to visit one of the four FitQuest kiosks at Andersonstown, Lisnasharragh, Better Gym Belfast and Olympia Leisure Centres for the confidential assessment.

Whether the recommendations be weight loss, muscle strength or cardiovascular fitness, a team of professional fitness instructors will provide a tailored workout plan and free four-week membership to allow them to build on their results.

Participants can then return for a further FitQuest test to track their progress and kickstart their journey to a healthier, more active lifestyle.

GLL, which runs the centres, hopes the initiative will empower the people of Belfast to improve their health and happiness through physical activity. A charitable social enterprise that exists to promote better health, it will welcome 500 individuals via the limited scheme. The first 100 places will be reserved for health service staff to encourage a focus on personal physical and mental health.

Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Kate Nicholl visited Better Gym Belfast to take the inaugural fitness test. The £15,000 initiative is supported by Belfast City Council through the Leisure Transformation Programme.

Speaking following her FitQuest challenge at Better Gym Belfast, Lord Mayor Councillor Kate Nicholl said:

“Improving the health and wellbeing of our citizens lies at the heart of Belfast City Council’s £105m Leisure Transformation Programme. With 14 leisure centres across the city, including brand new state-of-the-art gyms and swimming pools at Lisnasharragh and Andersonstown, Belfast is not without the resources or capacity to boost public health through physical activity.”

“While we envisage a city where people are active and committed to living a healthy lifestyle, a lot must be done to make this a way of life for everyone, particularly those living on the lowest incomes. The FitQuest initiative is an investment in this vision and I hope that it will help kickstart many people’s journeys towards more active and healthier lifestyles.”

Regional Director of GLL Gareth Kirk said:

“We at Better exist to make communities happier and healthier through the provision of inclusive, accessible and affordable leisure services. As a charitable social enterprise, we are thrilled to be offering free fitness assessments and citywide memberships as local people continue to battle the physical and emotional hangover of the global pandemic. There are no limits to the benefits of living an active lifestyle and we look forward to seeing hundreds of individuals come through our doors and begin their journey to a better lifestyle.”

Visit to sign up for the Belfast fitness challenge.

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Health & Beauty

Mental Health Champion of Northern Ireland Appointed

1. Siobhan O’Neill is a Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster University, and the Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland. Her research programmes focus on trauma, mental illness and suicidal behaviour in Northern Ireland, and the transgenerational transmission of trauma.

Following a recent external recruitment process, Health Minister Robin Swann has appointed Professor Siobhan O’Neill as the Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland.

Professor O’Neill is the current Interim Mental Health Champion and Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster University. She is one of Northern Ireland’s leading experts in the field of mental health, known for her active and passionate involvement in suicide prevention. 

Making the announcement Minister Swann said: “The mental health and wellbeing of our population is a priority which has been further highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Appointing a Mental Health Champion is another key step to ensuring those suffering from mental ill health will have access to the services they need, when they need them.  I am delighted that Professor O’Neill has agreed to continue her crucial work that she started as Interim Mental Health Champion.”

During her time as Interim Mental Health Champion, Professor O’Neill has been an advocate for mental health at both public and governmental levels.  She led a mental health and wellness campaign throughout the winter pandemic restrictions and has been an advisor to the Department of Health and Executive colleagues on the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister continued: “I recently announced a new 10-year Mental Health Strategy setting out the future strategic direction of mental health services in Northern Ireland.  I want to break down barriers and put individuals and their needs at the centre of what we do.  The appointment of a long term Mental Health Champion underpins the provision of a voice for the most vulnerable in our society and across government now and in the future.”

Professor O’Neill said: “I am delighted to continue as the Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland, so that the voices of those who struggle with their mental health are heard, and that their voices influence policy and practice to ensure that good mental health and wellbeing is a priority across Government Departments. 

“The 10-year Mental Health Strategy is a positive step in improving mental health services and demonstrates why mental health must be a key priority for Northern Ireland. I look forward to continuing my work with Minister Swann, the Executive, those with lived experience of mental ill health and those who provide services on the ground, to ensure that the actions laid out in the strategy are delivered to help Northern Ireland to flourish as we recover from the current pandemic and into the future.”

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