Ask Away...: February 2017

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Creating a Balanced Diet

Having a balanced diet is essential. It’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot and most of us don’t take it as seriously as we should. If we take it back to basics, food is fuel. We need to put the right fuel into our bodies to get the best out of them. If you don’t have a balanced diet you could be running on empty, or not to full capacity. Not eating the right foods can also lead to fatigue, which makes us underperform at work. Eating too much of the wrong thing could even result in fillings or tooth problems. So it's clear that diet affects all aspects of our lives. How do we create a balanced one, and what can we benefit from sticking it out?

How to:

A balanced diet isn’t about depriving yourself. It’s not a quick fix either. Having a diet balanced with the right foods is a lifestyle change that you need to stick to consistently in order to see results. It's easy to start off small and make some everyday changes for a healthier life.

Start by overhauling your cupboards. It's so much easier to stick to a balanced diet if you have healthy foods to hand. Don’t worry though, this doesn’t mean getting rid of your favourite foods. Balanced diets are about moderation, not starving yourself or just eating lettuce!

Some tips about doing your shopping. Going shopping on an empty stomach is never a good idea. You’ll end up getting things that you crave rather than really need. Nutritional value is so important and junk food won’t give you that. Post-workout is a great time to shop because you’ll want to keep up the momentum and eat well. Make a list. Impulse buying is so tempting if you’re wandering about aimlessly.

It’s easy to eat a balanced meal when you prepare it yourself. Avoid ready made meals or shop bought sauces. Make the marinara for your own chicken and you can check the salt content and anything else that you add. Sugar and salt can lurk in the most unsuspecting of places and derail a balanced diet, make your own meals to avoid this pitfall.

What Should I Be Eating?

Fruit and vegetables contain lots of useful vitamins and minerals. Our bodies need these in order to function to the best of our ability. Vitamins and minerals can help to strengthen and protect us, they even help to improve the appearance of skin. To supplement your intake have a look at fish oils and other antioxidants found at pure vitamins online. Balance out the amount of starchy foods you eat, like potatoes, with beans, pulses, and vegetables. Try to limit the amount of high fat, sugar, and salty foods that you eat. Don’t feel that you need to cut them out completely, but recognise the damage they do and limit your consumption.

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Chewy 30 Day Challenge - Final Thoughts

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Today's post is about my final thoughts after completing the Chewy 30 Day Challenge with Rachael Ray Peak Open Range Recipe .
 They have so much energy to play now that when they crash - THEY CRASH.  Here is Rocky and Pixie snuggling in blankets.  Yes, Pixie is actually laying on Rocky.

I have seen a huge improvement in my dogs when it comes to less shedding, less licking of their paws (which can come from allergies to food ingredients), and their breath not being as stink as it was before.

I also love that their poos are less stinky and more solid.  That tells me a lot about this food. They love the kibble and it's easy for them to chew even though they have tiny teeth.

I highly recommend this Rachael Ray Peak Open Range Recipe food.  My dogs love the flavor so much and all the benefits I've seen from them tell me that the ingredients are natural and beneficial to dogs.  I hope my 30 day challenge posts have been helpful.   In the beginning I had no doubt about this food and I'm glad it's proved me right the whole way through.
I will definitely continue to feed Rachael Ray Peak to my wolfpack!

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Slow and Steady Wins The Race

Now as you guys know, by reading my previous posts, I am trying to lose weight the right way. That is the slow and steady way, by making gradual changes to my life. Yes, it's pretty tempting to panic and say: I must do something about my weight right now! Then go all out to lose as many pounds as possible, as quickly as possible. But hasty changes like these hardly ever stick for the long term. Having said that making gradual changes has its pitfalls too. So keep on reading for some help in identifying these and working your way around them.


So one thing that can sabotage a gradual weight loss plan is that you get frustrated because you feel like you progress isn't moving quickly enough. This is often rooted in past experiences with diet plans, where you can expect to lose anything up to 6 pounds in the first few weeks. So a pound a week doesn't seem so great in comparison to that.

However, you have to remember that if those plans have not worked for you in the long term, or you wouldn't be in this place now, trying another method. At best they are just a sticking plaster to cover over the problems that are actually causing your weight gain. They only work for a while allowing you to lose some weight temporarily. But they hardly ever work in keeping it off forever, unless you are willing to eat as the plan dictates for the rest of your life.


Yes, I know that we can commit to this when we are all revved up and motivated at the beginning of diet plan. But two weeks in, that slice of pizza starts calling our name, and then everything goes down the tubes!

That is why in my opinion it is actually better to be realistic and gradual with you weight loss and the things you eat. Yes, this might only result in a pound a week loss, but have you ever seen a whole pound of fat? It's actually loads!

Another benefit is that if you lose weight slowly, it's harder to put it back on. This is because the fat cells in your body shrink, so they aren't just waiting there, at their old size, just to be filled right back up again.

So, just temper your frustration that you are not immediately a size 4, by realizing you are making a healthy and conscious change for the long term. As well as getting off that crash dieting roller coaster.



Another issue that can get in the way of your gradual weight loss progress is boredom. As humans, we are programmed to love variety. Just watch any one at a buffet, and you will see what I mean! But we can actually use this to our advantage and stay on our weight loss and exercise plan.


In terms of weight loss, it's very important that you don't get into a routine of eating the same things every day. Not only is this counterproductive nutritionally, but your palate gets bored very quickly. Which makes it much more likely that you will reach for an unhealthy snack instead.

Mix things up by grabbing a list of fruits and vegetables and picking one or two of each that you haven't tried before to have each week.

In terms of exercise, boredom can be a real killer of motivation. That is what it's important that you vary the exercise you are doing. For example, you can find my elliptical and strength training routines on my blog.  Or those folks that prefer a lower impact fat burner, could go for something like a Pilates -Yoga mix know as Piyo? However, do read the Piyo workout reviews before you decide on which program to do. As there are many effective toning and stretching programs out there and some more pricey than others.


Another way of fighting boredom in workouts is to set yourself goals to help keep your motivation up. Then you know that you always have something to strive for.


A common problem that can hurt your gradual weight loss is if you get injured. This is because it interferes with your workout schedule, and it can cause you to binge eat for comfort if that is what you are prone to do.


Of course, it's best to avoid injury if possible by being mindful of your body limits. But if these worst does happen then swift treatment and rehabilitation is the way to go.

You should also speak to your medical professional to see why it is viable for you to keep exercising in a low impact way or whether you need total rest to speed your recovery.

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Budgeting Calories: The True Cost Of Weight Loss

Do you dream of a magical pill that you will only need to pop to get rid of all excess fat? Wouldn’t it be nice? Before we all start dreaming of a future world where weight loss can be sorted out with a single pill or a click of a mouse, it’s time to go back to the harsh and cold reality: There is no miracle pill. Weight loss is a long and demanding process that can take anything from weeks to years to happen. Indeed, you have to invest a lot of time and efforts into shaping your body to the ideal that you want. But there’s more than just hard work. Losing weight is also a financial investment in your body, and, let’s make this clear from the start, it’s not always an inexpensive investment. Each calorie you’ve gained through unhealthy habits, disease, or even stress might cost you just as much to get rid of. There is no denying that this is an essential investment in your future self and a better lifestyle. But you need to be aware of the cost of a slimmer or fitter you before you begin your fitness journey. Nothing comes for free, indeed!

An Unfair Gender Affair

Men and women both want to trim their body and lose weight. However, the human biology and physiology are naturally unfair: Men tend to burn fat a lot quicker than women. Indeed, men are bigger and have a higher muscle mass, which facilitates fat burn - muscle cells consume more calories to be maintained than fat cells. While women can’t change their size, they can increase their fat-to-muscle ratio by looking at a strength training. But here again, nature is unfair: Women don’t build muscle as quickly as men, which is due to the lack of male hormones such as testosterones. In short, women will need to train harder and longer before seeing any results to their toning and fat loss workouts. There’s an essential element here as well, which relates to your natural Body Mass Index, or BMI. Indeed, more and more women and young women use a BMI calculator to define their ideal weight. Unfortunately, the calculator doesn’t differentiate fat and muscle mass, nor does it look at fat distribution in your body. In short, don’t try to match the ideal BMI calculation: It isn’t a reflection of your health. To sum up, your fitness journey can begin with an unfair disadvantage, depending on your gender and your BMI calculation.

The Cost Of A Program

It is not uncommon for people who want to develop healthy fitness habits to look for a fitness program or a workout that will help them to make the most of their body. Indeed, it can be difficult for an amateur to develop an effective fitness regime: You are missing knowledge on muscle build, stretching, flexibility and mobility, and this is exactly why you need a personalized workout. You might have come across workout names, such as Tabata process or the max workout for example - if they sound unfamiliar read this max workout review to find out more about it. But unfortunately, most workouts that are said to be effective don’t come for free. They will require you to buy the DVD or to register to the website to gain access to the training methods. Additionally, if you choose to maximize your efforts, you can also hire the services of a personal coach who will keep you focused on your training at a rather high cost. When you get the bill at the end of the month, you know you’ve got no excuse not to lose weight, at least only to save money in the long term!

The Cost Of Training

Training too does not come for free. If you want to invest in your fitness level, these are costs that you need to add to your household budget for the duration of your training. Naturally, you will start by looking at comfortable and breathable fitness clothes, as they will be an essential part of your workout. Don’t save money here as you need good quality shoes and clothes to train effectively. But remember that most workouts, whether you choose to train at home or the gym will require fitness gear. If you train at home, you know that you are avoiding the cost of signing up to your local gym. In truth, you are merely replacing these with the cost of a treadmill, and weights, or maybe a rowing machine and a boxing sack. In short, training has a cost, that is necessary but that you need to budget over a period.

The Cost Of Performance Tracking Gear

There is no point training and working on your fitness levels if you don’t have any mean of measuring your performance. At this stage of your fitness journey, it’s important to note that you would have already embraced the idea of investing in a personalized workout solution and fitness gear. Consequently, it appears natural to add the tracking equipment that will keep you focused on your goal. More often than not, tracking comes at a cost, whether you are tracking your calorie burn or your meals. You can find free alternatives. However, they tend to offer additional follow-ups if you pick the premium version, whether you are working with a calorie tracker or a jogging app. While this is a great motivation to see how you are doing, it could also be perceived as an unnecessary cost. After all, do you need to know how many calories are burnt during your sleep to lose weight? Unfortunately, charts and data are part of the digital management of a human life: Many are lost without a good chart, however pointless it might be.

The Cost Of Fitness Food

Last, but not least, your fitness journey also needs specific fitness diet, which includes meals that you need to prepare or can order in advance. As if this wasn’t enough, you can find food supplements to help you lose more weight. While there is no miracle pill, vitamins, and healthy fat are essential to support your weight loss journey and provide your body with everything it needs. High-protein health food can make a significant hole in your budget.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Books I Recommend You Read [February]

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Another month, another selection of great books I read!

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

This is an amazing book about a little boy that wants to be a little girl and how it affects the rest of the family and how they learn to face society.

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

about a girl that struggles and struggles with many things in her life including a tragic accident that she feels she is responsible for, unfulfilling relationships, and a bad relationship with her father.  It's a bittersweet story but I loved it.

With Love From The Inside by Angela Pisel
This an amazing, fast paced thrilling novel about a woman who is on death row but claims she is innocent.  Her daughter believes her and they are fighting the clock to get her saved.

Arrowood By Laura McHugh
This is kind of a thriller/mystery type book about an abduction of two little girls and now their sister is trying to piece together what really happened all those years before. 

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
This book was amazing. It takes you back to high school and the whole environment of how serious we took everything. It covers several different students and teachers and some tragic turns and risky affairs. This was also an easy read because I couldn't put it down. I was so eager to see what would happen next.

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Financially and Fashion Savvy: The Sense Of A "Treat Me" Fund


Save money. Money should be saved. Get your wage, spend only what you need to and keep it in a savings account. Savings.

That’s the general gist of the vast majority of financial advice, anyway. Saving is good; a route to the promised land of financial security. And to an extent, that’s absolutely true. Once you have reached the green pastures of being debt-free, then building your savings or potentially paying off your mortgage become the next big milestones.


For once, it’s a nice “however”. It’s not the kind of however that is there to try and rein in your impulses, convince you to be sensible and do exactly as you are told. This “however” is about the simple reality that sometimes, spending money is really nice.

There is nothing quite like the glow of a new purchase to make you smile. It’s a world of possibilities all wrapped up into a woven leather handbag that you couldn’t resist; the lure of a nail color that you admire for hours on end; the delights of a new perfume that fragrances your every move. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these things. Materialism is not an inherently bad thing - it just means you have an appreciation for the finer things in life. There’s no harm in wanting to surround yourself with beauty.

Of course, this doesn’t give you license to just abandon all sound financial planning and go and indulge your love of fashion, beauty and homewares for the sake of it. These items are not necessities, so there’s no real reason to budget for them as a matter of course either. What you need is a “Treat Me” fund.

What’s A “Treat Me” Fund?

It’s an amount of money you set aside to be used purely for the pleasures in life. If you have a fashion habit, it can help fund your next wardrobe as you experiment with styles. If beauty is your thing, it can be saved to splurge on the next range from your favorite brand. For a homewares weakness, it’s a stash of money to enjoy the next time the trends change and you suddenly find yourself wondering what you should do with all those succulents.

So It’s A Savings Account.

Using a savings account (and thus accruing interest) is a good idea for your fund - but the difference is all in the mentality. Savings are generally not for any particular purpose; they’re money stashed away as a form of protection against the oddities of life. A “Treat Me” fund is being set aside specifically to be used at a later date, not saved until you’re writing it into your will.

Why Is This A Good Idea Financially?

By setting aside a small amount of money each month and then accessing it when the need sets itself upon you, it’s a form of financial protection. You can’t quell the urge for the pretty things in life, but you can control it. Rather than turning to credit cards or using the money you set aside for your electricity bill, you’ve got money there and ready to go to indulge your whims. In the long run, it’s far financially healthier than attempting pure self-denial. So you can shop and enjoy yourself without any nagging guilt.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

How to Provide Financial Security for You and Your Family

Image Source: Pixabay

Every parent wants to provide freedom and security for their family. Financially, we want to find the best way to ensure a happy, stable household, but we don’t always know how. To ensure stability for your loved ones’ futures, here’s some tips to keep in mind.

Have an Emergency Fund

Sometimes in life, things happen that are beyond our control. Cars break down, teeth need fixing and home appliances need replacing. Don’t let incidents like these set you back. Setting aside some emergency money will allow you to handle these situations as stress free as possible. Start by saving $200 a month for your emergency fund, or at least save 3-6 months wages. Easy access accounts are great for emergency saving plans. Always make sure you’re debt free before you begin setting any serious money aside.

Take Out Life Insurance

Although saving up is incredibly important, it just doesn’t cut it when it comes to family security. You need a plan B for extra support. Protect your family from some of the worst case scenarios by taking out insurance. Trusted and long time servicing companies like Banner Life insurance will cover your family in the worst situations. Having life insurance will mean your debts will be paid off. With insurance support your family won’t have to be liable for financial responsibilities like mortgage payments.

Have a Retirement Plan

When it comes to retiring and old age, you want to start planning for your future, so that you’re financially independent from your kids. Start by making a simple retirement plan to figure out how much money you should be saving for things like health care. Make a clear assessment of your income and expenses. Think about where you want to live your retirement years.

Image from Pixabay

Spend Less Than You Earn

This might seem like an obvious statement to make, but it’s crucial if you want to ensure your family’s financial stability. Avoid credit cards and interest free loans that lead you to lose control of your outgoings. Live within your means so you won’t end up in a tricky situation where you’ve landed yourself in debt. One way to make some extra earnings is to set up an eBay account and sell any unwanted items and clothing. Start collecting vouchers and coupons where you can, when planning family days out. Look for areas where you can afford to cut down on your spending. Take a packed lunch to work, or start bulk cooking your meals.

Ask the Experts

If you’re not very efficient at money handling, then it might be a good idea to seek a specialist. Working with a financial expert will help you to gain control of your finances and work out a financial plan to suit you and your family’s needs. Before requesting the help of a family financial advisor, make a quick list of all your needs. Whether you want to focus on retirement planning, or saving for your children’s future, they will provide you with the advice you need.

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A Delicious Surprise Each Month!

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I may be watching what I eat, but that doesn't mean I can't indulge once in a while.   And thanks to Sweets Gift Box, I can indulge on 4-5 goodies each month.  And these aren't just any goodies, they are things like artisan candies and gourmet chocolates!   I mean if you wanna embrace your sweet tooth you should do it with a touch of luxury right?  Each month there's a theme for the boxes.  The one I got was a New Year's Resolution theme - with the resolution being to eat more sweets!  


I love how everything was packaged so secure and carefully.  Inside I was so impressed by the treats I got.

Chocolate Brownie Crispy Cake - This was a fantasy of mine.  It was full of chocolate and marshmallow with the crunchy texture of a rice treat.  I seriously indulged in this one.

Peanut Butter Cups - These really hit the spot for my chocolate peanut butter craving.  I can't believe how delicious these were!

Bobo's Bites: Apple Pie - This would be a nice treat in the mornings with my coffee.  It was basically an apple pie snack with a hint of cinnamon.  I even added some vanilla ice cream to it. 

Lovely Caramel Chews - Okay, Lovely makes delicious candy so I was expecting these to be good but didn't realize how addicting they are.  It was impossible for me to have just one.  They are super buttery soft caramels and they are a nice after- dinner treat.

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips - Need I say more/ This is my favorite snack in the world and it goes great with a tall glass of milk!

Seriously, check out this monthly box.  It is SO WORTH IT!

PLUS - If you use the code SWEETSTUFF for one a one month box you get 40% off but if you use it for a full subscription you will get 50% off!!

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