women

20 ways to fit & fabulous (Part 1) - Upgrade your health

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You don't need to make mammoth overhauls to upgrade your health, fitness, diet and emotional wellbeing this year. Our small, smart tweaks are all you need

Thinking of making one big, life-changing New Year's resolution for 2012? Stop right there! Research shows 80% of us give up on our resolutions by Valentine's Day, and making several small but powerful life tweaks can have much more impact. 'Setting yourself a huge goal – like dropping two dress sizes In a month or signing up for a marathon if the furthest you’ve ever run is for the bus - often backfires because there's so much pressure,' says nutritionist Amanda Ursell. 'Instead, make smart changes that are small enough to be doable but big enough to make a difference,'

Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley's trainer James Duigan agrees, adding that it's important to take a multi- pronged approach, 'Don't just focus on your diet, while ignoring your emotional health and stress levels, or worry about your fitness but neglect your health. Instead, take a holistic, 360-degree approach, making tweaks to all areas, and you really will change your life.

Upgrade your health

1.     Take a tiredness test

Description: Tiredness

'An increasing number of young women are deficient in vitamin D and feel constantly shattered as a result' says our GP Dr Pixie McKenna. 'We get most of our vitamin D from sunlight, so in winter months, our levels plummet. Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and fresh tuna is a good source, as are eggs, dairy products and some fortified cereals and margarines, but daylight exposure - especially a sunny winter day - is even better, so get outside as much as possible, particularly between the hours of 71am and 3pm, when the sun's rays are at their strongest. If you think you may be deficient, see your GP who may offer you a blood test,' advises Dr Pixie.

2.    Know your ABC

Before you put on another layer of woollies, give your moles the once over. Rebecca Maxwell, a senior nurse from The Mole Clinic, says now is the best time of year to check them. 'In winter, your skin is paler so changes show up more. Yet studies show we're less likely to notice these changes because we're so covered up.' The Mole Clinic has an ABC guide to checking moles: A is for asymmetrical (is one half of your mole different to the other?), B for border irregularity (is it poorly defined?), C for colour (any changes?), D for diameter (bigger than 7mm?) and E for evolving (has it changed in any way?). If you're worried, see your GP or visit The Mole Clinic (themoleclinicco.uk and at selected Superdrug stores).

3.    Have an electronic sundown

Description: sundown-of-joy

Spend evenings catching up on texts, emails and EastEnders? According to Dr Frank Lipman, Gwyneth Paltrow's doctor and author of Spent? End Exhaustion & Feet Great Again ($16, Hay House), you should avoid texting, browsing on your iPhone or laptop, or watching TV during the two hours before bed. They stimulate your brain in a way that stops you falling into the kind of good quality, restorative sleep you need to feel happy, healthy and smart,' he says. ‘Without it, you'll feel exhausted, anxious, and you'll be prone to weight gain and stress.' He also recommends eating brown carbs with your evening meal ('they help your body produce the sleep hormone melatonin') and wearing an eye mask ('total darkness helps your brain switch off’). We love Holistic Silk's pretty Lavender Eye Mask ($75, holisticsilk.com).

4.    Fork out

Watching your meat intake will be on your 2012 health radar if a glut of recent books is anything to go by. There's The Meat free Monday Cookbook ($32, Kyle Books), inspired by the McCartneys' campaign, and US best-seller Forks Over Knives $16, Experiment LLC), which examines the link between meat consumption and certain diseases. In the UK, we eat too much cheap meat' says James, "instead, eat less of it but make it the best you can afford, as lean as possible and ideally organic.'

5.    Using your sitting bones

Almost a third of us spend over ten hours a day sitting down. No surprise then, that 72% of us will also suffer from back pain at some point, not to mention a stiff neck and hips and bad digestion caused by all that slumping. To minimise the damage, use your 'sitting bones', which are directly underneath the centre of your pelvic bone. 'Sit on the palms of your hands and you should feel two lumpy bony bits sticking straight down, says Noel Kingsley, author of Free Yourself From Back Pain (Kyle Cathie, $23.80). 'Often people slump the lower back and roll back on these sitting bones, or they over-arch and roll the other way,'

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