How to Stay Fit on a Summer Vacation

Today, I want to welcome and thank Peter, a beauty and fashion editor at HighStyleLife magazine in the UK, for doing up this amazing guest post for Beautiful Health. Peter is based in London, and occasionally in Brisbane, Australia and also works as a fashion stylist for many events around the UK and Australia.

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When it comes to the matters of getting in shape (or staying in shape) – there’s always a sense of urgency about it. We can’t really be sure why but the thing is, whenever the scale jumps to three, four pounds extra, we get a panic attack and decide there and then something must be changed about our daily routines. Talks of healthy diet are evoked, regular visits to the gym too, and of course – all other healthy habits are immediately called into practice.

Since you’ve nailed it all in time, and you’re just maintaining your goal weight, you are good to go. However, consider that you are about to go on a vacation, and you’ll probably be tempted to indulge in all kinds of gorgeously delicious and exotic sweets, drinks and foods you’ve never tried before. And sure, with all that – you’ll be at risk of gaining a few extra pounds… and we don’t want that now, do we?

Here’s how to keep yourself fit and still enjoy every single moment of your holiday:

Eat whatever you want…

…in moderation! Nobody expects you to say “no” to fresh baklavas or all the amazing Mediterranean food but, as long you are eating it smartly, you are okay. You won’t gain weight by eating one cake in five days, but you will if you eat five cakes in one day. Be smart, don’t let all the hard work go to waste.



Party hard…

…but reduce alcohol and soda beverages to a minimum. Going to a foreign country and not experiencing their night life first hand is bizarre. Honestly, we’d never advise you against a good party, not in a million years. But… what we are strongly advocating is keeping yourself as far away from the alcohol as possible. Instead, hit the dance floor, sweat it out and it’ll be like squeezing in a workout while having an amazing time!

NOTE: What you should be drinking in liters is water! You already know that this magic drink is something to swear by. It’s keeping you hydrated, it’s keeping you full and you are feeling more and more energized with every new sip. So, drink up!

Don’t starve…

…rather, eat foods that are healthy, but keep you full. Going on vacation is the perfect opportunity to experiment with new types of veggies, fruits and extracts you haven’t tried before, so enjoy making your morning shakes and energy drinks. You can always mix up tastes you already like, so feel free to throw in some organic pea protein powder in your smoothie for taste, and combine it with the local’s recommended veggies for experience.


Don’t join the local gym…

…but take a stroll down the beach every single day before bed or in the morning. If you are a runner, go for a morning run to kick start your metabolism and enjoy the wonderful seaside! Naturally, when you are on the beach, don’t focus on tanning – but swimming. Swimming is an amazing exercise that burns calories rapidly, gets your whole body in shape and is incredibly refreshing. Also you should consider yoga or pilates on the beach. It’s fun yet relaxing!

Sleep till late…

…but only if that means not waking up after 9am. Your body does need sleep to accumulate energy, so make sure you squeeze in at least six hours of sleep a night. You might want to challenge yourself and run on four hours or so (it does get tempting and we understand the urge to take all the new experiences in), but the more tired you are, the more food your body is going to need to keep you functioning. This will only lead to late night snacks, binge eating, romantic walks to the local food stands… ah, you know the drill.

Basically, it all comes down to self-control. Sure, 10 days of your life won’t change much overall, but they will have an impact on your body in the long run. So, be smart and careful about your choices, and you’ll keep that body banging!

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The health benefits of Magnesium


Magnesium has long been praised for its healing properties. I personally use it as a natural pain-killer and find it to be far more effective than any store-bought drug.

There are several ways in which Magnesium can benefit you. By simply taking one capsule a day you’ll find yourself sleeping better, feeling more hydrated, and more relaxed.

Many people believe they can get more than enough of this mineral from their food, without the need for supplements, but remember that even soil can be depleted of vital minerals such as Magnesium. Even if your food did provide you with enough of this mineral, it can escape your body if you consume substances such as alcohol, coffee or black tea to name but a few.

There are several reasons you should increase your Magnesium intake. Here are just a few of those reasons.

Better sleep: Magnesium relaxes the body, the muscles and nervous system while also regulating the hormone, melatonin, which is essential for sleep. It also balances and controls the stress hormones that can lead to insomnia. Before sleeping is the best time to take Magnesium.

Hydration: Magnesium, along with minerals such as Calcium, Potassium and Sodium is an electrolyte, which is essential for proper hydration of the body.

Relaxation: It calms and relaxes the body by promoting the production of Serotonin, the happy hormone which will boost your mood.

Pain-relief: It relaxes the muscles, relieving cramps and other pains, and loosening tight muscles. A Magnesium deficiency can result in the build-up of lactic acid, which causes pain and tightness, as opposed to the greater flexibility achieved with a healthy Magnesium intake. Furthermore, Magnesium is an excellent way to relieve the stomach cramps and headaches that come with period pain.

Muscle-building: Magnesium allows the body to produce more of the Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1), which contributes to the growth and strength of the muscles. The cell’s energy store, Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) is also created using Magnesium.

There are several other benefits to Magnesium. It helps to strengthen bones and teeth; it alkalises the body and balances pH; it relieves constipation and can even prevent strokes and heart disease. The benefits of this one mineral are endless. Just one Magnesium tablet a day can provide all of the above benefits and more. I better start taking mine a bit more often.

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Happy Guide: Make 2015 a Happy New Year

Happy Guide Cover

I don’t usually review books on my blog, but recently I’ve read a couple that have stuck with me that I simply must write about. The first of those books is Happy Guide: 6 Simple Lifestyle Changes for Health and Happiness by Michael Kinnaird.

I must say, this post has been a long time coming. I first read this book back in May, and I reread it just last month. It’s certainly one of those books that you can keep referring to when you need a little guidance.

Happy Guide, as the name suggests, is a guide to happiness. And no, it’s not one of those self-help books that makes you jump through hoops in the pursuit of happiness. It provides six very simple, very achievable steps that you can follow to achieve the happiness you truly deserve.

Let me just take a second to mention the time of year. With Christmas coming up in just two weeks, and a New Year only three weeks away, it’s certainly time to start considering New Year’s resolutions.

So if you’re still looking for the perfect gift for that special someone, you should consider this book (available at It will provide your loved one with an excellent read and the perfect New Year’s resolution.

In 2015, I will be happy.

So how do we achieve happiness? Regular readers of my blog will know I’m a big health fanatic. Nutrition is key to looking beautiful and feeling healthy. But it’s also one of the key topics covered in Happy Guide.

At the moment, especially in Ireland, the majority of people have what Happy Guide calls the “pill for an ill” mindset. For every illness, there is a pill that should cure it, but do you really want to take pills for the rest of your life?

True vibrant health and happiness, like children have, comes from having a healthy body and a clear mind, free from worry.

The truth is that health and happiness is the synergy of all factors that create health. And that is why the same factors will heal and restore almost all health problems.

Michael Kinnaird, author of Happy Guide

Michael lays out the path to happiness in six simple steps. I won’t go through all of them (you should read the book for that), but I can say that all six steps are easy and achievable.

Here are my three favourite topics covered in this book:

1. Eat and Drink the Right Stuff:

We’ve all made that New Year’s resolution of getting fit and eating healthy, but when it comes down to it, there’s always another tin of Roses left over from Christmas, or there’s that lump of Christmas cake that your mother made that simply can’t go to waste.

In fact, most people give up on that ideal by February, deeming it simply unachievable. In fact, the best time to start your New Year’s resolution is February, when the tins of Roses and Christmas Cake have disappeared and temptation is no longer in your way.

Happy Guide encourages readers to eat whole, natural foods and to buy the highest quality food that you can afford. The book even provides a Happy Guide Diet.

What’s on your fork today contributes to your health and happiness in a week, a year, ten years, fifty years – your health ‘outcomes’.

And we like what we know. If you get onto a healthy eating plan, you’ll come to love it, cravings will drop away and you’ll get happier and happier.

What you eat is a huge part of the happiness equation.

– Happy Guide.

These lines from chapter five really stuck with me because they are true. If, for example, you choose to cut sugar out of your diet completely, you will find that after a few days of torture, your body will just stop craving sugar. When it’s in your system, your body craves more of it. But once it’s gone, you’ll feel all the better for it.

2. Be Free from Drugs

This is probably a little controversial because of the aforementioned “pill for an ill” mentality that is rife in Ireland at the moment.

But all too often the medication you are on is simply conditioning your body to depend on it. Drugs are drugs after all. They may not be hardcore drugs like heroine, but they can still be addictive.

It goes back to what I said earlier about sugar. If you consume sugar every day, your body craves it. When you deprive yourself of sugar, it can be torture. The same goes for many drugs. When you’re on medication, that medication can control you, and do you really want your life to be controlled by a drug?

I’ve been incredibly lucky in life because my mother is a nutritional therapist. I’ve never been to a doctor for an illness. There has been nothing that good diet and natural remedies could not sort in my life. Having said that, please do not come off your medication without first speaking with your doctor.

One thing I loved about Happy Guide was the fact that the author included various quotes at the beginning of each chapter. For chapter six, ‘Be Free from Drugs’, he included an especially powerful quote:

The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.

– Thomas A. Edison

Happy Guide encourages you to meet the needs of your body, stating that when you get sick, it’s often a result of those needs not being met for a number of months, years, even decades. The trick is to meet those needs, and not introduce drugs into “an already out-of-balance biochemical system”.

This chapter goes through the topics of side-effects and dependency on drugs, the bio-mayhem that can occur when you do decide to stop taking a drug and, most importantly, how to get into the clear mindset that will allow you to fight for a drug-free life.

So for the sake of health and to feel good all the time, aim to be drug-free whenever possible. And put the conditions in place that let your amazing body do the thing it’s good at – keeping you happy and healthy.

– Happy Guide

3. Get Organised

Be careless in your dress if you will, but keep a tidy soul.

– Mark Twain.

Starting with a quote from the incredible Mark Twain, chapter nine (the fifth step to happiness) is one that really stuck out for me.

I try my best to make time for myself, but the very fact that it took me five months to finally get around to writing this blog post just shows you the amount of pressure and stress that takes over my day-to-day life.

Michael Kinnaird explains it best within the pages of Happy Guide:

I know people who’ve spent their whole lives chasing a dream they thought would make them happy, only to achieve it and realise they were no happier than before.

They put all of themselves into outer success, but their dream turned out to be an idea, a concept… “I will be happy when I have this thing” or “I will be happy when I am doing that thing”.

So we chase after rainbows. How can there be lasting happiness by chasing things that come and go by their very nature?

– Happy Guide

We can work so hard to get to a certain point in our lives – a point that we think will make us happy – but in the process, we can lose sight of the things that matter. A rainbow will never last forever, but there are things that will.

I love to read and I love to play my piano. It makes me happy. But lately I’ve been trying so hard to make it in my career that I haven’t read a book for pleasure in over four years – not since I graduated from UCD with a degree in English and Music.

As for the music, I have the most beautiful piano, but because I’ve spent so many years working for a career in journalism, I’ve lost the skill I once had. If you don’t use it, you lose it. That’s not happiness.

But Happy Guide has taught me to prioritise those things that make me happy and I plan to read over Christmas, and play my piano as often as I can. Do what makes you happy and put everything else second.

Put the horse before the cart. Get happy first and then see what you do!

– Happy Guide.


This book is so refreshing, and has really opened my eyes to what I’m doing with my life. I try my best to be healthy and happy, but this book has really made me realise what I could do to improve my life.

On the website, I’ve found several recommendations from doctors, life coaches, dieticians, psychologists, olympians, and busy people like you or me.

I’d like to add my own recommendation to the mix. If you want to achieve real happiness, read this book. You won’t regret it, trust me.

With Christmas coming up and New Year’s resolutions being considered, this is the perfect gift for a loved one – or yourself. What better gift than the gift of happiness?

For more information on the book, visit the website at

10% Discount for Beautiful Health Readers

With Christmas coming up, I’m delighted to be able to provide my readers with a 10% discount for Happy Guide , courtesy of Michael and James from Happy Guide.

To avail of your discount, simply click here.

After that, you’re on your way to a happier, healthier life! Enjoy it!

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If you don’t snooze, you lose: How to get enough sleep


Sleep needs vary from person to person and are impacted by age, lifestyle and health. Most people usually need around seven or eight hours per night. If you don’t get your required amount of sleep, you accumulate a “sleep debt”. For example, if you need seven hours of sleep but only get five, then you have a sleep debt of two hours. If you continue to get insufficient amounts of sleep, this debt grows, just like any other debt you fail to pay.

Insufficient amounts of sleep can seriously affect our daylight hours by reducing the speed and efficiency with which we function. Our concentration can slide and our reactions slow, impairing our ability to perform particular tasks, such as driving.

In fact, the Road Safety Authority of Ireland (RSA) has appealed to road users to be aware of the dangers of driver fatigue. Research indicates that one fifth of road accidents in Ireland are attributed to driver fatigue.

Sleep debt can be very dangerous and can result in impaired memory, concentration and motor skills. The amount of sleep we do or don’t get can also influence our levels of success, and even our personality, according to a recent study carried out by researchers in Germany.


How to get enough sleep

Set a regular sleep routine: Try to get to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning – even on weekends, holidays and days off when you may be tempted to sleep in. Being consistent reinforces your body clock, promoting better sleep at night.

Avoid napping: Yes, I’m advising you to give up your excuse to crawl back into bed on a Monday and ignore the world, but naps can interfere with your sleeping pattern – especially if you’re struggling with insomnia or poor sleep quality at night. If you must nap, keep it short.

Have a bedtime ritual: Doing the same things every night can programme your body to recognise when it’s time to wind down. This ritual may include reading a book, listening to music or taking a warm bath or shower.

Turn off the gadgets: It can be tempting to browse the internet on a smartphone or iPad while you wait for sleep to take over but research suggests that artificial light coming from TV, computer, phone or tablet screens can suppress the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. Switching off all devices an hour before bed and turning to a relaxing book that doesn’t stimulate the mind too much will make sleeping a lot easier.

Be aware of what you eat: You won’t be able to sleep if you’re too hungry or too full. Try to stop eating two to three hours before bed. Drinking too much liquid will result in disruptive trips to the toilet in the middle of the night. Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol should also be avoided before bed. The effects of nicotine and caffeine can take hours to wear off, lowering the quality of sleep. Alcohol, though it may make you feel sleepy, can disrupt sleep later in the night.

Relax: Make yourself comfortable. It’s important to have a comfortable, supportive mattress and pillow. Try and make your room ideal for sleep. Make sure there are no disturbing noises, that the bedroom isn’t too warm, and that you have enough room if you share your bed. Finally, darkness is important for the production of melatonin, so ensure there are no distracting lights.

Exercise: Try to include some physical activity in your daily routine as this can promote better sleep. But try not to exercise too close to bedtime as you might be too energised to fall asleep.

Manage Stress: Stress and anxiety plays a large role in your sleep pattern. If you have too much on your mind, sleeping is the last thing your body will want to do. Relaxation is the key to combating stress and getting a good night’s sleep. Meditation can sometimes help you to relax. And if you’re worried about something you have to do the next day, keep a pen and notebook next to your bed. If you think of something you don’t want to forget, write it down and wipe it from your mind.


How much sleep do you need?

Age Sleep Needs
Newborns (0-2 months) 12 to 18 hours
Infants (3 to 11 months) 14 to 15 hours
Toddlers (1-3 years) 12 to 14 hours
Small children (3-5 years) 11 to 13 hours
School-age children (5-10 years) 10 to 11 hours
Teenagers (10-17 years) 8.5 to 9.25 hours
Adults 7 to 9 hours


Pre-bedtime snacks that will help you sleep

Walnuts are an excellent source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps with the production of melatonin.

Almonds are rich in magnesium, a mineral that improves the quality of sleep. Magnesium relaxes the muscles, ensuring a more peaceful sleep.

Cherries or cherry juice can help you to fall asleep faster. Cherries boost melatonin levels and can help with sleep disorders such as insomnia. Tart cherries are the most effective.

Chamomile tea can increase the body’s glycine levels, which will relax the nerves and muscles, acting like a mild sedative.

Honey raises insulin levels slightly, allowing tryptophan to enter the brain easily. A spoonful of honey before bed will give the brain enough tryptophan to ensure a more restful sleep.

Calcium-rich foods such as dairy or green leafy vegetables like kale will help the brain to use tryptophan to produce melatonin.

Avoid foods that are high in caffeine, junk foods, processed carbs, foods high in fat, oils or spices, alcohol and nicotine as all of these will disrupt your sleep.

Sleeping kittens

The old saying goes “if you snooze, you lose”, but the opposite is true in many cases. If you’re constantly exhausted, you lose so much time that could be spent enjoying life. So ensure you catch your zzzz every night so you can be fresh and happy during the day.

Sweet dreams!

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Adapted from an article I wrote for The Connacht Tribune.