26 Steps To Awesomeness

Looking for some new ways to change up your lifestyle? It’s the little things that can make a big difference to the way you look and especially to the way you feel. Make that effort in investing for a healthier and happier you. Try these steps and see if we’re right!

A (Apps)

Fitness Buddy boasts over 1700 exercises, videos and how-to’s for more efficient workouts. The Nike Training Club app also gets our thumbs-up – and it’s free! Another freebie we love is MyFitnessPal, a calorie counter with a database of over three million foods. Hitting snooze too much? Sleep Machine Lite lets you drift off to soothing sounds so you wake up feeling relaxed and rested.

B (Barre Burn)

Yes, barre as in ballet. Barre fusion classes (Xtend Barre, Barre Body, Barre3) mix dance, yoga, and pilates moves for a workout that leaves you surprisingly sore but totally addicted. If there isn’t a class in your local area, buy a DVD and do it at home. Leg warmers optional.

C (Caveman Diets)

Also called the paleolithic diet, grains, sugar, and processed foods are out, but nuts, protein, fruit, and veggies can stay (so, eating like our caveman forefathers). It’s not for everyone, but research shows refined sugar and processed foods lead to an increase in type-2 diabetes and heart disease, so skipping them can’t be a bad thing, right? Jessica Biel and Megan Fox are reportedly avid fans.

D (Donkey Kicks)

Think that burpees burn? Personal trainers are loving the donkey kick to tighten your thighs, calves and butt. Strap on some ankle weights and get on all fours. Bring one knee towards your elbows, then extend your leg straight behind you, toes pointed. Go for three minutes, working up to five minutes on each leg.

E (Eat Slowly)

A study at the University of Rhode Island found that women who chewed for longer ate fewer calories and felt more satisfied after each meal. Need a ridiculous gadget to help with that? The HAPIfork buzzes every 10 to 15 seconds telling you when to take a bite so you chew more efficiently.

F (Floss)

It turns out your dentist is on to something. Researchers in the US discovered people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from heart disease as those without said conditions, due to bacteria making its way into the bloodstream. The moral here? Floss!

G (Grab Some Gum)

Researchers say that chewing gum decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol by 18 per cent while also boosting blood flow to the brain, so you feel more alert and focused. Happy chomping!

H (Holistic Facials)

Can’t get to LA to visit Kate Bosworth’s facialist, Terri Lawton, for her famed holistic facials? Here’s a secret: it’s all about the massage. DIY it by cleansing and toning your skin with your favourite organic beauty products, then open your mouth and massage your cheeks from the centre out to release tense muscles. To finish, massage in your moisturiser and feel the difference.

I (Internet Fitness)

Convenient “wherever, whenever” workout websites are a big hit among time-poor students and international wanderers. Log on to YogaGlo (yogaglo.com) or Pilates On Demand (pilatesod.com) to see what all the fuss is about.

J (Juice or Smoothie?)

A green drink of any kind is a combo of green veg (and sometimes a small amount of green fruit, like apple or pear) whizzed in a blender or juicer to give you an instant hit of nutrients. What’s the diff between a juice and a smoothie? A smoothie leaves the vegetables’ fibre intact and a juice doesn’t. So if you need help in the, er, waste department, opt for the smoothie.

K (Kale)

This leafy green is having a moment among healthy foodies but what’s the big deal? Well, the super veggie has more iron than beef, more calcium than milk, and 10 per cent more vitamin C than spinach per calorie consumed! Want to try it? Make kale chips! Chop off the stems and coat the leaves in coconut oil, salt, and spices. Pop on a baking tray and into a very low oven (60°C to 90°C) for 45 to 60 minutes or until crisp. Healthy chips? We likey!

L (Laze Around)

The magic number for weekly workouts seems to be four, according to a study by The University of Alabama at Birmingham. The upside? You get three days off to laze around. The study assigned 72 women to three different groups – twice-weekly workouts, four times a week, and six times a week. Researchers found that the women who exercised four times had the biggest increase in energy levels overall.

M (Motivational Quotes) 

Oh Pinterest, you’ll never get boring with your endless stack of motivational quotes to help the world “keep calm and carry on”.

N (Nibble Don’t Gorge)

Put down the chocolate block! A Cornell University study revealed that adults who received small portions of junk food were just as satisfied 15 minutes later as those who were given larger amounts. They also saved an average of 103 calories. Bonus!

O (Oil)

What’s the best oil to cook with? Avoid olive oil, which turns into a bad fat at very high temps, and choose coconut oil instead. It’s also a great moisturiser, so slather it on dry skin or hair à la Gwyneth Paltrow and Kourtney Kardashian. Save olive oil for drizzling raw over salads or pasta, and always go for the nutritious cold-pressed extra virgin variety.

P (Pre-Breakfast Workouts)

If you’re struggling to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning, we’ve just found one for you. Researchers at the University of Glasgow discovered that going for a speedy 60-minute walk before breakfast burns more fat – both during and after the workout – than exercising later in the day.

Q (Quick Training)

Shorter workouts can achieve celeb-worthy results. Heidi Klum’s trainer, David Kirsch, takes 30-minute intensive sessions for his clients, and The New York Times Phys. Ed. columnist Gretchen Reynolds’ book The First 20 Minutes draws on research proving that the first 20 minutes of a workout is when you get the most benefits. Popular CrossFit also works with this approach.

R (Rooibos)

Forget chai – research suggests that the caffeine-free South African red tea rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) has more antioxidants than green tea, is packed with essential minerals, boosts circulation, eases stomach issues, and can even aid skin issues like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Just apply a freshly brewed, cooled teabag to the area to heal the inflammation.

T (Time Out)

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that after eight weeks of mindfulness meditation, the areas of your brain associated with anxiety, stress, memory, and empathy act differently. If you need some help chilling out, download Miranda Kerr’s favourite meditation app, Simply Being: Guided Meditation for Relaxation and Presence.

U (Umeboshi)

These Japanese pickled plums are the latest fruit to join the superfood ranks thanks to their medicinal benefits – they help to alkalise the body, reduce fatigue, stimulate digestion, and eliminate toxins. Eat them with rice, or use umeboshi paste or vinegar to make soups, dressings, and sauces.

V (Vegetables)

Not a veggie lover? You might want to convert. A US study found vegetarians are at a lower risk of kidney failure, diabetes, and premature death than meat-eaters. But don’t give up steak just yet – the results also showed that cancer struck meat-eaters and vegos equally. Bottom line: eating a balanced diet packed with nutrient-dense veg is the healthiest option.

W (Wheels)

Three seriously awesome reasons to start cycling:

1 It’s eco friendly.

2 It’s low impact, so you’ll tone and tighten your muscles with less chance of injury.

3 You will feel happier. Yep, studies show that cycling, like most exercise, releases serotonin, the Mr Feel Good of hormones.

X (Xylitol)

This all-natural sugar alternative has 40 per cent less calories than sugar. It’s great for sugar-free baking and easy to incorporate into your favourite recipes – a teaspoon of xylitol is equivalent to a teaspoon of sugar.

Y (Yoga Fusion)

Our obsession with yoga keeps growing thanks to the latest craze in fitness: yoga… everything. Yep, anti-gravity aerial yoga (acrobatics and yoga), flow cycle (spin and yoga) and shadow yoga (martial arts and yoga) are all a thing now.

Z (Zonk Out)

Sleep – the last frontier of health and wellbeing thanks to its ability to improve memory, curb inflammation, reduce stress, and keep your weight in check, say scientists. If you’re having trouble bunking down, try limiting technology two hours before bed, meditating, and turning down the lights one hour before sleep time.