I was kindly gifted 'The Existence of of Amy' by the author, Lana Grace Riva. I happily accepted knowing that the book explores mental health issues and having suffered with depression myself I was intrigued how mental health disorders were going to be portrayed.

The book is written in the first person about a girl called Amy. Amy has a normal life. She has friends, a home and a job it quickly becomes clear that all is not what is seems. Amy struggles everyday with life and we come to learn that she suffers with OCD and depression. She finds daily tasks hard, meeting with friends very difficult but this all gets on top of her when her closest friend announces he is moving to Singapore. I don't want to give any more of the story away as it will spoil it for you.

Lana Grace Riva has written a wonderful portrayal of people suffering with a mental illness. These issues are normally hard to tackle as many people still don't understand them or want to believe that they exist. 



The first chapter packs a big punch. The short sentences and paragraphs reflect Amy's busy chaotic mind and gives a clear insight into OCD and depression.

The story is an easy, enjoyable read. It almost feels like a diary. You will become easily invested in Amy and her life and keep willing her to take chances and seek the help she desperately needs.



My only criticism is that I would have liked to have read more about the counselling sessions. I didn't want the story to end as I wanted to know more of what happens to her. Perhaps this gives an opportunity for a second book.

Overall, it was a wonderful, easy flowing read. I'd recommend it to anyone suffering with a mental illness as it'll help you not to feel alone or to anyone hoping to gain a better understanding of what other people have to endure.

Thank you again Lara. 4/5 stars.

Many people desire to lose weight from around their belly area as this is the main area where fat begins to accumulate. Many individuals feel self-conscious about their stomach area and are often seeking the best ways to lose belly fat. In order to lose belly fat however you must participate in various exercises. 

Some exercises promise to target certain areas of your body and provide instant results, unfortunately however this is not true. You have to do exercises which target all muscles in order to lose belly fat. This includes upper body exercises you can do at home and lower body exercises too. 

Here are some exercises that will help you on your quest to lose weight from your stomach... 

Lie down flat on your back and keep your hands at the sides of your body. Slowly begin to raise your legs up to a 45-degree angle, and then begin to move them in a cycling motion. Do this cycling action for about fifteen times, and then repeat the exercise a further two times. This exercise helps to strengthen your abdominal muscles and lose belly fat

The next exercise is a simple contraction work that you can do a number of times during the day whilst sitting down leisurely. Keep your palms wide open on your abdomen and then breathe in slowly, thus pulling your abdomen in. Stay in this pose for five seconds and then breathe out slowly. This will help to strengthen the walls of your abdomen as well as lose body fat.

Lie on the floor on your side with on hand supporting your head and the other hand resting on the side of your body. Slowly raise one of your legs to a 45-degree angle and stay in this position for two seconds before returning to the initial position. Do three sets of 15 repetitions, and then switch legs and do the same for the other side. This will help strengthen your side as well as your lateral ab muscles in particular. 

Lie down flat on your back with your hands placed behind your head. Place your legs on a stool in order to make your thighs perpendicular to your lower stomach. Now, gradually start to move your head towards your thighs, contracting your stomach. Stay in this position for a few seconds before returning back to your natural position. This will help to strengthen your side abdomen muscles and of course, will help you lose belly fat. I would recommend doing three sets of 15 repetitions. 

Lie down flat on your back with your hands and slowly begin to raise your legs to a 90-degree angle this time, which will make your legs stand perpendicular to the floor. Lift your hips slightly so that your bum are not resting on the floor. Stay in this place for 5 to 10 seconds before returning back to your normal position of lying on the floor. This will help to strengthen your lower abdomen and of course, burn excess body fat

Lie down flat on your back and put your hands behind your head. Slowly raise your legs to a 45-degree angle. Now begin to gently start shifting your body to your legs and hold this state for three seconds before returning back to the normal positions. Do five sets containing 15 repetitions of this exercise. This will target and strengthen your upper ab muscles and help you to lose belly fat.

Breathing control is very important in regard to doing exercises with the aim of losing belly fat. You must follow a regular breathing schedule in order to get the best results from your exercises. 

A simple and misused exercise in regards to losing belly fat is cardiovascular exercise. A lot of people spend a lot of time doing cardio exercises, yet because they do not execute the exercise properly they fail to achieve the correct results. Partaking in the right kind of cardio is important. Cardio exercise with the aim of losing belly fat, in particular, must be intensive and short. There is no need to spend hours doing cardio exercises, instead, you should perform intensive cardio in short interfiled spells rather than a long duration cardio workout. Find the best workout for you as it is essential you enjoy what you are doing.

High-intensity interval cardio is the most effective way to lose belly fat. After every few minutes of your workout make sure you change the pace. For instance, the first segment may exert you greatly whilst the second segment makes you slow down. This type of cardio done for 2—25 minutes will give you the same results as a 45min basic cardio work out. Try the following rhythm for as long as you like:

- 2-3 minutes medium-paced run

- 1-2 minutes high paced run

- 2-3 minutes fast walk

- 1 minute sprinting 

- 2-3 minutes medium-paced run

- 2-3 minutes high paced run

- 2-3 minutes walk


Here is a brief on some of the best cardio exercises which will lose belly fat:

Running:

Running is great because it works the entire body; from head to toe. It is strenuous and can be done outside or indoors on a treadmill. 

Cycling: 

This can also be done outdoors or indoors on a stationary bike. 

Swimming:

Swimming is a great cardio and strength workout. It builds muscle tissue and many people find it one of the most enjoyable exercises to do.

Hiking and Walking:

These are another great way to burn belly fat.

Yoga and Pilates:

These exercises focus on strengthening your core muscles whilst improving balance, stability, flexibility, and of course losing body fat. 

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of some of the different exercises and routines you can follow to lose weight around your stomach area. If you try out these exercises, you should notice a difference within a few weeks or so, and definitely a considerable difference over months. Remember to stick at it; patience is a must.


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The pandemic has shone a spotlight on health and wellbeing, and many of us are emerging from lockdown with a desire to prioritise health. If you’re looking for simple steps you can take today to protect your wellbeing and promote health and happiness, here are some top tips. 


Checks and tests

Many of us are guilty of burying our heads in the sand when we don’t feel well or ignoring messages or letters that contain details of tests or routine checks that are available to us. If you tend to chuck mail on a pile of unopened letters, or it’s been a long time since you visited a doctor or a dentist, it’s crucial to understand the importance of keeping up to date with health checks. Ideally, you should see your dentist every 6-12 months and have your eyes and your hearing tested on a regular basis. If you’re invited to attend a screening or a general health check, make an appointment as soon as possible. Cancer screening tests, blood pressure and BMI checks and sessions designed to provide information about cardiovascular illnesses and diabetes save lives.


 

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Insurance

Taking out health insurance won’t prevent you from getting ill, but it will provide you with peace of mind and a wider range of options if you need medical treatment. As well as investing in health insurance, it’s also wise to explore life insurance and critical illness cover, especially if you have dependents. Getting life insurance with poor health can be more difficult, and premiums are likely to be higher, but it is possible to find providers that offer cover for those with underlying health conditions. Before you take out any kind of policy, think about what you want from your insurance, compare prices and make sure you read the details. It’s best to prioritise value for money over cost, as some plans are much more comprehensive than others. 


Picture from https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-oval-medication-pill-beside-blister-pack-47327/


Preventative measures

It is not always possible to prevent every illness, infection or disease, but there are steps you can take to boost physical and mental health and reduce the risk of preventable conditions. Your lifestyle choices have a significant influence on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer, for example. Eating well, leading an active lifestyle, drinking in moderation and avoiding smoking can reduce the risk of these illnesses dramatically. If you need help with cutting down on drinking, or you’d like to quit smoking, there is support available. You can arrange to see your doctor, visit a local pharmacy or get in touch with local community groups. If you don’t hit the recommended activity target of 150 minutes of exercise per week, start building your fitness gradually by walking more and getting involved in sports, activities and workouts. You can train at home via online workouts, interactive personal training sessions or fitness DVDs, embrace the great outdoors and try hiking, kayaking, climbing or mountain biking, or join a sports club, team or local gym. 


Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-and-woman-jogging-4024914/


Many of us are keen to start putting our health first. If you’re on a mission to protect yourself and reap the rewards of a healthier lifestyle, take these steps today.


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Exercise should be part of our everyday lives, but it isn’t always easy to find the time – or the motivation – to get fit. However, exercising with a partner can help you to stay focused and achieve your goals. If you want to increase the frequency of your training sessions or boost their intensity, take a look at why exercising with a partner could help:

You will feel more confident

If you feel self-conscious at the gym or you’re nervous about attending a new class alone, having a workout buddy will make this a thing of the past. When you have someone to work out with, you will feel more confident, whether you’re at the gym, taking part in group fitness or simply getting out and about.

You will be accountable

When someone else is relying on you, you will be less likely to skip a workout or finish early. If you find that you regularly miss sessions or skip going to the gym, working out with a partner can help to change your mindset. The extra accountability will motivate you to keep your workout schedule and you’ll feel better for staying on track.

You can work out more safely

Although many exercises can be performed alone, there are instances in which you’ll need a partner to assist you. If you are lifting free weights, for example, having a ‘spotter’ will ensure you’re able to train safely. Even having someone present to evaluate your form and offer feedback can be a great way to improve your workouts.

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You’ll motivate each other

No matter how committed you are to achieving your health and fitness goals, it can be hard to stay motivated all the time. Having a workout buddy means there’s always someone to offer a word of encouragement or to pick you up on off days, not to mention the fact you won’t want to let them down. Whether you’re doing Jason Statham's body workouts, heading out for a hike or hitting the gym, you can never be too motivated. With a fitness buddy by your side, you’ll have a constant source of encouragement.

You’ll make exercise fun

If you find going to the gym boring or you’re tired of listening to the same playlist when you’re jogging, it’s time to inject some fun into your exercise routines. Working out with a partner means you can enjoy the social aspect of getting fit. By making exercise more fun, you’ll enjoy it far more and be more likely to stick to your goals. When you can talk, laugh and have fun while working out, you’ll never want to miss a training session again.

Start Exercising Now

Providing you choose the right intensity and don’t push yourself too hard, you should be able to begin exercising right away. So, why wait? Message your mates, call your friends and find out who wants to be your next training buddy. With any luck, you’ll encourage your social circle to get active and even have enough participants to start your own fitness group!

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pregnant woman holding petaled flowers

(Image Source)


It’s no secret that having a baby can be harder for some than others. While you may have friends that have had children without even trying, this process can often be a lot trickier than you would expect. Even if you’ve had children in the past, conceiving a child isn’t always possible without the right time, dedication, and methods to help the process along. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring some of the best ways to improve your odds of having children, all without having to go through expensive treatments that don’t guarantee success.


Timing & Scheduling


While the idea of scheduling sex might be a little boring to some, making sure that you’re doing this regularly enough is a big part of having children. Some people will do this more than once each day when they are trying for children. Alongside making sure that you’re having sex regularly, it can also be smart to think about menstrual cycles. Women are most fertile at different times of the month, and this usually revolves around their periods. This gives you a great tool to make sure that you’re trying for a child when you have the best chances of having one.


Health & Fitness


Like many of your bodily functions, having a child is something that will be easiest when you are in your prime. You need to make sure that you are fit and healthy if you’re going to increase your chances of success with a child, and this can be harder than a lot of people expect. For example, you’re going to have to make sure that your diet is on point if you’re going to improve your fertility. There are loads of sites and guides around the web that can teach you how to make sure that you are at your most fertile all the time.


Treatments


Unfortunately, while most people have the ability to have children, there are still plenty out there that will struggle to do this naturally. An IVF procedure is usually non-invasive, quick to perform, and increases your chances of having children by a huge margin. You will still have the chance to carry the baby to term as you would in a natural pregnancy, but you will be guaranteed conception, and this is much more than you will get in your own bed. There are other treatments available on the market that can improve your fertility, making it well worth doing some research if you’re considering this sort of approach.


With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to start approaching your chances of having a child. This can be a difficult process, with a lot of parents struggling along the way. In reality, though, taking the right steps towards having your child will make it much easier to get through this in a time that makes you happy.


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