12 Tips for Cutting Sugar from Your Diet

A personal trainer’s advice for achieving a sugar-free lifestyle

Excessive sugar intake is linked to many adverse health effects

While it can be said that occasionally consuming small amounts of sugar is perfectly safe, it’s advisable for anyone to minimise their consumption of added sugars and other processed carbohydrates for optimising their health and wellbeing.

Thankfully, the first step towards a naturally sweetened lifestyle is just being conscious of the sources of sugar in your diet. Being mindful of exactly what is going into your body allows you to decide what you are ready to give up, and what you need to hang onto for a little bit longer.

Some expert tips on reducing your intake of refined sugars:   

1: Ditch the sweet drinks

Swap the juices, sodas or energy drinks for water or unsweetened beverages.

With a blender, you can just mix water with your favourite fruits and vegetables for a nutrient-rich smoothie that will provide lasting energy.  

2: That includes sweetened tea and coffee

You don’t need to sweeten your tea or coffee, milk contains enough sugar.  

3: Go easy on the condiments

Most sauces, marinades and dressings are loaded with sugar but, olive oil and vinegar are healthy substitutes for sweetened salad dressings and you there are usually unsweetened options when it comes to marinades and sauces.

The palate only misses sugar when there is nothing interesting to replace it. Add some spices to your meals if they lack flavour! 

4: You don’t have to give up snacking!

Swap sweet treats or snacks for natural alternatives.  

Fruits, nuts and trail mixes can be eaten throughout the day to satisfy hunger and your body’s energy requirements and not only do they satisfy sugar and salt cravings, they are also rich in vitamins and minerals. 

5: Start your day right

Your morning sets the pace for the rest of your day. Avoid processed grains and other simple carbs, especially sugary drinks and breakfast cereals. The body quickly breaks down simple carbs to sugar which causes a spike in blood sugar levels and a potential crash

If you’re looking for a sustainable breakfast full of vitamins and minerals, try a mix of plain or Greek yoghurt, oats, chia and any of your favourite fruit and berries. 

Cooked eggs are also a highly nutritious way to start the day. I love mine Brazilian style, scrambled and mixed with tapioca powder for natural protein, fats and carbohydrates. 

6: Watch your consumption of alcohol

Alcohol is detrimental to your health regardless of what form it comes in so, avoid alcoholic beverages mixed with sugary juices and sodas. You’ll be grateful the next day.

7: Make your shopping list sacred

If you don’t want to be tempted to buy foods you know you shouldn’t be eating, don’t put them on the shopping list!

When shopping for food, follow the store perimeter. Focus on the fridges, fresh foods and whole food items.   

The most nutritious diets do not focus on how much you eat, but what you eat. Countless experts recommend basing your diet around foods such as fruit, vegetables, fish, whole (unprocessed) grains and legumes, dairy, nuts and seed, as well as lean meats or vegetarian alternatives.

Fill your fridge with natural products so that you always have healthy alternatives to combat cravings. Avoiding packaged and processed items in the supermarket is a big leap towards a healthy diet and lifestyle. 

8: Meal Prep

It’s hard to sustain a diet without a plan. We are all guilty of going for the easy or unhealthy option when we are feeling hungry or lazy. Of course, you are far more likely to reach for the sweet snack when you have nothing nutritious at hand. 

If you are making sure your fridge is full of healthy foods then the next level is to start converting those ingredients into wholesome meals for the days ahead. When you have a fridge full of delicious, homemade meals, are you even going to want to open the bag of simple carbs waiting for you in the pantry? I think not. 

Many efficient meal preppers will do their shopping and preparation for the week on the same day. While this is ideal, my ‘weeks’ meals usually only last a few days and THIS IS OKAY. I know that when I eat one of these meals prematurely, I am usually saving myself from a poor food choice and at the end of the day, that’s what they’re there for. 

I have a weakness for cookies, cakes and brownies. The workaround for this? Baking your own reduced-sugar alternatives at home! You can easily take control of your diet by preparing your meals in advance. Make decisions your future self will be grateful for.

9: Think twice about artificial sugars

While they are sweeter than regular sugars and contain little to no calories, eating artificial sugars can actually trick the body into believing that it is consuming sugar. 

Scientists are divided between whether or not artificial sweeteners are safe or unsafe, but numerous studies suggest sweeteners cause weight gain, brain tumours, bladder cancer and many other health hazards, including carcinogenicity in humans. 

10: Make gradual changes

If done so gradually, there is a greater chance of success when transitioning from a full sugar diet to a no sugar diet.

A sugar junkie will rarely be able to sustain a no sugar diet if they decide to cut stop their sugar consumption overnight, the cravings, or withdrawals, are just too much. 

Not sure where to start? Try banning your worst sugar habit from the shopping list or choose any one of the points on this list.

Every step you take towards a lower sugar intake is a step towards a healthier lifestyle. Never underestimate the significance of each decision you make. 

11: Start reading product labels

There are two reasons to do this. The first is to understand the macronutrient composition of your food items meaning, how much protein, fats and carbs.

There are also 61 different names for sugar so, once the individual sources of sugar have been eliminated from the diet, it is advisable to look at some of the items on the shopping list to determine whether or not it is something that aligns with your fitness goals.

12: Recognise your progress

Remember that health and fitness is a journey. You can always go further but you should also always recognise how far your have come. 

Never ignore a kilogram lost, a bad habit kicked or an extra kilometre you can run. Progress is good progress, no matter how small.

Overall

The best way to lower your sugar intake is through mindfulness of what you are eating and always having healthy alternatives available to satisfy the cravings. 

Take control of your diet by preparing your own healthy meals at home and having them on hand to combat cravings. 

Just being aware of what sources of sugar you are consuming, while focusing on eating whole, unprocessed foods, will instantly lead to a reduced amount of sugar in your diet. 

If you are struggling to kick some unhealthy dietary habits, try some of the simple changes above and see how quickly your relationship with sugar changes. 

10 Fitness tips for beginners

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10 Vtiamins and minerals to consume daily

6 Tips for improving your mental health

10 Reasons to avoid sugar

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About the Author: Harrison has more than a decade of experience on, and off, the rugby field as a representative player, junior coach and part-time referee. His passion for rugby led him to the Australian Institute of Personal Trainers where he studied the human body, exercise and nutrition, before being registered as a health and fitness professional with Fitness Australia and Fitness First Australia. Although the career path has changed, his passion for health, fitness, and Rugby will always remain.

10 Reasons to Avoid Sugar

The dangers of consuming the world’s most addictive substance

Everyone wants to look good and feel healthy, but at what cost?

As children we used to laugh about a saying, you are what you eat, but as I have grown older I’ve realised that there have not been truer words spoken concerning health and wellbeing.

The word diet comes from the Greek root word, diaita, which means to live one’s life, and also from the Latin root word, diaeta, meaning a manner of living. Your diet is the root of your energy and a huge influence on the overall quality of your life.

So, why do we need to limit the intake of processed carbohydrates?

Processed carbohydrates, also known as simple or refined carbs, are just sugars and grains which have been stripped of all bran, fibre and nutrients. Everyday food items in this category include white flour, white bread, pastries, pasta, breakfast cereals, packaged snacks and added sugars, such as those found in sweet foods, sodas and juices.

While these foods are not unsafe when consumed in moderation, eating them regularly or in large amounts can bring undesirable health effects.

“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.”
[Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are]
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1826

“Der Mensch ist, was er ißt.”
[Man is what he eats]
Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach, 1864

The dangers of excess sugar consumption

1: Sugar can lead to weight gain

Worldwide obesity rates are still on the rise after nearly tripling since 1975. In 2016, 39% of all adults were considered overweight and of these 1.9 billion people, more than 650 million were obese.

The root cause? Increased global production and consumption of refined sugars.

Diets high in sugar are usually high in calories. A caloric surplus, meaning more calories consumed than burned, is responsible for weight gain so, if you want to reduce your waistline, before anything else, reduce the number of sugary products that you consume.

Sweetened beverages, like soft drinks and juices, are loaded with fructose. Fructose induces a fake feeling of hunger and excessive consumption can also lead to your body developing a resistance to leptin, a hormone which regulates hunger.

The average can of soda contains around 50 grams of sugar (50 x 4 = 200 calories) meaning, just one sugary drink each day can put you out of the healthy range of sugar consumption. So, not only does a can of Coke contain 10% of the average person’s daily caloric needs, it has more sugar than you need each day and it can make you hungry

What do you get when you mix a faux feeling of hunger with a bottomless pit? Weight gain, amongst many other potential health complications. While you should reduce your sugar intake if you are trying to get into shape, it’s important to note that sugar alone does not cause weight gain or obesity. An unhealthy state of being is caused by a mix of diet, physical activity and genetics, as well as social and environmental factors. This being said, high sugar diets are usually one of the leading causes of big bellies.

2: Sugar can increase your chances of depression

Are you familiar with brain foods? Sugar is basically the opposite. Excessive consumption of sugar can not only lead to impaired memory and an increased risk of dementia, it can also increase your chances of developing depression.

Separate studies conducted with more than 75,000 men and women concluded that those with higher sugar intakes had a significantly greater risk of depression than those who consumed less sugar than recommended. While depression is curable, degeneration of the brain is irreversible. Look after your mind by reducing your sugar intake.

3: Sugar provides unsustainable energy

Eating sugar-rich foods will spike blood sugar and insulin levels, resulting in a short burst of energy. If only consuming foods lacking protein, fat or fibre, this increase in energy will be followed by a drastic decrease in blood sugar, also known as a crash.

Blood sugar swings lead to fluctuations in energy levels and underperformance from both the body and mind. Consistently failing to meet your body’s nutrition requirements can lead to physical health complications. Similarly, under-powering your mind can lead to depression or accelerated cognitive degeneration.

For sustainable energy, swap the processed carbs for fruit, vegetables or other natural foods rich in protein, fat or fibre.

4: Sugar can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes

While the increasing global prevalence of diabetes can be attributed to several reasons, there is a definite link between high sugar diets and the risk of developing this chronic condition.

People who are overweight are considered to be the most at risk, however, anyone who consumes large quantities of sugar is at risk of developing an insulin resistance which leads to elevated blood sugar levels and therefore, a heightened risk of diabetes.

5: Sugar is detrimental to dental health

Eating sugar throughout the day can lead to tooth decay which also leads to the development of cavities. Bacteria in our mouths feed on sugar and react by releasing an acid that causes tooth decay and demineralisation. Reducing your sugar intake is a simple means of preventing tooth cavities.

6: Sugar can lead to fatty liver disease

A condition in which fat builds up inside of the liver and common in people who have obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which are consequences of excessive consumption of sugar.

Your liver is responsible for detoxifying ingested chemicals and filtering blood which is en route to the digestive tract. Liver failure can be fatal but like most organs, you can keep it functioning through sustaining a healthy diet.

7: Sugar increases your risk of heart disease

There is a direct link between high sugar diets and heart disease, the number one cause of death worldwide. An AMA study was conducted over 15 years and the following results were published in 2014.

A higher percentage of calories from added sugar is associated with significantly increased risk of [cardiovascular disease] mortality. Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is also associated with elevated CVD mortality… Basically, the higher the intake of added sugar, the higher the risk for heart disease.

The message here is pretty clear. You can look after your heart and cardiovascular health through maintaining a low intake of refined sugars.

8: Sugar has been linked to acne

Risks of developing acne have been linked to diets high in refined sugars or other processed carbohydrates.

High glycemic index foods, or any foods with a lot of sugar, spike blood sugar and insulin levels. This causes an increase in androgen secretion and oil production which greatly contribute to the development of acne.

9: Sugar increases your risk of cancer

Diets high in sugar can increase your risk of numerous types of cancer. Insulin resistance, inflammation and obesity are all the result of excess sugar consumption and are all significant risk factors for developing cancer. Reduce the risk by reducing your sugar intake.

10: Sugar accelerates skin ageing

Wrinkles are a natural sign of aging, we all get them one day. You can, however, reduce your biological age through sustaining a healthy diet.

Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) are compounds formed by reactions between sugar and protein cells in your body. When formed, these harmful proteins seek and destroy beneficial proteins like collagen and elastin which are responsible for maintaining the elasticity and youthfulness of the skin.

Not only do AGEs accelerate skin ageing, but they are also implicated in the development of many degenerative diseases including diabetes, kidney disease and Alzheimer’s.

Is a no sugar diet the secret fountain of youth?

Many adults eat more sugar than necessary. Countless studies have confirmed that some of the negative effects of consuming added sugar include increased blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes and fatty liver disease, which are all risk factors for heart attacks, stroke and cancer.

Aside from the many associated health risks, refined sugar is just an empty calorie with no nutritional benefit so limiting the consumption is advisable for anyone wishing to achieve better health.

While all sugars are safe in moderation, a natural source of sugar will always be more beneficial than its processed alternative. There are so many delicious foods which are great for achieving a healthy body, immune system and lifestyle, so strive to make choices that your future self will be grateful for.

10 Fitness tips for beginners

6 Tips for improving your mental health

10 Vtiamins and minerals to consume daily

The BEST exercises for getting fit at home

12 Easy ways to cut sugar from your diet

24 Foods for better living

About the Author: Harrison has more than a decade of experience on, and off, the rugby field as a representative player, junior coach and part-time referee. His passion for rugby led him to the Australian Institute of Personal Trainers where he studied the human body, exercise and nutrition, before being registered as a health and fitness professional with Fitness Australia and Fitness First Australia. Although the career path has changed, his passion for health, fitness, and Rugby will always remain.

10 Fitness Tips for Beginners

An Australian Personal Trainer’s best advice for developing healthy exercise habits

Exercising is one of the best things that you can do for maintaining optimal physical and mental health.

Some of the best-known benefits of exercise include achieving optimal weight, reducing the risk of disease, stabilising mood and improving both sex and sleep. Exercise is also known to improve your ability to focus, as well as your body’s ability to maintain higher levels of energy.

When you exercise, whether it be in the park, in the gym, or at home, your body releases chemicals called endorphins which interact with the brains pain receptors and leave a residual feeling of happiness. These endorphins also work to relieve stress, anxiety and tension so the more regularly you exercise, the better you are going to feel!

Getting into shape can be a tough road and not everyone perseveres until the end but, there are a number of things you can do to give yourself the best advantage for your fitness journey.

1: Identify your Goals. Athletic & Aesthetic.

Before starting your fitness journey, it’s important to ask yourself why. Do you want to get bigger, or smaller, or are you trying to increase your flexibility or lung capacity? Regularly ask yourself, what do I want to achieve?

Your fitness goals can be categorised as either aesthetic or athletic. Set some targets for both categories, which can be achieved in a realistic amount of time.

For example, set an athletic goal to be able to do pushups on your toes instead of your knees, or just being able to run a certain distance. If you can do 10 squats now, set a goal to be able to do 11 next week. For aesthetics, picture your ideal physique and think about it night and day. How badly do you want it? Anytime you make food choices, think about the body shape you want to achieve, then what it’s going to take to get there.

Remember that fitness is a journey and you are constantly learning and growing, so make your goals dynamic to adapt with your progress and achievements.

It’s easier than it sounds, just get started.

2: Nourish yourself. Food, Water and Sleep.

This doesn’t mean overindulge, just be sure to eat and drink enough to fulfil your body’s energy requirements. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, eggs, rice and any natural foods. Do your best to avoid refined sugars and processed carbohydrates; these are often roadblocks to your fitness journey. It’s hard to go overboard when you’re eating natural and organic so, when you get into the habit of eating well, it becomes much less important to monitor what, and how much you are eating.

Vitamins and minerals to consume daily

24 Foods for a stronger immune system

Not only does dehydration decrease performance, but it can also be dangerous. Stay hydrated by drinking water before, during and after workouts, as well as in excess on hot days or when putting your body through longer periods of stress. I aim for 3L daily.

Get into a sleeping pattern that gives you 7-8 hours of rest each night and try to be consistent with your bedtime. This is something that can be super difficult sometimes but just do your best.

3: Stretch. Then stretch again.

Stretch before workouts, stretch after workouts. Stretch before going to sleep, stretch when you wake up. Stretch before going to work, stretch after coming home.

There is never a wrong time to stretch and as you get older, stretching just becomes increasingly more important. Not only does it improve your body’s mobility and performance, but it also helps protect you from injury and makes you feel good. Don’t leave stretching out of your daily routine.

4: Start small. Consistency is greater than intensity.

Shorter workouts of lower intensity are best when it comes to starting out on your fitness journey. Once your body is used to the exercises, and recovery, you can begin to extend the duration and lift the intensity of your workouts. Completing short workouts, consistently, is much more beneficial than occasionally working out for a long period of time. Set a schedule and stick to it, even if it is just 10 minutes of stretching each morning!

If you dive headfirst into an athletes training program, without first preparing your body, you can put your fitness journey at risk. Not only are you at a heightened risk of injury while your body is conditioning to the training, but you can also easily lose motivation or burn out after a short period of time. Your fitness journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Familiarise yourself with the exercises, and your body, before lifting the intensity of your workouts. Depending on your fitness levels and requirements, 20-30 minutes of exercise three times weekly

5: Master your form. Quality over Quantity.

To protect yourself from injury and reap maximum benefits from exercise, it’s important to master your form when performing each exercise, before increasing the intensity of your workouts. You only get one body, look after it!

My favourite exercises for getting fit at home

6: Listen to your body, It’s always talking.

You can learn a lot about your body from regularly working out and just feeling how it responds. Experiment by working out at different times of the day and seeing when you feel most energetic or enthusiastic about exercising.

If you’re like me and do not enjoy early mornings, try exercising in the mornings to start your day with energy and focus. If you have difficulty getting to sleep at night, try working out in the afternoon or evening. Your body is unique and you need to experiment to find out what works best for you.

Take note of how you feel while performing certain exercises that incorporate your legs or lower back. If you ever feel sharp pains or great discomfort, something is wrong and you should not continue without seeking advice.

If your post-exercise recovery is too slow, or you often feel tired, take a look at your training, diet and sleeping patterns to see what your body needs. Often, adding certain vitamins and minerals to your diet or a little extra rest each day can make a huge difference to your physical and mental performance, as well as your overall results!

7: Find your motivation.

Your motivation comes from your why. Once you set your goals, figure out what it’s going to take to get there. When it comes to maintaining consistency and motivation, there is nothing better than doing something you enjoy. Find a sporting team, training program, youtube guide, or any exercises that you enjoy enough to practice regularly.

Even better, find a friend to do it with! Staying motivated is far easier when you have someone there to push you towards achieving your goals but, at the end of the day, it all comes down to you. If you have a dog, take responsibility for exercising it. Not only will they love you for it, but you’ll also move quickly towards your fitness goals.

I advise starting with short workouts while getting into an exercise routine and don’t forget to eat well and stretch regularly so that your body is always feeling its best. Everyone is unique. What works for your favourite influencer might not work for you. Just get out there and find out what you like, and don’t like, before making your dreams a reality. You can do it!

8: Be patient, there will be setbacks.

It can be so easy to compare yourself to someone who is much further along their fitness journey. Don’t do this, it can destroy willpower and motivation. Just focus on you and your progress.

Like all journeys, there will be setbacks. We all face challenges and it’s important to not let them deter from your journey as perseverance is what brings success when it comes to getting fit. Fitness is a marathon, not a sprint.

9: Treat your fitness journey as a form of self care.

Maintaining your physical fitness is self-care. Through exercising, not only are you looking after your physical and mental health, but you are also working towards improving your self-image; the height of self-love.

Tips for better mental health.

Embrace the feelings throughout your workout or training and enjoy the post-workout high. Be grateful for what your body can do now, regardless of what your goals are. Gratitude brings more of what you are grateful for and a positive attitude is so important when working towards your fitness goals.

10: HAVE FUN!

Although we touched on this in motivation, it’s so important that it needs its own point. My mother always used to say, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

While she was referring to having a job that you enjoy, the same goes for your fitness journey. When you are participating in an activity that you enjoy, it will never feel like work and you will be far more likely to maintain motivation.

If something gets boring, switch it up. Both your mind, and body, get used to routines quickly so it’s important to keep things interesting if you want to maintain motivation and achieve optimal results.

Whenever possible, expand your fitness knowledge through trying new exercises, routines, sports and activities. Fitness isn’t always about the destination, enjoy the journey.

Are you ready to take the first steps towards achieving your ideal physique?

The only thing standing in the way is you.

24 Foods for a stronger immune system

12 Easy ways to cut sugar from your diet

10 Vtiamins and minerals to consume daily

The BEST exercises for getting fit at home

6 Tips for improving your mental health

10 Reasons to avoid sugar

About the Author: Harrison has more than a decade of experience on, and off, the rugby field as a player, junior coach and part-time referee. His passion for rugby led him to the Australian Institute of Personal Trainers where he studied the human body, exercise and nutrition, before being registered as a health and fitness professional with Fitness Australia and Fitness First Australia. Although the career path has changed, his passion for health, fitness, and Rugby will always remain.

Finding Work in Barcelona for English Speakers

The positives and negatives of hustling in Barcelona, plus 5 tips for success when looking for work as an English Speaker.

MY STORY

PROS AND CONS OF WORKING IN BARCELONA

5 TIPS FOR SUCCESS WHEN LOOKING FOR WORK IN BARCELONA

It can be pretty daunting to pack your life down into a suitcase before moving to the other side of the world, as I did at the start of 2019. To make things interesting, if you’re moving to a place like Barcelona, you can never really be sure of what you’re going to get, especially if you don’t speak any Spanish.

I moved to Spain without a visa or any understanding of the native dialects. While I was trying to get these two roadblocks out of the way, I enrolled into a local maritime college to get some yachting tickets for future job prospects.

One thing you quickly learn while living in Spain is that nothing gets done in a hurry. I ended up with all of the yachting licenses before my residency was approved so, through a friend, I was offered a cash in hand job as a local charter skipper.

Around eight months after the initial application, I received my social security number and immediately commenced the hunt for my first contracted role in Spain. On the same day, I came across a facebook post seeking hospitality professionals for a new restaurant so, I got in contact with the manager and was asked to come in for an interview. Three days after commencing the job hunt, I commenced my first job in Spain, at Barcelona’s Le Leopard Restaurant.

After spending that Christmas in Australia and getting stuck during the lockdown, we were finally able to return to Spain for the following summer in 2020. I thought if I started looking for work around a month out from the flight, I would have more than enough time to land a job before touching down in Barcelona. That was a slight miscalculation on my behalf.

We returned to a ghost town. The streets were empty, stores were closed and the formerly high unemployment rate was just continuing to climb. The tourism and hospitality industry was in forced closure, so I applied for any jobs I could find.

I’d sent over 500 applications before I finally received my first response, an invitation for an interview with an international real estate advisory firm. Four months of job searching had come to an end with a favourable outcome and after just two months in the role, I was also offered a promotion, just in time for Christmas.

You don’t need a high level of Spanish, or any at all, to find a job in Barcelona, just a good attitude, patience and the right to work. In such a multicultural and diverse city, there are always going to be opportunities for English speakers who have a bit of flair or a broad skillset to offer. Read on for the pros and cons of working in the capital of Cataluña.

Port Vell, Barceloneta. I was fortunate enough to have this as my office for a time. Now, during both the pandemic and the winter, tourism and hospitality in Barcelona are non existent.

Positives and Negatives of Hustling in Barcelona.

(+): I’ve genuinely enjoyed cruising through the Mediterranean waters, waiting tables and more recently, managing a sales team, in order to pay the bills. Not only have I learnt so much from this incredible city, there is also a pretty good life on offer with warm weather and close proximity to numerous beaches and other incredible destinations.

There is a large expat community as well as a large startup community which provide many opportunities for those who can utilise social networking.

Aside from the restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment venues, there are also numerous corporate giants who have recently decided to call Barcelona home, including Amazon, Nestle, Facebook, Volkswagon and PepsiCo, creating a consistent stream of opportunities for English speaking professionals.

(-): Why is Barcelona home to so many call centres, startup companies and now, corporate giants? Spain’s super low wages, of course, along with a few tax incentives.

One of the biggest downsides of living and working in Barcelona is its famously low, minimum wage, contrasted against an inflated rental market. Spending most of your paycheque on rent isn’t fun, but at least everything else is pretty cheap!

Numerous barrios of Barcelona are also known to be very dangerous as the city is plagued by uncontrolled crime and since the death of tourism, anyone is a target for thieves.

Here I talk about my advice for staying safe in Barcelona, as well as the positives and negatives of working in Barcelona.

5 Tips for success when Job Hunting in Barcelona.

There is so much talent in Barcelona and there is also so much competition for work so it is important to follow a few important principles when starting your job search.

Learn Spanish

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to learn a little bit of Spanish. You don’t have to be fluent but, in such a multicultural city, the need for effective communication skills becomes a lot more important for an organisation so, looking like you are making an effort goes a long way with potential employers.

I used Duolingo to pick up some the basics but books & online courses are the most efficient ways of learning Spanish.

Market Yourself as Expandable

Focus on your strongest skill(s) when writing your CV but it is important to let prospective employers know that you can expand on this. I got a job driving boats because I could drive the boat, but also because I could look after the guests at the same time. I got a job working in a restaurant because I could wait tables, but also because I could make good coffee. I was working in a sales position but got asked if I wanted to be a manager because I learned the job and now I can help the rest of my team improve.

Have a skill which you would like to focus on, but also diversify and let employers know that you are flexible enough to be a real asset to a rapidly changing environment. There are countless opportunities for sales, marketing and web professionals in the current climate but the tourism and hospitality industry will also open again one day so don’t stress if you don’t feel like there aren’t many options right now.

Be Different

Be different, or at least interesting! Barcelona is such a diverse place, full of strange and wonderful people. Try to stand out when it comes to who you are and what kind of energy you would bring to a team. Whether it be through sports, the arts, or a quirky hobby, show your potential recruiters why you would be fun to work with.

Network (Facebook)

You never know where your dream job is going to be posted so it’s important to make sure your’e networking at any opportunity you get. Join relevant facebook groups for regular posts about companies who are hiring, as well as networking opportunities with their staff. LinkedIn is also a fantastic place to directly apply for jobs.

Never Give Up

Consistency is key. New jobs are posted every day so make a routine of getting online and sending out your CV’s regularly if you do not want to miss out.

If you are not having any luck then try changing your approach. Make sure your CV looks clean, and interesting, and get someone you know to check it for any ways it could be improved. Start applying for jobs in different industries, through different search engines, or broaden your search through social media. If all else fails, try the old dock-walking approach after printing off a few paper copies, people appreciate the old school.

Be patient though, it does take some time to hear back from employers, especially here in Barcelona. Good things come to those who wait but just keep active and your opportunity will present itself.

The time I’ve spent working here has been an experience and a half. If you are looking to experience life with a mix of fun, chaos, culture and tradition, come spend a summer in Barcelona.

Expat life in Barcelona.

5 Tips for safety in Barcelona.

About the author: Harrison has more than five years experience transacting both residential and commercial assets in Australian property markets and is currently the trainer and supervisor of an international sales team based in Barcelona.

If you are looking to start a career in sales, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

HDH in hospitality mode @ Le Leopard Restaurant, Barcelona, 2019.

Tribute to Step-Parents

A thank you to all parents from a step son.

A stepparent is so much more than just a parent; they made the choice to love when they didn’t have to.

It takes a lot of courage to become the parent of a child who you didn’t bring into the world, and while most, who assume this role, do it with noble intentions such as love or compassion, some kids are not so fortunate when it comes to the families that they end up in.

I lost my biological father before my first birthday. He was taken in a motorsport accident which left two young families without their captain and coach. Growing up in a young, single-parent family, I spent a lot of my early life with mum, going around to her castings for photoshoots and TV commercials. I guess this wore off on me because I spent a lot of time at kindergarten dressing up as pixies and ballerinas. I didn’t stand a chance until Andy came along.

“When someone takes you on as their own when you’re not biologically their own, I think is really special … My stepdad didn’t have to raise me. He wanted to.”

Jonathan Van Ness, American activist

I was four years old when mum met her now-husband, Andrew, and it wasn’t long before we became a family. While I’ve never thought of the young me as a bad child, I did have a few more demons than most other kids while growing up and it took me a lot longer to get them under control. It’s an interesting story. I rejected my stepfather for many years. I acted out in school and often hurt people around me. Yet, through all my difficulties, Andrew would persevere in teaching me everything he knew about life, becoming a man and most importantly, being a good person.

Andrew had no idea what he was in for when he married my mother but God, I’m so thankful that he did. However long it took me to understand some of his decisions, I’m forever grateful for them now. Parents, step parents and guardians, please don’t stop making those tough decisions for your children. We can be difficult, ungrateful, and so much worse, but we can all come around with a bit of time. There will always be challenges in accepting someone as a new family member but don’t throw in the towel as with a bit of patience, and the right attitude, anything is possible.

I asked myself when writing this, would Andy have still dropped the knee to mum if he knew what he was in for? Of course he would have. We had some tough years, but it was all character building in the end.

“Any man can help make a child, but it takes a special man to help raise a child.”

Tony Gaskins, motivational speaker

As much of a blessing as it’s supposed to be, I can’t imagine parenthood to be an easy task for anyone and, I’m sure it would require a great deal of love, courage and bravery to bring a child into the world, let along take responsibility for someone else’s.

If you feel unappreciated by your children, hang in there. It took me a long time to grow up and accept my situation but when it suddenly makes sense to your kids, as it did to me, any lingering negativity will be washed away by an everlasting appreciation. It takes some longer than others but we all come around.

On behalf of all children, to all parents, step-parents and guardians, who are working tirelessly to create better lives for their loved ones, thank you for the role you play in the world and your family’s lives.

We love you and we couldn’t do it without you ❤️

My mother is my heart. But my stepdad is my role model, the hardest working man I’ve ever known.

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Australia

Why you should visit Australia, where to go and a local’s advice on what to watch out for

WHY VISIT AUSTRALIA

BEST AUSTRALIAN DESTINATIONS

BIGGEST DANGERS IN AUSTRALIA

WHY VISIT AUSTRALIA

You can never really understand how lucky you are to come from a place like Australia until you try to live overseas. While experiencing a full European winter with enforced curfews, I can’t help dreaming about an Australian summer and thinking about how blessed I am to come from such an amazing place. It’s going to be a long time before I can return home so while reminiscing on some of the incredible times I have had while growing up in Australia, I have decided to create a list of all of my favourite destinations, as well as my best advice for anyone fortunate enough to be planning a trip down under.

You’ve probably heard about some of the many qualities that make Australia such an amazing place to be and, while there are many, its best would have to be its people. A lot of outsiders have crazy ideas in their minds when it comes to Aussies, usually after meeting some young Australian holidaymakers in places like Europe or The States. We’re known to be rowdy, heavy drinkers, and lovers of a good fight. Although this is partially true, we are also known to be extremely caring and people.

Surfers Paradise, QLD.

Where I come from, in Southeast Queensland, it’s normal to say hello to, or at least smile at, anyone walking past you on the street. When I was growing up, we used to go to sleep with the doors unlocked and the windows open, without ever fearing human intruders. On many occasions, I was careless enough to lose items of value, only to later be tracked down by someone trying to return my belongings. There’s a strong culture of caring for one another. You will find that most Australians are more than happy to go out of their way to help someone they don’t know, regardless of whether or not they are getting something in return. This provides a certain sense of safety and security that can often be taken for granted, only before moving to a city like Barcelona. Australia is a warm place with cultures built upon humility, authenticity, and mateship, but that is not what brings millions upon millions of visitors every year from all corners of the earth.

See countless varieties of marine life at the Great Barrier Reef.

Did you know that Australia’s beaches are so popular, one actually has its own international television show? Well, the beach is nice, but the only reason it’s so famous is that so many tourists nearly drown there each year and it’s one of the few places in Australia that you might actually get robbed. There are more than 10,000 stunning beaches along 30,000 kilometres of pristine Australian coastline so you can go your own way if you don’t want to follow the crowds. If you’re into snorkelling or diving, Australia has 60 marine parks with 3.3 million square kilometers of underwater playground which is free for all to enjoy. If you’ve ever wanted to meet a dolphin up close, or swim with turtles, or you simply just appreciate relaxing on a beautiful beach, Australia has you covered.

Kangaroo feeding is available in most metropolitan areas.

For land-based nature lovers, there are more picturesque landscapes and unique animals than you can fill your camera’s memory card with. Whether it be in a wildlife sanctuary, or in the wild itself, you do not have to travel far if you want to see some of the beautiful animals that will only call Australia home. If you want to head out into the wild, Australia has over 600 national parks which account for almost four per cent of the country’s total 7.6 million square kilometer area. For an unforgettable ‘true-blue’ Aussie experience, grab a tent and a case of VB and spend a few nights under the stars. Whether by car or by boat, the best weekends were always spent with a few mates camping on a remote island or beach. It’s a sense of freedom and adventure and man its good for the soul.

If you’re travelling with a group of friends and someone can get their driving license exchanged, it could be worth buying a vehicle to get around, as opposed to renting one. There are plenty of old Toyotas that you can buy, dirt cheap, and later sell for roughly the same price. It just depends on your budget and how long you are planning to stay.

Ready to start planning your post-Covid adventure? Scroll through my list of Australia’s best holiday destinations for some inspiration.

MUST SEE AUSTRALIAN DESTINATIONS

QUEENSLAND

The Great Barrier Reef

Spanning over 2,300 kilometers, the Great Barrier Reef is not only the largest coral ecosystem on Earth but also one of the World’s Seven Natural Wonders. The 344,000km2 tropical, underwater paradise is home to 900 islands which attract snorkelers, divers, and lovers of warm weather alike, from all over the world. For some of the greatest islands for underwater adventures see a list here.

The Sunshine Coast

While growing up in Brisbane, there was nothing we looked forward to more than holidays on the Sunshine Coast to welcome in the New Year. Noosa Heads and Eumundi are the two places you have to see when visiting this region and once you arrive, you won’t want to leave.

Eumundi is a cute, little, inland hippy town with weekend markets, and tropical vibes while Noosa is better known for its beaches, fancy restaurants, and national park which overlooks the town and far beyond.

Fraser Island

A scenic drive from Noosa North Shore, on the Sunshine Coast, will bring you to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world and the only place on earth where tall rainforests grow on sand dunes. The 120km island is surrounded by shipwrecks and rough waves that break upon golden sands. If you head inland, you will find endless trails that you can explore on foot or with your able-bodied vehicle. Here you can find several freshwater lakes and lagoons and, while Fraser is best enjoyed camping under the stars, there are some luxury resorts and guided tours available for those who prefer glamping.

The Gold Coast

A holiday destination for travellers of all ages, from all over the world, the Gold Coast is nice, but definitely not for everyone. Well known for its nightlife, as well as the large and extravagant hotels overlooking the long beaches and the Pacific Ocean. The beachside national parks are popular for koala sightings but, a short drive inland will bring you to Springbrook National Park, if you are into giant waterfalls.

Some parts of the city, like Broadbeach and Burleigh Heads, are both fun and beautiful, with mixes of classy beaches, parklands and nightlife precincts. Other areas, like Miami, Surfers Paradise, and Southport are better known for the number of resident junkies and motorcycle gang members. Don’t fear though, they mind their business if you mind yours and, while some parts of the Gold Coast are hit and miss, the huge national parks and 57 kilometer stretch of golden sandy beaches are definitely worth seeing, at least once in a lifetime.

Local’s Tip: Every November More than 20,000 high school graduates flock to the Gold Coast to forget everything they learned over the last 13 years. It’s advisable to avoid anywhere near Surfers Paradise during this month.

Brisbane

Locals say Brisbane is more of a big country town than a city, and I would have to agree. The city itself is built around an iconic river which is commonly referred to as the Brown Snake.

You don’t have to stray far from The Snake to see all the beauty Brisbane has to offer and be sure to visit the Botanic Gardens both in the city and at the base of Mt. Coot-tha National Forest which has a summit overlooking greater Brisbane. If you do not see any koalas in the forest, head over to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where you can lie in the sun with a family of kangaroos, or even cuddle a koala. For more beautiful views of the city, get your comfiest shoes on and do the Story Bridge River Walk, being sure to pass the Kangaroo Point cliffs before cooling off at Streets Beach in South Bank.

Moreton Bay

Less than 20 kilometers from the center of Brisbane, you can find the Moreton Bay marine park. An aquatic playground spanning over 3.4km and home to both Moreton Island and South Stradbroke Island, two of Australia’s most beloved holiday destinations. Not only are both islands well equipped with resorts and holiday rental properties, but they are also both 4×4 paradises with plenty of adventure trails and outdoor campgrounds. If you want to see dolphins, turtles, kangaroos, and koalas in the wild, these are two places that are definitely worth checking out.

Daintree Rainforest

The Daintree rainforest is a national park in Far North Queensland, Australia, 1,757 km northwest of Brisbane and 100 km northwest of Cairns.

The large and diverse forest ecosystem is home to rare and endangered birds, such as the southern cassowary, as well as rare marsupials, such as the koala and tree kangaroo. It is also home to the notorious and the prehistoric, saltwater crocodile, and the famous Australian monotreme, known as the platypus.

Spanning over 1,200 square kilometers, Daintree National Park is part of the Kuku Yalanji country.

The Kuku Yalanji people have lived in this area for thousands of years, while their legends and songs continue to give special meaning to this landscape today.

Port Douglas

A beach town in the tropical far north of Queensland. Port Douglas is known for its beach resorts as well as for being a base for visits to both the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree National Park. Within the township, Port Douglas has several boutique shops and restaurants as well as the popular, Four Mile Beach.

The Whitsundays

Choose from 74 of the Whitsunday Islands which lie between the northeast coast of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the islands are uninhabited and characterised by dense rainforest, hiking trails and white sand beaches.

On the mainland lies the town of Airlie Beach, the region’s central hub with a population of 1,200 people. Known for its beaches, hostels, and groovy nightlife on the door of the Great Barrier Reef, Airlie Beach is one of the most popular Australian backpacking destinations.

When cruising around the Whitsunday’s do not go past Whitsunday Island and the iconic, Whitehaven Beach. Just next door, you can find Hamilton Island where you are spoilt for choice with luxurious resorts overlooking the clear blue waters.

NEW SOUTH WALES

Byron Bay

After crossing the Queensland border, we come to the coastal town of Byron Bay in northern New South Wales. Byron is known for being full of bearded yogis, surfers, hipsters, and wealthy middle-aged women, as well as also being one of the backpacking capitals of Australia and now, the home of Hollywood heartthrob, Zac Efron.

The view from the lighthouse is beautiful and, from June to November, there is a high chance of seeing whales making their trip towards the breeding waters. The beaches are long and quiet, but I prefer swimming further north in the warmer waters, also where there are fewer sharks.

If you are into the hippy life, this is the place for you. Make a trip over to the nearby town of Nimbin, the weed capital of Australia, and visit some of the local horticulturalists, if that is your thing and, while none of it is legal, it seems to be somewhat accepted.

Newcastle

A popular destination for surfers and wine lovers. Newcastle is known for its National Rugby League team, beaches, whale watching, and its close proximity to the Hunter Valley wine region.

Sydney

Australia’s largest and most densely populated city. There’s no shortage of things to see as Sydney is built around spectacular harbours with some large and iconic bridges. Take one of the many ferries through the city for a beautiful view of the harbour bridge from the water, or get off at one of the many historical stops along the Parramatta River.

Sydney is also home to Bondi Beach, one of the worlds most famous beaches and a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Well known for its upmarket real estate and producing one of Australia’s few quality pieces of television, Bondi Rescue.

Less than an hours drive from the city centre is the Blue Mountains National Park. Take a trip to one of the scenic lookouts and immerse yourself in nature.

Kosciusko National Park

Do you like mountain adventures, away from the heat? You’ll be spoilt at Kosciusko National Park, having to choose between snow sports, walking and mountain biking in snowy mountains or cave exploration. You can choose between camping or heritage accommodation, or even try your luck climbing Australia’s tallest mountain, Mount Kosciusko.

VICTORIA

Melbourne

Melbourne, Victoria. Australia’s most multicultural city, full of Europeans, Sudanese child gangs, hipsters, and Australian Football fans. Also known as the best place to party in Australia, Melbourne is probably one of Australia’s most interesting cities.

There was a time, in the not too distant past, where Melbourne had a huge party scene. In licensed venues, people could party all weekend without seeing the sun. Drugs were a huge business and, after a few dealers started shooting each other, a war erupted which changed the city forever. Now, with the parties shut down and the gangland wars are pretty much done and dusted, people visit Melbourne to take photos in front of the famous street art, or spend the day at St. Kilda Beach.

The Great Ocean Road

A 243 kilometer stretch along the southern coastline of Victoria. See the stunning views of the Twelve Apostles, or head into Great Otway National Park’s tropical rainforest and waterfalls.

OTHER ICONIC PLACES TO VISIT

The Northern Territory

Also known as the Australian Outback, the Northern Territory is where you can find Darwin, Kakadu National Park and in the heart of Australia, Uluru, the largest rock in the world. Exploring the Kakadu wetlands before travelling down to Alice Springs and Ayers Rock is the pinnacle of Australian road trips but not for the inexperienced so, embark if you dare. What are your thoughts on the advertising from Tourism Northern Territory?

Tip: Like other parts of Northern Australia, Darwin and Kakadu experience a wet season during the warmer months, particularly during these times, watch out for crocodiles. The Northern Territory also has some of the countries longest and most treacherous roads. Make sure you have a plan before embarking on cross country travels and always carry plenty of water.

Tasmania

If the rest of Australia proves to just be too hot for you, there’s an island off the mainland known as Tasmania. Australia’s southernmost island is home to more than 850 public walking trails and has the perfect climate for land exploration.

Hobart is Tasmania’s capital city and the second oldest capital in Australia, after Sydney. Located at the entrance to the Derwent River, its well-preserved surrounding bushland reaches close to the city centre and beaches line the shores of the river and estuary beyond.

Nestled amongst the foothills of Mount Wellington, Hobart combines heritage charm with a modern lifestyle in a setting of exceptional beauty. It’s no wonder Lonely Planet has called Hobart one of the top ten spots to visit in the world right now.

Due to the cooler weather, Tasmania also has some of the best produce and wineries in Australia, so if you wish to taste the finest food and wine Australia has to offer, make the short trip over from the mainland.

Western Australia

From baffling rock formations and ancient Aboriginal sites to sweeping green vineyards of world-class wineries and unbelievably clear ocean waters, Western Australia is the land of endless exploration. Western Australia’s wildlife is incredible, and equally impressive are the state’s natural habitats.

Situated only 19 kilometres off the coast of Perth, Rottnest Island offers visitors a casual atmosphere, picturesque scenery, and a rich cultural heritage to discover on a short or extended stay.

Home to 63 of the prettiest beaches you’re likely to see anywhere, 20 beautiful bays and many coral reefs and wrecks, Rottnest Island is a marine paradise, with plenty to experience out of the water too.

Rottnest Island is known globally as the home of the cutest and most photogenic animal in the world, the quokka. Apart from a small colony on the mainland, they are found nowhere else on Earth.

The coastline of Western Australia is a nature lover’s paradise, offering countless national parks, as well as beach camping sites which are frequently visited by friendly dolphins, emus and wallabies.

WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR IN AUSTRALIA

While Australia is full of beauty and excitement, there are still a few things you have to watch out for.

Many northern parts of Australia are so close to the equator that they don’t experience winter, only a ‘dry season’ in its place. In these parts, the wet season can also be known as ‘cyclone season’ so, it’s advisable to check the weather forecast when heading to the northern parts of Australia. Most of the country is warm year-round but no matter where you are, the sun is powerful enough to do harm. Always protect yourself from the sun, or take regular breaks from direct exposure, and always drink plenty of water.

The Irukandji (box jellyfish) is the most dangerous species of jellyfish in the world.

If you haven’t heard stories about all the killer animals that live in Australia, I don’t know how you found yourself on this page. While there are animals that can cause some serious damage, or worse, most are pretty friendly and love a good photo opportunity. The stories of dangerous land animals, like snakes and spiders, are grossly exaggerated. You would be lucky to see a snake outside a zoo, and the last time a spider killed someone was in 1979, they just sit in their webs collecting flies. If that’s is a fear of yours then you probably watch too much TV, you should be more concerned about some of the sea dwellers, like the blue-ringed octopus and the box jellyfish, which can be hard to see but no less deadly than a big great white. Most beaches have signage and if you want to know what’s in the water, reading this is a good place to start.

As frightening as they can all be, all of these creatures are beyond magnificent and, if you can shake the element of fear, you can truly appreciate them for what they are. While you can also appreciate the saltwater crocodiles and many species of sharks, these prehistoric predators are responsible for several reported deaths every year, meaning exercise caution in areas with common sightings. Crocodiles are sneaky and sit at the bottom of darker inland waters, waiting for anything they can fit within their huge jaws. Apparently, sharks just can’t tell the difference between humans and shark food so, they usually take a few bites out of the victim before realising they ordered the wrong meal. Still, the worst can happen, and I would be lying if I said otherwise.

www.hdhansford.com
For maximum safety, swim between the flags.

As all of Australia is surrounded by ocean waters, most beaches are affected by large tidal movements and strong currents. At the worst of times, these conditions can be dangerous, even for the strongest of swimmers so, its best to swim at patrolled beaches. Particularly in the northern, and less patrolled regions, if a sign says not to swim, you probably shouldn’t swim. Strong surf conditions claim more lives each year than sharks, crocodiles, and Irukandji, combined. The safest areas are marked with flags for swimmers to enjoy the ocean with peace of mind while under constant professional supervision. No matter where you are, check the conditions and signage before entering the water.

As terrifying as the environment may seem though, the scariest animals in Australia do not crawl, slither, swim, or bite, nor do they like to run, or even walk. They move in packs and prey on anyone who exhibits any signs of having fun. Armed with guns and badges, they are Australia’s most notorious gang, the Boys in Blue.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing an Australian police officer loves more than handing out a juicy ticket to drain you of your hard-earned finances, so don’t give them a reason to talk to you. When speaking to friends in Europe, most are horrified to learn that drinking in public, or even just being drunk in public, is a punishable offence. While 99 per cent of visitors leave Australia without experiencing the hospitality of the local law enforcement, it’s always a good idea to brush up on the local etiquette before touching down on foreign soil.

All things considered, Australia is a very safe place to visit or live, if you are aware of potential dangers. You will never meet a more multicultural, fun, and welcoming bunch of people, or come across such a diverse range of landscapes, plants and wildlife. If you want to create a truly unforgettable experience, start planning your trip to Australia now.

The pros and cons of living in Australia

Unique Australian wildlife

Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia

About the Author: Harrison was born in Queensland, Australia, and got the taste for adventure from a young age. Since then, he has embarked on countless journeys around the east coast of Australia and believes that at least once in a lifetime, everyone should experience an all Aussie adventure and enjoy the great Australian hospitality.

Get in touch if you would like to find out more.

Get Fit at Home Without Equipment

An Australian Personal Trainer’s favourite exercises for losing weight at home

Are you feeling a bit lost without the gym? Don’t worry, almost everything you can do in the weights room, you can find a way to do at home. When it comes to getting fit, at home or anywhere else, the three biggest influences are diet, sleep and exercise.

Basing my workouts around the below exercises, I managed to lose more than 20 kilograms of body fat in less than six months. While a healthy diet did have a role to play in my transformation, I would recommend all of the following exercises if you are looking to improve your fitness or general health. The best part, you can do them all at home!

ABDOMINALS

CRUNCHES

This is usually one of the first exercises that we teach to children when trying to develop an understanding of exercise and fitness. Super safe, super simple, super low chance of injury – perfect for everyone.

Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, either outstretch your arms, or put your hands behind your head to begin the motion. When ready, lift your head, and the rest of your upper body, up towards your knees ‘crunching’ your abdominal region. Pause at the top and lower yourself back down to the mat slowly to complete one repetition. You can do this for a number of repetitions, or for a set period of time, it is completely up to you!

There are also so many variations of the crunch, and all of them are effective for developing core strength and fitness so check out the video below (0:05 – 0:37) to see how I do mine!

LYING LEG RAISES

Lying leg raises are basically the prerequisite exercise for V-Snaps, which is the ultimate exercise for a flat tummy, or cheese-grater abs (depending on your fitness goals). It is important to note that both of these exercises will be faced with difficulty by anyone with any form of back pain – please perform with caution and at your own risk.

Lie down on your back with your legs extended and put your hands either; behind your head, or next to your body with your palms flat on the floor. Raise your feet slightly off the ground to begin the motion and when you are ready, keeping your legs straight, bring your feet back towards your head. Your glutes should break contact with the floor as the lower half of your body becomes suspended above your upper body, before a slight pause and returning to the starting position. For an extra challenge, do not let your head or feet touch the ground at any point during the exercise!

Perform this exercise in repetitions or for a set period of time. Watch my demonstration video below (0:37-0:58) and get ready to feel the burn.

V-SNAPS

The intensified big sister of lying leg raises. V-snaps incorporate a larger amount of muscles than the leg raises (most of your upper body) as well as a larger range of motion for muscles in the upper-abdominal region. When trying to drop the extra layers Winter body fat before beach season, this is my go to ab exercise.

While lying down on your back, straighten your legs and extend your arms above your head, placing one hand on top of the other. To begin, lift your hands and feet slightly off the ground and while keeping your arms and legs straight, bring your hands and feet together in the middle of your body, like an opening and closing ‘V.’

To get the most out of this exercise, keep your head, hands, and feet off the ground for the duration of the set. When this gets too easy, try it with weights! I use makeshift ‘prison’ weights, usually in the form of large water containers or water bottles filled with sand as I’m still saving up for kettle bells… Again, this exercise isn’t for everyone, especially if you experience any form of back pain, so please be careful! Demonstration video: 0:59 – 1:44.

BICYCLE CRUNCHES

By no means is this one of my favourites but I had to include something to work your obliques, those pretty little muscles outside your upper abdomen. You can see the difficulty in which I perform this exercise, showing how little coordination I have and how often I practice it, but thats not the point!

Lying on your back, put your hands behind your head and your legs in the air with your knees making a right angle. Keeping your hands fixed to your head, fully extend one leg and bring your elbow, from the same side of the body, all the way up to your stationary knee, or as close as you can get to it. After your elbow reaches your knee, fully extend that leg and flex the other to again make a right angle. At the same time your legs are switching from extension to flexion, bring your other elbow up to the knee which is now above the body. Continuously switch your legs between these two positions and at the same time, meeting the knee of the flexed leg with its opposite elbow. It is easier to demonstrate than to explain so just watch the video and please, don’t judge my lack of coordination! Video: 1:45 – 2:06.

PLANKS

The ultimate core strength and endurance test. Planks incorporate all major muscle groups from head to toe and are fantastic for toning areas around the waistline.

Start by lying flat on your chest with your feet together. Put your forearms flat on the ground and join your hands before lifting your entire body into the air. Keeping your feet and forearms planted, bearning the load of your body, hold yourself in position against the force of gravity. As difficult as it may be, maintain good posture with a straight line from your feet to your shoulders, do not let your hips sag. See my attempts in the video below (2:07 – 2:49).

A quick HD HANSFORD Abdominal Circuit.

GENERAL UPPER BODY

PUSH UPS

Push ups, or press ups, are in my opinion, the single greatest bodyweight exercise that can be incorporated into your daily routine. Focusing largely on the chest, shoulders, and arms, this exercise incorporates all upper-body muscle groups and greatly improves your core strength and fitness.

Start by lying flat on your chest with your toes pressed against the ground. Set your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart and about in line with your chest (or wherever you find comfortable). Using your core strength, push through your hands to extend your arms and lift your body up so that only your hands and feet are touching the ground. Lower your body back down until your chest is almost touching the ground to complete a repetition. Repeat while avoiding any part of your body, other than your hands and feet, touching the ground.

If you want to make this a little more about your arms than your chest, you can bring your hands in a bit closer to your body to direct more of the load to your triceps. If you aren’t yet able to complete a few repetitions in a row though, don’t feel bad about dropping your knees to the ground if it means you get the job done. You will be amazed at how quickly you can build fitness, strength, and muscular definition from just one minute a day of good form push ups.

HD HANSFORD demonstrating his favourite exercise, the push up.

BICEP CURLS

When training your arms, you will only ever be focusing on one of two muscle groups with each exercise, either your biceps or your triceps. Because we have already covered push ups, which absolutely dominate your triceps, I am only going to be touching on one set of exercises for your biceps, the cable curl.

This is just a bicep curl that has a resistance band substituted in for any regular weights you would find in a gym. The difference between the cables and the weights? Not a lot really, but with weights you can control the resistance level and the range of motion with a lot less difficulty so although the resistance bands might not be the first thing I pick up in the gym, they have been incredibly helpful during lockdown. Check out my resistance band bicep curls video below!

HD HANSFORD demonstrating bicep curls using a resistance band.

LEGS

SQUATS

First things first, squats are the mother of all leg exercises. Incorporate this exercise into all leg routines to build leg strength and definition, as well as general fitness and for men, even an increase in your testosterone production.

Set your feet around shoulder-width apart and slowly lower your booty as if you were sitting down on a very low seat. When you can’t comfortably go down any lower, pause and hold the squat for half a second before slowly standing back up again. Repeat for a target number of repetitions, or a set period of time. Aim for working sets of at least ten repetitions, or 30 seconds straight, but if this is too difficult then make it a goal to work up to.

There are a so many ways to perform this exercise safely but it’s important to always remember to keep your back straight. You can learn to do this easily by keeping your shoulders back and creating an imaginary straight line that runs from your hips to your shoulders, as seen in the picture to the right. Demonstration Video: 0:05 – 1:02.

LUNGES

While definitely not my favourite, it’d be rude to leave lunges off a list of powerful compound leg exercises for all fitness goals.

Take a large step forward and plant your feet, this is the starting position. Lower your body towards the ground, making sure to bend your legs slowly. Before your back knee touches the floor, pause and rise back up to the starting position. That is one repetition, complete a set number and then change to the other leg. If you need help balancing, try it with your hands on your hips. Lunges can either be performed stationary, lunging either forwards or backwards, or in a walking motion, if your workout area is large enough. Video: 1:03 – 1:27.

BOX JUMPS

One way to get seriously toned legs, fast, is by combining strength and explosive power movements into the one exercise. Similar to squats, box jumps are fantastic for all fitness goals and can be completed almost anywhere.

Just plant both feet on the ground and jump from a stationary position (with both feet still on the ground) to your strong platform, stand up, step down, and repeat. Feel the burn and every time push yourself a little further than the last. You will be amazed at how quickly your legs can develop the shape you are looking for. Video: 1:28 – 2:35.

HIP THRUSTS

A nice little booty popper to finish the circuit. With your back and arms flat on the floor and your feet planted firmly to make a sharp angle with your knees, extend your hips high up off the floor (in a thrusting motion) and squeeze your glutes at the end before lowering your butt back to the ground. Repeat for a number of repetitions or a set period of time. Video: 2:36 – 3:19.

A quick HD HANSFORD Leg Circuit.

The hardest part is getting started!

These are just a few examples of exercises that you can easily find the time and space to do at home. I know there are a few muscle groups that were not covered in detail so I am working on another post full of more fantastic exercises that you can do at home (watch this space).

Believe it or not, there is only one year between the videos above, and this big unit making his way out of the water at Barceloneta Beach below. I lost 28 kilograms using these exercises so I know they work, just be persistent and at the same time, be patient. Results take time to show and I know it can be difficult not to see them instantly but progress is progress, no matter how small.

The hardest part is getting started, don’t give up!

HD Hansford, one year and 28 kilos before filming the videos for this post.

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About the Author: Harrison has more than a decade of experience on, and off, the rugby field as a representative player, junior coach and part-time referee. His passion for rugby led him to the Australian Institute of Personal Trainers where he studied the human body, exercise and nutrition, before being registered as a health and fitness professional with Fitness Australia and Fitness First Australia. Although the career path has changed, his passion for health, fitness, and Rugby will always remain.

6 Tips for Improving Your Mental Health

The importance of a positive mindset and the best advice for improving your mental health.

Our mental health is something that we are all dealing with daily. It can be as simple as managing the pressure of work each day or fighting to overcome embedded feelings such as anger, anxiety, or depression. We all have our battles. Life’s never going to stop testing you, and it’s important to know how to control your mind when it does. That’s what growth is all about.

When it comes to your mental health, the golden rule in any circumstances, or situation, is to never underestimate the power of a positive mindset.

I understand that this isn’t always easy, especially with the pressure of external forces that can often feel like they are constantly working against us. The following list was created particularly for strengthening your mind and body, to not only withstand the pressures of everyday life but to thrive in any environment you find yourself in. It is based purely on my experiences, and education, and while some points may seem obvious, do not underestimate the power of anything you are about to read.


1: Get physical

It’s proven that participating in regular physical exercise, even in small doses, has a positive, and direct, impact on your mood, self-esteem, stress, anxiety, and the strength of your immune system. Our bodies start to deteriorate when we stop using them, so the most important thing is to just get out and move. It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it lifts your heart rate enough for you to regulate your breathing. Your daily dose can be as simple as a short muscle stretching session, or even a short bike ride, but there is really no limit on what you can do. Here are just a few activities that you can easily fit into your week to maintain a healthy body & mind.

Practice Yoga

Yoga teaches the user to regulate breath while holding and transitioning between poses that require balance, strength and focus. In recent studies, several schools replaced classroom detentions with Yoga for children with behavioural issues, and each reported significant positive improvement in both the students’ behaviour and the general state of wellbeing. There’s a reason that this ancient art is practised by over 300 million people worldwide.

Regularly Workout

There are literally thousands of home workouts that almost anyone can do with little to no equipment. As a previous member of Australia’s health and fitness industry, I will be sharing a few of the isolation workouts that kept me fit while homebound in twenty-twenty. Just know that you can substitute almost anything found in a gym with some cheap everyday items. Think about any water bottle, or container, that you could use as a weight. It may sound obvious, but whatever capacity, in litres, that container holds, will be its equivalent weight in kilograms. Whatever you can do with a dumbbell, you can do with a plastic bottle, and likewise with kettlebells and larger containers. It’s incredible what you can do with a few makeshift weights and a set of resistance bands but if that’s not your thing, at the very least, get yourself a yoga mat and do your daily stretches. It doesn’t matter what you do, when incorporated into a regular routine, even the shortest and simplest of workouts will greatly assist in strengthening both your body and mind.

Go Hiking

There’s a beautiful feeling that comes with distancing yourself from city life. Disappearing into the mountains is my favourite way to enjoy a bit of exercise, and nature, at the same time, however, you usually don’t have to venture very far from home to find a natural place to walk for hours on end. Hiking is another great activity that’s good for both the body and soul, especially when you stumble across some magical scenery and views.

Play Team Sports

Not only is joining a sporting team a great way to get fit, but it can also often open doors to a network of people with similar interests to yourself. This, combined with the bonding aspect, both during games and victory celebrations, is something that you are unable to take away from any other health and fitness-related activity.

As I said before, it doesn’t matter how you exercise, as long as you find a way that lets you enjoy it. When you enjoy what you do, it’s easy to turn it into a routine. You can do it, the hardest part is just getting started.

2: Be conscious about what you put in your body

Equally important as how you use your body, is what you put into it. It’s critical to maintain a healthy diet for both your mind and body, to operate at their optimal capacity. Every day the body needs natural, unprocessed foods that are rich in natural vitamins and minerals. Avoid sugar and as often as possible, processed foods in general. I grew up listening to people say “you are what you eat” and I can safely say, from my experience in both the fitness industry, and from watching friends suffer through years of drug abuse, if you fill your body with sh*t, then that’s what it becomes.

Alcohol is literally poison and there’s not a single drug in the world, legal or illegal, that will leave you better off after regular use. I’ve seen, first hand, lives being ruined and even lost to consumption use of drugs and alcohol. Every feeling of relief, joy, ecstasy, satisfaction, or excitement is only borrowed from your future self. You might not always feel it the next day, or even the day after, but there’s no escaping the darkness that comes with the highs of drug or alcohol use. An addiction to a substance can be born from using just once and once an addiction is born, it can be a tough to kick.

I also personally believe that everyone should try to limit their consumption of digital content. The news, TV, radio or paper, is not here to inform those who are digesting it. Each and every media corporation is pushing an agenda, and you should take everything you hear with a grain of salt. The world is beautiful and best seen through your own eyes, just know the difference between good and bad when it comes to what you feed yourself.

3: Spend time close to nature

I touched on this in the hiking point, but there’s no better way to disconnect from the modern world than by submerging yourself in the beauty of nature. Mountains, forests, lakes, or any natural landscape you can find, it’s all food for the soul. You don’t have to get lost in a literal sense but go far enough to be able to listen to the unspoiled voice of mother nature and get a little exercise at the same time. A report containing data from more than 290 million people was published in 2018 with evidence of exposure to greenspace reducing the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. I know it’s not always easy, or possible, to get out into the wilderness, but the next chance you get, take it. I guarantee it’ll do wonders for both your physical and mental health.

4: Understand the power of positive thinking and adopt a positive mindset

You can learn a lot about yourself from simply just observing your thoughts on a day to day basis. There is a relationship between the heart and mind which begins to reveal itself when you begin to understand your thought patterns and how your mind operates.

One of my favourite pieces of literature is called The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale. Through his work, Peale teaches us the importance of breaking free from the mind in order to take control of our lives through a changing of attitude and I highly recommend adding this piece to your bookshelf.

Works by Eckhart Tolle and Dr. Joe Dispenza are also fantastic when it comes to understanding the subconscious mind but, if you don’t enjoy reading then do not despair as Youtube is probably the greatest teacher of the modern age and you can listen to audiobooks, as well as learn about almost anything you want, for free.

“Increasing the strength of our minds is the only way to reduce the difficulty of life.” ― Mokokoma Mokhonoana.

When you begin to understand how your mind works, you will also begin to understand your pain, what causes it and most importantly, how to deal with it. You will also come to understand that even when you are at your lowest, things are never as bad as they seem. I guarantee that forming a relationship between your mind and soul will allow you to accept your situation and overcome anything stopping you from living a life full of the happiness you deserve. When you begin to know yourself on a more conscious level, you begin to open a new dimension of thinking that will change your life.

If you are familiar with any of the works mentioned above then you would already be aware of the importance of maintaining a positive mindset. I know it can be difficult, especially in such uncertain times, but believe it or not, your thoughts have power beyond comprehension and its important to be conscious about how your mind works.

It may not happen overnight, but if you wholeheartedly strive to always be positive, while consciously observing your thoughts and emotions, you will be amazed at how quickly your state of being will begin to shift into one of constant positivity.

5: Build a support network & TALK

As much as I love to spend time alone, we, as humans, are social creatures, and most of us require regular interaction with other beings, or organisms, to maintain sanity. In times of difficulty, a support network can do wonders for your mental health, as just knowing you have someone to talk to if needs be, is enough to make you feel better about even the most unfavourable situations. Find people that you trust and that you can confide in about the challenges you are facing.

Join a social club

If you don’t have a network, or like me, moved to the other side of the world without any contacts, consider joining a social club or sporting team. There are countless groups on facebook as well as apps dedicated to helping you meet people with similar interests and most importantly, have fun. I’m not saying you are going to find a free therapist, but making friends is always a good idea when it comes to having support when you need it most.

Adopt an animal companion

For almost ten years, my best friend was my dog, Wendell, who I had to say goodbye to at the end of 2020. While the love you get from a dog is likely to be much more intense than from any other animal, you can pretty much choose any domestic (tameable) creature to be your animal companion.

The touch of an animal can lift even the dampest of spirits, but a bond with a pet is something even more powerful. Once you have created this bond, be it with a dog, cat, cow or chicken, your animal companion will give you limitless amounts of love and positive energy for the rest of their lives.

Keep a Journal

If you find it hard to talk about your life with other people, try keeping a journal. Releasing feelings of emotion through pen and paper is to some, just as effective as if done verbally.

“I found that with depression, one of the most important things you can realise is that you’re not alone. You’re not the first to go through it, you’re not gonna be the last to go through it,” — Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

In a time of social distancing, make sure you are talking. Don’t ‘bottle up’ your feelings, find someone that you can share them with. Check on your family, check on your friends, and if you need help, ask for it.

6: Meditate

Meditation and mindfulness is something I have been exploring deeply with Cyndi recently, and it has had a profoundly positive effect on both of our lives since we began. While there are countless forms of meditation, all with different uses, my understanding is that the basic concept is simply just being mindful of the present moment. It’s also about feeling powerful positive emotions such as gratitude, love, and appreciation. When practised regularly, this is said to be the awakening of incredible healing powers within your body. Now, I’m no expert, but it doesn’t take much knowledge, or practice, to develop a basic understanding of why this ancient practice is used today by more than 300 million people, worldwide. If you, like me at first, are sceptical about this practice, do your own research and discover the truth for yourself. Just go in with an open mind, what have you got to lose?


Look after yourself

In such times of uncertainty, when the world doesn’t seem to make much sense, it is so important to look after yourself in all ways possible. Take this list and build on it. Be conscious about what you think, what you feel and especially, what you want to create with your thoughts. Anything is possible, you can do it.

If you take this advice with an open mind, I have no doubts that you can free yourself from any difficulty that you are experiencing within. Our health is precious, and we must do what we can to keep it in an optimal state. If you have any feedback or suggestions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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About the Author: Harrison has more than a decade of experience on, and off, the rugby field, as a representative player, junior coach, and part-time referee. His passion for rugby led him to the Australian Institute of Personal Trainers, where he studied the human body, exercise, and nutrition, before continuing his work within the health and fitness industry as a personal trainer and gym supervisor. Although the career path has changed, his passion for health, fitness, and Rugby will always remain.

Operation Spread Love

Helping those who need it most in Barcelona

It’s difficult to understand just how lucky you are to come from a place like Australia until you leave it for the first time. Even though my family never had a lot of money while I was growing up, I don’t remember a time where I ever went to bed hungry, unless I’d well and truly misbehaved.

My stepfather, Andrew, was born in Fiji, and I was fortunate enough to have visited this island paradise on numerous occasions during my childhood. But it was also here, at a very young age, that I discovered that the world was not a level playing field when witnessing the poverty in many of the nation’s cities and villages.

As far back as I can remember, my mother had always been heavily involved with a charity organisation called CityCare. As I got older, we would help CityCare, together, in providing food and other necessities for many of Brisbane’s homeless and disadvantaged residents. Mum also spearheaded several fundraising events for both CityCare, and another organisation that was known then as Mercy Ministries, which was founded to provide treatment and safe spaces for young women suffering from abuse.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with the founders of both organisations, and I am grateful for the opportunities in which I was able to make a positive difference within my community. As a nation, Australians are also fortunate enough to have access to a welfare system which provides financial assistance to a very high number of residents. Admittedly, some who deserve assistance don’t receive it, and some who receive it don’t deserve it. Every system is flawed, but it still does a pretty good job of providing benefits to more than a third of the nation’s population. So between the many religious, charitable and government organisations in Australia, residents always have access to some form of support.

I believe that as humans it is, at the very least, our duty to be supportive of everyone around us. There is a good reason that all of the world’s most widely followed religions emphasise the importance of Love; it’s the energy of the soul.

HDH

I spend a lot of time every day in the city streets of Barcelona. When I’m out either walking, riding, or simply just observing life here in Cataluña, I lose count of how many people I see either sleeping on bits of cardboard or pushing shopping trolleys, filled with all their possessions, aimlessly to nowhere. I don’t remember a time where I’ve ventured out in Barcelona and not seen someone who could really use a helping hand. I have always had a strong desire to help the people around me and seeing so many people here, who have given up on life, is something that I refuse to accept as a normal. At the time, without a job or much money, I didn’t feel like I would be able to provide much help to anyone but I started buying cups of noodles and cooking them for people who were living on the streets. This turned out to be short-lived as I was unable to carry more than five cups at a time and constantly spilled hot water on myself. Until Cyndi came up with the idea of sandwiches. We started making different types of toasties, packed with vitamins and minerals, before setting out in search of those who needed them, who were never far away.

I know it’s not much, but after spending a little bit of time with some of these guys, we quickly began to see how our small deeds meant much greater things to them. Many of the recipients would say they have not eaten in days, and I fear this is the case for a lot of the homeless residents within the city. We met a group of men that were living at the entrance of a cinema, closed during Covid, and began taking them small hampers of food and homemade juices. I realised that we had become quite important to them by the excitement they soon began to greet me with; we didn’t have much to say to each other, but it didn’t take a lot to see the positive impact it had on their day. I was heartbroken on the final morning that I went to take them breakfast, only to find the cinema had reopened and my friends had been sent to their next place of refuge. But as long as we are physically able to, Cyndi and I will not stop making food and giving it to those in need.

Operation Spread Love isn’t just about providing food, it’s also about letting people know that the world still cares. This kind of love doesn’t cost time, money or anything else, so you have no excuses not to share it. But if more people shared just a little bit of what they had then the world would be a much more beautiful place for us all to live. If 1% of the world can end all poverty financially, then 99% of the world can do it with actions of pureness.

Don’t stop loving and don’t stop caring; together, we can all make the changes needed in the world. If you wish to contribute in any way to this cause then just be kind to everyone around you, regardless of what they can do for you! But please do not hesitate to get in contact or leave a donation below if you wish to support our efforts.

Paz, amor y buena salud.

Operation Spread Love.

Would you like to feed the homeless in Barcelona? 100% of money raised will go directly to buying food for those who need it most. Donations are accepted through Paypal or card payments below.

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Brisbane to Barcelona

How one wild Australian left Brisbane for Cataluña‘s concrete jungle.

I was born during the Winter of 94 in Queensland, Australia. At the time, my mother was an upcoming tv personality and my father had a respected career in motorsports. I was mums firstborn, but the third child for dad, who already had two sons from his previous marriage.

Only months before my first birthday, both the career and life of my father were cut short when he was involved in a high-speed collision on the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Australia, leaving his friends, fans, and family behind.

Three years later, mum met her now-husband, Andrew. Although I do not have any memories from before this time, I’ll never forget the first day I met Andrew, when he showed up to our house to fix the toilet as a favour to mum. We started seeing a lot more of Andrew, and it wasn’t long before he stepped up to be my dad.
When I was four years old, we became a family in Fiji, an island paradise in the middle of the Pacific, and Andy’s place of birth. The wedding was beautiful. There was a small ceremony on a quiet beach before we made our way up onto a nearby cliff above Yanuca Island, where we were looking out towards the Pacific Ocean while surrounded by only a handful of very close family and friends.
I was given the responsibility of the ring-bearer, a tough gig for a hyperactive four-year-old. I think I did pretty well, but I’ll never forget mums blood-curdling screams when she realised I’d snuck off to peep over the edge of the cliff with the ring pillow still in my hand. Not too far down the track, during my first year of school, my little sister, Zoe, was born.

I didn’t enjoy school. When I was ten, my primary school said they couldn’t handle me anymore and that it was time for me to move on. In efforts to curb my behaviour, mum and Andrew sent me to St. Peters Lutheran College, a boarding school in Brisbane; however, it wasn’t long before they were trying to get rid of me as well. Fortunately for me, my fathers funeral was held at the St. Peters Chapel, which brought national media coverage to the school. My older brothers were also school alumni and had good relationships with many of my teachers. Thanks to my family ties, I survived at St. Peters until my graduation in 2011

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