How to… keep household accounts.

Keeping accounts is a pretty useful thing. Whether you own a small business, are saving up for something or keeping a home, having a record of your incomes and outgoings can be useful, insightful and even life saving.

It is also boring, gets complicated and can seem very time consuming. Otherwise, everybody would be doing it.

The great thing is: everybody can do it. You just need to follow these tricks to make your accounts something simple and easy.

1: Create a table of outgoings. The fixed costs.

Usually your incomes will be fairly fixed and, even if they aren’t, outgoings are the more important one to track. You can easily guess at what your income is, but outgoings are mysterious numbers on your bank statement at the end of the month.

Your table will be divided into two. The first half will be fixed costs on a monthly basis. These are everything that goes out on the regular, like phone contracts, insurance, unmetered bills, etc.

2: Yearly costs in your fixed cost table.

When it comes to yearly costs, make a separate bank account to save for them. Divide the total cost by 12 and make a payment of exactly that much every month. Then, add that payment to your fixed cost table as a monthly payment.

3: Random costs table.

Random costs are the ones that move around a lot, like fuel, food, pets or metered bills.

Your random costs table will not be like your fixed costs table. It should cover every day of the month, from the 1st to the 31st, including weekends. It should have a column for bills, one for groceries, one for car, one for services and one for unexpected bills.

4: Payment method column.

Your payment methods also need to be kept track of. Make a column for every payment method you use. Every single account, credit card or online money trader. Also keep a column for coupons, discounts, points and other forms of payment.

In the end, your tables will look a little like this:

Month.

House.

Water bill.

Home insurance.

Pension.

Account 1.

Account 2.

Jan.

400

10

8

150

-568

0

Feb.

400

10

8

150

-400

-168

Etc…

APRIL

Day.

Groc.

Elec.

Serv.

Fuel.

Unex.

Ac1

Ac2

PP

Cred.

ISA.

Coup.

1

0

67

0

15

0

77

5

0

0

0

2

Food.

25

0

0

0

0

0

20

0

0

0

5

3

Pet.

12

0

Hair. 10

15

0

5

0

12

0

0

5

Etc…

Total.

-77

-67

-10

-30

0

-82

-25

-12

0

0

+10

And at the end of every month you have a total outgoing in assorted expenses. The coupons and the likes are counted as a plus simply because that’s money you didn’t spend, so you got a 10 haircut, but got 5 back, if that makes sense.

Try and use a calculator page so that you can add up every column for it’s total, as well as at the end of the month add up all your expenses into one bar at the bottom! Otherwise, be sure to add up your random expenses daily, so you don’t have to sit around crunching numbers for hours at the end of the month.

6: Using it.

At the end of every day, go through your receipts and add the expenses to the calculator. Add the money out twice: once to the column it belongs to (Food), once to the payment method used (Credit Card). If you haven’t got it on a calculator page, be sure to add it to the total. Do not add the coupons at all yet!

At the end of the month, add together the fixed expenses and that month’s total. Take away the month’s total saved in coupons. That is your monthly outgoings.

7: Income.

If your income is fixed, just take note of it and take your outgoings away from it to see how you’re doing. You’re done!

If your income is not fixed, we move onto step 8.

8: Random income table.

This table is very similar in the way it works to the random outgoings table. Take every day you work. I will use two examples, one for my income and one for Jon’s. You want one column to be your working days. The other will be your earnings. You want to do a column a week for each category.

So, seeing as I work five or six days a week for random earnings, I fill mine in like this.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 1 +

Week 2 =

??????? +

Week 3 =

??????? +

Week 4 =

??????? +

Week 5 =

MONTH

F1

M4

M11

M18

M25

S2

T5 N/A

T12 N/A

T19 N/A

T26 N/A

W6

W13

W20 N/A

W27

T7

T14

T21

T28

F8

F15

F22

F29

S9

S16 N/A

S23

S30

Total.

Total.

Total.

Total.

Total.

And seeing as Jon works 3 or 4 days on, 3 or 4 days off, sometimes days, sometimes nights, his looks like this.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 1 +

Week 2 =

??????? +

Week 3 =

??????? +

Week 4 =

??????? +

Week 5 =

MONTH

4 D

11 OFF

18 N

25 D

5 N

12 D

19 OFF

26 N

6 N

13 D

20 OFF

27 N

7 N

14 D

21 OFF

28 N

1 D

8 OFF

15 N

22 D

29 OFF

2 D

9 OFF

16 N

23 D

30 OFF

3 D

10 OFF

17 N

24 D

31 OFF

Total:

Add your salary to the table every day and then total it at the end of the week. Add week 1 to week 2 and the total to week 3 until you reach the end of the month. That is your income.

And that is how you do your household accounts the easy way. At the end of the month, be sure to make a note of how much is in each money source to make sure you aren’t overspending and that no accounts are getting too empty!

And please share your accounting tips in the comments, I’d love to hear them! 🙂

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

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10 Small Steps To Looking More Feminine.

Many of us want to become a little more feminine. Not necessarily porcelain doll, but we’d like to at least look and feel like women and embody the virtues that make us happy and that men enjoy.

But in terms of appearance, being feminine can seem hard, especially to the slightly more tomboyish of us. It can sometimes feel like our more image-conscious sisters use ten thousand different tricks, products and styles to achieve a graceful, feminine appearance. And sometimes the things we think of as over the top are considered basic by others and what to us is complicated is simple to them. So, for the absolute beginners like I was until recently, here are my ten first steps to obtaining a more feminine appearance.

1: Hygiene.

Make sure to use conditioner and a shampoo that suits your hair. Wear some perfume or body scent. Use some moisturizer. Basically, go from basic soap, shampoo and deodorant, to something to make your hair shinier, something to make your body smell softer and something to make your skin smoother. These tiny additions hardly take any time at all and make a world of difference.

2: Makeup and hair.

The next layer is basic makeup and hair styling. Just enough concealer, foundation, lips and eyes to add some extra feminine softness. And aim for a long haircut that is easy to maintain and frames your face well. Long hair is more feminine and the right fringe can soften and feminize your face.

Commenter SurferCajun added that boar bristle hairbrushes could also help keep your hair healthy, vibrant, lustrous and long!

3: Frills and flares.

Just because you may not be ready to wear skirts and dresses daily doesn’t mean you can’t use their attributes. Frilly, flared clothing always looks somewhat feminine, feels great on the skin and grabs your man’s attention, so adding something with frills and flares, be it a skirt or just a top, will make your wardrobe more feminine.

4: Nice shoes.

Not everyone likes girly shoes. And not everyone wants to wear heels daily. But just because you don’t want to wear tall sparkly heels every day doesn’t mean you have to be, as Jon puts it “Frumplestiltskin”. Try and swap your everyday doc martens and trainers for something a little girlier, like ankle boots, or ballet flats.

5: Jewelery.

Don’t try and overdo it or overload yourself yet. Get a few select pieces of jewellery or dig out your old jewellery. Make a point of wearing one item of jewellery (on top of wedding or engagement rings) a day. This way you can keep it more inkeeping with your outfit, but add that touch of sparkle that catches your guy’s eye.

6: Handbags.

As I discussed two weeks ago, I have been transitioning off backpacks and onto handbags. Whilst I sometimes use a backpack just for the sheer size of it, moving mostly onto handbags adds some feminine glamour too your everyday appearance.

7: Colour coordination.

Try and keep your outfit held together. Ideally find out what your colours are and then your wardrobe will always match. But if you have something in every colour, avoid combinations that remind you of abstract art or shabby-chic. These looks are very hard to pull off and don’t always look feminine even when they are pulled off. Stick to classic colour combos, like blue and white or green and purple.

8: Posture.

Good posture adds grace and femininity to every woman. Walk with small steps, with your back straight, your neck straight and your head facing forwards or even a little upwards. Sit by touching your calves to the seat of the chair, sitting down upright and folding one ankle behind the other. Don’t slouch, stoop or bend over.

9: Manners.

All this wouldn’t be complete without manners. Manners are very much a regional thing, but aim to have the manners of a local fifty year old, not an all-American twelve year old. Remember to be considerate, grateful and giving.

10: Smile.

Finally, smile. Have a pleasant demeanour about you. Appear open and friendly, not cold and unapproachable. Try and deeply enjoy your new femininity, to let that joy radiate from your smile.

And those are my ten very simple tricks to being a little bit more feminine. They take virtually no time, hardly any effort and most don’t even cost you anything. All could be accomplished in a day and mastered in a week, if you set your mind to it. Though I’d personally recommend focusing on one a week and seeing how you go!

Have anything to add or comment on? Looking forward to reading your anecdotes, tips and thoughts!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What is your work worth?

Everyone is obsessed with women’s work. Whether a man chooses to work, live off welfare or be a house-husband, the main contention is with his personal identity. But every time a woman makes a choice about what work she does, people everywhere must ask what value her work provides her, her family and society. And, seeing as there are many sorts of value, I’d like to briefly explore them, their upsides and their downsides.

The first value is, apparently, the only value work has to most people, especially feminist women. Monetary value. How much cash you can squeeze out of your every drop of sweat. The rewards of this value are fairly obvious. More money means more of everything you can buy with money, which, in our society, is everything. Most people’s jobs provide stable income or even secondary perks, like discounts, health plans and freebies. The cons are often neglected. The first and most obvious one is that most people dislike their jobs. And the sizable minority who don’t actively dislike them don’t really like every aspect of them. The vast majority of people, for example, would not do overtime that had no potential reward, or take work home. The second con is that when put in a job, you are often stuck in one place, doing one thing, from about 8 until about 6. If you account for preparation and travel time, many people spend from 6 until 7, or 13 hours, working. This leaves little room to enjoy the rewards of your money, such as extra time, entertainment sources, better food and better clothes and vehicles. If you sleep 8 hours and work 13, that leaves three hours a day to enjoy your bigger house, nice clothes, meals out, entertainment products and the likes.

Which is fine, if your work provides another value: enjoyment. Enjoyment isn’t easily quantifiable. It can’t really be measured, only compared. But you know your work provides enjoyment when you look forward to it, rarely think about anything else when doing it and wouldn’t rather do anything else. Seeing as most people don’t like their jobs but still need to do them, it’s fairly easy to see the downside to enjoyable work: it doesn’t always pay. The upside is, your time is being well spent. When you tidy your whole garden because you love gardening, it doesn’t matter that you’re not paid to do it, because it has value in and of itself. On the other hand, doing the dishes and accounts are examples of work that we bear a grudge against because it provides no monetary value and no enjoyment.

Between money and enjoyment, we work out our third value: time. This is more accurately described as the monetary value of your time (the value you put into it) versus the money and enjoyment it provides (the value you get out of it). Work will either fall into the valuable: something where your time is adequately compensated or rewarded, or the worthless: something where your time yields no tangible reward. The easiest way of balancing your time value is to look at its monetary value, as enjoyment is very variable. So, if you usually get paid £8/h, that’s your time’s base value. If you need to do an hour of unpaid gardening and you enjoy it, it is worthwhile because you enjoy it. If you are doing an hour of gardening for £8 or more, it is worthwhile even if you don’t enjoy it, because that is what your time is worth. If you are getting less than £8 for your hour of gardening and don’t enjoy it, then the activity is worthless to you. On the other hand, let’s assume the gardening needs doing. If you have to pay £12 for it, then it’s more worth your time to do it yourself, as your work is only worth £8/h. If you have to pay £4 for it, then it’s more worth your time to do your own work and pay for the gardening. You will also need to factor how flexible your time is. If you simply don’t have more than 3h a day free to do things and dislike gardening or just don’t feel like it, then maybe it’s worth paying £12 to get it done, because your leisure is worth that extra £4.

Finding that balance between money and enjoyment, the value of your time, is highly important to understanding the value of your everyday work, be it monetized or not. For example, a waitress on 15k who becomes a kept housewife to a man with a salary over 50k may be looked down upon by more “professional” and “liberated” women. But if she enjoys housework more than waitressing and her quality of life has gone up through extra money and enjoyment, her work is actually very valuable to her. On the other hand, a woman who despises housework and has an earning potential of £25/h may not be quite so happy with that arrangement.

The final factor to your work’s value is whether the rewards are something you use up or a reward that creates another reward. So your basic living expenses are used up. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. But all the money you have left after that has some potential. Your enjoyment, on the other hand, is a fleeting thing, even though the things you enjoy might give you a return later. By carefully investing your money and time into things that will give back later, you improve your quality of life without needing to work longer hours.

Bringing that back to women’s work, let’s, for a moment, imagine the home as a community, or a business. When at work, you don’t look at the secretaries, cleaners or apprentices and think “These guys really aren’t pulling their weight.” or “They would be better off as managers.” You understand that they do their job, their job is necessary and they are not ready and may never be ready to become a manager. Likewise, when asking what value someone’s work adds to their life, their family and society, you need to look at what they are capable of. A woman with education up to GCSEs is not a CEO in the making. Unless she has a particular skill she can and will monetize, her work is worth minimum wage, no more. If the cost of cleaners, convenience food, meals out, childcare, etc would work out as more than her hours times minimum wage, she is actually better off doing these jobs than going out and getting a monetized job to pay someone else to do them.

Similarly, we have all seen the effects of someone working a job they dislike. From unmotivating teachers, to bored friends and relatives, to coworkers who just don’t pull their weight. When someone is doing a job they dislike, not much of it gets done. Therefore, regardless of what a woman is doing, she’s probably doing a far better job of it if she likes it, making her work more valuable.

Finally, most of the debate around women’s work concerns women with families, be they just themselves and their partner, kids or even grandkids. Nobody views a single woman’s choice of work any differently to a single man’s. If she’s on welfare, she’s on welfare, if she works, she works, if she lives off her parents, she lives off her parents. Their opinion is likely to be the same for her as for anyone else in her situation. But when a woman is part of a household her work choices become a matter of some sort of gender-loyalty-war, where it is either her responsibility to stay home all day or her responsibility to get a “proper” job. What she actually contributes to her home and what she gets out of her work is not really the matter of the debate, although this topic is often weaponized to prove points. The real matter of the debate is whether she is being “woman enough” by doing whatever she’s doing. Which is a social argument.

And, to be honest, if the debate boils down to that, I have no idea what value your work adds to society.

What I do know is that if your work covers, saves or pays your earning potential, you are happy and your family is well, then whatever you’re doing is clearly valuable.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

FitFriday XXIV, FatFriday XI. Back to weights.

Seeing as I’m back, here are the updates. I have been pushing the weights more lately and doing my best not to avoid them. I have been weeding the garden, digging food-plant beds and filling the hedge with branches. I have been working on yoga daily. My diet has become more of an “as and when” cravings matter and less of a “set meals” matter, due to time and general low appetite. Almost entirely eliminating dairy after several trials. The hope is no dairy, but beating yourself up over every mistake is just ED all over again. Weight stable at 70kg, even though I’ve reduced my body-fat to where it was when I was at 60kg and stretch marks are showing correspondingly again. Lifting creeping up too, which is always a good sign. Thus: some muscle has gone on lately. Skin health very good and attractive, other than in the areas I can’t fill with muscle (armpits, belly button, etc) where the obese-skin still lingers and annoys me. Hair less happy now the damp weather’s going. I have generally been good and only once or twice gave in to lethargy or laziness and had a break or a lie-in.

With the text-wall over, my plans for the next few weeks are:

-continue abstaining from dairy as much as possible

-keep caffeine levels down again

-eat more at dinner to compensate for small or absent breakfasts and lunches

-eat more meat for better post-workout recovery

-do more walking

-increase weights every couple of sessions

Hopefully I can stick to it. 🙂

How To… declutter paper.

We’ve already looked at speedy and efficient decluttering and how to declutter your wardrobe. Next we’re looking at one of our worst clutter areas: paper. Maybe you’re a student and going through last year’s work. Or you’ve accumulated a pile of bills and don’t know what to do with them. Or you’ve been away for a while and the mail pile has just piled up and up.

Well, as a private tutor I accumulate a lot of random paperwork and need to regularly go through it. Here is the fastest and most efficient way I have found of sorting paper.

1: Pile it all together.

If it’s a complete mess, just go round the house and empty all your piles of paper together. Most people have at least three, so here are the common piles of unsorted paper.

-Homework.

-Work sheets.

-Mail.

-Coupons and vouchers.

-Magazines and newspapers.

-Past bills, receipts, etc.

-Essential documents.

-Fun things, like motivational posters.

If your paper stores are generally organized, work through them one by one. But if you’re finding your post with your past bills and magazines and receipts in your briefcase, you may as well empty them into one pile to work through.

2: First sort. Bin or check.

The first time we go through our paper, we need to just ask if we want to bin or keep it. Plenty of things can be thrown away immediately. Anything that won’t be put in the bin or the recycling goes into another pile.

3: Second sort. Store, use.

The second time we go through our paper, we decide whether the paper needs something done, like a bill that needs paying or a magazine you want to clip things from, or just needs to be stored like payslips or important documents.

4: Third sort. Folders.

Take your store pile and assign a folder for every category of paper. Use the categories above, or even break them down, such as bills into water, gas, electric and tax, or homework by class. As you sort them, arrange them by date, with the oldest at the back. Make sure to add the newest at the very front of the folder each time.

5: Go through.

Once a year, go through your folders and get rid of anything you no longer need. Bills older than five years can easily be thrown away, though you may not keep bills older than one or two. Either way, it should be a simple matter of taking the papers nearest the back and recycling, shredding or burning them. If not, it’s time to sort again.

6: Keep out.

Make sure your folders are easily visible and usable, otherwise you start creating more paper piles. When you are sorting something, make sure you get whatever it is done and then put the paper away.

And that is how I declutter my papers. It does take a while, but it’s absolutely worth it and at least it gives you an excuse to procrastinate, watch TV, take a call and drink coffee for a couple of hours.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What does your paper drawer look like? Is it driving you crazy, like it used to drive me crazy? How do you keep on top of paper clutter?

WWW. Spring Lamb, Nutty Bread, Ice-Cream.

Apologies for not being around as much! Due to exam-panic among GCSE students, I’ve been very busy so non-scheduled posts and comments sat on the back burner for a while.

I have now scheduled Wednesday and Friday afternoons as blog time, for working on the Wok, FitFriday, processing comments and working out next week’s posts.

This week, making the most of the good weather, the best meals were a light lamb stir-fry with fresh spring veggies, some nutty bread I made for Jon to have burgers in and apple and rhubarb ice-cream! Bonus recipe: Summer Fruit Punch.

Recipe 1. Apple and Rhubarb Ice-Cream.

Ice Cream-Apple And Rhubarb, Peach, Elderberry

Ingredients:

(Makes 1L.)

-500ml double cream

-1 large cooking apple

-1 small sweet apple

-2 cups rhubarb stems

-2 cups sugar

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-large pot and spoon

-heat-resistant and freezer-safe mold

Apple and Rhubarb Ice Cream Recipe2

Recipe:

1: Finely chop the apple flesh, removing the core and stem.

2: Peel the rhubarb.

3: Finely chop the rhubarb, careful to remove the leaves and, where no leaf is visible, the top of the stem.

4: Place in a pot without water at a low heat until they secrete fluid. Turn the heat up to medium.

5: Once the fruit is soft and losing shape, add the sugar. Stir continually from now.

Apple and Rhubarb Ice Cream Recipe

6: Cook until the fruit is a paste like applesauce.

7: Pour the mix into the mold. Add the cream and stir until combined. Freeze.

Recipe 2. Nutty Burger Buns.

Walnut Burger Bun Recipe

Ingredients:

(Makes 4.)

-300g flour and raising agents

-1 cup sunflower seeds, flax seeds and walnuts

-warm water

-1tsp salt

-1tsp pepper

Utensils:

-mixing bowl and spoon

-baking tray

Recipe:

1: Mix the dry ingredients well.

2: Slowly incorporate the water until the mix feels a bit too dry. Look for a single mass with some flour falling off and slight crustiness.

3: Work the dough until it feels smooth and elastic.

4: Form 4 flat, 1″ high discs. Leave to rise on the baking tray.

5: Bake at 140C until they bounce back when you poke them.

6: Turn upside down to cool.

Recipe 3. Spring Lamb Stir-Fry.

Spring Lamb Stir-Fry Recipe

Ingredients:

(Serves 3-5.)

-500g lamb mince

-2 cups cauliflower leaves

-1 yellow or red bell pepper

-400g bean sprouts

-200g cannelini beans

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-frying pan or wok and spatula

Recipe:

1: Pan-fry the lamb until browned. Its own fat should suffice.

2: Chop the peppers and leaves. Add, alongside the bean sprouts.

3: When the leaves start to wilt, add the beans and heat through.

Recipe 4. Summer Fruit Punch.

Ingredients:

-double shot of gin or brandy

-frozen fruit (do not defrost)

-lemonade

Recipe:

1: Place everything in the glass. The lemonade and alcohol will bring out the berry taste and the frozen berries will chill the drink.

2: Enjoy.

And those are our favourite recipes of the week!

What’s been cooking at your place?

10 Things That Are Aging Us.

There is no denying that in the West we are in increasingly poor health. And whilst we often focus on weight issues, thyroid problems and diabetes, we are also acutely aware that some thirty year olds look like fifty year olds and some forty year olds have the skin, spines or bladder of an eighty year old. And when Granma is more sprightly than Mummy, we’ve got to ask why, as well as how we can avoid it.

Because respecting the aging process is one thing, but premature aging is another.

1: Chronic stress.

This is arguably the greatest source of premature aging. Chronic stress is when we are not briefly highly stressed (such as if we are almost hit by a car) or a tiny bit stressed for a couple of days (such as if a child is ill). Chronic stress is when we are moderately stressed most of the time. And, as you can see in the faces of people with Anxiety Disorder(s), it doesn’t do you much good. When you’re stressed you develop deep, anxious expression marks, paler skin, wider pores and a general drained look to your face.

This is because when you’re stressed your body is pumped full of cortisol and adrenaline, which force the glucose and, subsequently, the moisture out of as many bodily tissues as they can, trying to give you an energy boost to help you escape the source of stress.

Except we are in a state of continual, moderately high stress, both mental and physical. And we can’t really avoid most of it. Anxiety over relationships, harsh work deadlines, unpleasant working environments, caffeine, alcohol and drug abuse, all these things cause your body to become stressed. And we rarely truly get away from them.

2: Too much sugar.

Now, I will never take back that there is no such thing as a bad food. But all foods, nutrients and micronutrients have a limit that, when exceeded, causes problems. And sugar is one of them. People who consume too much sugar often experience a tightening of the skin, caused by water retention, which eventually leads to either oily or dry skin. It also greatly overworks the liver, pancreas, kidneys, thyroid and many other glands and organs to a lesser extent.

This is because a very high blood sugar content is actually poisonous to your body. But if we didn’t absorb all the sugar we ate, we would hardly have a few teaspoons in our systems at any given point. Therefore, our body absorbs all the sugar, burns what it needs and uses insulin, produced by cells in the pancreas, to store the excess. The first storage location is the liver, being the only organ that can process fructose and one of the most efficient places for accumulating fat quickly. If your blood sugar stays too high your pancreas can’t produce enough insulin for it any more and sends what amounts to a distress signal to the rest of the body, which encourages it to treat sugar as a waste product and dispose of it in the kidneys. If there’s still too much sugar after that, you enter hyperglycemia and die.

This process is perfectly natural, but when you push your entire system to its limits like that, day in, day out, eventually the organs have trouble fulfilling their other functions, such as producing digestive enzymes, hormones, regulating blood pressure and filtering byproducts out of the blood. And when you eat as much sugar as we do in the West, our organs and glands are continually overworked, to a point where their other functions are inhibited, which accelerates aging.

3: No loadbearing.

This is a big one just for how badly the younger generations are getting hit by it. Loadbearing activity basically means any activity where your body is compressed by weight. It ranges from standing up (the weight of your body) to weightlifting (the weight of the metal) and in all its forms it’s observed in tribal societies worldwide. This sort of activity actively compresses the bones and is known to help prevent osteoporosis.

The reasons for this are still a little vague and guess-work-ish, but the two current theories are that it encourages remineralization of the bones and discourages demineralization. Mineralization is where minerals, such as calcium, carbon and phosphor, are added into something, such as your bones. Your bones are continually losing and gaining minerals, just like your muscles are continually losing and gaining protein. Loadbearing helps prevent osteoporosis firstly because your body prioritizes what you need. Just as lifting weights tells your body it needs more muscle fibres, loadbearing tells your body it needs denser bones. Loadbearing prevents osteoporosis secondly because something denser is harder to break down. When your bones are dense with minerals and compact in the right places, chances of your body being able to strip the bone right down in the case of an emergency (such as a pregnancy mineral deficiency) are far lower.

What was the last time you picked up something heavy? What was the last time you carried something heavy? Until very recently, even in urban areas people would carry heavy shopping bags, children, move furniture and heavy machinery with relative ease. In wilder societies people carry children, baskets of food, entire tents and whole animals all the time. To boot, they spend more time on their feet with some sort of weight in their hands, on their backs or above their heads.

4: Too few micronutrients.

Another problem with our diet is that we’re massively undereating micronutrients. That’s vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other trace elements. The effect of this is most obvious when the people who, based on dietary guidelines, overeat these nutrients are the people who age the slowest and look the healthiest. Technically, we all need to eat more zinc, selenium, magnesium, manganese, phosphor, calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, creatine, Omega 3, etc than we are even recommended. The recommended daily amount should actually be seen as the minimum level for many micronutrients.

But we aren’t even getting that. A good test measure is to look at how many bitter and sour foods you eat. You see, many of the most essential, most underconsumed micronutrients taste awfully bitter or sour. And many of the less bitter and sour foods have been specifically bred to taste like that. Which is why lemons and kumquats have higher vitamin C than tangerines. Or dandelions and spinach have more micronutrients than iceberg lettuce.

To boot, how many people even eat tangerines or iceberg lettuce daily? How much of your diet do they represent? In reality, we should on a daily basis consume various greens, some fruit (sweet or non-sweet) and some root vegetables and on a weekly basis consume various types of offal, seafood, nuts and seeds.

5: Too little sleep.

Not sleeping enough ages and degrades your brain. Or at least that’s the effect. Your short term memory becomes hazy, your long term memory has the odd gap, your focus is poor and your interpersonal skills become worn.

This happens because most brain repair happens in your sleep. Your brain is continually breaking and regrowing neural connections. These connections form pathways, which is how information is pieced together to form memories, concepts and learned behavioural patterns. When these pathways break down, your brain regrows them as needed, which is how an unused language becomes “rusty” and a new skill is formed. All the information is there, after all, our brain’s capacity for storage is theoretically limitless, it’s just we need to connect the right bits of information together.

When you don’t sleep enough, or deeply enough, these pathways don’t grow or grow back as quickly. Therefore, you commit less to memory, learn more slowly and start forgetting things that you had already memorized. This is made worse when stress is added to the mix, as memory loss creates stressful situations, poor sleep creates physical stress and being stressed makes sleep harder and lighter, creating a loop. Your body, when stressed, needs far more hours of sleep because the sleep is so light, but due to missing deadlines, forgotten work and stressful interpersonal relationships we want to stay up later and mend what stress broke.

In the West we often don’t go to bed until our brains are about to give out, force ourselves to get up with annoying sounds and caffeine (stressors) and overwork ourselves over the day, only to use stimulating and stressing foods and imagery to keep ourselves up all night to “unwind”.

6: Overeating.

Just as too much of one specific food can make you unwell and too much sugar can age you noticeably, too much food in general, or too many calories, also has an aging effect. We’re all familiar with the effects of overeating when you don’t lose the weight, but regular overeats matched with regular starve or fast days can be just as bad. People who regularly overeat are suffering the burdens of excess sugar, but also the burden of excess fat, protein and waste products.

This means their organs are being overworked, needing to produce more enzymes and hormones, their stomach is stretched, their kidneys are filtering slowly. This can eventually result in a state of being continually slightly run down. The same way if you have a massive holiday binge you start feeling groggy and look fatigued and sick the next day, repeatedly overeating starts to cause lethargy and eventually creates a slightly ashy colour under your skin, some skin sag and oiliness to the cheeks and nose. This is because your organs are not getting a rest, your body is having a hard time getting rid of all byproducts through the kidneys so it starts getting rid of them through other means and a lot of your energy is being invested into digestion.

Per capita, Americans eat around 3700kcal/day, England and the rest of the world are not far behind. We are pushing our bodies to their limit daily.

7: Sitting still.

This ties into loadbearing, but is also important for muscle density and health. Think of the legs of someone who has never walked since childhood. The muscles are all thin and, even when the person is a healthy weight, their legs look like they’re all bones with a little skin and fat on top. This is because muscles you don’t use aren’t maintained. Your body digests them. This is in part when you need more protein or calories and aren’t eating enough, but in part it happens daily to muscle you aren’t using. Muscle is very calorifically expensive and, as far as your body is concerned, why regrow muscle when you aren’t using it?

Nowhere in the world do humans sit still, day in, day out, except in the West. The actual shape and support of our furniture aside, we have to agree it’s pretty comfortable. We can sit in one position for hours and only feel any harm when we stand up and notice a cramp. But this isn’t natural. Even though humans worldwide are naturally lazy, humans outside the West are very different to humans inside it. They sit less often, and get up frequently. When they sit they are not as comfortable as we are, so they move about, fidget, stand up, lie down, squat or stretch. All these minor movements, complete with bursts of intense activity and occasional long treks, lead to better muscle tone. This muscle tone stretches loose skin and shapes fatty tissue, giving men and women alike a more youthful, healthy appearance.

But here in the West it isn’t uncommon to get out of bed, walk downstairs, sit down for breakfast, walk to the car, drive to work, walk to our desk, sit down all day except to pick up our lunch, come home and sit down on the sofa with dinner, only getting up to go to bed. We probably spend well over 95% of our time (around 23 hours) sat down or lying down, without much fidgeting and rarely getting up. As such, our muscles are weak, small and undefined, giving our bodies the shapelessness of muscle wastage usually only seen in the very ill and very elderly.

8: Too little fluid.

Water is a pretty important part of our bodies. And whilst water retention caused by excess sugar can pump your body up, giving it a pudgy, wobbly appearance, plenty of water flushing through the system is actually good for you. For starters it helps the kidneys flush out dangerous byproducts and can help stop them from overworking. Secondarily, some water under your skin will fill out stretch marks, expression marks and wrinkles and encouraging clearer, lighter sweat helps avoid congested pores, leading to fewer spots or blackheads.

But we don’t drink much fluid that isn’t laden with sugar or other substances that slow its digestion and cancel our its beneficial properties. We also eat very little raw food, one of the healthiest sources of fluid besides water, sometimes healthier. Raw fruits and vegetables and even raw meat are heavy with water which is often lost when we cook things. And the main method of cooking foods to retain moisture (stewing) has become increasingly unpopular, with our main choices, instead, being frying, baking or boiling, all of which, unless you drink the water from boiling, extract and boil off the fluids in your food.

9: Low volume heart and lungs.

Another side effect of our inactive lifestyles is that our heart and lungs are not used very much and not pushed to the max more than a couple of times a year. This is good in one sense: just like our other organs, our heart and lungs can be overworked by being pushed to the max daily and are better off resting and doing low level activity most of the time. But, just as with our muscles and bones, when we use them too little, they start to atrophy. This means that your heart, like any muscle, starts losing muscle fibres and becomes weak, which is the reason for sudden death in underweight people; and your lungs don’t stretch and properly fill up, leading to shallow breathing, which is what causes hyperventilating people to sometimes faint.

When your heart is built properly, it can take and move a healthy volume of blood with every pump and won’t start to degrade until old age. When you fill your lungs enough with every breath, they take in plenty of oxygen and stay healthy and won’t suffer weakness until old age. However when we underuse them both, we end up with degraded heart and lungs similar to what we see in much older people.

And we don’t really exercise our hearts and lungs. A marathon a day would be excessive for them, but some form of moderate activity for a couple of hours once a day, such as brisk walking, some bodyweight activities or some gardening, plus intense activity once or twice a week, such as 30-60min jogging, weightlifting or climbing, will help your heart and lungs fill their natural capacity. Our problems are further compounded by our bad posture and stillness. When you don’t move as much blood can pool at the lowest points of your body, causing chilblains, inflammation, cramps and varicose veins and your heartrate takes a while to pick up when you stand, causing dizziness, nausea and even panic attacks. When you sit crouched over you are cramping your organs, particularly your lungs, leading to poor breathing that is hard to correct without retraining yourself.

10: Too little fish.

This one may seem a little odd to some of you, but pescetarians live the longest, are the least prone to obesity and disease and are the healthiest in their old age of any group of people based on diet. The Okinawans, the Icelandic, the Sardinians and the Ikarians all live longer than the rest of the world, the Okinawans being notable for the old age of their women and the Icelandic for the oldest men in the world. They are all fitter and healthier, with lower rates of mental illness, heart disease, stroke and the general ailments of old age than anywhere else in the world.

Fish provides various forms of natural salts and minerals, a healthy balance of Omegas 3, 6 and 9, as well as some of the micronutrients that, as mentioned, we don’t eat enough of, like zinc, magnesium and selenium. It’s not surprising, therefore, that adding fish into your diet, swapping meat for fish or swapping dairy for fish makes you look younger and live longer than otherwise. Of course, you could seek out all these elements as supplements, but the benefits of whole fish and other seafood are undeniable.

However, again, we don’t really eat fish. And the main fish we eat are the lean, flavourless kinds that have been overcooked or fried in vegetable oil, if not deep fried. Seeing as Omega oils are a type of fat and micronutrients often have a strong taste, it’s not really surprising that what little fish we eat provides us no benefit whatsoever.

And those are the ten reasons that, as a population, we are aging prematurely. Between our low levels of activity, bland, highly calorific, highly artificial diets, stressed out bodies and low fluid intake, it isn’t really all that shocking that we’re starting to look and feel older at a much younger age. And that’s before you look at heavy drinkers and smokers, who age even more rapidly than their more moderate or abstinent peers.

What are your bad habits? Based on this, what can you do to age as nature intended? What are your tricks for avoiding these ten bad Western habits? Feel free to share in the comments!

TTFN and Happy… Fishing?