Household items that you might want to upgrade

If you’ve been living in your home for quite some time, there’s a good chance that the household appliances you bought when you moved in are becoming outdated and anachronistic. Unfortunately, as we tend to focus more on day-to-day concerns such as our jobs and family, we don’t have time to keep up with all the latest developments in the world of technology. As a result of this we may be settling for second or third best when we do our thing at home. Simple tasks may take us twice as long and use more energy than if we had upgraded.

Obsolete contraptions can be found in any part of the house and that includes the kitchen. More than a decade ago, big, clumsy-looking toaster ovens which look like they were built by Skynet landed in kitchens around the world, providing a new talking point for visitors. Years later, we all know what these eyesores are and wonder why people still have them at all. If you’re one of those people who is still stuck in the noughties, then get with the teenies and sling out that metal beast and get a smart oven which will match the soft cream of everything else in your kitchen.

Still in the kitchen, we see people using strange combinations of plastic bags, boxes and garbage cans to separate their trash for recycling. That’s just ugly and complicated and still ends up with confusion about which bag is which and which box is for what. Stop living in the past and get yourself a garbage compartmentalizer which will sort your recycling for you, making it much easier for you to throw things out without thinking and not having to worry about getting your recycling mixed up.

If you allow yourself a little pat on the back and a sly grin at how smart you are for using a cordless drill when you’re in your workshop – wipe of that stupid grin right away, because the joke is on you, old timer. Everyone knows that cordless drills are so passé these days and it’s all about impact drivers these days. If you haven’t already, you simply have to try one for yourself, right this minute!

Another thing is those not-quite smart gadgets that used to cost $200 but you can now pick up for loose change. You know you are so not with it if you listen to a DAB radio and if you still go on about your flatscreen TV. Nobody is interested as those products are so yesterday and nobody with any self-respect would be seen dead anywhere near them.  You have simply got to get with the program and drop some notes on a fully-integrated smart entertainment system with voice activation and a transparent, concave screen.

Some smartypants installed remote control lighting when Justin Bieber was still in diapers but still hasn’t upgraded it. Straight to the bottom of the class! Using remote control lighting is the technological equivalent of bringing up The Sopranos or even Friends in hip conversation. Today, natural lighting is so where it’s at in fact one could say that natural light is the new black. Leave behind your prehistoric ways and get yourself an awesome skylight put into every room.

Do you still deal with your anger by slamming doors, drawers and cupboards? Did you realize that everybody else is almost certainly laughing at you under their breath? There’s nothing more entertaining than to provoke a ‘slammer’ and then sit back to enjoy the show. You might even be a YouTube star, you don’t know. Well get into the modern age of psychological warfare – you don’t have to stop slamming at all, but let out all of that rage and let roller runners and hinge adapters absorb all of your negative energy, slowing the force down to give a smooth close. Your antagonists will soon be treading on tiptoes in fear of their lives around you, fearing that the slamming has stopped because you have finally flipped and you are now plotting their demise and disposal.

Wherever you look, you’ll probably be able to find items that need to be upgraded. Cancel any dinner invitations you have given out until you can get things straight, but be sure to accept any invitations you receive and take the opportunity to scour others’ houses for ways in which you might be behind. With dedication, you can drag yourself out of your bygone era and into the here and now.

The beach body I thought I’d never get

The first three months of the year are a great time to be in business if you’re selling any kind of diet, workout plan, gym membership or equipment and the like. The idea is that people will have ‘let loose’ over the holiday period, eating and drinking more than should and now they’re looking at themselves in the mirror and wondering why their reflection doesn’t fit in the frame anymore.

While there is undoubtedly some truth to this, I never really felt it applied to me. Was it because I was always extra careful at Christmas and refused that extra mince pie or glass of sherry? Oh, how little you know me! The truth is that I pretty much ate until I was full all year round. Add to that a few boozy drinks every single day and you’ve soon got a belly and love handles to boot. I suppose the only reason I wasn’t bigger is because I managed to haul myself around a tennis court once a week for a couple of hours of punishment.

Holiday binging wasn’t for me and neither were New Year’s diets. At least, that was until I gave up drinking. At first, I thought I’d try to do a month without alcohol in order to give my poor liver a break. After a month without any booze I caught myself in the mirror one morning. I had definitely lost some flab. Where could this lead? Is it possible I might actually be able to remove my t-shirt on the beach this summer? Surely not me. But the effect that not drinking had on my physique impressed me.

I remember seeing an interview with Jennifer Lopez in which she disclosed that she didn’t drink. At the time I was surprised but I shouldn’t have been. It’s no coincidence that top models, the stars of Baywatch, etc. are either almost or completely teetotal. You’re not likely to see Shane MacGowan auditioning for Britain’s Best Body anytime soon.

Anyway, with this in mind I decided to keep off the alcohol a while longer. I read that beer and other alcoholic drinks are basically full of ‘empty calories’. Every time I went to the pub I was consuming the same number of calories as I would get from a full meal, but they weren’t doing me any good – just lounging out around my belly and hips! So without alcohol, my calorie intake was vastly lower.

I decided that I was going to go ahead and try to get a beach body. Nobody would be able to believe it, least of all myself. I didn’t really make any big changes to my diet as I figured I still needed calories. I’ve always had a savoury tooth rather than a sweet one, so chocolates and cake have never been a problem for me. I kept eating meat, potatoes, rice and everything I ate before, just with more greens and probably less cheese! To be honest, I crave cheese way more than I crave alcohol these days.

I started running in the mornings. Actually, at first it was jogging, but the distance has always remained the same – 1.5 miles. It’s three times around my block. I’d follow that up with as many push ups as I can do and then as many sit ups as I can do. Initially I struggled with all of this and had to push myself to just go one better than the previous day.

After a couple of months, things started getting easier and coming more naturally. I was looking better and better without my clothes. I had to go out and buy a new pair of jeans because my old pair had started to look way too baggy. Would I be ready when the summer arrived? I decided I had to try a bit harder and looked into buying a piece of gym equipment that I could use for aerobic training at home.

I did my research and it came down to a choice between a home rower and an elliptical trainer. I plumped for the rower in the end due to the full body workout you can get while still focusing on the core. You can get a lot of information about it at Home Rower.

By this time, I had a regular workout schedule, but I didn’t feel like I was sacrificing too much. After all, even if I didn’t have a great beach body at the end of it, I would definitely be in better shape. The funny thing about exercise is, if you do a little, you suddenly feel like you can do more. Instead of feeling exhausted all week due to the effects of alcohol, I felt energised and ready to put 100% into everything. It was like stepping out of mud onto a paved road.

Well, I should probably tell you whether I made it or not. Of course I did. By August my love handles had vanished and you could see my abs. I wasn’t totally ripped but I looked much better than I had done just six months earlier. I booked two weeks in the Canary Islands and spent the whole time by the pool and the beach getting tanned up. By the end of the holiday I really had to keep looking twice in the mirror – perhaps it was vanity? More likely it was surprise at the opportunity I had given myself for vanity!

So, if I can do it, so can you. Swap lifting pints for a bit of exercise and without too much effort, six months you can have a beach body of your own!