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7 Fun Yet Non-Traditional Ways to Celebrate Christmas This Year

7 Fun Yet Non-Traditional Ways to Celebrate Christmas This Year

As children, we all enjoy the Christmas holidays, but as we grow older, we start feeling that it kind of drags: fascination about presents gets fainter, we no longer believe in Santa Claus, and the entire thing gets a bit repetitive.

If you feel like your Christmas is stuck in a rut, there are always so many different ways to do things! So what about celebrating Christmas differently this year?

1. Skip the gifts

It may sound outrageous, but what if you skip gifting altogether? You may either forego it completely and save a lot of money, or do something instead of giving something. For example, all family members may chip in to go to a restaurant or buy tickets to a show everybody likes. There is another trend getting more popular every year–self-gifting. Instead of going on a spending spree trying to impress your relatives, spend a much smaller sum, but on yourself and things you know you need. Just make sure this new arrangement will not offend your family. They might even want to join in on the idea!

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2. Go cultural

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    There are hundreds of cultures in the world, and many of them celebrate Christmas in their own way. Some traditions are funny, some are weird, but all of them are fascinating. So here’s the idea: choose a country everybody in your family will agree to and spend a culturally-themed Christmas. Decorate your home in the way it is decorated for Christmas and New Year in this culture, imitate their traditions, prepare national dishes–you and your folks will be sure to remember it for years to come!

    3. Choose a different main course

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      Speaking of dishes, what do you usually eat for Christmas dinner? Most people enjoy a main dish that includes turkey, goose or ham…and that about sums it up. So, if you are unwilling to organize an entirely culturally-themed evening, why not get a taste of another country’s traditions, literally? There are so many variants: Czech vánoční rybí polévka (Christmas fish soup), Danish aebleskiver (round pancakes), German christstollen (cake with dried fruit and marzipan), Polish Makowiec (poppy seed roll)–the possibilities are endless and only limited by your imagination and culinary pizzazz.

      4. Give a handmade gift

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        These are also called “gifts of thought.” The main idea here is not to give people run-of-the mill presents bought in shops, but cute little things you’ve made with your own hands–gifts with thought put into them. They may not look like much today, but they are precious in their own way and will remain so for years to come, when all the iPads and Xboxes people ever got on Christmas will be a thing of the past. And, of course, they are much easier on your wallet.

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        5. Celebrate the 12 days of Christmas

        Ironically, today we consider the most traditional thing about the holiday–celebrating the 12 days after Christmas–to be non-traditional and quaint. In most Christian cultures Christmas used to be celebrated in a diametrically opposite fashion to what we see today. Instead of pre-holiday hype lasting for most of November and the entire month of December, people quietly waited for the coming of the Christ, with the 12-day period after December 25 as a centerpiece. Why not try to do things the old-fashioned way, for once?

        6. Give Christmas to someone else

        Another beautiful idea is to find someone who certainly cannot afford Christmas and make their life a little bit better. Buy them a Christmas tree, give a present, or offer some other kind of help. After all, by making others feel good we feel good ourselves. There’re plenty of Christmas charity projects you can consider.

        7. Start the new year a week early

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          There is no time like the present! Many people make New Year’s resolutions to forget them the day after–so why not do the same, but the other way around? Start the next year of your life a little bit earlier. Make a list of New Year’s resolutions, decide in which ways you are going to develop for the next 365 days (i.e. start looking for a new job, picking up a new hobby, etc.) Thus you will have several days for the things to kick in and not being able to start new life from January 1 will not have the same damping psychological effect on you.

          Christmas is supposed to be the beginning of something new–and the best way to emphasize this idea for yourself and for the world is to make Christmas itself new, different and unusual. Try it this year and be happy!

          Featured photo credit: christmas front porch/trudi harrison via flickr.com

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          Last Updated on August 15, 2018

          7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

          7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

          Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

          Video Summary

          Why is it important to train up our core strength?

          There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

          This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

          Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

          In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

          One Exercise, multiple benefits

          There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

          By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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          When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

          Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

          In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

          What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

          What will happen when you start doing planks every day

            1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

            Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

            • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
            • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
            • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
            • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

            2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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              Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

              Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

              3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                  Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                  A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                  A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                  On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                  5. You’ll improve overall balance

                    Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                    6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                      Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                      7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                        Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                        How to hold a plank position

                        1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                        2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                        3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                        4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                        5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                        6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                        7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                        Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                        Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                          How to improve your plank time gradually

                          1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                          2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                          3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                          Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                          Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                          You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                          • Prolapse
                          • After prolapse surgery
                          • Pelvic pain conditions
                          • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                          • Previous childbirth
                          • Overweight

                          Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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