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I started this year talking about balance, and that my intention for 2016 was to find more of my own, do more of what mattered to me and take responsibility for my own happiness. So, as we pass midway through the year and get into the later months, it felt like about the right time to check in with a biggie - my goal to feel the strongest and healthiest I've felt. Ever. 

WHERE I WAS

As I mentioned in my last update, I started seeing a personal trainer at my gym at work and, for a while, felt like big progress was happening. I had a holiday in Dubai coming up, something to focus on and work towards, and when you're starting at 0 any progress feels massive. I did feel a lot stronger, a lot more fit, and happier - it was a noticeable difference.

And then, the inevitable happened. I didn't reach an unrealistic goal 'size' I set myself, went on holiday, got a bit demotivated, and kind of lost the edge and determination I had before going. I was checking out of workouts halfway through, cancelling appointments with my trainer, using any excuse to write off a day, or half a week. It sounds awful, but it's true, and my lifestyle at home didn't help. It's not an easy reality to admit, but unless your partner/who you share a home with is on board with you making big changes, it's going to be exponentially more difficult.

WHERE I AM NOW

So I find myself writing to you now from a place where I set myself back a little, but I'm picking up and starting again. I lost a little progress in terms of strength and core strength particularly, and yeah - that's frustrating. But working with Magda I've changed my focus slightly, we're working hard together on one main muscle group which should support everything else I'm doing. I'm noticing big changes, both visually and in my strength and range of movement.

I also must confess - I FUCKING hate cardio. Cardio is the devil. It's so boring, repetitive, I don't feel like I'm progressing and it's always uncomfortable - I so wish I could be one of those girls that love running and wake up for a morning sprint but that is not me. I am not that girl!

This, coupled with my deep love for anything involving chocolate and carbohydrates, makes progress really difficult. I can feel as focused as an athlete, but one bad day or change of mood can set me back - and what it boils down to is discipline. I set off getting a personal trainer, I did what she told me to, ticked the boxes, but I didn't do the work internally first. I'm not talking about loving yourself (of course this is important), I'm talking about loving the process. You have to fall in love with rigidity, to some extent.

When I started this I wanted to work out because I wanted to be able to eat what I want and enjoy my life, but the game has changed a little for me now. I feel stronger, happier, and healthier - I feel muscles working that I know have never worked so hard in my whole life. But to truly reach the point that was my goal? I was going to have to take this wish seriously. It's time to pony up.

I don't really know completely how I move ahead with this in a balanced way - yes I want to go harder on this goal, but I also don't want to get obsessive. So I thought I'd reach out to you - please tell me about your successes, your failures, anything that really worked for you - I'd love to hear about anything that works, from motivation to actual workouts. Hopefully I'll be able to check back in with positive news and some inspiration of my own for you guys.

High summer is one of my favourite times of year - the days are long and light, it harkens back to weeks and weeks free from school and responsibilities, everyone seems a lot more open to the idea of heading to new places and trying new things. In the spirit of 'making hay while the sun shines', we make plans and fill up our diaries with exciting things to make the most of the good weather. For the time that we have it, summer seems to create a permanent good mood in Britain.

So it can be hard, sometimes, to admit that all of this merriment can be a little draining. Whilst I love being with my friends and family, being outside, visiting new places and having full and fun weekends, I am also an introverted personality. That means I find time in large groups of people can be draining, and I find social situations a little stressful sometimes. Not always amongst good friends, but definitely amongst acquaintances and people I haven't met yet. As an only child, I also really value my 'me time', but find it difficult to ask for. Couple all this with a group of friends you love and the too often felt 'FOMO', and summer can be one of the most tiring months in terms of looking after yourself.

Here's some tips I've found useful to keep in mind:

1. Self care is a plan, too: And a viable one! It's also one of the easiest things to overlook, so whatever it takes - a note in your diary, even a private appointment in your Outlook calendar - make sure this is scheduled in and don't break the plan with yourself. I'm terrible for pushing this time back when a 'more interesting' offer comes along, but honestly, if you're an introverted personality type the moments you take alone with yourself are so crucial to what you can bring to family & friends outings. No one wants to spend time around me when I'm feeling drained, agitated and twitchy.

2. You can take 'alone time' together: This, I've found, is very tricky to master outside of your significant other, if you have one, as people can take this the wrong way - I often carry a book with me to picnics, family holidays, even work. Sometimes I just need half an hour to fall into a chapter of a book and some quiet, and then I'll feel 'recharged' and can hop right back into summertime festivities. My boyfriend and I like to read alongside one another - him with his book, me with mine. It's nice and special, we feel connected but not like we have to be completely focused on one another. In a group setting, picnics are great for a little time to read, or a wander through the surroundings in your own thoughts. Just don't go wandering too far or getting lost... That's not what we're about.

I empathise with how difficult it can be to ask for that alone time amongst friends, especially ones you might not know too well, but try and make it light-hearted: 'I think after all the excitement of the afternoon, I'm going to have a little wander! Won't be long.' Usually works a treat.

3. Vary your plans: If you know you have a big weekend coming up with back-to-back social gatherings, make sure you spend quality time at home or wherever feels best to you both before and after the weekend. That can be as simple as running through a pamper routine, curling up in front of Netflix on the sofa, or clocking in some hours at the gym or on a run - wherever you get your energy from, indulge in it!

4. Get on top of your shit: For me, one of the most stressful things about frequent socialising is how often I'm out of the house, and things can get quickly messy or uncared for at home. I'm a real homebody if I let myself be, so even when I'm outside of my house, if I know there's mess or I haven't cleaned, I'll be stressing about it. So I try to take some time, if I know I'm going to be busy or away from home, to sort out my space and get it looking in tip-top shape, so I always have a haven to come back to.

5. Finally... ENJOY: Summer does come but once a year and, as tiring as it can be sometimes, I still absolutely love it. Make the most of this time before the colder months come rolling in and everyone wants to be indoors - introverts need sunlight, open spaces and greenery just as much as everyone else. If you're struggling to find ways to enjoy your summer, why not suggest a plan of your own to friends and family yourself - find something you've always wanted to do, or a place you've always wanted to visit, and tick something off your list. Exploring plans are great if you don't want to feel pressured into making conversation - head to a National Trust site or a museum. Great for reflective, quiet time! If you need inspiration, try one of my 'If You Do One Thing...' posts!

A slightly different one from me today, but I hope it was helpful! Enjoy what's left of this gorgeous season, and I hope whatever you get up to, it's fulfilling and joyful for you. 

I'm feeling good about this month. You might have noticed July fell a little quiet around here and, believe it or not, I've been really missing you guys and the blog - I just needed a little sunshine and family time to recharge my batteries. But consider me charged up! I'm excited for what's ahead, for more sunny weather in the UK (I'll whisper that one, don't want to jinx anything), and for more summery adventures with people I love most. I've been thinking a lot about how I place value in my life and the attitude that I bring to every day, and I'm going to try to make a conscious effort this month to end each night happily, and take a step towards my goals every day. It's time to take back responsibility for my own happiness!

SEE: Quite unexpectedly and I like to think by kismet, myself and one of my best mates are off to see Part 1 and 2 of the Cursed Child this Sunday. I KNOW. I can't deal with it. I'm trying not to get too excited and failing miserably because HELLO?! NEW HARRY POTTER!!!!! 

LISTEN: I've been all about new Banks lately and I am so, so excited for her new album. She's so very sexy and impossibly cool, and her music is totally hypnotic. I'm in love with Fuck With Myself (cheeky!) and heard Gemini Feed for the first time yesterday - so gooood. 

GO: Staycation - I seem to always reach this part of summer and say this because basically, my holiday allowance and money runs out. BUT! There is no excuse not to explore your surroundings and get outdoors while the sun shines - on the agenda for this month are Bristol (nearby), Wales (not-so nearby) and maybe even a fruit picking adventure. Rhubarb crumble did I hear you say? WHY YES. I DID.

EAT: After the birthday indulgences of last month (and yes, there was indulgence, to the tune of a box of Hummingbird birthday cupcakes), I'm trying to eat a little better for myself now as I'm getting quite serious about my personal training and fitness goals. Having said that, I will be in London this Sunday and we will be in the region of Dishoom, somewhere I've always wanted to try. Treat days are for this, right? 

DRINK: Classic pub drinks like lemonade with lime and lime and soda water have been my jam of late, but if you're looking for something a little more fancy - get your non-alcoholic mojito on! 

WEAR: I must have this pretty. I just must. Think of all the summer twirling. Plus - great with boots, great with flats, can be styled with a bomber for Autumn transitioning. Have I talked you into it yet?

READ: I'm doing it again. I'm cheating on books. I'M SO SORRY BUT I LOVE THE BOOKS. At the moment on my nightstand (the floor next to my bed) are: Big Magic, Stephen King On Writing, and Likeable Social Media. All at once. You 'eard. 

THINK: Up and up. I'm feeling on some kind of weird productivity wave, full of inspiration and very upbeat and passionately interested in everything at the moment, which can be kinda exhausting, but I'm just gonna roll with it while it lasts! Try thinking upwards and outwards, bringing a little positivity and gratitude to your day, and see if it makes a difference. And if not, go spend some time with people you love, outdoors. It does amazing things for your soul, I promise.

Happy Monday guys! I just wanted to give a little shout-out to an article that I've been featured in alongside some other gorgeous bloggers, talking all about my little office space in my new home. You might remember my Updated Office Tour from our last flat, back when I had the luxury of a whole spare bedroom for my work-at-home office! Well, we've moved back into the city now and with being more central comes the condition that your space comes at a high premium - city-dwelling babes, I know you know what I'm sayin'.

Wayfair.co.uk were kind enough to get in touch and ask me for some office styling and productivity tips for their Blogger Work Spaces feature. Alongside me were the lovely girls Jessica from Ladylike Len and Jilly from JillyJilly - and suffice it to say, their offices are BEAUT. I had such a blast writing this feature and the guys over at Wayfair are absolutely wonderful - go give it a read and let me know what you think!

BACK AT IT AGAIN WITH THE VIDEO CONTENT! I'm so happy to have a YouTube video for you guys today, because I'll be honest - I love filming for you guys! And chatting away isn't ever really a problem for me it seems. I've tried to keep this as short and sweet as possible because there was around 18 minutes of footage and let's be real, nobody has time for that. So it's short (under 10 minutes counts, right?), sweet and snappy - a little trip through the very generous gifts I was given by friends and family for my 28th. I hope you guys enjoy and, as always, none of this is meant to brag - I really like watching these types of videos on YouTube and figured you guys would, too!

I know I always say it but I *really do* hope this is the beginning of a lot more video content for this channel and I'd love if you'd subscribe if you're not already. Happy viewing!


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