Sunday, 13 January 2019

Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone

Sweaty, gasping and red in the face. No, this isn’t some weird confessional of my private life , but how I ended the Leeds 10K back in 2018.
Whilst walking to collect my finishers medal (which I showed off to practically everyone) , I vowed to never run a 10K again. 
I expected the traumatic memories of my 10K to fade like harrowing childbirth memories did, but I was wrong. So why the hell have I signed up again?
Well, I’m doing it for a charity which I have fallen in love / gratitude with - Jo’s Trust. Jo’s Trust are the only dedicated cervical cancer charity in the UK and I’ve found myself leaning on them in my (many) hours of need. 
Not only have I signed up, but I’ve manahed to guilt trip people who I work with in to suffering along with me - win win. One of my only New Years resolution other than world dominance and marrying Tom Hardy was to give back more and spread awareness of cervical cancer. 
I (drunkenly) brain stormed ways to fundraise which ranged from bake sales (tick) to skydiving (definitely not tick, no thanks) and settled on the achievable task of running a 10K in sub one hour. 
I’m hoping this will boost my mental health as well as my physical health which has seen me dodging cardio better than my dog dodges having his tablets. 
2019 is the year of slowly pushing boundaries , and my snazzy new trainers will do the job just nicely.
Since drafting this blog, I’ve made another outrageous decision to sign up to a ballot for the Great North Run on behalf of Jo’s and I am toe tappingly waiting for a response back from how that is going to go. 

Monday, 31 December 2018


Scientists say that it it takes 66 days to form a habit, which is weird since it definitely didn’t take me 66 days to form the habit of eating half a tube of Pringles in one sitting most evenings.

In 2018, Gymshark released #Gymshark66 which saw thousands of individuals participating for the chance to better themselves and win a years worth of gym kit from Gymshark. 
I watched all of this unfold over social media from the sidelines , too daunted to throw my hat in to the ring with the super toned and super well followed on social media. That all changed for me when the winner was announced however, and it wasn’t a God like social media guru who won , but a girl I could actually relate too. 
Of course, there was some backlash to this decision with the ego driven demanding to know why their mate Tom who smashed his PB in bench press and cut down on #CheatMeals didn’t win. I , however, was bloody thrilled with the winner and decided I may as well have a go this year. 
I am not the fittest, I much prefer sitting down with a glass of wine over group boxing and I refuse to swap basmati rice for cauli-rice , but what I do have is determination. Back in 2007 I had a horse riding accident which left me with a shattered career dream of joining the army or being a professional sprinter, and with an even more shattered body. I attacked physio with reckless enthusiasm, always demanding to know how I could ‘get better’ quicker, something which my surgeon had to repeatedly tell me I would never fully achieve due to the scale of injuries which meant as soon as it gets cold I limp, and my hips would often dislocate until a super surgeon reconstructed them both on a clinical trial. 
Couple all of this with a cancerous cells diagnosis back on july 12th and I became the perfect breeding ground for someone to have every excuse in the world to avoid exercising for the majority of this year. I became someone who would go home straight after work and stare blankly at my tv instead whilst deciding which ready meal to grab. 
Last year I ran the Leeds 10K for charity and the structure and the fact I bloody had to go and prep myself so that I didn’t embarrass myself in front of thousands of people saw me religiously tying up my laces and heading out for a run covered in Factor 50 whilst listening to Kanye West and One Direction. 
I am under absolutely no illusion that I will win this thing, but then again neither was Eddy the Eagle and look what he went on to achieve with a bit of determination. 
It’s always good to have some targets to measure up against, so throughout the course of these 66 days I will be: 

Sign up to Leeds 10K 
As previously mentioned above, this gave me a structure to my exercise which I desperately needed so I’m hoping that this will set the year off in the right direction, and I can hopefully go under the 1 hour mark in 2019. 

Rejoin gym classes 
At the start of 2018 I became one of those smug spin goers who loudly declared how many calories they were able to burn through 45 minutes of hell (seriously, who was I??), however the heatwave of June and July saw me ditching the spin classes in favour of drinks by the canal, and my anxiety over not being good enough returned. 
Spinning is actually one of the only forms of cardio I enjoy (mostly because it’s over bloody quickly and I can pretend I’m in the Tour De France at the back of the room), so I’m hoping resuming this once a week will improve my lung capacity and help build up my leg muscles. 

Commit. Commit. And commit again. 
I’ve already set out a little exercise plan for when I set foot back in the gym on January 1st to keep me motivated and keep me committed. I don’t really believe in weighing myself due to muscle mass and fat mass but what I do believe in is progress pics and hitting PB’s in exercises, so i’m going to be chasing both of these with abundant enthusiasm, similar to when I told my dentist I now floss. 

And there we have it, this is me, Francesca, officially putting my hat in the ring for 66 days of spinning, commiting and hopefully seeing a few results along the way. 


Friday, 28 December 2018

My Goal For 2019

Now I don’t usually buy in to this ‘New Year New Me’ as it makes me feel somewhat nauseous at the levels of cringe it induces in the very pit of my soul, however since writing in a daily journal I have realised it might be slightly less cringe to have some goals to work towards than what I usually thoughts.
Whilst it’s quite easy to put things like “feel better about myself” or “make more of an effort”, it actually took a lot of self reflection on a brutal level to address the below. It’s no secret that I have had the worse year ever in 2018, and various hospital appointments and tablets meant me going to the gym was way off of my priority list – so far off that I’m glad Virgin Active don’t send you a ‘year in review’ of how many times this year you’ve been because I’d be crying in to my bank statement for the foreseeable.
For those of you that are new here or may have stumbled stumbled across my blog through googling “Goal setting new year” (SEO optimisation, take a bow), I have a twin sister who is very fashionable and put together. I’m pretty sure her going to the shops for some milk is more glamourous than I look whilst at work or going out for casual drinks. You ever see those girls in bars or on Instagram who look so well put together that you want to punch them in the face and steal their wardrobe in the night? Yep, that’s my twin. I refuse to stand next to her in full body photos as I look more like Mr Potato Head than the individual that came out of the womb at the same time as her. Chalk and cheese. Black and white.
I’ve decided that 2019 is going to be the year of big positive change for me, and I am #GirlDoneGood’ing it for the foreseeable. Last year I set some unrealistic goals which saw me sat in the bath with a bottle of wine eating Cadbury chocolate and watching Master Chef by February, sacking off the gym and my regime with glee – this is not happening this year, no sir.

1. Less talking more action 
I like to set a good goal. Or a plan. Or a list. I just don’t like sticking to them. I am notorious for going to the supermarket with the best intention written down on the notes in my phone and quickly veering off to a promotional stand in the supermarket when I see Pringles are reduced to £1 (bargain though, am I right??). I am also the queen of not documenting said Pringle consumption in my MyFitnessPal app once I’ve finished scoffing down half the tube whilst watching Call The Midwife and stalking social media for #CleanEating
In steps : less talking more action. It is my aim for 2019 to keep my mini victories to myself and actually do what I’m planning to do. I have a gym regime which I can stick to when I’m motivated, but the first spot of rain and I decide “that’s it I can’t get off the bus” – my gym is indoors, the rain doesn’t stop it from opening, major bullsh*t. 

2. Make more effort 
I love sleep. I love sleep nearly as much as my dog which I love a lot and would step in front of a bullet for him. Due to the above, I have decided that the ridiculous notion of me going to the gym before work (something I tell myself after I’ve bailed on going the previous evening) is just never going to happen during winter. The disappointment I feel in myself when I don’t go in the morning is palpable as I get ready and gets worse when I see people entering work in their cycling kits, smugly drinking on a protein shake. 
I’m going to make an effort to make a sensible structure to my life, and stick to something a lot less harsh than what I was penning in 2018 – did I really hate myself that much? Damn! 

3. More self-love
I am my own worst critic, and when something goes wrong I will sit and mull it over with grim determination to not make that cock up again. I recently heard a saying that would you speak in the same tone as you speak to yourself to a child? The answer is no, and I’m trying to adopt this more gentle approach with myself. 
I’ve decided to stop cancelling on my ‘me time’ in order to please others, and I am working through a routine at the minute of ways to wind down after a stressful day that don’t revolve around a bottle of wine and drunkenly ringing my best friend who lives in The Hague to tell her about how awful my day was. 
I had a few empty drawers in my bedroom after my recent house move, and I’m now dedicating one of these empty drawers to a ‘self love’ drawer (not one of those types of self love drawers, you dirty people), full of face masks, snacks, nice quotes and things which make me smile, like messages from my nan who is the apple of my eye. 

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff 
I am a huge over thinker, and this can often lead me to wide awake in bed at an ungodly hour thinking back to something I did a month and a half ago which haunted me. Usually, this is something so minor that it wouldn’t bother anyone else, but there I am, mulling it over in mind to the point I feel my heart racing. 
Whilst everything else is pretty straight forward, I think this is going to be a longer term commitment of mine to let go of the things that shouldn’t be bothering me anywhere near as much as it should – if it doesn’t matter in a years’ time, don’t sit and think on it a minute longer. 

5. Consistent content 
I’m very fortunate that a while ago, my daily visits to this blog sky rocketed after an article I posted on cervical cancer went semi viral on social media. 
Before this, I would sporadically write as and when the feeling took me; which was becoming less and less. However, after writing that one post I realised my interest in writing had returned and I found myself doodling ideas on to my phone and in my notebook ready to tackle drafting a full piece at a later date. 
I am hoping 2019 will be the year I can make the content I post on here and my social media a lot more streamlined and in synch, and hopefully continue to engage with as many people as possible.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

2018 : A Year In Review

We have a short 19 days left until I’m stood dancing with my dog in my arms whilst the clock strikes midnight to signal the start of a new year – and thank f*ck for that.

2018 has been the highest of highs and the absolute crushing of lows, and I for one will be downing a glass of wine as soon as it’s socially acceptable to kiss goodbye to this year.

I learnt a lot (most of it not the best), like how to manually drain a washing machine after putting a battery and my headphones in a dressing gown pocket, and how to entertain a baby who wants to throw your phone across a waiting room instead of holding it gently. I also learnt that the best way to get a good table at a restaurant is to tell them it’s someone’s birthday – the more you know.

What I am still clueless on are the male species, how to clear out a utility cupboard without finding a spider and what to do when your fridge freezer goes kapoot and all your food starts to defrost – I am winning at adulting.

Whilst It’s easy to dwell on the crushing lows of the year (which now include a jaw issue from being overexcited about a piece of chicken in my lunch which means I now can’t eat solid food without crying), I’m also saluting the highs which are my amazing bunch of friends.

 As previously documented, I received the news no one wants to hear on July 12th – cancerous cells within the body. This was the most earth shattering experience of my life and I can honestly say I think I would’ve fallen apart if my friends and family weren’t there to pick up the pieces, which included driving to mine late at night when I was having a breakdown in the bath ; Briony, if you ever read this which is unlikely since you have a mini human who consumes your time – I love you. 

My friendship group have become my rock over this past year, and whilst I am a frequent drunk declarer of "No, I am the luckiest person to have you as my friend", I really do mean it whilst also sober. My friends have been here to prop me up through some tragic and some downright hilarious moments this year, and I would be nothing without them. 

2018 was also the year of the first long distance (ish, 10k is long distance to me when the most cardio I've done in recent weeks is walking to the fridge and back to collect my festive cheese and chutney) run, which saw me both wishing it would end and feeling a massive high when I finished which was probably similar to heroin. I also learnt that despite it being a World Cup year, I am still none the wiser on the off-side rule or who the line up of the England football team are day to day. 

 I got hideously drunk at a work trip to the races whilst resulted in me being copious milkshakes from McDonalds which I couldn't carry any further than the train station entrance, and I cleaned enough wine off of my leather trousers to be able to tell you what type of wine I was wiping away and when. 
I went on a hilarious disaster of a holiday which both me and my twin can agree we must do better in future, and I made copious plans for the future. 

I made resolutions, which for the best part I didn't stick to - who has time to make themselves look like a goddess before work every morning? No thanks, I'd rather have an extra 30 minutes in bed. 

2018 : you were terrible. Honestly, terrible. And I'm not trying to sugar coat our break up here because it's not me ; it's you. I'm sorry, but I'm leaving our issues behind me and putting my best Jimmy Choo clad foot forward strutting in to 2019.  

Sunday, 4 November 2018

25 Things I Learnt By The Time I Was 25

1.      ‘Use it or lose it’ turns out to actually be a very valid quote. I sauntered back in to the gym after a month out and nearly shattered a knee cap trying to leg press something I had previously found simple. Not today Satan, not today. Ego 0 – leg press 1
2.      You do actually need to have a skincare routine to stop your skin turning to shit – who knew??
3.      My Nan was correct when she said I needed to invest in thermal leggings and vests for winter. Nan, I know you don’t even really know how the internet works, but if you see this:  you were right, I was wrong, and my Southern bones salute you.
4.      People are shit, in general. With their phones. With communication. With what they mean.
5.      Everyone is fighting their own inner battles, so try and be nice to them, even if they make you feel like sticking your face in a blender after speaking to them.
6.      If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make the effort.
7.      No message is also a message.
8.      Turns out the age old “you need to eat five portions of fruit & veg a day” isn’t just a mild suggestion cobbled together by a few vegetable wielding scientists. I’ve started to read in to the health benefits of various types of vegetables, something which picky 18 year old me would’ve turned her nose up at.
9.      Stop using single use plastic. Seriously, stop.
10.   Cosmetic surgery is addictive, and it’s only when you step back from the string of appointments that you can see how down the rabbit hole of chasing perfection that you can go.
11.   Social media is not real. The celebrities you aspire to look like don’t even look like what they do in their photos, so stop admiring them and focus on your own shit.
12.   It is important to take time out for your mental health as much as it is to take time out for a physical injury. Buy a candle, invest in a nice face mask and enjoy a Ted Talk whilst sitting in a very hot bubble bath with a (large) glass of wine.
13.   It is possible to catch ‘the running bug’ after training for one 10k. It isn’t wise, however, to decide that one successful 10k means you can then run a marathon.
14.   Good friends are essential. Find your tribe, hold on to them.
15.   It is important to ask “are you okay?” if you think someone is struggling. Start the conversation.
16.   Cervical cancer screening appointments are a life saver – literally. I should know. Ladies, stop being embarrassed and bloody go.
17.   You don’t have to agree with everyone on everything.
18.   Stop doing things you don’t enjoy. Yoga? Not for me. Did I struggle through multiple classes because it was the ‘in thing’ to do? God yes.
19.   River Island do some sensational gel sole liners for your heeled shoes for when your feet are struggling – you can thank me later on these.
20.   Life isn’t all rainbows and ponies. Some days will just be shit. Some days will be boring.
21.   Some of your friends will be charging ahead of you in the #lifegoals set up. I am basically the only single person left in my friendship group, whilst most my friends live with their significant other. One of my friends is even getting married and I am maid of honour – I felt great joy at this until I saw the cost and pricings for said weddings and I’ve decided I will forever be alone because I don’t have 20k to put away in to a wedding.
22.   Not everyone will like you, but that’s okay.
23.   Investing in yourself is important. Take the stairs, get off the bus a stop early, buy that expensive moisturiser and feel no shame in doing it.
24.   There are, in fact, multiple variations of a lightbulb, something which I didn’t realise until I was trying to shoehorn the wrong bulb in to the fixture. I’d like to say this is a metaphor for some deep and philosophical wider meaning of life, but it isn’t.
25.   ‘Worrying about something means you suffer twice”.


Sunday, 23 September 2018

My Quest From Flab To Fab

As I write (type, iPhone notes) this, I am halfway through an all inclusive trip to Ibiza where I have indulged in a fair amount of carby goodness. 
This, however, is not the problem. The problem is that when it came to laying on the beach and basking in the glorious Ibiza sun, I refused to remove my coverall , or my playsuit or my shorts. Every day I have sat on the beach I’ve refused to be just down to my swimwear, and when asked why by my twin, my answer was simple : I hate how I look.
This has come as a surprise to me, as when I was prancing around in front of my mirror in Leeds in said swimsuits, I felt chic, confident and was praising the surgical gods for my enhanced cleavage which looked glorious with no padding or support. 
As soon as I hit the beach however, my entire self confidence shrivelled up and I chose to wear extra layers. Even as I write this, I’m assessing my remaining swimwear for what I can wear to be the most covered on the beach and not melt in the heat. 
I tried to put it down to “well I don’t want to burn so I have to keep this top / these shorts / this playsuit on for the good of my skin”, but the reality is a month away from the gym and countless bags of gnocchi and filled pasta have wreaked havoc on my body. I’m also hugely guilty of skipping meals in favour of black coffee when I’m in a hurry, which has resulted in me picking up one too many Victoria sponge slices whilst walking past the supermarket on the way to my bus.

It also doesn’t help that I have to stand in the presence of my twin who is tiny and tanned , which has resulted in me deleting many photos that she has taken of me whilst we’ve been away. Next to her, I feel like a marshmallow - all pale and flumpy whilst she lays next to me like a Twiget - tan and thin. 
Instead of sitting indoors and crying about my current form, it’s given me a massive push to get back to the gym and start eating correctly again. 
I am in no way saying I’m overweight, or large, but for my frame which I’ve always prided myself in being a size 8, clothes starting to become too tight is not what I wanted or needed, and this has become the perfect tool to motivate me on. I’ve already done a food order for when I get back to Leeds in a week , and I am already browsing the spinning timetables for when I manage to drag myself there after work. There’s nothing quite like a sweaty , screaming individual bellowing at you to “climb your own proverbial mountain” to get you straight back in to the swing of things. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Top Tips For Dealing With Heartbreak

If you’re reading this post, then I can imagine one of two things. 1: you’ve stumbled across this by accident and are too hungover to click off of it so you’re deciding to keep reading or 2: the title of the post relates to you.
If you are number 2, then I am sorry this is happening to you and I hope you are not currently sat in the dark with a tub of Ben & Jerrys listening to the ‘Heartbreak’ section of Spotify as if it’s going out of fashion.
Whether we want to admit it or not, 95% of us (conservative guess) have been the victim of heartbreak in some form or other. I’m not just talking about the relationship kind which is the first that springs to mind, but any kind of heartbreak. That’s the funny thing about humans, our hearts can feel like they’re physically breaking over a variety of things depending on what you’re close to.
I can confidently say I have felt a variety of heartbreak in my (youthful) 24 years. People tend to scoff at this, as 24 Is relatively young, however I felt the unimaginable grief of losing my dad when I was 9, and I seem to have fallen in to various levels of heartbreak ever since. When I was around 17, my dog died, and I cried that much in the vets that I had a panic attack and another vet had to come in and put me in a recovery position whilst I wailed and screamed over the loss of my trusted friend and ally.
See, heartbreak can be anything. And the one we never like to discuss is often the most common – heartbreak from someone you were dating / in a relationship with / seeing / stalking on social media and found something that made your heart break. We are all guilty of it, and I am not ashamed to admit this has happened to me more than once, but I am now sat in bed watching Long Lost Families not feeling an inch of heartbreak over these boys before.
If you are currently sat in your flat deciding that you’re going on a juice detox, becoming a yoga loving goddess and are going to return to work after the weekend with a radical hair cut then this post is for you : top tips for dealing with heartbreak.

Decide what it is that is hurting
This is possibly something ridiculously obvious, however something that we all overlook. It’s like when you’re a child and a (hopefully responsible) adult asks you where the pain hurts in your leg and you point to the whole limb vaguely, hoping that someone can figure something out from your wild gesturing. It may be that you’re upset over the loss of the potential future, or the loss of a friend, or simply the loss of someone’s presence. Decide what it is that’s causing the hurt, and write that shit down.

Speak to someone
I won’t forget the day that my best friend was sat on my bed in my bedroom whilst I got ready for a New Year party and I told her I had been dumped out of the blue. I caught sight of her face in my mirror whilst I blindly shoved my contact lenses in to my eyeballs and I think her facial expression mirrored mine – what the actual chuff??? Where had this come from??
It helped having someone to talk to, because after I told her everything, and after she had finished fixing the disaster that is my frizz prone hair, she concluded “what a cock.” – Yes, what a cock indeed.

Find something to fill your spare time
For me, whenever I’m stressed I will always grab my trainers, grab my water bottle and go for a run. This was something that I would’ve never found therapeutic if it wasn’t for the fact that I had to run to train for my 10k back in July. The simple task of putting one foot in front of the other whilst listening to some questionable music is enough to clear my mind and fill my body with those endorphins which are usually so sorely lacking after a heartbreak.

Stop picking at old wounds
For the love of God, if you are currently reading this whilst also scrolling through your exes Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn profile, please stop. We are told from a young age that something won’t heal if we won’t stop picking at it, and the same goes for heartbreak. You won’t find closure in the place that caused you pain, so it’s time to unfollow the thing causing you pain and chuck it in the fuck it bucket once and for all.

If all of the above fails, I find that watching Bridget Jones Diary with a bottle of wine and a takeaway can help the situation long enough to help you get enough sleep. Heart ache doesn’t last forever, eventually you do adapt to the loss, no matter how big or small it is. For now, all you have to do is put your chin up, put your shoulders back and find your most kick arse outfit to strut around in to make yourself feel like you are #OwningIt.