Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Sorting My Sh*t Out

The irony of this post is that this came to me when I was sitting in the bath after half a bottle of wine. 
I felt energised, invigorated and raring to go. I pulled myself out of the bath, toddler over to my desk and sat furiously writing in my notebook until I got distracted by netflix and chips - getting my shit together. 
I woke up this morning, aghast at how messily my writing was and very nearly didn’t post this; but it’s a reflection of me, an extension of me, and drunk me had a LOT to say on this subject. So drunk Francesca, take it away: 

My life isn’t insta worthy, I don’t have abs of steel or a bum you can rest a drink on. I have a slightly podgy stomach, my makeup is half arsed at best during the week, and I swear enough to make even a sailor blush. 
I flake on gym trips, I would rather binge watch Netflix instead of socialise 80% of the time and my fridge isn’t filled with the content of Whole Foods. 
But I’m okay with the above. I’m fine with the above, because I am a human being and not a machine. Saying that, I do have some things I would like to change to become a happier and healthier person, both mentally and physically. It's Mental Health Awareness Week within the UK at the minute, and I have no shame in saying that I, in the past, have struggled with my mental health. A string of events when I was younger turned me in to an anxious and scared individual, that couldn't deal with their grief so turned to self harm and destructive thoughts to cope. This wasn't coping, this was building walls. Thankfully I got help, and whilst I still can become incredibly anxious and feel intrusive thoughts, I haven't acted on those thoughts in years, and that in itself is a mini victory for me.

Get back to the gym.
 I purchased the GF8WG months ago, half arsed attempted it and stopped when a man watched me in the weights area. I miss that little endorphin rush and fist pump when I hit a PB, and I’m gradually easing myself back in to exercising. Not only am I getting back to the gym, I'm also getting back to , shock horror, running. I signed up to a 10K for charity in July, and I'm taking my running schedule very seriously (I say whilst popping a Pringle in my mouth). I have downloaded a nifty app to keep me on schedule, and I am mixing both the GF8WG app with my running one to develop an all round approach to fitness over the coming months.
Find the positives in the day to day. 
Now I wouldn’t say I abuse my body, but I can become super lazy with simple tasks, especially on the work run. As I mentioned above, I have dealt in the past with anxiety, which rears it's head in regards to sitting in front of my mirror analysing myself before coming up with a list of things wrong with myself. 
I am slowly rewiring this outlook, and I am going to bed with a writing journal to write down things I am thankful for today, instead of looking for things to be sad about. 
I am so, so blessed to have a fantastic friend who I can ring morning or night, weekday or weekend, and I know she will be there for me. Not only will she be there for me, she will make time for me and not make me feel like my worries are stupid or blown out of proportion. She sits, she listens, she makes the odd comment, but she lets me vent and I honestly feel like she is my lifeline when I am stressed. Not only that, but she puts up with my drunk texts and doesn't chastise me for them the next morning - what a gem.  
Sort the shit out of my eating. 
Last week I had a McDonald’s for lunch and breakfast twice. Not only did I not enjoy it after, but the money I’ve been haemorrhaging recently makes for uneasy reading for my financial advisor. I was in a solid routine for months, and I lost it recently, picking easy food in the work canteen for breakfast and picking up pizzas for dinner. I have severe iron deficiencies, and when I stop eating correctly, I end up falling asleep as soon as I get home or looking so pale I go an off grey shade.
 Needless to say, pizzas and McDonald’s aren’t packing the iron that I’m lacking , and I need to pick up where I left off with my high iron diet.  
Learn to say no. 
I’m one of those people that will say yes to something they’d really rather not, for fear of offending someone. Random donation bag going round the office? I’ll contribute, no matter what the cause. 
Charity workers knocking on my door Saturday morning at 8:30am, I'll stand and listen, whilst thinking longingly about my bed. I am tired of being the Yes Man, and I am starting to become the "do I need to do this?" Man instead. I bought " The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A Fuck" a while ago, and I am intending to apply this to more situations moving forward. 
And there we have it, drunk me putting the world to rights - lets just be glad I didn't try to take any photos after this. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Review // Gymshark Slounge Wear

Ah Gymshark, my seemingly favourite brand if you look at my blog. Half my sport wardrobe is sectioned off to Gymshark, and I was beyond gleeful when I saw their campaign for the Slounge Wear collection. 
The collection comes / came (selling out is Gymsharks forte of course) in three colours, and I'll be honest when I say the colour I got was the last one I wanted. I logged in to the site four minutes after the release and was shocked to see the other two colours (grey and taupe) had already sold out in my size. 
I had seen several of the athletes advising to size down to stop the material from going baggy, so I opted for an XS and checked out. 
The Slounge leggings came to £28, which seemed fairly reasonable considering the price of their other collections, so I paid the price and waited rather impatiently for the delivery. As I've previously mentioned, their delivery can be quite hit and miss, so I was nicely surprised when these got delivered to my work within a few days of ordering them. 
Now, down to the knitty gritty. 
The pro's are that they are incredibly comfy, flattering and are actually pretty squat proof (I wouldn't wear these to the gym, but if I ever wanted to then, you know, I could). 
I didn't realise these weren't full length when I purchased them (are all the athletes short or what?!) which was a bit of a shame, as I don't like my pasty white ankles being on display, but since these are only being worn around the house I don't mind too much. Thankfully there is not bum contour in sight on these leggings, and they are made of a super stretchy material so that you can lounge in front of your tv in peace.
A size XS on me is a bit snug on the waist (I'm a S in all other clothes, and a size 8 in jeans for reference), but I'm expecting them to loosen off after a few wears an washes. 
Overall, I'm pretty happy with this purhcase for it's comfort and fit, but I probably wouldn't buy the whole collection if / when they are restocked.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

My May Goals

(My first goal is to think of catchy slogans for my upcoming posts). 

Ah May, the month of bank holidays, semi decent weather and all of your neighbours mowing their lawns (shoutout to my landlord who does mine, you're the best). The evenings are getting longer and the after work drinks sitting in the sun are becoming harder to turn down 'i'm only coming for one', 'go on, another won't hurt', 'has anyone seen my bag?'. 
I felt a certain sense of relief when I hit May. I've secured somewhere to live until I eventually buy my own house, I'm starting to get back in to a routine with my exercise and I'm no longer waking up wondering if I've slept through world destruction and woken up in a new Ice Age. 
May is also the month of my first set of goals for the next 30 days. I often work best with having a long list of things to do, and feel incredibly smug when I tick them off with a neon yellow highlighter.

1. To be consistent
In work, blogging and exercise. For the past three weeks I've gone to the gym once a week, magically conjuring up a reason each evening as to why I couldn't go straight from work - oh no, i'm wearing the wrong trainers. Oh dear, I missed the bus which will mean I'm 10 minutes later than usual. My usually decent eating habits have taken a back burner as I've grazed my way through enough tubes of Pringles to start owning a share in the company. Then there's this ; the blog. My child. Which I've neglected (sorry). 
At the start of 2018 I vowed to upload content once a week on a Monday to coincide with my one rest day on a working week. Yeah, neither of those happened. My 'rest day' has become a rest week, and I frequently curse myself when I get tired running up the stairs at work. 
I've spent more time watching Suits than I have furthering my blog, and I am starting to switch back to a more focused approach to my little space on the internet. 

2. To have more 'me' time 
This may be a contradiction to the above, where I told you I spent a lot of time eating Pringles and watching Suits, but I am making an effort to have more 'me' time. 
Most evenings you will find me looking through social media, tagging my twin in Facebook posts or keeping up to date with my social media crushes through the medium of Instagram. I am a massive lover of my bath at home, and I have started slotting in more time of sitting in a bath with a good book instead of sitting in my towel and scrolling social media. 
Basically, I need to get the f. off of social media at every moment, and found myself rolling my eyes at a girl opposite me in a restaurant who was leaving her food to go cold so that she could take a better photo for social media. 

3. To be better with my finances
Like most millenials, I am currently saving for a house which is no small feat. There are fees upon fees, and checklist after checklist on my 'want / need' list. 
I've had meetings with mortgage advisors, and I've started to pull together an Excel sheet of all of my spending to try and figure out where I'm losing my hard earned funds (possibly Pringles. Pringles I'm looking at you). 
I have become incredibly bored of renting over the past year, and now that my long term housemate is moving down South, I am more determined than other to make my own nest which doesn't involve sharing my cutlery and frying pans (I'm OCD, what can I say??).

Sunday, 22 April 2018

The Quarter Life Crisis

Back when my only concern was where the next piece of pasta was arriving from. 

“When I hit 25, I’ll be getting botox” has become my mantra with my twin (and anyone who would listen) since I was around 19. 25, the elusive age where, in my head, I would suddenly wake up and need botox, a personal trainer to speed up my metabolism and a counsellor to help me ride through being old.  
In steps the quarter life crisis. A midlife crisis at 50? No, I’m having a quarter life crisis. At 24 and a half, to be exact. A lot of my friends are engaged (two in the past 48 hours, to boot), several have had children, and many more are moving in with their significant others. I, on the other hand, am sat in my pyjamas at 4:30pm on a Sunday watching Homeland whilst inhaling a bagel (it’s ‘protein’ though, so it’s okay). It’s not that I don’t feel fulfilled, but that everyone else is moving ahead of me and doing the grownup stuff.
At the start of each week, I’ll begin to think about how every morning I’ll get up, pick out a bomb outfit for work and absolutely kill my week, both in work and at home. Being brutally honest, my alarm goes off at 6am every weekday morning, and instead of seizing the day like all good self help books advocate, I hit the snooze button until around 6:20, which is around the time I’ll throw myself out of my bed, trip over my hair straighteners and try and dash around my house, ready to be leaving at 7am looking semi-human. My normal breakfast is porridge with a spoonful of Nutella (no avo on toast here, folks) and my morning tea is Tetley with milk (no bulletproof coffee here either). At the gym, I’ll scroll social media whilst warming up, and will mentally will my body to keep going through the cardio which it is having to endure, so that I can look semi decent on the beach this year.
I have spent many hours examining my hair to check for any signs of, shock horror, a grey hair. Twice, I have found one. And twice, I have stared in absolute horror at the find, only to begin to imagine what my hair would look like completely grey at 30.
I am yet to master how to stop a leak from a pipe, or know how to change a tyre on a car. What I can do, however, is drink a whole bottle of wine in under an hour and still be standing – who’s the real winner here?
It’s all of the little things like this, that lead me to feeling unfulfilled and having a ‘crisis’ (albeit largely satirical, nobody panic) at the age of just under 25. Do I need botox? No. No I need more damned sleep and a moisturiser which does its job. I will also not stop laughing to avoid more wrinkles, and I will not stop drinking my wine in a bid to look better on the beach.
Sure, my crisis is coming at me full tilt whilst all of my friends are planning their marriages, their nurseries and where the sofa is going to go in their new flat, but whilst they are planning their new lives, I am rummaging my way through my current one, and finding things to laugh at in each situation.
I am learning to become more independent, after having several fantastic housemates over the years who have been both friends and life counsellors whilst I’ve sat on my bed eating a McDonalds and complaining about another round of life drama which, in the grand scheme of things, are either very minor, or so ridiculous that it’s now become funny.
 I’ve started to care less about what people think of me, and more about what I want to do with my life. I used to be embarrassed when people found out I had a fitness Instagram and a blog, where I would express my internal monologue on a wider platform. Now, I’ll happily tell people what I’m tapping away on my laptop about, and I will happily snap away photos of myself for my fitness Instagram without feeling awkward if they asked what they were there for.
I am in a very fortunate position to be buying a house of my own next year, completely solo. And whilst I can’t help but feel a sense of excitement for officially being a home owner; I am mostly excited about owning my own dog, which I will name Thor.
 There, I said it. Judge me and my dog name choices. But this is how I will spend my evenings, scrolling Pinterest for my little castle of my own, whilst simultaneously wondering how many dogs are too many dogs to own in one place.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Cancer Research : Fat Shaming or Fact Sharing?

Now, when Protein World created billboards on the London underground encouraing people to essentially starve themselves to be 'beach body ready', I got the outcry. When Pepsi released that advert with Kendal Jenner, I got the outcry. When Cancer Research released the above advert, I... didn't get the outcry. 
Don't get me wrong, I am all for seeing both sides of the argument, however this advert came to the forefront after a Twitter user slammed Cancer Research, telling them she would not be donating to them again as they were 'fat shaming' her with the advert. 
People were split completely down the middle. You had people very much in favour of what the user had said, and some who were very much not in favour of what the user had said. 
"You're fat shaming" , "BMI isn't a thing" , "I lead a healthy lifestyle I'm just bigger" and "You're scaremongering" were all comments I saw, and the same comments continued over on news outlets who had picked up on the outcry. 
Cancer Research however, were still standing fast in their research, stating that there was copious evidence that obesity was the new smoking in terms of damage to your help. They have calculated that 60 cases of cancer a day could be avoided if people stopped reaching for the McDonalds from their car windows and instead made healthier choices. 
Cancer Research UK chief executive Mr.Kumar said that "Obesity is potentially the new smoking, if we're not careful", which is a comment he made after years of research by the charity. 
If you pick up a packet of cigarettes and see the picture of lung cancer on the pack ; is this smoker shaming? If you are warned away from sunbeds due to harmful radiation ; is this tanning shaming? 
Now, I know I am opening myself up to a whole host of "you're skinny you don't understand" and "it's not easy to lose weight, I have X, Y and Z medical conditions", but hear me out: 
Cancer Research, and unbiased charity which is paving way for helping find the cures and triggers for cancer, are raising awareness of the common causes for cancer. Sure, you may not like it, but there is, and always has been, copious research from various countries and various institutes about the detrimental impact that being obese has on your body. Excess pressure on your heart, lungs and other vital organs means that you are statistically more at risk of premature death than that of someone of average weight within the UK. This is the same for smoking ; you're more likely to get lung cancer if you smoke than those who don't smoke. That's a fact. 
It's a hard hitting fact ; but it's a fact. 
Ever seen a PSA from Ireland about driving whilst drunk or driving and texting? Yeah, if you haven't, I recommend you do. If anything, it'll shock you in to thinking twice before picking up that phone to Snapchat your Spotify playlist for your 40 friends. 
In my opinion, Cancer Research are doing what they have always done - providing the facts in such a way that make you sit up and take note, and boy have people taken note.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Quick And Easy Tenderstem Broccoli With A Bang

Ah, the classic tenderstem broccoli. Healthy, nutritious and...earthy.
It is no surprise to anyone I know that when they look in my fridge they will always be guaranteed to find cheese, chillis and some variation of broccoli. I eat enough of the stuff to keep a green grocers in business, and when I came back from a very unhealthy week in New York, the only thing I wanted to eat was a bowl of broccoli (which I did, FYI. My jetlagged arse hauled itself to the local shop to grab broccoli's before shuffling home, cooking it all up and getting in to bed before falling fast asleep in a ball). 
However, it can sometimes get a bit samey, so I have created a few tricks to spice it up.
For this super easy recipe, you will need a handful of tenderstem broccoli, some cooking oil and some garlic salt.
For this recipe, I use stir fry oil, but that's just because i'm too lazy to go buy some normal stuff. 

Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients: tenderstem broccoli, cooking oil, garlic salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (electric oven) and chuck the pan in to warm up along with the oven.
2. Once the oven is up to temperature, arrange the broccoli on the tray before lightly drizzling the oil over the broccoli, followed by copious amounts of garlic salt.
3. Pop the tray back in the oven for ten minutes before removing from the oven.
4.Turn the broccoli over and return to oven for a further ten minutes. 
5. Voila, your broccoli is done and ready to eat. 

And there we go; Jamie Oliver, eat your heart out.

Monday, 12 March 2018

The problem with social media is...?

If you asked ten people what their biggest gripe with social media is, you will probably get five different answers, minimum. ‘Fake’ people, false advertising, Photoshop, the answers are endless.
I have previously mentioned my gripe with people selling stuff on social media, and people selling ‘skinny’ teas which make you sit on the toilet for two hours praying for it to end are definitely high on the list. That is my general gripe.
But, as this is a fitness blog and I haven’t done a fitness post in a while, this is about my biggest gripe in the fitness world; unqualified people telling you unqualified things. Example? A Z lister trying to sell her young and impressionable followers ‘vitamins’ which will make them drop 3 dress sizes in two weeks. Now, unless she has discovered the holy grail of all fitness weight loss tactics, these followers will be paying for nothing more than what you can locate in your local Boots, but these tablets will most likely contain laxatives (see above about what these will leave you doing), which will make you drop water weight for a few days and dehydrate you senseless.
Next example? Meal guides (obviously, you also have to buy their ‘skinny’ shakes too) from another z-lister who was encouraging her fans to join her in a ‘detox’ before Christmas (FYI folks, your organs detox you , stop buying the detox juices. Put them down. Save yourself £5. You’re welcome). Now, not only is the idea of a detox outrageous, her calorie value for this was under 1000 calories a day. Less than 1000 calories. Not only will you be hungry, but you’ll be tired, sluggish and pile the weight back on as soon as you return to normal eating, thanks to your body thinking it was being starved. Dr Hazel Wallace is a fantastic advocate of calling out the bullshit, and I fully recommend anyone who doesn’t follow her should look up 1. Her and 2. Her book.
It’s not just has been celebrities who are peddling these things, but companies too. Step in Cute Nutrition, you hideous company you. Take a bow, and stay down. Cute Nutrition came under fire recently from Alice Liveing for encouraging their users to have, once again, less than 1,000 calories on their 2 shake and one (terrible) meal a day plan. A company was actually advocating starving yourself. If that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable that a company is encouraging us to starve ourselves so they can up the sale of their shakes, then I don’t know what will.
Not only did Cute Nutrition bury their ugly heads in the sand when they were first challenged on their guide, they then gave a very sarcastic response to Alice about nutrition. For those of you not in the know, Alice is a kick arse PT, who knows her thing on nutrition (follow her too for some inspiration ladies, she’s super). Not so cute now hey?
So, this is the crux of it. My issue with social media is; little to no knowledge being used as gospel. We live in a society whereby we can access social media at our fingertips, and surf to our hearts content whilst laying in bed, sitting on the bus going to work, or whilst in the gym (sorry Luke). We are so desperate to fit in to the new ‘normal’ that we would rather spend £30 to shit out all our fluids instead of approaching a professional and assessing how best we can improve our health for the long term.
Work in a building with several sets of stairs? Walk ‘em. Treat yourself to three chocolate biscuits with your cuppa? Drop it to one, or replace it with something a lil bit healthier, like my own homemade take on the Nakd bars
What you shouldn't do, however, is scroll through the fake reality that is social media looking for the next quick fix, which will just leave you needing to purchase toilet roll a hell of a lot quicker.