Wednesday, 2 November 2016

A short hiatus

This could, quite possibly, be the longest overdue post that I have written to date. 
For several weeks I have opened up the tab, started to write and then become engrossed in something elsewhere before swiftly closing the tab and thinking i'll do it tomorrow. 
The thing is, I didn't spend much of my placement year doing routine writing in length like I do at university, and going back to university has become something of a chore. 
The writing, the essays, the journals, the mockups, the proposals - an endless chore of reading, writing and repeat. 
Did I want to come back home and start typing away at my laptop, after spending hours writing? Not really. 
It became a chore, and when something becomes a chore it becomes stale. But not anymore, I'm now back with an extensive list in my notebook of fresh blog ideas to give myself some free time away from the university books. 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Review // Food & Exercise journal

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that one thing I can't keep my hands off is organisers - any organiser, I currently own an impressive collection but had never been able to find a food or exercise journal that didn't cost the earth to import from abroad. 
Well, I now can look no further, as I have found the perfect little book from Paperchase for the small price of £7. Naturally, I also purchased a desk planner with this order, but I'll save that for another day. 
Inside the book is 3 sections; food, exercise and goals. 

  Each section has ample space for my (massive) writing, and has each section split up with easy to locate tabs so that your work doesn't get muddled up. 
I've only recently started doing some form of resistance work, so I'm massively looking forward to using the 'fitness' section which has a nice set up for logging what type of activity you're doing, as well as reps, sets, weight and duration. 
For only £7, I am very impressed with the quality of the book, and the size of it means I can slip it in my gym bag with a pen and not have to worry about using up valuable space which could be taken up by food - hah, and you think I'm joking. 
My only issue with the book was, in fact, the choice of delivery options. I foolishly forgot to pick this up when I went in to my local Paperchase, so thought I would use click & collect to remind me - only, with Paperchase you now have to pay for this feature..and the price is the same as the delivery option. Needless to say, I took the lazy option and had it delivered to my front door by a very rain drenched Royal Mail postie who held the large box out to me looking like he wished he was sat on a tropical island instead of at my door. 
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wishing to improve their fitness. The food section holds you accountable for what you eat, and lets you write out per meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) how many calories were in each portion, as well as how much water you have consumed and how many veggies/fruits you consume. I can sometimes (often) overeat a lot with snacking, so this is definitely a good way to see where my calories are going in a day!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Fitness // The scales don't lie - or do they?

You can hardly walk past an aisle in the supermarket magazine section without seeing phrases like “lose 10lb in 10 days with this juice diet!” or “need to lose the pounds? We’ve got you covered!” plastered across the front of them.
Losing those pounds seems to be the biggest money maker for these magazines, because, let’s face it, losing pounds means you’re getting healthier, right? Right? Am I right?
Well, in short, losing the pounds doesn’t always equate to getting in better shape, we’ve all seen the photo online of what 1lb of fat looks like as opposed to 1lb of muscle and the difference is staggering. 


When the scales go down, it means you are losing overall weight, of both fat and muscle, which is what people who would like to lose weight in the conventional sense are after – that little digit on the scale dropping and dropping. It can become almost addictive, watching the weight fall off, and it can really motivate you to keep going as you can physically see that your body mass is decreasing, but what do you do when you hit your goal weight? Do you carry on going, or do you monitor yourself to remain the same weight for as long as you see desirable?
Before I became better aware of fitness and nutrition, I too used to think that losing pounds was the be all and end all, but now, for me, it isn’t. Because what those digits do not tell you, whilst they’re falling or rising or maintaining themselves, is how you will feel at that weight. If you’re constantly feeling tired or irritable, you’re probably not eating enough, or at least not enough of the nutrients that your body needs whilst exercising.
When I stepped on the scales a few months ago, I was perplexed to find that I had put on weight and I mulled over it for quite a while. How had I gained weight when I was exercising well, drinking plenty of fluids and eating healthy 90% of the time? Were my scales wrong? Instead of restricting my eating and panicking, I asked a friend who is much more health and fitness savvy than I am. Muscle mass was the simple answer to my woes – yes, I was eating, drinking and moving well, and that was entirely why I had ‘put on’ weight.
I took several photos of myself from various angles to confirm what my friend was saying, and compared them to the photos where I initially weighed less. True enough, my body looked better now than it had before and I didn’t look like I would blow away with a strong wind.
In short, the scales, although they are a fantastic aide for those on a weight loss journey, are not always the best judge of your body and its capabilities – was I upset when I saw I had put on weight? Yes. Did that last when I realised that the scales, in this instance, were not reflective of my body? No.


Sunday, 26 June 2016

Fitness // Top tips for getting back in to it

We've all been there, something gets in the way of you heading to the gym or completing your run and before you know it, you've missed a whole week of exercise and are finding every excuse under the sun not to restart your fitness regime. 
It's very easy to find an excuse when you really don't want to do something - I mean, who wouldn't want to spend an extra hour in bed in the morning or head straight home from work to sit on your sofa all evening watching trash tv. 
I went through a phase of find excuse after excuse, and it wasn't until I really physically couldn't go to the gym after injury that I realised how much I was missing out. Below are my top tips for getting back in to your routine!

1. Put it in to perspective - If you go for an hour, that's only 1 hour of your day out of 24, is it really that time consuming? Your sofa and bed will still be there once you're done!

2. Find a fitness buddy - it's easy to kid yourself in to not wanting to go by making up some excuse, but the same can't be said trying to justify that to your gym partner who, probably like you, would rather be sat in a hot bath instead of sweating away on a static bike. 

3.  Find a class or routine that you enjoy - There are so many studies conducted on people putting off jobs that they really don't want to do, and the gym is no different. I'm not afraid to admit that at work I'll try and put off the jobs I don't want to do, but they're still going to be there, no matter how much I don't want to do it. If you have a certain fitness class like spinning or pilates that you don't dread, you'll be much more likely to tie up your trainers, put your hair in a ponytail and get on with it. 

4. Take progress photos - I had never been one for progress photos, but after taking some to get me back in to exercise after having 8 weeks off with hip troubles, I was amazed with my progress. I genuinely didn't think that I had made any progress, but the photos (below) show that in a month period, I most certainly had made progress!

Monday, 30 May 2016

Review // Lean In 15

Unless you've been living under a rock, Joe Wicks and his book Lean In 15 have been taking the media world by storm. 
I have to admit, I have been slowly stock piling more and more healthy eating books to try and break my routine of eating the same thing day in, day out. 
I ordered Lean In 15 from Amazon and gleefully began to start sticking coloured labels on to recipe upon recipe. 
One thing that I love about this book is that Joe takes the time to explain what sort of fats are good for you (there's none of this 'avoid every fat, every carb' business to be found here! He also gives a neat little list of 'essentials' to have in your cupboard at all times, whilst telling you to bin the 'sad steps'. 
The amount of times I've looked in a book and been baffled by an ingredient has been staggering, and I am happy to report that this isn't the case with this book - I managed to find everything in my local supermarket and it was all reasonably priced - no extortionate liquid gold truffle! 
The recipes' are easy to follow with clear instructions - one thing I would say is that the portions come up quite big, so I tend to decrease the volume ever so slightly, but that is literally my only complaint! 
If you're looking for quick and easy meals that are also devilishly easy to prepare on a budget then this is certainly for you!

Friday, 27 May 2016

The truth about // Scoliosis

I say scoliosis, you say...? Probably, nothing. I hadn't heard of it until I was diagnosed with it either. Several years on, I still remember catching a glimpse of my x-ray, not knowing it was mine, and being struck with horror at the image. That poor, poor person, I thought to myself. 
Hah, well, I was that poor, poor person. This was my spine, my x-ray, and my diagnosis. 
Most causes of scoliosis are unknown, but it can be caused by the spine not forming properly whilst you are a baby, or, in my case, trauma to the spine and its' muscles. 
When I was 13 I broke my pelvis and was in a wheelchair for a very long time. When I got out of my chair, my hip stuck out, something which we assumed was because of the trauma to my pelvis. It later turned out that my spine had curved, which could've been there since birth, as both my grandmother and great aunt suffer from it, but because my spine muscles were so strong, it never showed. Apparently, when I was a baby I used to sit up incredibly straight from as soon as I could sit unaided, and years of horse riding and being told to sit as straight as possible in the saddle meant I had incredibly strong core muscles - until I became wheelchair bound. 
The implications of scoliosis differ from person to person, some people develop chest problems if the curve is in the ribcage, or, in my case, can cause the hip to protude. 
Day to day, my back pain is managed and quite often I will go weeks without pain. Sadly, when I do get pain, I am left bed bound, dosed up on muscle relaxants and not entirely on this planet. 
Simple things can set off my scoliosis, like trying to clean the bath or sitting for too long, but I try not to let it get me down. When I was first diagnosed, I was entirely disgusted by how much my hip stuck out - it wasn't natural, I used to tell myself, and I used to spend hours looking at myself in the mirror trying to find a way to stand that 'hid' my hip. It wasn't until my spinal consultant twisted me in to an incredibly painful position to show me how to 'hide' my hip that I realised it was a lost cause trying to do this and that my body was definitely not flexible enough for that. 
But I am not downtrodden over this, people will always have it worse off than me. My pain, on the whole, is manageable thanks to a cocktail of muscle relaxants and painkillers, and I still have the use of my legs to exercise frequently to stop the pain. 
Scoliosis, if severe enough, can be treated through surgery which is advancing each and every day with fantastic results. Alternatively, physio and core exercise is offered as another option, something which I take full advantage of with physio accredited core DVD's and exercise sheets.
To those who have been recently diagnosed and are looking for answers - it isn't a life sentence, and life really will go on. 

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Planning, planning, planning

You know those mad people that tell you that on the weekend they’re up at the crack of dawn, have cleaned their entire home by 9am and had managed to put the world to rights by midday? That’s me, at least, that’s me Monday – Saturday.
You will often see me trotting to the gym before my 9-5 job and then sauntering home and in my pyjamas by 5:30. That’s just how I am, I much prefer getting things out of the way early, and then having some time to relax after.
Monday-Saturday everything is planned to a tee with at least one list on my desk, one list on my phone and one list in the diary by my bed. I am one of life’s planners, I need to know exactly what I need to do and when it needs doing by, no questions asked.
The same goes for my fitness regime. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday I complete Kayla Itsines BBG Guide, Tuesday and Thursday I do 40 minutes of cardio and one day on the weekend I will do some gentle exercise. The night before, I will have my bag packed and my gym kit ready for me to hop in to in the morning to make the transitions that little bit easier for an earlier start – I’ve even started pre-preparing my breakfast the night before so that I can have as relaxed a start to the day as possible.
By planning, I find that I rarely, if ever, miss a deadline or forget to do something. This is definitely something I’ve had to learn at university juggling three separate modules, a job, exercise and a social life. Each morning I will write down what I need to complete in the day and work through the tasks, taking several breaks as I go, to make sure that all my tasks are done.
My housemates would often still be sleeping by the time I finished a nightshift in a nightclub, went to university, then the gym and then returned home before crashing in to bed. Planning and early starts aren’t for everyone, but my productivity is so much higher now I plan my days.

As I said above, Sunday is definitely my day away from planning and early starts, and I will often be found toddling round my flat in my pyjamas until midday – balance is most definitely key!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Baby steps

After damaging my hip further in January, I ended up putting on quite a bit of weight – around about a stone. Now, this may not be a lot to some, but I am naturally small and, more to the point, this happened in an 8 week period.
I don’t think I realised how bad I had become until I saw the images I took of myself (left) and was somewhat shocked. I know I am by no means large or overweight, but it was a big shock to me and I instantly began to wonder how to remedy my issue.
My first overhaul was to replace snacks for water, and lots of it. I used to snack a lot in work out of what I thought was hunger, but after reading an article about dehydration I decided to give drinking water a go instead. Before this point, I was lucky if I drank a litre of juice/tea a day – oh and definitely no plain water. Now, I have ditched the juices and cups of tea at work and replaced them with at least 1.5/2 litres of water in this time period. As if by magic, my hunger cravings were gone, for the most part.
I also took a long hard look at what I was eating and my portion sizes. I had a sudden realisation one evening that I didn’t have to eat everything on my plate if I was full, especially unhealthy food. It sounds silly, as I’m 22, but I always told myself that I must finish my meal, regardless of how full I felt.
Next, I overhauled my exercise regime, namely with the BBG Guide by Kayla Itsines, compromising of 4 x 7 minutes workouts. When I first started, I didn’t expect it to be hard, but coming from only ever doing cardio I definitely struggled. I do these exercises 3 times a week, cardio twice a week and one day of either Pilates or swimming.
I still have a long way to go before I'm 'happy' with how I look but for now, any progress is good progress.