18/04/2018

10 ways to be the happiest you have ever been


Sometimes I (and many other bloggers) write posts that they have no authority on. Beauty bloggers who have never trained in anything to do with beauty are suddenly explaining why painting coconut oil on your skin will change your life or fashion bloggers sit around in sweatpants with a law degree tapping away on the importance of smartening up your wardrobe. It can be frustrating sometimes for those who have trained heavily in their field to read. I was speaking with a professionally trained make up artist on the weekend and she was venting her frustrations at the fact that so many beauty bloggers are pushing things that may have worked for them but how skincare and beauty is so unique to each person. Someone else's perfect skin saviour may wreak havoc with yours or the perfect lipstick shade may make you look washed out. I think the reason we all become so fascinated with these men and women giving us advice is that you feel as though you are getting insider tricks. I know that when my friend tells me about a little bistro that opened up on the corner or about this new highlighter that makes her look like a filter, I personally love it. We spend so much time asking people 'wow you look so good how did you get in shape?' or 'where is that coat from?' and blogging invites the world into an individual's tricks and tips. I think my best posts have come from when a lot of friends have asked me for my tips on something and I have thought I'll do a little post. However, just because something works well for me it doesn't mean it will work for anyone else and there are so many topics I love to discuss that I am by no means an expert in. I wanted to write a small disclaimer that happiness is one of those topics for me. I have no authority on this subject. I have been very, very happy and I have been very, very sad. However, these are some things that work for me, I hope they may help someone else too.

1. Hey Sweaty 



So my number one and probably the one that will get the most eye rolls is exercise. This for me was the most intolerable and inexplicable way to get happy until January this year. I finally for once in my life actually stuck to my new years resolution and I am now officially one of those annoying people who love exercise. So unlike the way I would cringe when my year 7 boyfriend used to text me hey sweaty because he couldn't spell sweetie, this kind of sweaty is the best kind. The endorphins you get from exercise are undeniably the best shortcut to happiness. I know it might feel painful and like you are dying but there is nothing like the feeling you get from a hardcore workout. I think I'm going to do a separate post on how I forced myself into exercise but for now just trust me and give it a go- it's scientifically proven!

2. Embrace your inner Bookworm 


I have a very weird relationship with reading. I absolutely love it but I rarely find the time for it and when I do I finish the book in two seconds flat. There is nothing that can transport me away from my worries more than getting involved in a really good bit of fiction. When you're reading about whatever traumatic events are plaguing the main character it tends to put your own worries into perspective. Plus, it's a great way to digital detox a little. If you're not into fiction, my other favourite thing to do is to read cook books and salivate over the recipes or a self help book. I personally recommend Chrissy Teigen's book Cravings or Melody Beattie's Letting Go... Very different topics but the perfect non-fiction for feeling a little happier nonetheless.

3. Pig out


I have a theory that there are two types of people in the world. Choc lovers and the crisp compadres (not 100% sure what that word means but alliteration). I very firmly am a believer in the importance of both food groups but I am a choc lover. Whatever your poison, even if you are a clean eating machine, grabbing a big bag o' tortilla chips and some dip or a giant Dairy Milk can greatly improve anyone's day. You know that scene in No Strings Attached with Natalie Portman eating donuts and listening to Bleeding Love? Yeah sometimes you need to just delve into a bag of whatever your poison is and have a good cry. It's cathartic.

4. Just Breathe


Calming your breath is probably the most important life skill for anyone who gets anxiety. After a traumatic experience in 2015 I used to suffer quite badly from panic attacks. Whilst there is little in life that is as annoying as someone telling you to 'just breathe' it really was life changing learning this skill. Anxieties.com has a really simple three step for calming breathing:

1. Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, first filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs.(I always literally imagine this happening so you want to first fill your chest and then your stomach.)
2. Hold your breath to the count of three.
3. Exhale slowly through pursed lips, while you relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, and stomach. (This should definitely be a loud breath out)



5. Positive Affirmations




As silly as you may feel just repeating to yourself something as simple as 'I am happy' or 'I am so grateful' can do wonders for your mood. It is literally according to science. Positive affirmations create positive connections between nerves in your brain. When you think positive thoughts, your brain releases chemicals related to those positive emotions. The same happens when you think negative thoughts.


6. Netflix and chill out



I feel like no explanation needed. Binge watching a classic improves your mood. Even the Gilmore Girls theme tune improves my mood.


7. Soak away that negativity 




I recently took a meeting at work on positivity and one of the questions I asked everyone was what are you most looking forward to this week. One of my colleagues answered 'having a bath' and whilst we all had a good laugh, it is true. Having a bath with a bath oil and candles and maybe a book/ wine is pretty unbeatable for improving your mood. Soak away those negative feelings a la Chandler (if you don't get that reference, we can't be friends).

8. Drink your feelings 


Whether it's a cup of tea or a glass of wine that makes you feel better it's all acceptable. I switch by season, in Winter it's a hot cuppa and in Summer it's a cold rose.


9. A little retail therapy 


It's called therapy for a reason. Is there anything more satisfying than taking a new dress out of a shiny bag and unfolding the crispy tissue paper. And hey if you spend enough, complaining about being poor might take your mind off your other worries and at least you can do so stylishly.

10. People (furry and otherwise)



Sometimes picking up the phone and being around people is exactly what you need and if you just want to be alone then pick someone furry because no one is sad when they're with a dog.

All images taken from Pinterest and not my own 

05/02/2018

The day I nearly died at Barry’s Bootcamp… Fine I’m being dramatic


Last week I was signed up to ‘the best workout in the world’ by a 'friend'- I joke, I still love her kind of. My plan to attend Barry’s Bootcamp was met with ‘that’s just for athletes and personal trainers’ and ‘my friend threw up and hid in the toilet until the end’ from colleagues- lovely, very reassuring. The day before D day or should I say B day the panic really set in and I began frantically googling exactly what to expect, what should I eat? What should I wear? Should I have trained for this? The website didn’t really ease my fear with promises of being pushed to my limits and burning up to 1000 calories. I felt sick and shaky thinking about it all day. Google had told me to drink lots of water and eat bananas so that’s what I did (amongst other various unnecessary carb loading). Please bear in mind my fitness level is pretty much at I can jog for 20 seconds and then I get a stitch. Each day has a different focus at Barry’s, Tuesday was legs and bums. I was quite reassured by this, they can’t make you work out your legs that hard if you have to run on them right? Oh I was not right.

So finally the time arrived. From the minute I walked in through the doors, which by the way themselves are pretty scary- it’s like walking into a dungeon aptly labelled with the sign ‘down to hell so you look like heaven’. Well whilst I want to look like a goddess, I am absolutely not ready for hell just yet. On arrival at the reception desk I couldn’t help blurting out to everyone in earshot just how much of a beginner I was in the hope they would go easy on me. We checked in and I grabbed my towel and loaded up on deodorant and extra hair pins. My instructor invited the newbies in for a quick induction, he asked if I was okay I replied honestly ‘no I am not’. He explained how to get on and off the treadmill safely, even made us turn it to 0.5 and go for a little very, very slow walk whilst he was talking. I started to panic about the valuable fitness and energy he was expending on my behalf and did my best to turn it off again as soon as possible. He didn’t look very impressed with me so far.

When you sign in you are awarded a number which corresponds to the floor space and treadmill you will be on. Ever the non-dramatic optimist, I took my place murmuring to my friend I can’t believe I’m here I can’t do this over and over again. We were told to pick up various weights ‘5kg for ladies’ I picked up the 3kg. I looked around the room, trying my best to decipher who in here could possibly be as unfit as me- my allies. No one looked back at me, staring ahead into the highly flattering mirrors and concentrating on what lay ahead for us. The red lights shine, a colour associated with danger. I thought to myself ‘perhaps my rush of adrenaline and fear will make me into an athlete... I mean they do say people suddenly can climb a tree or whatever if there’s a bear around right?’ I started on the floor which I was rather happy about, I could suss out the treadmills before actually having to get on one. Wrong again, I would be crawling to the treadmill. 

The music started blaring and the instructor expertly organised the ‘tredders’ and floor. Tredders were running at some horrifying speed and we were doing weighted squats. It had started, there was no getting out now. The door swung shut. This was my prison for the next hour. The class is basically made up of 15 minutes on the floor, 15 minutes tread and then switching (although I have heard rumours of something called a dirty thirty). I started out with a few weighted squats and other various kicky things I don’t know the name of. I was feeling ok and sort of thinking I didn’t know what the fuss was all about. Then we started the 2 minutes of jump squats. My legs turned to jelly, my heart was bouncing about in my chest and I had that awful breath caught in your chest feeling that I got during the bleep test at school. Ummm I’m a celebrity get me out of here? We then got told to ‘recover’. Great I thought just what I need, nice little swig of water, maybe a shoulder rub, meditation? I looked over at my friend who was heading over to her sweat drenched numbered treadmill. He hadn’t just said recover at all, he had said RE cover and that meant switch with my poor out of breath treadmill counterpart. They looked relieved, I most definitely was not.

The running options are shouted out to you in different numbers 7, 8, 9 type vibes meaning beginners run at 7, intermediate 8, superhuman 9. I ran at 4.8 and it killed me. But, I didn’t get in trouble and I did go up a little when I was told to and I was dripping in sweat, couldn’t feel my legs, felt like I might pass out and at my maximum. Thankfully, I think when they see this they just think ‘poor unfit soul’ and recognise you’re doing your best. With every ‘re cover’ I thought I can’t go on, but I also did. On my final run when I was told to give it everything I had I managed to get up to 7. I did the cool down with the lights on lying back on my treadmill. I looked up at the ceiling as if it was the night sky, feeling rather profound I thought to myself I actually did it. I hobbled out and booked myself into the same class next week. I sat on the tube home sweating into my coat wondering why I felt the need to torture myself again on some weird euphoric high.


Little update: My second class went a lot better, I still feel the fear but cutting out the unknown made it a lot more of an enjoyable experience and hey who knows I might finally get fit. 

01/02/2018

My favourite healthy week night recipe

I have one really bad habit. Okay, I have many but there is a particular one I am referring to. So it all begins rather innocently, in fact I eat like the next Twiggy all day; nut nibbling and carrot crunching galore- seriously! But then 7pm strikes, I bundle in through my front door, head straight for this odd oversized cupboard my mum refers to as the breakfast pantry and stick my sugar craving hands straight into a box of cereal. When I’m done with this I’ll grab a spoon swirl it with peanut butter and stuff my little mouth with every Ryvita, and funny dairy-free fad product I can get my hands on. Then once I’ve showered and changed into my comfies, I come down for dinner, I’ll always have seconds. This is immediately followed by a cup of tea- mint because obviously I’m not going to waste my precious calories on milk blegh! But I don’t mind a side of chocolate digestives- the thins though (you can eat more biscuits for the same number of calories and my simple brain is easily tricked into rather quite liking that).

They do say the first step to recovery is recognition and acceptance. Well, I recognise and accept I’m a big fat pig in the evenings. Whilst most things I eat are healthy they are eaten in unhealthy quantities. So I have been working on either:

  • a)       Exercising in the evening – not my preferred method
  • b)      Eating as soon as I come in so as not to have several ‘rounds’
  • c)       Ignoring my own advice and shovelling it all in anyway
  • d)      Making much more filling, healthy but easy dinners that I actually look forward to (all day actually)

So I thought I would share my current favourite easy but filling and delish week night recipe.

Mexican buddha bowl



Ingredients

Shredded iceberg lettuce
Black pinto beans
Salad tomatoes
1 packet of microwaveable brown rice
Paprika
Coriander

For the sweetcorn
I use the vegan violife prosociano because I think it tastes like Mexican queso (cotija) and I like to not eat too much dairy during the week for hormonal reasons but you can also use parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the guacamole
1 ripe avocado
1 tbsp olive oil
½ Lime Juice
¼ finely slice onion
Salt and pepper to taste

-          Thoroughly rinse the black pinto beans with water in a sieve then season

-          Cook the rice as per instructions

-          Arrange lettuce in a big serving bowl

-          Slice salad tomatoes and throw them into the bowl too

-          Microwave the sweetcorn and ingredients for 45sec on max

-          Arrange pinto beans in a bowl and the rice

-          Sprinkle paprika across the rice

-          Mash the avocado, mix with the other ingredients and place in the bowl

-          Add in your sweetcorn, top with coriander, and a big dollop of yogurt or cheese if you like!
S